“Murdock’s evocative lyrics and fluency on six-and-12-string guitars, combined with Blue Horizon’s rhythmic undercurrent of percussion and bass, the addition of acoustic and stringed instruments and sweetened vocal harmonies, make this new ensemble a perfect pairing.”
—Roger LeLievre, “Know Your Ships”
“It’s been an eye-opening experience for me. I’ve always been a solo act. When I found some people who were kindred spirits who were as excited about the music as I was, it really energized me. … We have a greater appreciation of the songs and what each of us can bring to the songs.
– Lee Murdock
Blue Horizon is a meeting of the old and the new. Taking some of Lee Murdock’s carefully researched traditional tunes, and giving them a new, and sometimes quirky, contemporary sound, has always been Lee Murdock’s musical mission.
The trio is comprised of some of Chicagoland’s best up-and-coming musicians, including Mike Bradburn (bass/vocals) of the popular band, Dolly Varden … and Joel Simpson, a multi-instrumentalist who has been an enthusiastic Lee Murdock fan since he was only six years old. Joel plays in Irish, pop, and jazz ensembles, and switches off between dobro, banjo, mandolin and other instruments in Blue Horizon.
After years of success as a solo artist, Great Lakes troubadour Lee Murdock has formed a new band, Blue Horizon, adding buoyant harmonies, rhythmic undercurrents, and a swell of strings to build a sound that’s as refreshing as a splash of fresh water over the bow. Blue Horizon has transformed the studio magic of Murdock’s 19 albums – including “What About the Water,” which recently debuted at #13 on folk radio charts – into the full ensemble sound that’s been long-requested by fans.
About Blue Horizon
LEE MURDOCK with BLUE HORIZON
“It’s nice to get in touch with the old master. I am a big fan of Lee’s and have been since I was a little kid… To me, it’s all new and exciting.” —Joel Simpson of Blue Horizon
Blue Horizon is Lee Murdock’s new touring band, bringing a full ensemble sound which has been long-requested by his avid followers in 36 states.
Joined by three up-and-coming musicians from Chicago’s fertile folk and acoustic scene, Blue Horizon transforms the studio magic of Lee’s 19 albums – including “What About the Water,” which recently debuted at #13 in folk radio charts.
Like a splash of fresh water over the bow, the rhythmic, Celtic-influenced accompaniment, with full three and four-part harmonies, has infused this music with a vibrant energy and a sound that is a clean and refreshing as the sweetwater seas of which they sing.
“Blue Horizon has been an eye-opening experience for me! I’ve always been a solo act. When I found some people who were kindred spirits who were as excited about the music as I was, it really energized me. … We have a greater appreciation of the songs and what each of us can bring to the songs. —Lee Murdock
“Lee Murdock’s music captures the rhythm of the endless stream… the motion of the water. It brings the broad horizon into view.” —Lake Carriers’ Association
“Murdock’s evocative lyrics and fluency on six-and-12-string guitars, combined with Blue Horizon’s rhythmic undercurrent of percussion and bass, the addition of acoustic and stringed instruments and sweetened vocal harmonies, make this new ensemble a perfect pairing.” —Roger LeLievre, “Know Your Ships”
The Christmas Tree Ship Concerts
In 1991, Lee Murdock performed the first “Christmas Ship Concert,” Solo, at the historic Maple Street Chapel in Lombard, Illinois. Since that time, it has become an annual event, moving from venue to venue in the Chicago area, each year in late November.
Lee wrote the Christmas Ship song in 1989, and since that time, other artists have created paintings, picture books and other books and art inspired by the story of the Rouse Simmons, and this story has taken on a life of its own.
In this holiday concert, Lee Murdock and his band, Blue Horizon, celebrate the Christmas holidays steeped in Great Lakes heritage. Retelling the famous story of the Rouse Simmons, a tall ship, a lumber schooner that traveled from the northern Michigan forests to booming towns like Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago from the 1880s. The Rouse Simmons was lost in Lake Michigan late November, 1910, with a load of Christmas trees cut from the new growth in the northern forests. The Story of the Rouse Simmons is a holiday remembrance of loss and renewal, love and the resilience of the human spirit. The ship’s Captain, Herman Schuenemann, was well-known and loved on the Chicago River docks where he sold (and sometimes gave away) the trees brought down from Manistique. She was lost in Lake Michigan in November 1910, but the Captain’s wife and family kept up this tradition for 22 years more, well beyond the days of the tall ships on the Great Lakes.
A surprising number of people do travel to Chicago to attend this concert on Thanksgiving weekend, but there is a strong demand for this show from Lee’s fan base, and now, with Blue Horizon’s ability to travel, this show should be a strong holiday offering from Mid-November through December.
Blue Horizon: Blending harmonies, worldbeat and tradition-grounded experience with new discoveries into a joyful vibe. Smell of the sea.
Lee Murdock: A surprising array of musical influences, Celtic and Blues, ballads, ragtime, goodtime, freshwater soundscape.
The Dock Wallopers: Additional three-man vocal chorus available along with Lee Murdock and Blue Horizon, for art center and larger venues.
Lee Murdock, Guitar, Vocals. Noted as a fluent instrumentalist on six and twelve string guitars, Murdock combines ragtime, Irish, blues and folk styles with this flair for storytelling in songs. His musical influences span fifteen generations, and combine original compositions with traditional music. Lee is broadly acknowledged as “the premier interpreter of songs and tales about the Great Lakes.” He has released nineteen albums to date, and Blue Horizon has “appropriated” a large part of this repertoire for re-interpretation in the new band’s influence.
Joel Simpson, Dobro, Mandolin, Guitar, Banjo, Piano and Vocals. It all started at the age of seven, when Joel became a fan of Lee Murdock. The two men met again as teachers at Tobias Music Store in Downers Grove, and this Blue Horizon intergenerational musical alliance flourished. Joel is a graduate of Elmhurst College School of Music, and he performs in several other jazz, pop, folk bands including the Irish band, Another Pint.
Mike Bradburn, Bass and Vocals. Mike’s first gig took place when he was 4 – when he charged 25 cents each time he sang the gospel song “So High” at a church fundraiser. He brought in over $13 for the church that day. Mike is best known for being a member of the Chicago-based group Dolly Varden. ROLLING STONE Magazine described Dolly Varden’s sound as: “Electric-country majesty.”
Greg Smith, Drums/percussion. Originally from Louisville, KY, Greg’s subtle rhythm groove is influenced heavily by studio drummer Steve Gadd. Longtime drummer for the popular Chicago pop-folk band, The Dooleys, and busy in various bands touring, studio, and TV. Greg has been playing since his early teens, even mounting a new marching drum section at his high school. Also plays guitar, ukulele and piano, though not (yet) in Blue Horizon.