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.
Summer’s fully upon us here on this Scottish estate. We generally get a summer much more pleasant than is commonplace in Scotland as we share a Border with what Yeats called the Celtic Twilight – the Fey really, really like warm summers. (And alas, cold winters as well, there being Summer and Winter Courts.) So I’m sitting under one of the Great Oaks planted a hundred and fifty-odd years ago by Lady Alexandra Margaret Quinn, Estate Head Gardener here for a very long time, who’s buried beneath them.
I’ve got a murder of crows overhead looking to see if they can steal anything from me as I’m eating lunch outside, but there’s naught that catches their interest, mercifully. Oh, eventually I’ll treat them to something from my repast but not right now.
I’ve got my iPad in hand, a most tasty Lady in The Wood IPA named in honour of that Estate Head Gardener to drink, and I just got a note texted to me that Chasing Fireflies are doing a contradance this evening with Gus, our Estate Gardener calling, so I need to get this done soon. Go ahead and get yourself one of those ales and I’ll have this Edition for you soon… Now where was I?
Craig was favorably impressed with Paul Green’s Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns. ‘It is very easy to get lost in the Encyclopedia of Weird Westerns, so make sure to set aside a good deal of time when you pick it up to “just look something up.” There are plenty of discoveries awaiting, and some old favorites to revisit.’
David waxed nostalgic about Singing Cowboys by Douglas B. Green (a.k.a. Ranger Doug of Riders In the Sky) . ‘Douglas B. Green has compiled a beauty of a book here. If you have any interest in the era or subject at all Singing Cowboys is a treasure trove of trivia and memorabilia. And it has a CD too! So you can listen to 10 of the greats as you peruse the pages. Aah . . . memories!
Donna found Nicholas Griffin’s Dizzy City enjoyable but a bit disturbing. ‘As I was reading this book, I realized how much it reminded me of Theodore Dreiser’s rather bleak urban fiction, particularly The Titan, and of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, which is certainly about a very skilled con artist. Griffin does a good job of capturing the grittiness of New York City and of revealing the motivations and tricks of people who live by their wits. I learned more about cons from reading this book than I ever wanted to know.’
Farah did an in-depth review of two books about the author of the Mary Poppins stories: Giorgia Grilli’s Myth, Symbol and Meaning in Mary Poppins: the Governess as Provacteur, and Valerie Lawson’s Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of P. L. Travers. One she liked, the other she didn’t. ‘Although Lawson’s aim is not to illuminate the books, her account of Travers’ interests and obsessions offers a complex critique of Travers’ work, which helps to explain why they are as unnerving as they are fascinating. The same is not true of Giorgia Grilli’s account.’
Michael got a kick out of Chris Marie Green’s Night Rising, the first book in her Vampire Babylon series. ‘Night Rising is the first in a trilogy by Chris Marie Green, better known for her romances under the name Crystal Green, and it certainly seems as though she’s made the transition to urban fantasy without a hitch. Green plays with the Hollywood conceits perfectly, from the all-encompassing drive to “make it big” found in everyone from bartenders to gas station attendants, to the fear of falling into obscurity by those who have made it big. Hollywood’s tendency to chew up child actors and spit them out is brought up, as is the manner in which some celebrities die mysteriously, leaving behind legends.
Naomi found a lot to like in Single White Vampire Seeks Same, an anthology edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Brittany A. Koren. ‘It’s really hard to pick out a couple of tales to spotlight, as they were all so good! The first story in the book caught me completely off guard and had me chuckling, yet it also had me thinking very hard on the ramifications. “Personal Wishes” by Mickey Zucker Reichert has Cupid putting away his trusty bow and arrows, and trying something new. The Godling of love riding around on a subway is just too priceless a picture to let go of! Yet he is still doing his best to bring couples together with their ideal others.’
Robert has four reviews for, two from Jane Lindskold and two from Patricia McKillip.
The first is Changer: ‘Urban fanstasy is a subgenre with as many sets of criteria as there are practitioners. Ranging from the Celto-Amerindian universe of Charles de Lint’s urban Canada and Neil Gaiman’s eclectic universe of the Dreaming, with even hybrids such as Mark Anthony’s Last Rune paying tribute to fairies and hobgoblins, Lindskold has stepped neatly in and taken as her purview the myths and legends of all places, all peoples, and set them down in the contemporary American Southwest.’
He follows up with the sequel, Legends Walking: ‘Jane Lindskold has followed up Changer with Legends Walking, which opens a few weeks after Changer closes. The same characters appear, many in expanded roles, new athanor characters participate, and the story takes on added complexity as several plot lines develop.’
He next has a review of Winter Rose: ‘The story is told in McKillip’s characteristically elliptical style, kicked up an order of magnitude. Sometimes, in fact, it is almost too poetic, the narrative turning crystalline then shattering under the weight of visions, images, things left unsaid as Rois and Corbet are drawn into another world, or come and go, perhaps, at will or maybe at the behest of a mysterious woman of immense power who seems to have no fixed identity but who is, at the same time, all that is coldest and most pitiless of winter.’
He finishes up with Solstice Wood, a sequel of sorts to Winter Rose: ‘McKillip has always been a writer whose books can themselves be called ‘magical,’ and it’s even more interesting to realize that she seldom uses magic as a thing of incantations and dire workings, or as anything special in itself. It just is, a context rather than an event, and perhaps that’s the way it should be.’
