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 so does the music: sometimes it’s made by seedyboxes, and sometimes by B-town drummers gathered to jam, and sometimes by a dancer or two stamping a rhythm and humming a tune. No one knows how large the Endless Rave has been, but everyone swears there’s always at least one kid dancing there. — Will Shetterly’s Nevernever

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Another Banish Misfortune Winter Ale? Rather good, isn’t it? Bjorn, our Brewmaster, makes it every Winter and it’s a perrenial favourite among staff and visitors alike.

My favourite time in the Pub is the period between when I relieve Finch, the Afternoon Barkeep, so that the first few hours of my shift are early enough in the evening that it’s several hours before it gets busy here. The afternoon patrons have left for elsewhere and the evening patrons are hours away. There’s just enough business to be interesting, but no more.

This evening, the Neverending Session is off elsewhere, the Library I believe doing something with Iain, our Librarian, so I’m doing this edition and I get to play what I want here in the Pub. Right now that is Skara Brae’s Reunion Concert at the Dunlewey Lakeside in Centreon, Donegal on the second of January, some thirteen years ago. Now don’t go looking to order it as it was never released commercially but I was handed a soundboard recording of it and it’s one of the most played performances by me as both the music itself and the recording of it are first rate.

Now let’s see what I’ve got for you…P

Denise found two things to adore in Robert Michael “Bobb” Cotter’s Vampira and Her Daughters: Women Horror Movie Hosts from the 1950s into the Internet Era; female horror hosts, and a comprehensive guide to ’em.  “Cotter digs deep into the history of the horror host, and uncovers a wealth of knowledge about these hidden stars … And he does a bloody great job with it.” Happy haunting, horror hounds!

Robert takes a look at the third installment in Tanya Huff’s Enchantment Emporium series, The Future Falls: ‘The Future Falls continues the saga of the Gale family, begun in The Enchantment Emporium and continued in The Wild Ways. The Gales are not your normal family, although certainly given to family politics and rivalries, with a few interesting twists: for want of a better word, let’s call them witches.’

Robert also had some thoughts on two volumes of poetry published by a small press: ‘We are very fond of small presses here at Green Man Review, not least because they publish some of the most interesting things out there. Several years ago, A Midsummer Night’s Press was revived after a fairly lengthy hiatus. The press focuses on poetry, and we were happy to be able to take a look at the first two offerings, Lawrence Schimel’s Fairy Tales for Writers and Charles Ardai’s The Good-Neighbor Policy.’

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Robert takes a look at a rather arresting graphic novel: ‘Robert Venditti’s The Surrogates, drawn by Brett Weldele, is right up among the top graphic works I’ve run across recently. Set in a near-future megalopolis, it’s a fast-moving crime drama with a couple of unique twists.’ He follows up with a look at the sequel — which is actually a prequel, Flesh and Bone.

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Take a number of well-known musicians, toss in fans and a camera crew, put all on a train traversing Canada. That’s the gist of Festival Express. Sound intriguing? David thought so: ‘It opens with a faded map of north Ontario, Kapuskasing dead centre. Then the camera pulls back and from the middle of the screen comes a train — an old Canadian National engine — and tracks, lots of tracks. This is a movie about that train and the people who rode on it, and the places it stopped, and what happened one week in 1970 when this train went from Toronto to Calgary … with a cargo of rock’n’rollers and all their paraphernalia. What a summer.’

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We’ve oftimes said that we crave chocolate in its myriad forms, from drinking chocolate on a winter’s day to Tollhouse cookies, to a bar of dark chocolate. That does not mean that we love all chocolate as April, our resident Summer Queen (who loves Reese’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, but that’s a story for another time to tell) notes here: ‘Up for review are two of the Hershey-produced bars: Milk Chocolate with Roasted Almonds and the Royal Dark. Of the two bars, the Milk Chocolate with Roasted Almonds fares better, overall, although neither are really worth expending much effort to obtain. The milk chocolate, while unremarkable in taste, has a pleasant, silky texture to it, and the almonds impart a very satisfying salty crunch by contrast. It’s definitely a step up – even if just a small one — from the usual Hershey’s milk chocolate fare, neither overly sweet nor grainy.’

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American pianist Craig Taborn fronts a quartet on his new release Daylight Ghosts. Gary says ‘Taborn gives ample evidence on Daylight Ghosts that he excels in settings that range from near-classical to rocking modern jazz.

Mount Royal is the new album from jazz guitarist Julian Lage and bluegrass guitarist Chris “Critter” Eldridge of the Punch Brothers. ‘This album is at heart an Americana or American folk record, but it draws on all kinds of music within those traditions,’ Gary says in his review.

Gary says ‘Rhiannon Giddens’ Freedom Highway is one of those rare recordings that grabs your attention right from the first note and won’t let go. More vibrant than any history book and as timely as tomorrow’s headlines and tweetstorms, this is music to rock your body and roil your soul.’

Lars ends his review of SVER’s Fryd in this manner: ‘In all a very good effort worth the money for anyone interested in instrumental Scandinavian music. And from what I hear on the record they must be on hell of a live band.’ Now read his insightful review for all the details on this recording.

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Our What Not this time is courtesy of  Theodora Goss who has an essay titled ‘The Politics of Narritive Patterns ‘ which leads off thusly: ‘There are all sorts of reasons the American election went the way it did, but I think one of them, and perhaps quite an important one, was the way in which our thinking is determined by narrative patterns. What do I mean by narrative patterns? I mean that in narratives, in stories, there are underlying patterns we are familiar with. They recur from story to story: stories are often variations on these patterns. When we encounter these patterns, we feel fulfilled, comfortable — we recognize them, we like to read about them. We like variation, but only a certain amount of variation. Too much variation makes us feel unsatisfied, as though somehow the story is written “wrong.”‘

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I mentioned that I was playing a concert recording by Skara Brae, so I’ll finish off with a set of tunes, ‘Ar Chun’ and ‘Chuain Dom’, from that performance. And I’ve no idea why they didn’t get a commercial release of this performance as both the music and the production are quite fine indeed.

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 here in Kinrowan Hall if the Neverending Session is elsewhere. 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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