Broadly acknowledged as "the premier interpreter of songs and tales about the Great Lakes," LEE MURDOCK has uncovered a boundless body of music and stories in his home region. His research into the music is grounded in the work song tradition, from the rugged days of lumberjacks and wooden sailing schooners, Murdock comes alongside with original ballads of contemporary commerce and revelry in the grand folk style.
To listen to Lee Murdock's music is to visualize the long, heavily laden deck of an iron ore freighter being tossed by malevolent waves, to envision a choir singing, feel a lover's lament, nurture a love for an isolated shoreline and much more.
Murdock has been compared to the late Canadian songwriter, Stan Rogers, with a singing voice and a respect for musical traditions that is reminiscent of the great Burl Ives. Indeed, his repertoire is a seamless blend of the old work songs, mixed with his own original compositions and the work of songwriters such as Shel Silverstein, Woody Guthrie, Pat Dailey, Larry Penn and others.
On the traditional side, Murdock draws heavily on the archives of authentic sailing songs collected in the early twentieth century. Housed at the University of Michigan, Professor Ivan Walton's collection of songs of the Great Lakes sailors was unpublished until 2002, when Detroit journalist Joe Grimm completed Walton's work, published by the Wayne State University Press and titled, "Windjammers, Songs of the Great Lakes Sailors." Murdock's contribution of the musical scores to the text filled a long-missing link in North American folklore and song.
While other musicians have revived some of the songs collected by Walton, Lee Murdock has been the primary artist in bringing these songs to life, and audiences have readily embraced these new, "old" songs and asked for more. "The discovery of this vast collection of American maritime music was amazing to me," says Murdock." And to think that it exists over 1000 miles from any salt water." Murdock blends the traditional songs to appeal to contemporary musical tastes, reaching out to new audiences with his stories and songs from the inland waterways.
Bringing a deeper understanding of the folk process, Lee's repertoire combines historical research with contemporary insights. Making folk music for the modern era, Lee Murdock's work is a documentary and also an anthem to the people who live, work, learn and play along the freshwater highways of North America.
Foundry Hall (View)
422 Eagle St.
South Haven, MI 49090