Whatever happened next, good or bad, it would be wonderful finding out. — Mathew Swift, the Midnight Mayor, in Kate Griffin’s A Madness of Angels
Ahhhh, plump pork sausages sizzling in their own fat, eggs any way you like them, palacsinta thick with lekvár, gulyás topped with sour cream, fresh brewed coffee with cream so thick it stands up… Sound good? It is. After a night of playing music, the musicians are always hungry, quite hungry indeed.
So Béla, our long-resident Hungarian violinist, pleased the lot of them — fussy though they be at the best of times — by delivering a crate of spicy Kolbasz sausages packed in ice and sawdust along with another crate that contained Páter Sör, a most excellent Hungarian wheat beer. and yet a third crate loaded with yet more Hungarian goodies for later.
We could even smell it in our rooms under the eaves up on the fourth floor, so we got up, dressed, and went down to the feast! Of course we got music as well, as Béla and several other musicians started playing some of the tunes collected by Béla Bartok, which you can find in Yugoslav Folk Music, his monumental four volume collection.
Gary reviewed Arthur C. Clarke’s Tales From The White Hart which, he notes, ‘is a series of superficially linked stories told by the fictional patrons of a fictional pub somewhere in London. The narrator is a fictionalized version of Clarke (the other patrons rib him for being a teetotaler), and I’ve no doubt some of the other patrons mentioned are probably based on others in his scientific and writing circles.’
A collection receives high praise from Gereg: ‘Welcome to the imagination of Kage Baker. Enjoy it; treasure it; don’t get too comfortable here. There won’t be anything new to come. Baker’s death in 2010 stilled one of America’s most original voices.’
A Midori Snyder novel was a winner for Michael: ‘The Flight of Michael McBride is a beautifully spun tale of magic, love, loss, and growing up. It juxtaposes Irish myth, the enigmatic mystique of Native American folklore, the simple charm of folk magic, and the illusion of the Wild West, creating a tapestry that few writers can equal. The only author who’s done anything comparable who springs to mind is Tom Deitz, and his work is more focused on Cherokee myth. There are other authors who have juxtaposed Celtic and Native American themes — Charles de Lint, for example — but in my opinion, Snyder hits a home run with this novel.
Our baseball loving Richard is also fond of mysteries, which is a good thing, as he reviewed this novel: ‘There’s a moment toward the end of Dusty Rainbolt’s Death Under the Crescent Moon that is worth the price of admission all by its lonesome.’
Robert reviewed Dark Jenny: ‘What do you get when you mix the legend of King Arthur with the detective fiction of Raymond Chandler? It seems you come up with Alex Bledsoe’s stories of Eddie LaCrosse, sometime mercenary soldier, sometime hardboiled detective.’ In this novel, he’s in the wrong castle, a situation not uncommon for him.
Robert brings us a film that is both transcendant and depressing, Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth: ‘Pan’s Labyrinth (which, by the way, del Toro insists is a mistranslation; the faun is not intended to be Pan) is, indubitably, filled with poetry that is somehow both rich and bleak, concrete and ethereal. I don’t know if I want to see it again, which in itself is revealing: my enthusiasm is tempered by the realization that viewing this film is being put through an emotional wringer.’
While not so surreal as de Toro’s work, and not nearly as emotionally tough, director Harold Zwart’s Mortal Instruments: City of Bones has a certain appeal: ‘Along with the recent surge of superhero movies, we seem to have had a spate of films based on fantasy/dystopian future science fiction series oriented toward teenagers. This is not necessarily a bad thing, although the results, as might be imagined, are variable.’
Gus tells of finnan haddie, a quintessential Scottish dish made of smoked fish, onions, potatoes, spicing and cream that’s often served as the Eventide meal at this Estate. In New England, it’s often made as a chowder. Here we prefer the lightly fried in the iron pan approach.
Robert got the chore (right) of reviewing three Green & Black’s bars — Organic Milk Chocolate, Organic Maya Gold and Organic Bittersweet Dark Chocolate and he has this crucial note about the company: ‘The provenance of the name, “Green & Black’s,” should be obvious: organic chocolate with a dark, rich color and flavor.’
