The Pentangle and other folk icons

Britain’s The Pentangle is a delightful combination of folk & jazz propelled by the amazing guitar work of John Renbourn & Burt Jansch & the equally amazing voice of Jacqui McShee. I have, over 2 mp3 cd compilations: The Pentangle (1968), Sweet Child (double lp) (1968), Basket of Light (1969), Cruel Sister (1970), Reflection (1971), Solomon’s Seal (1972) their last before breakup of original members.

It’s hard to classify The Pentangle with their mix of Celtic, traditional folk & jazz. Prog-folk as opposed to prog-rock. The music is consistently good as they slip seamlessly from folk, to jazz, to prog & even into renaissance mandrigals. I am most familiar with Sweet Child & Basket of Light. I had the lp of both & when I upgrade to mp3 I added the others. The Sweet Child was expanded with nearly another hour of live & studio material. If you are unfamiliar start with Basket of Light.

The sixties were a hotbed of folk, so also on the cds are: Judy Collins: In My Life (1966), Wildflowers (1967) (Sisters of Mercy, Both Sides Now), Who Knows Where The Time Goes (1968). Judy has a clear strong voice, her choice of material is exemplary. She was one of the first to record songs by Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen & The Incredible String Band.  Her music become less folk though with strings, orchestra, even country backing. Sometime a bit too tasteful for me.

In Canada to folk music wave included Ian & Sylvia: Early Morning Rain (1965), Four Strong Winds (1964). Local folkies in Cape Breton were quick to add some those title songs to their repertoire. Earnest guitar players mixing traditional with these modern, then, song. I recall one autoharp gal doing an endless & morning Early Morning Rain flooded by Lightfoot’s Wreck.

Nina Simone is sort of unclassifiable – female vocalist with a powerful voice, clear political point of view with a mainly jazz approach. Here I have her ‘Nuff Said! (1968) (Backlash Blues), It Is Finished (1974) (The Pusher). She is an iconic iconoclast for her unshakeable stance & her refusal to be ‘softened’ by the recording industry. Her songs are often deeply personal, African, & resonant.

I added John Martyn’s The Tumbler (1968) – his sound is a more rock version of Pentangle. A fine guitarist, vocalist & song writer. I’ve read glowing praise of him over the years & decided it was time add something by him got my collection. Finally is Alan Stivell’s Renaissance of the Celtic Harp (1972) This album revolutionized the connection between traditional folk music, modern rock music and world music. In my Cape Breton crowd this was very popular thanks to its Celtic leanings. One track Ys is a soothing piece includes the sound of waves & seagulls creating one of the first new age templates. A must for any collection.

The Blessing of Presents 

The other event on the week-end that I had the great pleasure in attending was the Blessing of Presents at St. Sufferer’s Cathedral. That Blessing combined with the Lighting of the Trees is a sure sign that the festive season has broken lose upon us full force.

The most reverend Vicar Father Frank started the sacrament with a sermon on the Exulting Power of Wrap – he explained how the wrap of the gift is often more important than the gift it self, and that no matter how lowly a gift may be, it can be elevated by the wrapping.

There’s a lesson I wish I could bring into my own life – on those days when I, yes even I, your willing reporter, feels like the proverbial bed of broken pigs, she finds it hard to even raise her head from the pillow let alone wrap herself in a joyful raiment that would disguise the inner emotionlessness and despair she feels.

The Vicar went on to say that we shouldn’t allow the wrap to keep us from the gift, and that he finds many are so enamoured of that wrap they never get to the true treasure inside. He sort of lost me there, but that didn’t diminish my pleasure at the vast array of beautiful gifts that were brought up, one at a time to receive the sacramental dash of pine needles and moose ashes.

Like the gifts brought on that first Noel, we were brought into the constant and endless circle of presents that was started on that wondrous night.

The ribbon of history reached out and twined its tinselled ends around the hearts & necks of each us, as the children’s stuttering choir of St. Sufferer’s sang several holiday favourites. “Oh Burning Tree,” “The Ribbon and the Manger,”  “The Tinsel and the Camel” – to name just a few.

After the ceremony I was privileged to take a ride through the snowy wood with Hank Grebly in the parade of midnight runners. Skiers, families in sleds and even some on elephants were seen tracking through the wooded glens around our small town. Lanterns aloft and bearing gifts for neighbours. The true savour of the season was felt.

By the time I returned home I was too exhausted to even remove my boots (thanks Hank) and slept as soundly as I have ever slept. Disjointed dreams of a clown’s childhood danced through my head till I woke in the morning. The windows were covered in reddish swirls of frost and the fresh jar of ashes on my mantle sweetened my dreams.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees. Thanks paypal.me/TOpoet 



Ottmar Romero Arthur

By German guitarist Ottmar Liebert I have stand-alone cds: Nouveau Flamingo (1990), Borrasca (1991), Solo Para Ti (1991), The Hours Between Night + Day (1993). He’s classified as new age but for me is more ‘interesting’ than that label. An amazing acoustic guitarist his playing is precise, emotionally appealing & rarely sleep inducing – sleepy is what ‘new age’ implies to me. His sound is consistent through the cds I have & this there is a predictability to the music but it always a welcome presence. The lps become progressively more reflective & less flamingo. If you are unfamiliar Nouveau Flamingo is a great start.

