'The roasting, the feasting and the hours of horseplay helped to create a special warmth on this cold, hard day. Then the fire was stoked and fed to make a warm place where there could be dancing until darkfall. Martin was very drunk. Rebecca danced alone, wide skirts swirling, hair flowing as the accordion wheezed out its jig, and feet stamped on the stone flags at the edge of the field, where the pit had been dug.'

Robert Holdstock's Merlin's Wood

6th of February, 2005

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Reynard, the afternoon barkeep here at the Green Man Pub, speaking. It won't surprise you to know that music discussions here can be rather interesting to listen in on. The ale here, particularly the Dragons Breath XXX Stout and the Ryhope Wood Hard Cider, both of which are brewed on the premises by Bjorn, our Brewmaster par excellence, has been known to encourage even the most quiet of staffers to freely express their opinions! Now have a listen while I make another Irish coffee for Jack who's having a conversation with John Benninghouse about their experiences at seeing Jethro Tull live...

Just take what happened when Jack asked SPike what he thought of a certain group: 'The Stones? The #$%^in' Stones? Wot do I think of the Stones? 'Aven't you read my comments on the Stones, famously printed for all to see on the wall of a garage near Croydon? The Stones were the first great punk band but then it all went to their preening self-adorin' lead singer's head, and they spent the next couple of generations turnin' into a mere shadow of their former selves. Sure, once in a while they stumble upon a memorable riff, and always, yas always Mister Charles Watts is #$%^in' top of the #$%^in' heap wif rhythm keepin'. An' King of the electric guitar Keef is all right...an' Ronnie is...well, lemme tellya...I saw Ronnie wif the Faces one night an' I'm still laffin' from the good time it wuz...but the Stones...as long as I have Dave's pristine copy of the first album to listen to that's about all the Stones I need.' Now I won't disagree altogether with SPike as I think their first decade as a band is all one needs to hear!

Then there was Vonnie who once held forth on what her ideal Boiled in Lead gig would be like: 'Out in a field somewhere, beside a lake. Weekend campout. BiL plays between sets by the Oyster Band, Alux Nahual, Robin and Linda Thompson, Richard Thompson, Rare Air, June Tabor, Stan Rogers -- so what if he's dead? I'm dreaming, here -- Heartbeat Rhythm Quartet, Iain MacIntosh, and Steve Tilston and Maggie Boyle. In between dancing to the music, I retire to the very clean, although communal hot tub. While there, the man of my dreams -- and maybe a few of the women, also -- feed me sushi. Oh, and while I'm dreaming -- no ticks, infectious diseases, and clean, gently-lit bathrooms that never run out of toilet paper. Hah! Top that!'

And I nearly fell down laughing the time that Will Shetterly was asked by our Editor who was performing on the War for the Oaks trailer: 'Oh, man. Let's see. The two big songs at the beginning and end of the video are by Cats Laughing, but only 'Here We Go Again' is from the book; we just liked 'Nottamun Town', so we used it. Can't now remember who did the opening instrumental; I think it's the Flash Girls' John Sjogren who sings a piece of a trad tune to the sleeping Eddi, the name of which I really should remember, and which Emma would remember for me if she wasn't in Minnesota. Marz & Menton are the duo in the party scene.'

Larry Kirwan of Black 47 fame dropped by the Pub recently to tell us his best music picks for the past year: 'The Poet and the Piper by Seamus Heaney and Liam Og O'Flynn just blows me away. Tinariwen from Mali -- Anassakoul -- is wonderful. Birth of the Cool by Miles Davis sounds, well, cool. Eggman on the Deuce by Chill Faction breaks my heart. Then again, I was a member of that quintet back in the mid 80s. Our guitarist, Mike Fazio, remastered our old tapes and we sound as whatever as we did back in those speedy, alcoholic daze days.'

We decided to do all CD reviews this outing, and SPike's here to do the honours! I'll be off in the Snug on break having a pie and a decent pint if you have any questions...

