LIVE FOR TODAY is our Celtodelic cover of the classic 1967 Grass Roots hit, is the first “hit” single we have ever recorded. We have never thought over our 22 year history of making a single ourselves; it was the furthest thing from our minds. It took having someone else suggest it and pick the song to do, and I think that’s where Peter Morticelli stepped up and scored on this one. I hadn’t that much of a relationship with the song as I don’t think it was that big in Norway. I was familiar with it when I played it and Peter suggested it as a candidate for a Tempest single. It came together really organically, I added a bit of Celtic riff to give it an instrumental hook. We were already working on the album and “Let’s Live For Today” fit into the thread of “Another Dawn” really well. The album has a positive vibe to it, and the message I take out of “Let’s Live For Today” is to enjoy life, and I believe the purpose of life is to be happy. It is a great opening track and sets the scene for the other songs on the album.
The second song on the album, VERSES OF GRACE, gave the CD its title. The quote: ‘Joined together, we meet and go on, Gathering light – and it may be the dawn, Dance when the mouldering guard has withdrawn’ paints a picture of the meaning of “Another Dawn”. It was written for the inauguration in Jan 2009, not necessarily political, the last time a crowd that size gather together in a spirit of hope was Aug 1969 at Woodstock. I felt a rebirth of the same values: it was time to look after each other and look after the planet. People started to believe we have to learn to live differently, and you could feel the whole country start to think that way. The whole collective conscience of the country was shifting at that point, you could see it actually physically happening, and I felt that was a reason to celebrate. This was a moment in time when you could feel the change, that good things are happening in the world. I have always felt that folk music is truly the music of the people telling the story of the human condition. We experience the same struggle to survive that it was hundreds of years ago. I find a lot of inspiration in traditional music, not just in the lyrics, but in the musical form as well.
THE NEW SQUIRE
-The New Squire (Crocker)
-Hiking in the High Country (Mullen)
-Ruby as a Child (Crocker)
Medleys are an important structure, because the songs were originally written in a specific format to fit into dance steps. They were usually short tunes which we have strung together to have an opening, a middle and an ending. We reflect the musical tradition we come from by writing new music to fit this format. The New Squire was written by our guitarist in honor of his newborn baby.
GREAT DEPARTURE Is very significant as it was written when my father died last year. It is not meant to be a somber song it reflects an attitude of change. The lines: “The tender morning hesitates; Emerging from a dawn; And in the pure light of the sun; The darkness soon is gone” talks about death as a transition not an end. Our society is very big in celebrating birth but not very evolved with dealing with death. This became very obvious to me when my dad died and left his body. We should celebrate birth and death as a continuation of each other, that transition is what life is all about.
NEVER TIRE OF THE ROAD is a traveling song which Irvine wrote about Woody Guthrie. I was not directly influenced by Woody, but by the people who were influenced by him, like Bob Dylan and Andy Irvine, who was an Irish musician who grew up in Dublin trying to do an Oklahoma accent. I embrace the spirit of Woody; busking and traveling, learning to survive on your own terms playing music in pubs and on street corners. That was my reaql life education, bumming around playing music and moving from place to place. I went out with a buddy of mine in our mid teens, playing in the streets of Copenhagen then moving onto the British Isles and Ireland. Sleeping in barns and hitchhiking around all Summer. When it wasn’t too much fun being in Norway in the Winter, I moved on to Greece, and eventually the States when I was 21. There is something romantic about the lifestyle following in the footsteps of the same rambling spirit of hoboes of the past. I can say this as someone who has lived it and struggled with it. You forget the times you were hungry, sleeping in parks and getting arrested. You remember the romance of traveling around playing music and getting your education in the school of life. That whole spirit is a big part of who I am and I have a soft spot for it. Woody Guthrie was a giant when it came to influencing not only the working class but the country with the spirit that drove him around. He was a bit of a rouge and a very romantic figure. Never Tire is a good song to do live, it was a song that was not really meant for Tempest but I did the song acoustically with a couple of the guys on a radio show a few years ago. The whole band wanted to learn it so it made sense to add it in yet another organic way of coming up with songs for the album.
JOMFRU is one of the oldest songs in the Norwegian Ballad tradition. It tells the true story of a maiden (jomfru) who was stolen away from her own wedding in March of 1288. It was a time when evry village in every county had their own king. This particular maiden is stolen away from her wedding to be made to marry the king in another village. A historical recounting of an actual event that was part of everyday life at that time. In the mid 80s I had recorded an acoustic album of Norwegian folk songs and had wanted to do an album of them in more of a rock and roll style. So I sneak one onto each of the Tempest albums. I have loved these songs growing up with them and they are always a large part of our live repertoire. They fit into our Celtic genre both musically and geographically.
-Dagda’s Harp (Crocker)
-Chief O’Neill’s Favorite (Trad.)
-Poll Ha’ Penny (Trad.)
The first part of Dagda’s Harp is a nice freeflowing guitar piece which showcases for James’ acoustic work. Damian plays some percussion on it as well, we wanted to incorporate the personality of the band into the record. It is a break away from the big electric sound of the rest of the album.
THE MOVING-ON SONG was written by Ewan MacColl for the Radio Ballad, “The Traveling People” for the BBC in the 1950’s about the Tinkers, who were the modern day gypsies of the time. They lived life on the road moving from town to town and generally having a hard time settling down, as no one wanted them around.
BLACK JACK DAVY (Trad./Sorbye)
This is our adaptation of a Celtic Folk Ballad, possibly written about 1720.
The song has many variations such as The Gypsy Laddie, Raggle Taggle Gypsy, Gypsy Davy etc.,
and has often been used and recorded not only in Ireland and The British Isles, but also in Canada
and The United States. Tempest had originally done this back in 1988 when we recorded our first demo. We got the line-up together and performed it for our 20th anniversary and needed another rocker for the album. A rousing live favorite about a romantic traveling gypsy stealing away the hearts of the farmer’s daughters and wives.
-High Rise (Crocker)
-Fiddler’s Lock (Mullen)
-Kelly the Rake (Trad.)
We keep the energy level up at the highest decibel before we leave the record with 2 original pieces written by band members and a traditional tune.
All of the songs deserve to be here, I am very proud of what the band has done on this album. Our producer, Robert Berry, did a heckuva a job pushing us a lot further than he has in the past. I think he, and the band were really ready and excited to do another Tempest album. We have been working with Robert since “Turn Of The Wheel” in 1995, and have gotten to know how to work well together. It was truly was recording a moment in time, one intense 3-4 period moment in time. We are very happy about the album and hope it opens some new doors.
With special guests and honorary band member:
ROBERT BERRY – keyboards, background vocals
Produced and engineered by Robert Berry
at Soundtek Studios in Campbell, California
Mastered by Jim Brick at Absolute Audio, New Jersey
Band painting by Katie Pedroza
Photos of Oslo sky by Lars Frers, published online under Creative Commons license
Layout and design by Magna Carta Records in cahoots with Patricia Reynolds Sorbye