December 2020 5 Star Review of "For Absent Friends" in RECORDING MAGAZINE


REVIEW

Celtic Guitarist Christopher Dean To Release Beautiful New Arrangement of 'The Parting Glass'


'The Parting Glass' is set for release on September 1st 2021.

The origins of The Parting Glass can be found in Scotland. A version of the lyrics was known at least as early as 1605 with variations and fragments appearing in various songs down through the centuries. The melody was first collected in 1782

'The Parting Glass', or 'Stirrup Cup', was the final hospitality offered to a departing guest. Once they had mounted, they were presented one final drink to fortify them for their travels. The custom was practised in several continental countries.

The song and tune have always been one of Christopher Dean's favourites. He wrote the
arrangement for 6 and 12 string guitars, mandolin and bass. He left sections open for Uilleann Pipes and Accordion.

Richard Schmidt, who owns a studio in Scotts Valley, CA performed and recorded the Accordion in his studio. Aaron Shaw performed and recorded the Uilleann Pipes at his home studio in Los Angeles, CA. Jim Soldi performed the backing Fiddle track (VI) in his studio in Ramona, CA.

Jim Soldi is one of the most talented musicians that Chris knows. He was the lead guitarist for Johnny Cash and Ricky Skaggs. His main instrument is guitar, but he is a multi instrumentalist.

Aaron Shaw is the Highland Piper for the group Wicked Tinkers. He is also a highly respected Bagpipe instructor. He is accomplished on Uilleann Pipes and Guitar also with a very impressive resume. He recorded two tracks on Chris' 2006 album, Celtic Journey.

Richard Schmidt, and Chris have known each other since the first grade in Los Gatos, CA. During the early years they both pursued music. Richard started on the accordion and added guitar. Chris started on guitar at 5 years old. (his grandfather taught me to play 'Ghost Rider' in the 5th and 6th grade, Chris was learning violin and playing in the school orchestra. By the time they were both in Jr. High they were playing guitar and playing in rock bands.

In high school Richard had established himself on accordion and guitar and was performing in 'The Dig Beats', a rock group. Chris joined that band as well, as a rhythm guitarist. After high school Richard continued in music and performed in a number of groups. He still performs today, although now he is a multi-instrumentalist.

After high school they both lost touch. They had not seen each other for about 30 years when they hooked up on Facebook. On a tour to Northern California Richard attended a concert. The friendship continued where it left off, and when this project was in discussion, Richard volunteered to record the Accordion and did a fantastic job.

When Chris was five years old, his grandfather introduced him to the acoustic steel string guitar. His grandfather taught him a few chords and the melody to "Ghost Riders in the Sky". From that point forward Chris' life was altered, he was addicted and dedicated to music and the guitar. That has never changed.

After playing in several Jr. High and High School bands in California, Chris started his professional career in 1966 as a full time performing musician in Tucson, Arizona. The Night Sounds were a four piece band specializing in rock and R&B. Chris performed with that group through the beginning of 1968. During that time they released two singles, were the opening act for the rock groups "The Doors" and "The Rascals", and toured the south west extensively. Chris then performed with another R&B group, The Rick Durham Band, which was touring out of Little Rock, AR. He spent 4 months on the road working with that group. During that period he had the opportunity to open for the "Rolling Stones" in Los Angeles at a concert MC'ed by the legendary DJ, "Wolfman Jack".

After serving in the Army, Chris returned to Tucson. At that time he became content to play fingerstyle guitar recreationally for his own enjoyment. After about seven years, Chris became active in performing again. This time playing bluegrass music on a 5-string banjo.

Chris and his wife, Ann, relocated to Southern California in 1980. In 1981 Chris started a bluegrass band with mandolinist Peter Lauderbach. (Pete can be heard on Chris' second album, "The Gael"). He also began teaching the 5 string banjo and guitar at a local music store. Chris became interested in, and involved with banjo competition. In 1983 Chris won First Place in Intermediate Bluegrass Banjo, and in 1985 First Place in Advanced Bluegrass Banjo. Both at the Julian Bluegrass Festival (The New Expressions' Guitar, Banjo and Fiddle Contest). During those years, that festival would generally draw an audience of approximately 6,000 Bluegrass fans.

