Saturday, November 17, 2007

A Few Reviews, Comments, and Updates

As to the reviews. Three recordings that I have to tell you about. One came in this week and two others from a week or so ago. First, the brilliant new arrival this week---sort of like announcing a baby--is the the wonderful work of James Gordon and his sons. James, it may be recalled, was my guest on TRADITIONS a while back and has had (better--is having ) a wonderfully varied career. He once did weekly topical material for CBC (Canadian equivalent to NPR).

An inhabitant of Guelph, Canada, James tours, does workshops, and school programs.

Over 40 recordings under his, still slim, belt the latest one with his sons--NINE GREEN BOTTLES--has got to be one of his best. The musicianship of all of them falls into the category of great collaboration. That said, the pieces on it are topical, meaningful and touching. Pieces such as Another Silver Maple Comes Down, Levee's Broken, and others really hit a topical mark wonderfully in the best musical sense. Then there are songs like Inukshuk and Manitoulin that invoke James Gordon's (and sons) wonderful feelings of place and time. To me the topical centerpiece is the topical anthem---CASEY SHEEHAN DIDN'T DIE FOR NOTHING.

Let no one wonder where are the protest and political singers this day. They are here in the person of people like James Gordon and Sons.

Emily Kurn. A few brief words now about Emily and her wonderful new CD.

Things Change. That is the name of her newest recording. From the beautiful melodies to the wonderful lyrics I was just taken by this piece of work and asked to hear her older material. Whitebird is her other recording and is as wonderful and lyrical as the latest one.

Emily was going to be my guest on TRADITIONS but, unfortunately, scheduling in her travels precluded it. She had left NERFA--more later on that---and was on her way to Boston. She wanted to make a U turn and come down here but I discouraged that and we had a great chat on the phone which I can relay as an interview---a California resident who moved to Anchorage, Alaska a number of years ago. She is a graduate of Brandeis but is finding her life and meaning in doing music. Wonderful music it is.

For a comparison. Think of Iris DeMent's voice in a songwriter many years her junior with a whole new outlook on things. Emily Kurn.

It is hoped that in the spring she will be doing a few concerts in the NY/NJ area and will join me on TRADITIONS.

Now we come to Carey Creed .

PEACE OF WILD THINGS is the name of her new CD. A interpretation of some of the most wonderful material composed by so many people along with some wonderful traditional material. Two pieces truly stand out to me--even though it must be said that one cannot pick one over any other on this work.

Grateful is one of the two that stood out to me. Composed by John Bucchino, her interpretation of this wonderful metaphorical piece is inspiring. John Bucchino, who, among other things is Holly Near's accompanist and was my guest on TABLETALK a while ago. He now has a new musical coming to NY ---A Catered Affair.

Carey also does a wonderful version of Psalm 62:5 (Alone in God be in silence, my soul). That was played on my SUNDAY SIMCHA program.

Carey Creed is truly an artist that can interpret so many works in such musically wonderful ways. The album is PEACE OF WILD THINGS. Great for your collection---if you have one. If not---hey--start one with this.

As to updates. If you live in the NY/NJ area near Rockland County, NY you had best call The Orangeburg Library if you want to get a seat for the Dec. 16 FREE concert given by MODERN MAN that day at 2 PM. Seating is limited ---approx. 100---and 70% seats are spoken for. The Tel. number for reservations --- 845 359-2244

This Sunday's TRADITIONS will be my contribution to presenting some Thanksgiving thoughts and music for your enjoyment. In addition to our wonderful guest--SPOOK HANDY. Hopefully you will be with us. If not let me wish you all a most meaningful and happy Thanksgiving---the only holiday on our calendar that we all can celebrate without thinking of differences. Hopefully! Though, for me, hopefully, the rest of the family can stay away from the TV and some football game. Ah Joy. You may recall what Loudon Wainwright III said on the subject of Thanksgiving Dinner. I won't be playing it this Sunday---happier things should be thought of.

Earlier I noted that one of the artists above was at NERFA. Not showcased since she did not apply. Emily Kurn. Would she have been selected? I know not. So just a final thought or two on that event.

I have been at it for some 7 or 8 years and this was the first year I did not attend and have serious doubts of any future attendance. It has occurred to me, as noted much earlier, that the organization is quite insular. As many are. That is their prerogative. Recurring panelists, judges (for showcases), etc; are the norm along with---which is what I also felt strongly about---the cost for the artists and all the attendees while select people are having their expenses paid.

Shades of DC.

I do applaud them for organizing a wonderful event that creates opportunities for artists. The artists selected for showcasing, it is hoped, receive a benefit from all this. Judging, being subjective, one would hope for rotation of them.

The venue--Kutshers--frankly, is probably a good place for this event. In all honesty. It is run-down, tacky, and moldy. I mean this in the most positive way---a place where one can be informal. Something this community needs as opposed to a formal venue as, say, a Hyatt Hotel.

On a personal note---Kutshers---great for this but if you like mold--best purchase a slice of good cheese. Or---think of this---they have walkways between buildings--they could advertise on the ubiquitous signs on Rte 17---Go To The Country---BUT Never Be In It.

Oh well, since I was not there I could not get to do some "shtick" as that on the stage which I once did and seemed to have not been too well received by the "powers that be" only by some attendee a year later who asked how come I was not on the stage since it is "Da Catskills and we like "shtick"".

Sunday Simcha awaits you with some "shtick" and some wonderful artists on Traditions.

It must be said that any program has to entertain and involve the audience. Presenting new artists is, of course, wonderful and has to be encouraged. But, the bottom line, a program has to stand as an entertainment program and the host has to make the audience enjoy it and come back---and bring in others. The artists then can flourish and perform in many venues. We all have our place in the food chain. You have to decide our place.

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