Folk Songs of the Great Lakes Region
A songbook and study guide with an 18-song companion CD

by Lee and Joann Murdock

Reviewed by Alan Kretzschmar

Lake Rhymes is a beautiful book. From its cover and throughout, the old-time photographs and illustrations entice you to learn more about the folk songs of the Great Lakes. Play the companion CD with each chapter and you'll be taken
back in time to the early days of life on the lakes.

Lake Rhymes is appealing to a wide variety of interested readers: sailors, musicians, and history buffs will find the carefully researched compilation of facts, stories, photos, and illustrations will enhance the enjoyment of learning about these songs. In addition, the authors intend this book to be a valuable tool for the classroom teacher.

Some of the purposes of these folk songs served as entertainment, historical records, and work songs. To illustrate these categories, the book is divided into nine chapters, each including two appropriate songs. Before each song is a story. Then the music score is complete with chords and lyrics. A nice feature is having the full lyrics listed beneath the music. The chapters end with a glossary of important terms, discussion questions, and further reading and listening options, including online sources.
I especially like the fold-out maps and timeline at the beginning of the book. I referred to them as a reference for putting the music to a specific location and time.

Be prepared to read Lake Rhymes from cover to cover because you'll want to keep reading once you start. Still, its chapter structure is great for skimming through and coming back for new facts about the Great Lakes area traditions.

Lee Murdock is a recording artist, songwriter and teacher. He presents over 150 shows every year in the U.S. and Canada.

Lake Rhymes is available at Lee Murdock performances, in museums and specialty shops, and by mail order from for $30.