Fall Harbor – the magical, musical duo of vocalist-accordionist C. Ryder Cooley and vocalist-banjoist Todd Chandler – made a very strong first impression with their performance in Cooley’s hypnotic, multimedia, inter-species fairytale “Animalia” at RPI in Troy in early 2008, and later at Proctors in Schenectady.
Within the year, the twosome had released their debut album, “Songs from Fall Harbor,” and now they’re back with their sophomore disc, “Meet Me at the Water.”
For their CD release party in at Dennis Herbert’s Folk Art Gallery in Hudson last Sunday, Cooley and Chandler expanded their ensemble in order to more fully replicate the broader palette of sounds reflected on the new album. The duo’s hushed folk sounds were gently prodded by bassist Pete Toigo and drummer Otto Hauser.
The rhythm section was never obtrusive during the performance, but rather allowed Cooley and Chandler to focus more on their vocals without having to carry the whole musical load of the songs as well. The music remains sometimes aching intimate in a strange and wonderful minor-key kind of way.
With a beautiful view of the Hudson River behind them, the musicians nestled into their chairs amidst Herbert’s fascinating sculpture garden as several dozen invited guests, friends, family members and fans looked on. During the twilight concert, the sun slowly set behind the musicians, reinforcing the themes of nature that permeate Fall Harbor’s deceptively simple-sounding folk odes. Cooley and Chandler alternated lead vocal chores, each one weaving in and around the melodies when relegated to back-up vocals.
Rob Caldwell (of Musica in Hudson) joined in, playing acoustic guitar on one song, and Cooley played musical saw on several selections, adding a magnificently eerie aspect to such songs as “Crow Carnival” and the show closing “Dark River.” And Lady Moon also chimed in with a solo autoharp song to wrap up the luxurious evening.
C. Ryder Cooley of Fall Harbor will be performing at Hudson Harbor Fest at 6pm on Saturday, July 31 in Henry Hudson Waterfront Park in Hudson. Also performing will be Yukari Rosa and Bella’s Bartok. Admission is free.