Here’s the video premiere for the lovely ‘Keweenaw Light’ by AJ Srubas and Rina Rossi, a song as timeless as the Michigan landscapes and locations it celebrates. The song was originally written by the late Craig Johnson from lower Michigan, just down the road from where Rossi was brought up, and it’s full of poetic images of Lake Superior and its surroundings, creating a real sense of place. It’s a song of love and longing but the places ‘Keweenaw Light’ references make it feel authentic: “I’ve traveled this country from the Keewanaw headlands // Where the wild gulls do cry from the rocks to the sea, // From the cold inland ocean to the Manitou Island…I’ve drifted through the boom towns, a century dying // Past the ruins of the smelters and the rusted head frames. // Down through Mohawk, and Ahneek, Centennial and Lorean // And other sad places that pass without name. // I’ve counted the crossties, dry bones of the railroad, //That stretch from the sunrise to the close of the day, // And I’ve counted the miles between me and my truelove, The miles and the highways that carried me away.”
Multi-instrumentalist Srubas’s gorgeous fiddle melody drifts over the lake’s cool waters while Rossi’s light, tuneful guitar provides the foundation for their voices to combine effortlessly. In Autumn 2022, the pair travelled to the Keweenaw Peninsula to find all the landmarks mentioned in the song, filming themselves along the way. The result is this video-diary of their journey, featuring them singing on the shores of Lake Superior. Despite being only September, it was already snowing as they explored the song’s lyrical locations and something in the bleak cold reinforces the narrative and feel of ‘Keweenaw Light’.
AJ Srubas and guitarist, bass player and dancer Rina Rossi have both been heavily involved in various projects and bands in the old-time music scene. They have worked together in different bands over the last eight years, including the well-regarded bluegrass outfit Steam Machine. However, ‘Sweet Bunch of Daisies’ is the first album they have released as a duo. The record, which is out now, features both traditional and new interpretations of old-time songs, including ‘Keweenaw Light’. Check it out.