What’s New for the 4th of September: the newest from Norwegian accordionist Frode Haltli, Kage Baker’s fav trad song, John McEuen, Spaghetti Westerns, Robert Hunter’s ‘Brown-Eyed Women’, a trunk novel from de Lint among other matters…

Brown eyed women and red grenadine
the bottle was dusty but the liquor was clean
Sound of the thunder with the rain pouring down
and it looks like the old man’s getting on

Robert Hunter’s ‘Brown-Eyed Women’

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Come in… Let me pour you a pint of Dark Hollow Ale, one of our Autumn offerings here in the Green Man Pub —  I think you’ll like it. A Brewer from Big Foot County in the States who visited us collaborated with Bjorn, our Brewer, on it. He said that it reminds him of wood smoke, brightly coloured falling leaves and of the promise of an Autumn just starting.

Yes I’m playing music by the Grateful Dead and the various associated bands and solo performers as I like most of what they did and the Neverending Session’s off elsewhere this afternoon helping and Iain, your usual host here, is doing a hands-on music lesson for the Several Annies, his Library Apprentices, of learning the grimmer side of Scottish ballads such as ‘The Cruel Sister’ as performed here by the Aberdeen based Old Blind Dogs at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica on the 11th of November, 1994.

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Cat will openly admit that he found the televised Torchwood to be quite dodgy at times, but he has an excellent full cast audio Torchwood adventure for you: ‘Golden Age is the story of Torchwood India and what happened to it. It is my belief that the best of all the Torchwood were the audio dramas made by BBC during the run of the series. Please note that it was BBC and not Big Finish that produced these despite the fact that latter produces most of the Doctor Who and spinoff dramas. This is so because the new Doctor Who audio dramas was kept in-house and these productions were kept there as well.’

According to Denise, ‘Peter Dickinson takes the salamander of myth and gives it a new spin in The Tears of the Salamander. In 18th century Italy, young Alfredo is a promising singer in the church choir, and sings with the true love of one born to it. Soon though, he reaches the age where he must make a decision: to become a castrati and continue with the choir for his whole life, or to take his chances and hope his singing voice after puberty is as good as it had been before. As he weighs his decision, tragedy strikes. He is soon introduced to his Uncle Giorgio, a man whom he has never known and whom his father hated. Alfredo is whisked away to Sicily, where his uncle is the Master of the Mountain, a powerful man with the fire and fury of the mountain at his control.’

Martin Stokes and Phillip V. Bohlman’s Celtic Modern Music at the Global Fringe gets looked at by, appropriately enough, Irish music journalist John:  ‘While general readers looking for fact files on the varied strands of Celtic music would be best served elsewhere, some persistence is required for the contents of Celtic Modern to reveal themselves to passing ears. For those who want to debate the hows and whys and look at the interior conflicts that inhabit Irish and Celtic music as a whole this collection comes recommended.’

A trunk novel is a work written early in a career and not published until much later as was the case with Eyes Like Leaves which was written in the days of Charles de Lint’s high fantasy novels such as The Harp of the Grey Rose and The Riddle of the Wren. Michael says of this novel that  it ‘ is very much a historical artifact, a ‘lost novel’ from the earliest days of de Lint’s career….With the recent interest in his older works, as collected in previous Subterranean volumes, he decided that now was as good a time as any to unearth this long-lost work and let it see the light of day. But have the better part of thirty years been kind to this particular book?’

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Though we by no means do as many video reviews as we do either book or music reviews, we’ve none-the-less done a few. And we’ve also looked at quite a few books on this subject including this one that David reviews for you: ‘The Spaghetti western was far bigger than one actor though, and Christopher Frayling (who is Rector of the Royal College of Art and Professor of Cultural History there) was one of the first writers to look at the genre as a whole, and to write about it intelligently and seriously. His book Spaghetti Westerns: Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone was first published in 1981 and is now available in a revised, trade paperback. It is a solid, dense book, which seeks to trace the social, political, cultural and artistic background to these films and provide a framework by which we can understand their importance. More than that, it’s a fascinating study of a group of films which took a dying genre, and breathed new life into it,’

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William Sitwell’s A History of Food in 100 Recipes is an entertaining take on culinary history.  Gus says  of it that ‘Some books are so obvious that I wonder why it hasn’t been done before. Indeed I suspect it is, but this take on it is certainly a very good one. Iain ordered it for the Estate Library and passed it along to me knowing my great love of culinary books, particularly the ones with a historical perspective. It’s a simple concept stated clearly in the title: tell the history of food through the recipes that reflect that history. OK, I just restated the titles in different words.’

