Between Earth & Sky
Celtic and American guitarist Robin Bullock is acclaimed as one of the great fingerpicking and flat picking masters in the USA and Europe.
Robin is joined by Celtic superstars Joanie Madden of Cherish the Ladies on Irish tinwhistle, John Whelan on Irish button accordion and the great Bluegrass star Mike Auldriedge on dobro.
*Cover art for Robin Bullock's 2 recordings are original woodcut by outstanding printmaker in the woodcut medium, Jerry Dadds (Eucalyptus Tree Studio in Baltimore, Maryland.) (also see Midnight Howl)
- Download from
"A musician whose stylistic expertise and technical skill are second to none." -Classical Guitar Magazine (U.K.)
Guitar Player Magazine says..."It takes nerve to play solo acoustic guitar. Gripping only a few pounds of ingeniously assembled wood and metal, you have to dazzle an audience's senses with your bare hands. On a flat-top, staying in tune means pushing and pulling strings within each voicing, and adding sustain means fretting your notes a few milliseconds longer. Physical stuff. In the tight-wire game of solo acoustic, there's no escaping the core issue: How's your touch? Your tone? Your time? Just how well CAN you play?
Masterfully, if you're Robin Bullock. His new Between Earth and Sky is a breathtaking collection of traditional Celtic, Appalachian, and Scottish Highland bagpipe tunes, Irish reels, Breton folk melodies, and finely crafted originals. In addition to acoustic 6- and 12-string guitar, Bullock plays cittern, mandolin, electric bass and fiddle. It's easy to overlook his brilliant technique, since it's always in service of the music.
On eight of the CD's fourteen tunes, Bullock tracks all the instruments. On other selections, he's backed by equally gifted players on whistle, flute, djembe (a West African drum), button accordion, soprano sax, alto flute, and bass clarinet. Dobro master Mike Auldridge makes a guest appearance on one cut, laying down ghostly lines that tug and tinkle against Bullock's chimey arpeggios.
Whether flying solo or soaring with others, Bullock has an extraordinary command of timbre and dynamics. From shimmering harmonics to densely woven strands of counterpoint, his every note rings clear. Part of this is due to the transparent, airy recording, but it's Bullock's knack for arranging that lets each instrument shine so brightly. You can hear that he has dedicated years to absorbing the lesson of traditional folk music: A poignant melody, not fancy fretwork, stands the test of time.
Bullock plays with superb intonation - no mean feat when overdubbing a cluster of fretted, stringed instruments - and his fat, pointed electric bass tone makes you wonder why more bassists don't flatpick. Best of all, his overdubs sound organic and dynamic, like a well-seasoned ensemble. A remarkable work from a deep player."
hear Robin on : Pandora Internet Radio
Listen to a sample of track 4.
- The Black Diamond/The Seven-Pointed Star (2:57)
- Feunteun An Aod (3:54)
- The Rakes of Clonmel/The Trip to the Cottage (2:35)
- Sir Charles Coote/Captain Higgins (4:30)
- Stefan and Liz's Waltz (4:42)
- Between Earth and Sky (4:14)
- Oregon Ridge/Brew House Reel (2:33)
- Rigler's March/Rex's Rambles (3:23)
- Soldier's Return (3:06)
- Jack 0'Diamonds/Merrily Kiss the Quaker (4:11)
- Johnny Don't Get Drunk/Miss Monaghan (3:30)
- Carolan's Quarrel with the Landlady (3:20)
- Free Flight (3:11)
- Tiger Baby's Lullaby (4:37)
Robin Bullock ~ guitars, cittern, mandolin, fiddle and bass
With Special Guests
Joanie Madden ~ Flute and whistle
John Whelan ~ button accordion
Mike Auldridge ~ dobro
Bobby Read ~ woodwinds
Laryea Addy ~ djembe
Produced by Robin Bullock
Traditional music has always been and continues to be a living and evolving process. It reflects the lives and experiences not only of generations long past but we who live here on the cusp of the millennium. While my own artistic path is grounded in the music of the Celtic lands, I also recognize that music speaks the truth regardless of geographic origin, transcending cultural differences and reminding us that we are all one. This music, then, is an American Celtic celebration, joyously drawing inspiration from many traditions, honoring ancient roots and reaching out to greet the future. - RB