Another fine acoustic guitarist is Brazil’s Romero Lubambo. I have his as part of Trio da Paz’s Black Orpheus (1994), & his solo Lubambo (1999). Both are amazing latino jazz with a touch of folk. The Black Orpheus is an incredible reworking of that sound track. The original soundtrack is also sensational & was responsible for the rise of world music – the film is also amazing. The Trio is joined by the likes of Herbie Mann in their exploration of the soundtrack. His solo work is less folksy, more jazzy & timeless. Very different from the Liebert treatment of latino music – not as slick. Some of it moves from jazz into contemporary classical. Both of these are worth searching out.

Now we come to Hawaiian Arthur Lyman. I have The Best Of 1996 (compilation): American jazz vibraphone and marimba player. His group popularized a style of faux-Polynesian music during the 1950s and 1960s which later became known as exotica. Exotica is a fun blend of cocktail piano jazz with jungle sound effects – bird, monkeys – plus percussion. Songs would have titles like Sleepy Village Sunset. 

Lyman came by his faux by being real a Hawaiian. His piano playing is thoughtful & easy but don’t mistake it for gimmick. He influenced Dave Brubeck & countless other more serious jazz pianists. Exotica  itself spilled over into what became World Music. Countless groups, from Santana to Pink Floyd, also used sound effects so the Lyman influence transcend his niche. Try him you won’t be disappointed.

Arts und Krafts

Kind readers, one thing your reporter neglected to mention in my wee report yesterday was the Christmas Arts und Krafts display at St. Sufferer’s Cathedral’s Fun Fair. Like many of you I have seen my share of knitted booties for rifle stocks and candle holders made out of moose dung but there were some unexpectedly fine pieces from the near by College of Arts and Reconstructionist Designers of Palmixalitato County.

I am well aware of the rivalry that has been going on between the students in that county and our own but remember we did trounce them the last three years in the Provincial Open Court Peach Pit Curling Play Off. So we can afford to allow them to excel at something and excel they did at the Fun Fair.

There were the many charming crystallized bones pieces from the Anatomy of Design classes there. I was particularly taken by the crystallized moose bone reproductions of the Departments of the Cross that one Leslie-Ann Marie-Betty McDellon had created. 

I can’t imagine what sort of skill it takes to do such fine work but I can certainty respect the work that it took. 

Also many were charmed by the spiderwood furniture Gregh O’Treple has wrought there. A sturdy eight legged rocking chair with a fine webbed seat and back was very comfortable to sit in for long periods of time. He hopes to follow in the family footsteps and may be opening his own furniture and restraints shoppe right here in Crab Apple Corners. He will surely be missed in Palmixalitato County. But their misery is always our gain.

Another feature of the Fun Fair that cannot be neglected was the food pavilion. Over 20,000 were seated at one time for a fine feeding of Trish Creamly’s delicious sprung bark toffee pie. Trish you have out done yourself this year. Just save that recipe for my wedding reception. I know if you keep your hands on the crust you’ll keep them off my man – just kidding folks.

The children at the Fun Fair were also treated to a production by the local Armature Theatre Guild. They performed tragic scenes from various plays. The beheading of John the Baptist brought the crowd to their feet and kudos must go to Hank Grebly who did a fine job in the title role of that piece.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees. Thanks paypal.me/TOpoet 



Recap November 2021

Over the past month by TOpoet.ca following blog grew to ! The WP map does show my hits have come from  countries around the world. That India remains near the top of the list is interesting but that Ecuador & Finland are in the top 10 is a surprise. Most popular posts were I Got You Covered (https://topoet.ca/2021/11/16/i-got-you-covered/), Toys Curbed (https://topoet.ca/2021/11/14/toys-curbed/). The Kafka Hotel (https://topoet.ca/2021/11/23/the-kafka-hotel/) is a personal favorite.

Picture Perfect is inching to an end with 94 sections posted so far, about 136,000 words with approx 55,000 left to be edited then posted. I love the editing & also the creating of new images every week.

I reread Lush Life by David Hajdu – an amazing biography of composer/arranger Billy Strayhorn. Strayhorn worked closely with Duke Ellington & wrote, amongst others, Take the ‘A’ Train & Lush Life. Never heard of him? Well, unless you are a big band jazz fan I’m not surprised. He was often uncredited for his work & thanks to Ellington’s homophobic PR man his name was frequently removed from articles about the band.

Strayhorn was out to those who knew him, but because of the times kept a somewhat low profile. Reading about his life is both sad & inspiring. He knew his race & sexuality would hold him back from real fame but he persisted in doing what he did best. I read the book when it was first published in 1996 & was happy to read it again. As a result I dowloaded a some lps of his work & it is prime big band jazz that leans into modern classical – a suite for piano & french horn anyone? It’s time for a biopic or at least an American Masters profile.

