• For reviews of Al's solo albums, click here
  • See what a few DJs had to say about "Racing Hearts"

HOME SWEET HOME, Songs of Love, Loss, and Belonging- Fairewood Studios

Maverick - The UK's Leading Independent Country Music Magazine - Alan Cackett - February 2013

"Sub-titled ‘Songs of love, loss and belonging’ this latest album from singer-songwriter Amy White—with additional accompaniment by husband Al Petteway—is a pure musical joy from beginning to end and really lives up to its subtitle. All songs are penned by Amy and the booklet comes with brief liner notes that shed light on the original compositions. The opening title song is a delicate, reflective song with wondrous finger-picked guitar, dulcimer and understated vocal harmonies. This little gem really sets the tone for what follows. Though “Salt Of the Earth” is something of a protest song with its references to failing farms, weather change, factory closures, etc. and is something of a rally cry, it’s presented in subtle tones with finger-picked guitar and Duncan Wickel’s violin sawing away in the background. In similar vein is “American Dream,” with again the heartbreak of failure for working families caused by elements way outside of their control like rising unemployment, property seizures, increased rents and mortgages that reduce the ‘American Dream’ to mere rubble and faded dreams and memories.
There are also passionate love songs like the captivating “You Already Know” and “How Can You Love Me.” The latter is full of self-doubt, obviously very intimate and honest with just Amy’s gorgeous vocal and acoustic guitar. Never afraid to confront universal problems head-on, “Love Across the Boundaries” is a powerful song about relationships that are deemed by bigoted people as being inappropriate, whilst the closing “When You Were Here With Me” is a sad song about the loss of a loved one, told in a simple, but highly affecting manner."

The Washington Post "Editor's Pick" - Mike Joyce - November 2012

"Subtitled “Songs of Love, Loss and Belonging,” singer-songwriter Amy White’s new album comes with brief liner notes that shed light on the 11 original compositions. The title track, the multi-instrumentalist says, was inspired by her travels through “the beautiful valleys that parallel the spine of Blue Ridge Mountains.” It’s a lovely, sinuous ballad, warmly conveying the pleasure White derives from her commutes, but like most of the songs here, it’s not an entirely sentimental affair.

Indeed, the album’s standouts are often as soulful as they are reflective. Addressing a variety of social issues, “Salt of the Earth” is rooted in the same musical soil as Stephen Foster’s “Hard Times.” “American Dream” is dedicated to the folks who have been teetering on their own fiscal cliff for years, while “Dying on the Vine,” inspired by White’s late father, extends some of the album’s themes: “Death, drought and politics, all in a nutshell for you, Dad.”

The love songs tend to be deeply personal or, as in “The Best Dog,” brimming with gratitude. And the arrangements featuring White and husband Al Petteway on acoustic
 guitars crisply complement the album’s rustic charms and quietly affecting vocals."

Irish Music Magazine -
Nicky Rossiter - March 2013

"The subtitle Songs of Love, Loss and Belonging tells us what to expect on this album from Amy White with Al Petteway and the beautiful voice of the performer delivers. She opens gently with the title track inspired by her route from her adopted home to her old home and it will resonate with listeners regardless of the scenery on their journeys home. Salt of The Earth is a sort of protest song a la Dylan or Baez but for the 21st century. As she so confidently lets us know the security of all nations hinges on the real life well–being of its citizens. Listen closely to her gentle delivery of a strong sentiment. If you like the theme of that skip on to American Dream and listen to the expression the oh so real worries of the ordinary people. She may sing about her native USA but it will resonate in any “developed” country.
Lovers throughout the world should listen to You Already Know which is her beautiful expression of love. In a similar vein we might pay close attention to How Can You Love Me.  Another social conscience song in the best possible sense is Love Across The Boundaries.  There is a sadness but also a strong resolution on the two final tracks on the offer Dying on the Vine and When You Were Here With Me. The latter is her voice with piano accompaniment and reminds us not just of love in our lives but of the all too real probability of loss. White is certainly one to watch in the writing and performing stakes and of course in showing us that protest about our problems may not always need strident pounding anthems."

What DJ's Are Saying:

"Played the Amy White/Al Petteway CD this AM and got interesting phone calls …
comments about her lovely voice and also comments about how the show 's music
reached into peoples hearts and moved them, particularly Amy's work."
Not the average drive time experience! "
"I'm gonna send you my therapists bill for stirring up so many feelings" 
Thank you Amy & Al!"
    - Doug Echols from WPKN in Bridgeport CT

"Besides having one of the most beautiful voices around,
Amy White writes some of the most enchanting songs you'll ever hear. 
And teamed up with her Grammy award winning husband, guitarist -
Al Petteway, you've got one of the most captivating
contemporary folk duos anywhere."
    - Butch Kara from KZGM in Cabool, MO

"The songs and Amy's voice are wonderful."
    - Jim Rogers from WIUP in Indiana, PA

HIGH IN THE BLUE RIDGE - Fairewood Studios/Maggie's Music

The Washington Post - Mike Joyce - March 2011

"Scenic view, anyone? Multi-instrumentalists Al Petteway and Amy White, who recently contributed music to the Ken Burns PBS documentary "The National Parks - America's Best Idea," conjure their own ode to natural wonders on "High in the Blue Ridge," a pitch-perfect southern Appalachian travelogue.

Recipients of about 50 Washington Area Music Association Awards, the couple live in the Asheville, N.C., area, grateful for their good fortune.

"High in the Blue Ridge" is a song cycle of sorts, an evocative mix of original and traditional tunes that sound both rooted and timeless. Beginning with "Up on Flat Top Mountain," which pairs Petteway's banjo with White's mountain dulcimer, the arrangements are spare and soulful, unhurried and often haunting.

Not surprisingly, some of the most vivid musical portraits here mimic the landscape. White's "The Drovers' Road," for example, was inspired by an old livestock route, described in the liner notes as "serpentine and switchbacked, hugging the hillsides along steep stream gorges, occasionally breaking out into wide open vistas with views of the mountains beyond."

Still, there's much to be said for the nostalgic glow that illuminates "The Last Waltz," with its shimmering weave of acoustic guitar (Petteway) and mandolin (White), and "The Parting Glass," a showcase for White's ethereal voice.

WINTER TIDINGS - Maggie's Music

 Echoes -  John Diliberto 

"This is the Christmas album we've all been waiting for! 
...Winter Tidings CD, easily the best Seasonal CD of 2006"

Dirty Linen Magazine
- Kerry Dexter

"Quiet reflection is the tone of this mostly instrumental recording. 
It's an intricate and enveloping quiet, like a walk in the winter woods at dawn,
full of detail and dimension and unexpectedl falls of light and shadow."

Gerry Grzyb, host of the Dr. Christmas radio shows on WRST-FM

"One of the best of the season.. I can hardly wait to play it for my listeners. 
Al and Amy have put some real magic into their recording."
One of this year's Recordings of Exceptional Merit

The Washington Post - Richard Harrington

"It's not just marriage that makes Petteway and White so sympatico, 
it's mutual musicality grounded in their supple acoustic meld of
Contemporary Folk, Celtic, New Age and Appalachian Strains. 
The latter influence is most evident on the lovely "Cherry Tree Carol" 
and a medley that finds " A New Year Carol/Sussex Carol"
segueing into "Tomorrow Will Be My Dancing Day." 

