On Sunday, October 4, Flying Cat Music presents folk legends Archie Fisher and Garnet Rogers in concert at the Empire State Railway Museum located at 70 Lower High Street in Phoenicia. The doors open at 7:00 p.m. with the show beginning at 7:30 prompt. Admission is $25 or $22 with RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 845-688-9453. Reservations are strongly encouraged. This will be a special evening reuniting two old friends, Scottish songwriter, folksinger, and guitarist Archie Fisher and Canadian songwriter, folksinger, and instrumentalist Garnet Rogers–sharing the stage and featured billing. Both of these men are venerated folk legends at home, but their appeal knows no borders as evidenced by the strong following each has here in the United States also.
At the age of 18, Garnet Rogers was already on the road as a full-time working musician with his brother Stan. Together they formed what has come to be accepted as one of the most influential duos in the history of North American folk music. Garnet acted as producer and arranger for his older brother from 1973 to 1983, when Stan died tragically in a plane crash. Since then, Garnet has established himself as a formidable solo artist. Garnet Rogers was a featured main stage artist at this year’s Falcon Ridge Folk Festival and has been hailed by the Boston Globe as “…a brilliant songwriter. One of the major talents of our time” and as “a charismatic performer and singer.” While Sing Out calls Garnet Rogers, “The greatest interpreter and vocalist performing in the contemporary folk scene.” Garnet Rogers has been a showcased performer on numerous television and radio programs including Much Music, Mountain Stage, and All Things Considered. Throughout it all Garnet remains resolutely independent, turning down offers from major labels to ensure that he continues doing music his own way.
Archie Fisher is an original inductee into the Scottish Traditional Music Hall of Fame, the former host of a weekly Scottish BBC music show for 27 years, and a recipient of the MBE–a prestigious honor nominated by his peers and bestowed by Queen Elizabeth. As a guitarist, Archie–along with Martin Carthy and Davey Graham–was among the earliest steel-string players in British folk music, devising a mix of new tunings and inventive picking that has influenced generations of successors. Fisher wanted to make the guitar more compatible with the sound of Scottish music, and is widely regarded as the first to use open tunings to simulate the droning notes of bagpipes. “When I started doing it, I thought it was cheating,’’ he said. “I didn’t even know it had a name.” Archie is himself an extremely gifted songwriter. Though he has not been as prolific as some of his peers, the songs he pens tend quickly to be embraced as classics of their genre. The St. Paul Pioneer Press notes of him, “Fisher’s quietly poetic ballads…haunt like a shadowy specter.”
When Garnet Rogers and Archie Fisher share a stage, a warm glow is cast on a unique musical friendship, one with deep and strong roots. Two of Archie Fisher’s compositions, Witch of the Westmerlands and Dark Eyed Molly, were the only songs recorded by Garnet’s brother Stan during his illustrious brief career, that Stan Rogers had not written himself. In the summer of 1985, Garnet Rogers and Archie Fisher teamed up to tour Canada and America. That tour was a huge success and concert tracks from it are featured on the only album Archie Fisher and Garnet Rogers have released together to date, 1986’s highly acclaimed Off the Map. The friends performed together periodically in the late eighties in a series of now legendary concerts, then resumed occasionally collaborating in 2009. Typically Fisher and Rogers jointly tour now once every couple of years. Their infrequent shows together are always eagerly anticipated by their mutual fan base, which comes prepared to have their musical reverie interrupted by brilliant flashes of wit.
Fans this time will be treated to some wonderful fresh material as both artists have released new CDs within the past year or so after seven year droughts for each of them. In Archie’s case it could hardly be fresher since his latest work, A Silent Song, had a release date of September 18, 2015. Here is his own reflection on it: “An album is often said to be a snapshot in time of the artist’s repertoire but in this case there has been a bit of time travel with these songs. They range from revived historical favorites like ‘Mary Ann and Bonnie Annie Laurie’ to nearly fresh-off-the-page compositions such as ‘River Like You’ and ‘The Gifts’ by talented songwriters I admire. They are interspersed with my own personal statements of affection and feelings of loss with ‘Half The World Away’ and ‘You Took The Day.’”
In Garnet Roger’s case his 2014 release Summer’s End was a work whose time had clearly come even though Garnet thought he had long sworn off the stresses involved in recording a CD. Here is his own reflection on it, “In May of last year, I looked through some notebooks and realized I had a group of songs which largely reflected what had been going on in my life, both good and bad, and I decided to make a record of them, if only for myself…So in June I went to Scott Merritt’s studio and we began to set down songs in a much more relaxing and enjoyable way– just me with a guitar, with the idea that we would decide later what else, if anything, was needed. It was a lovely way to work.”
Ron Olesko, DJ at WFDU, writing in Sing Out magazine included Summer’s End in his top ten Favorites of 2014, saying, “Memories of the past and the people who influenced our lives fill this beautiful recording.” Much the same can be said about Archie’s brand new release. Both Roger’s Summer’s End and Fisher’s A Silent Song are as gently reflective as their titles suggest, and simply gorgeous to listen to. Part of that, of course, lies in the strength of the material included, but it must be noted that it is rare indeed to find male vocalists with deep expressive voices as exquisite as those these two gentlemen possess.