Came to the end of Melissa Scott’s Astreiant series (https://mescott.livejournal.com/43451.html)  I was hooked after reading the first in the series, thanks to the amazing world-building & engaging characters. Each novel took us into a different aspect of this world as seen through the exploits of our hero & his lover. Spells cast by flower arraignments, the travails of dog racing, the murky underworld of the docks. Each is a murder mystery as well. All can be found on Amazon. Sadly there is no hint of a new adventure 😦

Watched Tom Jones (1963). The criterion edition includes two versions of the film – Director’s Cut & theatrical release plus some excellent extras. The cinematography is amazing & stands up to anything now being done with cgi & green screen. John Addison’s music is a delight – I’ve had the soundtrack for decades & it was nice to see/hear it in context. Energetic performances carry the story. Hugh Griffith steals every scene he is in as the permanently drunken land owner.  

Also watched the hilariously bad southern gothic Walk On The Wild Side – it has excellent opening & closing credits by Saul Bass plus an amazing soundtrack by Elmer Bernstein. A must see if you like over-heated brothel romances with Barbra Stanwyck riding a a lesbian subtext into the sunset.

Wounds of the Saints

Gentle Reader let me tell you that, Dolly Dinty, your friendly reporter has certainly had quite a week-end to share with you. As you may remember in my column on Friday, I said I would be checking out the Family Fun Fair at St. Sufferer’s Cathedral. I did this and also found time to go to the pet show at The Pig Driver’s Arena by Buttontown Airport and the Bridal Show at Pester’s Mall. 

Yes, a very busy Saturday. Sunday was as bad, what with the opening of the new font at St. Sufferer’s, a baby shower for the latest in the McGinch clan and finally a fund raising dinner in Crab Apple Corners for the Maple Valley Fire Department.

So, where to begin? If I hadn’t had my trusty map with me I surely would have gotten lost at the very start. St. Sufferer’s Cathedral is one of the largest churches in Pumpkin County but also the most difficult to find. It’s spires can be seen for miles in all directions but every turn of the road seemed to put it at my back and not in front of me.

I hope the next function they hold is to find funds to put up more accurate signage. The Fun Fair was fun for the entire family. Bobbing for pears, a banana tossing contest and even some feet painting for the children. It was a carefree time that made all feel closer to their Creator’s pain. I was deeply touched by the drawings of the Sunday School classes that depicted the various wounds of the Saints.

I was reluctant to leave there for the Pet Show. Fortunately finding The Pig Driver’s Arena is much easier.

The first thing I was confronted with though, was the Hijil’s Farm elephants. Not the sort of thing one expects at a pet show and who amongst us can judge them? They did do some rather charming tricks – rolling over to play dead and fetching the tree – but I think a more simple approach would be better. The prize ribbon went, as it has the last several years, to the McCracken’s of Daw Hill with their trained herding sparrows.

So, I was pretty tuckered by the time I got to the Bridal Show. I did get there & walked down that aisle longing for the time I would have time to actually walk down the aisle of St. Sufferer’s for my sacred wedding sacrifice. Bea Petratica’s Bridalle Shoppe had a new shipment of fine pearl crushed velvet lace that would make any bride look like a dark queen.

One of these days Hank Grebly, one of these days. You – me & the aisle.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees – thankspaypal.me/TOpoet 

Moby Grape

Their 2nd release was the double lp Wow, Grape Jam – which were eventually also released as separate albums. Its gimmick was a track (featuring Arthur Godfrey) recorded to play at a 78 rpm – I rarely heard it then as I was too lazy to change the speed. The other gimmick was the Jam album of live jams with the likes of Mike Bloomfield, to prove their musicianship.

 I can remember getting that first lp from the Columbia Record Club as there was no retail store in Sydney that carried much non-top 40 music. The same for Wow. I really like the art work & the titling for 2nd lp Grape Jam etc. Very clever & trippy. I enjoy that jam music now more than I did then. I replaced those early lps & the two subsequent ones with mp3 downloads. I had never heard Truly Fine Citizen or 20 Granite Creek until I downloaded them. Booth were critically well-regarded but not hit parade material 🙂

The band was plagued by internal conflict & major management issues & that was reflected in the music they produced. They never developed a cohesive sound – having 5 lead singers may have influenced that. The music is rock with some psychedelic touches. Their sound was never distinctive but each lp has great tracks & some unexpectedly pretty moments. Even a few classics: Omaha, Murder In My Heart. 

Truly Fine Citizen, 20 Granite Creek are more cohesive if undistinguished. They move from a rock sound to a more country-rock sound. I have downloaded the re-issues of the first lps which come with lots of bonus tracks. The group apparently is still together with some of the original members. If you are unfamiliar that first lp is an ideal one to start with & it is a classic of the late 60s California sound.

The Wings Of St. Martinia

Last night Hank Grebly did me the great honour & pleasure of taking me to the Maple Valley Rialto Cinema – it is a shame that this fine building is now only opened on weekends for our film going pleasures. 

I can remember a time when it would be busy seven days a week, offering us the finest in Hollywood films and fresh roasted peaches or tasty caramel bark corn.

Every time I enter the Rialto I am taken back to a distant era – the mirror balls in the ceiling reflect the many spot lights around the floor. The zig-zag carpeting & lame seat coverings make me long for simpler times.

The film Hank took me to was “The Wings Of St. Martinia.” Many of you are familiar with the local tales of St. Martinia & the font at St. Sufferer’s. Those are her blood spattered wings holding the baptismal tub in the centre of the nave. Not her actual wings, but representations. Not many angels would have had five sets of wings.