Dancing spirits are also evident on "Bring a Torch Jeanette, Isabella"
(which slowly escalates from baroque elegance to bustling energy)
and "Star in the East/Born In Beth'ny," with its decidedly Renaissance evocation. 

The album is mostly instrumental, deftly powered by engaging,
multi-layered interplay between Petteway's virtuosic guitars, bouzouki and banjo and
White's elegant piano, mountain dulcimer and Celtic harp (on the inspiring "Into the Light"). 
White's vocals are ethereal on the pump-organ cushioned Gaelic carol "Christ Child's Lullaby,"
but the most inviting vocals come when the couple gently harmonizes on the Robert Burns-insprired
"Roving on a  Winter's Night,"  Scotland and Appalachia meeting in a mesmerizing snowscape. "

James Abrams (on CD Baby)

I own dozens of acoustic Christmas albums. In the past I've made a pact with myself that
I wouldn't listen to Christmas music until after Thanksgiving so as not to get jaded by the inevitable onslaught of seasonal sounds.
But when Winter Tidings arrived I decided to give it one listen and then put it away.
It's October and my resolve to hold off with Christmas music has melted like last year's forgotten snowmen.
This is a gorgeous album, too beautiful to resist. Al Petteway and Amy White's arrangements
breathe new life into familiar carols, and their musicianship is breathtaking.
Amy White's voice is a delicious wonder, as sweet and warm as the memory of Christmas cookies
 baking in the kitchen. And so, on many evenings now just before crawling into bed I
 find myself putting on Winter Tidings and then drifting off into that silent night. Thanks to Al and Amy for a beautiful album.

Christmas - Carol Swanson

Hark! The sound of sleigh bells o'er the snow! And Winter Tidings takes off with Breakin' up Christmas,
the first of 13 superb tracks on the most recent release by married couple Al Petteway and Amy White.
Before I go further, let me plug their excellent label, "Maggie's Music" (,
an independent label that celebrates Scottish music, Irish music, and early music CDs (as well as books).
If you enjoy the richly-crafted warm tapestries of sound familiar to these genres,
then you cannot do any better than the "Maggie's Music" label. The music is always exceptional. Always.

Never heard of Al Petteway & Amy White? Shame on you--they are among the most-respected acoustic players on the planet!
Often appearing on NPR and having served as Artists in Residence at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage,
the two now live in the Appalachians. That gorgeous setting provided the inspiration for Winter Tidings,
a magnificently textured acoustic folk gem swirling with guitars, banjo, Celtic harp, mandolin, piano, mountain dulcimer, fiddle, Whistle, and more!
This music genuinely transports me to wonderful places, making tears well up in my eyes; it's just that good.
 Although Winter Tidings is primarily an instrumental album, it does include several well-placed vocals (5 of the 13 tracks, I believe)
to enrich the overall presentation. On The Holly and the Ivy, for example, the lovely layers of instrumentation in
Amy White's arrangement of this traditional number had swept me away. In the track's final minute,
Amy's crystalline voice suddenly surfaced, presenting one verse as an unexpected and much-welcomed gift.

Two of the 13 tracks are Amy White originals, and both are exquisite. Of these two,
Aerial is particularly moving; it depicts the flight of birds past their ridge-top home in the Appalachians.
The song includes harmonized vocalizations that put the image of soaring birds firmly in mind.

Everything works here. Picking a "favorite" on an album as fine as Winter Tidings is a traumatic experience.
Every piece fits so well, and every song is a delight. That being said, I adored Cherry Tree Carol,
which opens rather simply, then builds in complexity and sound throughout its five-minute length.
Also rewarding is Roving on a Winter's Night (based on a poem by famed Scot Robert Burns)
with its delicate Petteway/White harmonies. Finally, Christ Child's Lullaby is unforgettable;
the haunting foundation sound and sweetly matched vocals are perfection.

Even the liner notes are nifty. They fold out to provide the backdrop on each and every piece,
explaining the underlying motivation for inclusion. Nice.

I give Winter Tidings my highest recommendation. Embrace Al Petteway and Amy White this holiday season; you will not regret it!

Rambles.NET - Jennifer Mo

Holiday music should be cozy but not trite or drippingly sentimental. It should evoke both the crispness of winter and the warmth of a blazing hearth.
And perhaps most importantly, it should be genuinely good music, as enjoyable to listen to in June as it is in December.
Just a handful of CDs fit this bill: a few Windham Hill collections, the two Loreena McKennitt winter recordings --
and this latest CD by Al Petteway and Amy White, Winter Tidings, which has been in my CD player for the last week straight,
despite the fact Christmas is months away.

Not to worry: if you're still suffering from Christmas music overload from last year,
of the 13 tracks that make up Winter Tidings, only "Joy to the World" is very common,
 and even that has been combined with a new composition by Petteway and transformed into
a bright, joyous guitar piece. Other tracks are new arrangements of old carols, particularly those with secular origins.
They range from the quite obscure ("Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella") to the somewhat overlooked ("The Holly & the Ivy").
But there are also a number of completely secular tracks, including two original pieces by White.
The resulting blend is audibly fresh, yet rooted in traditional sounds and instruments; wintry,
yet never exclusively or obtrusively Christmasy, and genuinely inviting.

As with the artists' earlier CD Land of the Sky, everything on Winter Tidings has a distinct Appalachian flavor,
which is most evident on "Roving on a Winter's Night," an Appalachian song whose lyrics are based on Robert Burns' "My Love is Like a Red Red Rose."
Petteway and White's version features a whole lot of banjo plucking and a lively vocal duet.
About a third of the tracks contain vocals, and while Petteway and White have voices that are more pleasant than extraordinary,
they do add considerably to the homey, intimate feeling of the CD.
White's voice is particularly lovely on the gentle, simply arranged carol, "People Look East."

As a whole, however, it is the quality and variety of instrumentation that shines through in Winter Tidings.
Mandolin, guitar, dulcimer and whistle are just a few of the instruments the artists play.
There's also the easygoing and cheerful piano on "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella,"
the clear, synesthetically white harp on "Into the Light" and a whole bevy of acoustic instruments on the
boisterous final track, "Star in the East/Born in Beth'ny," which the liner notes rightfully call "worthy of a Renaissance Fair."
But my favorite track on the CD is probably "Gabriel's Message/I Wonder as I Wander,"
which begins with solemn church bells and moves into a fluid, slightly melancholy duet between guitar and piano.

By turns merry and contemplative, Winter Tidings captures the many faces of a winter in the countryside.
It is truly lovely to listen to. There are no bad tracks, no sense of overproduction or affectation, and no tasteless sound effects.
Like very few other recordings, Winter Tidings really is the perfect soundtrack to a winter evening -- or any evening you feel nostalgic for winter.

