Pick up a whistle and give us a tune, good man Mickey
Tip on a stool in the old saloon, show them how it’s played
It’s not too late to get right, there’s nothing to do but play all night
Jesus, it’s better than picking a fight, playing the Sligo Maid
Nick Burbridge’s ‘Lay the Sligo Maid‘
It’s our usually cold, raw weather we get this time of year here on the Kinrowan Estate which means even the most diehard of Estate staff find going outside unless their duties require to do so something to be avoided. Iain’s been keeping to his hiding spot and I myself are spending time off duty in the Kitchen quite content to play tunes and nosh on whatever the staff there feels we should be eating such as blackberry cobbler or beef barley soup if they feel someone needs something heartier.
When we moved the Kitchen and related spaces to the second under cellar quite some generations back, we built a comfortable sitting area into it. Just built-in benches that can set up to eight or thereabouts comfortably with a deep ledge at the back of the benches for food, drink and such to be put. Won’t surprise you that it’s a favoured spot for almost everyone come the colder part of the year.
So let’s see what the editorial staff has for you this time..
Life on The Border was the third and last of the original Bordertown series until The Essential Bordertown: A Traveller’s Guide to the Edge came out some seven years later. It was a fat little paperback with two weird looking individuals, one of whom might have pointed ears. I think they’re meant to be Bordertown elven punks. Cat has a loving look at it here.
He also thinks that Finder is the best look at this shared universe: ‘My personally autographed copy of the hardcover edition is subtitled A Novel of The Borderlands, which tells you that it’s set in The Borderland ‘verse created by Terri Windling. It’s not the only Borderland novel: her husband, Will Shetterly, wrote two splendid novels set here, Elsewhere and Nevernever. I, however, think that it’s the best of the three.’
Grey says that ‘The Essential Bordertown anthology (edited by Terri Windling and Delia Sherman) was written to be your first Bordertown friend, the handbook you keep with you until you find your niche — or at least until you get to The Dancing Ferret and have your complimentary first drink. It’s partly a collection of stories told by a variety of the city’s residents and visitors, and partly a really good travel guide — the kind you wished you had the first time you visited a place where you didn’t speak the language.’
Michael looks at Holly Black and Ellen Kushner’s Welcome to Bordertown anthology, the latest entry in this series: ‘A generation ago, Terri Windling and Mark Alan Arnold introduced us to Bordertown, an abandoned American city sitting on the Border between the “real world” (The World) and Faerie (The Realm). A place where science and magic both worked, if equally unpredictably, it became a haven and a destination for runaways and outcasts of both worlds, a place where humans and the Fae (aka Truebloods) could mingle, do business, eke out a living, and find themselves. It was a place where anything could happen.’
Our food and drink commentary this time comes courtesy of ‘Solstice’ author Jennifer Stevenson who tells us about her comfort food: ‘Comfort food is defined as “German or Danish” for me, because those were my maternal grandparents’ comfort foods: whole milk, cream, butter, mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy, lots of noodles with heavy creamy sauces, coffeecakes, homemade cookies, thick soups. Oh, and box food from the 1950s. ’Tony Kushner and Maurice Sendak’s Brundibar gets a review by Rebecca: ‘Pepicek (very small) and Aninku (his sister, even smaller) have a problem: their mother is very sick. The doctor told them to go to town to get milk, but how can two children who have no money buy milk? And how can they get money when they have nothing to sell? They could sing for money … except that Brundibar (Czech slang for bumblebee) can sing much louder than two small children, and he chases them off. With the help of three talking animals, three hundred schoolchildren, and eventually the whole town, they chase off bullying Brundibar, get money and milk for their mommy, and so are happy again.’
Deborah has an appraisal of the newest album from one of her favourites English groups: ‘I’m just on my third listen to Steeleye Span’s Dodgy Bastards. This latest offering from a band I’ve loved since their earliest albums is a mixed bag. Fortunately, the contents are largely on the side of excellence. There is very little here that doesn’t work for me, but what doesn’t work for me really doesn’t.’
Jo says that Telyn is for all ‘those interested in the Welsh tradition should check out Llio Rhydderch, who studied and toured with the fabled Nansi Richards. For the uninitiated, an explanation is in order. The Welsh have a drastically different style of playing, largely due to the nature of the music itself. Their music is ornamented through theme and variation, a more classical style, rather than through the sort of ornamentation heard in Scottish and Irish music.’
Lars has a concert rememberence for us: ‘While in London in the summer of 1977 I went to the now defunct Southwark Folk Festival and for the first time I saw Martin Carthy in action. The festival was held in a teacher’s training college and the evening ended with Martin performing in the middle of the floor in an assembly room. We were just over a hundred sitting on the floor in circles around him. No stage, no microphones, no spectacular lights, just a man, his voice and his guitar. Pure magic. Do not expect me to tell you which songs he sang. I only remember a powerful ‘The Famous Flower of Serving Men’. But I have been a fan ever since.’
Patrick also looks at Welsh music in the guise of a Robin Huw Bowen recording: ‘Hunting The Hedgehog is all traditional music, a collection of Welsh Gypsy tunes handed down through four generations of harpers with nary a hint of Dion. Bowen’s skillful fingers make the instrument sing as only a harp can, portraying the enchantment of a beautiful country and free lifestyle.’
Our What Not is a longstanding question we ask folks, to wit what’s your favorite work by Tolkien. Once again, The Hobbit proves popular as Jasper Fforde says it’s The Hobbit, because it’s the only one I’ve read – I liked it a great deal but was never really into spells, wizards and trolls, so never took it any further.’ it’s worth noting that The Hobbit, despite having a reputation as a children’s book is far and away more popular than The Lord of The Rings. Among the staff, particularly according to Iain Mackenzie, the Estate Librarian, it’s read mostly in the Winter and there’s a reading group for it that’s been around as long as the book has been around.
‘Laying The Silgo Maid’ which is our Coda today is made available courtesy of Brighton, England based singer/songwriter, novelist, poet, and playwright Nick Burbridge and his musical vehicle named McDermott’s 2 Hours (when he’s not collaborating with the Levellers). Nick can slip easily from Irish folk to really great folk rock, so it won’t surprise you ‘tall that Nick’s a favorite of many of us here including myself and we even interviewed him once upon an afternoon.