I have always loved the process of making art, more than the art itself.
As a choreographer, I far more enjoyed the experience of exploring an idea in the studio than having it polished, finished and performed.
And I’m a total geek when it comes to hearing how other artists make their work. I’m the slowpoke that reads all of the plaques at an art museum. “Behind the scenes” DVD extras are my favorite. There’s just something irresistible to me about understanding how an artist took a kernel of an idea and then created something beautiful.
I prefer seeing art as a journey, rather than a destination.
Like The Okee Dokee Brothers.
Embarking on their second “Adventure album”, GRAMMY winning The Okee Dokee Brothers, comprised of Justin Lansing and Joe Mailander, spent a month hiking and camping along the Appalachian Trail. The result is the highly anticipated “Through the Woods.”
As soon as I cracked open the stunningly gorgeous CD, I already felt like I was on a journey. Not only does Through the Woods consist of a CD with 15 original and traditional songs, it also contains a supplemental DVD with a film that illustrates the story of The Okee Dokee Brothers’ trip, beautifully shot and edited.
One fun note: I love that the liner notes disclaim, “No electronic insturments were used in the making of this album.” And upon listening to the album, anything electronic would seem as out of place as zebras in a dog run.
Lansing and Mailander have gathered a slew of GRAMMY winners of American folk music and “mountain musicians” to play just about everything but the kitchen sink, though I have no doubt the Okee Dokee Brothers could pull that off too. Pots, pans, a log drum, a tomato box; they all make an appearance.
Through the Woods is an album of discovery, love and adventure. The Okee Dokee Brothers’ distinctive melodies and lighthearted energy fall easily on young ears, especially with songs like “Echo” and “Black Bear Mama.”
“Riddle and Rhyme” is a fun tune with short lines and sharp rhymes that tingle in your ears and mouth. And you can’t get any more fun than with “Jamboree”, one of my favorite songs on the album. Its celebratory vibe is full of a warm and welcoming energy and spirit,.
“Big Rock Candy Mountain” weaves tales of a magical place, full of sunshine, surprise, and sugar. And then there’s the trio of songs that I like to call The Cousins: “Fiddlestick Joe”, “Ruby Jane”, and “Hillbilly Willy”. These songs paint portraits of characters full of history and personality.
To say this is a children’s album is a huge understatement. The Okee Dokee Brothers’ sophisticated harmonies, smooth production and encompassing lyrics could easily translate to adult music. Songs like “Baby Mine” and “Evergreen” are sweet love songs that could land themselves on my next anniversary mixed CD. (Yeah, you read that right. I still do that kind of thing.)
Gems like “Tiny Little Life”, “Out of Tune”, and “Lighten Your Load” provide listeners observations and contemplations about life, offering the kind of sound advice that comes with having taken a transformative trip.
“Walking with Spring” seems to echo The Okee Dokee Brothers’ adventure’s motto, and gets me excited about lazy summers of exploration and wonder.
Perhaps the standout tune of the album, though, is the title track, “Through the Woods”. Reminiscent of their “Along For the Ride”, it showcases not only their smart writing but gratifying harmonies that could rival the Indigo Girls.
The Okee Dokee Brothers have hit their latest album out of the park. I’m definitely playing this album while we’re hanging by our fire pit this spring, or wherever our summer journey takes us.
And you can, too! I’m giving away a CD to one of you lovely readers! All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter widget below by 11:59pm on Friday, May 23rd. Open to anyone 18 and over in the contiguous United States.
Good luck, and may you enjoy your journey!