Like the Rialto this film is also a relic of another time. Recently discovered in the vaults at College of Arts and Reconstructionist Designers, we were first treated to a lecture by Rudgar Quartz, the Professor of Cinema Studies there, who gave the history of both the film, St, Martinia and the Rialto itself. A very educational evening, leavened by the delightful film itself.

The story is a simple one of suffering and repentance through suffering. Martinia, born out of wed-lock to the daughter of silver smith and troupe of travelling carnival workers, had to face the disgrace of her family and neighbours all through her life.

She saved her fellow orphans from the rain of comets in 1879 by waking each and every child, and leading them to safety. Sadly she wasn’t able to get back to rescue any of her teachers. She comforted the children, as they heard the screams of the staff, who had been trapped in locked rooms in the upper quarters of the orphanage.

In leading the children through the swamps to safety she also rescued Button, a Labrador retriever and her recent litter of puppies. This is why the suckling Labrador retriever has become the representation for St. Martinia. When they say, she of the many teats, they are referring to Button and not to St Martinia.

A fact that I was not aware of either.

The movie follows her travails in the garment trade, being abducted by pirates and finally her mission to Mongolia where she single handedly brought the word of good to those unhappy and dirty mountain people. Her attempts to show them the joys of body wash brought tears of joy to my eyes.

If you have a chance to, get in to see this delightful movie. Tell them Dolly sent you, and you may get an extra dollop of moose mustard on your red hots. 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees. Thanks paypal.me/TOpoet 



A Miller’s Divine Tale Part 2

The next two Steve Miller’s induces: Circle Of Love, Abracadabra, Italian X Rays, Living in the 20th Century, Wide River, Young Hearts, Live 1983, Anthology, The Joker, Fly Like An Eagle, Born 2B Blue. Plus: Quicksilver Messenger Service: Maiden of the Cancer Moon; Rubáiyát: Elektra Compilation; Daniel Lanois: Acadie; Divine: Unforgettable Hits.

With Abracadabra, The Joker, & Fly Like An Eagle the band hit its stride. These were big sellers & deservedly so. But as music trends changed the group fell out of hit parade favour. Their sound didn’t change much – though Italian X Rays shows the influence of Graham Parker. The Steve Miller Band were ‘adult’ pop not teeny-bopper fodder. As good as any of their contemporaries they never disappoint even if they never surprise 🙂 

 Quicksilver Messenger Service: Maiden of the Cancer Moon – this a a great double lp live set around the time of Happy Trails. Extended solos & trippy guitar work. This allows you to experience why they became legendary but also why they never became hit-parade material. Like Miller this is adult rock. Also it’s great to hear them before they got a bit lost as they searched for a consistent music focus.

Rubáiyát is Elektra Records 1990 40th anniversary collection of covers by the then present-day Elektra artists of songs from its catalogue. So you get things like the Cure covering The Doors ‘Hello, I Love You’ (you were expecting them to cover ‘The End’?) All the covers are restrained, no radical make overs. The original packaging was in keeping with the anniversary extensive  liner notes, deluxe ruby red cassette in a presentation box.

Daniel Lanois’s Acadie is a gentle almost humble album that is, as the title suggests, a pop meditation on his Québecois heritage. Folksy, warm & satisfying. It reminds me of The Band more than of U2 🙂 He’s best known as a producer & at one time having him as your producer was a guarantee of a grammie nomination.

All these guys produce great music but also reflect their time. Songs to ‘girls’ not ‘women.’ Paeans to lost heterosexual loves, drugs & political statements. So to counter balance all that I’ve included Divine’s Greatest Hit. Songs done with high energy, enthusiasm, humour & sexual innuendo. Can Divine sing? Who knows? Who cares? This music for fun that is well produced & you can dance to it till you shoot your shot. 

The Polishing of the Magi

The Armature Theatre Guild has been forced to cancel this years presentation of “The Polishing of the Magi” – I understand this will come as a disappointment to many of you – especially those of you whose children had been fortunate enough to be chosen to play the parts of the shepherds, lambs, sacrifices, dervishes and of course, the ultra blessed couple themselves.

Rehearsals had been going better than ever, according to Hank Grebly. It was the first time someone other than a member of the McGinch clan had been given the opportunity to direct the production and Hank was making the most of this opportunity.

But alas, as things often do, it all went to the apple press in a hand cart when it was clear that the McGinch’s weren’t willing to allow things to progress smoothly. Not that this comes as much of a surprise either, mind you. We all pay for our indulgence of this family and its anti-social actions. 

But not to give up all hope, as it seems Hank and some of the cast will be presenting a childless clown version of the same story. It may not have the same impact, but the show must go on. We will be spared the often bitter competition over whose baby gets to play the pivotal role of the fulcrum of all religions. That alone almost makes up for not having a full scale production, doesn’t it?

On a lighter note the Visitor’s Mall will be hosting their annual Midnight Madness sale, for those us who have time and need for yet more shopping. As the Mall says ‘Shopping is in the true spirit of the season, and if we don’t spend we just aren’t pious.’

I pray their prayers are answered.