In January 1996 Chris started performing Scottish and Irish traditional and contemporary folk music on solo fingerstyle guitar. His performances began as an occasional gig at a record store or wedding, and escalated to being booked as the opening act for the Celtic group "Skyedance". Since then, Chris has toured extensively and performed at a variety of venues, including shows with Dan Crary, Alasdair Fraser, Men of Worth, The Wicked Tinkers, Skyedance, Brian Baynes, and more. Over the last several years Chris has added American traditional and contemporary folk music to his shows, as well as adding 12 string guitar.

With the encouragement of friends Jimmy Keigher and Donnie MacDonald (Men of Worth), Scottish singer/songwriter Dougie MacLean, guitarist/recording artist Edgar Cruz, and Johnny Cash/Ricky Skaggs guitarist Jim Soldi, Chris released his first solo album of Celtic instrumental music, "Highland Heritage", in September 2000 on the Cairney Hill Music label. His second album, "The Gael", was released in June 2002. Chris' third album "Celtic Journey" was released January 16, 2006. A single, "Last of the Mohicans/The Gael", off of his fourth album was released for mp3 distribution in December 2010. The fourth album, "Shenandoah" was released in August 2013.Chris' music has also been released on multiple compilation albums in Italy, the U.S., and Japan.

Throughout the years Chris' performance venues have included PBS/NPR, Commercial Radio, Celtic and Folk Festivals, Performing Arts Centres, Arts-In-Schools Programs, Corporate Events, and Resorts ....... just to mention a few

- The Sound Cafe Magazine
Blues and Roots Radio, FEA Media, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada


REVIEW

“ Having been brought up in the traditions of Irish and Scots music for almost fifty years or so and being exposed to and having played with some of the best , I am completely sold on the passion that exudes from Christopher Dean’s Music, playing with such authority and expression that would suggest he feels the meaning and sentiment of each tune which is a rare gift. To hear Christopher playing from the heart is his gift to the listener and carries them to places they have not been before. Celtic Music is in his soul and when he plays he bares his soul to you."

"As well as being an outstanding musician it is clear that he has immersed himself in the traditions of where his music comes from, his knowledge shines through when speaking with him, a fantastic musician, a complete authority and a very sincere human being, I have been blessed to have been introduced to the man and his music. “


- Stevie Connor, Radio Show Host, "Wee Dan's Hoose"
Blues and Roots Radio, thehazFM.ca, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

(Wee Dan's Hoose airs Sundays 9 - 11 am EST and 7 - 9 pm EST)

www.BluesandRootsRadio.com


COMMENT

"I’ve listened to and watched your videos of “Shenandoah”, and “If I Were a Carpenter”, many times.

It’s like you make the notes sound to the ears as music, to the mind as words and to the soul as if one were in a far away place in a time long ago.  I’ve listened to many other versions on facebook, and some versions of these songs are pretty good, but just music.  

No others have the magic that takes the mind of the listener back to the originals they loved so much, and then stirs up the stored dreams and thoughts associated with these beloved tunes.  Then, as the almost forgotten thoughts pass by, and the mind jumps from one foggy dream to the next, the listener realizes a spell has been cast.

Thank God for the gift he has given you."

- T Curtis - Tucson, AZ (e-mail received 12/10)


CONCERT REVIEW

"I was truly impressed with your performance last night. Thank you so much for giving me that experience. It was awesome! You have developed a very impressive on-stage persona and demeanor that brings the audience into the performance and share the richness and history of the individual pieces. Your craftsmanship with the instruments is enhanced by your ability to impart emotion to the melody and evoke individual memories by audience members."

