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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Boiled In Lead performs at Convo

<lf-folds, cap-folds, little bushel bag folds, little heaps under the stairs. Hip, hip, hip… hooray!”

These words from captured the enthusiastic atmosphere of last Friday’s Convocation. They are from the closing chant of “Apple Tree Wassail”, an English folk song performed by the Convocation’s performers, Boiled In Lead. The words describe the diversity of bushels of apples the performers are asking for. While only “Apple Tree Wassail” was the only song performed about apples, the chant reflects the smorgasbord of folk music from different cultures that were played.

Boiled In Lead performed nine songs and talked about the origins of their band and music in between on a cold, rainy Friday morning where students came in from the gruel to the chapel to hear music one might find in a pub. Drew Miller, a Carleton graduate from 1981 leads the band and plays bass. Miller helped form the band in 1983 in Minneapolis and is one of the two remaining founding members along with fiddler David Stenshoel. Boiled In Lead began playing Celtic folk music but gradually expanded its repertoire to music that is influenced by countries in at least four continents (unfortunately, the band has not mastered the sounds of Antarctic folk).

According to Miller, Boiled In Lead likes to play “traditional music in a non-traditional context”. He said that their music is like a stew that comes across a single piece of music. “We would hear tunes on tapes and records that we liked and would do our own things with it.” explained Miller.

Boiled In Lead is percussionist Robin Anders, Miller, Stenshoel, and lead singer Todd Menton. They got their name from a bloodcurdling murder described in an Irish folk song. Most of them played more than one instrument over the course of the performance. Anders switched between the Afro-Peruvian cajon drum, Afro-Jamaican gome drum, Middle Eastern darbuka drum, and the Angolese bilbao, and the Middle Eastern bendir. Menton primarily played an Irish bazouki with interspersed harmonica but also switched to a tin whistle for one song.

The group started out the set playing an Irish traditional folk song, “Come In From The Rain”, appropriately titled for that day’s cold weather. Then they followed with “Apple Tree Wassail”, which was often sung for food and drink between Christmas and New Year’s and talks about going into apple orchards and firing shotguns into the trees. They followed with a French medieval dance tune, which proved “the point that French medieval dance is going to rock just as much as everything else.” Other songs included a gruesome old Irish tune about murder (“Well Below the Valley”), an Armenian tune in 10/8 time, and a folk song about the invasive species of silver carp that have hurt the ecosystem of the Mississippi River. The most frequently uttered line of “Silver Cup” is the mournful lament, “O the carp are coming!”

“We came up with the idea of a world tour (for the Convocation), we soon realized that we would be unable to cover so many map points in 45 minutes.” explained Miller.

Boiled In Lead have released over ten albums of world music including an a album of Jewish Klezmer music. They have toured throughout the U.S. and Europe and have won over 20 Minnesota Music Awards.

For Miller, it’s a long trip since his days as a KRLX DJ who was not an active musician during his time at Carleton.

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