Author Archives: Iain Nicholas Mackenzie

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.

What’s New for the 26th of March: an Afghanistan music collection, music from Altan, a future Europe and India as well, Tarzan, ‘African traditions’ and other matters as well

I authorised that a model be made of Kinrowan Hall complete with the new Library addition, so that all could see how it would look when built. It will be more than just a bog standard architectural model as it’ll be … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 19th of March: Spring festivals, wise fools, outlaw heroes, an English country house mystery, chocolate!, and more

“I really didn’t mean to steal it.” Mr. Williams shook his head. He scratched at his chin nervously. “Why not? That’s what they’re there for. Tunes belong to everybody. So do stories.” ― Tallis and Mr Williams in Robert Holdstock’s … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 5th of March: Tull live, Nils Økland Band US tour, Cuban music, a fictional travel guide, Tobias Buckell on Tolkien, a graphic novel by Maurice Sendak, a bio of Jim Henson and other neat stuff too

One day I walked the road and crossed a field to go by where the hounds ran hard. And on the master raced: behind the hunters chased to where the path was barred. One fine young lady’s horse refused the … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 26th of February: a concert on steel wheels, fiction Tanya Huff, Hershey chocolate, music by Skara Brae, women horror movie hosts and other neat things as well…

The Endless Rave happens at the edge of Soho proper. Some people say the first humans to return to Bordertown decided to celebrate by dancing there, and the dancing has never stopped. The dancers come and go, of course, and … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 19th of February: music from Nick Burbridge, a Fairport Convention review from twenty years ago, live music from McDermott’s 2 Hours, essays on children’s lit, chocolate bars, A Cold War thriller and other matters

 Some stories are literally true; some of them are figuratively true; some of them are wrong. That’s the nature of stories, isn’t it? They show us all the highlights of the world, but they never leave us certain we can … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 12th of February: Denise’s favourite reading space, a science-fiction classic, the real Dracula, music from the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, more gamelan, Patrick’s breakfast and other matters

In the bleak midwinter Frosty wind made moan, Earth stood hard as iron, Water like a stone; Snow had fallen, snow on snow, Snow on snow, In the bleak midwinter, Long ago. — Christina Rossetti Ahhh there you are. Have … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 5th of February: Catherynne Valente’s Winter Pleasures, an essay on Breton music, Terri Windling on hearth and home, spies, behind-the-scenes movers and shakers, some other classical traditions, and other matters

Recently I packed up and sold the house where I’d lived for many years: a 16th century, thatch–roof cottage in a small English village on Dartmoor. The cottage was hugely significant to me, for I’d lived there much of my adult … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Brandy (A Letter to Tessa)

A letter from Lady Alexandra Margaret Quinn, Head Gardener here in the Reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India, to Tessa, her botanist friend who … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 29th of January: fantastic fiction set in London, music from Nightnoise, an audio songbook for Utah Phillips, Deborah Grabien’s comfort food and other cool things

It’s hardly a wonder that they call London the most elusive city in the world. Its character changes from one street to the next. There’s no rhyme or reason, no pattern to the place. You could take six people at … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 22nd of January: music from De Danann, Nordic new age, Jazz music, cleaning the Kinrowan Hall under-eaves, a super-antihero, and other matters…

All things are known, but most things are forgotten. It takes a special magic to remember them. — Grandfather of Tallis in his Journal, from Robert Holdstock’s Lavondyss We’re really in the harshest part of Winter on this Scottish Estate, so the residents … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 15th of January: A Nordic Music edition

Behind every traditional hardanger fiddle tune, there is always a story, always a fairy tale, and you actually tell the stories when you play the fiddle. — Annbjørg Lien There is a sharp edge in the air when you venture outside that … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 8th of January: Pamela Dean’s favourite ballad, art from Meinrad Craighead, music from Kathryn Tickell and Jackson Browne & David Lindley, a toast by Hob Glading and other matters

To absent friends, lost loves, old gods, and the season of mists; and may each and every one of us always give the devil his due. — Hob Gadling, toasting upon Dream’s journey as told in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman: … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 1st of January: music from Sunas, banana French toast, music in fiction and other matters…