Please note that the left-handicraft fair slated for the Pumpkin County Area has been cancelled. It was to be a fund raiser for the production of the “Polishing of the Magi” & seeing as that has been cancelled, there seemed little reason to have the craft fair. 

Those who had planned to pick up some of Sylvia’s Jams and Moose Tarts can find a display of them at Bea Petratica’s Bridalle Shoppe and at Meg’s Cafe. Get there early as these delicious treats don’t last long.

Sylvia has introduced two new jams this year that I, for one, can’t wait to try. The Orange & Maple Ashes with Nutmage and Quince with Ginger & Bark. I have no idea what bark she has used,  but I’m sure it will be a savoury deflight to perk up those you who are disappointed by the cancellation of the “Polishing of the Magi.”

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees. Thanks paypal.me/TOpoet 



A Miller’s Tale Part 1

I have a 4cd mp3 collection of San Francisco’s Steve Miller Band. The first covers 68-72: Children of the Future, Sailor, Brave New World, Saving Grace, Number 5, Rock Love. On it is also Dino Valente (aka Chet Powers Jr); Sir Douglas Quintet: Honkey Blues, Mendocino. The second covers 72-77: Live 73-76; Recall The Beginning, Beginning, Living in the USA, Book of Dreams. Along with Bob Lind: Elusive Butterfly of Love ep; The Holy Modal Rounders: Anthology (New York); Delaney & Bonny: On Tour With Eric Clapton; Clinton John Leon: Clinton Vancouver BC.

So you might think I’m a fan. I certainly enjoy all the music I have by him but unlike, say The Doors, I don’t find myself coming back to him & only listen when he comes up in my play rotation.On first cd is: Children of the Future, Sailor, Brave New World, Your Saving Grace, Number 5, Rock Love. On the second is: Live 73-76; Recall The Beginning, Living in the USA, Book of Dreams.

I had cassette’s of Brave New World, Your Saving Grace that I picked up at Radio Shack. The early work is what I am most familiar with, some songs have become iconic i.e. Living In The USA. Looking at the titles of some of these I can hear the song in my head. Solid, radio friendly pop music with a sense of humour that isn’t jokey. 

To round these first two compilations I added a solo lp by Dino Valente, or Valenti (aka Chet Powers Jr) of Quicksilver Messenger Service. As Powers he wrote the anthemic “Get Together.” A peace-love song covered by nearly every California band. The lp is sweet, folk rock, but nothing special.  Another Cali-band here is  Sir Douglas Quintet: Honkey Blues, Mendocino. Rock with a Texan twang & a little bar blues. Good time music.  

Wait there’s more with an ep of Bob Lind: Elusive Butterfly of Love. A massive one hit wonder that nearly destroyed Lind. The Holy Modal Rounders: Anthology New York folk music revival and psychedelia – a bit jug band & fun. Delaney & Bonny: On Tour With Eric Clapton – boogie blues with Clapton recovering from Cream. 

Finally Vancouver BC’s Clinton John Leon: Clinton. Someone I’ve actually met – he played at Word Jam at the Free Times Cafe a couple of time in the last decade. I bought his eps, cds, when he was in Toronto. Folk rock with a define urban horror twist with songs about zombies & stalkers. Makers me miss those good old open stage days.

Arts und Krafts

Kind readers one thing that I neglected to mention in my wee report yesterday was the Christmas Arts und Krafts display at St. Sufferer’s Cathedral’s Fun Fair. Like many of you I have seen my share of knitted booties for rifle stocks and candle holders made out of moose dung but there were some very fine pieces from the near by College of Arts and Reconstructionist Designers of Palmixalitato County.

I am well aware of the rivalry that has been going on between the students in that county and our own but remember we did trounce them the last three years in the Provincial Open Court Peach Pit Curling Play Off. So we can afford to allow them to excel at something and excel they did at the Fun Fair.

There were many charming crystallized bones pieces from the Anatomy of Design classes there. I was particularly taken by the crystallized moose bone reproductions of the Departments of the Cross that one Leslie Ann Marie Betty McDellon had created. 

I can’t imagine what sort of skill it takes to do such fine work but I can certainty respect the work that it took. 

Also many were charmed by the spiderwood furniture Gregh O’Treple has wrought there. A sturdy eight legged rocking chair with a fine webbed seat and back was very comfortable to sit in for long periods of time. He hopes to follow in the family footsteps and may be opening his own furniture and restraints shoppe right here in Crab Apple Corners. He will surely be missed in Palmixalitato County. But their misery is always our gain.

Another feature of the Fun Fair that cannot be neglected was the food pavilion. Over 20,000 were seated at one time for a fine feeding of Trish Creamly’s delicious sprung bark toffee pie. Trish you have out done yourself this year. Just save that recipe for my wedding reception. I know if you keep your hands on the crust you’ll keep them off my man – just kidding folks.

The children at the Fun Fair were also treated to a production by the local Armature Theatre Guild. They performed tragic scenes from various plays. The beheading of John the Baptist brought the crowd to their feet and kudos must go to Hank Grebly who did a fine job in the title role of that piece.

