Sally McKnight: Call and Answer

Clam DiggerAs a child I spent many a summer day on the coast of Maine. More than a few of those youthful days were spent on the clam flats. While my father, who was perpetually hunched over pealing back the salty mud with a hoe, methodically filled a pair of hods with his finds, I scurried around the flats trying to find trouble. To an outsider the flats don’t look like much; Miles of nondescript mud, an occasional outcropping of seaweed covered rock and horse flies large enough to serve up with a badminton racquet. But, to a boy, it is a wonderland. Hand me one of them little red plastic buckets and a yellow shovel and I was off to the races.

If I was clever, I might catch some tiny fish schooling in the warm tidal pools. If I was lucky, I might find a horseshoe crab waiting for the sea to return. If I was creative I might collect the most beautiful shells you’d ever see come out of Sagadahoc Bay. And, if I was brave, I would make my way over to the seaweed covered rocks and confront some real danger.

crab It is well known that underneath the slippery green growth there are critters that are both feared and fetching to little boys. Dare to stick your fleshy little fingers into the thick tentacle like marine algae, lift it back and prepare to react, for you may reveal the pièce de résistance. Behold the Liocarcinus Vernalis, otherwise know as a vernal crab. Fierce little monsters equipped with their own amour and built-in weapons. I might as well have found gold.

I’ve learned through the years that the crab hunting gene is passed from generation to generation. My father hunted them as a boy and my five year old is already bolstering his courage in preparation for this summers journey to the flats.

Why am I telling this story? Well, one, because it holds fond memories for me. But that is not actually reason I wanted to share it. It struck me that finding good music is sometimes like traipsing through the mud, over to a promising pile of seaweed covered rocks and pealing back the layers to see what you can find. Most of the time you find more rocks and mud. But occasionally you find something that strikes you as magical like a crab or maybe something really special like a starfish.

starfishThis brings me to my actual point. A while back I wrote about a Hammered Dulcimer player that sang a beautiful song called The Call and the Answer. Her name is Sally McKnight. The moment I heard her sing I thought, ‘wow, people need to hear this’. Fortunately for all of us she agreed to do some recording and the other evening, as I was leaving the recording session at her home, it occurred to me that I’ve just peeled back some covering and found something really special.

No, Sally is not a crab in a pile of seaweed. Maybe it is not the best analogy. I am certain, however, that after listening to the way she harmonizes the dulcimer with her singing, hearing the crispness of her playing, and basking in the warmth in her voice you will agree that she is a star, and, I for one, am thrilled to show you what I’ve uncovered.


5 thoughts on “Sally McKnight: Call and Answer

  1. TheCelticMuse

    Hi there Greg
    Thanks for leaving a comment on my The Celtic Muse site. I finally made some time to look at your blog properly. I love a lot of music, am particularly fond of ethnic music from a whole variety of cultures as it has had a huge influence on classical and pop music. I called the site The Celtic Muse, really because I am Scottish, but I do like Celtic music and love Celtic art as well. I hope to use some Celtic art on my page once I get myself a bit more educated in blogging.

    Thanks for pointing me to your site. I’ve played your Sally McNight number and I can only describe it as beautiful and quite quite unique.

    Don’t be surprised if you see more comments from me against your other articles. At the moment though its 01:38, that’s AM , and my insomnia is waning so I’m off to bed.

  2. Mustachio

    I’ve had the great fortune of hearing Sally do this song live a couple of times already. It sounds just as beautiful in a noisy bar. Sally is one of the top 5 reasons why I play at the Session at Stone’s Public House in Ashland every Tuesday. She can also belt out jigs and reels with the best of them on that thing.
    Come Listen

  3. mark evans

    Greg, thank you for this. She sings with such honesty, soul and a smokey natural mezzo voice..beautiful (givin’ me chills just to think on it. Beautifully recorded by the way. Like Mustachio I was there that evening and was brought to tears by her playing and singing. A true artist.

  4. judy kane

    beautiful haunting song, heard my sister singing it last nite while a gang of us had a singsong overlooking the sea in wicklow ireland,twas a wet windy nite but we all listened in awe when she played and sang that song with the sound of the waves in the backround. Cheers from ireland

  5. bacon

    Judy, thanks for your comments. I think you may win the prize for being the first to comment from Ireland! Well, ok, there is no prize, but thank you anyhow!

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