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot,and auld lang syne? — Robert Burns Shhh… We need to be more than just a wee bit quieter than usual as a lot of the residents of this … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 25th of December: A new novel from Peter S. Beagle, Kage Baker’s fav Tolkien work, geographies, roots of the Oysterband and other possibly seasonal matters…

Wassail! wassail! all over the town, Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown; Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree; With the wassailing bowl, we’ll drink unto thee. First stanza of the ‘Gloucestershire … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 18th of December: Holiday Ales, An Acadian-Cajun and Irish Christmas Revels, Siberia explored, seasonal music, A Crow Girls Christmas and other seasonal matters

There is one story and one story only That will prove worth your telling, Whether as learned bard or gifted child; To it all lines or lesser gauds belong That startle with their shining Such common stories as they stray … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: da Vinci’s Dragon

We’ve a board near the Pub where everything from when Chasing Dragonfly will be playing next to tasters being wanted by Bjorn, our brewmaster, are posted. And then there’s a sheet of parchment that really gets an argument going, any time the … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 4th of December: Ursula Le Guin fiction, Ragnarok and beyond, Jack’s favorite reading place, Nordic traditions, chocolate and other matters

English autumn mornings are often like mornings nowhere else in the world. The air is cold. The floorboards are cold. It is perhaps this coldness which sharpens the tang of the hot cup of tea. Outside, steps on the gravel … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 27th of November: Arthurian matters

‘You must remember, there’s always something cleverer than yourself.’ — Merlin to Arthur in the Excalibur film I’m sitting in our Pub with my iPad open to our WordPress site, a pint of Autumn Ale at hand, a cold sleety wing … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Old Ben, the Steward

Dear Anna, You asked about the story you’d heard about Old Ben, the Steward in the early Sixteen Hundreds, who helped create the publishing house that is now here. I can’t tell you much about him, as where he came … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 20th of November: Sayers on Holmes, after the Apocalypse, David Bowie, choral music, hot chocolate, ravens in the library and other matters

There is always a moment when stories end, a moment when everything is blue and black and silent, and the teller does not want to believe it is over, and the listener does not, and so they both hold their … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 13th of November: The Hobbit considered, Emma Bull’s fav libation, breakfast at Kinrowan Hall, music from Leonard Cohen, the Irish pub considered, stories that need warning labels, and other matters…

Here’s tae us! Wha’s like us? Damn few, and their all deid! Maire’s the pity. –– traditional Scots toast used by Iain Nicholas Mackenzie, our Librarian, when he hosts whisky tastings I can hear the wind driven sleet hitting on the … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 6th of November: a Guy Fawkes song from The Men They Couldn’t Hang, Irish trad music, Guy Fawkes Day, urban grit, pirates, and other matters…

On November the Fifth people gather on the heath Point their Roman candles at the sky Out of broken branch and leaf they construct a fiery wreath Ready for the burning of the Guy The Men They Couldn’t Hang’s ‘Home Fires’ … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Venison Stew (A Letter to Tessa)

A letter from the journal of Alexandra Margaret Quinn, Head Gardener here in the Reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria to her friend, who was staying in Constantinople as of this letter. Alex, as she was known, copied her personal … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 30th of October: Boston fiddler Katie McNally’s new album, Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ashley Hutchings: The Guv’nor & the Rise of Folk Rock, The Pagan Mysteries of Halloween, ‘Tam Lin’ as performed by Fairport Convention, Ancient Celtic Festivals, Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin, two essays on Maddy Prior, Fairport Convention’s Liege and Lief revisited and other matters…

O I forbid you, maidens a’, That wear gowd on your hair, To ameome or gae by Carterhaugh, For young Tam Lin is there. Child Ballad 39A It got sharply colder on this Scottish estate over the past week so … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 23rd of October: an Autumnal song from Pentangle, a bevy of ghost stories, All Hallows’ Eve dance tunes, Serial Minimalism, a Japanese historical fantasy, and well, a look at an Irish song and you’ll just have to see what else is here!