LAND OF THE SKY - Maggie's Music


May 2007
Like the sun shimmering on the mountain range depicted on the cover of Al Petteway’s and Amy White’s third release as a duo, the music on
Land of the Sky reflects the beauty and musical traditions of the southern Appalachians Petteway and White call home. The acclaimed musicians (50 Wammies in Celtic, New Age, and folk) create an intimate, lush, yet sparkling sound from an array of instruments: Petteway plays acoustic guitar, Irish Bouzouki, banjo, and fretless bass; White plays Celtic harp, acoustic guitar, and mandolin; both sing; and Joe Ebel adds violin. Petteway’s guitar mastery is gloriously on display here, especially on the spare arrangements of the traditional “Wayfaring Stranger” and “Across the Blue Mountains,” where the clarity of his chiming pull-offs and single-note melodic fills, around White’s lovely voice, are most apparent. The nine originals, with such titles as “Swannanoa” and “Bobcat in the Brambles,” employ mostly traditional rhythms but shake them up with sudden time shifts, complex counterpoint, and unexpected harmonies. While some might relish a bit more bite, overall this is a sensitive, nuanced achievement. (Maggie’s Music,

DIRTY LINEN Folks & World Music Magazine - Lahri Bond

Simply one of the finest albums of Celtic-influenced acoustic music you are likely to hear. Al Petteway and Amy White draw inspiration from the music of the Southern Appalachians and the region’s Scottish roots for this superb album. They begin with the title track, an original composition that acts as a kind of overture to the fine music to come. White’s lovely and spirited Celtic harp playing and Petteway’s always energetic and dynamic acoustic guitar are highlights of the instrumental, “Black Bear’s Picnic.”  The traditional “Shady Grove” (second cousin to the English “Matty Groves”) is treated to shimmering mandolins, fiddles, and dulcimers, while other traditional tunes such as “Wayfaring Stranger,” and “The Cuckoo” are given stunning contemporary acoustic arrangements, enhanced by White’s plaintive and lovely voice. The original tunes “Swannanoa” and “A Walk in the Woods” fit incredibly well with the traditional tunes and remind one of the best work of Jansch and Renbourn. Original photographic images by White and Petteway complete the awesome beauty of this majestic album.


The area around Asheville, N.C. is often called the "Land of the Sky," and that has become the title of a new album by Al Petteway and Amy White.  At the heart of the project are five traditional songs from the southern Appalachian Mountains, such well-known songs as "The Cuckoo" and "Wayfaring Stranger" that came from England and Ireland but acquired a new, distinctive sound when they crossed the ocean and climbed the foothills.  Soaked in the lessons of loss and survival, these songs boast a hardness that resists all attempts to make them quaint and folksy.

The album's nine original tunes take their cue from these five ancient numbers.  Petteway and White compose instrumental pieces full of counterpointed lines and unusual harmonies, but they're all built on the kind of front-porch melodies and flinty rhythms that link them to an earlier tradition.  The husband-and-wife team plays a variety of acoustic stringed instruments- guitar, banjo, mandolin, bouzouki, and harp -- and even adds vocals to two of the 14 tracks.  But they don't need words to capture the whiff of death around old murder ballads such as "Shady Grove" and "Pretty Polly"; their guitars are eloquent enough. - Geoffrey Himes


The Appalachian Mountains have provided the inspiration for hundreds, maybe thousands of artists throughout the years.  Musicians Al Petteway and Amy White have added to this list with a stirring collection of tunes and songs that both cultivate the rich traditions of the region and begin the process of inventing new ones.
Al Petteway’s work as a guitarist should be well known to anyone who loves instrumental acoustic music, or reads, even casually, the liner notes to folk music CDs.  His work has appeared on over 60 of them.  In addition to his signature guitar work, Al plays banjo, Irish bouzouki fretless bass and percussion, as well as lending vocal harmony on the gorgeous “Across the Blue Mountains” which, along with “Wayfaring Stranger,” are the only two songs with vocals on this 14-track collection.
Amy White contributes acoustic guitar, Celtic harp, mandolin, lead vocals and percussion to Land of the Sky.  Pretty amazing considering that, up until her first musical collaboration with Petteway in 2000, she was known mostly as a piano player.  Amy shines as a writer on this collection, adding six new compositions including the bouncy “Bobcat in the Brambles,” a lively banjo/mandolin duet and “A Walk in the Woods,” a tune that sounds like a conversation between two guitars enjoying the experience suggested in the title.  Petteway is in top composer form as well with three original contributions and several innovative arrangements of traditional tunes.
One of the things that makes this recording work so well is the relationship between these talented performers.  Their loving approach to the music and for the land that inspired it seems to be a natural reflection of a bigger love for each other, and for the home they have created in this awesome little corner of the world.
-- Matt Watroba, Sing Out! Magazine

MINOR 7TH - Fred Kraus 

 Al Petteway & Amy White, "Land of the Sky", Maggie's Music MM233, 2005
Al Petteway and Amy White live in Asheville, North Carolina. It’s gorgeous, an artists’ enclave, with an Eden-like climate. Al & Amy shine as musicians, photographers, artists, writers, composers, singers (well, as least Amy; sorry, Al) and designers. They’re wildly, passionately, spiritually in love. Love, love, love, love. And they love not only each other, they love the land, they love Mother Nature, they love creativity, they love what they do. (And they earn a living at it.) Above it all, they seem like sincerely nice people. "Land of the Sky," their latest collection, resonates as the musical embodiment of this multi-talented couple. As billed, it captures the enchantment, the splendor, the diversity of the Southern Appalachians. Sonically lush but crisp, it fills the room, creating a Celtic-based world of wonder and occasional whimsy. The 14 tracks are either penned by the duo or are their arrangements of traditional tunes such as "Pretty Polly," "Shady Grove," "Wayfaring Stranger" and "Across the Blue Mountains." On the latter, one of just two non-instrumentals, Amy’s voice simply soars. She also contributes guitar, Celtic harp, mandolin and percussion. Al’s an absolute monster on acoustic guitar, banjo, Irish bouzouki and bass. The titles hint at the variety: "Black Bear’s Picnic," "Sunny Day," "Western Highlands," "Bobcat in the Brambles," "A Walk in the Woods." More cerebral than visceral, think of this CD as a PBS-style soundtrack for the mind. Inspiring work.
© Fred Kraus  


Blue Ridge Runners   
From the White Mountains in the north to the Black Mountains in the south, the Appalachian Mountains have been the source and soul of great history and fascinating folklore for centuries. Daniel Boone, crusty coal miners, The Cherokee people and my personal favorite, the Blue Ridge Mountains have all played an important role in the making of America and the area that is called Appalachia. Taking on the role as American troubadours Al Petteway and Amy White have given voice and heart to that chapter of American folklore in their newest and to date their best album, Land of the Sky.

Petteway’s masterful guitar picking and White’s elaborate accompaniment and vocal contributions make this CD a tour de force in the Folk and Celtic genres. Petteway’s style is sometimes reminiscent of Stephen Stills in his heyday (a big compliment). The duos choice of material is first rate and will please a lot of listeners, new and old alike.

The opening title track, Land of the Sky, the old time name for Ashville, N.C., represents the folk era in a most positive way. The warm ballad cascades down the mountain with elaborate time changes and creative fretting in a story song that tells the tale of log cabins, smoky blue skylines, and America as she shifted her people south and east.

Black Bear’s Picnic is an amazing frolic that represents the playful side of wildlife. There are so many amazing creatures in the mountains that delight man, but (if you pardon the pun) we must bear in mind that these jewels of the wild landscape need their space and our respect.

Petteway’s fingers do the talking on the tune Shady Grove. It has a sweet flow like a canoe ride on the Pigeon River. Twists and turns along the shady banks, a little white water, but always moving. Always taking you somewhere. There’s a banjo in there someplace.

