Spring Will Come
Karen Ashbrook started her career as a hammered dulcimer player in 1976 when she built a dulcimer from scratch as a high school project. Her heart's desire to learn Irish music took Karen overseas to play with Irishmen in pubs in England and Ireland. Along the way she also picked up the pennywhistle and wooden flute. Between wanderlust and busking (street performing) she spent 5 years traversing twice round the globe. The vibrant Irish & folk music scene in the Baltimore/ Washington, DC area led her to settle there in the early 80's. She soon formed the Celtic group Ceoltoiri with Celtic harp champion Sue Richards and later added vocalist Connie McKenna. Playing in contra and square dance bands were irresistible and she also joined the Jewish band King David's Harp founded by David Scheim. In 1995 she started playing with and soon married Belgian multi-instrumentalist Paul Oorts. He added Flemish and French music to her repertoire while playing driving DADGAD guitar and cittern accompaniment with her dulcimer and flute. In summer 2005 they met master percussionist Steve Bloom and started collaborating with him. Karen & Paul tour extensively teaching and performing at festivals all over the country. They are very active in the revival of the "hakkebord" the Flemish hammered dulcimer in Belgium too. Karen & Ceoltoiri have several recordings on the Maggie's Music label. In February, 2006 Karen brought together several of her musical cohorts in a concert celebrating their many and varied musical collaborations. Ceoltoiri performs Irish music adding Sue's Celtic harp and Connie's vocals, including "Carolan's Cup" by the blind harper Turlough O'Carolan with new lyrics by Karen and the twisted song of insanity "Boys of Bedlam." Paul sings the lusty French street musician's ballad "Accordéon" and plays several sets featuring his exquisite harp guitar. Steve Bloom adds powerful, multi-layered percussion throughout the concert including on the Celtic "Iberian Jig Set" and the joyous Jewish dance tune "Lo Yisa Goy." David Scheim plays harp and piano on Jewish and Irish tunes with Karen. The CD "Spring Will Come" is the result.