Now as the last broad oak leaf falls, we beg: consider this — there’s some who have no coin to save for turkey, wine or gifts. No children’s laughter round the fire, no family left to know. So lend a … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 9th of October: Befitting Autumn, A Folkloric Edition

“But stories are fragile. Like people’s lives. It only takes a word out of place to change them forever. If you hear a lovely tune, and then you change it, the new tune might be lovely too, but you’ve lost … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 25th of September: A Glen Cook series, a novel that comes with its own soundtrack, people with ‘special powers,’ … and Maddy Dances, Danish jazz, the folklore of bees, and other bits and bobs as well

The novel should be understood as a structure built to accommodate the greatest possible amount of cool stuff. — Steven Brust in this Strange Horizons interview The Huddled Masses Ensemble just sent us several cases of Pendle Witches Brew, an ale with a thick, malty, … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 18th of September: a story from Kage Baker, new music from Bua and Iron Horse, a new novel from Peter Beagle, a new collection from Patricia McKillip, a “cowboy” movie, Welsh sort of trad music, Indonesian sort of trad music, American pop and several other things as well

At no other time (than autumn) does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 11th of September: Chicago’s Lincoln Park Conservatory, an Oysterband retrospective collection, contemporary Estonian music, a Swedish porridge restaurant, a Tam Lin novel, card catalogues and other matters…

I can remember the title, author, and location of every book in this library, Matthew. Every book that’s ever been dreamed. Every book that’s ever been imagined. Every book that’s ever been lost. Millions upon millions of them. That’s what … Continue reading

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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’ Come in… Let … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 28th of August: Cape Verdean music, an Ian McDonald story, Wild Things, infantcide and Scottish ballads, live music by Karine Polwart and other matters

Coffee is a drink for grownups. No kid ever likes coffee. It’s psychoactive. Coffee is the drug of memory. ― Ian McDonald in ‘The Fifth Dragon’ story which you can read here. The end of August can mean either nicely warm weather at … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 21st of August: A Firefly novel, our most criticised review, a pair of dark mangas, recreating Medieval English Ales, Balkan music history, ‘Excitable Boy’ in Bluegrass style, Emma Bull’s favourite tune, on blackberries and less tart matters…

“Stories,” he’d said, his voice low and almost husky, “we are made up of stories. And even the one’s that seem the most like lies can be our deepest hidden truths.” — Jane Yolen’s Briar Rose We raise a lot of … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 7th of August: Summer Queen SJ ‘Sooj’ Tucker including her performing ‘Ravens in the Library’, Swedish folk music, Matt Wagner’s Grendel and a wee bit more.

One flies in to case the joint,  boldly struts around. Two fly in to make it three,  laugh a while and knock each other down. Four flies in with a frowning walk  gains a laugh from out a squawk but … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Huddled Masses Orchestra

So have I talked to you about this group? It’s not akin to the Neverending Session, which is always here in some form, or even the resident Chasing Fireflies contradance band, which has several core members but adds other musicians … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 31st of July: Yonder Mountain String Band live, Matt Wagner’s Grendel, Doctor Who’s The Talons of Weng Chiang, a Memorial Concert for Johnny Cunningham, YA by Heinlein, Lady Raglan on Green Men and other matters

It is a man’s face, with oak laves growing from the mouth and ears, and completely encircling the head. Mr. Griffith suggested that it was intended to symbolize the spirit of inspiration, but it seemed to me certain that it … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 24th of July: Two Batman graphic novels, Terri Windling on hedgehogs, fiction from Hannu Rajaniemi, fantastic Victoriana, 10,000 Maniacs live, Balinese gamelan, and some other things as well…

My grandmother didn’t teach me Appalachian ballads on our back porch and I had no banjo-strummin’ pappy to sing to me in the cradle. I didn’t attend tent revivals. I never saw or heard a chain gang, or worked in … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 10th of July: Byrds live, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, Conan the Barbarian, Indonesian Pop, Elizabeth Bear reads us a story, a history of ice cream and other tasty matters…

Some stories are literally true; some of them are figuratively true; some of them are wrong. That’s the nature of stories, isn’t it? They show us all the highlights of the world, but they never leave us certain we can … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 3rd of July: Reece’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, SF from Lavie Tidhar and Warren Ellis, de Lint has a song for a us, a Charles Vess gallery in a book and other goodies as well!

She is our moon. Our tidal pull. She is the rich deep beneath the sea, the buried treasure, the expression in the owl’s eye, the perfume in the wild rose. She is what the water says when it moves. ― … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 26th of June: Béla Bartók’s Hungarian folk tunes, Oysterband live, a bacon cookbook, Golden Age sf from Poul Anderson, Cropredy reviewed, Darjeeling tea, space opera and much more!