- LF Seligman (e-mail received from audience member)
Desert View Performing Arts Center, Tucson, AZ


REVIEW - Celtic Journey

"Listening to Celtic Journey we can feel the experience of an important historical/musical journey; Dean lives every single passage, every note, every embellishment and we greedily plunder all his musical maturity...listening to Bonny At Morn or The Foggy Dew is really an astonishing experience hard to forget."


"With Celtic Journey Christopher Dean gives us, with taste and experience, the magic of celtic music with its atmosphere wrapped in fog, legends and history. First-rate work."

- Luca Ferrara, Axe Magazine , Rome, Italy


REVIEW - Celtic Journey

"... I fell in love with the woody resonance and bell-like sustain of Christopher Dean’s Taylor guitar and with the delicious picking style that he is rightly known for. The tunes and songs he plays are evocative of the Irish and Scots landscapes. The playing is emotional and reflective without being maudlin or sentimental. The melodies lift the spirit and weave a magic that sustains long after the last notes fade...."

- Jools Thatcher, DuggUp: Saturday Samples , Melbourne, Australia

Click here to read the entire review


CONCERT REVIEW

“The music and learning history of the music moved me”
“...a spectacular event”
“We loved it from beginning to end.”

Kersti Evans, Presenter - Trilogy, Rio Vista, CA


REVIEW - Celtic Journey

"...I listen to "Celtic Journey" repeatedly and I can only say it is a superb album. To be frank I thought it was the "usual" album of guitar music but that is something different. Christopher is in fact surely an excellent guitar player, with a very soft and bright touch, but it seems he prefer more complex and subtle arrangements creating a quite and delightful climate from the first to the last note, even when the rhythm is a little bit more fast. I was really impressed by his work so that be sure "Celtic Journey" will be a favorite of mine in my radio show of folk & roots here!"

Massimo Ferro, Radio Voce Spazio 93.8 FM, San Michele, Alessandria, Italy

http://www.highway61.it/


REVIEW - Celtic Journey

"...American finger-picking guitarist heads up a collection of Irish and Scottish tunes and airs. The difference is that many of his choices are songs, including Bobby Sands's Back Home in Derry. These turn up trumps, his subtlety of touch working wonders; he can jig it too, but it is the song airs where he reigns supreme."

Ian Kearey, Folk Roots (fRoots) Magazine, London, England

http://www.frootsmag.com/


REVIEW - Celtic Journey

"If there's any truth to the old saying, "You can tell a lot about a man by the work he does," then Christopher Dean is a well-rounded, confident-but-not-flashy man of substance."

"Listening to his third solo album, Celtic Journey, is the equivalent of lying in the soft green grass on one of Scotland's rolling hills. The music commands control of all your senses, easing your mind back into a calmer place."

"Complicated, intricate chord patterns push along every track, and there's not a minute left unmastered. Dean takes the time to let his nimble fingers execute each measure delicately. As a result, he installs meaning, clout, and pride into each song."

"Even though this is an album backed by impressive credentials, with expert production from an artist who obviously did his homework, what makes it enjoyable to listen to is the beauty of music. None of the qualifications matter, just the work. Celtic Journey is all substance."

Kate Kowsh, The San Diego Troubadour

Click here to read the article


REVIEW - Celtic Journey

"...Listning to the complex harmonies that Dean playes on "Skye Boat Song", with simultanious lilting melodicism and full chording, or the delicacy which he lends to the Northumbrian tune "Bonny at Morn" is to know that this is, above all else, a guitar record."

"..."Loch Lomond" is a beautiful song that sounds spry and stately in his capable hands."

Dave Soyars, The Irish Herald/The New Irish Gael


REVIEW - Celtic Journey

"...Dean makes each song accessible and bright – and with his playing the marvel that it is, there's not a dull or boring track here."

Jim Trageser, North County Times


NEWS -

Guitar Nine Records reports Christopher Dean's "The Gael" rated #3 in the top best selling album for Fingerstyle Guitar, and #9 best selling album in the Acoustic Guitar category.

