A Burns supper with Brian Freeman

Brian Freeman presents the best of Robert Burns
Brian Freeman will present Robert Burns' songs in the Old Scots dialect in which they were originally penned and to their traditional tunes.Photo courtesy of Brian Freeman

Robert Burns, "Scotland's favorite son," was a nationalist, a womanizer and an unsuccessful farmer, and as such, he was a tremendous writer, sympathetic to the plight of the common man.

Burns is to Scotland what Shakespeare is to England, says Ashland musician Brian Freeman.

If you go

What: Evening of Scottish Music

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19

Where: Trinity Episcopal Church, 44 N. Second St., Ashland

Tickets: $15, or $5 for children 11 and younger

Call: 541-482-1915

"He identified with the masses, and because he was a poor man, he understood their trials and tribulations, and he knew how to write to them," Freeman says. "He (Burns), like Shakespeare, really spoke to the heart but not in an elitist way."

Freeman on guitar, octave mandolin, tenor banjo and vocals, accompanied by his daughter, vocalist Kailey Ousley, and pianist Don Harriss, will celebrate the life and legacy of the Bard of Ayrshire at the eighth annual Evening of Scottish Music. The Burns supper (celebration) will be at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 44 N. Second St., Ashland.

During the first half of the concert, Freeman will perform 10 of his favorite Burns songs — many of them romantic — and Barry Kraft, an Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor and dramaturg, will read one of Burns' poems.

Listen for "Ae Fond Kiss," the "apex of Burns' romantic songs," and "Scots Wha Hae," revealing Burns' disappointment in those who didn't follow William Wallace but "were happy to live under the yoke of the Edward I of England," Freeman says.

He and Ousley combined two other songs — "Gudewife, Count the Lawin," about the medicinal purposes of alcohol, and "Charlie, He's My Darling," a love-at-first-sight song — into one arrangement.

"The melodies are very similar; one is in the minor key, and one is in the major key, and they seemed to be made for each other," Freeman explains. "And ... his (Burns') greatest loves were women and drink, so it seemed a natural thing to do to put the two together."

The second set will be open to all sorts of Scottish songs, including several of Freeman's originals.

There's "Changing Tides," written last fall; "Heather on the Moor," about a man's strange encounter with a shepherdess; and "Dumbarton Drums," about a woman who thinks longingly of her soldier boy every time she hears the drums roll.

"I've tended to do a lot of love songs in this one (concert)," Freeman says. "There are other themes, but Burns himself, and Scots in general, have a great way with the romance."

Tickets to the show are $15 for adults, $5 for children 11 and younger, and are available at Music Coop in Ashland, at the door or by calling 541-482-1915.

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