Song of the Week: “Mali-ko” by Voices United for Mali

Northern Mali continues to suffer violence and bloodshed as Islamist groups attempt to assert autonomy from the Malian government with factional fighting and intervention from the French Army adding to the conflict.  Some of Mali’s greatest musical artists including Amadou and Mariam, Oumou Sangare, Bassekou Kouyate, Vieux Farka Toure, Djelimady Tounkara, Toumani Diabate, Khaira Arby, Kasse Mady Diabate, Baba Salah, Afel Bocoum, Tiken Jah, Amkoullel and Habib Koite have come together as Voices United for Mali to sing the song “Mali-ko” for peace in their home country.


The All Songs Considered blog has more on this song and the supergroup behind it.

Song of the Week: “Electric Pow Wow Drum” by A Tribe Called Red

A Tribe Called Red is a group of DJ’s working out of Ottawa, Canada – Shub, Bear Witness and NDN – who mix aboriginal Pow Wow music with electronic dance music with amazing results.

I learned of A Tribe Called Red from NPR’s All Songs Considered coverage of their performance at globalFEST 2013, which you may listen to in entirety at NPR Music.

You may also download their FREE debut album, which I highly recommend.

Beer Review: Rising Tide Daymark

Beer: Daymark
Brewer: Rising Tide Brewing
Source: 22 oz bottle
Rating: *** (7.6 of 10)
Comments:  This is the first beer I sampled from the January selection of the City Feed & Supply New England Craft Beer Share.  This American Pale Ale is the flagship of the Portland, ME  brewery.  The beer presents as a hazy, tangerine orange with lots of tiny bubbles.  The aroma is grassy and spicy.  The flavor is bitter with a tingly kick and a spicy aftertaste.  After drinking there is splotchy lacing and still a lot of bubbles with a lot of foam left behind.  This is a complex and unique beer and definitely one I’d like to try again.

My wife Susan adds that the likes the aftertaste and that the froth is kind of nice.

According to my City Feed notes, “The rye is malted by Valley Malt, a malthouse in Hadley, MA (and one of the only malthouses this side of the Mississippi River) especially for Rising Tide.”

Book Review: Band of Demons by Rob Blackwell

Author: Rob Blackwell
Band of Demons
Publication Info: 
Dark Forest Publishing
Rating: ***1/2

Summary/Review:  This is the second installment in The Sanheim Chronicles, following up on A Soul To Steal, which tells the story of two journalists in Virginia who discover they have the powers of the Prince of Sanheim which manifests itself as The Headless Horseman from “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”  As I noted in the review of the previous book, the author is a friend of mine so there could be some bias.  For a second book, the fear is that there will be a sophomore slump, but thankfully I think this book is better than the first.  While A Soul to Steal reads like a murder mystery in which supernatural elements creep in and take over, in Band of Demons the supernatural is front and center.  Yes, there are more murders in sleepy Loudon County, but Quinn and Kate have bigger fish to fry as they discover they have rivals to being Prince of Sanheim.  What’s best about this book is that while Quinn was central to the first novel, this one takes the time to develop Kate and explore the mysteries of her character.  And then there’s that stunning cliffhanger of an ending ….

Song of the Week: “Shenandoah” by Tom Waits and Keith Richards

Tom Waits and Keith Richards pair up to sing the classic sea shanty “Shenandoah” with predictable results.  They sound like a bunch of  drunk guys in a bar, and it’s awesome.  This is the best pairing of two unique artists on a standard since Nick Cave and Shane MacGowan joined to sing “What a Wonderful World.”

Movie Review: Sleepwalk With Me

Title:  Sleepwalk With Me
Release Date: 18 November 2012
Director: Mike Birbiglia and Seth Barrish
Production Co: Sleepwalkers Anonymous
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Comedy
Rating: **1/2

Summary/Review:  Comedian Mike Birbiglia brings the story of his sleepwalking disorder (specifically rapid eye movement behavior disorder) to another medium after sharing the story in stand-up, storytelling, radio, and a book.   The movie depicts a more complex confluence of events as Birbiglia’s semi-autobiographical character (a doppelganger named Matt Pandamiglio) tries to establish a career as a stand-up comedian while dealing with parental disapproval and fear of commitment to his longtime girlfriend.  For a comedy, this is a dreary and depressing movie.  Not that the ennui shouldn’t be depicted but I’d be interested in why this character puts so much on the line to become a comedian when there seems to be no passion or joy in anything.  Lauren Ambrose is great in her role as the long-suffering girlfriend Abby who seems to be the only character able to enjoy herself despite all of that.  Lots of This American Life regulars appear as supporting cast and it’s fun to play match the voice with the face.  This is an okay movie, but if you’ve heard the story on The Moth or This American Life, you need not venture further out.

Beer Review: Harpoon Winter Warmer

Beer: Winter Warmer
Brewer: Harpoon Brewery
Source: Draft
Rating: ** (6.4 of 10)
Comments: Boston’s best brewery presents this seasonal beer each winter.  The beer pours a deep copper color and gives off a musty caramel aroma with a hint of spice.  The taste is malty sweet with a whiskey finish.  The dissipates quickly and leaves no lacing.  Otherwise a nice, warming beer for the season

Beer Review: The People’s Pint Farmer Brown

Beer: Farmer Brown
Brewer: The People’s Pint
Source: 22 oz. bottle
Rating: *** (7.2 of 10)
Comments: Yet another Massachusetts’ beer, a brown ale from a Greenfield, MA brewpub.  The beer presents a deep amber with a thick head.  It gives off a creamy chocolate aroma and there’s a chocolate hoppiness to the taste as well.  The only downside is that the flavor gets a little weak and watery at the finish.

Beer Review: Harpoon White IPA

Beer: Harpoon White IPA
Brewer: Harpoon Brewery
Source: 22 oz. bottle
Rating: *** (7.3 of 10)
Comments: Boston’s Harpoon Brewery continues their 100 Barrel Series with this Belgian IPA, a blend of a Belgian Wit with an American IPA.    The beer is cloudy and golden in appearance with a thick golden head.  It gives off a floral aroma and the taste is of bitter spice with orange and citrus flavors.  Another good beer from the Bay State.

Beer Review: Jack’s Abby Jabby Brau

Beer: Jabby Brau
Brewer: Jack’s Abby Brewing
Source: Draft
Rating:  ** (6.3 of 10)
Comments:  Yet another new Massachusetts’ brewery, this one from Framingham, created this session lager.  The deep golden lager has a floral hoppy scent and offers a dry, bitter taste.  It has a malty finish to wash away the bitter hops and is a nice, drinkable beer.