Click here to read the article


ARTICLE - Celtic Journey

Alan Scott, Rampand Scotland, Glasgow, Scotland

Click here to read the article


ARTICLE

KELTIKA

Monthly Italian Celtic Music Publication & Compilation CD

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The companion 60 minute, 14 song compilation CD consisted of selections from such noted Celtic entertainers as Cathal McConnell, Fairport Convention, Duncan Chisholm (Wolfstone), Alyth McCormack, and many more.

Two of Christopher Dean's tunes ("The Gael" and "Ye Banks and Braes") were selected to open and close this CD.

Article written by: Alfredo De Pietra • Translation by: Anthony Scocozza/Alfredo De Pietra

From America, a sensitive, passionate and precise musician, that possesses a repertoire of Celtic song and ballad for the solo acoustic guitar. You can listen to his music on the compilation album accompanying this magazine.

The topic of the guitar in Celtic music becomes richer with a new person. An artist with a diversified musical background and philosophy, who breaks away from the stereotype of a Celtic guitarist. We speak about the American, of Scottish heritage, Christopher Dean. He is introduced to us on this months Keltica music sampler with two selections from his last album, "The Gael".

On many occasions we have listened to the "Celtic Guitarist" who prefers to play at supersonic speed, is able to impress us, but, because of a preference for that technique, does not hit the listener's imagination, to the detriment of emotional communication. Above all, with this kind of traditional music of Celtic origin, the result of this type of perspective does not allow the listener the important contemplative aspects associated with the interpretation of the melody. Obviously, reels, jigs and fiddle tunes (dance music) demand a dynamic approach, but many guitarists seem to concentrate on playing the instrument rather than the music. The music of Dean is exactly the opposite of this position. Very rarely have we heard a more sensitive and expressive guitarist who communicates through his Taylor guitar.

At a first listening, you might even think that he could be an instrumentalist playing with a simplistic technique, but this is not the point: it would be unfair to name other guitarists, but rather than many guitarists with a muscular approach to the guitar fret board, he is a musician who succeeds to render, in a subline way, the expressiveness of the music, transposed on a difficult instrument, like the guitar.

The relationship between Christopher Dean and the guitar began at an early age. At the age of five he received his first guitar from his grandfather, and was taught the rudimentary principals. It was an encounter that would mark his life in a definitive way, until today. The fifty-five year old musician began to perform professionally in 1966 in Tucson, Arizona, at the age of 18. His band, the Night Sounds, was a quartet specializing in rock and R&B, who toured the southern states of the U.S.A. (they were also the opening act for The Doors). After some years we find the guitarist in the Rick Durham Band, touring the Los Angeles area. Following, an artistic interval that coincides with military service.

Upon his return to Tucson, Dean begins to study fingerpicking, and, after seven years (and moving to Southern California) he returns to public performance, but playing the banjo with a repertoire oriented towards bluegrass. From 1980 to 1986 it was the banjo that was mainly performed by Dean. During that time, he performed in a series of competitions in the category of bluegrass banjo. For the next 10 years (1986-1996) he stopped performing on a professional level in order to deepen the study of the history and characteristics of Scottish and Irish music. In 1996 he returns to public performance, and this time with a repertoire formed exclusively from traditional and contemporary folk music, arranged for fingerstyle guitar.

In the course of the last years, his popularity has quickly grown, and the presence of Dean is now a consistent on the American Celtic folk music scene. The American guitarist traveled to Scotland in search of his own roots and family ties to the clan MacKay. His first album represents a superimposed image of a photograph he took on that trip. The panoramic photo of Ruthven, in the Highlands, was the scene of a battle when the English Queen sent her army to destroy the society of the clans.

As a result of the encouragement of the popular Scottish artist, Dougie MacLean, Dean decided to record his first album, "Highland Heritage", which was published in the autumn of 2000. With the success of that Celtic guitar album , he released his second album, "The Gael", two years later. We introduce the readers of Keltika to the title track, "The Gael", and the evocative "Ye Banks and Braes O' Bonnie Doon".