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees. Thanks paypal.me/TOpoet 



Ibibio and Beyond

Filed under Ibibio Sound Machine is an mp3 collection that included: Ibibio Sound Machine, Uyai; Lorez Alexandria: The Ultimate Collection; Anita Ward: Ring My Bell; Laura Mvula: The Dreaming Room (Special Edition); King: We Are King. Work that spans generations & genres. On random it makes for great driving music – though one has to deal with varying sound levels.

Starting with Lorez Alexandria: The Ultimate Collection – over 50 tracks mostly from her late 50’s & 60’s recordings. She is similar to Carmen McRae. Her voice is appealing, the material is standards with a torch leaning. I love her work on songs like You Stepped Out of A Dream, Good Morning Heartache. Underrated. 

Anita Ward is disco but not a disco diva. Her one big hit Ring My Bell brings back good memories for me. The rest of the songs on this lp are okay, romantic fodder nicely produced but not as catchy. Download her hit. More modern is King – a fine harmony group with dance underpinnings & some gospel thrown in. Easy on the ears with songs about relationships, & some social commentary. Amazing harmonies, ethereal then earthy. 

Which is also true of Laura Mvula’s The Dreaming Room (Special Edition). Part Kate Bush, Enya mixed with Beyonce sass: emotionally inviting, sweet and comforting – excellent production – though I find the vocal a little too buried in the mix – you have to listen harder 🙂 I found Mvula thanks to a Capturing Fire poet raving about this album.

Ibibio Sound Machine combines1980s afrobeat and 90s drum-and-bass into a fresh 2018 world music sound. I have their 1st self title release and Uyai. The horns remind me of Osibisa & also Aster Aweke. The music bubbles with rubbery electronica, Singer Eno Williams is sweet and emotional when needed. I read a rave review in Entrainment Weekly & downloaded the lps & am happy I did.

The Polishing of the Magi

The Armature Theatre Guild has been forced to cancel this year’s presentation of “The Polishing of the Magi” – I understand this will come as a disappointment to many of you – especially those of you whose children had been fortunate enough to be chosen to play the parts of the shepherds, lambs, sacrifices, dervishes and of course, the ultra blessed couple themselves.

Rehearsals had been going better than ever, according to Hank Grebly. It was the first time someone other than a member of the McGinch clan had been given the opportunity to direct the production and Hank was making the most of this opportunity.

But alas, as things often do, it all went to the apple press in a hand cart when it was clear that the McGinch’s weren’t willing to allow things to progress smoothly. Not that this comes as much of a surprise either, mind you. We all pay for our indulgence of this family and its anti-social actions.

But not to give up all hope, as it seems Hank and some of the cast will be presenting a childless, clown version of the same story. It may not have the same impact, but the show must go on. We will be spared the often bitter competition over whose baby gets to play the pivotal role of the fulcrum of all religions. That alone almost makes up for not having a full scale production, doesn’t it?

On a lighter note the Visitor’s Mall will be hosting their annual Midnight Madness sale, for those us who have time and need for yet more shopping. As the Mall says ‘Shopping is in the true spirit of the season, and if we don’t spend, we just aren’t pious.’

I pray their prayers are answered.

Please note that the Left-Handicraft Fair slated for the Pumpkin County Area has been cancelled. It was to be a fund raiser for the production of the “Polishing of the Magi” & seeing as that has been cancelled, there seemed little reason to have the craft fair.

Those who had planned to pick up some of Sylvia’s Jams and Moose Tarts can find a display of them at Bea Petratica’s Bridalle Shoppe and at Meg’s Cafe. Get there early as these delicious treats don’t last long.

Sylvia has introduced two new jams this year that I, for one, can’t wait to try. The Orange & Maple Ashes with Nutmage and Quince with Ginger & Bark. I have no idea what bark she has used,  but I’m sure it will be a savoury delight to perk up those you who are disappointed by the cancellation of the “Polishing of the Magi.

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January 10, Thursday: 8 p.m. Hot Damn! Its’ a Queer Slam – Buddies in Bad Times Theatre: feature Regie Cabico

http://www.queerslam.com

returning every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2018’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Marvellous? Mahler

I have a box set of Gustav Mahler’s The Symphonies on 12 cds that I received as a Christmas present in 2007. After several listenings I remain indifferent to the sweep of his music. His life deserves a ten part bio-series though. After the Ken Russel’s over-the-top Mahler no one has been brave enough to take a serious look.

As a composer he falls between Beethoven and Schoenberg. The symphonies are sometimes tone poems and other time monumental complex pieces that include choirs, soloists & ponderous emotional intent. He also composed sets of lieder that are equally as ponderous. I have a recording of them as well.

The fact that I don’t really get Mahler, say the way I love Beethoven or Shostakovich, is a sign that my musical tastes aren’t sensitive enough. Much like Wagner I find listening to them more a ‘duty’ that a pleasure. I’ve been drawn into conversations about composers & have been made to feel that my partialities are a sign of a lack of intellect. Such is life. I’d rather be common that elite – which isn’t to forget that liking classical music already implies a certain elitism.

What else did he write? Good question. He incorporated some of his early work into his symphonies and then those original manuscripts are ‘lost.’ There is a partial paint quartet, the handful of lieder & that’s it. Maybe, like some Mozart, Bach & Vivaldi, those lost manuscripts will be discovered as kitchen shelf paper.

