Author Jack Croxall visited Fight for Your Write today to talk about music as inspiration for his debut novel, Tethers. Go take a look!
Review (of sorts) for Lunasa with the RTE Orchestra
As a music blogger, I often get samples for review. Sometimes, the music I receive doesn’t fit the blog for which I write, and I have to sadly forego the review. In almost every case, I enjoy the music on my own time and wish I could find another outlet to let people know about the beauty I’ve absorbed. The latest album from Lunasa is one such album, but I enjoyed it so much, I had to share somewhere.
As most of you know, my husband is Irish. (Nooooo, really?) St. Patrick’s Day is something like Christmas around my house. We usually pick a city and take a roadtrip to enjoy the Irish culture in faraway places that aren’t as far away as Ireland. In the past, we’ve enjoyed New York City, Boston, Chicago, Denver, and Louisville. The Highlands of Louisville turned out to be so fun, we went back again this year. And we took Lunasa with us.
What can I say about this inspired CD? We were in the mood for traditional Irish, though Liam probably expected a rousing drinking song. What we got was far better. Opening with the lilting Casu, Lunasa captured us immediately. The harp, fiddle, uilleann pipes wove a mystical setting, and we all shut our mouths to listen. The song received the highest of praise from Liam, which was “feels like home.”
We loved the next song, Leckan Mor, just as much but for different reasons. The reel is playful, featuring the Irish flute (or penny whistle), but not at all grating. It perked us right up before slipping into another dance tune named, appropriately, Spoil the Dance.
I’ll admit we talked over the album as it played, but that was okay. When it reached the end, we let it repeat. And then again. The haunting An Buachaillin Ban stopped our conversation (and my heart) more than once, calling to mind ancient Irish hills, chilling mist, and ghosts of legend. Morning Nightcap inspired the dance and chatter again, as well as the lively Breton Set and The Minor Bee. The final song, The Merry Sisters of Fate, was so lush and full, we all had to stop and just listen again.
We had every intention of rocking U2, The Cranberries, Van Morrison, and even some Dropkick Murphys. And we did get plenty of raucous Irish fun in. But the best part—the part where we all felt truly connected to Liam’s homeland—was when we played Lunasa with the RTE Orchestra.
If you love Irish music, this is a must. In fact, check out some of their other albums from past years. I intend to listen over and over while writing book three from The Kingdom series, because the images these songs evoke are powerful. You won’t regret giving it a listen.
While I was playing around on iTunes yesterday, I found this fun little feature called Celebrity Playlists. I didn’t realize such a thing existed! It was really interesting to see the kind of music people listen to, from comedians to actors to other musicians. You can learn a lot about someone from their ultimate playlist. For fun, I thought I’d put together my own ultimate playlist. I’m not silly enough to think this is permanent. Even I know the songs could change tomorrow.
Of course, I’d be tempted to include the whole of my iTunes on my list if I could. After all, the songs are there for a reason. I set myself a limit of twenty songs, which wasn’t easy to do. Then I realized many of those top spots would be taken by The Beatles. In fact, anyone who knows me probably knows I’d try to make all twenty songs on my ultimate playlist Beatles songs. To remedy this possibility, I allowed only one song per artist. This was so hard.
Some are classics; some are from bands you’ve probably never heard of before. But if you were to ask me today, “Which twenty songs would you want everyone to hear at least once?” this is what I’d say. Oh, and these are in no particular order, which should be evident when you don’t see The Beatles at the top.
Crazy Love – Ray Charles & Van Morrison
Shoe Fits – Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes
Hallelujah – Jeff Buckley
Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want – The Smiths
Take It Back – Pink Floyd
Pretty Things – Tony Lucca
Devil Moon – Bobby Long
The Desperate Man – The Black Keys
It Makes No Difference – The Band
Nashville – David Mead
20 Tons of Blues – Buffalo Clover
The Light – Swear and Shake
Immigrant Song – Led Zeppelin
Bouncin’ Round the Room – Phish
Rave Monks – Heyrocco
Gotta Have You – The Weepies
Strawberry Fields Forever – The Beatles
Sultan – What Made Milwaukee Famous
Glad – French Camp
Don’t Look Back in Anger – Oasis
So what songs would be on your ultimate playlist?
I feel like a radio DJ, taking requests for blog topics, but the truth is that I just didn’t know what to blog about. To my utter disappointment, Liam has followed his beer-making instructions step by step, so there have been no major mishaps. With nothing else to talk about, I had to ask on Twitter what people might want to read. My first request was to discuss some of my upcoming projects. This makes me happy. I love talking about what I’m working on.
