The music on Ampersand is all original -- most of the tunes are new compositions by Katie and Liz. Like Lennon and McCartney, they wrote and arranged all the music together, and then played it, with the benefit of double and triple tracking in the studio. So Katie plays two or more fiddle tracks on the tunes, and sings, and adds viola on some tunes as well. Liz does the same audio sleight of hand with cello, sometimes playing a percussive pizzicato track, and then adding one or more melodic tracks on top. And she also plays the guitar on a couple of tracks.
This album's subtitled Katie & Liz Davis because this really is their joint project, rather than being a typical FiddleSticks album. The rest of the band's still here, but in backup: Becca with vocals and Marco on bodhran. The album also features guest artists Cat Larsen on piano/guitar, Rob Honey on bass, and the trendy and fashionable Jake Armerding on mandolin and back-up (listen to his lilting voice on Little Maggie).
Here are the liner notes if you want to read about the tunes. And you can go to the FiddleSticks website to find the lyrics. www.fiddle-sticks.com
1 -- Waddle Waltz (Liz and Katie Davis); Jenny Dang the Weaver (Traditional): Millie, the youngest member of our family, is one year old. She doesn't exactly walk--she waddles. We donâ€™t know who Jenny Dang was or what she wove, but the reelâ€™s pretty good, and it highlights Liz's mysterious cello chopping technique.
2 -- Little Maggie (Traditional): The fabled Little Maggie is a troublesome girl, and that really appeals to us. We learned this off of a Bob Dylan CD, but Bob didn't write it. You will hear the dulcet sounds of Jake Armerding's voice and mando in this tune.
3 -- Ha Ha (Liz and Katie Davis): This tune is a piece we wrote mushed with "My Darling I'm Fond of You" that we learned from our mom. If you listen carefully, you'll hear why we call this tune "Ha Ha."
4 -- O May (Liz Davis): Liz wrote O May while she was supposed to be taking notes in English class, one fine high school day. Liz's personal life did not inspire this song.
5 -- Jack Be Nimble (Liz and Katie Davis): Jack IS Nimble. But is he quick? Based on the many key changes you'll hear in this piece, we'd say, "yes."
6 -- Grandma Betty's (Katie Davis): Grandma Betty is the coolest. Katie wrote this when she was eleven. Ten years later, we STILL play it, with a little extra "chop."
7 -- The Aftermath of the Pumpkin Wars (Katie Davis): Katie thought this tune needed a weird name. As Magritte would say, ce nâ€™est pas un titre. Cat is playing piano in mostly "Cape Breton" style. Cape Breton is nice small place up in Canada, where they make really really good music. Better than anywhere else.
8 -- Bonaparte's Retreat (Traditional): Bonaparte DID retreat, in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. And Civil War soldiers used to play this as a subtle death wish to the opposing side. Jake joins us for some hot mandolin riffs on this tune, too!
9 -- Xanny Boy (Liz Davis): Xanny Boy is our three year old brother who is full energy. He loves to sing and dance with us. Currently, he acts as our chief ukulele player.
10 -- Johnny Has Gone for a Soldier (Traditional): There are lots of versions of this song out there in Music World. We have recorded this tune before, in its more traditional Irish variation (called Shule Aroon) but in arranging this American version weâ€™ve opted for a more jazzy feel.
11 -- Three Little Jiggies Went to Market (Traditional): Everyone needs an Irish jig set. These are Billy McCormickâ€™s, the Connaughtmanâ€™s Rambles, and Calliope House.
12 -- Whole Lotta (Liz and Katie Davis): Liz wrote the chords to this beautiful song. The title of the tune is an abbreviation of a saying our mom used to recite, which will not be recited here. Our mother Kira passed away 8 years ago, but we try to keep her useful yet colorful sayings alive. For a list of some of these folksy aphorisms, look for the hidden link on our website.
FiddleSticks is a family musical group that performs folk songs and traditional tunes from the Celtic lands, from England, and from America. The band is made up of three young sisters, Rebecca, Kathryn, and Elizabeth Davis, and their father Mark. Featured instruments include fiddle, flutes, cello, bodhran (Irish drum), guitar and vocals.
FiddleSticks have seven recordings in print: The Sampler (1998), Playing Favorites (1999), Cold Fusion (2000), Time and Again (2001), the Cat and the Fiddle (2002), Return to Nauvoo (2004), and now Ampersand (2006), featuring Katie and Liz.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Waddle Waltz/Jenny Dang the Weaver
2. Little Maggie
3. Ha Ha/My Darling I'm Fond of You
4. O May
5. Jack Be Nimble
6. Grandma Betty's
7. Aftermath of the Pumpkin Wars
8. Bonaparte's Retreat
9. Xanny Boy
10. Johnny Has Gone For A Soldier
11. Three Little Jiggies Went to Market
12. Whole Lotta