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We’re very fond of the music, food, drink and, of course, the literature of the Appalachian Mountains. Charles de Lint wrote a children’s book, A Circle of Cats, that was set there which was marvellously illustrated by Charles Vess, an artist extraordinaire. Years later they took this and created from it The Cats of Tanglewood Forest, a full-blown children’s book rich in the folklore of that region that has even more astonishing illustrations by Vess. Though marketed to a younger audience, I’d recommend to anyone looking for a excellent read.

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Gary sees Rosanne Cash at the  Monteith Riverpark: ‘As free concerts-in-the-park go, Rosanne Cash’s appearance on the third weekly installment of the 2003 River Rhythms concert series started out as about normal. It was a fairly large crowd, estimated at about 8,000, and moderately attentive. Albany is the hub and county seat of rural, agricultural Linn County, a bastion of “modern country” fans — but Cash isn’t exactly mainstream country any more.’

Gary also reviews a new album by John McEuen, whom he says ‘is one of the unheralded giants of American roots music. He was a founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, one of the first to blend rock and country in a new way that didn’t even have a name yet in the late 1960s.’ This record Made in Brooklyn draws on musical friends McEuen has made in his many years as a banjo player, including David Bromberg, Jay Ungar, John Cowan and others.

Elias Alexander, a young singer and piper from Oregon by way of Vermont, Boston, New Orleans and Scotland, has a new recording out called Bywater, by his band of the same name. ‘Alexander plays an unusual type of bagpies called border pipes, also known as lowland pipes or half-long pipes,’ Gary notes.

Joselle offers us a retrospective look at the first decade of a well-regarded Celtic artist artist: ‘From her beginnings in the mid 1980s selling self-produced tapes from her car and by mail order, to international stardom — Loreena McKennitt has come a long way in her twenty-year career. For those just discovering her music with the release of An Ancient Muse, here follows a tour through this incredible singer’s previous recordings, all released on her independent recording label, Quinlan Road.’

Robert has some thoughts on contemporary Nordic music, specifically, a new album from Norwegian accordionist Frode Haltli, Air: ‘I discovered fairly recently that, when you get into the contemporary music of Northern Europe, “accordion music” is not at all what we think it’s going to be.’

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Our What Not is one that we like to use often here…  We’ve asked  some well-respected writers as to what was their favourite folk song and why. The answers were illuminating to say the least! The very much missed Kage Baker gave us a Grateful Dead-ish answer:

Probably ‘The Rambling Sailor’. The lyrics are sort of heartless, but it makes a helluva dance tune, especially a morris dance. I was once at a morris-ale held in an oak forest one summer night in northern California. Kate and I were providing the ale. The conditions were perfect — a full moon, thunder rumbling around the sky, there was a big turnout of dancers, we had a fairly full band– two fiddlers, a concertina, a standing bass, a couple of pennywhistles and a shawm.

There was a lantern strung up in the branches of this one big oak tree that must have been about 400 years old, and the dancing was done in the open space underneath. The different sides did the usual tunes, with the sword dances and the sticks, but then everyone got out the white handkerchiefs and the band struck up ‘Rambling Sailor’. There must have been fifty or sixty dancers moving in perfect time, and my memory insists the boys were all as beautiful as young satyrs and the girls all looked like wood nymphs. The white cloths flashed like seagull wings. The little gold bells rang. The ground shook. It was one of the most perfect moments of my life.

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I rather like ‘Brown-Eyed Women’ quite a bit but my favorite version isn’t the one with Garcia singing that the Dead did, but rather is one I found many years back. When Garcia died or was in ill health from time to time in latter years, life went on as it does for the members of most bands so including  Hunter who wrote much of what they played and my favourite version is done by him during the late show at Biddy Mulligan’s in Chicago on the 10th of October thirty years ago. So let’s now listen to him doing that song.

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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