What’s New for the 31st of July: Yonder Mountain String Band live, Matt Wagner’s Grendel, Doctor Who’s The Talons of Weng Chiang, a Memorial Concert for Johnny Cunningham, YA by Heinlein, Lady Raglan on Green Men and other matters

It is a man’s face, with oak laves growing from the mouth and ears, and completely encircling the head. Mr. Griffith suggested that it was intended to symbolize the spirit of inspiration, but it seemed to me certain that it was a man and not a spirit, and moreover that it was a Green Man. — From an essay by Lady Raglan entitled ‘The Green Man in Church Architecture’ in the Folklore journal,  Vol. 50, No. 1 (Mar., 1939), pp. 45-57. Go here for much more on her ideas in an essay by Christopher Howse for  The Telegraph.

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There’s six green men here on Kinrowan Hall, the most noticable being the ones on the two doors to the Green Man Pub. They’re not the traditional ones of a archer dressed in green which likely is a reference to Robin Hood, but rather are the foliate heads Lady Raglan talked about in her essay.

The earliest reference in the Estate journals to them is by Estate Gardener Lady Alexandra Quinn in a Sleeping Hedgehog note that they had been carved a few years earlier. It appears that the doors they are on were designed and constructed with them in mind as they’re carved right into the six inch thick oak.

Another one’s carved over the main doorways to the new Library constructed about the same time. The Library itself has no name other than simply the Kinrowan Library and Alex as she was known says in the article that they, including the final ones that are over the two main entrances to Kinrowan Hall are all intended to be potent wards to keep everyone safe.

Now let’s turn to this edition …

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Carol Ballard’s The Greenman: The Shakespeare Connection elicited this comment from Kestrell: ‘Although most of the text of Ballard’s small chapbook explores the places where Shakespeare might have made his Green Man “sightings,” the more intriguing explorations are those which address the significance of the Green Man to contemporary creative artists.’

Liz has another review for us of Kathleen Basford’s The Green Man, which was originally published in 1978, then reprinted in 1996: ‘I am, of course, deeply honored to be given the task of writing about our noble namesake,’ says Liz, ‘and I had high hopes for this book.’ However, further on in her review she claims that The Green Man, ‘unaccountably dumped me.’ Read the rest of her review for more details about the strengths and disappointments of this promising book.

Matej  reviews Harlequin Valentine, a graphic novel written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by John Bolton. In his review, Matej says, ‘Gaiman is a storyteller, one who time and again transcends genre and style, and Harlequin Valentine not only demonstrates his remarkable ability to bring together diverse elements, but also highlights the range of sources he draws on to bring his tales to life.’

Rebecca likes Celtic Memories, a collection of stories, songs, blessings and charms retold by Caitlín Matthews and illustrated by Olwyn Whelan. Rebecca thinks this book would work wonderfully for reading aloud to children, and ‘Whelan’s pictures are charming, with bright, bold colors and a very Gaelic fondness for spirals and swirls

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Cat looks at a Doctor Who adventure beloved by many fans of the series: ‘The Talons of Weng Chiang featured Tom Baker, one of the most liked of all the actors who’ve played The Doctor, and Leela, the archetypal savage that British Empire both adored and despised, played by Louise Jameson. That it is set during the Victorian Era is something that British have been fond of setting dramas in, well, since a few years after the era ended. Doctor Who has had stories set in this era myriad times.’

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Mia has a tasty offering for us: ‘Secrets of the Tsil Café is a coming of age story set in the world of food and enhanced with numerous recipes. Weston Hingler is the son of two cooks. His mother, a strong-minded but slightly neurotic Italian caterer, raises him in the kitchen of her business, BuenAppeTito. His father, an iconoclastic ‘New World’ chef, waits until young Wes is old enough to appreciate the flavor of anchovies (four years, in this book) before allowing the boy into the kitchen of his “Santa Fe style” restaurant, The Tsil Café. Weston grows up in the shadow of his two tough, capable, yet slightly odd parents until at last he is able to discover and reconcile the web of secrets and half-truths that make up his family history.’