SPike 'here. Wot the @#$%! Jus' because I make a simple comment about dark songs on the jukebox, an' suggest an obscure tune by a Broadway actor's son as anuver example… ev'rybody starts talkin' about wot strange taste SPike [that's moi] 'as in music! Well…I'm not the only one around 'ere that's guilty of THAT, I'll tell ya! An' small @#$%in' wonder our tastes expand, look at the stuff we're reviewin' today!

Huw Collingbourne starts fings off wif a review of Never Mind the Bocs self-titled album. I wuz gettin' all excited as I first thought it wuz 'Never Mind the Bollocks' BUT turns out it's 'squeezebox' music! From Wales. Well...I spent some recovery time in Wales...so it can't all be bad. An' pretty much that's wot Huw says...it's not all bad. 'This is an uneven collection which includes some beautifully performed and produced tracks along with others which are really very ordinary indeed. Personally I would like to hear this group concentrate more on a traditional, melodic repertoire which is where, I think, their real strengths lie.'

David Kidney, office mate and blues aficionado, spent all week playin' Gene Autry music! Wot is THAT!?! A two-disc set called The Essential Gene Autry kept 'im goin'. He says, Gene Autry! One of my all-time heroes. No kidding! I was a huge Gene Autry fan when I was a kid. Of course, if they wore boots, and a 10-gallon hat, I was a fan. And Gene's hat was maybe 12 gallons! It was a beaut! It didn't hurt that he played the guitar and sang. He was so easy-going, and generally able to solve problems peaceably, and he always got the girl. And he sang these great songs. Songs about cowboys, and about the west, the wide open spaces, and authentic American folk songs too. There was an authenticity about Gene Autry. I approached this collection of his musical career with a little trepidation. Would memory be overcome by the stark reality of truth?' David, me li'l buckaroo, sometimes methinks you take yerself a li'l too seriously!

David also listened to a couple of albums from older English blokes wif blues chops. Pete Brown, wrote songs for Cream, Jess Roden wuz a hidden talent, well known in the homeland...not so much over 'ere! Brown's LIVE CD is loud and bloozy, 'It's all very sixties in its orientation, but I have to say...it does kind of get to you. If you crank it up LOUD, it's a thrill to hear 'White Room' and 'Theme From An Imaginary Western.' Brings back the good old days, and what's wrong with that?' Roden's Live at the Robin has '...a strong blues influence too. They cover Willie Dixon's 'I Live the Life I Love' and Buddy Guy's 'Let Me Love You Baby.' A version of Joe Tex's 'You'd Better Believe It' adds some soul to the mix. Another good album to turn up the volume on, and sit back with a Boddington's.'

The blues is David's baby. He loves that @#$%in' stuff. DuhDuh-da-Duh (bombom-bombom) DuhDuh-da-Duh (bombom-bombom). He sits in 'is office playin' slide on 'is ole National Steel Guitar, moanin' away like 'e's in 'is own li'l world...an' when 'e's not doin' that...'e's listening to it on the CD player. This week it wuz three new albums by Rory Block, Carlos del Junco and Eddie Turner. Dave says this...'Rory Block is the odd man out in this group, since she's a woman. She also plays a more traditional blues, 12-bar, acoustic guitar, stripped down and potet. Eddie Turner is taking the electric guitar into places forecast by Jimi Hendrix, and putting a new spin on the basics. Carlos del Junco sits somewhere in between, an electric bluesman, a harp player (the guitar player here is Kevin Breit) who loves that big hollow sound of the great Chicago players...but tuned with sonic brilliance. It's hard to pick a favourite.' He did like 'em, though. Read the whole review!

Then Peter Massey wuz playin' Pain d'Epices new CD, De Travers, ain't that spiced bread or somethin'? Peter says, 'Pain d'Epices, if you had not already guessed are a five piece band from France. The members are Q. Allermand on percussion, bugle, melodica and chant (vocals), T. Canton on violin, mandolin, tin whistle, and chant, D. Pourrat on alto and soprano saxophones, and chant, V. Sachello on fretless bass, hautbois catalan, clarionette and chant, and J. Tribuiani on cistre, flute and chant. Unfortunately, I can't speak French and size of the font used for the sleeve notes, which are also in French, is so small, that even using a magnifying glass, translation was impossible. Therefore I can only report on the music I can hear.' To find out how Peter liked the music…read 'is review!

