Tuesday, December 09, 2008

for your holiday gift list

It’s a time for getting together, for celebrating, for sharing and giving at this season. What better gift than music? Not expensive, easily portable, works equally well as a hostess gift, a gift for a well loved friend, and for yourself. and always a lot of fun, to give and to receive.

As you are considering your holiday shopping list, here are several ideas:

*if you know someone who loves history
Wilderness Plots: the dvd will be an excellent gift. Five top songwriters share stories and songs of how they came to write about the history of southern Indiana and the Ohio Valley. This would also am make a fine gift for the songwriters on your list

*if you or someone on your list is thinking green
read about the music of Adrienne Young and check out her three albums. Young, who comes from a farm backgorund, works to support sustainable agriculture and independent farmers and community gardens. He music is vibrant mix of folk, country, and bluegrass,, touching on the deeper sides of everyday actions.

*for those who love Ireland and Irish America
Any of Cathie Ryan’s four solo discs is a great choice -- my favorite is her most recent, The Farthest Wave. Ryan builds bridges between history and present day, legend and reality, and Ireland and America in her work. There’s more about all that here: Cathie Ryan: Irish and American

*parents and grandparents on your list
will go for the album Mother by Robin Spielberg, Cathie Ryan, and Susan McKeown. it’s varied and thoughtful collection of songs and instrumental pieces to do with motherhood and being a parent that you and they will not have heard before.

*for the Francophile and Francophone on your list
Christine Albert’s Christine Albert: Paris, Texafranceis a great pick. Albert’s family background is French and French Swiss; she’s known as an American folk and country musician. She weaves both of those together on this recording. For more the folk side of her work, check out Albert’s Christmas CD collaboration with her husband, Chris Gage, called One More Christmas

*for those who are considering questions of faith

add Carrie Newcomer’s The Geography of Light to your list. Darkness and light, laughter and prayer, and the idea that there are often more questions than answers even when working in the realm of faith inform Newcomer’s work.

*for who those like to try new things
the album Dual, from Julie Fowlis and Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh, is a good choice. The two A list singers offer music which explores connections and differences between songs in Irish and in Scots Gaelic. And no, you needn’t understand the languages to appreciate what they’re getting at. Catriona McKay’s Starfish is another musical adventure, as she combines Scottish traditional music, original compositions, the harp, and computer generated elements in her work.

*for those who are learning music, or would like to
Shannon Heaton plays flutes and whistles, but her book, Oil for the Chain, has information about learning tunes, playing in sessions, backing up lead players, and writing music, that’ll be of use to those who play many different instruments.
there’s plenty of music included, and it’s played through clearly on the CD which accompanies the book, which you can find here

Ellery Klein’s Complete Idiot's Guide to Playing the Fiddle
is another book with information that’s useful to musicians of many styles and levels. Klein, former member of the band Gaelic Storm, takes you from the basics of buying and caring for a fiddle to caring for yourself as you’re playing, to learning tunes, and offers guides to practicing. She includes plenty of music and loads of resources for learning more. The book is filled with examples and tunes to learn form Scottish, Cape Breton, Irish, and bluegrass music, and there’s a CD/dvd which comes along with the book as well.

*for those who’d like refreshing holiday music

Gretchen Peters’ Northern Lights is a fine mix of traditional contemporary and original music, catching the spirits of both solitude and connection at winter time, while Matt and Shannon Heaton’s Fine Winter's Night considers the holiday season from perspectives both Celtic and American.

Its’ a time for giving, receiving, sharing, and listening....enjoy the music.

Here’s another article you might like to see
Music Road: creative practice: new years eve

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posted by Kerry Dexter at


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