Barley Moon

Barley Moon


Artist: Ayreheart

Composer: Anonymous, John Dowland, William Byrd

Format: 1CD + 1 Pure Audio Blu-ray


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In the late '60s, many things were born. The British Folk Rock movement, as it was called, was one. Trying to decide "how it started" is actually a little silly; victory has a thousand fathers, after all. But there is no doubt that Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Pentangle, the Incredible String Band, and their many fellows introduced generations to music of the tradition. And, they did it well. Not incidentally, they and their individual members often performed and recorded "early music" as well.

Ayreheart blends the "art" and "folk" traditions so organically, we are reminded how artificial such a separation actually is. "John Barleycorn," the witty view of brewing as an act of torture and abuse, is so perfect that Vaughan Williams himself wondered if it may have been created by "an antiquarian revivalist," who then saw it pass "into popular currency and become 'folklorised'." Many in the folk-rock movement recorded the song, most prominently the group Traffic in their album named for the song itself. Ronn McFarlane was true to his ancestry then, and has kept that flame alive in creative and newly-evolving ways with Ayreheart. Is it art music? Is it folk? Could it possibly matter less?

Brian Kay (vocals, lute, komuz) is a modern-day troubadour. A critically acclaimed singer and instrumentalist, Brian performs throughout the US as a solo artist, and with a number of esteemed ensembles. His concerts have been hailed as “Far-ranging” and “Exciting” ( He has been featured at venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Shriver Hall, and The Boston Early Music Festival. Radio appearances include NPR, Baltimore’s WYPR and 98ROCK, Boston’s WGBH, and Cleveland’s WCLV.

GRAMMY®-nominated lutenist and composer, Ronn McFarlane strives to bring the lute - the most popular instrument of the Renaissance - into today’s musical mainstream and make it accessible to a wider audience. Ronn has been engaged in composing new music for the lute, building on the tradition of the lutenist/composers of past centuries. His original compositions are the focus of his solo CD, Indigo Road, which received a GRAMMY® Award Nomination for Best Classical Crossover Album.

Willard Morris (colascione) was bitten by the classical music bug at 10 years of age. The violin became the first in a long line of instruments taken up by Willard and still remains ever close to his heart. In 2009 Willard took up the bass again to develop original music with Ronn McFarlane which combined the ancient lute with the modern electric bass, percussion and vocals eventually becoming Ayreheart.

Mattias Rucht percussion Mattias has been active in the Washington, DC music scene for over 25 years as a drummer/percussionist, playing in various rock, jazz, folk and world ensembles. He has also performed in theatrical productions and accompanied dancers and storytellers.

Track List

1. John Barleycorn           5:40

2. In a Garden so Green    5:35

John Dowland
3. Mr. Dowland’s Midnight    1:35

John Dowland
4. Fortune my Foe    5:23

John Dowland
5. My Lady Hunsdon’s Puffe    1:47

John Dowland
6. Come Again    5:56

7. Henry Martyn        5:37

8. Lully lulle    4:57

John Dowland
9. Solus cum Sola    4:40

John Dowland
10. M. George Whitehead, His Almand    2:30

11. Twa Corbies    2:52

William Byrd
12. Woods so Wild    4:33

13. Ddoi di dai     4:13

14. Nottamun Town     4:44

Total time: 59:55
Release date: June 24, 2016
UPC: 053479220325

Quotes & Reviews

Their arrangements sound historically informed without being historically accurate; what counts is the intention, and the performances have an enjoyable immediacy and freshness…

…Good to hear non-natives performing British music with such energy and affection, and Sono Luminus’s production values are immaculate. 

Graham Rickson, The ArtsDesk

The captivating program — performed by Ronn McFarlane, lute, Brian Kay, vocals and lute, Will Morris, colascione, and Mattias Rucht, percussion — explored the intersection between folk music and art music in 16th- and 17th- century England, Scotland, and Wales. It also highlighted the intersections of Renaissance folk music and classic rock.

Mike Telin, Cleveland Classical

Barleycorn is a masterful achievement.

Robbie Gerson, Audiophile Audition

…Barley Moon is stunningly, beautiful and unlike anything you’ll hear on the radio, computer or television these days.

Brian M. Owens, Metronome Magazine (August 2016)

However the listener might choose to categorize Ayreheart’s approach, the recording is persuasive. Their performance is at turns intimate, inviting, playful, wistful, melancholy, even menacing. For those familiar with Renaissance lute songs and dances, the lower ranges of the colascione, the unabashed use of the full dynamic range of the instruments, and the support of Rucht’s array of percussion timbres in the new arrangements are enticingly welcome. For those more knowledgeable of “world,” traditional, or rock-oriented music, the feisty, syncopated “Nottamun Town” or Kay’s yearning rendition of “In A Garden Green” would not seem out of place alongside the numerous folk-rock movement of artists listed in the liner notes.

Karen Cook, Early Music America

This CD is essential listening for any lover of Elizabethan music and, more importantly for fRoots readers, it displays a unique and valid approach to English folk song rarely heard since the days of Shirley Collins’ Anthems in Eden.

Mark T, fRoots (October 2016)

Barleycorn is a masterful achievement.
— Robbie Gerson, Audiophile Audition
Their performance is at turns intimate, inviting, playful, wistful, melancholy, even menacing.
— Karen Cook, Early Music America

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