What’s New for the 29th of March: the first real Celtic Rock album, a Celtic history, Holy Molé chocolate, Ray Bradbury poetry, Silly Wizard live and Other Neat Stuff

For one crazy moment he had the notion of a vanished tribe of librarians, lost in the deep underground caverns of the Bodleian, a wild and savage tribe that fed on unwary travellers. ― Lavie Tidhar’s The Bookman

I’m having a meal of peppers, tomatoes and ground lamb rolled up in just grilled to be warmed up naan. The peppers and tomatoes are from our Conservatory built during the Victorian Era under the auspices of Lady Alexandra, the Estate Gardener, and a true blessing for fresh vegetables in the off-season. I’ve also got a pot of chai masala tea sitting on my Library desk to be enjoyed as I listen to some sweet music.

They named themselves Snow on the Mountain after a plant that has green and white leaves that’s up as soon as the first Spring warmth arrives. They hail from Big Foot County though I couldn’t find such a place in any gazetteer that we have, but that matters not. Voice, Appalachian dulcimer, fiddle and concertina are their instruments which make for a very sweet sound.

Their music is a superb merging of Celtic and Bluegrass, something that might be Appalachian Trad, oh and more than a bit of Tex-Mex, so if you’ve heard  and enjoyed The Mollys, you’ll definitely like them. We’ve got them here for several contradances and a performance as well.

Now let’s get started on this edition..

We occasionally review a single tale and  Cat does does so here: ‘I have mentioned in other reviews of Simon R.Green’s work that everything he writes is connected over and over again until a Gordian knot looks easy to untangle in comparison. If you haven’t been paying attention to that being true, now is a good time to do so as as Harry goes on in that bit to say that he ‘Had a bit of bad business with an angel in the Nightside, and now I find it necessary to do good works, for the sake of my soul . . . You know how it is.’ Those few words stated in Harry’s off-hand manner are spun out here into a well-crafted story aptly titled ‘Some of These Cons Go Way Back’.’

John has a choice piece of verse for us: ‘Ray Bradbury has explored mankind’s present through its future in his science-fiction novels Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles. With his poetry collection, They Have Not Seen The Stars, Bradbury relaxes a bit, writing on matters both deep and trivial, musing and rambling in a multitude of areas.’

For the scholars among us, Robert has a choice offering: ‘Jane Frank’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists of the Twentieth Century is a successor volume to Robert Weinberg’s Biographical Dictionary of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists, published in 1988. Given the labor-intensive quality of a project such as this one, it is fortunate that Frank had Weinberg’s full cooperation in the creation of this volume.’

Warner has the origins of a well-known mystery series for us: ‘The idea of writing a prequel is less than adored in many circles and fandoms, and there are a wide assortment of generally disliked examples. With The Last PassengerCharles Finch proves that one can write a good end to a prequel trilogy. His historical mystery series gains an interesting element in this book, and the reader will certainly find that .’

Brooklyn Born Chocolate’s Holy Molé gets an appreciative review by Robert: ‘At first glance, the idea of chocolate laced with spices more often found in South American cuisine might seem a little off-putting. But hey, they’re all from South America, so there’s got to be some affinity there, right?’

Robin has some some some easy on the eyes and ears Irish history for us: ‘The Celts: Rich Traditions and Ancient Myths, a 6 hour series, was aired on the BBC in 1986, a documentary written and narrated by Frank Delaney, with Music by Enya. It was apropos that the video release would coincide with St. Patrick’s Day 1998.’

Robert wasn’t too happy with the latest incarnation of DC’s Suicide Squad: ‘I was fairly enthusiastic about the last version of the Suicide Squad, written by John Ostrander. Well, in the DC Universe, when all else fails, reboot: the latest version of the “team” (and you’ll see why I use the quotes) was part of the overall reboot, DC’s “The New 52.”‘

Cat looks at Andrea Hoag, Loretta Kelly and Charlie Pilzer’s Hambo in the Barn: ‘Back in the twentieth century, a lot of Scandinavians relocated from Sweden and the surrounding countries to the upper Midwest where they became farmers and shopkeepers for the most part.  Naturally they brought both their instruments and their music with them. Not surprisingly, this music has persisted to this day which is why this lovely CD exists.’

Gary brings word of a new release by a band from Halifax, Nova Scotia: ‘Frontman, singer and songwriter Nigel Chapman gives himself a good talking to on Snapshot of a Beginner, the new album by Nap Eyes.’

Jennifer looks at a recording from a member of De Dannan: ‘Fierce Traditional is the long anticipated new solo album from Frankie Gavin, and it sees him paring the sound right down, getting back to the essence of the music. With the usual stalwart suspects in the studio, long term partner Alec Finn, piano/banjo extraordinaire Brian McGrath and brother Sean Gavin, this album is all about the tunes, pure and simple.

Joe finished off our music reviews with a look at the creation of an entire genre: ‘It’s not many bands that can claim to have invented a whole musical genre, but that’s what Horslips are credited with. Without them we wouldn’t have Celtic Rock. Of course Fairport Convention had been rocking up jigs and reels for a few years before the Irish band released their debut single “Johnny’s Wedding” in 1971, but with their first album Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part in ’72, the first real Celtic Rock album came into being.’

Another Jennifer suggests a literary escape for couples suffering cabin fever in plague times. The Marriage Box Rule could be the saving of you! And if it doesn’t, at least the sex scenes might help.

The world of Celtic music and those who enjoy it is a little bleaker these days as Andy Stewart of Silly Wizard fame passed on several years back. I’ll leave you this time with him as lead vocalist singing ‘Queen of Argyle’ as performed by that group at Canon University in Atlanta on a November evening some thirty years or so ago.

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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