All of the music for the documentary film by Ray Schmitt of Real Earth Productions DEAD GIRL WALKING was written, recorded and published by Marcy Brenner & Lou Castro, MRB Publishing LLC. The songs come from their CD releases "Home To Me" and "Another Year Blooms." Live versions of many of the songs can be found on their latest release entitled "Live From Deepwater Theater" with singer/songwriter Noah Paley of Hatteras Island.
Marcy and Lou are active music educators, directing
Ocracoke Observer, June 2008
Ocracoke musicians don’t do much playing by themselves, and it’s fairly rare to find a musician on stage alone. Far more likely is a collaboration between musicians, whose styles sometimes vary widely, but whose sense of the purpose that the music serves is always the same. These meetings give the musicians a chance to test their wings with new material, and it gives their audiences insight into the nature of the way that music can create communities and relationships among artists and their fans who may seem to have little in common. That creation of community, even for just the time that the performance lasts, is the chief characteristic of all music that draws audiences back, show after show, and it is the great strength of the musical culture that has delighted so many audiences at Ocracoke’s Deepwater Theater.
new album “Live From the Deepwater Theater,” with Deepwater regulars
are significant stylistic differences between Coyote and
Ocracoke Observer, June 2007
By Kati Wharton
I don’t know how other people would go about preparing to write a CD review, but what I do is listen to the CD over and over, and then over and over again, and then...well, you get the idea. If I actually reviewed CDs for a living, and therefore had to listen to some bad ones, this strategy would probably cause insanity (my own, and that of the people in my immediate surroundings who have to listen along with me). Instead of being driven mad, however, I have been extraordinarily blessed by repeated listening to all of the CDs I have reviewed so far. That was (and still is) especially true of Another Year Blooms, the new release by Coyote, the singer/songwriter team of Marcy Brenner and Lou Castro, who have been playing together since 2001 and were married in 2003. The CD showcases Marcy and Lou’s remarkable range of talent for the entire musical process – from composition and songwriting to playing multiple instruments, singing music of varied styles, and even to recording (Lou engineered the CD).
Ten of the twelve tracks on Another Year Blooms are original songs by Coyote, whose songwriting is highly respected by other musicians (all of the original songs on their last release, Home to Me, reached the Top 10 in broadjam.com peer reviews). As Another Year Blooms shows, Marcy and Lou find inspiration for their songwriting from all aspects of their lives. The hauntingly lovely title track is about and for Marcy’s mother, who loved daffodils. My personal favorite tune, “Richest Man in the World”, Coyote’s “love song to Ocracoke Island”, was inspired by a statement a friend made, and the next track “Five Minutes” came from what Lou said to Marcy while they were falling in love. “Fizzy Blue Water” has a highly unique source of inspiration, a modeling photograph from the 1940s, and also boasts one example of the lovely poetry of Coyote lyrics, the phrase “even then a bottle could be a haunting shade of blue”.
What makes this CD wonderful is not, however, limited to the lyrics. It also includes an excellent instrumental piece (“Summer Sleeping Porch”) which shows off Coyote’s talents on the dobro and guitar. Several of the tracks include their well-blended harmonies, and all of them offer examples of their wide range of skills on various instruments, including several types of guitars, mandolin, banjolin, piano and lap steel.
Coyote is not limited to one style, evidenced by the wide variety of the songs on this CD, from the ballad-like “Making Peace Tonight”, to the rocking “I’m All Right” to the zydeco “Down the Driveway Home”. Instead, Marcy and Lou bring their own style to every track. This makes Another Year Blooms delightfully unpredictable, and worthy of repeated listening. I especially like the cynical, jaded “Everyone Starts Out in Love”, which is far from your average overdone sweet love song; its sudden ending is a perfect fit with the lyrics that say “this could all end before it’s begun, but I’ll worry about our future tomorrow”. Even the covers (“The Storms are on the Ocean” by the Carter Family, and “At Last”, made famous by Etta James) demonstrate Coyote’s style, as they perform them in a way that is uniquely their own, while not straying far from the original feel of the songs.
Another Year Blooms will be available June 1st in island shops, and online from soundsiderecords.com, amazon.com, and efolkmusic.org. Get a copy and listen to it - multiple times! (Try it at least once wearing headphones, as the left/right stereo effect adds to the experience.) If you want to hear more of Coyote, take in one of their performances on the island (see schedule below), and look for them in the movie Nights in Rodanthe, filming now on the Outer Banks and due for release in 2008.
