Thank you to all of the DJs around the world for helping to keep the Tom Dooley Legend alive and all of you for the support – Folk DJ Chart #2 Song, #9 Song, and #8 Album for October 2016 – and thanks especially to Kari Estrin Management, Nashville TN
CD also available at CDBaby!
The North Carolina mountain folk legend of Tom Dooley, made internationally famous by the Kingston Trio’s 1958 chart-topping ballad, is the subject of an in depth, historically accurate book based on years of research performed by author Charlotte Corbin Barnes.
The Tom Dooley Files: My Search For The Truth Behind The Legend goes into far greater detail than any of its predecessors in an effort to determine what really happened in the events that led to the hanging of Civil War Veteran Thomas C. Dula [a.k.a. Tom Dooley] for his part in the murder of his alleged fiance, Laura Foster.
The Tom Dooley Files is filled with the oral accounts from descendants of the folks who lived through the time the murder took place. Read what they have to say about the events surrounding the murder according to the stories that have been passed down through their families for generations.
It is an interesting and informative read whether or not you are familiar with the legend and the Tom Dooley song. Now available, The Tom Dooley Files: My Search For The Truth Behind The Legend by Charlotte Corbin Barnes is a LIMITED EDITION offering in hardcover only. Find out more … »
This book is the perfect accompaniment to Rob McHale’s new CD, Tom Dooley & Friends.Order here … »
2nd Place in the Woody Guthrie Songwriting Contest 2015
The Alternate Root Magazine
January 30, 2015
Rob McHale has been nominated, and taken home awards for his work as a singer/songwriter. The real prize with the North Carolina songman, however, is what is felt with his songs, the way his words offer experience, advice and overviews of life. Rob is old school folk singer, his voice a guiding beam on Fields, his recent release, as he begs you to follow memories into the story in the title track. The album delves into history with “Irons and Chains (Dred Scott)”, chance on “Wishing Well” and softly centers its heart on “Mother’s Love”.
Fields opens on a dark day for the soldiers riding with General Custer in “Surrounded Again (General Custer)” and brightens with tinkling piano and guitar strings as the album heads into the comfort of “Back Home”. Rob McHale wears the skins of his characters; his stories allow for the familiar to be felt as an old friend and the unknown to become family by the end of his song. A riff and rhythm slowly click the tracks under “Fast Movin’ Train” as Celtic beats invade every nook and cranny of early morning 1798 as it dawns over “The Castlebar Races”. Fields focusing on environment by telling a coal tale of mountain top removal, pollution and greed on “Old Smoky”.
The Alternate Root Magazine
Palm Springs, CA
Folk Words Magazine – Heronsgate ( London ), England
December 12, 2014
Music of a hundred years ago, from yesterday or today – whenever you place them the songs of Rob McHale should be taught in school because they reflect vibrant history, the value of tradition and living social comment. This North Carolina-based poet, musician and composer writes folk Americana songs that walk you through their narratives in an entirely involving way. They bring home the wealth of heritage and place it firmly in the present, they observe the days we live in and offer valuable meaning.
Throughout his album ‘Fields’ gentle reflective lyrics move with an assured confidence to tell their tales. Softly engaging melodies surround the words with a captivating web. While mellow, richly textured vocals carry their significance. The overall impression is ‘music to listen to and lyrics to absorb’, the messages in ‘Fields’ are so timeless that listening without focus is wholly wrong, do them justice and take time to really listen – the rewards will come in shovel loads.
Each song engages with its own tale, the affecting plea of ‘Surrounded Again (General Custer)’ takes a rare perspective on its well-known story, ‘Back Home’ lays out a homage to those special places we all have, and ‘Irons and Chains (Dredd Scott)’ exposes the futility felt by enslaved individuals. McHale’s ability to reveal underexplored facets of the past comes through such songs as ‘The Castlebar Races’ and ‘Fire and the Guns’, and through ‘Fast Movin’ Train’ and ‘Wishing Well’ resides his understanding of the life of the common man.
‘Fields’ simply says things that need to be said, remembered and repeated to each generation.
