Review: CBGB Punx

imageHow about a blast from the past, by way of action figures? If that leaves you shaking your head, Reynard explains it:

OK, do you remember CBGB in New York City, the archetypal club of that period? Found at 315 Bowery Street, it was the birthplace of the punk rock scene in the States and would equally be known as a hardcore music venue as well.

Well back in 2003, Stronghold Group released two characters based on the sort of people that inhabited CBGB, one being Maxx, a singer, and the the other being Bad Apple, who is less clearly defined, though he too could be a musician, a fan, and even perhaps a CBGB bouncer.

To find out what makes these two so special, read Reynard’s review of the CBGB Punx action figures.


Story: Theatre in the Round (A Letter to Annbjørg)

Greetings Annbjørg,

About that theatre I mentioned — we’ve had a theatre in the round for nearly forty years now, ever since The Steward at that time had a deep affection for theatre and noticed that the very old stone livestock auction barn either had to be repaired or torn down before it fell down. And the last auction held there was generations ago, as that activity moved to Riverrun Farm, as it was more convenient for all the farmers.

It’s about forty feet across and two stories high — apparently no way to heat it, so all the theatre done there is done in the summer and early fall, though there was one Estate muso who convinced us to do concert there on Winter Solstice. That was interesting event as Border smallpipes and fiddles sound very superb there!

So we cleaned out the space, fixed the slate roof and pointed up the stone exterior, and added a stage. And then it got interesting, as The Steward noticed it was a tall enough interior that we could have three levels of staging and seating. He readily agreed to spending the funds to do so, as Fergus, a musician resident here then, said it’d make a dandy summer and fall concert venue. And so it has been ever since.

The Welsh folk punk band, Ymyl Danheddog (Serrated Edge), always plays there when it’s warm enough to do so, and one of the Several Annies who’s Welsh plans on doing A Child’s Christmas in Wales there this Winter, as a later Steward built a Russian stove system there, a costly affair indeed.

At any rate, I’m hoping you and your hardingfele fiddle make it here for the tune swap planned for the fortnight around Candlemas.

Warmest regards, Reynard

Review: T Sisters : Kindred Lines

album artI like the idea of a group calling themselves the “T Sisters” putting out an album titled Kindred Lines. There’s also what reviewer Gary Whitehouse calls “sibling harmony.” (Well, he’s not the only one to call it that, but I suspect most of us are used to hearing about sibling rivalry.) But sibling harmony opens up a lot of possibilities:

You can go a lot of different directions with sibling harmonies. There’s old-time country shading into rock ‘n’ roll as the Everly Brothers did it, or there’s swinging jazz and pop as the Andrews Sisters did it, or there’s the Wilson Brothers’ sunny California variation on doo-wop that became the Beach Boys’ signature. T Sisters are definitely of a folk leaning, but they incorporate a whole range of American influences into their songs.

If you want to know just where they take it, read Gary’s review. And get ready for quite a ride.

Calexico To Release New Album: Edge of the Sun

For the better part of two decades, the acclaimed band Calexico has crossed musical barriers, embracing a multitude of styles, variety in instrumentation, and well-cultivated signature sounds. With their forthcoming record Edge of the Sun, out April 14 via Anti-/City Slang, they take inspiration from a trip to a place surprisingly unexplored by the band before in Mexico City, and with the benefit of many friends and comrades to help guide the way.

Listen to first track “Cumbia de Donde”, and then go read the full press release from Anti Records here.

Review: Warren Ellis, et al.: Global Frequency

imageFull disclosure: Warren Ellis can do no wrong. He’s doesn’t always get it exactly right, but he’s never wrong.

That said, I’m going to do something I never do in these introductory posts: I’m going to expand on Cat Eldridge’s review of Global Frequency.

One comment of Ellis’ that struck me with particular force while reading Voyage in Noise was his comment about superheroes and Global Frequency as a response: it’s rescue fiction about us rescuing ourselves and not waiting for Space Daddy to do it, because “that way lies death.”

