ATLANTA JOURNAL AND CONSTITUTION
“A strong consistent style which is melodic, expressively played, and has the simplicity of folk, the rhythmic excitement of jazz, and the refinement of classical music.”
LA CROSSE TRIBUNE
“Lydon has a riveting, powerful voice—a critic once called her ‘the Lauren Bacall of folk music’ — and a sure virtuosic touch on the 12-string and harp, which she even plays simultaneously.”
Ariane Lydon’s virtuosic touch on 12- and 6-string guitar, keyboards, Celtic harp, and bodhran come from a long apprenticeship in music across three continents. Born in Sussex, England, to a British civil servant and a New York artist, Lydon lived in Santiago, Chile, until she was 10. Her mother, a daughter of a jazz and ragtime pianist, immersed Ariane in classical piano music from age 7. Both parents, ethnomusicologists at heart, introduced her to an extensive range of classical and ethnic music from countries they had lived in and visited all over the world. The family could often be found singing in four-part harmony, playing musical instruments, and enjoying live performances.
Forced to leave Chile a year after the assassination of Allende in 1973, the Lydon family brought back many Spanish (Nueva Canción) recordings of that country in turmoil. With a move to Geneva, Switzerland, and then across the border into France, Ariane’s cultural base expanded to include the popular and folk music of Western Europe.
Her training as a classical pianist led to a second-place finish at an International Piano Competition in Paris (Concours Nerini) at age 14. Her own interest in composing began to manifest itself at the popular daily jam sessions she co-founded at the International Lycée with a fellow piano student. However, a desire to study marine biology took her to southern England for three years where, unable to access a suitable piano, she turned her attention back to stringed instruments. Driven by an innate need to create and collect music, Ariane taught herself steel-stringed guitar to accompany her singing. Joining the Worthing 6th Form College choir and becoming a fixture at the local pub sessions fueled the desire to increase her knowledge of the music of her Welsh, British and Irish roots.
Losing hope of becoming a marine biologist on Jacques Cousteau’s team due to an unfortunate maths teacher, she travelled to upstate New York in 1983 to attend college. The undercurrent of music was still strong, and her interest in American folk music was quickly nurtured by American family members, all musicians themselves. Preparations to spend a year of study in Moscow halted after the door to performing was suddenly opened. It was Lena Spencer who booked Ariane Lydon and hammer dulcimer virtuoso Jem Moore at her famous Caffé Lena’s in Saratoga Springs, New York. Upon hearing Ariane sing, Spencer insisted: “This is a voice the world needs to hear.”
That night was a turning point. Ariane hit the road with Jem Moore in a musical partnership that was to last 10 years, producing six recordings while performing at venues across North America. In 1997, she embarked on a new direction with the release of her debut solo album, Lady of the Green, supporting it with live concerts, jam sessions, and vocal and instrument workshops. Her ability to play the Celtic harp and 12-string guitar simultaneously on songs like “Fireflies” captivated audiences and critics alike, leading to the releases of the all-instrumental CDs The Open Harp and Harp in Flower. The 2004 unveiling of the CD Still She Moves shows Ariane’s continued evolution as a writer, singer, player, and performer.
In the last 12 years she has performed in 40 states and shared stages with performers such as John Renbourn, John Gorka, Loreena McKennitt, Tamarack, Tom Paxton, John McCutcheon, Harvey Reid, Chris Proctor, and Duck Baker. Current concerts occasionally include the outstanding musical accompaniment of Terry Nirva on percussion and Larry Dalton on upright bass.
Ariane brings a genuine passion for the world as her gift from a life of observing. This genuine crow trait is to be found in her masterful instrumentation on every song she has chosen to share with us.
“Listen to Crows”, produced by Ariane Lydon and Randy Crafton, is Ariane’s most recent work, yet it is ancient. Filled with the wisdom shared through mystery stories, it is sung with a compelling voice and layered with instrumentation that holds the keen vision and voice of the crow. Thank you, my friend."
James Hallberg - WDRT 91.9 FM, Viroqua WI
"Lydon works on the repetition of words, weaving them into particularly strong, sweet melodies. Where she has a message, she encodes it subtly into the fiber of the song, such as the admonition to involve yourself in life in "Autumn Dance."
Rich Warren, Sing Out!