Folk Words – Tom Franks
Rob was chosen ‘ Artist of the Month ‘ September 2014 in the Durham Skywriter Magazine
Lonesome Highway Magazine
Rob McHale ‘Fields’ – Wooden Door Records
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2014
Rob McHale is a North Carolina-based folk-Americana artist whose songs can take you through a small town, down a dirt road or on an historical journey – and bring you back home again. What we have here is ten beautifully realised songs, arranged, produced and performed with maturity and a style that is very appealing. The production by Chris Rosser and the band ensemble of 11 musicians deliver on all fronts. I can hear early Jackson Browne in the gorgeous Back Home with harmony vocals to lift you away from your reality and the songs Mother’s Love, Fields and Wishing Well add to the feel of authentic folk music. Real and mature, reflective and sincere, this is music for the spirit and a really excellent release.
With all due respect, the first song reminds me strongly of Gordon Lightfoot, in expression, it is also to be noted that a strong celtic touch is integrated. So we are dealing with a typical singer songwriter album which also taps ingredients from the fields of country and bluegrass. The overall impression is arrested in an extremely harmonious and gentle and narrative style. Rob McHale lives in North Carolina and tells stories that take you on a journey through the United States and through various life situations and reminds me in this regard several times to what Allen Frank has to say, stories about the every day life level, with all it’s ups and downs, located in closer and further circle.
In addition to the, to me,a clear expression of Lightfoot, I hear occasionally the peace and serenity of the music of JJ Cale. And if I try very much the grey cells, to have noticed two almost certainly long forgotten( or even unknown ) musicians of this genre, namely John Coster, ( after the album “ Old Stones, Broken Bones” look out ! ) and Bat McGrath ( “Whatever Happened To Jousting “), which at that time were delivering some plates which were of about the same caliber.
On the fourth song, “The Castlebar Races”, an Irish story is told (“Six thousand men they are coming, from across the cold Irish Sea”) and supported with a celtic flute sound. Otherwise is the use of the dobro and fiddle that mediate both authentic feel, and in the title song the pedal steel is used and then a particularly homey atmosphere in the unit is produced with the harmonica.
The artist has several high prices as a songwriter and he has been referred to him as “ a socially conscious writer with intelligent lyrics”
Reference to the accompanying text I can only confirm this statement, and together with this irristibly harmonious music this disc is certainly one of the highlights of this genre in the ongoing year 2014.
After this warm sounding atmophere can the listener/take the listener on a pleasant and melodious way that makes the solar plexus flow very warm. So you can drop yourself toasty and cottony, in this environment of beauty and clarity.
“Rob McHale’s newest record ‘Fields’ is composed of relaxing songs that are meant to make you feel good. The stories which are told in the ten tracks are socially inspired and some are based on historical events. They aim to make the listeners think carefully about todays’ world and how they can contribute to the achievement of a better society.”
working on converting the full review to English
From his home in North Carolina Rob McHale observes the American society. Intelligent observations that bring you to secluded spots along dusty fields, roads, or in towns. Stories that take you to the battlefields of the Civil War lead in songs like ‘Surrounded Again (General Custer), “in which the author directly addresses the legendary warrior. “Irons and Chains” tells the terrible fate of the Afro-African slaves in the nineteenth century, in the chorus Dred Scott listed as born slaves tried this man through civil lawsuits in vain from that hopeless situation to escape.
‘The Castlebar Races’ is also a story about the desire for freedom, but situated in Ireland . ‘Fast Movin Train’ is also about to escape, leaving a familiar environment or consider. “Have you ever run away on a fast movin ‘train with nothin’ in your pocket but your name.” “Back Home”, with a cozy campfire harmonica in the background is again a melancholy ode to the security of a warm home, as well as the tender piano ballad “Mother’s Love” and the beautiful title song.
Poetic musings wrapped in folk tinged acoustic tunes. Mc Hale’s soft humming tenor and fine guitar playing is supported by the harmonica brother Pat and sporadic electric strings and slide-game of his guitarist Mike Alicke. The trio is completed for the occasion with a rhythm section and piano. Also fiddle, whistle and beautiful vocals alternately Marie Reid and Valorie Miller flank McHale’s vocals and occasionally we hear Debrissa McKinney and Marie Calabro in the background. ‘Fire and the Guns’ recalls something from the early years of Gordon Lightfoot and should be seen primarily as a sincere compliment for this excellent story teller.
Cis Van Looy
Keys and Chords Magazine