Thursday, April 20, 2006

'Ski saga adds new chapter

They've got a new name, a new member and a new compact disc.

They're 'Ski. That's the truncated moniker for the musical Morski family. The new member is Brian, who joins his mother Kathryn and sister Caitlin to form a rockin' little folk outfit performing and recording original acoustic material.

The group unveiled a fresh recording, "Live at the Jo," during a performance April 14 at 8th Street Coffee House as part of Delta Folks' 2006 season.

'Ski is truly a family affair and that closeness shines through with the warm voices of Kathryn and Caitlin and the expressive conga work offered by Brian. Kathryn adds her distinctive finger-style guitar, while Caitlin occasionally lends gentle flute embellishment.

A songwriter and performer for over 25 years, Kathryn works at the William Bonifas Fine Arts Center in Escanaba. As a former resident of Illinois, Colorado, California, Washington and Nebraska, she combines worldly experience with a homey feel on her dozens of songs.

Kathryn spent 36 months on her debut disc, "Voice From the Blue Feather Lodge," released in 1997. "Imagine being pregnant for three years," she muses about the recording which includes 14 self-penned tunes. The disc was recorded in Wisconsin and Marquette, with Melody Recording mastering all cuts.

That was followed in 2004, by "Dialogue," another full-length disc, credited to Kathryn and Caitlin. Caitlin, an English major at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, wrote the opening track, "Chameleon," as well as "Live Life Love." The 12 remaining tracks were composed by Kathryn. The album was recorded at Cabin in the Woods and More Skies Ranch, mastered and duplicated in Madison, WI.

Several sampler discs have appeared as well-- one with an Upper Peninsula theme-- including the songs "Where I Live," "Harbor Town," "In Escanaba," "Downstate Girls," and "Superior."

Seeking to "drum up" interest in the group for touring this year, 'Ski recorded several gigs last November at Cuppa Jo Java in Rapid River. With the aim of waxing four originals for booking agents to review, 13 strong tracks emerged, enough for the family's third full-length compact disc.

That disc, which sparkles with charm, good humor and insight, premiered at last week's Delta Folks' performance.

And certainly, those traits are what the three Morskis stress in their live shows. Plus, you get plenty of intimate vocal harmony, courtesy of the ladies.

While humorous, witty tracks are special to the Morskis--take "Chicks With Swords," for example-- they also perform expressive blues and jazz-tinged originals with consummate craftsmanship.

Kathryn and Caitlin have been performing together for a decade and have toured the western and Midwestern United States. Now, after "concerted nagging," Brian is a full-fledged member. His musical contribution concentrates on the added resonance of his congas.

Despite the women's time-worn expertise in singing together, Brian has added a song from the Celtic band Gaelic Storm to the band's repertoire. In "Johnny Tarr," Brian tells the story of a hard-drinkin' chap, who notwithstanding his best efforts to the contrary, succumbs to thirst.

The Morskis, who have a cache of a hundred originals yet to be recorded, say they "love performing, in concerts and community festivals, at schools, libraries, and care residences, and presenting workshops on writing."

In fact, Kathryn and Brian sing for kids at the YMCA weekly, as well. That's when Brian isn't working at The Whiffletree or 8th Street Coffee House, booking gigs for the group, or doing construction work.

'Ski plans to tour this summer, adding another chapter in the saga of the musical Morskis. Go see 'em when you get the chance, buy their CD's, or even book them if you can.

You owe it to yourself.

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