The ShamRockers postulate that the Lewis and Clark Expedition, with its diverse cultural make-up, would have sung songs from French, Canadian, Celtic, and British traditions during the two Christmases spent traveling to the Pacific and back in 1804-5. The Polson Irish-music quintet’s Christmas show includes the 12 age-old songs noted here, and spanning the 12th-19th centuries.
Instrumentation consists of guitar, mandolin, banjo, whistle and drum, with a bit of harmonica thrown in. As is their style, the fellas sing solo and unison leads as well as three-part harmony.
A few of the tunes were remastered from the ShamRocker’s last album, 2015’s A Soalin’: A Joyful Christmas Celebration, including “Auld Lang Syne,” “Curoo, Curoo” and “Come Buy My Nice Fresh Ivy”/“A-Soalin’.”
The album opens with “Huron Carol,” a French-Canadian hymn heralding the birth of Jesus. “The Wexford Carol,” originating in Ireland, finds the ensemble singing the lead as one, backed by guitar and low whistle.
In “Friendly Beasts,” a hymn from 12th century France, the men each sing the parts of animals – donkey, cow, sheep, camel, and dove. It’s a timeless melody that plays well in modern times.
“Don’t Worry” is a playful tune, based on an old Irish saying on how to approach life.
The group constantly researches the history of music, finding rare gems and re-introducing them to modern audiences. It’s a worthy pastime.
– Mariss McTucker