The band weaves exquisite musical textures from even the simplest of traditional tunes and songs. Victory Review, writing of Talisman's 1996 CD release, "Phoenix," said the band's "strength is in its imaginative arrangements." Talisman can be soothing, even hypnotic. But they can also get a room full of dancers moving when they tackle a set of reels or jigs (as they do more often than not).
While steeped in ancient musical traditions, Talisman has a flavor all its own because of its instrumentation. The combination of hammered dulcimer, fiddle, flutes and guitar gives Talisman's music a rich, airy texture with solid rhythmic support.
John Willmott of CelticWays.com says "The Talisman sound is unique and hard to compare with major name artists. If you enjoy Clannad's most harmonious moments you'll definitely enjoy Talisman."
"Phoenix" was recorded in 1996 at Mercy Studios in Lawrence Kansas. At that time, the band consisted of Carl Thor, Sara Martin, and Russ Kapp (guitar), who now lives in Oakdale, California. Carl and Sara relocated to Vancouver, Washington in 1998 and formed the current incarnation of Talisman. Since that time, the band has played at venues in the Northwest, including the Northwest FolkLife Festival (Seattle), the Vancouver Farmers Market, summer concerts sponsored the City of Vancouver, the City of Portland, and Oregon State University, street fairs, pubs, and other events.
Carl Thor (hammered dulcimer, autoharp, piano, vocals, percussion) also plays in the Portland Megaband and in various informal dance music ensembles. Recently, he accompanied Portland's Aurora Chorus in performance of two pieces for choir and hammered dulcimer - "Reel a Bouche," arranged by Malcolm Dalglish, and "Auld Lang Syne," arranged by Aurora's director Joan Szymko. In 2001, he played two other Malcolm Dalglish arrangements in performance with the Portland Lesbian Choir. He has also performed as a soloist, and as a singer in several Lawrence (KS) and Vancouver (WA) choral groups. In 1997, he competed in the National Hammered Dulcimer Championship at Winfield, KS. He is currently studying music at Clark College and Portland Community College, and teaches hammered dulcimer in private lessons.
Jeff Kerssen-Griep (guitar, vocals, percussion) has contributed his energetic guitaring to Slainte, the Lunar Moose, and the Portland Megaband. He sates his recurring contradance jones by playing these days also with Anthea Lawrence in Mystic Spatula and with Kathleen Towers and Sue Songer in Three Wheeling. Most of the year he's Communication Studies prof "Dr. Jeff" at the University of Portland.
Laura Bissonette (fiddle, vocals), a violinist for nearly 30 years, has performed in a wide variety of both classical and folk/traditional ensembles. She says the highlight of her musical career (so far) was performing in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1997. She teaches instrumental and vocal music in the Vancouver public schools, as well as private lessons.
Sara Martin (flutes, tin whistle, vocals, percussion) has performed with the Lawrence Civic Choir, Home Harmonies, the Lawrence Arts Center Chorale, the Motet Singers and the University of Kansas Choirs. By day, she is director of advising at Clark College. She is also mother of two teenagers.
Check out the artist's website:
1. the Rakes of Kildare / Tobin's Favorite / the Lilting Banshee
2. the Song of Wandering Aengus / MetsÃ¤kukkia
3. Arran Boat Song
4. Sleep Soond I'da Mornin'
5. In the Mist
6. One Morning in May
9. Red Is the Rose
10. the Hills of Glenshee
11. the Mist Covered Mountains / the Crested Hen
12. My Love
13. Dublin Lady
14. Cedar Mountain Air
15. Jump at the Sun
16. Walk Into Your Future