Charles Temple for the Ocracoke Observer
The first thing you’ll notice about Coyote’s new album, “Home to Me,” is the sheer variety of musical styles and influences that the band embraces. It starts with the Yiddish-influenced paean to “Maestro,” full of dark minor chords and the wry humor and humanity that evoke this mentor figure. With the fiddle, mandolin and accordion, you’d swear you can hear the bouzouki tuning up in the back. The next song, the title track, reminds me of Paul Simon—playful, reflective and full of warmth.
These two songs are a pretty good introduction to Coyote for several reasons. They demonstrate the wealth of musical culture that has influenced them. You can also hear the wit and humor and love that suffuse all their music. But most importantly, you get a sense of how much of Coyote’s best music is born directly from personal, human experience. This album is completely aware of itself as a song of joy in response to a range of trials and triumphs.
These most deeply personal and reflective songs are interspersed with covers of various standards and personal favorites of the band. Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” may have been covered more often than “Happy Birthday,” but it always seems to be worth recording again. Let me say a word about songs like this. There are songs that embody an experience so personal and universal that each reworking reminds us of the universal while revealing something about the artist. (Think of “Amazing Grace.”) I think the reason we come back to these songs again and again is that they broaden the scope of our experience while confirming the power of our own encounter with that human universal. From the mournful Hank Williams, to the rueful Allman Brothers, to the exuberant Beatles, Coyote infuses each with the lively wisdom and warmth that characterize them.
That reflection is a good introduction to the other class of songs on the album, songs born out of the fear, hope and joy connected to Marcy Brenner’s fight with breast cancer. What I find most remarkable about this sort of confessional songwriting is the utter honesty, sometimes bleak, sometimes gleeful. Coyote has translated that range of experience into a musical expression of fear, courage and joy.
For those who are new to the band, Coyote is the duo of Marcy Brenner and Lou Castro. On earlier albums, Lou’s guitar work has been prominently figured next to Marcy’s alto vocals and mandolin. On this album, however, what I notice is not the instrumentation so much as the songwriting, though Lou plays with characteristic artistry. What strikes me most is each song’s insistence on being true to its inspiration, to telling honestly and bravely about the love, fear, tragedy or triumph that called it into being.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Coyote's 'Home to Me'
sounds good to me
BY PETER HUMMERS, SENTINEL STAFF
In a cafe on Picasso Street/Drinking memories warm and sweet/I spend an afternoon with Maestro
Guitarist Lou Castro backs up mandolinist Marcy Brenner's cosmopolitan vocal with chords on the 2-4 beats, while guests David Tweedie, Emily DeVan and Nemesia Castro ply violin, cello and accordian respectively.
Brenner provides an introduction and fills on her mandolin on this original that features some tasteful compositional tweaks such as a chord-long key change effected by switching a minor chord to a major, and a few bars in 2/2 rather than 4/4 time.
The cumulative effect is a rich listening experience, a tale of a private muse who has done his job well.
Coyote is a hard-working duo who have made their bones working around the Outer Banks, playing events such as the Ocrafolk Opry, the Ocrafolk Music & Storytelling Festival, Dare County Relay for Life, area restaurants, Kitty Hawk Heritage Day, Music Across the Sound and private events. Their first CD, Live from the Outer Banks, surveyed the cover tunes they cut their teeth on, all given the fresh arrangements of a band that consists, live, of mainly a guitar and a mandolin.
On Home to Me the focus is on songwriting and ensemble arrangements. Marcy Brenner and Lou Castro penned most of the compositions; the arrangements take advantage of guest musicians Nemesia Castro, accordian; Emily DeVan, cello; Martin Garrish, acoustic guitar; Dan Martier, drums and percussion; Kevin Hardy, upright bass; Kitty and Gary Mitchell, vocals; and Fiddler David Tweedie, violin.
The Mitchells and Fiddler Dave are with the
popular Ocracoke bluegrass band Molasses Creek.
While the pool of talent for this record is deep, the arrangements are spare and tasteful. Not all guests play all the time; on the second cut, "Home to Me," Brenner and Castro are deceptively joined only by Dan Martier.
This starts out with Brenner singing to her mandolin accompaniment, and joined gradually by Martier's drums. After the first verse, Castro's bass and the drums settle into a groove and Castro's double-tracked acoustic guitar joins the bass. Brenner overdubs backing vocals at the chorus, and by the solo, Castro has added an electric slide guitar.
The change from a girl and her mandolin to a rock band has happened organically, and the three-person, six-piece band rocks into a fade-out.
