Monday, October 10, 2011

Irish Folk Duo Keeps Traditional Music Alive

Daily Iowegian - 10 October 2011
Irish Folk Duo Keeps Traditional Music Alive
By Brooke Sherrard
  CENTERVILLE — A pair of area musicians is creating interest in a centuries-old musical tradition.
  Jacob Book, 20, and his wife, Autumn Book, 21, make up the folk duo The Tenants, which specializes in traditional Celtic folk and seafaring music. Jacob plays guitar and Autumn plays the flute and the pennywhistle, a tin instrument that resembles a recorder.
  Jacob is the son of David and Beverly Book, who in 1994 moved from the Ames area to a farm in Numa. He was homeschooled and spent much of his time as a youth traveling with his parents to French and Indian War reenactments. At the reenactments, David sells historical reproductions related to that time period. Jacob just returned from a month of traveling to four reenactments to help with his father’s store.  
  Interest in re-creating the French and Indian War extended to music. After his grandparents gave him a guitar about 10 years ago, Jacob began learning traditional folk music by playing with musicians at the reenactments, including the folk band Father Son and Friends. In the name of the band, Jacob explained, “Friends” meant anyone who joined in at a performance. 
  Reenacting also brought Jacob and Autumn together. He met Autumn, who grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, at a 2007 reenactment in Youngstown, N.Y. After graduating from high school in 2008, she relocated to Appanoose County to join him. 
  Though The Tenants play music related to what one might have heard during the French and Indian War, much of it is from a later period. They said the music they play actually spans a 300-year period.
  The songs “don’t sound exactly like they would have sounded because they didn’t have guitars like this,” Jacob said. “We just play basically our modern renditions of these songs. The idea is to keep the spirit of tradition and traditional music alive.”
  In 2007, Jacob started toying with the idea of recording traditional music he had learned. He recorded some songs on his own. Then he met Autumn and they talked about starting a band. Along with a third member, Jake Moyle of Moravia, they started practicing in fall 2008.
  On St. Patrick’s Day 2009, they played their first show, at Vaudeville Mews in downtown Des Moines.
  “We started playing and everybody walked out,” Jacob said. “I was really discouraged.”
  So the band members made some changes. They had been using a full drum set and going for a rock sound. They decided to strip everything down and attempt a more traditional sound, and it has been working.
  “I don’t know if we’ve ever had anybody walk out on us anymore—unless they were going out to have a smoke,” Jacob joked.
  Autumn and Jacob said they were particularly happy with the response they got from Pancake Day spectators despite their early morning time slot. Many people who had come early for pancakes ended up being drawn to The Tenants’ performance.
  This past June, Moyle decided to leave the band.
  “Right now it’s just her and I,” Jacob said, “but in the future I would like to have a bigger band because it helps when you’re playing live to round out the atmosphere.”

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