Listening to Juniper’s 2005 release Stepping Stones is most definitely like
stepping back through time into a medieval royal court while minstrels are
Actually, maybe it’s more like enjoying a pint of stout in an
Irish pub while listening to a band play a lively jig. Then again, perhaps it’s
like hearing an Appalachian fiddler playing some classic bluegrass gem beneath
starry skies, or a traditional country singer playing old-time music from a
In fact, it’s all of these things.
Juniper’s Stepping Stones epitomizes the Celtic influence in American folk
music. Old-time music reflects the culture of those Europeans who colonized
America, particularly the music of the British Isles. That influence resonates
down through the centuries, and Stepping Stones underscores its effects in the
musical traditions that endure to this day.
Juniper’s members include
Frances Pisacane, Jasmine Hart and Sarah Mitchell. Pisacane plays fiddle, octave
violin, banjo, mandolin and percussion. Hart provides vocals and plays guitar
and electric bass. Mitchell plays flute, penny whistle, recorders, hammered
dulcimer and percussion.
The threesome blends genres seamlessly, creating
an eclectic and unique listening experience. The track “Batchelders/Tam Lin,”
for instance, intermingles a New England tune with a dramatic Irish reel.
“Roslin Castle/Peerie Hoose Ahint the Burn” begins as a somber Scottish air and
flawlessly evolves into a merry Shetland reel.
“Hole in the Sky” has a
distinctly Americana flair to it and “Budapest Hotel,” the first track on the
CD, possesses an almost devilish bluesy jazz quality to it. Closing out
“Stepping Stones” is a Natalie McMaster tune, “David’s Jig,” paired with Rob
Hayes’ “Paddy on the Landfill.”
Juniper derived its name from ancient
Celtic lore that recounts how the pixies and fairies planted a juniper at the
entrance to the Other World. Stepping Stones enables the listener to journey
through portals in time as it reawakens the Celtic musical heritage that is a
common denominator in much of America’s folk traditions.