Wayfaring Stranger is a familiar spiritual with its roots deep in the Celtic tradition. The vocal is simple with a story as old as the families that lived its history. White’s rendition is heartfelt as she tells the story of the traveler who is looking for the way home.

“I'm just a poor Wayfaring Stranger
Travelin' through a world of woe
Where there's no sickness toil or danger
In that bright land to which I go
I'm goin' there to see my mother
She said she'd meet me when I come
I'm only goin' over Jordan
I'm only goin' over home”

One of my favorites on the album is the intriguing tune, Pretty Polly. It starts out innocently enough with a light, fragile intro and then suddenly turns dark and foreboding. Based on a traditional English ballad, Petteway and White have enhanced it with emotion and even a bit of sorrow.

The tune Ryan’s Rambles is a little traveling music, kitty style. Once again the duo pays homage to their feline friends who watch over them and are an important part of their lives. They seem to like to anthropomorphize their cats in their music and why not? This light, almost bluesy ballad does actually ramble. Stealthy throughout and it ends with a big pounce.

The final cut Trillium Waltz is a glittering guitar tune that takes you into the woodlands and gives you a tour of the natural beauty of the mountain flowers. Ghostly white three-petaled trilliums, pink lady slippers and bright yellow trout lilies put on a spring time show for the learned eyes. The music is a treat for the ears.

Al Petteway and Amy White have combined two of my favorite genres to make an album that is enjoyable in every respect. The fact that their subject matter, the Appalachian Mountains is where I call home doesn’t sway me in the least. Okay maybe I’m a bit sentimental, but their glorious, earthy music speaks for itself. This is an outstanding opus.
    Rating: Excellent -    
    - reviewed by RJ Lannan on 6/8/2005


Acoustic Guitar Magazine - Celine Keating

April 2005
Amy White and Al Petteway may hail from North Carolina, but Celtic mists animate
Acoustic Journey, a retrospective of their ten years of musical collaboration. In a balanced mix of 15 traditional and original compositions cherry-picked from earlier solo and duo CDs, Petteway’s formidable fingerstyle guitar and White’s delicately nuanced mandolin, piano, and guitar dance like fairy lights in airy filigrees around each other. Three piano/guitar duets have a ruminative, pensive power like that of pianist George Winston, while on the lovely “Lullaby,” White and Petteway’s wordless vocalizing has echoes of Irish singer Enya. But compelling melodies, percussive accoutrements, and masterful dynamics hold new-age glibness at bay, as on the jazzy “Baker’s Dozen,” where Petteway seems to be having the time of his life on a fretless bass. The playing is as tight and fluid as only musicians who can read each other’s minds can achieve, making this a great introduction to the award-winning duo’s music. (Maggie’s Music,

The Washington Post - Weekend Section - Mike Joyce

December 3, 2004
Acoustic Journey” is both a celebration and summation of the music recorded by guitarist Al Petteway and pianist-vocalist Amy White over the past 10 years.  Each track features the husband-and-wife duo (plus the occasional guest), and together the performances form an elegant tapestry of sound.
 The 15-tune collection opens with a little traveling music, courtesy of the pan-cultural excursion “Desert Dance/Mariposa,” and ends on a soulful grace note, via the dreamy guitar duet “New Moon.” What lies in between are both old performances (digitally remastered) and new ones that deftly conjure a variety of moods, by turns sprightly (“Caledon Wood”), sensuous (“Bareback”), sunny (“You Make Me Smile”) entrancing (“Midnight Ride”) and wonderfully evocative (“Accokeek Shore”).  In addition to guitar and piano, other instruments (and some vocal harmonies) come into play, coloring, accenting and underpinning the duo’s always graceful collaborations.”

Rambles - A Cultural Arts Magazine

Moment of truth time: over the past 15 years or so, I've seen Al Petteway play guitar in just about every circumstance you can imagine -- as the leader of the Al Petteway Quartet, a jazz group; as the accompanist for the Smith Sisters, a folk duo; as a folk guitarist -- name a genre and he has performed it.

Although Petteway was very good in all of these roles, he never really quite came alive, never quite lived up to his full talent until two things happened: he fell in love with Celtic music and he fell in love with Amy White. Together they have made several albums of wonderful duets, playing their original compositions in the Celtic vein and the occasional traditional song. The results have been consistently brilliant.

Acoustic Journey is just what the title implies, a disc that ranges through their past, a "best of" package. If you haven't heard them, this is a good place to start.

With Al on guitar (and, occasionally, fretless bass) and Amy on piano, mandolin and guitar, and with a couple of other musicians occasionally helping out on percussion, the recording is simple and small enough to rely on the quality of the writing -- but since the writing is consistently excellent, Acoustic Journey never fails. This recording is highly recommended.

by Michael Scott Cain

28 October 2006


GOLDEN WING - Maggie's Music

 The Washington Post - Weekend Section - Mike Joyce

June 4, 2004
"This recording is a celebration of songs with wings. Whether the wings of a fairy from an age-old tale, or the wings of a blackbird from a traditional ballad or poem," writes singer and multi-instrumentalist Amy White in the liner notes to her new release. Sound a little precious? Stay tuned.
"Golden Wing" may well turn out to be the White album with the strongest legs, thanks not only to a series of alluring, string-woven arrangements that sound both contemporary and Celtic-rooted, but to verse and lyrics contributed by everyone from William Blake and Edna St. Vincent Millay to Jesse Winchester and Karla Bonoff.
White, too, displays her songwriting gifts, enhancing the album's reflective tone and gentle lyricism. The wistfully evocative "Hide and Go Seek" could pass for a mid-career Joni Mitchell tune, and there are other examples of White's impressive songcraft. Yet it's her voice, a lovely and expressive soprano, and the way she and her husband, picker par excellence Al Petteway, elegantly frame the songs and poetry that stands out. True to form, Petteway, who plays several instruments on the album -- guitars, mandolin, bouzouki and fretless bass -- adds color without clutter, consistently complementing White's rhythm guitar work and quietly affecting vocals. With help from some talented friends, they imbue songs old and new with a seamless and soulful beauty.

 Sing Out Magazine

Amy White and Al Petteway are a couple of long-time professionals noted for their acoustic instrumental compositions and performances. Al, a DC-area vet and founding member of the powerhouse bluegrass band Grazz Matazz, has produced six solo albums and Amy three - this album is their third together. Like its predecessors, Golden Wing rests firmly in traditional Celtic and folk music styles, giving their originals (nine of the 13 tracks) a very traditional feel. What makes this album unique is that the usually instrumentally-focused pair have put together a full set of vocally oriented songs. Amy's splendid vocals take center stage here (she is billed on the disc in larger letters) and the album's sound makes me want to ask: So what took you so long? Even with the increased vocals, this is classic Al Petteway and Amy White with a bonus of more of Amy's Exquisite vocals. - VKH - Summer 2004

Natural Home Magazine

White’s clear, pure voice soars with the sweet melodies of Celtic-, bluegrass-, and country-inspired ballads. May/June 2004.

