What’s New for the 23rd of September: Earle Stanley Gardner, Concert swag, a China That Never Was, Old Hag tunes, Benjamin Britten, Kedgeree, an Elizabeth Hand novella and other neat stuff

When autumn darkness falls, what we will remember are the small acts of kindness: a cake, a hug, an invitation to talk, and every single rose. These are all expressions of a nation coming together and caring about its people. — Jens Stoltenberg

Ahhh that’s my drink that Finch is pouring now.  It’s one of our new Autumn offerings, Banish Misfortune Stout, and it’s quite good. We rotate our Pub offerings regularly so you should try it now before it’s off the board.

And that’s a SMOG (steak, mushroom, onion & gouda) sandwhich, warmed up of course, that I’m having with it for my very late lunch. The beef comes from Riverrun Farms who also supply us with our dairy. If you’re hungry, ask the Kitchen to make you one.

I’ve actually reading the overview of the current version of Storyspace, a hypertext system, that might be useful for mapping the relationships in the music played here as reflected in the musicians who learned it. Several of the Several Annies, my Library apprentices, are violinists and they’re taking lead on this endeavour.

It’ll be interesting to see if it’s useful as it certainly isn’t my idea of reading when there’s more than one novel awaiting my attention but a musical folklore journal expressed interest in the Neverending Session and how it learned music so I agreed to write an article up.

Cat was more than a little impressed by the audiobook of Elizabeth Hand’s novella, Wylding Hall: ‘Liz Hand’s Wylding Hall is fucking brilliant. And it’s simply the best audiobook I’ve listened to, bar none, as her text is perfectly matched to what amounts to a full cast production in a way that’s rarely done.’

The review of Nina Kiriki Hoffman’s Spirits That Walk In Shadow by Kestrell starts this way: ‘It’s late autumn here in New England. The last lingering tattered leaves have crashed and burned to the ground, and even the fiery rites of Halloween and Guy Fawkes are behind us. We’re left with a shrinking hoard of days burning shorter and shorter, like a few handfuls of candle stubs. With the darkness gathering around us, it is now the season for telling tales about the things that live in shadow.’ So is the novel itself an Autumn thing? Oh yes.

Richard has some choice pulp fiction for us: ‘How do you steal a six foot long blowgun from a party where all the guests are X-rayed on their way out? Believe it or not, that’s only the tertiary mystery in The Count of Nine, a twisty, sneaky thriller from the pen of Perry Mason creator Earle Stanley Gardner. But instead of belonging to that more famous series, The Count of 9 is part of a 29 book series Gardner penned under the alias A.A. Fair detailing the adventures of detectives Bertha Cool and Donald Lam. Cool is big and brash, Lam is undersized but tenacious, and together they solve impossible cases that leave the local cops scratching their heads. This particular episode of their adventures has been out of print for a solid half century, and Hard Case has done the reading audience a solid by bringing it back.’

Robert’s been digging around in his bookshelves and came up with a book that deserves a look: ‘Bridge of Birds is an old favorite that has been sitting in a corner gathering dust for way too long. I recently hauled it out, dusted it off, and gave it another read, and it’s still as good as it was way back when.’

And another old favorite from Robert, Jim Carroll’s Fear of Dreaming: ‘Jim Carroll is probably best known for his 1978 book The Basketball Diaries, which became a feature film with Leonardo DiCaprio, released in 1995. However, he first made his reputation as a poet. He had been widely pubished in various journals and anthologies before the release of Living at the Movies, his first collection, in 1973, when he was 22 years old. Living at the Movies is reprinted in its entirety, along with selections from his second collection, The Book of Nods (1986), in Fear of Dreaming.’

Jayme has this to say about a series that got a proper finale: ‘Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars is a miniseries that never should’ve existed. That’s true on several levels. Firstly, there would never be a need to wrap up the major plot threads with a miniseries had the Sci-Fi Channel honored its commitment to produce a fifth season of the acclaimed space opera. But when Vivendi-Universal — the parent corporation at the time — ran into financial duress, its subsidiaries were ordered to cut costs, and contract or no, Farscape was toast. But TV series that die stay dead, as a rule.’

Kedgeree is such a deep rooted British dish that we told you about it here and now Jen shares with us her most excellent recipe for it: ‘I’ve been reading about kedgeree in English novels all my life and decided to try it. This is regarded as intensely British food, meaning, they got the smoked fish from Scandahoovia and the curry and the basmati rice from India and where else does that kind of crazy happen except in Britain?’

Meanwhile, Denise digs into Chef’s Cut Real Jerky Co.’s Smoked Beef Chipotle Cracked Pepper Jerky: ‘This is a jerky that’s so soft and tender you’ll want to keep the entire bag for yourself.’ Read her review to find out why!

Hedningarna’s Karelia Visa gets this comment from Kim: ‘It’s an odd thing — one of the words which keeps coming to mind when I listen to this CD is “evocative.” But that raises the question, what exactly does it evoke? And I can’t really give you an answer, as I am not of Nordic origin and have never visited the area. So, it is indeed an interesting phenomenon to listen to a CD of a Swedish band travelling to the now-Russian province of Karelia, collecting the songs from that region to include on this recording, and to find it both exotic and evocative at the same time. Ah, the mysteries of music…’

Byss-Calle wins the approval of Naomi: The Nyckelharpa orchestra is comprised of six top musicians from the younger generation of nyckelharpa players. They are all working at preserving the nyckelharpa tradition, as well as developing it, both as an ensemble, and as solo artists. Their playing is exquisite, all six are adding in passion and talent to a ensemble which has much potential. And after listening I would have to agree that this is a tradition which should be preserved.’

Richard has high praise for a Maddy Prior recording: Flesh & Blood is one of the finest CDs I’ve heard in years. Prior’s voice, always angelic, has never sounded better; and, with the able help of Nick Holland and Troy Donockley, she has picked material that does her vocal talents justice. Indeed, the collection is so captivating that I’ve had to take it out of my work rotation; after all, I don’t get paid to stand around and gawk dreamily to music.’

Robert has another major work by a major figure in twentieth-century music, Benjamin Britten’s Death In Venice: ‘Many consider Benjamin Britten the most important British composer since World War II; indeed, some think him the most important since Henry Purcell. Although often thought an uneven composer, most writers in the area concede that his operas Peter Grimes, Billy Budd, and Death in Venice are among the greatest works in twentieth-century British music.’

Concert swag is our What Not this time and Vonnie who has now passed on so had once her take on that subject: ‘During a memorable trip to England for the Oysters’ 25th anniversary tour, I bought a fan t-shirt from Ian West that decried Oysterband concerts at seated-only venues.Since I’m a dancing fool, I can get behind the ‘When I’m Up, I won’t sit down’ sentiment. I had the t-shirt signed by everyone who would let me push a marker into their hands: Oysterfans of all ilks, a kind lady who put me up for the night, both members of Show of Hands, June Tabor, the sound guys, and a few Oysters, too. It was a great trip, and the shirt is a heck of a souvenir.’ She went on say ‘I did something similar with a Canmore Folk Festival t-shirt, and my signers got a bit more creative, drawing pictures and writing jokes on the shirt.’

So what shall we hear this time as we take our leave? Hmmm… So how about ‘Old Hag You Have Killed Me’ by the legendary Bothy Band as recorded rather well at the Lisdoonvarna Folk Festival some forty two years ago.

Variants on Old Hag tunes are so common that they actually figure into the narrative of at least one Charles de Lint story,  ‘The Moon is Drowning While I Sleep’, which is collected in his Dreams Underfoot anthology which you can purchase the digital edition of your choice 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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