First of all, I know that some people may be waiting to hear some news about The Kingdom and The Morning Star. There will be official news very soon, but I can tell you that the series will now be published through Martin Sisters Publishing. The first book has gone through a total re-edit, complete with some additional content – though not so much that anyone who has the first edition will miss out. While reworking the first book, I’ve also been working on the edits for The Morning Star so that the quality carries through the series. I hope people are still eager to learn more about Rioghan an Lily, and I’m so glad I have a chance to do this right through Martin Sisters.
There is also a follow up to Side Effects in the works. I’m seventy-five percent through with the first draft of Soundtrack. As with Side Effects, this novel will deal with teenagers who have very real problems. Though it’s not exactly a sequel, Isaac and Grace lovers will get to read some more about them through the eyes of new characters in the same universe. Becky Honeycutt and Travis Robinson, who were both mentioned briefly in the first novel, are teens from different social circles who take the time to learn more about each other. Travis, the popular, basketball-playing bully, suffers from ADHD–
We interrupt this program to bring you the news of a triumph in the kitchen. Jen Barry managed to create Chicken Parmesan for the tenth time without burning it. Her husband announced that it was “delish.”
We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog, already in progress.
–and Becky, the invisible girl, learns how to help him through his studies using music therapy. It’s been a lot of fun researching the disorder and getting to know these characters. I think people will love these new characters as much as they love Isaac and Grace, if not more.
I’ve also completed the first book in a new series, which will be called The Oracles of St. Ambrose. This series will focus on three teens with extraordinary powers and how they learn to trust their abilities and each other to solve mysteries. There’s already a page for it here on the site, so you can learn more about the first book, Going Under. I hope people will love Chase, Cinnamon, and Bryan as much as I do.
I’ve also got a few books for adults in the works, though these are moving a little more slowly. Jinx is the story of a ridiculously unlucky girl and how she learns to live with her misfortune and love in spite of it. I’m also constantly writing and rewriting a book set in my hometown of Oakdale. With factual elements and a fictional plot, the lines keep blurring too much for comfort. It’s a labor of love, and I won’t put it out there until I get it just right. Finally, there is a collaboration with an author friend, but that’s a secret.
With so much going through my head at any given moment, I often just spend my time with the character who is speaking the loudest. Sometimes I take six months to a year to finish the first draft of a project, and every once in a while, I sit down and write straight through one in a month. One thing is for sure; I have plenty to be going on with. I don’t imagine I’ll stop writing any time soon!
A few weeks ago, I got to sit down with some pretty cool people and talk about the kind of music I like to hear. American Cadence Records is a company here in Nashville that is dedicated to providing artists a safe haven for their creations, and that’s not something a lot of record companies are willing to do anymore. Logan Buerlein and Kiernan McMullan were brimming with excitement about their new venture, and it made me excited, too – so excited that I want to share what they’re doing with the WORLD! Obviously, my reach is rather limited, but I do get to tell the people I know all about it.
Here’s the deal: unsigned artists can talk with American Cadence about doing a record – any kind of record – and get the production quality and attention to detail they deserve. Of course, the guys won’t work with just anyone. They have to feel there’s some potential there, but the range of music is wide open. They’re not trying to put people into little boxes or tell the public what the public should be listening to. This excites me! I can’t wait to hear what they come up with.
But wait! There’s MORE. They do this series called Wood & Wire, where signed and unsigned artists can record raw and real, acoustic or plugged, and the finished product is a limited edition vinyl. Only one hundred copies are pressed, making it an instant collector’s item. That’s pretty cool, but it’s not the coolest part. The amazing thing is that one hundred percent of the proceeds from the Wood & Wire series are donated to WO Smith Music School here in Nashville.
What is WO Smith Music School? It’s a not-for-profit school that provides music education to underprivileged kids. I’m talking about music classes and private lessons for just fifty cents per session. Those of you who know me know that music education is pretty dear to me – I was once a music teacher. Starting a music school with this kind of service is something I’ve always dreamed about, and someone is doing it better. I don’t mind that they stole my idea as long as kids are getting the education they deserve.
As you might imagine, I’m pretty stoked about all of this. I shared the information about American Cadence Records, WO Smith Music School, and the Wood & Wire series on Awaiting the Flood, but that’s just not enough for me. More people need to know what these incredible people are doing. I hope people will be inspired to buy American Cadence albums, donate time or money to the school, or just tell more people about it. This is the kind of dedication to music we should be celebrating!