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Robert brings us the beginning of a series by one of the comics creators who turned the medium on its head: ‘Matt Wagner was one of a generation of writers and artists who essentially remade comics in the 1980s. This does not count R. Crumb and the others who opened comics up to new modes of expression (and content) in the 1960s, or the singular examples of outrageousness such as Krazy Kat and Little Nemo that have inhabited the comics world since its beginning. (And one wonders when that might actually be — Gustave Doré? Francisco Goya? Egyptian tomb paintings? Lascaux and Altamira? There’s quite a deep provenance here.)’ See what he has to say about Wagner’s Grendel Archives.

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Barb exclaims that ‘If there are superstars to be named on the Swedish music scene, I would like this opportunity to nominate Lena Willemark (vocal, fiddle, viola, whistle, drone whistle), Per Gudmundson (fiddle, viola, bagpipes, vocal), and Ale Möller (octave mandola, overtone flute, cow’s horn, drone whistle, folk harp, shawm, harmonica, vocal), otherwise known as Frifot. The group’s CD Sluring is most certainly a masterpiece.’

Gary attended the Memorial Concert for Johnny Cunningham which had performances by  Phil Cunningham, Kevin Burke, Susan McKeown, Aidan Brennan, Seamus Egan, and Solas:  ‘Phil Cunningham sat alone on the large stage, eyes closed, as he wrung a slow, sad air from his custom Borsini accordion in memory of his brother Johnny. The Faerieworlds Festival crowd of several hundred, which moments before had been boisterously dancing, clapping, singing and talking, fell silent.’

Gary looks at a choice bit of Americana music: ‘The Red Clay Ramblers have been playing what’s now known as “new old-time” music since the early 1970s, and it’s entirely possible that they invented the genre, or at least played a part in its birth. They’ve put out more than a dozen albums over the years (including a live self-released disc in the late 1990s), on Folkways, Sugar Hill, Rykodisc and mostly Flying Fish labels. Now that Rounder has acquired the Flying Fish imprint, they’ve re-released It Ain’t Right from 1986.’

Naomi looks at Barefoot at the Altar by a lovely Irish group: ‘Chulrua (pronounced cool-ROO-ah) is not only the name of this amazing trio of celebrated musicians but the name of the favourite wolfhound of the ancient Irish hero Fionn MacCumhaill. It translates to English as “red back.” Personally, I love how traditional Irish music is infused with so much history; it adds a depth and richness which makes it even more enjoyable.’

Robert reaches back in time to bring us a new recording (no, that’s not a contradiction) by Rolf Lislevand, La Mascarade: ‘In La Mascarade, Lislevand performs works by two seventeenth-century composers from the court of Louis XIV, Robert de Visée and Francesco Corbetta, focusing on two instruments, the Baroque guitar and theorbo, a species of lute with a deeper, darker tone. And make no mistake: this is court music, meant to be performed before a small, select audience.’

Robert also remembered another collection from Lislevand, Diminuito: ‘Rolf Lislevand, in his essay accompanying Diminuito, says that this collection is about the Italian renaissance, “how it understood itself, how we understand it today, and how we would have understood it if we had been contemporary with it.” That’s rather a tall order.’

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Our What Not this time concerns Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea series, the original trilogy and the three additional books that followed (Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea, The Other Wind, and Tales from Earthesea) are favorites of most everyone here. The books have been printed in many, many editions down the years but they’ve not had a fully illustrated edition until now which Saga Press will release next year. Go here for Le Guin’s thoughts on this. Oh did I forget to mention the artist is Charles Vess? Yes that artist.

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Shall we see what the Infinite Jukebox has for us? One moment… So let’s give a listen to ‘Red Rocking Chair’ performed by Yonder Mountain String Band at Cicero’s in St Louis, Missouri  on the 12h of  April five years ago.  ‘Red Rocking Chair’ is a popular old time tune often performed as a vocal number as it is done here.

About Iain Nicholas Mackenzie

I’m the Librarian for the Kinrowan Estate. I do love fresh brewed teas, curling, English mysteries and will often be playing Scandinavian or Celtic  music here in the Library.

I’m a violinist too, so you’ll me playing in various contradance band such as Chasing Fireflies and Mouse in the Cupboard as well as backing my wife Catherine up on yearly Christmas season tours in the Nordic countries.

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