Fare thee weel, you dungeons dark and strong,
Fareweel, fareweel to thee.
Macpherson’s rant will ne’er be lang,
On yonder gallers tree.
Chorus of ‘Macpherson’s Lament’
I’ve been out on a long walk since just past dawn here on this lovely Spring morning. I left my lovely wife Catherine sleeping soundly, dressed and got several bacon and cheddar cheese rolls, a spiced apple muffin and a thermos of gunpowder tea to have breakfast some distance out. Some of the Estate Irish Wolfhounds decided to join me, so off we went. Now I’m back from that walk with dogs settled near the fireplace and have settled in with more tea to do the new edition, so let’s see what I’ve got for you..
Cat says about Rita Mae Brown’s Let Sleeping Dogs Lie ,that ‘This series grows out of her passions for horses, hounds, and American fox hunting which show up frequently in her fiction and non-fiction works – she has for some time now been a member of a local fox hunt club. Please note that American hunt clubs do not kill the fox as part of their hunt but let it escape. Indeed they care for the foxes on their property by feeding them and making sure they get enough food in harsh winters.’
Zina ends our book reviews with Charles de Lint’s What The Mouse Found and Other Stories: ‘Ah — two of my favorite things, paired in one slim volume. (Sorry, I’ve always wanted to use the phrase “slim volume” somewhere.) Fairy tales and Charles de Lint. The postman dropped the package through the door this afternoon. Just a bit later, here I am at my computer. I couldn’t not read it right away, could I?’Gus says that he ‘was delighted when The Mushroom Hunters showed up for review a few years back but it took me a while to get around to reading it. Now keep in mind that these are not the weekend mushroom hunters who go looking for a few pounds of these fungi to use in their own culinary endeavours. These are hardcore individuals who live rough for months on end, searching the forests where the rarest mushrooms grow in anticipation of selling their harvest to high-end restaurants that’ll pay them top price for them.’
Reynard has a look at a fairly new concern here: ‘It might surprise you to learn that we’ve a rather unique coffeehouse complete with a fireplace, plenty of natural lighting and damn fine coffee. A coffeehouse that’s used by visitors and staff alike. If you’re interested in how this coffeehouse came to be, here’s the rest of the story.’
Reynard says of Alan Davison’s The Pleasures of English Food: ‘This is yet another in Penguin UK’s English Journeys series which I swear runs into the dozens of slim volumes [there’s that phrase again – ed.] covering every aspect of what I’ll term pastoral England — architecture, country gardens, manor houses, country lore, food, music.. Well you get the idea. Most of the books in this series are older titles being reprinted by this House, some over a century old. This one is just over a decade old.’
Cat found a concert recording, John Fogerty’s The Long Road Home, to be a keeper: ‘Though Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of the best bands of the Sixties, I’m more fond of the recordings of the post-CCR career of vocalist John Fogerty. And his best recordings are by far the concert recordings, both the legit ones like this release and of course the many bootlegs done as soundboard recordings.’
Gary has for us a pleading assortment of music in his Sound bites: Fiddles, folksongs and a little jazz column which he describes this way: ‘The CDs awaiting review are piling up on all my indoor horizontal surfaces, the way the snow was drifting outside the door a short while ago. There’s only one thing to do with drifting snow or gathering CDs – clear a path. I came up with a nice handful of recordings that all approach traditional music in various ways. So here’s a look at some acoustic music from Quebec, Scottish music on fiddle and cello, Irish fiddle music from Chicago and beyond, and a superb jazzy take on some songs old and new from Scotland, England, Ireland and America.’
Gary also reviewed The Both by Eli West, who he says ‘wanted to illuminate the contrasting personalities and stories of the two men who were his grandfathers: one a devout Christian and conscientious objector during WWII, the other a farmer who was a pilot in that war and spent time as a prisoner of the Germans.’ The resulting album has two different versions, one instrumental and one with vocals, of six fine American roots songs.
He also reviewed a new project helmed by American Irish fiddler Liz Carroll. It’s a set of traditional and contemporary tunes to accompany an exhibit of Irish fine and decorative art at the Art Institute of Chicago. Read his review to see what he thought about IRELAND: Crossroads of Art and Design, 1690–1840 – The Music.
Jo wrote a review of the Labyrinth recording by a band created by Scots fiddler Alasdair Fraser: ‘All of the members in Skyedance are consummate musicians, who have honed their craft to excellence. It is pure pleasure to hear these six phenomenal performers work together with such precision and craftsmanship.’
Lars says The Complete Songs of Robert Burns in Twelve Volumes ‘is one of the most ambitious recording projects I have encountered within the folk music world, covering all of Robert Burns’ 368 songs. It took about six years and twelve volumes to complete, with a great number of well known Scottish mulsicians and singers taking part.’
If you visit me in the Library here, you’ll very often find me listening to Celtic music of some sort, and more than not, it’ll be a soundboard recording of a performance by a band I like as I prefer live performances. So it is this week with Nova Scotian band Rawlins Cross performing ‘McPherson’s Lament’ at The Cohn in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the 18th of April 2009.