1 The Black Diamond*/The Seven-Pointed Star(2:57)
The first tune, a wild exploration of shifting rhythms, is the musical equivalent of a downhill run on an expert-level "black diamond" ski slope. The second is the popular Irish reel "The Star of Munster" transmuted into a more typically Eastern European meter of 7/8. (Robin - cittern, guitar, mandolin, bass and fiddle)
2 Feunteun An Aod (3:54)
This majestic melody comes from Brittany, the Celtic region of western France, and the repertoire of Breton folk group Sonerien Du. The title (pronounced FOON-TOON ahn WAHD) means "fountain of the coast." (Robin - citterns, 12-string guitar and bass; Bobby - soprano sax, alto flute and bass clarinet)
3 The Rakes of Clonmel/The
Trip to the Cottage (2:35)
The heart of traditional Irish music is the "session" where musicians gather informally in a living room or a pub and play tunes together for the sheer joy of community. We set out to capture that feel on this set of jigs from the O'Neill Collection. The crack was mighty, as they say. (Robin - citterns and guitar; Joanie - whistle and flute; John - button accordion)
Charles Coote/Captain Higgins (4:30)
Two compositions by harper Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738), the great Irish bard and a hero to all of us modern-day Celts roaming the world. (Robin - guitars)
Stefan and Liz's Waltz* (4:42)
My cittern was built in 1987 by the esteemed English luthier Stefan Sobell at his workshop in the English countryside of Northumberland. While on a U.K. tour ten years later, I finally met his remarkable wife, Liz, and wrote this tune to celebrate the meeting. (Robin - citterns, guitar and bass)
Earth and Sky* (4:14)
For Megan. Late one night in Castle Douglas, Scotland, I let a traditional Breton tune go exploring on the guitar, and this is where it led me. "I realized a long time ago you don't really write anything, you just receive it." -Keith Richards. (Robin - guitar)
7 Oregon Ridge*/Brew House Reel* (2:33)
A pair of original reels named for wonderfully relaxing places (although you might not guess it from Laryea's powerful drumming!): a park north of Baltimore, Maryland and a guesthouse in Devon, England. (Robin - cittern, guitar, mandolin and bass; Laryea - djembe)
8 Rigler's March*/Rex's Rambles* (3:23)
A new march for the Scottish Highland bagpipes, named in honor of California piper Eric Rigler. (After composing it I remembered that I don't play the bagpipes so I offer it to you on guitar instead.) The guitar romp that follows is named after an old canine friend. (Robin - guitar)
9 Soldier's Return (3:06)
The air to a lyric written by Scotland's national poet Robert Burns, performed here by the Wolf Boy Multi-track Celtic Philharmonic. (Robin - 12-string guitars, fiddles, mandolin and bass)
10 Jack 0'Diamonds/Merrily Kiss the Quaker (4:11)
Favorite tunes from the Appalachian and Irish traditions, respectively, with a perverse coupling of titles. The first is also known as "Rye Whiskey" and "Drunkard's Hiccups," among other titles; the second, well, where the human imagination goes with that title, I bow to modesty. (Robin - guitar)
11 Johnny Don't Get Drunk/Miss
Another transatlantic medley: "Johnny Don't Get Drunk" appears to be an Appalachian variant of the Irish reel, "Miss Monaghan," with the sections reversed. Although these have long been two of my favorite traditional tunes, I never noticed their obvious similarity until I paired them for this recording! (Robin - guitars, bass, mandolin and cittern; John - button accordion; Joanie - flute and whistles)
Carolan's Quarrel with the Landlady (3:20)
Another Carolan composition, the title of which seems oddly mismatched to the beauty of the melody. We can only assume there's a good story there. (Robin - citterns, guitar and bass)
13 Free Flight* (3:11)
A visit from the Muse inspired by hawks in the Arizona desert. (Robin - guitar and bass; Joanie - whistles)
14 Tiger Baby's Lullaby* (4:37)
For Rena and all beings seeking a balance between fiery creative action and the passive waiting silence from which all springs. Sweet dreams. (Robin -guitars; Mike - dobro)
An Asterisk (*) indicates that the piece was composed by Robin Bullock