Bee & Boo
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Bee & Boo

Band Americana Acoustic


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"REVIEW: Get this record: Bee & Boo"

By Richard Boyd

The other evening on my front porch with a glass of red wine, a gentle cooling breeze and watching the sun sink over western Lake Pontchartrain, I had a most pleasant brief flashback to two of the more striking and yet totally dissimilar voices of the 1960s folk revival movement in American music.
My nostalgic rememberance was for the folk singing of Nancy Ames and Hedy West.
No, I was not sitting in my rocking chair playing on my turntable their old and rare long playing vinyl records that I dug out of my ridiculously large LP collection. Nor was I tuned into some radio station paying homage to the folk troubadours of that era.
But what triggered the warmly satisfying recollection was an outstanding new record issuing from my CD player recently released by North Carolina/Newfoundland singers and pickers, Bee & Boo. I was already fully drawn into their sometimes gentle, something rollicking lead and harmony singing on a number of originals and standards when, 11 cuts into the CD, I was suddenly totally mesmerized by the lead singing of Boo on the old folk standard, "I Never Will Marry," an old Appalachian song of lament that in some references is credited to Fred Hellerman, a member of the Weavers.
Bee and Boo are Judith Zander who writes songs, sings, plays guitar and strum stick on some cuts and her partner John Ferris, who writes songs, sings, plays percussion and harmonica.
Their stroke of creative genius in having John sing lead on "I Never Will Marry" with Judith in achingly pure harmony is just one of many highlights on this CD they simply call Bee & Boo.
So why did this track on the CD bridge a memory gap to Nancy Ames and Hedy West? Well Ames, who would be 70 this year if she is still living, has a crystal pure voice that some said was too good for folk music but she loved the genre and released some long out-of-print albums on the Liberty Records label and fortunately I, then in my 20s and already a serious record collector, had the foresight to buy them including my favorite of her four Liberty albums called "I Never Will Marry." There are a couple Nancy Ames CDs on the market of her in later years singing songs of Brazil but there is no indication the old Liberty albums have ever been re-issued.
The connection to Hedy West, who made a few folk albums in the early 1960s for Vanguard Records and had a rustic, rural north Georgia voice that somewhat echo's in the more contemporary singing of Iris DeMent, lies in the fact that on one of those -- and my personal favorite of her records -- she strung together a sizzling medley of similar old traditional female laments about either the good or bad aspects of remaining a single girl. I would love in some future project to hear Judith sing some of those those collected by Hedy West such as "Single Girl," "Single Life," and the most poigant of all, "Wish I Was A Single Girl Again.''
Well, the moment passed and I still have not dug around in my folk album collection to find the Nancy Ames and Hedy West records. One of these days!!!
But let me urge a younger generation who have never heard of Nancy Ames or Hedy West to discover something very musically enchanting in this CD by Bee and Boo.
Right off the bat is a gorgeous original song by Judith called "When You Come Through'' about the tug of the sea, the pull of Newfoundland's rocky coast and most importantly, the spiritual, emotional and physical harbor of family, friends and loved ones; a harbor as necessary and snug as the calm harbor nestled between some towering cliffs.
I was especially amused and intrigued by John's foot-stomping zydeco influenced original "Dancing On The Ceiling,'' that amazingly counterbalances some rockabilly throwdowns that could come right out of the canon of Sleepy LaBeef. Equally worth the price of this CD is his reverent reading of "Midnight Special,'' a song at times attributed to Leadbelly.
There are several other excellent readings by this duo of traditional classics, "Dark Hollow," "Deep River Blues" which, in their version, hints that they know of the Hackberry Ramblers; "Down To The River To Pray,'' the song Allison Krauss memorialized on the "O Brother, Where Art Thou,'' soundtrack; "Who Built The Ark''; and the delightful "The Coo Coo Bird."
The duo have had a varied musical journey (she once while living in the Village, sang some background vocals on recordings by David Peeel & The Lower East Side; one of my personal favorite bands).
But now they divide their time between a 150-year-old log cabin in Weaverville, N.C. in the mountains and the coast of Bonnie Bay, Newfoundland and play at street fairs, benefits for various causes, coffee houses and other venue's. The new CD was engineered by Al Petteway at Fairewood Studio in Fairview, N.C. and produced by Marc Wahlquist who died shortly after the project was completed. Details on purchasing the record and their schedule of performances is available online at and e-mail at
Anyone young or old interested in excellent performances of roots music and creative originals needs this as an essential part of their collection, not only for the reasons mentioned above but for two of the most compelling renditions on a totally compelling record. I have saved them for last.
One is a tingling lead vocal performance by Judith with compelling harmony by John on the classic old blues dirge by the Delmore Brothers, one of the best of the brother duos who once dominated old time country and early bluegrass music, called "Blues, Stay Away From Me.'' This is excellent.
And finally, their stunningly emotionally moving tribute to the great Newfoundland songwriter and singer Ron Hynes who they have often seen in performance when in and about his home base of St. John's Newfoundland.
Bee and Boo has chosen Hynes' lush and lonely and often recorded song "Sonny's Dream.'' Since getting this compelling CD I have been playing their version repeatedly, awed by Judith's crystal pure singing, a performance that comes within a whisker of matching what I personally consider the masterwork reading of this song; the recording by the great Edinburgh, Scotland vocalist Jean Redpath who teamed with cello player Abby Newton and Celtic fiddle master Alasdair Fraser on a classic 1990 Philo Records album of songs of the same theme as "Sonny's Dream,'' called "Leaving The Land: A Collection of Songs, Scottish and Western.''
I believe Jean Redpath would be entranced by Judith's rendering of the Hynes song. I know I am and I am sure you will be when you add Bee & Boo to your CD collection. Go out and get this record.