 Dirty Linen - Kerry Dexter

As Amy White's recording career has unfolded over the last seven or eight years, she's shared her lyricism as a pianist as a solo artist and her inventiveness on mandolin, bass, and guitar in company with her husband, renowned acoustic player Al Petteway. Golden Wing offers another aspect of White's musicianship, featuring her vocals on 11 of 13 tracks. The songs she's chosen all have something to do with real or imagined flights or journeys, and all the emotions associated with that. The arrangements and styles bring in musical elements from the Celtic tradition, bluegrass, Appalachian music, and the occasional dash of jazz. White sings in a warm alto that invites her listeners into each song and reveals its colors as the stories unfold. There are several songs White wrote, songs by Dick Gaughan, Karla Bonoff, and Jesse Winchester, an original instrumental White and Petteway wrote together, several traditional pieces, and Edna St. Vincent Millay's poem "Summer Sang in Me" made into song. The title track is also a poem, this one by William Blake and set to music by Petteway. The Bonoff tune "Home" has been recorded often and interpreted in many ways; White brings a fresh gentleness to her approach. "The Blackest Crow," a traditional love song well known in the Appalachian Mountains, and the Celtic trad piece "If I Were a Blackbird" are two other standouts, as is the instrumental " Tabby Wings," a new take on a piano tune White put on her first recording, an instrumental inspired by her playful kittens. Golden Wing is a snapshot of a fine musical partnership, and the next step in the career of an engaging musician who draws on tradition, interprets it, and in the process, moves it forward. Beyond all that, though, it's a relaxed set of really excellent music; every cut is a keeper.

An Hour With You - 103.1 FM Adelaide, South Australia - Ewart Shaw

I've just been introduced to the very engaging duo of Amy White and Al Petteway whose album Golden Wing, out on Maggie's Music, arrived in my hands a week or two ago. I've been playing tracks from it on my EBI morning show ever since.

As my father would say, Amy has a voice that would get a bishop out on a blind date to which I have to add he'd probably kick his mitre through a stained glass window.
The songs, some her own, others traditional and two, one by Jesse Winchester and one by Karla Bonhoff are linked, if you think about it, by the theme of flight, hinted at by the title track. Golden Wing is a setting of a poem by the 18th century visionary poet William Blake, who wrote Jerusalem and other light classics. The lyrics tell of a young woman who meets and falls for the prince of love and ends up being caged by him, so that he can enjoy her singing. This CD captures the remarkable beauty of her voice while not imprisoning her.

Her voice is a warm honeyed sound and evidently from what I've been able to read, almost her first vocal recording after a long career as a multi-instrumentalist with her husband Al Petteway whose deft finger work accompanies her through the album.

The beauty of the voice and the even delivery does tend to remove some of the pathos, from her otherwise seductive Raglan Road and I've always loved Jesse Winchester's Songbird, for the plaintive resignation in his voice that Amy can't match.
They take Dick Gaughan's arrangement of the traditional The Snows They Melt The Soonest and play it so gently, so sensually. In fact the entire disc is pretty sensual, and gracefully handled at every turn. Obviously the cliché of making beautiful music together really applies to these two.

Their website is not as helpful as I'd have liked, coming new to them and their music. They seem to have escaped from the new age end of the catalogue into a broad ranging survey of the traditional music scene. It gives them a freedom, which they're obviously enjoying and I'll happily listen to their next CD to see where the flight takes them.

Ewart Shaw Presenter of An Hour With You
5EBI103.1FM, Adelaide South Australia

Amazings.Com - Marcella Cirignola

Amy White and Al Petteway succeeded in creating a collection of pieces dominated by sensual melodies. The music presents elements typical of Folk, Celtic, Country, Jazz, and some other styles. The general orientation is romantic. Amy's ethereal voice turns out to be the ideal complement to enhance the warmth appreciated in all the tracks. The result is a precious collection of pieces with an emotive air, sometimes happy, sometimes melancholy. A true delight for the ears from the first to the last theme.



GRATITUDE- Solid Air Records

 Acoustic Guitar - Danny Carnahan
August 2000 - Hit List 
Previous albums by Petteway, such as Caledon Wood or Midsummer Moon, had a more decidedly Celtic flavor. And if you read the notes closely (a challenge these days with the microscopic type on many inner jackets), you would see that Amy White was a collaborator on those too. Together these two guitarists have honed a tightly connected style of playing where Amy handles most of the rhythm parts and Al takes the leads. On Gratitude, the sound is much more jazz and blues influenced than Celtic, making the sound of the set eclectic and invigorating. Their blending of different styles on the acoustic guitars offers an appeal that easily crosses boundaries from one category into another. As their collaboration has grown through the years and several recordings, the two have developed a fine sense of complementary soundscapes that brings the two parts together to create a whole which fits together as if it were one guitarist with four hands. Their versatility in flowing easily through melody reminds me of Acoustic Alchemy. highly enjoyable tunes that grow on you easily, especially "Pocket Change," "In Like a Lion," "Ani in the Tall Reeds," and the title cut.

  Dirty Linen - K.D.
Although they have strong solo careers, Amy White and Al Petteway often perform and sometimes record together. White, who's best known as a pianist, left the keyboard for this project, which comprises 10 original instrumentals. It's vigorous, engaging, and truly original roots-based music, from the Celtic-tinged "In Like a Lion" to the changing and intertwining rhythms of "Baker's Dozen." "Pocket Change" has a blues tint: "Ani in the Tall Reeds" is, the duo says, a tribute to both Ani DiFranco and Preston Reed that includes some elegant funky style. Petteway picks up the bouzouki to add a touch of the Middle East to the R&B groove of "Happy Go Lucky." Several of the tunes are, as the couple describes it, "hopelessly happy"; all are uplifting and worth repeated listenings

  New Age Voice - Carl McColman
Here's a love letter between two of the Washington DC-area's finest acoustic musicians. Petteway, who has recorded several albums for Maggie's Music, joins Amy White, his partner in life as well as in music, whose previous albums include Bittersweet and Piano Diaries. Although principally a pianist on this outing, White allows her virtuosity to shine on a variety of instruments, including mandolin, acoustic guitar, violin, and percussion. Especially when she and Petteway perform guitar / guitar or guitar / mandolin duets, the results are luminous. From the lush arrangements of original compositions like "Mariposa" and "Riding the River" to delicately performed traditionals like "Polly Vaughan," this album is by turns lovely, playful, and fun. Three vocal tracks round out the set--two traditional tunes and a sweet lullaby.

  NAPRA (New Alternatives for Publishers, Retailers & Artists, Inc.) - L.M.
Thank you to the gods who said, "let them fall in love and make beautiful music together." Using only two "wonderful sounding wooden boxes," this wife and husband duet creates acoustic groove music that sparkles and dances its way into soulful, sexy, playful, and sweet. Let me say again: Petteway and White are using only two guitars (oh and a bouzouki they consider a four string guitar)- picking, bowing, strumming and otherwise caressing eager oohs and ahhs from these anxious strings. It is obvious they are playing THEIR OWN MUSIC not just their own compositions, and are fulfilling their true destiny. The last and title cut on this album is an expressive conversation in appropriate appreciation of the music, of the instruments and of life.

Dirty Linen - Pam Winters
" exquisite marriage of styles and sounds."

  The Takoma Voice - Carolyn Feola
Al Petteway & Amy White just belong with a "&" between them. That knot is likely made up of many things ­ support, respect, emotion, history ­ but the one we get to share with them is music. On their newest release, Gratitude, they seem quite happy to let us in on this personal part of themselves and their marriage. Sure, there are plenty of couples who perform together, but not all of them are as inviting as Al & Amy. There is an intricacy to their duets that makes the listening experience quite intimate. Maybe intimacy between two musicians helps them play intricately. Or maybe intricacy makes us sense a pair's intimacy. Whichever way it goes, with these 10 guitar duets, it's clear that such collaborations could only have come from a couple who have broken through boundaries together.

