Producer/composer David Mansfield joins local acoustic trio Cairn to Cairn on CD and at Ark show on Friday
“A cairn is like a trail marker,” Farmer explained.
In this case, Cairn to Cairn’s latest waypoint is a new album. Last fall the group recorded 12 tracks in Brooklyn, N.Y., with well-known producer, composer, and musician David Mansfield, who has worked with the likes of Bob Dylan (Dylan asked Mansfield to tour with him on his 1975 Rolling Thunder Revue tour), T-Bone Burnett and Sting. On Friday, Mansfield—who played on several of the CD’s tracks—will join Cairn to Cairn for an album release show at The Ark.
A founding member of Bruce Hornsby and the Range, Mansfield will play mandolin, fiddle and Weissenborn lap steel guitar at the Cairn to Cairn date.
“He’s played with a lot of heavy cats,” said Farmer. “He helped us think a little bigger—create something that has a more national sound. We were simpatico with him right from the beginning.”Besides guitarist/singer Farmer, Cairn to Cairn consists of flutist/vocalist Kelly McDermott and bassist/percussionist/vocalist Rob Crozier. Originally formed in 2007 as a classical flute and guitar duo, Cairn to Cairn soon expanded to explore traditional folk music and beyond.
Farmer said the new CD, titled “Hands Behind My Back,” is not that much different than the group’s previous efforts, although it does incorporate more percussion and has more of a “live” sound to it, thanks to the room in which it was recorded. The disc contains several originals as well as some traditional songs drawn from the public domain.
“It’s more an expansion over our original concept, which was to write new music and make interesting arrangements, and then find other songs that resonate with us for us to make our own,” he said. “It’s really more of a continuation down our road. We’re really trying to make full use of all our skills and training. We’ve worked quite a bit on our three-part singing.”
Originally from the Detroit area, composer, guitarist and vocalist Farmer’s musical career has included two years as lead guitarist with surf legends Jan & Dean and three years touring with his own rock and roll group, The Bead Band.
A native of Michigan, McDermott’s musical journey has taken her throughout the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Europe. She lives in Ann Arbor, where she continues to work as a symphonic flutist (she is the principal flutist with the Bijou Orchestra) and flute instructor.
Crozier is an Ann Arbor multi-instrumentalist who is in demand as a bassist throughout the southeastern Michigan area. His passion for improvisation inspired him to create the radio series “Music Is Freedom,” which is performed live on University of Michigan radio station WCBN.
Now that the new CD is completed, Cairn to Cairn’s members plan to tour nationally as much as possible and take advantage of any other opportunities that may come their way.
“One of our main goals in the next two years is to tour a lot more nationally. We need an agent, someone who will help us get out there a little more. We’ve just got to keep putting lots of irons in the fire,” said Farmer, “to take us to the next cairn.”