John O'Regan is anuver one of GMR's resident experts! This week he listened to a couple of different CDs. Joe Giltrap's Distant Memories and Amy White's Golden Wing are compared and contrasted. O'Regan says, On the surface, Irish singer and songwriter Joe Giltrap and US based Amy White are two unrelated talents. But they are both accomplished instrumentalists, with Giltrap playing guitar, mandolin, 5 string banjo and bodhran, and Amy White playing guitar and mandolin. Both possess expressive voices. Where they cross is how they use traditional and folk music as starting points for their contemporary songwriting efforts and how they combine both stylistic idioms so successfully on their latest recordings.' For 'is conclusions read the whole thing! O'Regan also omnifies three uvver CDs -- Glengarry Bhoys' Mountain Road, Crookshank's self-titled CD an' Cold Blow These Winter Lands, an anthology. He says, 'This omnibus, while detailing Celtic releases of an ensemble nature, finds three releases with their own individual approach, style and sound. The result is a mix of solid Celtic rock, experimental Celtic and medieval cum renaissance strains, and a novel approach to that most fettered and difficult of endeavours: the Celtic Christmas album.' Does that mean there's egg nog in the buildin'?

Lenora Rose offers her review of the Ivory Consort's Music From the Land of Three Faiths. Lenora begins wif a short history lesson, 'In 711 AD, Spain was conquered by the Muslims, who managed to make of it one of the few places in which the three religious sects of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism lived together in tolerance and respect - by medieval standards at least. Some medieval scholars consider 'Moorish' Spain one of the Golden ages of an otherwise intolerant and violent era. This is debatable, but it's indisputable that they left a particularly rich musical heritage.' Then she looks at the music. See f'y'self wot she says!

Pat Simmonds slides in wif a review of Brid Ni Mhaoileoin's Ar Mhuin na Muice. Go on...say that fast three times! 'This type of album is a brave move for any singer and it is testament to Bríd Ní Mhaoileoin that she pulls it off with aplomb, due in no small part to her appreciation and love of things Gaelic and the help of a very talented family of brothers and sisters with a great bunch of friends.' See wot else Pat says about it!

Robert M. Tilendis is the resident lover of esoteric music here at GMR. First off, he looks at the Christian Jormin 3's CD Sol Salutis: 'The Christian Jormin 3 is a jazz trio based in Sweden, comprised of Christian Jormin, piano and percussion; Mattias Gröroos, bass; and Magnus Boqvist, drums. Sol Salutis is, indeed, jazz, and sometimes subject to that cold intellectualism that I often find off-putting. This particular collection, however, has many redeeming qualities.' Bob'll tell you all about them in his review!

An' even more eso-#$%^in-teric is Anders Hagberg's and Johannes Landgren's recordin': 'Of Air is in many ways a refreshing album. Although it falls largely within the new age/world music rubric, it is a tighter, more thoughtful performance than is often the case in that genre… Hagberg and Landgren manage throughout to keep the music from falling over that edge that so plagues this genre and that leads only to cliché, and offer some stunning moments.' An I 'ave strange taste!?!? (Jack 'ere. Yes, he does. How strange even I don't really care to know.)

Gary Whitehouse raves about The Sadies' Favourite Colours CD: 'The Sadies may be the best Canadian band you've never heard of. Fronted by brothers Dallas and Travis Good, this band, over the course of five full-length CDs, has staked out a unique territory that covers country, rock, Sixties-style country-rock and whammy-bar-laden surf rock... Favourite Colours is a fascinating record from start to finish.'