If you are unfamiliar with Mahler a good start is Symphony #B: “Symphony of a Thousand” that features baritones, sopranos etc plus a choir or two. Pump up the volume & left it pummel you 🙂

The Grinding

Festive readers, I am pleased to bring you a wrap up of the week-end’s events.  The highlight of which has to be the annual Lighting of the Trees. Held in several locations in the hills about Crab Apple Corners the horizon is illuminated by the first official rite of the season.

I choose to attend the ceremony at Hijil’s Farm – they had obtained two of the remaining stand of ancient red wood sycamores and had them flown in for the occasion. Trees so large they needed two helicopters to carry each of them.

The first flame was applied to them by our local Miss Pig Driver, Tanis-Lotus Flatly. The trees did us the great honour of being slow to ignite, but once they had been engulfed in flames the look of joy in the faces of the children was worth the wait.

Once these two trees were in flames, burning torches were taken to the sites where other trees were ready for the ceremony. The Great Maple at McCracken’s of Daw Hill was the next to be torched and quickly one could see similar fires all across the country side. Hijil’s Farm perched atop Green Bluffs gave us a splendid view of the various tributes to the season.

Once the first two trees had been burnt to cinders our parish Vicar Father Frank did The Grinding and was quickly joined by the other men who were of age, to participate in this ritual.

I was thrilled to be offered by my one and only Hank Grebly the fruits of his grinding. A jar filled with these delicate ashes and moose fat can sit proudly on any mantle piece. There will be enough here to guarantee me a year of fertility and good weather. After all, it only takes a pinch a day, tossed into the wind to catch the eye of the spirits for protection.

The carolling at St. Sufferer’s Cathedral was once again a thrill, especially now that the bells have almost been tuned. The climax of each verse is a ringing of these bells that echoes though our happy valley and shimmers through the fragrant smoke produced by the Lighting of the Trees.

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January 10, Thursday: 8 p.m. Hot Damn! Its’ a Queer Slam – Buddies in Bad Times Theatre: feature Regie Cabico

http://www.queerslam.com

returning every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Ian and Sylvia

I have more Ian & Sylvia than one might expect. I am a big fan of two of their mid-period recordings: Nashville and Full Circle but am sort of indifferent to their other work. There was a moment when they were to be Canada’s Sonny & Cher but Ian Tyson & Sylvia Fricker were musicians first & never became pop personalities.

They started as a sweet tradition folk duo on albums such as Four Strong Winds 64; Early Morning Rain 65. These consist of songs like Nancy Whisky, The Greenwood Sidie – given good but standard performances elevated by their harmonies. Their success inspired many folk groups in Cape Breton. On Lovin’ Sound 67 – they step into a slightly more pop sound & some original material – even some Dylan covers. They were stepping out of the narrow folk scene.

On Nashville 67 & Full Circle 68 they come into their own as writers & vocalists. I can hear some of these songs without having to listen to them 🙂 Ian’s voice is vulnerable, passionate and emotional on songs like Ballad of the Ugly Man, The Renegade, I Learned From Leah. Sylvia is amazing on Women’s World, London Life.

 

These two albums, to me, are underrated & forgotten masterpieces. The harmonies are sometimes slightly off-kilter in the best way. The work is labelled country-rock ,like the Byrds Sweetheart of the Rodeo, but they are not as slick, smooth or commercial. If you aren’t familiar with them, Four Strong Winds is a good intro to their early traditional work. Nashville is stunning. Full Circle is nearly as good & so either of them are worth hearing & owning.

The Blessing of Presents

The other event on the week-end that I had the great pleasure in attending was the Blessing of Presents at St. Sufferer’s Cathedral. That Blessing combined with the Lighting of the Trees is a sure sign that the festive season has broken loose upon us full force.

The most reverend Vicar Father Frank started the sacrament with a sermon on the Exulting Power of Wrap – he explained how the wrap of the gift is often more important than the gift it self, and that no matter how lowly a gift may be, it can be elevated by the wrapping.

There’s a lesson I wish I could bring into my own life – on those days when I, yes even I, your willing reporter, feels like the proverbial bed of broken pigs, she finds it hard to even raise her head from the pillow let alone wrap herself in a joyful raiment that would disguise the inner emotionlessness and despair she feels.

The Vicar went on to say that we shouldn’t allow the wrap to keep us from the gift, and that he finds many are so enamoured of that wrap they never get to the true treasure inside. He sort of lost me there, but that didn’t diminish my pleasure at the vast array of beautiful gifts that were brought up, one at a time to receive the sacramental dash of pine needles and moose ashes.

Like the gifts brought on that first Noel, we were brought into the constant and endless circle of presents that was started on that wondrous night.

The ribbon of history reached out and twined its tinselled ends around the hearts & necks of each us, as the children’s stuttering choir of St. Sufferer’s sang several holiday favourites. “Oh Burning Tree,” “The Ribbon and the Manger,”  “The Tinsel and the Camel” – to name just a few.

After the ceremony I was privileged to take a ride through the snowy wood with Hank Grebly in the parade of midnight runners. Skiers, families in sleds and even some on elephants were seen tracking through the wooded glens around our small town. Lanterns aloft and bearing gifts for neighbours. The true savour of the season was felt.

