In January of 2000, Jed Marum began his year by leaving a lucrative career so he could devote himself to his music. His first year as a fulltime musician earned exactly one tenth of what he had earned the year before. To his credit, he hasn’t looked back, and has built a solid career and reputation as one of America’s premier Scots-Irish musicians and is often a headliner at festivals. His schedule is a busy one, with over 150 shows a year—and the number of shows seems to be steadily growing.
In addition to his intense love for and commitment to Scots-Irish music, Marum has another passion—The Civil War. In our interview, I asked Marum how his interest in the War Between the States began. He said, “Once, I was being interviewed by Sunny Meriwether and she introduced me to her audience as an Irish singer who specializes in writing Civil War songs. I started to object saying that the Civil War was just a passing interest, when I realized that it had been passing for 10 years! That’s when I realized I really wasn’t just dabbling at the Civil War stuff, anymore. It had moved to a higher level.”
The fruit of Marum’s passion for this period of American history is his newest CD, Cross Over the River, a twelve-song collection of Irish and Confederate songs released August 4 of this year. This CD presents some of Marum’s finest guitar picking and original lyrics.
There’s something in this CD that stirs the spirit, and just as I was about to suggest the collection would be great music for movies of this period, I found out that Marum has agreed to license two new songs to Lone Chimney Productions for use in their upcoming film, Bloody Dawn. The film is being made for the PBS and History Channel markets and is planned for a 2006 release. The movie focuses on the border wars between Kansas and Missouri surrounding the days of the US Civil War.
The music is acoustic, with Marum on guitar, banjo, and banjola. Musicians performing with him are Jaime Marum on mandolin, Kathleen Jackson on upright bass, Mimi Rogers on fiddle and Ken Fleming on button accordion. Travis Ener and Kathleen Jackson are also featured in background vocals.
The collection’s songs are rich lyrically and musically, and several especially deserve comment. “Monaghan’s Lament,” is a song of an Irish born New Orleans resident, Col. William Monaghan of the 6th Louisiana. The song expresses a soldier’s emotions as he regards a fallen admired leader of one of the South’s most famous fighting units, “The Fighting Tigers.” “One Bloody Friday” is a haunting song, so effectively constructed that it makes the listener feel as if he were riding with Quantrell. “Cross Over the River,” is based on the last words of Stonewall Jackson. With this song, Marum takes us into the soul of a dying hero of the South. In other songs, Marum takes traditional melodies and masterfully creates moving interpretations. For example, I believe Marum’s rendition of the well-known “Shenandoah” to be unique and the best version I’ve heard.
I predict this CD will have strong appeal with Civil War aficionados, reenactors, performers, and anyone who loves good ballads. Just reading the CD’s insert and the background of the songs is an education and it reveals the extent of Marum’s research. Cross Over the River has a large targeted audience and has all the potential for becoming a cult classic. For the musician, Marum has also generously published a songbook containing lyrics and chords for both Cross Over the River and his earlier Civil War CD, Fighting Tigers of Ireland.
Cross Over the River is a collection of original and period music with lyrics that capture the heart of the many Irish who fought for the South. The CD is a reminder that there are many stories buried in history we have not yet heard, and there are emotions connected to that war that we haven’t yet considered. As a writer, Marum is not only skilled—he is honest. He knows that one’s culture and heritage can be lost, and he is determined to give life to long-silent voices. When those of the past fade from our memory and art, then they are truly dead to us. As long as there are writers like Marum who aren’t afraid to tell the stories, the dead will live on and our heritage will not be lost. The Scots-Irish majority who comprised the Confederate Army deserve the tribute of this CD.
You can purchase Cross Over the River here: http://cdbaby.com/cd/jedmarum6. Read Marum’s bio, hear samples of his music, and keep up with news about him by checking out his website http://www.jedmarum.com/ or from his blog http://www.myspace.com/jedmarumband.