Stacy says ‘Considering it’s the most important meal of the day, restaurant owner Carrie Levin teaches us what breakfast should be in her new book, The Good Enough to Eat Breakfast Cookbook. After over 20 years at New York’s famous restaurant Good Enough to Eat, Levin generously opens her kitchen and shares her personal tricks of the trade with the home cook.’
Robert has a politically tinged Graphic Novel for us: ‘The collected Red Menace revisits the early 1950s, the heyday of Joe McCarthy and HUAC, when America was paranoid about commie plots and demagogues like McCarthy destroyed lives without much regard for facts. One target was L.A.’s own caped crusader, the Eagle, who happened to be a war hero named Steve Tremaine.’
OK, you do know that we have a resident hedgehog at this Scottish Estate by the name of Hamish? So it won’t surprise you that Robert reviewed this puppet: ‘Well, I finally got my first Folkmanis puppet to review, and appropriately enough, it’s the Little Hedgehog — and let me tell you, he’s a real charmer.’
Gary has good things to say about two Canadian sisters: ‘Cassie and Maggie MacDonald are sisters from Nova Scotia. They were reared in the seaside town of Antigonish (“antee-GO-nish”), just a stone’s throw from Cape Breton Island, and they grew up with Cape Breton music. Sterling Road is their second album, and they sound like seasoned professionals.’
Arsen Petrosyan is a former prodigy on the Armenian wind instrument known as the duduk. He has released his debut album, named after his hometown of Charentsavan. Gary found the music on Charentsavan intriguing and at times haunting. “On this record he attempts to give an overview of the music of the duduk throughout its history, playing songs ancient, contemporary and in-between,” Gary says.
Gereg notes of the Crow Autumn album that ‘It’s hard for me to resist a band with name like “A Broken Consort”, but it didn’t give me a clear idea of what to expect. I approached this album, Crow Autumn, with no expectations.’ Read his review to see what he thought of it.
Lars says ‘Shadows Tall is the second album from Jeana Leslie and Siobhan Miller. The duo met whilst studying at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. They both graduated in 2009 with honours. Indeed, they are two Scottish lassies who should know their business, as they have been hailed as rising stars on the Scottish music scene.’
Australia resident Michael looks at a recent Fairport Convention recording: ‘Having lived with Myths And Heroes for a few days before reviewing, in order to gather various ideas about it, there are a couple of things I think need to be said at the outset. First, the title track – one of several Chris Leslie compositions on the album – is one of the most ridiculously catchy songs the band has ever done. Seriously. It’s not the only real earworm on offer, either. But along with the catchiness is an interesting arrangement that highlights the rock side of folk-rock more so than a lot of Fairport’s more recent material, and intelligent poetic lyrics.’
And now for something completely different: Robert brings us a review of Antonio Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons on a disc with two concerti by a little-known Baroque master, Pietro Locatelli: ‘There are many excellent recordings of The Four Seasons available these days, as might be guessed from its ubiquity. The addition of the Locatelli offerings, however, gives this one an edge, and provides a worthy introduction to a little-known Baroque master.’
And taking us even farther back in history, Robert has some thoughts on Trio Mediaeval’s A Worcester Ladymass: ‘I think one reason I’m so fond of Trio Mediaeval is that their attitude toward the performance of early music mirrors my own: in their introduction to this disc, they note that performing music from a thousand years ago (give or take a century or two) necessarily involves as much recreation as interpretation, since any contemporary rendering is filtered through contemporary sensibilities.’
I’ve got a rarity for you this time in the form of the Richard and Linda Thompson Band doing a set of reels, ‘Flogging Reel / Kerry Reel’ at the legendary Paradise in Boston, Massachusetts on May 19, 1982. To my knowledge, it’s a very unusual example of Thompson doing so as both are traditional with the first being known by many names including ‘The Humours Of Bantry Bay’, ‘Kiss The Gunner’s Daughter’, ‘The Newry Lass’ and ‘Ríl An Lasctha’; the latter has a wide range of alternate names including, to name a few, ‘An Rogha Chiarrai’, ‘Capel Street’, ‘The Chapel House’ and ‘John Kelly’s Old Concertina’. Whatever name suits your fancy, enjoy.