One of the few covers on this record is the sublime "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," from the great Hank Williams. Martin Garrish opens with a clean 3/4 time acoustic guitar figure, joined by Brenner's mandolin and voice. Soon in the background can be heard Castro on lap steel guitar and quiet bass. Castro's stately lap-ssteel solo on this primal country song is an authentic-sounding joy.
Garrish takes a pretty, tasteful second solo on guitar, and Brenner adds no more vocal embellishment than the song can use.
"Scorpio" has a saucy vocal a la Maria Muldaur, accompanied by an eccentric combination of Brenner's acoustic guitar and Castro's dobro and bass, in an allegorical -- or literal -- song about a past life.
"Follow Me" is credited to the "Duck United Methodist Church Disciple I Class of 2003 & Brenner/Castro." (For non-locals, Duck is the town on the Outer Banks, not the bird or the verb.)
Follow Me/I know and I love you/Follow Me/I
give my life for you/Follow Me
"Follow Me" is a flat statement of faith in Christ, the "Great Shepherd." With a dignified backing and a lovely melody, the song will resonate not only with those who already "know His voice" (John 10:3-4).
Molasses Creek's Mitchells add their vocals to the choir on this beautiful number.
The Rock critic Richard Meltzer had a term for a pair of songs that complement each other -- "turkey tongue" (well, it was the sixties). The upbeat, syncopated "Hurricane, Flood, Tornado," completes the turkey tongue of "Follow Me."
Hurricane Isabel produced that sequence of events on
The wind and the waves/Will do what they do/I won't make it through the storms/Without you/Hurricane, Flood, Tornado
Coyote loves music, and they love the tools they use.
"Penny For Your Thoughts" is a case in point. Composed by English rocker Peter Frampton, it's a little acoustic guitar/dobro instrumental making good use of harmonics and the sparkling interplay of perfectly tuned steel strings. You can hear rain softly falling outside.
Again, "Penny" leads nicely into a quiet acoustic arrangement of Greg Allman's "Come and Go Blues," originally recorded by the Allman Brothers as a full electric blues in the early seventies. Later Greg Allman released a live solo version, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, and Coyote's version threads the needle between the two.
Brenner sings over her own simple dobro accompaniment, joined presently by Castro's bass, to which Brenner doubletracks bongo drums, and what sounds like a pick drawn across muffled guitar strings as percussion.
The penultimate song is the beautiful "Beautiful Sorrow of Love," which Brenner and Castro multi-tracked with Dan Martier's help on drums (TR3, Dave Mathews Band). It uses a fine climbing chord progression and great electric lead guitar work from Castro, and leads into a bare mandolin/guitar reprise of "Home to Me."
This is the arrangement the pair use in live performance; as they've demonstrated, everything can sound good in the right four hands. Here is a CD that should be heard by anyone interested in native Outer Banks music; one that asserts that the Banks' musicians can easily hold their own.
Note Coyote; their future should suggest they put on their shades.
This is the dream we're lucky to be living/A
portion of grace we've both been given/There's no telling the future with some
kind of magic/Not to live while alive/Well, that would be tragic.
Coyote CD COY02 ©2005 MRB Publishing LLC
Peter Hummers covers entertainment events on, and about, the Outer Banks of North Carolina at Outer Banks Onstage. ©2005 Peter Hummers
COYOTE’s first CD is a good way to get to know this duo. Marcy Brenner and Lou Castro play a range of songs together that encompasses originals like their band’s namesake and covers of classics like Led Zeppelin’s “Going To California” and newer songs like The Dave Matthew’s Band’s “Everyday.” The real draw of the band, though, is the tenderness that Marcy and Lou evince on stage, both for the music they’re playing and for each other.
The cover photos show the two
playing and alternately focusing on the music and smiling at each other or
leaning in to whisper something soft.
The album itself is a bit like that – COYOTE chose their favorite live recordings
from performances along the Outer Banks in the last two years. The venues vary from Manteo’s spacious
Marcy sings with a sweet alto voice with a subtly vocalized tone that carries her signature through anything she sings. She plays her mandolin through most of the tracks, occasionally swapping it out for a guitar. Lou is a masterful mimic on the guitar, playing Jimmy Page as easily as David Rawlings. He can play it fast or slow, light or heavy. Vocally, he sings the sort of harmony that seems simple until you try to sing it yourself.
The album ends with a bonus track of (Joni Mitchell’s) “Coyote,” the band’s namesake song. It goes softly along until the end, when Marcy goes to repeat the first verse just as Lou wraps up the guitar part. The song fades out on Marcy’s perfectly infectious laughter. It is the sound of the joy of goofing up while playing at the search for perfection. It’s the best sort of ending for this album – it’s real and warm and personal, like the music and the band.