In the notes for each track Al & Amy indicate which of them is playing lead, rhythm, first, and second guitar. But from the sounds of things, the separation is just semantic. Leads and rhythms peak and fade, first and second cross and braid, so in the final evaluation, it's pretty much one big yummy sound.

That sound isn't cluttered, either. Self-produced musicians sometimes don't seem to know when to stop, and they pack CDs with every trick in the repertoire. Al & Amy are formidable talents and multi-instrumentalists, but there is no overdoing here. They produced Gratitude without overdubs and with just two guitars (and a cameo appearance from a bouzouki on "Happy Go Lucky"). Everything is tasteful and just fancy enough. Breezy tunes like "Pickin Flowers" and "Let the Wind Carry You" are smartly detailed, but they're about nothing more than being happy, so their melodies simply flow.

One of the coolest tunes I've ever heard is "Baker's Dozen," so named for Amy's guitar percussion done in 13/8 meter. She knocks and thumps on her guitar's resonant wood like nobody's business, not only keeping pace with Al's lightning lead, but I daresay taking over! The zone she must have gone into to keep her groove going is surely just one step from total bliss.

Al & Amy placed the title track last on the CD, perhaps in deference to all that led up to it. With it they express their thanks for their blessings in life, and specifically for the friends who lent them the two special guitars they used. "Gratitude" is at times high and aching, with Al's capo all the way up at the angelic 9th fret, and at times it's soft with Amy's strumming. But from start to finish, Al & Amy's Gratitude ­ the tune, the CD, and the sentiment ­ are simply beautiful.

This husband-and-wife team is dynamic, joyous, and packed with talent. In their first entirely collaborative work, this award-winning team has produced a bold album rolling with Celtic and contemporary rhythms and a palpable sense of fun. Those familiar with Petteway's previous works will recognize his distinctive style, while the merging with multi-talented White brings a sense of balance, freedom, and celebration that is fresh and reassuring. The savory blend of guitar, bass, bouzouki, mandolin, violin, bodhran, piano, percussion, and voices uses the best from each instrument. This album offers a perception of independence and heightened senses from a strong team who knows their stuff!

  Baltimore Messenger Lifetimes - Geoffrey Himes
On "Gratitude" (Solid Air), this Takoma Park husband-and-wife team also emphasizes rhythm though the original compositions here stray further from the Celtic field than those of (Chris) Norman or (Robin) Bullock. White usually plays piano, but this is an all-fretted-string project, and she sticks to acoustic guitar, while Petteway plays his customary acoustic guitar and, on one cut, bouzouki. They take turns adding an emphatic bottom to each piece.

Petteway and White are sometimes described as a new-age act, but their tunes are too substantial and challenging to be mere background music. On this album, they bridge the gap between folk and classical guitar with instrumental compositions that use alternate tunings, unorthodox time signatures and unexpected harmonic detours. Each piece flows easily, thanks to their sure instinct for appealing melodies and steady, vigorous tempos.

  The Washington Post - Mike Joyce
On one level at least, "Gratitude" is an intimate celebration of premium acoustic guitars, those "wonderful sounding wooden boxes" that Al Petteway and Amy White refer to in the liner notes. But on a more fundamental level, this collection of duets recognizes the good fortune that flows from genuine musical and spiritual kinship. Listen closely and you can almost hear Petteway and White count their blessings.

Though the settings are spare, the husband and wife team have composed 10 tunes that conjure varied moods and boast distinctive textures. Most of the performances feature Petteway and White playing acoustic guitars in altered tunings. Listeners familiar with Pierre Bensusan's elegant guitar work will hear some similarities, thanks to a common tuning, but the duo's flair for combining sparkling melodies with percussive grooves ultimately sets "Gratitude" apart.

Highlights include "Pocket Change," with a bluesy complexion and resonating pulse; "Ghost on a Carousel," an almost spooky evocation of childhood days spent at Glen Echo; "Ani in the Tall Reeds," a tribute to Ani DiFranco and Preston Reed that brings in some funk; and "Let the Wind Carry You," a bright flag-waver the duo refers to as its "happy sunshine freedom anthem." Not to be overlooked, too, is "Happy Go Lucky," featuring Petteway's tart-tone bouzouki riding an R&B wave.
Utilizing acoustic guitars by luthiers Larry Sifel and James Olson (and a bouzouki on "Happy Go Lucky"), Al & Amy explore the beautiful tones of these fine instruments, as well as some cool guitar percussion and very novel use of open tunings (DADGAD, BGDGAD, EADGAD, and CGCGCD) in combination with either full or partial capo. Al also pulls out an E-Bow on "Ghost on a Carousel" to great advantage.

The range of music runs from the acoustic funk of the opening track (Pocket Change), to the Celtic-influenced (In Like a Lion), to the ethereal (Ghosts on a Carousel), to the just plain fun (Picking Flowers), to the elegant (Gratitude). The tune "Baker's Dozen" stands out with Amy's outstanding guitar percussion, as she thumps out an infectious 13/8 groove on the box of the instrument as Al alternately jams and drums along.

Gratitude is blessed with excellent production. The exquisite tones of their instruments were faithfully captured and mastered, and no overdubbing was used in assembling any of the ten tracks. What you hear is two fine acoustic guitars very well-played by facile and artistic hands belonging to a couple who love each other and the music they make. In this day of choreographed boy and girl bands who couldn't jam up a tune if their life depended on it, such music is truly worthy of gratitude.

On this debut duo recording, Al Petteway's well-known fingerstyle guitar work dovetails perfectly with partner Amy White's mandolin, guitar, and piano in sprightly original compositions and a few traditional tracks. "Playground" recalls the duets of Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, while "Desert Dance" positively blooms with western American exuberance. Petteway and White mix up the textures nicely, continually providing pleasing rhythmic and counter-rhythmic surprises, and their sparkling interconnection make this CD a particular treat.


RACING HEARTS - Fairewood Studios

  New Age Retailer - Ted Cox
Consistent winners of awards from the Washington Area Music Association (WAMA), Al Petteway and Amy White launch this debut duo recording with an acoustic set of originals and arrangements in the folk-Celtic vein. Petteway is skilled in guitar, bouzouki, and bass, and he is joined by wife White's accomplished mandolin, guitar, piano, fiddle, percussion and vocals.

Inspired by a visit to the red rocks and coyotes near Sedona, Arizona, "Desert Dance" is a gentle foot-tapper with guitars and mandolins singing to the beat of Paddy League's bodhran. White's sweet mandolin shines on the title track, and the tender "Lullaby" features her soft, wordless vocal joined by Petteway's harmony. "Hidden Wings" brings piano and guitar together in a spritely duet celebrating the power of love. This talented couple has put together an enjoyable mix of compositions and arrangements of timeless Celtic tunes.

