Lee Murdock has uncovered a boundless body of music and stories in the Great Lakes. There is an amazing timelessness in this music. Great Lakes songs are made of hard word, hard living, ships that go down and ships that come in.
The music is grounded in the work song tradition, from the rugged days of lumberjacks and wooden sailing schooners. Murdock comes alongside with ballads of contemporary commerce and revelry in the grand folk style. Lee's fans have discovered a sweetwater treasure in his songs about the Great Lakes, finding drama and inspiration in the lives of sailors and fishermen, lighthouse keepers, ghosts, shipwrecks, outlaws and everyday heroes.
With a deeper understanding of the folk process, Lee's repertoire combines historical research and contemporary insights. Making folk music for the modern era, Lee Murdock's work is a documentary and also an anthem to the people who live, work, learn and play along the shores of the Great Lakes today.
"I'm interested in trying to find the life in these songs; in making music that's exciting to people today. I am looking for the songs and the interesting stories, not only for the people who already enjoy folk music, but for those who think they don't like folk music."
"There is a real wealth of songs and stories from the Great Lakes which have not yet been explored," says Lee. Lee composed many of these stories into songs, "because they tell such fascinating and inspiring stories of people and events, and because no song has survived from traditional sources."
His musical arrangements of new and traditional folk ballads, chanteys and work songs are enjoyed by audiences with contemporary musical tastes, even if they have not listened to much folk music in the past. With this musical style, Lee hopes to introduce folk music to new audiences, as well as entertaining the serious fans of maritime and traditional music.
"More than anything else, audiences are drawn to performers with passion. Lee Murdock's passion is the sea, and it's infectious."
Jim Blum, WKSU Radio, Kent, Ohio
Lee Murdock began his performing career in the Chicago area in the mid 1970's, expanding his repertoire of blues and popular music as his interest in folk music and the maritime tradition grew.
Interestingly, it was a one-week residency with the Philadelphia Folksong Society which first linked Lee's musical identity with the Great Lakes. After a week of in-school performances which they sponsored, Lee took their enthusiastic response to heart, and has been taking his Great Lakes music programs to school children and adult and family concerts ever since. Educational programs continue to be one important aspect of the 150 shows Lee presents every year in the U.S. and Canada.
"The premier interpreter of songs and tales about the Great Lakes … Murdock's regionalist approach does the area proud."
Paul-Emile Comeau, Dirty Linen Magazine