A tribute to beautiful songs (Margriet Sjoerdsma and Dan Cassidy)

Dutch singer Margriet Sjoerdsma will start her Eva Cassidy tour with Arie Storm, Cord Heineking and Eva’s brother Dan Cassidy on February 1st. The tour will have the same title as the album that the quartet recorded: A Tribute to Eva Cassidy.

Eva Cassidy (1963 – 1996) didn’t write many songs herself. But the American singer had an excellent nose for good songs, that she treated and interpreted in her own way. She changed the melody of Over the Rainbow, her best-known cover, so that it surpassed the original version. A Tribute to Eva Cassidy is therefore in the first place a tribute to beautiful, sometimes forgotten songs. For Eva the lyrics of a song were as important as its music. If you want to know who Eva Cassidy was, you should study the texts that she sang.

Margriet Sjoerdsma and Dan Cassidy

Margriet Sjoerdsma and Dan Cassidy

Because Cassidy was such a versatile singer, from tranquil songs, jazz, soul till exuberant rhythm and blues, it is interesting to think about how this talented singer would have developed if she had stayed alive. Her brother Dan thinks she might have played and sang acoustic music with guitar, double bass and violin. That is exactly the cast that Margriet Sjoerdsma has chosen.

At their try-out performance at North Sea Jazz they didn’t play solid pieces like Take Me To The River or Wayfaring Stranger, but ballads Fields of Gold, People Get Ready and a very special arrangement of It Doesn’t Matter Anymore. The most surprising song that the band played at Ahoy Rotterdam was a fast country-version of  I Wish I Was A Single Girl Again in which Dan Cassidy proved his virtuosity on the four violin strings. Eva Cassidy used to change ‘boy’ and ‘man ‘ into ‘girl’ but the boys in Margriet’s band sang without any embarrassment the lyrics about the ‘single girl.’ Unfortunately this up tempo song didn’t make it on the cd. But I Wish I Was A Single Girl Again can be found in of Radio 6’s archives. The moment that Sjoerdsma comes closest to Eva’s impressive vocal belting is in the relatively unknown San Francisco Bay Blues. In this acoustic cast the quality of accompanists guitarist Arie Storm and bassist Cord Heineking has full play.

Margriet Sjoerdsma

Margriet Sjoerdsma

Dan Cassidy lives alternately in Iceland and Great-Britain where he forms a duo with folksinger and guitarist James Hickman. The violinist has refused to benefit from the posthumous success of his diseased sister. But he is happy that Eva’s music has been recognized in the Netherlands: ‘This project gives me the chance to play on the continent of Europe for an attentively listening audience and that is a good thing.’ Sjoerdsma, Storm and Heineking recorded the album together; Cassidy added his violin parts in Iceland.

Dan Cassidy

Dan Cassidy

After a performance in VPRO TV music programme Vrije Geluiden in 2013 dozens of theatres contacted Sjoerdsma. Ironically another effect of the TV broadcast was that the cd The Best of Eva Cassidy received a second life in the Dutch album charts. The last words that Eva spoke to her brother were: ‘You are a good musician and you can play with anyone.’ What a privilege that Dan Cassidy does so with a Dutch band.

A Tribute to Eva Cassidy: theatre tour from February to April 2014 in The Netherlands.

Photographs: Ron Beenen

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