  The Washington City Paper - Pamela Murray Winters
You probably look at the tasteful, soft-focus pictures and think, "Christ, I wondered what happened to Guy and Ralna from The Lawrence Welk Show." But don't be fooled: Unlike that now-divorced husband-and-wife singing duo, Al Petteway and Amy White are not only really and truly in love with each other - an energy that ricochets between them during their performances - they're also in love with creating their caffeinated, jazz-spiked acoustic brew. Appropriately enough, these lovers are natives of Northern Virginia. Petteway played bass in local funk bands in the late 70's, had a conversion experience after hearing John Renbourn at the Birchmere in the '80s, and became a virtuoso of Celtic-style finger-picked guitar with a world-class reputation and a lengthy discography. White, a gifted visual artist, kept her music to herself until she met Petteway in 1994. Since then, he's helped her find the nerve to play her compositions for other people. (Her album of piano reveries, Bittersweet: an American Romance, was recorded partly at tonight's venue in 1998.) Meanwhile, White's background in classical music and improvisational jazz has stretched Petteway's repertoire, as evidenced on the first album to bear both their names, 1999's Racing Hearts. That project split their musical road into a tangle of possible paths. The one they've chosen to follow next will be featured on an upcoming album of "groove-oriented guitar duets" and, most likely, at tonight's show.

  Folk Roots Magazine - John O'Regan
Al Petteway and Amy White's first duet album Racing Hearts is well starred. Their combined muse includes English folk style acoustic guitar work in the Jansch/Renbourn vein and traditional Irish music and original material stopping off at folk/ambient landscapes. Both are well seasoned, Petteway recording some fine guitar albums for Maggie's Music and White coming from a classically based family. Their resultant music naturally catches the folk/classical bases but also includes strong Irish, Eastern inflections and nuances. Mariposa joins White's mandolin and Petteway's guitar with exotic eastern sounding vocal and percussive noises. Morrison's Jig gets a fresh and thorough dusting down revealing both Petteway and White's Celtic inflections. Amy White's sensitive singing brings a fresh radiance to Polly Vaughan and the now standard and often mistreated She Moved through the Fair. On Racing Hearts, the duo weaves a sonorous and often sensual spell which is impossible to shake off. Technically confident and melodically assured, Racing Hearts is a musical odyssey worth investigating. - Carol Wright
Some musical collaborations reach fondly beyond the recording studio, and the partnership of guitarists Al Petteway and Amy White is one heartwarming example. Their mutual love and respect is evident on every track of this album, whether accelerating the rapid-fire passages of the title tune (with White taking the bristling finger work on the mandolin), weaving bittersweet harmonies on "Mariposa" and "Desert Dance," or layering smooth vocals to "Polly Vaughn" and "She Moved Through the Faire." They've included some Celtic and bluegrass flavors, with lots of spirited fingerpicking to keep things buoyant. The steely notes of White and Petteway's well-matched guitars and mandolins are mouthwateringly crystalline, and White brings extra value on piano and vocals. Adding further warmth and drive is Paddy League on percussion and Irish bodhran. You just can't beat the combination of fun and talent, and it's all here in abundance.

  CD Revolutions - Kathryn Sargent
When lovers collaborate musically, magic happens. Al Petteway and Amy White met at a St. Patrick's Day concert, fell in love, and soon began composing as a team. They composed most of their new album, Racing Hearts, although there are three pieces that are traditional, but enhanced by their own arrangements. Their playful instrumentation includes guitar, mandolin, shakers, tambourine, Irish bouzouki, nylon string guitar, piano, whistle, congas, chimes, and fiddle. Paddy League accompanies them on bodhran and percussion. Although much of the music is instrumental, Amy White's rich vocals are featured on "Polly Vaughn," and "She Moved Through the Faire," and "Lullaby." The atmospheric compositions are inspired by their first whitewater rafting experience ("Riding the River"), the coyotes and red rocks of Sedona ("Desert Dance"), the power of love ("Hidden Wings" and the title track), and even a ghost story ("She Moved Through the Faire"). Racing Hearts features a variety of styles, from the Latin flavor of "Mariposa" to the traditional "Morrison's Jig" and the more contemporary sound of "Desert Dance." "The W a s h i n g t o n P o s t said of Racing Hearts, "Petteway's guitar and White's piano twist and climb with a sharp, deep playfulness through essentially bittersweet territory...I felt as if I had been escorted over the hard edge by angels." It would hardly be a surprise if anyone listening would feel the same sensations. I, for one, most certainly did.

  Dirty Linen - Kerry Dexter
Both accomplished instrumentalists with solo careers, husband and wife team Al Petteway and Amy White bring a history of playing together and listening to each other to their first entirely collaborative recording. They also trade composing and arranging leads back and forth on the three traditional and nine original tunes that comprise the disc. In the process they create an engaging and intimate dialogue, with Petteway staying mostly with guitar and bass while White moves gracefully from the piano work with which she's most identified to guitar, mandolin, percussion, and vocals. A number of the pieces are inspired by the musician's response to landscape, among them the lively "Riding the River," and evocation of their first experience with whitewater, and the more meditative "Desert Dance," drawn from an early sunrise in Sedona. These are two musicians who clearly listen to each other, who each hear and respond to the other's musical conversation, and who are willing to take those dialogues in unexpected directions."

  The Washington Post - Geoffrey Himes
New Age has a bad reputation, and for the most part the genre deserves its notoriety as "aural wallpaper." Nonetheless, this contemporary instrumental music can be played with self-discipline rather than self-indulgence, with real melodies rather than vague moods, and with roots that are respected rather than diluted. Artists such as Michael Hedges and Alex de Grassi have proven as much in the past, and Al Petteway & Amy White, winners of more than a dozen New Age Wammies, prove it again on their new album, "Racing Hearts."

This Takoma Park, husband-and-wife duo mix their own compositions with traditional Celtic pieces on the new disc, and it's encouraging that the originals boast the same melodic clarity and rhythmic rigor as the Irish dance tunes. Petteway, who mostly plays acoustic guitar, balances a technical virtuosity with a strong sense of song form to carve out bold, vocal-like guitar leads on instrumentals such as "Mariposa" and "Playground."

White -- who plays piano, mandolin, guitar, fiddle and percussion -- draws on her classical background to create ambitious harmonic arrangements for these folk melodies. She adds her voice to four numbers, including an especially striking version of the traditional song, "She Moved Through the Fair."

  The Takoma Voice - Andrea Hoag
There's passion, and there's compassion - and both are here in abundance - but for Al and Amy's music I've had to coin a new word: *sym*passion. Their collaboration (as composers, performers and producers) goes beyond the responsiveness of counterpoint. Two racing hearts* really do beat as one, with a delicious variety of rhythms and emotions. Each voice remains strong and unique, and there are many kinds of excellence here. Al's guitar and bouzouki playing is, as always, both impeccable and overflowing with radiant surprises. Amy's powerful, inventive piano work is complemented by her open, even-handed lines on mandolin, guitar, and fiddle.

Amy's singing, on a few of the tracks, is one of the lovely revelations of Racing Hearts. Like some magical draught, it floats us away, and we awaken haunted by a smile and a faint taste of honey. On "Lullaby", Al too reveals a voice we'll look forward to hearing more of.

Subtly dramatic percussion by Amy and guest Paddy League underpin several tracks. It's an album full of strongly-written originals, and a few traditional pieces made fresh.

In "Riding the River" we feel the cool spray and the heat of the moment. "Hidden Wings" dazzles with complexity and grace. The Celtic chestnut "Morrison's Jig" grows in intensity with modern harmonies, than captivates with a soaring guitar solo.