MacLean writes: "I have known Chris for several years both as a friend and a musician. He is an accomplished guitarist and is conscientious and committed about the style of music he chooses, to the extent that he has set up his own record label and released a fine, well researched album of Scottish and Irish tunes.

He has a long association with the music business, having started as a teenager, to the present where he has recently performed with several notable figures in the Celtic arena, and which I feel is just recognition for his effort and ability. I also know he has been getting an excellent response at his gigs and I am sure this will continue to be the case.

I am happy to support Chris in his efforts and to recommend him to you."

The two pieces drawn from "The Gael" clearly introduce us to the artistic philosophy of this guitarist. His music is more relaxed and calm than the average of his colleagues (who rely on a typical repertoire of dance music). The beauty of the lyrics are transposed into his arrangements. It's not by chance that slow airs and ballads predominate on this album which seem to communicate to us the importance of the melody in the traditional music of Scotland and Ireland.

"The Gael" is, perhaps, one of the most famous pieces of contemporary Celtic music. The tune was written by MacLean in 1990, and originates from his album "The Search". Two years after the release of that album the tune was chosen by 20th Century Fox for the movie soundtrack "The Last of the Mohicans". in 1995 MacLean was awarded a gold record for that contribution. In the last several years "The Gael" has been recorded by several musicians (in Italy it continues to be used in the spot advertising for a brand of whisky...), but we are proud to announce that Dean's arrangement is the first version for guitar.

"Ye Banks and Braes O' Bonnie Doon" is a song written by Robert Burns. As in many cases, he wrote the lyrics and adapted them to a pre-existing fiddle tune, "The Caldonian Hunts Delight". In this version, Dean celebrates the arrangement of Tony McManus. The Gael can be acquired directly from the record house, Cairney Hill Music: telephone 001-619-258-2699; web http:www.cairneyhill.com; e-mail info@cairneyhill.com.


 REVIEW

Noted Canadian author Rob Lockhart writes in a review:

"...Celtic music grips the imagination. It expresses the beauty and mystery inherent in the heartlands of the Celts - ancient lovely lands; ancient tragic stories; heartfelt love; fiery spirits of both the soul and Uisge beatha, the "water of life". The swirls and whorls of Celtic design symbolize life and love never ending - belief embodied in the skirling rhythms and grace notes of Celtic music.

It is wholly remarkable that Christopher Dean's solo fingerstyle guitar can evoke the very soul of Celtic spirit and emotion in this exquisite recording. His choice of music is thoughtful and varied, wistful and stirring. The arrangements (save two) are his own. Chris plays with sensitivity and emotion, - just him and his expressive Taylor guitar. Ah, but his Irish and Scottish ancestry infuses the notes with mystery, and nostalgia, and pride. The notes are not just played, they are expressed lovingly, as if by a poetic bard who speaks to your very soul...."


ARTICLE

San Diego's Celtic Connection

Dedicated to the acoustic steel string guitar since the age of 5, Christopher Dean has played rock 'n' roll, blues, and bluegrass music throughout his lifetime. But for the last 12 years, Dean has concentrated his efforts towards studying the musicology of Scottish and Irish folk music. In 1996, he started to perform the traditional and contemporary styles of the genre on solo fingerstyle guitar. His performances over the past 10 years have evolved from an occasional gig at a record store or wedding to playing with some of the major recording artists from the U.S., Scotland, and Ireland

Canadian author Rob Lockhart describes Dean's music beautifully. "It is wholly remarkable that Christopher Dean's solo fingerstyle guitar can evoke the very soul of Celtic spirit and emotion. His Irish and Scottish ancestry infuses the notes with mystery, and nostalgia, and pride. The notes are not just played, they are expressed lovingly, as if by a poetic bard who speaks to your very soul...."

