REVIEW OF 'WINKIN'' by TRIFOLKAL
Again, I'll confess to bias in this review, this time not only because my wife Kathy Acosta designed Trifolkal's "Winkin'" CD package but also because we both sing on the CD itself. Still, this excellent work deserves notice and it's sort of my purpose here to point out good music when I run across it.
First off, Trifolkal is a folk group featuring Greg Trafidlo, Laura Pole, and Neal Phillips. Individually, these performers are all talented musicians and songwriters. Together, they're create a unified whole that transcends individuality and creates a musical entity that can have you crying tears of laughter -- and of heartbreak. I grew up on the sounds of Peter, Paul & Mary. In another time, Trifolkal would have been worthy rivals of that legendary group. As it stands, Trifolkal is one of the best anywhere at what they do -- and their latest CD is a strong testament to their dedication, their talent, and their message.
Trifolkal doesn't necessarily exist to promote the songwriting talents of its members, although, as I said, they're strong songwriters in their own right. "Winkin'," their latest, combines a handful of originals with eclectic choices of songs by other artists, making an entertaining whole. You'll find sing-a-longs, heartfelt ballads, traditional folk songs, and goofy nonsense all on the same CD. It's a tough task, covering that much musical ground, but Trifolkal pulls it off easily.
Truly, it's rare to get this much variety on one disk -- but, as each of the members takes a turn at lead vocals, with the others ably backing the leader instrumentally and vocally, the differences in the styles of the members stand out but not so much that the group blend is obscured. And that blend is probably what attracts me most -- rarely do you hear three voices so perfectly in sync, so perfectly balanced. I enjoy hearing each member sing lead -- but I like it best when they do ensemble work. To me, that's when Trifolkal rises far and above its individual parts.
Ah, the delights of it ... Greg's triple-threat input: vocals, instruments, songwriting. Neal's heart-on-his-sleeve deliveries of "One Small Thing" and "Evening Prayer." Laura's expressive and majestic vocals on "John Of Dreams" and "Finlandia." It's a rare musical cornucopia of sound -- it's a cliché, but, truly, there's something for everybody on this CD. To make a great collection of music even greater, Trifolkal is ably supported by a bevy of local musicians and the whole thing was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Harold Thompson at Blackwater Recording in Wirtz VA.
Next time you hear somebody say that there isn't any good local music, stick a copy of "Winkin'" in their ear. What, you don't have a copy? Shame on you! Go get one. Now! Go here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/trifolkal3
David Simpkins - Meadow Creek Gazette
"Tao From The Mountain" (2003)] Don’t hold the cute title or the goofy cover photo against Laura Pole, Greg Trafidlo and Neal Phillips. This trio proves you can go far with love of the music and some very clever songwriting chops. While they do wish to be taken seriously, the three funny songs of the dozen on this album are funnier than most songs by dedicated comics. Trafidlo and Phillips’ “The Ballad of Libby Congriss” is both humorous and pointed. It tells the story of the bumbling folksong collector that records and copyrights a mountain woman’s traditional songs, sort of the dark but humorous side of the movie “Songcatcher.” Pole’s “Appalachian Rap” tell the complete history of the Appalachian Mountain range, rap style, in 1:53. However, the real side splitter here is the rewrite of the traditional Irish “The Star of the the County Down” as “The Starbucks of County Down,” by Phillips Trafidlo and John Seay. The trio shows impeccable taste in their choice of serious songs from the traditional “Shenandoah” to Tom Paxton’s “My Rambling Boy” and Woody’s “This Land is Your Land.” Although the notes list 11 accompanists, most play on one or two songs, and most of the production is as simple as could be desired. There is something so unpretentious and loving about this CD it reminds you of what folk music was originally all about, people getting together and making music for the love of the music. Trifolkal come across as professional, but not slick, and they are entertaining.
Rich Warren - Sing Out! Summer 2003, Vol. 47, number 2, page 129-130