KA·PO in Concert

Karen Ashbrook and Paul Oorts are two of the busiest musicians on the planet.

Karen started playing hammered dulcimer in the mid-1970's and lived overseas for five years, cutting her musical teeth on Irish music. She is renowned for playing in a wide variety of musical styles including Appalachian, Belgian, English, classical and Jewish. She teaches at numerous festivals and music camps around the States, and is now central in bringing instruction to the revival of the hakkebord (Flemish hammered dulcimer) in Belgium! With her delicate touch, trademark shimmering lilt and ear for authentic ornamentation, Karen is considered one of the finest Irish hammered dulcimer players anywhere. Add her wooden flute and pennywhistle playing, and you have the consummate Irish musician.

Belgian-born Paul Oorts performs on harp guitar, 10-string cittern, mandolin, and musette accordion. He is very active in the world of English, Contra, and Vintage dances. He has performed at dance events all over the US with the trio Goldcrest and has been on faculty at a large number of music camps. He has also guested on a good many of your already favorite albums supporting artists as varied as Mick Doherty and Peter Barnes.

Karen and Paul's newest recording, recorded at a European-themed concert for the Folklore Society of Greater Washington, is the first to focus entirely on their duet arrangements. The tunes range from sprightly, playful and mischievous to introspective, contemplative and comic, all showcasing their incredible virtuosity and their complete mastery of the many facets of European dance music. This is music that will have you wondering how in the world they find this stuff even as your foot is tapping insistently. I don't know a branle from a bourée, but I recognize great music when I hear it! Of course, there are a couple of very familiar tunes too even if you don't hear them every day. It makes me wonder why no one thought to record "Under Paris Skies" on hammered dulcimer until now. What a great tune! Paul provides several delicious vocals as well including the funniest song you'll hear about Ulysses and perhaps the only song you'll hear about the mirliton, a type of hairdo popular in the early 1700's. Karen and Paul have been fishing in these somewhat obscure waters for years and this recording is an elegant testament to not only their eclectic tastes but to their outstanding musicianship and superb scholarship.

(Reviewed by Neal Walters for Dulcimer Players News)