The title track moves like a love affair: I found myself turning the volume up and up, caught in a mysterious excitement, as I tried to remember to notice the speed limit on my cross-town drive.

The production here is as fine as the music. The sound quality is warm and clear, the instruments blend and solo beautifully, and one mood flows easily to the next. "Racing Hearts" is (are?) playful and serious, compelling and warmly inviting.




 Rambles - A Cultural Arts Magazine
Sooner or later almost every musician gets the urge to do a Christmas album with often varying results, but we can all share glad tidings that these three superbly talented players joined forces to record A Midnight Clear. This disc is subtitled "A Celtic Christmas" and although these artists are all well experienced in the Celtic tradition, this project avoids the stereotypical Celtic sound. The material here is exquisitely chosen, beautifully arranged for mostly acoustic traditional instruments, well played, expertly recorded and brilliantly produced resulting in a Christmas disc of the highest order.
The CD booklet does a good job with all the vital information including a nicely written history of each tune. Robin Bullock performs as a solo artist, while Al Petteway and Amy White work as a duo (they are married to each other, too). The preface to the booklet explains that the three are long-time friends who admired each other's work and eventually began performing holiday concerts together. For this project, they decided to "pool our recordings of seasonal repertoire on a communal album. In this unusual format, a sequence evolved in which our tracks alternated, resulting in a musical conversation beyond what any of us had imagined individually." The song selections represent a good mix of mostly familiar tunes with a few not so familiar traditional carols.
The disc starts off in fine fashion with one of the less familiar choices, "Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day," which the notes explain is a traditional Cornish carol, played by Robin on bouzoukis, 12-string guitar and bass. The performance and arrangement are perfect and the recording quality of the acoustic instruments is exceptional. Al & Amy follow with "Greensleeves," always a good Christmas mood-setter that here sounds just gorgeous on acoustic guitar and mandolin.
Robin's next selection is "The First Noel/Good King Wenceslas" with a terrific arrangement of guitar, mandolin and bouzouki, with lots of really interesting history provided in the notes. Al & Amy follow with "God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen," with an inventive arrangement that nicely stays true to the familiar melody, and no, it's not a misprint, it's "God rest you" and not "ye." The notes go deeper to explain "the lyrics should read 'God rest you merry, gentlemen' -- imploring the gentlemen to rest easy and not to worry or fear. The comma is often mistakenly placed after the word 'you,' implying that merry gentlemen are being asked to rest." A fine point perhaps, but it is indicative of the care and detail that characterizes this disc. Other highlights include Robin's take on "O Come All Ye Faithful/Angels We Have Heard on High" and "The Coventry Carol/Patapan," on which Al & Amy style a world music arrangement sounding somewhat like Loreena McKennitt.
The delightful back and forth continues on for a full 16 tracks, showcasing some of the best sounding, best arranged and best recorded acoustic music I've heard in many a day. The album is mostly instrumental until Al & Amy have the last word with "Ave Maria," which features a lovely vocal by Amy, accompanied by Al on guitar. Great Christmas records have an amazing capacity to add to the enjoyment of the holidays and this is one disc to be savored. I already see this disc commanding a priority spot in my stack of essential Christmas listening.
- Rambles - written by William Kates, published 6 September 2003

Renaissance Magazine "the well tempered writer" 2003 - Genevieve Williams
Seeing the words “Celtic” and “Christmas” together on an album cover usually means that such a collection consists of a set of warmed-over Greatest Hits of Christmas, the sort of things one hears ad nauseum in the mall from Thanksgiving through December 25th.  This CD, though, inspires greater confidence.  The trio of musicians featured here are all highly respected in folk circles: guitarist Robin Bullock and multi-instrumentalists Al Petteway & Amy White.
The trio perform instrumental renditions (with an occasional vocal line from White) of Christmas songs that are generally not the sort one hears at the mall; “Greensleeves” – a sweet, fresh arrangement of the centuries-old tune – and “O Come All Ye Faithful” are familiar enough, but other tunes will be less so, except possibly to British listeners.
Familiar pieces are given new life by fresh arrangements and, in some cases, by being paired with other songs.  A good example is “Coventry Carol,” which begins like a flower opening to the dawn via electronic bows applied to guitar strings.  It then morphs into “Patapan,” a French dancing tune that here acquires an almost Middle Eastern flavor, thanks to some inspired percussion and wordless vocals.
There are a couple of American inclusions as well.  One of the best is “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” written by a Unitarian minister from Massachusetts and an editor and critic from New York (the liner notes include the history of each piece, as well as notable instruments used in its recording.)  Another is “We Three Kings of Orient Are,” which opens with a soft subtlety before launching into the main melody.  There are even a few original tunes hidden among the traditional ones, notably “St. Clair’s First Snow” written by White about a cat named St. Clair who experiences snow for the first time.
The album’s instrumentation is contemplative and soothing, the sort of sound that New Age albums and Celtic Christmas-style collections aim for but rarely achieve.  It helps that the softer, sweeter material is tempered with songs such as “Gower Wassail”/“The Boys of Ballisodare.”  The first of these is an up-tempo wassailing song; the second, an Irish slip jig that the liner notes indicate “has no particular connection with the season, but it fits nicely with the wassail.”  The CD ends with a lovely rendition of Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria,” a simple arrangement of White’s voice and Petteway’s Guitar.
In the final analysis, the “Celtic Christmas” label may perhaps be a misnomer.  The music on A Midnight Clearhails from many countries, across many eras, and the arrangements dwell somewhere between traditional and modern folk.  But all this is just so much nitpicking; A Midnight Clear is a lovely collection of Christmas music and a surefire cure for crowded stores, long lines, holiday traffic, and plastic evergreen.

 The Washington Post - Mike Joyce
Folk Guitarists' Splendid Sounds Of the Season
Amy White and Al Petteway's "Christmas Guitar Concert" at the NOAA Auditorium in Silver Spring Saturday night offered some twists on traditional holiday music even before the headliners stepped on stage.

Indeed, multi-instrumentalist Robin Bullock opened the show with a series of carols capped by a "high-speed Delta blues" guitar version of "Joy to the World." Alternately playing guitar, cittern and keyboards, Bullock then went on to spread more cheer by infusing French dance tunes, Irish jigs and original compositions with plenty of energy, color and lyricism.

White and Petteway followed with a performance that embraced all manner of seasonal sounds and festivities. The wife and husband duo collaborated on several guitar or guitar-mandolin duets brimming with shimmering tones and woven textures.

The melodies played by Petteway, a virtuosic acoustic guitarist who favors an altered tuning, drew from a broad variety of cultural influences, everything from Middle East tonalities to Scottish jigs.

White's dovetailing contributions enhanced and energized the arrangements, though nothing proved more rhythmically compelling than "Baker's Dozen." An original piece, it featured White sustaining a tricky meter while she and Petteway tapped and slapped the surfaces of their guitars, the bodies as well as the fret boards, to create a vibrantly percussive effect. The duo also engaged the audience by moving from the silly (donning funny stocking caps) to the sublime (White's affecting vocal on "Ave Maria"), and by briefly celebrating the British door-to door tradition of wassailing.

The well-deserved encores found White, Petteway, Bullock and guest vocalist Grace Griffith enlisting the audience's help during a hushed reprise of "Silent Night."

Fairewood Studios  
P.O. Box 1093 - Weaverville, NC 28787