Tuesday, August 19, 2014


I have a little secret. I've got a little bit of twang to me. I really don't know where it came from. My mother listened to the likes of Nana Mouskouri and Boney M. We had 8-tracks and records, which were played from a large stereo cabinet that looked something like this...
Not mine, but not far off of our super 70's stereo

Now that was a fine piece of electronica, let me tell you. It had an am/fm stereo, record player and an 8-track slot on it, plus the obligatory red velvet curtains on the side panels. Bring on the 'Night Flight to Venus'! Hooey, we knew how to throw one down.

Yes, well...

Jump forward a few years and my musical tastes expanded some. I was introduced to punk, alternative, pop, rock, and funny enough, a whole lot of folk music via some musician friends. I had a real eclectic taste, that was for sure. I was just as happy to listen to Depeche Mode or Skinny Puppy, as I was to groove to Gordon Lightfoot or Stompin Tom. I know. I know. Neophyte.

Nathan Rogers at this year's Home County
But out of all those musical stylings, the folky blues stuck. I still flip on the radio to whatever pleases the kids or myself in that moment (plenty of CBC 2 in the afternoons and evenings), but a good old dose of folk music makes me smile. In fact, I don't think I've missed the Home County Folk Festival in years. And I am pretty sure I have made folk fans of my kids too, as they always insist on going and staying as long as possible (dragged them away from Whitehorse at 10:30 pm this year).

I believe it was at a past year's Home County that I ended up on Rock Ridge Music's mailing list. They had me in a good mood and I would have signed up for anything on that day. In retrospect, it was a good thing though, as now they send me artist spotlights all the time. I have discovered 'Dwight & Nicole' and Levi Weaver, both of which are fabulous bands/musicians.

This week they sent me a teaser for someone new though. And I need to hear more.

Christian Lopez Band
On first listen Blaster Records snapped up this talented musician. It was a no-brainer and they have formed a great union since their initial meeting. That despite the fact that the front man for the band is a mere 19-years-old. Don't let his age fool you though. Christian Lopez is an old hand as far as making music goes. He began playing piano at age 5, and guitar by the time he was 9. Writing songs was a natural extension that came along in his teens.

Now the West Virginia native's dreams are coming true in the form of his first EP Pilot set to be released in October 2014. Not too shabby for someone who has played pre-shows for the likes of Zac Brown and The Dave Matthews Band. Intrigued yet? If it seems like a long time to wait for the EP, there is always live music to fill the gap. The band is touring the US this fall.

8/20 – Cumberland, MD / Downtown Cumberland Concert Series
8/21 – Floyd, VA / Dogtown Roadhouse
8/23 – Nashville, TN / Antique Archaeology
8/23 – Franklin, TN / Grey’s On Main (evening show)
8/29 – Charlotte, NC / PNC Music Pavilion
9/3 – New York, NY / Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3
9/12 – New Hope, PA / Triumph Brewery
9/13 – Winchester, VA / Bright Box Theater
9/18 – 9/20 – Dewey Beach, DE / Dewey Beach Music Festival
9/27 – Blacksburg, VA / Sycamore Deli (w/Deer Run Drifters)
10/4 – Thomas, WV / The Purple Fiddle
10/10 – Clear Springs, MD / Knob Hall Winery
10/11 – Bethesda, MD / Taste of Bethesda Festival
10/17 – Bedford, VA / Bedford Library Concert Series
10/18 – Shepherdstown, WV / Shepherdstown Opera House
10/25 – Centreville, VA / Cox Farms Fall Fest

It's one thing to rave over the music and pump up a band, but I know you just want to hear it for yourself, right. We have to wait I'm afraid, as the full EP will only be released later this week for streaming or download. The teaser I got was just a single song, which was enough to let me know that I definitely wanted to hear more.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Organizing with Mason Jars

Look what I found on Pinterest; a neat organization item made from mason jars...

Cool right? It looked simple enough, so I thought "What the hey?!"

And decided to try it myself. Any good crafty house has got a bit of glitter paint, mason jars and bits for knobs, right?