With two Celtic albums already recorded, Dean remains loyal to the Celtic sounds of his musical heritage. His CD's, Highland Heritage and The Gael, were received with rave reviews. Dean also adds a humorous storytelling aspect to the music during his live shows. Although Christopher Dean's music may be more quiet and subtle than its energized Celtic dance counterpart, be forewarned: his beautiful ballads may just steel your heart!

San Diego Troubadour
This article, in its entirety, discussed 3 Celtic entertainers: Kitchenfire, Christopher Dean, and Celticana


REVIEW

"...We've all heard flashy players who impress but don't move or engage us because their guitar work is more fingercraft than communication. It is apparent from Dean's deft yet unhurried execution that the goal is not to win a fingerpicking tournament, but to render each tune with an economy that lays bare its emotional wiring. Notes and phrases ring with purpose, and an intangible "something" (perhaps "soul" is a good word) emerges from the outlines of ages-old melodies and modal harmonies.

Highland Heritage's deliberate pacing and hushed reverence draw you into an almost mysterious communion with the ancient Scots-Irish. It comes from an area in the heart reserved for reflection on the personal meaning of history, place, and bloodline. And it does not require being of Scottish or Irish descent to become enveloped in its poignancy and emotion."

- John D'Agostino, Award-winning Music Critic
(Los Angeles Times, San Diego Reader, Musician)


REVIEW

"...Chris Dean, also takes the relaxed approach on his 2000 release CD. This El Cajon-based guitarist, plays the locally made Taylor 612ce and 314ce, on the album. He is a former 5 string banjo contest winner who gets a very bright sound from his instruments.

The CD includes several Celtic standards, "Mist Covered Mountains", "Wild Mountain Thyme", and "Danny Boy". He also performs Pierre Bensusan's "Voyage to Ireland" on this 11 track CD. All are done with great skill. Dean is a guitarist who favors a good deal of ornamentation in his performance as witnessed by this CD."

- Art Edelstein, Celtic Guitarist/Recording Artist, Editor, Author, Publisher, Writer,
Journalist
(articles published in: Acousitc Guitar, Guitar Player, Frets, Irish Music Magazine, etc)


REVIEW

"...While writing this Newsletter, I frequently play the CD "Highland Heritage" which features the sensitive, tranquil solo acoustic guitar playing of Christopher Dean. Now, Chris (who has Scottish roots but lives in Southern California) has produced another CD "The Gael" with a mixture of Scottish and Irish traditional and contemporary music, performed instrumentally on acoustic guitar. I've bought a copy and it is now on my "most often played" list"

- Alan Scott, Author/Publisher
weekly Internet Newsletter "Rampant Scotland" (www.RampantScotland.com), Glasgow, Scotland


REVIEW

"...The fingerstyle guitarist has already published "Highland Heritage" an album of traditional Celtic numbers done solo, and now he presents a second work, "The Gael" in which the guitar is multi tracked and in some numbers has some help from mandolinist Peter Lauderbach to construct a resonant tapestry of sound. Dean displays a certainty of tone - precise and controlled technology and volume... a pleasant and agreeable acoustic disc of guitar music that gathers some interesting things like "Dargai", "The Gael", and the peerless McManus arrangement of the traditional "Ye Banks And Braes 'O Bonnie Doon" which Dean brings to full light."

Translation provided by Rob Lockhart and Franco Morone.

- Roberto Menabo, Guitarist/Recording Artist, Author, Writer,
Journalist
(articles published in: Jam, II Blues, Late For The Sky, Folk Bullettin, Jazz It, Blues Time) Bologna, Italy


REVIEW

"...If you enjoy traditional Celtic music and contemperorary Scottish and Irish music performed instrumentally on acoustic guitar, this CD is for you. Christopher Dean's The Gael offers us ten beautiful melodies in the traditional style of finger-picking that can soothe or bring about melancholy to jump up and "dance me a jig." .....Dean's arrangements on eight of the songs evoke visual images and, at times, you can almost hear bag pipes emulating from the strings."

- San Diego Troubadour


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8/30/21