The basis of that remark is simply that superheroes have taken on a mythic dimension in American culture, starting with Superman. Ellis sees them as an escape from our own responsibility to take care of ourselves, although acknowledging their role as, so to speak, role models. You might say that Ellis, in spite of having done runs on superhero comics, was ambivalent about them, to say the least.

With that in mind, read Cat’s review of Global Frequency.

From the Letters Bag: Alexander C. Irvine’s Family Crest

Well, just goes to show you — we didn’t even know Alexander Irvine had a family crest.

From: Mary Irvine
Subject: Review of Alexander C. Irvine Book
Date: May 12, 2005

Hello, just a note from Alex Irvine’s aunt, Mary Irvine.

I noticed that your Green Man magazine has, under a review of one of my nephew’s books, A Scattering of Jades, a picture of a sprig of holly leaves. It just happens that holly leaves are a major element in the Irvine crests granted from the time of Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland. The Bruce was once taking sleep refuge under some holly bushes during a time of long battles and was guarded by a William de Irvine, thus the reason for the holly leaves in all seven of the Irvine Crests. Just thought this might be of interest and fun as well.

Mary Irvine

Walking: Crows

Black-Crows-in-Winter-Trees__94534-480x320Crows gather in the winter, being raucous at the edge of the Wood, hopping through the brown grasses in the meadows, and generally being somehow more present than they are any other time of year. I see them in the evenings, especially, flapping heavily toward the trees as the sun heads to an early rest, stopping to squabble over something dead in the grass — “a murder of crows,” they call it, although they’re more scavengers than predators. Not that they don’t hunt — I once found a starling’s wing in the grass, after some controversy in the trees, from which I concluded that the starling lost the engagement.

And they’re wary — with good reason, I guess: there’s a long history there of people not being exactly friendly, if you know what I mean, so the minute you point anything at a crow, he’s somewhere else. Makes it kind of hard to take pictures.

And of course, if you’re just standing there, very still, they’ll just look you right in the eye, bold as brass, before they go about their business.

Perhaps it’s that brazen quality that has led to crows and their relatives playing such a major role in the folklore of the world — messengers, seers, oracles, harbingers. I wonder what this bunch is cooking up by way of prophecies.

Although, all else being equal, they’re probably just going over the day’s gossip before bedtime.

Review: Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons: Take Yo Time

cover artWe have another review from Gary Whitehouse that sort of lays it all out about “roots” music. As he says in his discussion of Take Yo Time, from Ben Hunter and Joe Seamons:

Those roots are fully on display on their debut album
Take Yo Time. It sports Anglo-American folk songs like “House Carpenter” and “Tom Dooley,” ragtime instrumentals, gospel, a little jazz and lots of acoustic blues from various regions and periods.

That’s about as plain as it gets. Read Gary’s review to see how they put it all together.

Review: Kathy Kallick: Cut to the Chase

cover artThere’s this sort of place in music (well, and in other forms of art as well) where all sorts of strands of tradition get mingled together and turn into something new, although they still maintain the identity of those strands. Like Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors, we can see the colors, but it’s undeniably a coat. We call that sort of thing “roots,” which saves a lot of hemming and hawing. That’s what came to mind while reading Gary Whitehouse’s review of Kathy Kallick’s Cut to the Chase This is just the tip of the iceberg:

In 2014 Kathy Kallick put out a very nice album with her old friend Laurie Lewis in which they interpret the songs of the bluegrass duo Vern Williams and Ray Park. Also that year she released a solo record called
Cut to the Chase that showcases her deft songwriting and distinctive husky singing style. She wrote all but four of this baker’s dozen, and those other four are co-writes with folk stalwart Clive Gregson.

For more — and you know you want more — read Gary’s review.

Musical Musings: Grateful Dead

This year is the 50th anniversary of the year that the Grateful Dead took the stage under that name. So let’s talk about them.

Members of the Grateful Dead had played together in myriad San Francisco bands, including Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions and the Warlocks. Phil Lesh was the last member to join the Warlocks before they changed their name to the Grateful Dead. And the core group of the former Warlocks would stay together until Jerry Garia’s death thirty years later.

Now go read my admittedly biased look at the band and why I think uncover bands are better than the band itself was.