This one does!

I've already started my canning this year (made sweet pickles yesterday and have relish in the making as we speak), but wide-mouth jars aren't used very often, making them scarce. Two were all I needed for this craft though and polished tiger's eye stones were my accompaniment for knobs.

One for q-tips and bandaids in the other. What do you think? Pass or Fail?

     Take that Pinterest!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

too hot

flames lick 
hot thoughts prick
mud sticks

fire scores
no rest no more
smiles a chore
by its light

purge me
erase misery
a peace plea
burn bright

Friday, June 20, 2014

Medicine Walk

Medicine Walk, by Richard Wagamese, © 2014, McClelland & Stewart

Should I start by saying this book wrecked me? That I bawled through the last twenty pages, apparently having stopped at exactly the right spot last night. Normally I can't put a book down with that few pages to go, but something told me that I couldn't continue last night. So at lunch today fat tears dropped into my soup and scattered across the pages, as a mound of kleenexes piled up.

Not that this book was... what? Chick-lit? Thriller? Romance? It was none of those things. It was literature, and good quality prose at that.

All the way along I felt like this was a book that a man's man would appreciate. The main character is 16-year-old Frank, raised by "the old man". He taught him to fish, hunt, recognize tracks, survive in the bush, and most importantly, the value of hard work. His father on the other hand slips in and out of Frank's life on rare occasion, and those moments are always punctuated by drink. He is a virtual stranger and a miserable, non-communicative one even when he does make rare appearance. The old man serves as the only kin that young Frank has, but that doesn't prevent his thoughts from straying to blood ties.

When the book opens, Frank has been summoned by his father to town. Eldon is sick and dying, his abused liver finally at the point of shutting down. He has a last request for his estranged son - to take him into the woods to bury him in the warrior way. This despite the fact that Eldon has never taken much stock in his native roots. Frank struggles with the request, but ultimately agrees to the task, if only to see if some of the questions that have dogged him his whole life might be answered. What they discover along the way is a broken life lived.

This quiet book looks at life, hope, fear, love and the struggles that are encountered along the way. Wagamese's prose is fuelled by the knowledge that as much as we need to listen to hear life's stories, sometimes those stories need to be told too. Whether we think we have the strength to tell them or not.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night

Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night, by Barbara J. Taylor, © 2014, Akashic Books

This debut novel from Barbara J Taylor opens in grief. Young Daisy's life has been extinguished too soon in a freak sparkler accident in her backyard. Her sister Violet is witness to the accident and many whisper that perhaps the incident was in fact her fault. Their mother Grace is thrown into heavy mourning and their father Owen quickly finds solace at the bottom of a bottle. It looks to be a sad tale that just might not find its way back out.

The story may have a sad premise, but Taylor convinces the reader to join her in the tale, as we watch bewildered Violet try to find a space in her new world. Her mother is lost in grief and her father abandons the family to move into a gin mill in town, where the firewater that numbs his reality is readily available. It seems no one cares about poor Violet, until "stinky" Stanley befriends her. The two form a quick friendship fuelled by both of their outcast statuses; Stanley's mother is dead and his father another disgruntled miner working long hours. Where no one else seems to care about them, the children find hope and life in each other.

The world of the anthracite coal mines is harsh and filled with constant threat of tragedy in this turn-of-the century novel. As each bell rings out an accident, both fear and hope are flamed. Will a new tragedy bring Violet's torn family back together once more? The mine that employs the bulk of the men in town, also takes as many away. It is a reality that touches everyone in town, where Violet's father Owen works, and eventually Stanley finds himself as well. The only thing that brings comfort is the heavy presence of the church, even with its share of meddling church ladies and their caustic tongues. In Grace's case though, it would seem that grief is even more powerful than God's good graces. Owen prayers died on his tongue with his daughter too.

So what will it take to reunite a family torn apart by grief? You will soon find out in this quick read.

Thanks to Akashic Books for sending me an Advance Reading Copy to review!


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