Reviews

Latest free CDs available to review writers—this could be you! Contact Phyllis Jardine, if interested.

  1. LARRY HANKS and DEBORAH ROBINS, No Hiding Place, Zippety Whippet Music. Larry Hanks is a familiar face to Bay Area folkies. He and his wife and singing partner, Deborah Robins, have put out this, their first, CD of old and (to some) familiar songs. www.larryhanks.com, www.cdbaby.com/cd/hanksrobins
  2. ADAM MILLER, Bare Fingers, Folksinging.org. This is the fourth CD by Adam Miller, autoharper extraordinaire, that consists of many well-known instrumentals and old-time songs. www.folksinging.org
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  • CD REVIEWS

    Finest Kind, For Honor and For Gain
    Fallen Angle Music—Fam-09. For bookings and CD information,www.finestkind.ca/.

    No discussion of the current Canadian folk music scene, serious or otherwise, can ever take place without mention of the musical trio known as Finest Kind, aka Ian Robb, Shelly Posen, and Ann Downey. This is their latest musical offering and if you like beautifully woven harmonies, a truly diverse repertoire, and musical arrangements, traditional and otherwise, then this recording is just what the doctor ordered.

    On this recording we are treated to a Child ballad, a supernatural night-visiting song, several Copper Family gems, a traditional sea shanty, sort of, a modern shanty done in traditional style, several songs collected in Newfoundland in the 1920s, and much more besides. Their tight and grand harmonies come across in such traditional English songs as “Claudy Banks,” “By the Green Grove,” and “The Bay of Biscay,” while their wide-ranging diversity can be seen in such pieces as the Civil War-based “Tenting on the Old Camp Ground,” and such country music and old-timey pieces as “Short Life of Trouble,” “She Still Thinks I Care,” and “Why Should I Be Lonely.”

    But these folks go far beyond tradition as gleefully evidenced by their very Cajun-like rendering of the shanty, “Bully in the Alley,” and yes, that is indeed a triangle you hear in this piece. As stated in their liner notes, they love occasionally to “slap tradition upside the head” once in a while, as amply shown by their rendering of the classic chestnut they call “John Barleycorn Deconstructed.” Several songs, however, deserve special mention, and one in particular, “The Riley Boys,” composed by Bay Area activist song-writer Carol Denney, a beautifully powerful and haunting metaphor about the Iraq War. Another is the “Song of the Lower Classes,” with updated words by Ian Robb, based on a nineteenth-century poem by Earnest Jones stating the aims and beliefs of the Chartists in Britain. And then there is that modern hover shanty, “From Dover to Calais,” learned from that old sea salt, Toronto's own Howard Kaplan. One more notable song is “The Christmas Trilogy,” with its sharp commentary on the original meaning of Christmas, the impact on family life, and the excessive commercialization of the holiday season.

    Supporting musicians on this recording include James Stephens, Michael Ball, Brian Sanderson, Jody Benjamin, and Jeff MacClintock on a variety of instruments including piano, fiddle, brass of various sorts, mandolin, triangle, and viola among others. Perhaps, when you've heard “The Riley Boys” and “Tenting on The Old Camp Ground,” it will become apparent that these two songs have more in common than at first hearing; just connect the dots and you’ll understand why. This particular recording may not come off my CD player for a very long time to come, or to put it another way, this one comes very highly recommended: no brag, just fact.

    —Robert Rodriquez

    Dave Hampton, The Business of Audio Engineering.
    Hal Leonard Books, 2008

    A fair number of books have been published on subject of audio engineering. The majority of these books cover the basics of microphones and their placement, mixing consoles, speakers, amplifiers, equalizers as well as other aspects relating to the technology of audio and sound re-enforcement. This book is the first that I’ve read that covers the business of audio engineering. This book offers ideas on the following:

    and is written in a style that is not pedantic.

    In reading the book, what I noticed is that while it offered advice that was specific to the audio business, much of the content was also appropriate for anybody interested in starting any business endeavor, or, for that matter, working with others to accomplish a specific goal.

    If you are thinking about a career in audio engineering or music (or are currently pursuing a career in the music industry), I recommend this book.

    —Bob Keller