By the time I returned home I was too exhausted to even remove my boots (thanks Hank) and slept as soundly as I have ever slept. Disjointed dreams of a clown’s childhood danced through my head till I woke in the morning. The windows were covered in reddish swirls of frost and the fresh jar of ashes on my mantle sweetened my dreams.

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January 10, Thursday: 8 p.m. Hot Damn! Its’ a Queer Slam – Buddies in Bad Times Theatre: feature Regie Cabico

http://www.queerslam.com

returning every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet

 

Janis Ian

I have a fairly extensive Janis Ian collection as mp3’s one includes the early work: Society’s Child; A Song For All the Seasons of Your Mind; The Secret Life of J. Eddy Fink; Who Really Cares? The other includes her later works: Stars; Between The Lines; Aftertones; Night Rains. After her initial hit ‘Society’s Child’ written when she was 14! She disappeared to resurface decades later with the stunning Stars. 

Why did she fade so abruptly? Part of the answer comes from Wikipedia: “At the age of 16, Ian met comedian Bill Cosby backstage at a Smothers Brothers show where she was promoting Society’s Child. Since she was underage, she was accompanied by a chaperone while touring. After her set, Ian had been sleeping with her head on her chaperone’s lap (an older female family friend). According to Ian in a 2015 interview, she was told by her then manager that Cosby had interpreted their interaction as “lesbian” and as a result “had made it his business” to warn other television shows that Ian wasn’t “suitable family entertainment” and “shouldn’t be on television” because of her sexuality, thus attempting to blacklist her.” 

Re-read that & let it sink in. This story sums up the plight of many female singer/songwriters who did not roll over and play fem.

Her early work is at times folksy, at times jazzy but she never stepped into the traditional pop female mold. Her writing covered social issues, romantic ups & downs & self-discovery. J. Eddy Fink is an amazing album with expansive jazz arrangements & tender romantic observations. It didn’t fit the commercial categories like Laura Nyro; nor the hippy category like Joni Mitchell.


She changed labels for her return with Stars. These later albums are more deeply emotional, some social commentary & sweet unfulfilled romantic longing. They music is more what I call chamber pop – elegant with jazz & semi-classical touches. Sweet harmonies & understated performances. In fact some of it is a little depressing. On Night Rains she works with, of all people, Giorgio Moroder! 

Ian is a survivor who came out, got married, started her own record label for full creative control. She may have been slowed down by that ‘blacklist’ but remains an amazing writer. If you are unfamiliar I’d recommend The Secret Life of J. Eddy Fink as good starting point. Aftertones is emotionally discomforting – though any of these are excellent lps.

The Wings Of St. Martinia

Last night Hank Grebly did me the great honour & pleasure of taking me to the Maple Valley Rialto Cinema – it is a shame that this fine building is now only opened on weekends for our film going pleasures.

I can remember a time when it would be busy seven days a week, offering us the finest in Hollywood films and fresh roasted peaches or tasty caramel bark corn.

Every time I enter the Rialto I am taken back to a distant era – the mirror balls in the ceiling reflect the many spot lights around the floor. The zig-zag carpeting & lame seat coverings make me long for simpler times.

The film Hank took me to was “The Wings Of St. Martinia.” Many of you are familiar with the local tales of St. Martinia & the font at St. Sufferer’s. Those are her blood spattered wings holding the baptismal tub in the centre of the nave. Not her actual wings, but representations. Not many angels would have had five sets of wings.

Like the Rialto this film is also a relic of another time. Recently discovered in the vaults at College of Arts and Reconstructionist Designers, we were first treated to a lecture by Rudgar Quartz, the Professor of Cinema Studies there, who gave the history of both the film, St, Martinia and the Rialto itself. A very educational evening, leavened by the delightful film itself.

The story is a simple one of suffering and repentance through suffering. Martinia, born out of wed-lock to the daughter of silver smith and troupe of travelling carnival workers, had to face the disgrace of her family and neighbours all through her life.

She saved her fellow orphans from the rain of comets in 1879 by waking each and every child, and leading them to safety. Sadly she wasn’t able to get back to rescue any of her teachers. She comforted the children, as they heard the screams of the staff, who had been trapped in locked rooms in the upper quarters of the orphanage.

In leading the children through the swamps to safety she also rescued Button, a Labrador retriever and her recent litter of puppies. This is why the suckling Labrador retriever has become the representation for St Martinia. When they say, she of the many teats, they are referring to Button and not to St Martinia.

A fact that I was not aware of either.

The movie follows her travails in the garment trade, being abducted by pirates and finally her mission to Mongolia where she single handedly brought the word of good to those unhappy and dirty mountain people. Her attempts to show them the joys of washing brought tears of joy to my eyes.

If you have a chance to, get in to see this delightful movie. Tell them Dolly sent you, and you may get an extra dash of moose mustard on your red hots. 

https://wp.me/P1RtxU-2f6

http://www.queerslam.com

returning every Tuesday 2019


June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

August 2-13: getting back to my roots in Cape Breton 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

Like my pictures? I post lots on Tumblr

https://www.tumblr.com/blog/topoet