But…there are lotsa #$%^in' GREAT Canadian bands you've never heard of…an' I've HEARD of the Sadies…so wot duzzat mean? Let's move on…Gary also wuz diggin' a couple other CDs. Frog Holler's The High Highs & the Low Low an' Lewi Longmire's If I Live to be 100: 'Over four albums since 1998, this ensemble [Frog Holler] from rural Berks County, Pennsylvania, has been honing its sound and its songwriting, and building a critical following and loyal fan base. Following the high mark of 2003's Railings, the band recorded some unreleased originals and updated a few from their hard-to-find 1998 debut, Couldn't Get Along. With High Highs they've completed the transition from Uncle Tupelo clones to a band with its own sound…' an' about Lewi Longmire Gary says, In his debut album, If I Live to be 100, [Longmire] shows himself to be an accomplished singer-songwriter and frontman as well. In 10 self-penned tracks, he covers a range of styles, from near-bluegrass to country soul to greasy blues, with excursions into mostly acoustic country-folk as well. Best of all is his voice, a clean and clear high baritone that combines the finesse of a James Taylor with the warmth of a Ray Wylie Hubbard.' An' that can't be bad right!?!?

Gary continues wif a listen to wot he calls 'the first best party record of 2005!' The Bluerunners of Louisiana have an album of crazy cajun/zydeco music. Gary likes it! 'The Bluerunners started as a punk-influenced Cajun/zydeco band in the late 1980s. With Honey Slides their fourth full-length release, they deliver on the promise of their beginnings with a set that is mature in its vision but still energetic in execution.' Then (duz this guy 'ave no life uvver than reviewin' music?) our protean reviewer looks at a collection of music called The Rose & The Briar: 'It's all American ballads, 'and a strange and wondrous thing it is. The CD accompanies a hefty book of essays, articles, letters and even a classic comic strip about the American ballad, edited by Sean Wilentz and Greil Marcus. 'Death, Love and Liberty in the American Ballad,' is the sub-title; 'Doomed lovers, highway shooters, a nation lost and found' is ... well, something else, the sub-sub-title I guess.' An' the music? Well...'Great songs, every single one, although I'm not crazy about a couple of renditions. But it's more of an academic exercise than a listening experience; otherwise, the presence of such disparate elements as 'Dead Man's Curve,' 'Come Sunday,' and 'Nebraska' in one package makes little sense. Let's just say this isn't a comp CD you'd put together yourself to give to your girl- or boyfriend, unless you're a musicologist.' Wait jus' a minute...WE ARE MUSICOLOGISTS GARY!!! (SPike? A musicologist?!? Now there's a scary thought indeed!)

Especially young Master Whitehouse...who STILL 'as more reviews! A couple of CDs by Muleskinner Jones...Death Row Hoedown and Terrible Stories. 'Muleskinner Jones is the English answer to the Handsome Family, crossed with the off-kilter cowpunk of the Meat Puppets, say, or perhaps Butthole Surfers. It's a hole in the current musical scene that was just begging to be filled, and MJ does so with gusto.' Knowin' that...wot's keepin' you from readin' the review? An' then, of course, there's the review of long-time rock band NRBQ. 'Dummy is good honest rock 'n' roll, stripped down to its essentials, by a veteran, road-tested band. They make it sound easy, but in reality, a lot of bands should be so lucky to sound this good on their best day.' Sounds right by me!

In 'is spare time, Gary Whitehouse listens to music, an' reviews it. He's not done just yet! He's gettin' us ready f'r Valentine's Day! Three CDs by Roy Orbison, Merle Haggard an' Marty Robbins...all titled Love Songs. Now, when Spike wuz a lad...I 'ad it all planned out to call my first solo record...Love Songs...and other delights. It never 'appened. Maybe someday. But 'ere we go wif 3 blokes who got make call a record Love Songs. Gary says Roy's is '...a pretty good collection, but probably not essential.' About Marty's 'e says, '...there's some nice music here, romantic but only rarely...crossing the line to schmaltzy. An' about Mr. Haggard's collection? Well...read it f'r y'rself! An' then Gary's last review of the day...an' you thought it'd never come! A collection called One Song At A Time. 'The 'war on terror' has energized folksingers more than anything since the Vietnam War. Tucson, Arizona's community radio station, KXCI-FM, has compiled a CD of songs by singer-songwriters both famous and obscure who have something to say about the state of affairs in the United States and the world in the early years of the 21st Century. The 14 tracks by as many artists were recorded live, mostly in the station's studios.'