There’s nothing for your comfort in the place where I was born Someone’s got the roses ’cause my people got the thorns; My people are the poor ones, their country made of stones  Their wealth is in persistence, in stories … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 12th of June: Agatha Christie meets The Doctor, the Danish String Quartet, Heinlein reviewed, English folk dance music and live music from Ronnie Hawkins

“Butterflies are not insects,” Captain John Sterling said soberly. “They areself-propelled flowers.” — Robert A. Heinlein’s The Cat Who Walks Through Walls I awoke well before dawn as I wanted to watch the Northern Lights as they’ve been particularly outstanding … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 5th of June: Canadian children’s literature, Spanish-born accordionist Victor Prieto live, mythologist John Campbell considered, Horslips perform ‘Drive The Cold Winter Away’, Trad Arranged, Robert Johnson and other matters…

Toss the pot, toss the pot: let us be merry, And drink till our cheeks be as red as a cherry. We take no thought, we have no care, Still we spend and never spare ’til all of money our purse … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: A Hidden Bookstore

It’s been jocularly observed that the presence of many books in one place can actually warp both space and time. I’m Iain MacKenzie, the Head Librarian here at the Kinrowan Estate, and I’m not sure that this view is so … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 29th of May: Cuban and Icelandic music, new wave comics, Arthur Rackham, YA from Kage Baker and some other things as well…

‘I’m different and I’m happy,’ Calvin said. ‘But you pretend that you aren’t different.’ ‘I’m different and I like being different.’ Calvin’s voice was unnaturally loud. ‘Maybe I don’t like being different,’ Meg said, ‘But I don’t want to be like everybody else, either.’ — Madeleine L’Engle’s A … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Danse Macabre (A Letter to Anna)

Greetings Anna, You’ll be tickled to know that Jack is putting back together the medieval music group called Danse Macabre that he had here well over twenty years ago. Of course, there’ll be new musos including my wife, Catherine, joining … Continue reading

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A Kinrowan Estate story: Reading Groups (A Letter to Anna)

Dear Anna, When you were here over the Fall you asked me how reading groups got started here. As we were headed out for a contradance with your partner and me with my wife, I forgot until now. And when … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 15th of May: A bevy of Singer-Songwriters, Cajun music, Mike Carey’s The Furies, Alan Moore’s Exit Interview, Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales annotated and some other neat things…

Science fiction is ultimately cut and dried and explains everything in the end, but pure fantasy generally doesn’t explain enough. — Roger Zelazny, in his introduction to Steven Brust’s To Reign in Hell . That’s Béla, our resident Hungarian musician, up there on the … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 1st of May: two French folk songs for your listening pleasure, the most pagan of rock albums, three books on folk dance by Alison Thompson and other matters…

The artist deals in what cannot be said in words. The artist whose medium is fiction does this in words. The novelist says in words what cannot be said in words. — Ursula Le Guin in her introduction to The Left Hand of … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 17th of April: live Irish music from De Dannan, John Brunner does future shock, artisan chocolate, Big Band music, Valente tells a story, chamber folk-pop, a history of caviar, Ottoman culture and a bevy of other things!

I decided to return to the library and see what I  could learn there. Besides, I like libraries. It  makes me feel comfortable and secure to have walls of words, beautiful and wise, all around  me. I always feel better when … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 10th of April: some live Celtic music from Dervish, American terroir, Peruvian music called chicha gone psychedelic, a Martian train story, CBGB punks, essays on William Morris, an American ghost story and other interesting things!

Are not all stories, all books — and indeed all of us — connected to something bigger? Always implying what came before and what might come after? The question is — what’s the value of the fragment you are encountering in … Continue reading

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What’s New for the 3rd of April: a new project helmed by American Irish fiddler Liz Carroll, a charming tale from Charles de Lint, our coffeehouse, hunting mushrooms, ‘Macpherson’s Lament’ live and much more!

Fare thee weel, you dungeons dark and strong, Fareweel, fareweel to thee. Macpherson’s rant will ne’er be lang, On yonder gallers tree. Chorus of ‘Macpherson’s Lament’ I’ve been out on a long walk since just past dawn here on this lovely … Continue reading

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