The album is a joint effort, a gathering of four traditional tunes; two covers of Utah Bruce Phillips songs, one by well-known Wisconsin singer-songwriter, Doug Wheeler; and a sharing of eight individually written songs by brothers Jim and Mike Anger, and Jim's son-in-law Tim Herrick. All together, the songs take you to the past, to the present and then back to the past once again. Some of the songs may remind you of the Peter, Paul and Mary style, while some others have a sort of Merle Haggard feel.
In some songs, like the lead out song, Phillips' "Green Rolling Hills," and the traditional "Cruel War," all three men share vocals. Sometimes just two of the guys team up, such as on "All My Trials," (Jim and Mike), and sometimes they sing solo. On some songs Mikes' or Tim's finger picking-style guitar is heard. (They say Jim's got his own style!). Some songs are backed with one of Jim's harmonicas, and Jim uses an echo harp on Phillips' "Going Away," to capture the unique Utah Phillips sound.
Jim, Mike, and Tim each wrote a few words about their own songs in the CD's liner notes: Jim said, ""Away 'Cross The River" was my first attempt at song writing somewhere back in the late 1980's. It's reflection of concern for our environment seems as appropriate now as it did back then."
Of his autobiographical song, "Two Old Sailors," Mike wrote: ""Two Old Sailors" is a compilation of the adventures my wife, Ida, and I have had over the years. We met on a ski trip to Rib Mountain, WI, and Ida did see the Southern Cross on a trip to Australia."
Of his "Dancing On The Clouds," Tim shared this: ""Dancing On The Clouds" is a song I wrote to play at my grandfather's funeral. May he, and all others who are loved that have passed on, keep dancing."
Jim's other offering, "Takin' The Road," has sort of a country feel, Mike thinks. Jim thinks there's a little of Merle Haggard in it. Tim's other song is "Into The Sunset." Now, Tim has never been in prison, Jim says, "but Tim's powerful imagination and sad-sounding vocals and guitar sure take you into a cell and behind the bars. Definitely a Merle Haggard feel to that song!"
Mike has become a prolific songwriter in recent years. He shares four of his songs on the album. Besides "Two Old Sailors," there are some romantic songs, "So Long, Darlin'" and "Winter Lightning, Summer Snow." And there's one about a Wisconsin singer songwriter playing gigs at a "West Texas Bar," and who is feeling pretty lonely and pretty far from home.
"Then & Now & Again" is truly a family event! Jim's wife Joan took the front cover photograph. The shot was taken in front of Jim and Joan's Shawano, WI home. Jim's older brother Mike is back center; Tim is front left, and Jim is on the right.
Mike began playing guitar in college, during the 1960's folk music revival. Jim didn't start playing until 1977, at age 30. But ever since then, when they get together, they always bring their guitars, and playing some of the songs they love is a priority! For years, a large number of Bill Staines songs have always been included!
Jim is a reading-writing educator on the Menominee Indian Reservation in north central Wisconsin, while Mike is a pediatrician-type doctor in the Chicago area, so getting together isn't all that easy. But they manage. Mike and Jim, each, have recorded several other albums, and have added musically to each other's CDs. When they 'play out" together these days, they are The Anger Brothers. They have performed at Wisconsin and Chicago area coffeehouses, special group events, and at the Shawano, WI Old Time Music and Crafts Festival. Both men are members of the Green Apple Folk Music Society (Green Bay-Appleton, WI), and have shared the Green Apple stage on several occasions.
As a children's doctor, Mike has been involved with One Step At A Time, a camp for children stricken with cancer. Jim and Mike have shared music with those kids several times. All of the proceeds from Dr. Mike's album sales go to help support One Step, and the proceeds from Jim's railroading songs album, "The Train's A-Comin'," also go to the camp.
Besides "Then & Now & Again" and "The Train's A-Comin,''Jim's other albums include, "Headin' Out," with some railroading songs and other songs with a nostalgic feel, and also a childrens' album, "Rainbow in the Sky," with songs for children of all ages. (Jim is a member of The Children's Music Network). One song on the "Rainbow" album was largely written by Jim's 4th grade students. It's about doing good things for others and then often having good things come "Right Back To You." The kids recorded the song with Jim, so, appropriately, the proceeds from "Rainbow in the Sky" go to the Menominee Reservation Toys For Tots program.
Mike's other CDs, which tend to be romantic in nature, include "From the Heart," "Long Bridge: A Wisconsin Journey," and "Sunrises, Sunsets, and Seasons."
Jim and Mike both think the addition of Tim Herrick to the family, musically, and otherwise, is great. "Aside from his guitar playing, which I envy," Jim said, "the sound of Tim's soft yet unique voice makes his vocal harmonies special. And Tim has a good feel for both traditional folk and contemporary sounds. We include Tim on our albums whenever he can find the time to join in!"
Check out the artist's website:
1. Green Rolling Hills
2. Cruel War
3. Railroading On The Great Divide
4. All My Trials
5. So Long, Darlin'
6. Away 'Cross The River
7. Two Old Sailors
8. Dancing On The Clouds
9. Winter Lightning, Summer Snow
10. Into The Sunset
11. Midnight Ride
12. West Texas Bar
13. Going Away
14. Man Of Constant Sorrow
15. Takin' The Road