Devilish Merry has performed its unique blend of folk fusion since 1978. The group has played across New England, the Mid-Atlantic States and the Midwest.
Devilish Merry is known for its lively old-time fiddle tunes, Irish jigs and reels, American folk and industrial ballads, and new songs from the musician's own experiences. With a new highly original CD release in Fall of 2006, the band has created a dynamic, layered, and driving brand of music that bridges cultural roots and produces a totally unique sound.
The group has always found instant appeal with its instrumentation – hammer dulcimer, banjo, percussion, mountain dulcimer, fiddle, flute and tin whistle. The group matches finely crafted musicianship with a constant desire to break new ground with songwriting and musical arrangements.
Burr Beard, hammer dulcimer, vocals; Jeff Berman, lap dulcimer, percussion; Jan Hamilton Sota, fiddle, viola, cello; LE McCullough, flute, tin whistle, bodhran, harmonica; Sue Powers, banjo, vocals.
The Ghost of His Former Self, Wildebeest, 1979;
Beauty is Everywhere, DMR, 2006.
Airplay: Cuckoo, Little White Pill, Dark Hollow, South Side, Beauty is Everywhere.
Music Preview: Devilish Merry is back in action
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Thursday, February 16, 2006 By John Hayes, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette What if America had been ...
Thursday, February 16, 2006
By John Hayes, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
What if America had been founded not on a clashing of cultures, but on a collaborative merging of free blacks, American Indians and immigrating Europeans? What would their music sound like?
"We took this idea and ran with it," says Jeff Berman, dulcimer player for a band once revered as the rootsiest part of Pittsburgh's disco era.
From 1978 through 1981, Devilish Merry's eclectic folk fusion caught the attention of Pittsburgh's eclectic folks. Twenty-five years later, the ensemble has regrouped with a few changes to create a 45-minute piece of cross-cultural music commissioned by a Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation grant hosted through Calliope: The Pittsburgh Folk Music Society, and to record a new album. The regrouping includes fiddler Jan Hamilton-Sota, banjoist Sue Powers, hammer dulcimer player Burr Beard, flute and tin whistle player L.E. McCullough and Berman. Former Rusted Root member Jim DiSpirito will sit in on percussion.
"Twenty years had passed and we all kept working on our own evolving music," says Powers. "I think we had artistic unfinished business."
"Beauty Is Everywhere," the new CD, was produced by Berman with a confluence of styles that date to 18th-century Western Pennsylvania settlements.
"It's not just Appalachian music, like it was a history lesson," says Powers. "We're inspired by the history of the regional music from the Pittsburgh area, but we're writing new folk songs about life now, universal stuff."
"We're absolutely not trying to replicate a bygone era," says Berman. "If we're doing these tunes now, it's because they hold up. They should evolve in some way, and after 20 years [if the band] is playing them the same way, something's wrong."
The concert, part of Calliope's Legends Series, will include some Devilish Merry favorites and premiere the commissioned work, eight separate pieces performed as a suite. Beard and McCullough will host a music composition workshop from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the First Unitarian Church in Shadyside. $10 donation, register with Calliope at 412-361-1915.
Typical set length: 45 minutes; 1-2 sets or 1.5 hours straight.
Typical set includes:Young Man Who Wouldn't Hoe Corn/Banish Misfortune/Forced March, Water and Vines, Drumshambo Jig, Cuckoo, Little White Pill, Boyne Hunt/Toss the Feathers, Walkin’ On Water, Peace Some Day.