Earth Heart (Self-Produced)
John Gage

By Joseph Dinwiddie

As an organic farmer and gardener and a novice musician, I have enjoyed learning songs with themes relevant to ecology, gardening, and agrarian life, so finding John Gage'sEarth Heart on my player was entirely appropriate.

Earth Heart is a collection of twelve songs, three of which Gage has written or co-written, which have the unifying themes of celebrating nature and human nature and raising awareness of those natures. Most of the songs are upbeat arrangements with a folksy, almost worldbeat sound. Gage sings lead vocal on all songs will accompanying himself on guitar. Additionally, several of the tunes have a four-part youth chorus for harmony vocals.

The other instruments are a rather eclectic mix: flute, dobro, banjo, bass, sax, trumpet, trombone, varied percussion, harmonica, accordion, mandolin, fiddle, and jaw harp. Steve Cooley's dobro and banjo playing and Andrew Karp's accordion are especially enjoyable.

The covers of traditional Woody Guthrie and Malvina Reynolds songs are refreshing, which almost needs to be the case with such familiar songs as "This Land Is Your Land." This is definitely music children can enjoy, although I think it will have appeal for some adults and parents, too.

I was glad to hear "The Garden Song" on this disc. My initial exposure to this tune was courtesy of children at a summer camp who sang it almost every day after breakfast. Listening to it on this disc was the first time I've ever heard the singing and instruments in tune!

One reservation I have about this disc is that a good dose of humor could have been stirred in without sacrificing the much needed addressing of these important themes. Tom Paxton's classic "What Did You Learn In School Today?" and Arlo Guthrie's "Down On The American Farm" are both examples of songs that are humorous, that engage children and convey awareness of significant issues.

Nonetheless, this disc is something I'm glad to hear, and I feel the efforts of John Gage are worth supporting. From the

Liner notes ofEarth Heart indicate that profits from the sale ofEarth Heart go to Learning Pursuits, Inc., a non profit education organization, to support their environmental education and community outreach programs in Kentucky.