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from: Music-Eagle. "Magazine for the Friends of Country & Western Music" published in Hamburg, Germany. April-June 2007. - "Wild and Windy Places."

from: Western Mail, February 2007
- "Wild and Windy Places"

from: Country Times. Die Clubezeitschrift der Country & Western Friends Koetz 1982 e.V. März/April 2005, Nr. 125
- performance and "From Texas to Montana"

from: Music-Eagle. “Magazine for the Friends of Country and Western Music” Published in Hamburg, Germany. Oktober-Dezember 2004 - "From Texas to Montana"








 

 

 

 


Music-Eagle. April-June 2007.


In late 2004, we could present „From Texas to Montana ,“ John Shreve's first CD. Now we have “Wild and Windy Places,” the second CD by the American who lives in Berlin . Again, John Shreve picked out 16 songs from the American West to interpret with different Berlin musicians. The songs on the first CD were songs of the Old West. Thematically things move more toward the present this time out. Alongside several traditional songs from the American West, there are a couple reaching far into the twentieth century. Several songs by Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger are used. We also find fitting songs by Tom Russell and Ian Tyson. All songs use only a sparse instrumental accompaniment, but the few acoustic instruments set the accents precisely. It all lives, however, from the forceful yet tender voice of John Shreve. The instruments only underline the songs or their message.

Stylistically, the songs range from Western music to American and Irish folk music. Sometimes one also hears Scottish and even Indian origins. It is not a rosy picture of the West which the songs present here. Rather it is the difficult life there, which is often formed by poverty. Unpleasant events are topics of some songs. We hear about the massacre of workers in the Ludlow railway workers camp [sic] and the internment in Manzanar of people of Japanese heritage after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor .

Altogether, it is again a wonderful CD to listen to. Anyone who can listen and is interested in American history will discover a wonderful CD which should not be put on only as background music.

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Western Mail
, February, 2007

"A fine, nuanced CD. Quiet with sparing and precise instrumentation, a recording to enjoy for everyone who wants to lose themselves in the history of the music of the American West."

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from: Country Times. Die Clubezeitschrift der Country & Western Friends Koetz 1982 e.V. März/April 2005, Nr. 125

January 29, 2005, Berlin, Fontanehaus, the stage of the remarkable Bluebird Café Berlin label: John Shreve offers what my sixth sense had suspected… His homepage www.iohn-shreve.de is exemplary, with exhaustive information about the songs he sings about the American West, including German translations plus ample historic background material and information about his role models, among them: Steve Earle, Woody Guthrie, John Prine, Ian Tyson and Andy Wilkinson. The high expectations are met brillantly and he certainly doesn't imitate these artists. The CD, which he recorded in 2004 with musicians from Berlin's alternative music scene, begins in the best Michael-Martin-Murphy style. The varied arrangements and great instrumentation, which are never monotonous, make this concept album lively and timeless. Four short poems, two duets and a banjo instrumental add to the frontier songs with their Irish and Mexican influences. His engaging and pleasantly melancholy voice reminds one of John Prine, Woody Guthrie, Peter LaFarge or Franz Josef Degenhardt (!)*. John Shreve is absolutely worth hearing, reading and seeing. It is incredible that that this American, so rooted in his culture, has been unrecognized in Berlin for so long. That should change. In Europe at least he is unequaled! (wjo)

*Franz Josef Degenhardt, born 1931, was educated and worked as a attorney with a doctorate in law. In the 1960s, he began to write novels and songs extremely critical of West German society and gained popularity. Excluded from the Social Democratic Party for his communist sympathies, he joined the German Communist Party in 1978.

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from: Music-Eagle. “Magazine for the Friends of Country and Western Music” Published in Hamburg, Germany Oktober-Dezember 2004

From Texas to Montana
Bluebird Café Berlin Records CD 04-0015

JOHN SHREVE is an American who lives in Berlin . For many years he studied and taught at several universities in the USA and Europe . He has been living and working in and around Berlin since the late seventies.

Western music is his field. This CD is a trip through time and space in the old West. It is described with all its hard and beautiful sides in wonderful songs and stories. John Shreve doesn't write his own songs, at least there are none represented on this CD. He chose and arranged 24 titles, so the CD is chock-full. With a love for detail, he has put together various traditionals and titles by such well-known Western songwriters as Andy Wilkinson or Ian Tyson. With the help of diverse Berlin musicians, not all of whom are from the country music field, he has done a wonderful job on these songs. We hear guitar, bass, banjo, fiddle, harmonica, mandolin, dobro or even cello and accordion. Only very seldom can a percussion instrument be heard.

You won't find drums or electric instruments. The arrangements are sparse, so that the individual titles have the sound of wide-open spaces and solitude. And John Shreve's soft and gentle voice from the loudspeakers fits perfectly. John Shreve has also added a few brief Western poems.

I don't want to point out any particular song because all of them are without exception well-done and taken together they present a wonderful general impression.

With this CD, John Shreve is entirely in the tradition of Michael Martin Murphy or Don Edwards. Anyone who enjoys those two will love this CD. Rarely has a CD from Germany sounded so American.

More or less as an encore there is also the song Walking after Midnight sung by Kay Shreve, John Shreve's mother.

Rolf Baerenwald

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