Family music entertainer and veteran daycare worker Gordie “Crazylegs” MacKeeman writes in the liner notes for his forthcoming album, Folk for Little Folk Volume 1, “My vision for this project is to create something that will please all members of the family and allow families to listen together, dance together, and enjoy each other.” It goes without saying that in listening to the 17-song record, he achieved that goal. This is proven throughout the course of the album’s 40 minute record in the covers and originals. One of the most notable of the covers comes early in the cover of ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain.’ It will be discussed shortly. MacKeeman’s album closing lullabye, ‘Dreamland’ is another example of what makes this album so enjoyable. It will be discussed a little later. His cover of Wade Hemsworth’s ‘Log Driver’s Waltz’ is another example of how much this record has to offer audiences and will also be discussed later. Each song noted here does its own share to make this record enjoyable. When they are considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole proves itself a presentation that lives up to MacKeeman’s expectations and those of his audiences.
Folk for Little Folk Volume 1 is an impressive new offering from family music entertainer and veteran daycare worker Gordie “Crazylegs” MacKeeman. Its success is evident from beginning to end in each song, cover and original. His take on the traditional ‘Big Rock Candy Mountain is just one example of that success. MacKeeman is joined by famed performer Dom Flemmons (Carolina Chocolate Drops) on the bones for this song, which offers an upbeat arrangement that is even fuller than the original composed by Harry McClintock. Where McClintock’s rendition is a simple presentation with just vocals and guitar, MacKeeman’s version is much more involved and more upbeat. A close listen reveals that McKeeman’s wife is also featured here, offering some nice, subtle backing vocals. The duo’s harmony works so well with the overall instrumentation to make this rendition just as good as the original if not better. This is only a part of what makes the song work so well. MacKeeman also updates the lyrics to a point for the 21st century, making mention of solid WiFi service, optional naptime and nonstop cartoons. That addition, although minor, is a welcome touch to the song that will make it even more entertaining. It is just one of the songs that shows how much this record has to offer audiences. ‘Dreamland’ the album’s finale, is another notable addition to the record.
‘Dreamland’ is one of only three originals that MacKeeman features in his new album. That aside, it is still enjoyable in its own right. The nearly four-and-a-half minute composition (four minutes, 17 seconds to be exact) opens with a gentle piano line alongside an equally gentle, flowing fiddle line. Almost immediately, the melody presented through the pairing lends itself to Kermit the Frog’s timeless ‘Rainbow Connection.’ This should not be misconstrued to mean that the songs are exactly the same. It is just that they sound similar in their sound and stylistic approach. To that end, it is certain to put a smile on any listener’s face. Even more interesting is the eventual addition of Mr. and Mrs. MacKeeman’s vocals to the mix. Jillian’s gentle operatic presentation gives the song a special, magical touch while Gordie’s vocals meanwhile lend themselves to comparison to that of Willie Nelson as he sings Kermit’s famous song.
In terms of the song’s lyrics, the gentle statement that “It’s time for bed/my little one” from Mr. MacKeeman is so relaxing. Additionally, his statement of the child being in “a happy place” That added spiritual message of loved ones coming to visit the child from heaven in his/her dreams is another unsuspectingly powerful statement even in its simplicity. When all of this is considered collectively, there should be not a single dry eye. It is that moving. Anyone who is not moved by this powerful finale is either not human or has no emotions. It is just that enjoyable. Even with all of this in mind, it is not the last of the album’s standout songs. MacKeeman’s cover of Wade Hemsworth’s ‘Log Driver’s Waltz’ is another example of how much this record has to offer audiences.
MacKeeman’s rendition of ‘Log Driver’s Waltz’ is unique in the changes that he, his wife and fellow musicians make to the original. The original composition is a simple presentation, driven by vocals and guitar. In the case of this song, the layered vocals pair with the richness in the accordion and guitar to give the song an enjoyable update. Interestingly, the use of the accordion and guitar collectively gives the song more of a Celtic sense than anything Canadian (which it is at its roots). Keeping that in mind, MacKeeman and company’s rendition becomes even more unique and no less enjoyable. As a matter of fact, it can be argued that it is even better than the original. That is not to say that Hemsworth’s original is bad. Rather it is quite enjoyable. This version just steps things up and gives the song a whole new identity. It is definitely a memorable addition to the album, regardless of audiences’ familiarity with the song. When this song is considered with the others examined here and with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole makes the album one of the best of this year’s new family music albums and new bluegrass/country/folk/Americana offerings.
Gordie “Crazylegs” MacKeeman’s forthcoming album Folk for Little Folk Vol. 1 is an impressive new offering from the family music entertainer and daycare teacher. It is a presentation that easily meets his expectations and will meet those of audiences. That is proven from the album’s opener to its gentle finale. The originals and covers alike fully display the talents of MacKeeman, his wife, and their fellow musicians and their respect for the music. All things considered, the record proves itself to be among the best of this year’s family music albums and bluegrass/country/folk/Americana records.
Folk for Little Folk Volume 1 is scheduled for release Friday through MAPL/innovationpei/MUSICPEI. More information on the album is available along with all of Gordie McKeeman’s latest news at:
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