(Richard Boyd is a recently retired journalist living in Mandeville, La. on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain and across the lake from downtown New Orleans. He has often written about music, musicians, and historic links between various elements of various musical forms. He is a lifelong collector of music with a musical library in his house filled with thousands of records from Edison 16 rpms to CDs.)
- By Richard Boyd

"Cranberry Thistle in Jonesborough, TN"

In a recent two-hour concert by the duo of "Bee & Boo", May 10th, 2007, I was amazed at the variety and the quality of their performance at the Cranberry Thistle (Jonesborough, TN) . The duo live about an hour away in Marshall, North Carolina and have a second home in Bonne Bay, Newfoundland, Canada.

Bee, Judith Zander, has perfected a flattop guitar style purely her own. She's been picking since the '70s, in places as far as New York and Los Angeles. Bee's voice lends itself perfectly, to a harmony matching her partner, Boo.

Boo, John Ferris, has a voice that is truly amazing. Along with playing fine harmonica riffs, upon at least two occasions he featured a three-stringed instrument called a Grand Strumstick, which incidentally, was designed by the man who created the Martin backpacker guitar. The McNally Strumstick ( is available at Song of the Wood in Black Mountain, NC.

The musical couple featured both traditional country music and Celtic during the show. Also featured were a few of their own songs from their new self-titled CD, Bee & Boo. (More information may be found at:

At the Cranberry Thistle, Jonesborough, Tn. show they announced a extended engagement, during the summer of 2007 at Ghost Town in the Sky ( in Maggie Valley, Western North Carolina. Ghost Town in the Sky is a themepark that is re-opening May 25th. Bee & Boo will entertain at Ghost Town throughout the summer, on the following days: Fri., Sat., Sun., & Mon. from 9:00 a.m., to 5:00 p.m. - Harold Kite <>


The fifteen-track 2007 CD, "Bee & Boo," was recorded at Al Petteway's studio; produced by late, beloved A&R man, Marc Wahlquist.



"Bee & Boo" grew up in New York, playing in bands in N.Y.C., respectively, in the 70's + 60's. A duo, not a couple, they've been singing together for a decade. When not traveling or otherwise engaged in music in the North Carolina Appalachian Mountains, "Bee & Boo" live in the Atlantic Canadian province of Newfoundland & Labrador.

[The band website, below, continues with bio. and detail.]