The Light Still Burns
Wilson River Records

This new CD by Lauren Sheehan is the companion piece to a book written by John Thomas titled, “Kalamazoo Gals: A Story of Extraordinary & Gibson’s ‘Banner’ Guitars of World War II.” Gibson Guitars have stated in the past that during the War production of their instruments had ceased. But in reality some 9000 guitars were made under the Banner label during those years, which is in fact manufactured by Gibson. The real story behind these creations, though, was that with many American men sent overseas to fight, the production was handled mostly by a group of women in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and many with no previous experience in building guitars.

Portland-based roots musician Lauren Sheehan was invited to come back to New Haven, Connecticut and to record an album using these classic guitars. She found herself surrounded by the instruments and the dozen tracks found on The Light Still Burns were all recorded with a different guitar on each number.

The song selections include many traditional Americana songs such as “Old Folk At Home,” “America The Beautiful” and “When Johnny comes Marching Home.” Songs that were probably well-known by the makers and players of these instruments. There are also a handful of period pieces that were originally recorded during this time frame, such as “I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate” and “In The Sweet Bye And Bye/Keep On The Sunny Side.” Many of her interpretations of the songs were influenced by artists who Lauren has had connections with over the years like John Jackson and Cephas & Wiggins. “C Medley” is a collection of songs by Etta Baker and Lauren does a remarkable job at recreating the famed guitarist’s work. The disc also includes a newer track written by Gillian Welch called “Hard Times.”

Overall, the sound quality of these guitars is amazing. Lauren’s playing is impeccable and her voice suits the numbers especially well. The Light Still Burns is a nice reflection of music from our country’s past that still can bear meaning. The story of the Kalamazoo Gals is also exceptional and this album will keep the sound and legend of their work alive.

Total Time: 37:28

I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate / Precious Lord / Old Folks At Home / Bearcat Blues / C Medley / In The Sweet Bye And Bye – Keep On The Sunny Side / Soldier’s Joy / When Johnny Comes Marching Home – Johnny I Hardly Knew Ya / America The Beautiful / Home On The Range / Hard Times / My Baby’s So Sweet