What’s New for the 8th of September: Celtic Music, Making Cider, Folkmanis dragons, Sherlock Holmes films, Pub Renovations, Music by the Old Blind Dogs and There’s a Touch of Frost in The Air

Like legend and myth, magic fades when it is unused. — Charles de Lint’s The Little Country

The Pub’s closed for a fortnight for its once a decade cleaning, as it gets a complete overhaul with everything from the slate floor removed and thoroughly cleaned to a complete paint job, which is a pain in the ass, given the size of the Pub. Of course, everything has to removed from it and stored away, which takes time as well. I’ve moved my office into an adjacent space to oversee the renovations. It’s worth it, but oh, the look on patrons when they see the We’re close for cleaning sign is somewhat heartbreaking.

So I’m pretty much free to do what I want as we’ve hired a outside firm to do the work needed. And Iain’s busy this week so I got the Sunday edition. Right now I’m sitting in the Kitchen having a late lunch, which is a plate of smoked turkey, cheese and hard rolls while listening to the kitchen crew talk about what’s going on about the Estate. I learned there’s two new pregnancies, one marriage coming up and we’ve got a Latvian Several Annie arriving next week.

Thinking about the coming colder weather got you down? Well Deborah has a reading recommendation: ‘While I recommend this book whole-heartedly for reading any time of day or night, on a plane, on a train, or simply on the couch at home, here is my specific prescription for Patricia McKillip’s The Bell at Sealey Head: buy it, place it upon your bookshelf, and wait. Wait until a day when you feel blue, or when the world is blue around you, with stormy heavens and endless rain. Make a cup of tea, settle yourself among soft pillows and fabrics, and then enter The Bell at Sealey Head. Savor it. You’ll feel better immediately.’

Kate ponders  Cats Have No Lord: ‘It was not immediately clear when I began to read this book exactly how the title fit with the story. However, the characters brilliantly pull a reader in, until the question is revealed, “Why do Cats Have No Lord?” I believe that is the first comical twist Will Shetterly gives this very busy plot.’

Robert says that ‘A good argument can be made for calling Emma Bull’s Bone Dance an urban fantasy. There is a great deal to do with the spirit world, events that are only explainable in terms of magic of some sort, and there are visitations from supernatural beings. However, the fact that it is set in a post-Apocalyptic dystopia, technology plays a pivotal role (although that is more because of its scarcity than because of its reliability), and the magic comes from “hoodoo” (Voudou is part of modern reality, for some of us at least) make me place it firmly in science fiction (which does, after all, leave room for beings with advanced mental powers).’ After you read his review, go read the first chapter here, courtesy of Emma.

Warner wasn’t too happy with the first volume of a new trilogy: ‘So sometimes, you just cannot connect with a book. Lies of Descent is the first book in a new trilogy by Troy Carrol Bucher. It is also a volume that fails in many ways to connect with the reader. The start is promising, if cliche, of a young man in a hard life discovering he has a very special destiny, and a girl making a similar discovery.’

It being nigh unto Autumn, let’s look at Simon McKie’s Making Craft Cider: A Ciderist’s Guide which comes with a warning from Gereg: ‘Let’s get the down side out of the way first. This is not a book you’ll pick up for light entertainment. It’s not a particularly a lively read, nor is it often witty (though the wit, where it comes out, is as dry as a good cider).’ If however you want to make hard cider as the Yanks call it, you really should read his review!

Craig has his Holmes for us: ‘The Sherlock Feature Film Collection gathers together the five feature-length installments of the Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke series, giving the viewer an opportunity to see these two actors together over a more leisurely period of time. Some are better than others, of course, but all of them allow us to further get to know this Holmes and Watson, without being rushed by the necessity of getting the story told in an hour’s time.’

We’re deep in Celtic this edition covering the Cornish, Manx, Irish, Scottish and Welsh traditions. So let’s get started…

Our lead-in review isn’t precisely Celtic but it is based on the music that Charles de Lint wrote for The Little Country, his novel  featuring Cornish small piper Janey Little, so it has its roots in Cornish music. Thus Cat has some comments on somewhat non-traditional rendering of the music of Charles de Lint, Zahatar’s The Little Country: ‘Zahatar is more akin to a classical music ensemble than it is to a folk group, and their arrangements of de Lint’s The Little Country compositions very much reflect that. It’s a lively but dignified approach to his songs, more closely akin to what you’d hear if you were listening to any classical music ensemble than to, say, a contradance band.’

Debbie has a great Scottish recording for us in Brian McNeill’s The Busker And The Devil’s Only Daughter: ‘As with all other albums I’ve heard by Brian McNeill, there is much to delight the listener. His creativity and eclectic approach to his music, laced with his honest passion for what he’s doing, make this worth seeking out despite some minor unevenness here and there.’

Barrule’s Manannan’s Cloak gets praised by Gary: ‘The Isle of Man is a small island in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland, with a lot of history and an ancient Celtic culture. Barrule is a trio that is celebrating that culture and bring the island’s jigs, reels and old Manx songs to the world. The group consists of fiddler Tomas Callister, guitarist and bouzouki player Adam Rhodes, both Manx natives and leading lights in the current revival of the music scene, and Welsh accordionist Jamie Smith (who also has a Welsh band called Mabon). This is their second album, and it’s a wonderfully lively collection of tunes and songs.’

Calennig’s A Gower Garland says Lars ‘may not be everyone´s cup of tea, but it should be interesting to anyone with the slightest interest in Welsh music or Welsh culture, even though everything here is sung in English. I know what I will be playing in the car stereo the next time I get the opportunity to visit Rhossili Bay.’

Patrick has an equally superb Irish album for us: ‘The ease with which they deliver these pieces on Street Life is an abject lesson to every young band looking to achieve longevity in a very fickle marketplace. There was a time when each new Patrick Street album defined the session content of every Irish-music-type person in North America. Those days may have passed given the availability of other recordings but their new albums are always welcome and given some of the directions “Celtic music” is taking these days I think I’ll stick with the tried and true.’

Mia has a bonnie brunch of fantastical dragons and one gryphon for us: ‘These four puppets are lovely examples of why Folkmanis is the single premier fantasy puppetmaker. This is just a small sampling of their dragons and other fantastic creatures; they have several other dragons, a sea serpent, a pegasus, a unicorn . . . and boy do I have my eye on the griffin. Folkmanis puppets are great for kids who want to use their imagination in play — but I really think they’re better for adults like me who never really plan to grow up.’

The weather’s already starting to get cooler here, so let’s see if we’ve got some  music to match … so how about ‘Come a’ Ye Kincardine Lads’ by the Old Blind Dogs, a Scottish trad band that’s very, very popular around here? It was recorded at Chagrin Valley Little Theatre located somewhere in Ohio back in March sixteen years ago. The fine sound tells me it was a soundboard recording.

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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