Craig reviewed the DVD edition of the BBC’s celebrated miniseries I, Claudius, and a documentary about a 1937 failed attempt to bring the story to film. ‘Based on two novels by Robert Graves, I, Claudius was a groundbreaking miniseries, and is still today considered by some to be the totem by which all other miniseries are measured. It stars Derek Jacobi as the titular emperor and autobiographer. As narrator, Claudius tells us his family history from his grandmother Livia’s marriage to the Emperor Augustus Caesar to the end of Claudius’ own life, at the hand of others.’
Kelley submitted a review of a British style pub in Portland, Oregon, as well as a couple of beers he sampled there. One of them was Rogue’s Hazelnut Brown Nectar: ‘The Hazelnut Brown Nectar is a daytime beer, a lunchtime beer. We felt this was a beer meant to go with a sandwich, hearty enough to provide sustenance, but refreshing enough for the middle of the day. Not surprisingly, it was nutty, with a yeasty edge, and a bit malty in the finish. Its color happened to match the mahogany-colored broth in the Murphy’s Stew perfectly. If hops aren’t your thing, you should try this.’
Craig revisits an old favorite in Jeff Smith’s SHAZAM!, the DC revival of the old original Captain Marvel character. ‘There was always a certain kind of “Gee whiz!” quality to the Captain Marvel stories I remember, and it’s this quality that Jeff Smith captures in spades. Captain Marvel isn’t the type of character who, in my view, lends himself to the kinds of darker existential angst that tends to dominate the superhero genre of today. If things like Peter Parker’s eternal guilt over his failure to save Uncle Ben, or Bruce Wayne’s constant toeing of the fine line between hero and criminal, or even Superman’s loneliness as the last survivor of a destroyed planet, are what you look for in a superhero tale, then Captain Marvel probably isn’t for you.’
Big Earl reviewed From Paris With Love by the legendary Jamaican band Skatalites. ‘The Skatalites were the original house band for Jamaican musicians in the early ’60s, backing literally every artist on the island. A jazz band that stumbled across a new beat and attack, their ensemble playing gave the world ska, and later reggae. Comprised of very talented players, the band often chose cheeky songs to cover, like “The Pink Panther Theme” or “Baby Elephant Walk,” and managed to to make even the most trite material sound vital.’
Gary reviewed some Catalonian jazz on Èlia Lucas Quartet’s Introspecció. ‘The young Catalonian pianist and composer has a wealth of music education and experience already, and plays in various jazz, pop and indie groups. She lives in Barcelona, where she teaches music and is studying for a degree in classical music. That interest in classical is reflected in many of the compositions on Introspecció. The other three members of the quartet – Edu Pons on alto and soprano sax, Tomàs Pujol on double bass and Kike Pérez on drums – bring her compositions and ideas to life.’
Gary was also thrilled with the klezmer music he found on Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi’s The Wolf and the Lamb, which he said ‘is exactly the sort of high quality release I’ve come to expect from Arc. The choice of music, the performances, and the wealth of background information that come with this recording are exemplary. The detailed liner notes for each song and the album as a whole and the choice artwork and photography enhance the experience of listening to this vibrant, living music.’
John was supportive of the artists in his review of three albums by diverse singer songwriters: Marc Broussard’s Momentary Setback, Jens Hausmann’s Back on the Track, and Penny Nichols’s I’ll Never Be That Old Again. ‘Diversity is the name of the game, and with two American singer songwriters dealing in varied parts of the roots arena, and an American-born guitarist/singer now based in Germany, the recipe is made for an interesting musical journey.’
Patrick liked the music but not the faux-Irish singing on Glass In Hand by the Chicago band St. James Gate. Glass in Hand is fine pub – or bar – fare, but it does not rise above that level, though it has the potential. If these guys lose the accents and sing “Whiskey in the Jar” in the same style they tackle “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” their music would be much better off.
Peter was supportive of More Electric, an album by Canadian guitarist Shane Simpson. ‘Shane is very much a guitarist’s guitarist. His style and ability carry his songs. I found myself admiring and listening to the guitar work more than the actual song content. On this side of the water, if you are a fan of Albert Lee you are sure to pick up on Shane Simpson.’ His wife liked it too; read it to find out why!
Peter also gives a nice review to a CD so rare we couldn’t even find a photo of its cover art! ‘This is the sort of thing a lot of bands send out to prospective venues and festivals when looking for a booking,’ he says of The Skirlers’ Cutting the Bracken, but he liked it anyway for its authentic live feel. ‘True, some of the songs or tunes are not without the odd ‘nervous’ mistake, but this does not matter one jot. You’ll be hard placed to spot them anyway! And that’s part of the charm of the album. I have a feeling this album is just a taste of what the Skirlers are like live.
Sean brings word of an archival recording of music from a lengthy documentary series about the lives of working people that was on the BBC in the late ’50s and early ’60s. Singing the Fishing collects some of those songs, mostly written and arranged by Ewan MacColl, and performed by MacColl, Charles Parker, and Peggy Seeger. ‘In an age when much folk music has lost touch with its underlying narrative, Singing the Fishing is a reminder of the magnificent potential that is locked inside this art form.’
What Not comes courtesy of Mia who looks at four of Folkmanis’s creations, to wit Blue Dragon, Green Dragon, Three Headed Dragon, and Phoenix and she says, ‘Oooooh, shiny! I have a box of dragons here! Folkmanis makes the best puppets ever, and their dragons are some of the finest of their puppets.’
I rather like ‘Brown-Eyed Women’ quite a bit but my favorite version isn’t the one with Garcia singing that the Dead did, but rather is one someone here found some years back. The late Robert Hunter who wrote much of what they played including this song and my favourite version is done by him during a show at Biddy Mulligan’s in Chicago on the tenth of October some thirty years ago. So let’s now listen to him doing that song.