@#$% ME!!! Ya mean Gary's not done YET!!! Looka this! Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone!?! Now, who'd'a @#$%in' thunk it? Jus' when ya think you've 'eard EVERYTHING! Anyway Gary sums it up like this, '...if you're looking for an album of lush, emotional but unsentimental playing of programmatic light classical works, you won't find better than this.' But most of the fun in readin' these reviews...is findin' out jus' how they got to that conclusion...read the whole thing!

That's all the recorded music for today, an' I TOLE YA it was strange. Wot a #$%^in' spectrum! But…there's even MORE! Thassright…MORE!

Yes, Anna McGarrigle in conversation with Michael Hunter! Canadian singer-songwriter, Auntie Anna to Rufus Wainwright, well…let Michael introduce her…'The last time Kate and Anna McGarrigle (sisters, proud Quebecans and purveyors of wonderful harmonies for a few decades now) toured Australia was back in 1986. At that time, Kate's son Rufus Wainwright had not even begun his own musical career. In 2005, they are touring that part of the planet again, this time with Rufus as main act, and his sister Martha also included on the bill. Their musical paths and approach to the business have differed somewhat but the family link draws them together, in a new style of show that sees each performer in the role of both lead and support throughout the performance. This interview with Anna McGarrigle was conducted for dB Magazine, to support the Adelaide show on their Australian tour.' An' by the way, Michael…up 'ere in the great White North…it's Quebeckers' but 'at's really pickin' nits!

There you 'ave it…a full week of music reviews. See ya!

The following is a press release that we recently got here at Green Man. Now we don't normally run such creatures verbatim, but you'll see why we are doing so with this one!

Last fall , writer Neil Gaiman hosted a show for the Fox Movie Channel called '13 Nights Of Fright' and they gave him a dark scary witchy goth un-dead silent assistant to work with. Her name was Malena. Neil also had a living assistant back home. Her name was Lorraine. Little did he know , at this point, they were probably the same person. After seeing the show, Lorraine went to Malena's website and wrote her a letter telling her how much she loved the show and asked Malena if she would do a reading for her ( she's pretty magic like that ) They spoke for about three hours that night and haven't stopped since.

And that's the beginning of Lorraine a' Malena.

Says Lorraine 'We started at two different ends talking about music, me wanting to do a solo cd and her wanting to do a cd away from Los Angeles, we discovered we both sang, we both played the violin, even looked alike. We found out we loved the same music, and wanted very badly to make an album that was beautiful and scary, dark and haunting, the kind of music that looked into the darkest part of the night and found all your favorite people there dancing '

Neil will be writing a lot of the songs for us, some of his old ones will come out again from the Flash Girls and Folk UnderGround CDs. We are doing a cover of Tom Waits' 'Tango till You're Sore', and we have solo artist Lojo Russo coming along for one of the coolest versions of the Irish traditional song 'I'll Tell Me Ma' ever done. There will also be a scattering of original songs by our own lovely selves.

Claudia Gonson from the Magnetic Fields will be playing piano, Chris Ewan from the Future Bible Heroes is playing some keyboards. Robin Adnan Anders from Boiled in Lead is working his magic with drums , and Adam Stemple , from the Tim Malloys ( also writer of Singer of Souls, coming out from Tor Books in July ) is signed up as producer. Lorraine's band mates from Folk UnderGround, Paul Score and Trevor Hartman will be around for a song or two as well.

Miles Teves, artist extraodinaire, is doing the cover and booklet.

The CD, tentatively titled Mirror Mirror will be available on Magic Maiden Records, July 2005

Cat has promised that he will be interviewing both them as soon as they can take a break from their busy schedules and make it down to the Pub! We are hoping to have a sample of their music available as soon as possible. And if you haven't heard Folk Underground, do go read our review of their first CD now! The second CD, a live one, will be reviewed shortly. (Adam pipes up for the bar to add that Singer of Souls is 'a dark urban fantasy about a junkie street musician who moves to Edinburgh and gains the ability to see into the faery realm.' Cool! He promises we'll have a review copy.)


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Updated 6 February 2005, 17:30 GMT (MN)