Karen Leigh Williams

Against Tradition

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This little-known album of duets for the guitar and hammer dulcimer is an extraordinary example of traditional instruments out of their context and sounding great. The hammer dulcimer is generally used in Appalachian and Celtic music, but sounds wonderful on this collection of mostly original music. Rick Ruskin's warm guitar tones blend perfectly with the bright tones of the hammer dulcimer, and he often plays with deft minimalism that values the right note over a cascade of sound. Karen Leigh Williams' deft playing shows a wide range which is always within the potential of the instrument but is rarely exploited. This album has the distinction of featuring the very first recorded version of "Ashokan Farewell", the tune that became an unlikely hit when it was used as a theme for the PBS Civil War documentary. This recording, while less known, is much superior. The rest of the album is of similar high quality, and it is well worth seeking out. If you can't find it elsewhere, it can be ordered from liondogmusic.com.

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