Mary Lattimore from Philadelphia travelled our shores with Great Lake Swimmers after the release of her new album “At The Dam” (Ghostly International) that is spinning in the Offbeat household non-stop and was so perfectly prescribed by someone writing in to BBC Radio 6 that I cannot but quote it: “Preparing for a holiday, listening to “At The Dam” which was inspired by her experiences on tour. What could be more perfect?”

Mary Lattimore is one busy woman and it is not an easy feat to travel to Europe with her chosen instrument – the harp. So you were well advised to use the opportunity to see her playing live. More on Mary Lattimore here in this blog as well.

We had the chance to see her at Muziekgieterij in Maastricht and when she sat down at the her harp, loop thingie (what DO you call it?) on lap, no microphone, the audience was very curious. Now let me add a little to that: You have here a master of her rare instrument, classically trained and on top of that having played with what reads like the who is who of modern music and yet Mary is down-to-earth, very funny and very kind. It was such a pleasure meeting her again and hearing her perform as well of course.

She treated us to a couple of pieces of her repertoire, ranging from the almost classical to the way-out-there experience.

The amazing mixture of her harp playing and interspersing it quick as a flash with loops and creating a soundscape that totally draws you in, was lost on some maybe. Others were absolutely thrilled to be introduced to her. The very few people who might not have quite connected were amazed in the end with what ease Mary joined and accompanied Great Lake Swimmers for one of their last songs of the eve. Yes, she CAN!

It is wonderful how Mary Lattimore gives harp music a new lease on life and us sound experiences that lull you in, shake you, stir you to eventually console you again. Those pieces will of course develop more of a life of their own in each listener’s mind as they are instrumentals, no lyrics and sometimes titles that you might not have any idea about and certainly not have in mind what Mary did. (Thinking about “Jimmy V” here – not known to too many Europeans or, yes, Mary, I must harp (er) on this: Welsh Corgis In The Snow (can’t get over that one).

I am not too worried about the poor Corgis anymore though as Mary is a dog-lover if I ever saw one.

The end of Mary’s performance saw enthusiastic, awestruck, some bewildered and yet taken aback faces.

I cannot see the video below (aaaawww, thanks German GEMA (royalties company) but I am sure most of you can. Just to give you an impression of what the music of At The Dam is like.

Still, even though you could listen to Mary’s music at home, it is still very impressive to see her live at work. I did not film anything but there is a wee clip I found from this tour, so I’ll point you to that: