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Underpinned by Phil Beer's fiddle, The Dancers of Stanton Drew revisits an account of a doomed wedding party whose insistence on dancing into the Sabbath attracted the attentions of a real devil of a fiddler, The Erl-King is an arrangement of Goethe's cheery epic poem about a gnomish being and the death of a child while, perhaps more familiar, she also visits country classic death song Long Black Veil for a duet with Beer to a simple mandolin backing.

It must be said that the album doesn't have the sunniest of dispositions. Taken from Robert Burns and set to a spare piano and recorder backdrop, Mary's Dream tells of a lover lost at sea, the self-penned a capella Get Thee To The Drowning where Sandland's voice is at its nakedly purest deals with sacrifice by suicide, hanging, the Crucifixion and death by gassing in WWI.

Downbeat yes, but rarely has misery, death, depression and doom sounded quite so stately and majestic.

Deb Sandland - My Prayer Hairy Dog Spawn of a musical family dad played jazz bass, one brother's a multi-instrumentalist, the other musical director for the RSC , Tamworth born Sandland has steered her inclinations in a folk direction, initially working with Julie Thurman as unaccompanied duo The Aqua Sisters before expanding to a more fulsome five piece.

That having run its course, she moved back to duo work again, this time with Phil Beer, eventually joining his band and recording a couple of ltd edition albums and contributing to the two Heart of England compilations before finally taking the solo plunge albeit helped out by the band with this album.

She's got a soft, breathy autumnal evening and raindrops voice of deceptive depth that is brimful of assured poise and the confidence of experience but can, as with Don't Leave For The City and the closing My Prayer , still sound beguilingly innocent and wearily vulnerable.

Falling between the trad and contemporary stools may make her hard to pigeonhole for audiences who like to know whether they're getting Kate Rusby or Thea Gilmore, but approach with open ears rather than closed labels and you'll realise she can hold her own with either and both.

It works too, his delicate melancholic guitar tracery a perfect foil for her wasted on valium vocals. It's a sparse comic wash of sound like waves lapping on some lunar shore, vibes tinkling on Suzanne, lazy harmonica blowing across On The Low, a piano's nerves fraying the brief instrumental Baby Let Me and a cello scraping mournfully on the rustic chill out that is Feel the Gaze.

Enervated in a good way it weaves a narcoleptic magic, never better than on a cover of Butterfly Mornings, a song hitherto to the best of my knowledge only ever before heard sung by Jason Robards and Stella Stevens on the soundtrack of Sam Peckinpah's classic Western The Ballad of Cable Hogue.

Hope and indeed glory. Soft-spoken gentle-man Colum's one of the most captivating and genuine talents on the folk scene, and his latest inspirational and ambitious project is a lovely collaboration with acclaimed singer and clarsach player Maggie daughter of legendary Barra singer Flora MacNeill.

It ostensibly takes its cue from the story of a voyage two centuries ago on the little vessel named The Seedboat, from the Hebridean island of Barra to Newry in Co.

Down, by Donald, a young man intending to buy some whiskey for his forthcoming wedding; this ill-fated story is recounted in a bittersweet lament composed by his left-behind bride Catriona, which here is heartrendingly sung by Maggie with help, and some English lyrics, from Colum.

The power of this song, rooted in the heritage of both Scotland and Ireland, also symbolises the continuing richness of the musical dialogue between the two nations, unashamedly rejoicing in the wealth of "shape-shifting" language they share.

This piece is the catalyst for an intelligently-crafted sequence of songs and tunes that's loosely linked by the sea and drawn both from the wellspring of tradition and Colum's original compositions.

It's both highly imaginative and delightfully stimulating in a wonderfully homespun way, and the two performers dovetail together immaculately, working hand-in-hand like the best-fitting of gloves.

Their voices and sensibilities are as naturally and well-matched as the sounding-together of English and Gaelic. The catchy lilt of Calum's Boat gives way to one of Colum's characteristic slices of homespun philosophy The Wave Upon The Shore which resonates onward to and from the second, The Window Half Open, towards the end of the CD , while some typically puckish light relief is provided by Colum's irresistible, if slightly tongue-testing I'm A Terrible Man and the vibrant little morris-tune that Colum uses as the basis for Dance Like Billy-o.

The emotional temperature is high when Maggie blesses us with her peerless renditions of some wonderful old songs: One finely managed though maybe less characteristic or expected contribution finds Colum and Maggie sweetly duetting on Burns' It Was A' For Our Rightfu' King, while Hebridean mouth-music makes its mark on the project with a sturdy waulking song in praise of Alasdair, Son Of Gallant Coll, and the disc ends in more tranquil mode with the yearning spell of The Castle Of Wild Waves.

Like the whole disc, this reading is characterised not only by the performers' soothing, intimate vocals and careful, bright-eyed musicianship, but most important, also by its sense of life and vitality and an incurable optimism of the human spirit.

Mick's been around music all his life: Latterly Mick's been concentrating on theatre work, among other things adapting medieval and ethnic vocal music for use in classical plays, but he's not neglected folk music, keeping his hand in with the London Irish session scene.

But this slightly-offputtingly-titled CD well it is a bit of a mouthful! Having said that, it proudly encompasses a vastly more varied selection of source material than you might expect to encounter from Mick, even acknowledging his multi-talented nature.

The disc is bookended by truly delightful performances of two indigenous songs from the north-east: On which subject, Mick couldn't have chosen a finer guitarist to complement the unique character of his own singing voice - notwithstanding the fact that Clive's immensely highly regarded as a skilled soloist, nay virtuoso, in his own right and here on Mick's record he's no mere subordinate support artist.

Instrumentally, Mick demonstrates his considerable skills mostly on flute on a lovely Forest Fields a medley of Roumanian air, jig and slip-jig and a set of Midsummer Reels where you can marvel at Clive's extraordinarily sympathetic guitar work , also an intriguing, freshly syncopated "Irish-flavoured" version of Maid On The Shore though I hear as much of Eastern Europe in those dashing rhythms!

Mick's treatment of Silver Dagger is set as a kind of Appalachian slow-drag-blues - and very effective it is too.

As is Mick's own original song Where The Deerness Flows, a poignant lament for the loss of the west Durham coalfield and the area's industrial heritage that has much of the feel of a traditional Irish ballad.

And last but not least there's Tres Damas, Mick's atmospheric yet simple setting of a traditional Sephardic text originally done for a RSC production.

This is a landmark CD, as well as a brilliant portrayal of Mick's multi-faceted musical personality. Maggie, an attractive-voiced singer, has already released three solo albums in Germany two in collaboration with fellow-musician Mark Powell , and for her fourth she brings an unusual new flavour to the illustrious WildGoose menu.

Maggie's special musical gift is the creative blending of English traditional songs with the stance, gait and instrumentation of medieval and renaissance-era music.

Maggie and her musicians playing hurdy gurdy, recorders, crumhorns, flute, harmonium, mandola, cittern, guitar, bouzouki and percussion together make a predictedly bright, lively and busy sound, which, in consort with its typically hi-energy dance-bedecked treatments interposing saltarello, estampie or jig as appropriate , will by its very nature suit some songs better than others.

The brightness of the settings, with their sometimes stylised dance-like textures and tempos, can give a false impression of insubstantiality which belies the thoughtfulness of Maggie's interpretations, and these can seem unduly detached.

Rigs Of The Time might be judged too jolly for its message. In all, Maggie has produced a stylish, entertaining and fresh-sounding record that provides an interesting twist on the interpretation and performance of traditional song.

The key is to acknowledge and celebrate its differences from the standard folk approaches to this material, and on those terms I found myself readily warming to the charms of Maggie and her Sandragon consort Mark Powell, Malcolm Bennett and Anthar Kharana, with guests Will Summers and Will Hughes.

This is a really fine collection of original songs, many never before recorded or available, that together offer an eloquent, expansive and balanced and intensely thought-provoking account of one of the most controversial political situations in all of mankind's history.

These songs, all but one the beautiful John Connery ballad The Road To Aughnacloy having been penned by the famed activist, singer and musician Tommy Sands over the course of several decades, are here performed by Tommy himself, with inevitably contributions from fellow Sands Family members Anne, Ben, Colum and "Dino"; and notably, the lovely singing of Tommy's daughter Moya brings an added poignancy to the four songs on this CD where she takes the vocal lead - A Stone's Throw, Bloody Sunday, Bessbrook Lament and Silent No Longer.

Other folks making special guest appearances on the album include Pete Seeger, Dolores Keane and John Tams, while the deft, subtle instrumental backdrop, embracing inter alia the talents of Messrs.

In spite of the disc's theme, this is not a depressing album, more an uplifting one. All The Little Children to Troubles one of a number of reflective songs that were commissioned by the BBC's John Leonard in , which sports a disquieting rippling guitar accompaniment.

All of these songs are ideally judged both in terms of tone and pace although It might be said that the gait of the opening history-lesson Song Of Erin feels a touch too chirpily animated , but in the main it's very easy to get swept along in the exhilarating tide of emotion, especially perhaps in the overriding optimism and hopeful nature of the disc's final group of songs, from The Music Of Healing a duet with Pete Seeger, with whom Tommy penned the song back in and the rousing anthem Carry On, through to the inspirational, defiant Silent No Longer; after which, the closing number is a celebration of the new diversity, The Lagan Side.

Perhaps it surprised me that Tommy's best-known song on the subject, the sublime There Were Roses, doesn't appear on the disc not even for completeness' sake , but most of us already possess a recording of it I suspect.

Oh, and around the disc's halfway point, there's an instrumental interlude, A Call To Hope, a captivating whistle tune with unique resonances that was first played ad-hoc on camera by Tommy at a crucial hour during The Talks in The disc's presentation is absolutely exemplary, for, conforming to the label's house standards, the release comes with a fulsome booklet that incorporates Tommy's own helpful explanatory notes as well as all the lyrics to the songs.

This release is a supreme achievement by any standards, which in presenting Tommy's even-handed response to the Troubles will very probably come to be regarded as a key contribution to our understanding of the events of the past 40 or so years of that stormy conflict.

Tommy's known as the principal songwriter of the six-strong Sands Family group though it contains at least two other fine songwriters!

It can't be said that Tommy's songwriting output is prodigious, however, for the release of Let The Circle Be Wide is a cause for celebration simply by dint of its being his first CD of original material since his only other new CD in the intervening years being a Christmas record.

Rest assured though, for Tommy's not lost his touch in any way and I'm sure that many of the new songs included herein will swiftly become well-loved within the folk community, if not perhaps attaining quite the classic status of There Were Roses or Daughters And Sons.

Tommy's trademark political and artistic integrity is stamped on every song he's written, and his dream of an Ireland without conflict remains as powerful and committed as ever; he addresses the global concerns of humanity in an accessible and attractive musical language that resonates with the universal appeal of traditional Irish music.

The opening Young Man's Dream is actually based on the original version of Danny Boy, but has none of the hackneyed crooner's grandstanding of the popular ballad we all know, being instead a clear and fresh paean that "suggests the surrender of the singer to the song rather than the other way round".

Another well-known tune, Lillibulero, weaves in and out of The People Have Spoken, a brilliantly effective political statement that draws parallels between two opposing Ulster catchphrases.

Time For Asking Why is another time-honoured plea that transcends its simple philosophical conundrum. There's a heartfelt celebration of the late, great Tommy Makem, with whom Tommy was great friends, and at the other end of the emotional spectrum a light-hearted reel-like song of craic Balleyvalley Brae and a rollicking anecdote about the healing powers of a fiddle champion Send For Maguire.

Fields Of Daisies is a modern-day broken-token song that really hits the spot, as does the evocative Carlingford Bay, while the tenderly voiced You Will Never Grow Old, dedicated to Tommy's brother Dino, is a slice of perfection that apparently took Tommy thirty years to write!

The softly anthemic almost Seegeresque Keep On Singing is one of those optimistic numbers you can't shake from your consciousness once you've heard it, and Tommy's all-embracing idealistic positivism lingers on into Make Those Dreams Come True and the album's closing title song.

One curiosity is Rovers Of Wonder, wherein Tommy conjures a musical alliance between himself and a group of Mongolian throat-singers. Which brings me to the observation that the musical backdrops Tommy employs throughout this set are exceedingly well-drawn and expertly recorded, with every strand of the sometimes quite busy and bustling texture admirably cleanly delineated and followed without distracting from the impact of the lyrics or Tommy's fabulous singing voice.

Throughout, Tommy uses his music and song to pursue his goal of bridging cultural and political differences, and his universal vision of, and quest for, peace is as potent as ever.

For this is a triumph of a record: David Kidman March The harmonica soon gives way to layers of horns, keyboards and Ian Siegal's soulful voice.

The richness of the opener is in stark contrast to the spoken vocal of The Man, which provides some silky bass from Andy Hamill and strangled harmonica from Lee.

This is music for smoky clubs with the audience right on top of the band. No Man's Land provides a funky beat and some more soulful vocals from Siegal.

He certainly has added an extra dimension to his vocals. Doing What I Should Have Done is more upbeat than most of its predecessors and has some outstanding horns.

The High Points is very jazzy and normally this would not be to my taste but Lee Sankey and the band win me over and they may do so with you as well.

A return to the slinky bass for Frank's Brother, this time by Rob Mullarkey, gives us some more spoken vocals - maybe too much for one album.

This sounds like the introduction to an old American detective film. National Steel guitar introduces The Unchosen and it soon goes off on a pseudo-blues riff that will have your head nodding and your fingers tapping.

Monkey Lips shows, in my opinion, Lee Sankey at his best. This is over 5 minutes of class harmonica playing and I could listen to this all night.

The longest track is saved for the last and has a big band feel to it, showing more of the bands versatility. Remember to leave your CD player on until the end or you'll miss a little harmonica and steel guitar blues.

The second album, I've heard say, is the hardest one to produce but on this evidence then Lee Sankey and his group should have no fears about going on and becoming a force in British and world music.

Is this guy cool or is this guy cool? The opening track, Drinking Game with its Steely Dan horns and guitar is a spectacular start to this, his debut album.

This jazzy song profiles both Sankey's high-class harmonica playing and laid-back vocal style. The title track takes us back to the jazz tinged efforts of earlier in the album and it's a sound that pervades throughout.

I Don't Like My Way Of Living is a classic title for a blues song and is one of the few slow tempo songs on the album. The closing track Where We Going To has a great riff and is a fine way to finish.

This, of course, is a special edition and what makes it special is that you get an extra CD. The second CD provides five tracks, starting with the 11 minute She's Not Alone , a slow blues with the now customary top-notch harmonica.

Three live tracks give an insight into what we can expect if we get to see Lee and his excellent band in the future.

I think that this is a fantastic debut and I'm sure that it will continue to grow on me. At first glance I have to admit apprehension regarding the song titles and the potential subjective content.

Lyrics that unimaginatively employ love song rhyming chestnuts such as moon, June and spoon and such , are a major stumbling block for these ears.

Darn if five of the thirteen titles don't feature the word love or variations thereof. Here we go, this is gonna be a challenge! Brooks plays nylon string guitar on El Coyote, a commentary on recent developments regarding the porous U.

Seven Eleven Heaven recalls a love affair that never got off ground following a chance encounter in a Citgo service station, while The Coffee Club is a portrait of the old folks who frequent a local diner.

In the latter Santos names numerous ice cream makers, discards Texas' famed Blue Bell brand, and casts his vote in f l avour of Bronx made Haagen-Dazs.

As a cohesive song collection, contrary to ordinary it is not! Score 5 out of Julian Sas is considered to be one of the best live acts on the blues-rock scene in The Netherlands and Resurrection is his first assault on the rest of the world.

Starting with Moving To Survive, a fast blues rock with incisive guitar licks akin to Rory Gallagher and Gary Moore, Sas sets out his stall with nine original songs.

I love slow burners and Burnin' Soul is one of the best that I've heard. The band plays in the classic power trio format with Rob Heijne on drums and Tenny Tahamata on bass.

Slide guitar from Sas is most welcome and, on this, he shows his class. Runnin' All My Life is powerful blues influenced rock and he's made the transition from being a big fish in the small pond of Dutch blues to swimming with the bigger fish very well.

He has nothing to worry about and he is so easy to listen to. The obligatory power ballad comes in the form of All I Know as Sas strokes his Strat on this 7-minute epic.

His sanguine vocal is well suited here and there's a telling guitar break. Ain't No Change is standard fare as far as blues rock goes and the eponymous title track stays on the rock side of the blues with fuzzed guitar.

He's managed to keep his standards high throughout the album and Stranded is another high-class song even if the Bon Jovi style ballad isn't quite in the same sphere vocally.

Junkies Blues is a gritty blues and the band play it extremely well. The only drawback is that it is let down by the vocal, which happens a little too often on this album.

He closes with another 7-minute epic that embodies everything a power trio should be, gentle in places and powerful in others. This is, quite simply, three players at the top of their game.

David Blue March Currently one half of Sugarcane Jane with singer-songwriter Anthony Crawford who produced and wrote 11 of the 12 songs , Alabama's Savana Lee not to be confused with Vancouver's Savannah Leigh Wellman whose band's called Redbird released this debut three years ago, but it's only now finding exposure outside of the USA courtesy of Sweden's Hemifran.

Save for one track, the blues flavoured A Heart Needs A Reason which features Waddy Wachtel and Spooner Oldham, Crawford also played everything too, so it says much about Lee that she remains the dominant personality.

Her voice slightly reminiscent of the young Nanci Griffith with a pop flavour to the trebly country twang but also capable of riding bluesy ranges on something like the moody The One Before Me, digging into a shade of Zooey Deschanel on the speak-sing Chameleon's All Star Love Band while Little Creeps and Uptight Situations channel the barroom swagger of Sheryl Crow.

Stylistically ranging between the shuffle pop of Uptight Situations, Blue Monday's piano balladry and the campfire Oh Brother trot of The Wait, Crawford's songs suit her well and, in return, she brings them to emotional life.

The only non-original is her cover of Steve Forbert's signature song Romeo's Tune, the tempo taken down a notch with mandolin backing.

When she sings 'meet me in the middle of the day", you'll find yourself asking where. As a teenager, Philip Sayce was held in such high regard as to be invited to join the Jeff Healey Band and played with them at the Montreux Jazz Festival and many other sold out gigs around the world.

He then joined Melissa Etheridge's band and was with her until Now temporarily on his own, he releases his debut solo album on Provogue, a label that is getting a reputation as the home of guitar players.

Slip It Away is a Jimi Hendrix style hard blues which speeds up as Sayce launches into a solo that will take your breath away.

This is followed by the acoustic led Angels Live Inside before he turns the power back on for the ballad, Dream Away and the rock with Sweet Misery.

Blood On Your Hands is a standard rocker but a classy example of one. Sayce doesn't go in for too many solos but he puts in a good one here with touches of Bon Jovi.

Cinnamon Girl is a classic Neil Young song and Sayce stays very close to the original feel. Alchemy is a slow, bluesy instrumental which showcases his playing ability and it works very well.

Sayce is very easy to listen to although he is getting more and more adventurous as the album goes on. The title track has echoes of Foxy Lady at the beginning before going onto a heavy blues riff.

This is a big, blues rocker and a feast of guitar playing. The bonus track, Arianrhod is another instrumental to satisfy the guitar lovers.

Sayce uses just about every effect pedal in his collection. At over 7 minutes, it has a bit of a break just after 4.

He then goes off into what is effectively a reprise of the title track, this time played on dobro. Philip Sayce is a worthy addition to Provogue's excellent stable of guitar players.

Boz Scaggs - Dig Virgin Records America When you see the words Boz and Scaggs on the cover of an album, you can be pretty damn sure that you're in for some smooth, sophisticated soul, leavened with a fair smattering of grit - just to keep things interesting.

Dig delivers all that, served up with the degree of professionalism you'd expect from a man who's been plying his trade for more years than he'd probably care to admit.

Of course, the Scaggs man can't do it all himself and, for his first set of original material in more than seven years, he's called upon the services of lots of old pals to produce a sound that gels and flows despite the changing personnel from track to track.

Tracks two and three - ' Sarah ' and ' Miss Riddle ' - show the side of Scaggs' music which least excites the old Hall backbone.

Cool, smooth, laid-back, soul-tinged love songs that ought to be listened to only after midnight in an expensive penthouse apartment with the Gucci loafers casually kicked off on to the hand-woven Persian rug.

It's really not my cup of tea at all but either of these could do a fair job of work of getting the likes of Barry White or Teddy Pendergrass back into the charts.

And I suppose that, if push came to shove and I had to listen to this kind of thing, I'd rather it be by Boz Scaggs than many others I could name.

By way of complete contrast, Scaggs can also offer up the wonderful ' Get on the natch ' - all growled vocals, choppy guitar, upfront drums and sharp angles.

Reminds these ears of the Alabama 3 and is the dirty, raunchy side of Scaggs that I could happily groove along to from dusk 'til dawn. The rhythm section of East's bass and Robin DeMaggio's hand percussion lends the slow pace real depth.

It is, quite simply, lovely. Possibly more renowned for his ability to achieve a certain sound and feel, it could be said that Scaggs' songwriting has taken something of a back seat in the past.

That's not the case with Dig as, whether singlehandedly or in collaboration, the tunes and lyrics bear close scrutiny.

It's an album with a variety of moods and one which is destined, I reckon, to become known as one of Scaggs' best.

Minnesota-born Martha has latterly relocated to Montana; she's worked on the Cold Mountain movie soundtrack, and spent six years in East Tennessee as a key member of the highly regarded Reeltime Travelers until they disbanded in early During that stint, she won both first and second prizes at a songwriting competition at 's Merlefest; meeting up with Dirk Powell provided just the catalyst she needed to get on down and make a solo record, and The West Was Burning is the result.

Martha's songs are at once straightforward and enigmatic, with a gentle organic feel, and really capture the essence of the backroads of the west "places where there's no exit number", as Dirk puts it!

Having said which, it's not always easy to say what they're about, for even the more tangible imagery she uses has a peculiarly elusive quality that comes as much from an appealing looseness of expression matched in the music as from succinct, even wry observation from the other side of the barroom or tracks.

The downhome authenticity and no-nonsense emotional intensity of Martha's personal vision at times recalls that of Gillian Welch, but hers is arguably a more measured, less overtly bleak view, with telling resonances evoked from the most simple activities "riding on a troublesome vine", indeed.

Her musical settings complement the quivering timbre of her teasing, intimately fragile singing voice: Many also boast a raw, edgy rhythm coming from what often seems like a back-lot garage drumkit interestingly, drum duties are shared between Levon Helm of The Band and Amy Helm from Olabelle.

The sound just sort-of comes together, I can't put it any other way. And naturally, Dirk himself augments his producer's role by playing among other things fiddle, electric guitar, banjo and mandolin, for he can't resist contributing just one instrumental Call Me Shorty , where his mournful fast-drivin' fiddle is very much in evidence.

This album may sound at times slightly low-key, but it proves to be of significantly deeper impact - quite irresistible, in fact - and the quietly grainy charms of its music and poetry readily, if subtly, insinuate themselves into one's consciousness.

A native of Dingle Co. Kerry, although Scanlon had been performing round the Galway pubs since she was 15, she first came to most people's attention when she provided the vocals for John Spillane's All The Ways You Wander on Sharon Shannon's Libertango album.

Shannon repays the favour on Scanlon's debut, produced by and featuring Lunasa guitarist Donogh Hennessy, lending her accordion to a breathy voiced but jauntily earthy bodhran driven version of Cyril Tawney's Sally Free and Easy.

Scanlon claims her singing style to be influenced by the likes of Joni Mitchell and Tori Amos, and while that's not immediately obvious there's no denying the quality of her timbre, not as ethereal as, say Maire Brennan or Sally Oldfield, traces of both in evidence, but still suggesting faerie folk qualities behind the cut peat flavours.

Despite her background, there's only a handful of traditional interpretations here, the murder ballad What Put The Blood and the equally cheerful Molly Ban, but she has selected her diverse covers well.

She writes too, and while Churchyard's the only one self-penned contribution here, it's something of a gem, a trad styled ballad inspired by False Knight On The Road and veined with Eastern textures.

It's an impressive debut that bodes well for Scanlon's future. She actually has no input at all on the title track, a 90 second instrumental epilogue written and performed by cellist Caroline Dale.

Scatter is a somewhat indescribable outfit. After releasing their acclaimed album Surprising Sing Stupendous Love back in , they then by all accounts made a hell of an impression at last year's Green Man Festival.

Deconstructed folksong meets organised confusion, one might say Three possibly four of its eight tracks are ostensibly based on folksong - or rather, derive their inspiration from the mood of a particular folksong: She Moves Through The Fayre brings the most audibly recognisable statement of the source song itself, and here it's sort-of-chanted, wailed, by the ensemble's new vocalist Hanna Tuulikki.

The title track nosedives off a Beefheartian pseudo-Japanese guitar riff to a jabbering cacophony of public-address and into a strident jazz ostinato passage.

And by transporting the Dowie Dens Of Yarrow to the home of rebetika they're evoked as "a place of mystery and misery" in Scatter's intriguing arrangement.

O Death is perhaps the strangest of all: All told, this is an extraordinary album, which takes the concepts both of folk-drone and radical jazz to new and often dizzying heights; but it takes an open mind and close listening to unravel its curious tapestry of delights, a mind that will be receptive to following Scatter's tangents wherever they may lead.

It's primarily the latter, however, which is on proud display on this, his second solo album. He plays the banjo - and how! Steppin' In The Boiler House starts out with just that - Rig Root, like the title track later on, features Mark's "rock clogging" feet alongside his banjo - but then settles down to an enticing and varied menu that's not by any means all "flash Harry" picking.

The enchanting delicacy of Eileen's Waltz forms a perfect foil to the rootsy galumph of the preceding Cajun Stomp, and the expertly controlled hoedown stringband runpast of Last Old Dollar featuring Tim O'Brien guesting on vocals and mandolin leads through naturally to the more reflective Season Of Joy and the beautifully poised original tune Robindale, inspired by the mountains around Asheville, North Carolina, that ushers in some seriously blistering picking on Slate.

Mark's "house band" for the album sessions unites two seasoned veterans Missy Raines bass and Jim Hurst guitar with "young turk" fiddler Casey Driessen fiddle , while Tim helps out on several cuts and there are some notable contributions from Stuart Duncan fiddle , Jerry Douglas dobro and Bela Fleck mandolin too.

There's a grand sense of fun on these sessions, everyone's having a ball yet they're content to let the pace ease back apiece rather than go hell for leather for effect - and the miracle is that there's still plenty of excitement and internal tension in the performances.

And that makes all the difference of course. Tim puts it exactly in his booklet note: Tangible of New York is one such and they have some wonderful surprises in their catalogue.

This is one to seek out now and play often during those moments when you need the Linus-blanket of feel-good music and a sunny day smile.

We are in familiar Nashville territory but it is refreshingly good. For all of you who are tired of polished mediocrity, this is unvarnished honesty, impossible-to-resist rootsy, hatless ' country ' fare with a ' recorded live ' energy and songwriting of the highest calibre.

His are catchy tunes with great hooks and lyrics which had me suspecting that he has his tongue in his cheek some of the time! Their echoes are all there on this track collection in the best possible way.

Make Amends is produced by Tommy Spurlock who adds his own steely talents on guitars, mandolin, pedal steel, dobro, lap steel and bass.

His assured, no-nonsense contribution made me check him out. What a pedigree and what an album! The album, which was two years in the making, opens with Any Direction, which is vibrant and fresh with a youthful vocal and stinging guitar.

He stays with the funk for Take On My Beliefs but he rocks it up a little this time. His guitar playing shines through and the whole package comes across a little like Prince, who he just happens to think is a genius.

Just Not Today has his vocal progressing all the time and still staying on the funky side. U Don't Mind has crisp drums from Arie Verhaar and this mid-paced funk grinder certainly shows up Prince as a major influence.

Gone By Tomorrow is a slinky professional blues whereas Everybody's Gotta Be Somewhere is soulful and a strong contender for song of the album.

The latter has one of his best vocals so far. Game Called Love is a big, ballsy, swinging blues with heaps of attitude. He rocks it up a little for It's Gonna Be Alright but this rarely gets out of the power pop genre.

Last Goodbye is just Schill on guitar and vocal with a little harmonica added by Aram Raken. This acoustic track shows the talent behind the gloss and is a very pleasant finish.

On this basis, Stefan Schill is certainly worth another listen. Danny's been quick to follow his fine collection Instead The Forest Rose To Sing, and he's done so with a telling if seemingly literal sense of continuity: The title track proves to be another equally catchy ditty with memorable join-in tag lines, expressing partly complex personal conundrums in maddeningly simple language.

The close, intimate feel of the new album as a whole is managed as much by the lyrics as by the brilliantly simple and proudly unadorned acoustic-guitar-based arrangements, which mostly involve just Danny himself with occasional second-guitar embellishments courtesy of Will Sexton , some gentle harmony vocal work from Raina Rose and Carrie Elkin, piano from Keith Gary on and charismatic harmonica from Ray Bonneville on Ragtime Ragtime Blues which otherwise is probably the album's least memorable song.

The central theme of questioning recurs in most of the album's ten new original songs, from the cyclical philosophy informing the thought-patterns of Little White Angels down to the playfully political Guilty By Association Blues and its kinda-sequel Almost Round The World, complementing the folky-fable-style reflection On Abundance and the more defiant Know Thy Place.

Danny's softly tremulous vocal is, as ever, the ideal expression of this wide-eyed yet knowing, and ever-keen, questioning of life's imponderabilities.

The two oldest songs in this latest batch, however, are the exception: I've Mostly Watched observes with admirable honesty Danny's penchant for commenting on life, rather than engaging directly with it, while Two Guitars explores a similar vein whereby, taking the form of a letter back to Danny's artistic comrade Paul Curreri, he laconically laments the state of their common "careers" having quit their day-jobs to become full-time artists.

As it happens, the magic of this cover version dovetails neatly into the appealing, and quietly compelling, fabric created by Danny's own compositions.

Austin-based Danny's latest collection is a considered, themed set that explores the concept of money and wealth and its worth in today's world.

It's an increasingly complex concept nowadays, and even on such a well-worn theme, Danny proves that he's got plenty to say and makes his observations relevant to all our lives, his central thesis being that how we choose to relate to the idea of money reflects a lot about our values.

Simply crafted, plain-spoken in expression and attractively sung, while furnished with impressively memorable melodies, the songs on this set tend to fall into two broad categories: My initial feeling, that the set's strongest songs occur in the second half of the disc, is reinforced on each subsequent replay, with the enigmatic Accidentally Daisies and the genial barroom waltz of The Night's Just Beginning To Shine fast becoming favourite cuts.

After the darker mode of much of Danny's previous material, the folky-singalong opener Better Off Broke may seem deceptively jaunty, but Danny has the gift of making quite deep observations out of everyday colloquies, as a number of other songs on this new set also demonstrate.

Even when you feel that Danny's trying to shoehorn too many words or force the pace a little, as on Southland Street, his delivery is irresistible.

Generally, Danny still continues to follow the time-honoured musical templates of folky Americana, with occasional dashes of indie-roots-rock and blues, and his gently quivering yet strong and resonant vocal style continues to enchant.

The album's blessed with great packaging too, by the way, with attractive design and lyrics clearly reproduced on the foldout sleeve.

With excellent songs and performances like these, Danny's set to seduce us for some time yet, I suspect.

David Kidman April So here's the promised new Waterbug release from the Texas-born songwriter whose set Parables And Primes so impressed me on its way-belated UK release last autumn.

And it lives right up to expectation in just about every way even tho' there's no epic track like Stained Glass on this record.

It "takes its title from the fact that at one point in time or another, each song had been deemed too askew to fit neatly alongside its peers", yet its unity - as a "flock", if you like - resides in that each song can be traced back to a very particular episode in Danny's life, and in Danny's special worldview as applied to the personal rather than as on Parables the generalised human experience.

The album as a whole still compels close listening and commands and gets your undivided attention right from the outset.

Danny's beguiling and highly individual brand of apparent gentility emerges from the ether on the opening song, Leaves Are Burning, a jaw-droppingly atmospheric piece dripping with highly sensory imagery and cocooned with ear-burningly eerie female harmony vocal Joia Wood, who shares this role with Devon Sproule over the course of the album.

Towards the end of the record, though, Danny presents a more straightforward stance on the constancy of love and friendships, with the beautiful and delicate Song For Judy And Bridget and the powerfully valedictory litany-cum-credo Company Of Friends this itself complements the fairly cautious optimism of Drawing Board earlier on the disc.

The disc's two parables provide contrasting experiences: Go Ugly Early is steeped in desperate southern-gothic familial mythology while Tales Of Sweet Odysseus is a more overtly ironic twist on a mythological adventure that's craftily set to a sideways cod-Irish slip-jig as a companion to Beggars And Mules, it's almost kind of another in-joke for Danny's muso friends, I suspect.

Then there's an almost-too-easy Guthrie-esque demeanour to the next pair of songs, Emigrant, MT and the quirkily double-edged California's On Fire, but both make their points concisely and attractively.

The only track I'm unsure about is Adios To Tejasito, which may well be summed up by the "It's nice enough to visit, It's nice enough to get back in your car" couplet for which sentiment the song's general of air of too knowing over-flippancy and somewhat sloppy rhythm-section input don't hope to compensate.

Helping Danny with production this time round is Paul Curreri, a genius who plays a large assortment of instruments very sparingly and is blessed with an acute ear for just what limited textures should grace each of Danny's compositions banjo, guitar, piano, whatever ; other Charlottesville musicians fiddle, accordion, harmonica, steel guitar, bass, drums are also occasionally brought in for softly judged traceries and subtle effects.

Even the "heavier" electric arrangement for Trouble Comes Calling isn't allowed to swamp Danny's lyrics. This convincing new set from Danny was worth waiting for, sure.

New England musician Lissa's is one of those names you don't forget notwithstanding which, she's evidently an accomplished musician of whom I'm very surprised not to have heard previously.

According to Lissa's website, Dance is her seventh recording and sixth CD since It seems to be intended as the second in a complementary pair of releases that started with 's disc entitled Song.

As you'd expect, then, Dance is all-instrumental, concentrating on Lissa's clear-sighted fiddle playing and surrounding her with a select number of simpatico musicians, who as it happens are an entirely different crew from those who supported her on Song.

Lissa's playing style is unassumingly communicative: Lissa delivers a series of tunes both fairly well-worn and definitely more unusual, including some great ones I'd not come across before the Mountain Ranger set and Suffer The Child, for instance.

And it's fortunate that Lissa has a good ear for ringing the changes in matters of accompaniment, because Bethany Waickman's guitar backing is pretty ubiquitous and in its own syncopated way can sometimes seem a touch routine, although it's pleasing enough in context, especially when its more supportively restrained as on Eugenia's Waltz.

The sound of a tenor banjo brightens Lady Walpole's Reel, while trombones and pump organ fill out Moneymusk and euphonium and trombone Jamie Allen on both of these, a second fiddle part really boosts the sound and drive of Lissa's own playing ; a piano accordion counterpoints Lissa's lithely folksy take on Weber's Huntsman's Chorus, while bass and drums grace and propel Fisher's Hornpipe.

This is a well-judged CD which sparkles where it ought , so it should not fail to charm its listeners, although I feel its a little too polite and unchallenging on occasion; everything is in its rightful place, and I can't fault the playing or presentation the package even includes cryptic to me!

He's been compared to such names as Counting Crows and The Wallflowers, to which, judging by the laid back shrugging lazy rock of Captain Kirk, you might also want to add Steve Miller, the track clearly owing a debt to The Joker.

He's got a relaxed, warm style, easing through mellow Americana hued numbers like Come With Me Tonight, A Long Way To Get shades of Paul Simon here and the string enhanced lullabying ballad Love Is Everywhere while a sparkier side's revealed with the Dylan-like jogging rhythmed title track and a Tom petty flavoured C'mon Baby with its hard guitar riffs.

And, as The Bridge Builders demonstrates, he can whip up a beefy quiet-to-a-storm moody rock ballad too. With broken relationships, alienation and drugs on the lyrical agenda, he deals in the darkside but there's a sense of wit and ironic humour in there too; viz God Is My Friend which, nodding melodically to Joan Osborne's If God Was One Of Us, offers the image of the Almighty lounging around on a cloud snorting coke or wearing Italian shoes and chugging on a Coors Light.

The album takes a while to work its way inside your head and there are a couple of tracks that probably won't figure on the repeat play button, but it is something to which you will find yourself returning.

Manchester's finest Matt Schofield returns with his fourth album and makes it a set of two apiece for live and studio albums.

Just as he was influenced by Albert Collins and Robben Ford he now is regularly quoted as being an influence on many a young British guitarist.

Although a studio album, Ear To The Ground was recorded live with the band in a single room and the overdubs were kept to a minimum.

They open with Freddie King's Pack It Up and turn it into a funky blues, strong both musically and vocally. Nine Schofield and band written originals follow and start with Troublemaker.

This gives Jonny Henderson on keyboards a chance to shine, and he takes it. Schofield joins in with Albert Collins influenced runs as he burns up the frets.

The eponymous title track is a grittier, tougher blues altogether and the trio get into a groove. Heart Don't Need A Compass is a slow brooder.

Schofield's guitar is a star - jazzy and much influenced by Albert King's Stax period. Once In A While is even slower and has a Gospel feel surrounding it - classy guitar.

Room At The Back, a short instrumental that allows free flow guitar, allows Schofield to tip the nod to such bands as The Meters and Soulive. Someone has a full blown harmonica burst from 'Big Pete' Van Der Pluym and is heavier than most on offer.

It builds well and the guitar and harp work well together. Searchin' Give Me A Sign is jazzy blues with an edge - slinky guitar and reputed to be Matt's favourite.

A fast paced, energetic instrumental with drummer Evan Jenkins chipping in to complete a classic organ trio song. Over the years, I encountered him from time to time around Schuyler County, and he would greet me with his wide smile and, with a light accent, say my name with an emphasis on the second syllable.

I sit here at my keyboard remembering him; but in particular that smile. I imagine I could conjure up a few more specifics -- but overriding it all would be the memory of that smile.

The heart that no longer beats. Marie Fitzsimmons, who with husband Kirk Peters served as the host to Timateo during his exchange year.

She was teaching at Watkins Glen High School at that time. I contacted her after finding an entry on her Facebook page regarding his passing.

His journey began with the Watkins Glen High School Interact Club, Rotary Club and a dream that Nancy Loughlin then a guidance counselor at the school and my beloved students turned into reality.

This is the boy who came to live in our Hector home and became a son, a brother, a nephew, a cousin.

And a beloved member of our school community. August 25 at Damiani Wine Cellars. A private burial will take place at the Seneca Union Cemetery.

Rotary was so generous. She listened thoughtfully as I agonized over exchange programs being so remarkable -- but out of reach for young people without family resources.

And as she always did, she began the work to make a dream into a reality. As she worked with Rotary, the Malawi Children's Village unfolded as our partner.

Interact kids raised the money for plane fare and such. Rotary took care of other financial needs. And Tim came to live with us. It was an astonishing year.

His 18th birthday brought a celebration, and our house was jam-packed with all the friends who loved him. Presents overflowed -- most to do with Bob Marley posters, hats, CDs and shirts.

He was so, so happy. I believe he also earned another associate's degree! But of course, that was also true at TC3, at Hobart, in Ithaca, and everywhere he went.

People were drawn to him, for he was a beautiful spirit. After all, that is where his journey to us began. Timothy Kamanga Memorial Fund P.

He lives there, and works in Newark. He read on this website about the accident, and wondered if I knew anything more. He wanted to contact other folks who, like him, had attended Hobart with Timateo.

He, like me, had lost touch over the years, but one thing he remembered vividly. He wanted to experience everything. The waning of traditions But also for shared memories.

Most notable is the absence of familiar faces, although I have encountered a few in recent days. One, a gentleman of my age range named Ron Mars, was off-Island after rushing home to Indiana upon a report that a tree had fallen on his house.

Fortunately, damage was minimal, and he was back up here in a few days. One of his sons -- whose first name I forget awful as I am with retaining names of new acquaintances -- was here, too, but heading home to Kansas City, where he worked for the National Weather Service, running its website.

The Plaunts are around, minus patriarch Ray, who died several seasons ago at the young age of He had been a childhood hero to me: Twenty years ago, after I had started visiting the island again after decades away drawn here again by the spirit of the place, which induced me to write a couple of novels about it, Island Nights and The Islander , I stopped by to say hello to one of the Bablers, Marilyn.

She was on the phone when I arrived unannounced. I had been welcomed onto her front porch by her daughter, who had called into the cottage: She shrieked at that, tossed the phone to her husband, and gave me a big hug.

And we visited the rest of the day away. When we first came here, the matriarch of the clan was Lila Blome -- quite ancient to my then-young eyes. She had daughters Mary and Annette.

We did that annually for several years before my parents built a house on a lake in Bloomfield Hills, and the need for a watery getaway like Bois Blanc evaporated.

Eventually, two of their offspring, Sally and Wayne Jr. There has been no sign of siblings Sally -- who is seemingly always here -- or Marilyn.

This is alarming in the sense that the Bablers historically have not missed any potential Island time.

Mary Babler, until she reached well into her 80s, and maybe even 90 -- had missed only one summer here, and that when she was a year old.

Marilyn was much the same. Now in her mids, she was up here every year except one -- when she was a toddler -- until last year, when she and her husband Joel failed to appear.

The word was that a storm had damaged their home in St. But this year they are absent again, and I fear it is health matters.

Joel has been struggling -- a walker is not a convenient device on the island -- and rumor has it that Marilyn is ill. My point is this: The island -- beyond being a physically mystical place to me -- is a place of familiar faces and families dating back to my childhood.

It is a place of tradition: And time is robbing it of that quality. Those faces of my past -- friends of my parents, friends of my brothers, and friends of mine -- are disappearing all too rapidly as my generation and that immediately ahead of mine fades away.

This trip is designed as a renewal, and perhaps I will find the rest I need to tackle another school year's worth of news back in Schuyler County.

To counter that malaise, I have started doodling what I hope will be a novel. The plot is not set here -- in the Straits of Mackinac -- as my previous works have been.

I will also counter it by attending, I hope, various functions that mark summer on the island. A couple of summers back, you might recall, I also encountered Dillinger in a field not far from the place I am renting, a field accessible along a narrow track through thick woods.

I visited there last night, but saw nothing of the man -- just a white-tailed deer loping away after I spooked him. And I made the mistake of wearing shorts, which resulted in a nasty leg scratch administered by a protruding branch.

I've returned to the island Miriam Hoover, queen of Bois Blanc and widow of the former Hoover Vacuum Company president, died recently before she could reach her th birthday.

Others of Island note passed, too; but beyond that there seem to be some familiar faces missing, faces I normally see on my annual summer visits.

One I did see was that of Sheila Hyde. She was grabbing breakfast before heading off-Island to some function in New Jersey run by General David Petraeus, an old acquaintance of her husband.

And then home to Florida, not to return here until October, when she would help her mother close up the family place inland. But I will soon.

Six months on the island each year. I manage a maximum of six weeks. I had seen advertised on the ferry boat crossing that Thursday gatherings would be continuing at the Plaunt home, occupied these days by Leanne, eldest daughter of the late, great Ray Plaunt.

Those meetings started a few years ago, when folks could visit with Ray, the esteemed retired ferry boat captain of many years, including those years of my childhood.

After Ray died at the age of 95 a few seasons ago, the gatherings continued at the house, which he built many decades ago. But when Bob and I arrived for this gathering, there was none.

I spotted them on their back deck, and called out: Their daughter Wendy Spray, fortyish, was also there. They hailed us to park in their driveway and join them on the deck, and then asked us how long we were up for, and I said six weeks.

Three days later, on Sunday, at a fundraiser for an Islander seriously injured recently in an auto accident on Bois Blanc's east end, I encountered Leanne, who said the gatherings had generated no interest recently -- but that my brother and I were welcome to stop by at the appointed time on coming Thursdays, or any time.

I suspect we will. That's a stretch of land upon which lived John and Mildred Bible for several decades -- with Mildred staying on after John died, until her passing.

His death started the rumor that his ghost was often seen there and along the nearby North Shore Road, scaring hell out of campers.

The dock used to be the main one on the island, but a much larger, cement-based and thus sturdy one was built years ago a mile or so to the east.

But the old dock is still a popular spot for swimmers and sunbathers. The East team was full of young, strong batters who rather consistently hit the ball into the woods in right field or over a string in left field that served as the home run marker.

The West team had mostly middle-aged and older players who seemed oblivious to the art of fielding. The result was a victory for the young East squad -- the third straight win for that half of the island.

A sizable crowd was on hand -- mostly seated on portable chairs in the shade of woods along the third base line and behind home plate. Hamburgers, hot dogs and orange sherbet cups were plentiful, all under a beautiful blue sky and a sun whose heat was mitigated by a gentle breeze.

It has dirt roads, a 25 mph speed limit, one deputy, and limited health-care facilities, although about a dozen firefighters are first responders.

There are only about 50 full-time residents, and maybe 2, visitors in the course of a year, though that is a guess. Most folks, once they arrive, disappear into the woods to cabins and cottages.

A hundred people is a large turnout at a softball game, or at a joint church service such as they held Sunday morning, the Church of the Transfiguration in Pointe aux Pins hosting parishioners from the Coast Guard Chapel on the east end.

I have visited here some 30 times -- counting several summers here in my childhood -- and have spent a little over two years of my life as best as I can estimate enjoying these throwback environs.

A small percentage of a life pretty well lived. This existence would be much less than it is without this place, this feel, these personal journeys I take to Bois Blanc and its pristine shores.

A deer in the field beside Hawk's Landing; the wreck of the Bibles' home; a young woman on the East squad hits a double. Blast from a pivotal past It was perhaps the pivotal day in the history of The Odessa File.

Starting the website had been significant, but keeping it going was proving somewhat difficult.

I had been covering Odessa-Montour sports since starting the website in the winter of the school year, and did so again at the start of the fall sports season.

That was the idea -- to cover that one school and the two communities that made up its name. As I arrived, I saw a player on the Watkins team go down -- hard -- as she stopped a ball with her face.

Photography was better over there, and I needed all the help I could get -- as I was just learning action photography, really. I asked someone who the girl lying on the field was.

The game had been stopped, and she was being tended to. My first thought was: But then common sense took over: God, I hope she's okay , I amended my thinking.

As I was walking along the sideline, I heard a voice to my left, from a man leaning against the fencing that circled the track. I was immediately on guard, for I had found, much to my chagrin, that starting a website like this was not something immediately embraced.

I had been getting some pushback from the school and from coaches reluctant to contact me after games. I had also been interviewed by a TV reporter who asked rather rudely what gave me the right to do what I was doing.

I told him it was the same thing that gave him the right to stick that microphone in my face and ask me such a question: Now, facing toward the man leaning against the fence at the O-M athletic field, I sized him up: I ambled over, leaned against the fence next to him, and asked: I want you to cover Watkins Glen sports.

I thought that taking on another school -- when I was having enough difficulty settling in at O-M -- was a little too daunting.

But as we talked some more, he reiterated the invitation. He thought my presence, my coverage of sports, would be well received down the hill.

He called me several times over the next week -- persistently asking the same thing. See how it goes?

Eventually, I tired of his tenacity, and relented. I figured the only way I would get him to stop was to go down to Watkins, as he asked. But a funny thing happened when I got there to cover a girls soccer game.

Most of the kids seemed to know who I was, and welcomed me. And so I quite surprisingly enjoyed the experience, and decided to try another sport at Watkins, another game And in so doing, I soon found advertisers in Watkins Glen.

My basic support went from mostly donations to mostly advertisements, and the ads grew in number The income from ads had not grown fast enough to make what I was doing viable from an economic standpoint.

Another job -- another path -- seemed a reasonable option. But in one of our final conversations, Susan had urged me to continue. And mere weeks later, they did.

The seeds that had been sown by my move to Watkins Glen -- a process begun on the day that Desiree Ellison stopped a soccer ball with her face -- started germinating.

I told Desiree about that day after she had contacted me last week in her role as Executive Director of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, which plays slow-pitch games around the country and was in our area for a contest against the Elmira Pioneers at Dunn Field.

I had gotten to know her that senior year of hers, after her soccer wound had healed and she was back in action. She was looking for some publicity for the game in her first visit here with the team since taking over as Executive Director some months ago.

We talked at length when she called, and she invited me to a cookout at the home of her parents, Will and Dodie Hrynko, in Burdett, on a acre spread overlooking Seneca Lake.

It was a party thrown for the players, so I got a closeup look at them a day before the game and got a sense of the camaraderie that helps carry them from city to city for 25 or so events -- individual games and tournaments -- each year.

I actually arrived early, and so got a chance to talk to Desiree before the party got rolling. She told me about the road she took to her current job -- school, more school, a position with the Syracuse Chiefs baseball team, other jobs and, currently in addition to everything else on her plate , pursuit of a PhD.

And she talked about the Wounded Warrior team. That effort is in the form of a camp, where the team plays softball with the kids and interacts through other games, bonding and showing the kids that they are not alone in the world.

When the kids come to camp, said one player, they have a tendency to hide behind their parents, but by the end they are clinging to the players, not wanting to leave.

And it is one that Desiree is crazy about. She learned about the team several years ago, when she was working for the Chiefs, when they hosted the Amputee squad.

She was smiling, too, at the game against the Pioneers at Dunn Field in Elmira the next night. The visitors started fast, with three runs in the first inning, but then were blanked for three innings and fell behind But then, as the rain intensified, so did the Warrior offense -- the team scoring five runs in the 5th inning and then three in the 7th to win going away, The crowd was happy, the players on both sides seemed happy -- and while I had by that time lost track of Desiree Ellison, I assume she was happy too.

After the game ended, and being fairly drenched, I made my way to my car and, as I pulled away, I heard and felt what seemed like someone pounding on my car roof.

It took me a few moments to realize it was the sounds of a fireworks show over the stadium behind me. Most of the crowd had stayed for that -- a traditionally patriotic conclusion to an evening honoring patriots who, despite the loss of limbs, had risen to the occasion and showed what they show crowds dozens of times each year and what they show those kids at camp: Life can rob you of so many things, but courage and determination can more than even the score.

I scrapped my column By Charlie Haeffner O dessa, NY, July 18, -- I wrote another column for this space -- one that rambled on and on, and that I ultimately found boring, and that I jettisoned.

The primary reason for the rejection: It had to do with the fact that the Legislature stood virtually alone for those four years among area governments and businesses, almost all of whom were adamantly opposed to the project.

It had to do with the environmental concerns in an area that depends on tourism -- an economic driver that could go horribly awry with a single ecological catastrophe.

It had to do with the protests that followed that initial resolution -- the hundreds of arrests that ensued in the following months, and the clogged court up in the Town of Reading.

It had to do with the folks on the Legislature who voted for the storage, and those who voted against it, and their reasons, where given.

It had to do with the misguided notion by the Legislature chair that the storage proposal, four years ago, was about to be approved by the governor.

That seemed like a big duh. I scrapped that column. It was too easy to beat up on a Legislature that stood alone for so long, seemingly fighting reason.

She's a remarkable businesswoman who spearheaded the facility in Montour Falls that houses cats and dogs.

Our animal friends are so very much better off thanks to her. Her name came to my attention when someone nominating her asked if I could be used as a reference.

I said yes, of course. So, the number of females that I and various readers have spotlighted is growing: Belle Cornell, Jane Delano, Dr.

But the count right now is 39 men and 5 women in the Hall of Fame. That disparity needs to change if the Hall hopes to retain a sense of validity.

Balloting is currently under way. Click here to access a nomination form. I recently watched one of those wonderful black-and-white classic films -- "Meet John Doe," a Frank Capra-directed gem starring Gary Cooper as the title character and one of my favorite actresses, Barbara Stanwyck.

What struck me upon this viewing it had been a few years since I had last seen it was the passion with which the average man and woman portrayed in the film embraced the idea of helping their neighbors.

Back then, the chief forms of communication were radio and newspapers -- in this case a crooked, bad-guy-owned newspaper that spewed dare I say?

Now, lo these 77 years later, we have much greater communication through the internet, but instead of drawing us together, it divides us.

The newspapers now aren't as vile as the one in "John Doe," but with press reporters now doubling as media read that TV darlings, and with the rise of Fox news as a sort of extension of the governmental right, the effect is the same.

The hero of "John Doe" threatened to jump off a very high tower as a form of protest. With today's lack of decorum, extreme and growing divisiveness, truth twisting, extensive welfare, religious extremism, toothless representatives and senators, government corruption I'm thinking mainly of Albany, but Washington fits, too , rampant pornography, an opioid epidemic, and the absence, for far too long, of the Brooklyn Dodgers, that form of protest rings truer now, I think, than it did in the film.

For those unfamiliar with it, the film ends on an up note, with John Doe stopping short of jumping, carrying his ladylove to safety and, embraced by the common folk, effectively snubbing his nose at the nasty multimedia publisher-curmudgeon.

Nowadays, John would have been ripped to pieces by either the left or right or both in the blink of an internet eye. Analysis prevails now, to the nth.

Talking heads propound, and media wannabes spew their bile on blogs. Viral, instead of a type of illness, becomes a communicable way of life: Most everyone who commented agreed with the names I proffered, and some added others, in each case the name of a woman -- for it is hard to refute the fact that a male majority in the Hall of Fame makes it something of a boys club.

The past four induction classes have seen an male advantage -- good picks individually, but completely gender unbalanced. Other names suggested to me since that column was published have included Belle Cornell and Jane Delano, local figures of historical import.

Blanche Borzell was suggested, too. She is a longtime and highly respected physician and coroner. Add to that Carol Bower, the grand caterer who has long provided meals on site and at her home on Cass Road.

I would hasten to add Kate LaMoreaux, a Watkins Glen High School swim coach of amazing success who still oversees an annual summer swim program and plays a mean dulcimer.

I offer them with the thought that perhaps a reader might have missed a great opportunity for entertainment, and finds it mentioned here.

Things have quieted down tremendously since graduations, and the heat index has gone sky-high. It was over yesterday and today.

With summer here and thus no high school sports, my job has eased up, and just in time. I have to start thinking about the future in judicious terms.

My annual visit to Bois Blanc Island in northern Michigan should help me recharge. I subsequently got a fairly clean bill of health from the doctor, but he also reminded me that old age comes to us all, and with it diminishing wells of energy.

As long as my mind is sharp and my health holds, I will keep going It's Hall of Fame time The search is on for Schuyler County Hall of Fame nominees.

That word comes from the Chamber of Commerce, the moving force behind the Hall of Fame. The Hall, instituted in , is a gathering of late and living Schuylerites who have passed a strict screening to become members.

The list of the Hall of Fame members is not long -- just 44 entrants -- and the selection process less than consistent.

It was held annually at its beginning, in the mids, and then took a break of three years, and then a break of another seven years.

Then boom, boom, boom -- three straight years with inductions -- and then four off, and three off, and most recently a break of two years.

The membership list encompasses agricultural standouts, political standouts, legal standouts, a woman devoted to the county history, a couple of doctors, educational standouts, and business standouts.

Who this next time? Well, I would start with Jim Guild, a man of business foresight and a force in the downtown business community.

His operations take up nearly a block of Franklin Street. Business visionary, religiously oriented, a landlord of several properties, Rotarian.

The man is always thinking, and always doing. Some consider him a maverick, which might put him on the outside looking in, but I think the selectors should strongly consider opening that door to him.

I would continue with J. This is a man of compassion who has helped many people over the years, including yours truly.

Good God, what else do you need to do for induction? And I would heartily endorse the recently departed Frank Steber -- longtime and popular Watkins Glen teacher, and later a columnist Seneca Spectator for the local weekly and the author of three historical novels based right here in our historic backyard: He also served as president of the Watkins Glen Library board and the Schuyler County Historical Society, and had a wide circle of friends drawn to the gentleman he was.

The last time I saw him, not long before his passing, he was selling and signing his books at the Historical Society Museum, and said he was planning another novel.

Alas, that will not happen. But the Hall of Fame can. Beyond that, we need more diversity. I would suggest for instance that women be given a much closer look.

Right now, there are only five female members of the Hall of Fame: We can do better than that. And while she predated Schuyler County, she was right here once, and historically significant: Or how about former Watkins Glen Mayor Judy Phillips, who has a long and distinguished history of public service?

Or chronicler extraordinaire Glenda Gephart? Do you have a favorite or favorites? You can put in your two cents worth with the Chamber of Commerce until July Now that the year is ending And celebrations have ensued.

We held our Top Drawer 24 party with only minor hiccups. Each party offers a new challenge or two, even after 13 years.

Sports awards have been distributed. Meanwhile, signs of summer have arrived. And a carnival with it. And all great fun. And round and round we go But one day, the lottery or a sugar mama or some other stroke of luck willing, I will take the leap.

Turns out that he actually leaped from a moving train, and was removed from the scene by the current-day Willoughby Funeral Home.

I trust I have a stronger sense of self-preservation than that. I just have to pace myself. My doctor and my meds tell me so.

I used to be athletic -- on the high school varsity baseball team. I developed some power left-handed. I could run rather fast, and throw bullets.

Now, if I try to run, my left foot damaged last winter and my right knee the winter before scream out at me in protest. Even without those maladies, speed is not in my arsenal any longer.

Nor, I suspect, is my ability to send a ball over an outfield fence. And my arm was never the same after a rotator cuff injury.

It's enough, on occasion, to make me seethe. I used to play; now I spectate. As a fan, though, I find I can act on my admiration of others -- specifically of our high school athletes.

And a fan I am. I especially admired the Top Drawer kids this year. Their achievements are, collectively, mind-boggling. And I admire the winners of the Susan Award, a sportsmanship-in-life honor named after my late wife.

Escapism can be good -- as long as we keep one foot firmly placed in the reality of our existence: The end of a month school year is, for me, the end of a marathon -- with another looming not far ahead.

But first comes the Island. It's as essential to me as the air. Sometimes there are bugs. The young lady did not like it, and thus did not remain the fellow's girlfriend for long.

For the Island comes first. The Island has electricity and running water and modern restrooms -- all lacking up there when I was a boy.

He did that once from New York -- from Odessa -- back when he was a boy and his Mom was alive. We met them coming in late at night at the Island airfield, just as the wind was picking up from a nasty storm moving in.

The craft was getting knocked around pretty good as it landed. As I remember it, when Dave got out of that plane, he dropped to his knees and kissed the ground.

Air travel can do that to you: All the world is a stage For plays in seven acts. From mewling turned to teenaged angst, We move to love and marriage pacts.

To parenthood, to preening pride, Then to a certain slide. And in the end, when we revert To loss, we must abide. But on the way it's safe to say, and with no reservation That flight is not in any way Akin to preservation.

In all, visits were paid to 10 schools for the presentation of invitations to 24 remarkable student-athlete-citizens selected for inclusion on the 13th annual Top Drawer 24 team.

Cheplick widely known as Chep and I devised this team back in late , while brainstorming in his downstairs rec room. I had not had an exactly embracing experience covering Odessa-Montour sports at the outset, and a trip I had made to the Watkins high school office early in my online venture basically resulted in a rebuff by the principal.

But Chep saw the potential -- the need, really -- for The Odessa File in Watkins Glen, and so I relented, and went down to cover a couple of sporting events The Watkins district, I discovered, was as far from O-M as philosophy and caution could take it, O-M being at the time both isolationist and guarded, and Watkins Anyway, we came up with the idea to have me pick Athletes of the Week, based on all that I observe -- which is quite a bit each week; I cover a lot of games involving the two schools.

And then, not long after, we decided All-Schuyler All-Star teams might have value if selected by me seasonally. And that worked -- and then along came the idea for the Top Drawer 24 -- an annual team taking into account scholarship, athleticism, personality and citizenship -- "the whole package," I believe I first called it.

Twelve years in now, we -- that is, Chep and I and a committee, and with input from area administrators and from the occasional parent always welcome -- have distributed medallions and certificates and cupcakes, I guess you might include, since they are a staple of our annual award celebration to honorees.

Many of those were repeat honorees, especially in the early years; one girl made the team four times, and several three.

Juniors, in fact, are generally outnumbered by seniors. Last year we had eight juniors, and only one of them is on the team again in this, her senior year.

Each year starts fresh, especially now with spots on the team at such a premium. It is so much harder with 10 schools vying for the same number of positions as before: When we expanded, we took some heat on it.

It was a bold stroke -- one devised by Chep -- and it paid off. The other eight schools value the award in a way that we have never seen it embraced in Schuyler County.

Each school welcomes Chep and me in its own way. My favorite is Spencer-Van Etten, where administrators have the honorees' parents and even grandparents on hand for the presentation of the invitation.

This year, with just one honoree, S-VE made the biggest deal of the invitation phase -- with parents, grandparents and sister waiting for the honoree, Mackenzie Grube, whose smile signified surprise and pleasure at what she found awaiting her when she was called to the main office.

What is important to me and Chep has always been the kids -- honoring those who have earned it and challenging them to give back in the future; to become our community leaders or leaders of whatever community or state in which they ultimately reside.

It has always been important to create a special feel to capture those special moments when the honorees are called forward one by one at the ceremony to receive the applause -- the encouragement -- of the assembled crowd.

And the place that captures that mood is the Watkins Glen State Park Pavilion, up near the pool -- a place that evokes a timeless quality, so much better than an interior although it offers shelter itself, quite necessary in years past that brought us sleet and rain and, once, downright cold that prompted the park to light the fireplaces at either end of the structure.

I have had the privilege, as I noted, of meeting with all of them. In the case of the Schuyler schools, I know each of the honorees, some better than others.

And they are clearly an exceptional group. If you haven't seen the story about the team -- with each member listed and pictured and individually described -- you can click here to catch up.

A nudge, if you will. If you can pull yourselves away from your usual routine on Monday evening, June 4th, come on up to the State Park pavilion for this year's Top Drawer 24 party -- located near the park entrance across from Seneca Lodge.

Inspiration, thy name is I am encouraged because it never fails that I am inspired by young people who rise to the challenges that school and its attendant activities -- primarily sports -- pose to them.

At my age, I am on the sidelines; so I take pleasure from there in their achievements, which appeal to the fan in me. It is also a time when I can, in some small way, help to congratulate them in a perhaps meaningful way -- through inclusion on this website's spring sports All-Star team or, beyond that, with inclusion on the Top Drawer 24 team of outstanding student-athlete-citizens.

And beyond that, there is the presentation each year -- on the same night as our Top Drawer celebration at the State Park pavilion -- of Athlete of the Year and Susan Award trophies to deserving and yes, inspiring students.

All of that is both time-consuming Because thought and study and discussion and worry can take a toll -- and that's what goes into such selections.

The Top Drawer program, conceived more than a decade ago, has grown to encompass schools beyond the border of Schuyler County.

We partner with 10 schools -- up from the original two -- to honor students who are among the best and brightest that our area has to offer.

The Athlete of the Year Awards are the culmination of sports coverage on The Odessa File through three seasons at Watkins Glen and O-M, complete with an ongoing poll that tracks performances.

In the end, poll points generally tell who the recipients should be. Naturally, those points can't be generated without a consistent effort on my part to observe.

I see a lot of games or matches in the course of a school year, and learn the nuances of the players, and their athletic qualities -- among them precision, attitude, leadership and desire.

That all plays, ultimately, into the selection of the Top Drawer 24 by a committee. And it plays into selection of the Susan Award winner each year -- or on a couple of occasions, winners.

There are two this year -- two wholly deserving individuals. It was presented originally -- starting in -- to someone in Schuyler County, but has since become available to students from other Top Drawer 24 schools.

Anyway, the Susan honoree is not always a sportsman in a traditional sense. The honoree might be someone who has met adversity in life with grace and dignity and a drive that never admits defeat -- or it can be someone who is like Susan was.

That requires a sense of fair play, a core of kindness, and a single-mindedness in pursuit of goals, but with a sense not of self, but of the usefulness of those goals to others -- such as teammates.

In other words, I look for someone who -- from my own personal standpoint -- is a mix of attributes that almost defy definition. For Susan could not be pigeonholed.

But as the saying goes, I know it when I see it. Having said that, I find myself quite pleased with the selections on all fronts this year.

The makeup varies from year to year, depending on circumstance and the pool of nominees. The honorees will be notified of their selection this week, and the team unveiled soon after.

There have also been yet-to-be-announced Male and Female Athletes of the Year selected by this website at both Odessa-Montour and Watkins Glen, and there are, as mentioned, two Susan Award winners -- one in Schuyler County and one out, also not yet unveiled.

Things get started about 5 p. Athlete of the Year Awards are presented at 5: A Top Drawer 24 team photo is at 5: Speeches -- short, message-orient speeches -- begin at 5: Medallions, trophies and celebration follow.

And you're all invited. Take a drive up there. There is no admission charge, either to the park at that point, or to the party.

Have at it, historians Knowing how small that auditorium is, and how tight the stage space, I can only marvel at the challenges it presented.

Schuyler plays nowadays are held for the most part in large high school auditoriums with sizable stages.

Anyway, as the flyers attest: Being a newcomer I arrived here in , most of the names in the cast are ones with which I am not attuned, although some jumped out: Frank Steber and William Elkins chief among them -- teacher and lawyer, both beloved across many years.

Steber died recently at the age of I in fact procured these flyers from the home of Mr. He is 94 now, and there with his wife Irene, Their daughters have been conducting a sale of material from the Elkins house on Route near Burdett.

There I found the flyers this past weekend, while perusing Mr. Elkins -- a member of the Schuyler County Hall of Fame -- has been known widely for years for his legal and humanitarian efforts.

His home reflects an eclectic taste -- political buttons, some old toy trains, postcards, shelves of non-fiction books and novels, magazines -- and a host of personal knickknacks.

But it was the flyers that caught my eye -- still in mint condition, as fresh as the day they were issued. They were in a stack of various papers, along with three other flyers -- identical to one another and also mint -- touting the Republican candidacy of William N.

Following his death, the County Courthouse was named in his honor. There was also, in that grouping, a American Legion membership card with Mr.

I found a book, too, by another well-known local lawyer, the late Liston F. It was published in , when Mr. Hanlon, a lumberman who was a board trustee in the Odessa School District.

An elementary school in Odessa is named in his honor. History has long fascinated me; I was a history major in college, and like to mix my fiction reading with biographies and such.

Not to mention the late Jean Argetsinger, a community leader for years. Steber and Hanlon wrote novels, but little, as far as I know, about themselves.

Elkins and Ellison are subjects who should yield a wealth of information -- just by talking to Elkins or to those who know him and knew Ellison.

And there are plenty of Argetsingers around to discuss the family matriarch. Have at it, historians. Susan Hazlitt as Tracy Lord.

Getchie Argetsinger as Dinah Lord. Janice Kranz as Margaret Lord. George Shannon as Thomas. Ann Ryer as Elizabeth Liz Embrie. Compese as Macaulay Mike Connor.

Hugh Snow as George Kittredge. Frank Steber as Seth Lord. Genevieve Peck as Elsie. Ronald Nilsen as Mac. Fay Nilsen as May. Darwin Connelly as Edward.

Among other names, backstage: The Hatsell's Music Makers provided music before the play and during intermissions: Most are just names to the newcomer, but they had key responsibilities.

All leading, I imagine, to a couple of wonderful evenings 55 years ago. Kudos to the local robotics team that competed late last month in a world competition in Detroit.

The event, under the auspices of the FIRST organization For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology featured four classes; the local team -- which goes by the name Mechanical Meltdown, and operates a robot it built and named Renaldo -- competed with other 7th through 12th graders.

A total of teams -- out of 5, worldwide -- qualified in their division for the Detroit competition. There was a similar competition held the previous week in Houston -- representing countries from the Southern Hemisphere.

The Detroit event was for Northern Hemisphere countries. The Mechanical Meltdown has seven members. Of them, five went on the trip. Two had unavoidable conflicts.

Most of the kids' parents were there, along with a grandfather and aunt. All told, 40, people were in attendance, among them thousands of competing students -- making it the largest robotics competition in the world.

Said Kathy Gascon, who serves as a coach: We were so pleased just to have earned our way there. Our team performed even better than I expected, and I am extremely proud of them to have placed 32nd among these truly world-class teams.

The passion of younger days. It was engrossing, and satisfying, and called to mind my own minor experience in Washington, working for a few months for USA Today -- long after the Pentagon Papers and the subsequent Watergate mess.

I was in D. But that was minor, a mere sighting across the dining hall. Call it a brush with history. And I did very well in my editing post, winning more than a dozen weekly awards.

But try as I might to catch on there full time, I was rebuffed, and ended up leaving journalism for a few years. One of the reasons given me for the rejection came, off the record, from a full-time editor I had befriended.

I was too old. Also too white and too male, those being important hiring characteristics at the time. I was too old 30 years ago. Anything near 40 was excessive in the eyes of the suits, I guess.

Three decades have passed since then, and I find myself wondering: If I was too old then, what am I now? It is, after all, 30 years later. I think it might be true.

An example of passion applied in my yesteryear: There was a murder there of a woman I knew peripherally -- the wife of a local attorney.

Her name was Holly Gilbert, and she was 34 years old. She was killed by bullets to the neck and head from a. Police theorized that she had arrived home from running errands and had stumbled into an ongoing robbery.

This occurred on Harris Drive, an upper-crust section of the city. The whole thing was a shock. And some of us had met Holly.

When we did hear about it, there was no suspect; police had no idea who was responsible. But that night the story took a nasty turn.

He had a year-old son, Leo, and Leo was now a suspect. Early the next day the boy was apprehended many miles away, hitchhiking along the New York Thruway near Buffalo.

I remember that day, Oct. I remember because I got rather passionate during an argument in the newsroom about whether we could use his name, since he was only Normal practice involving teen crimes was that the names were withheld from publication.

But this was different; this was murder, and so I felt the rules be damned. Some others in the newsroom held the more traditional viewpoint: At that age -- I was days away from turning 28 -- I tended to emotional extremes when I felt that rules were absurd and obstructionist; and so I did that day.

I argued passionately and found, ultimately, that the powers that be at the paper leaned in the same direction.

I remember all of this in some detail because of the prominent people involved in the crime; because the victim was more than a statistic to me; and because I felt it was just flat-out right to inform the public about what was transpiring on a story so important -- so affecting, really, that it still resonates with me all these years, nearly 42 of them, later.

There is, in fact, a reproduction of the Watertown Times back page that day, Oct. And in a curve-cornered box at the bottom of one of several stories we carried that day was this: But that page aside, I remember the case too because of how it ended.

Officials threw the book at the kid -- but it was a very thin, very light book. Then he would have to be turned loose unless he, for some reason, desired supervised treatment beyond that.

I have no indication available that he did. That was the law back then, since changed. We have fulfilled our mandate to this county.

All that remains of it are the memories -- of Watertown, which I left three years later, and of Holly Gilbert. The victim of a brutal crime.

One such instance came while I worked at The Leader in Corning in the late s. The paper was celebrating its th birthday, and I was told by the publisher to write an account -- warts and all -- about a day in the life of the newspaper.

The publisher failed to read it until 15, copies of the special section that held my story were printed and stacked for delivery, set to go out on a specific upcoming day.

Within my story was mention of some friction that existed between the paper and Corning Inc. Corning is essentially a company town.

The publisher discovered the specifics of my story a day after the print run, but before delivery, and had a conniption; he hated to rile the ruling class.

Even mention of friction with Corning Inc. I snapped and told off the reporter right there, in front of everyone -- passion welling to the surface and spewing out across the conference-room table -- until the publisher stepped in and basically sent us to our respective corners.

Then he said he would get back to us; would have a decision on what, if anything, he planned to do. The reporter and I avoided each other the rest of the day, lest violence erupt.

The publisher's decision, I learned the next day, was to trash all 15, special sections and reprint them with my story reworked according to his specifications.

Since the cost of the move was significant, I thought for sure I would be fired Anyway, I grabbed and still have several copies of the offending section, plucked from their pile before the destroy order was carried out.

What they thought was what they thought; they were entitled to their opinions, as I am to mine. Sometimes a reader who didn't see things my way engaged me with direct broadsides -- which is to say unpleasant criticisms.

There was one reader in particular -- a woman with a child in the local school district -- who I seemingly set off with regularity. On several occasions I had snarky emails waiting for me from the woman as soon as I awakened in the morning.

I thought that if I really bothered her so much, she could stop reading right away -- but I don't think I ever suggested it to her.

I tried to keep the peace despite a part of me just itching for a fight. But while I managed to avoid a direct confrontation with her, I seemed to naturally engage school superintendents -- a couple of them up here in Odessa over the years, and one in particular down the hill in Watkins Glen.

People sometimes ask why I haven't always gotten along with superintendents, and I say it's because of the authoritarian nature of their job -- which is fine until the officeholder starts seeing himself or herself with rose-colored glasses; sees royalty when looking in the mirror.

Yes, I've had my run-ins with them -- even got banned once from the sidelines of sporting events at the school in Odessa. The ban came in the form of a superintendent's directive that said I couldn't be insured, and should therefore steer clear of proximity to athletic action that might inadvertently injure me -- a directive which I ignored, asserting my right to be where other reporters could go.

And I never heard another peep on the matter. Later, I was effectively banned from school buildings during classroom hours in Watkins Glen.

I had upset the super with my news coverage, and he decided in response that I needed his specific approval to gain admittance.

Since I had had a pretty free rein on my school movements up to that point, and saw no reason to kiss his ring, I never sought his permission.

I stayed away instead, and the kids lost a degree of coverage. I might still muster up a fight or two down the road, but it will take more to spur me on than it used to.

I'm even getting along with the current superintendents. With age comes a certain calm. At least it seems to be that way with me. To return to my starting point -- movies -- let me add something in the distinctive syntax used by Star Wars ' Yoda, something that sums up where I am.

It's this simple, really: Long in the tooth I am. Fight I might; or might not. But try I will. Bruno and the Silverdome. In other words, time is fleeting.

Surprisingly, quite a few folks keep popping into my head, undercutting my usual cynical stance that very few people can be trusted.

No one walks truly alone. I have mentioned here before the man who challenged me -- mentored me -- as I began a journalism career.

Robert Gildart was his name, a professor at Albion College, my alma mater. He was an author of Albion history , a journalist, an instructor and an emotional supporter.

Those two men -- John Sr. They welcomed me there with open arms -- got me back in the journalism game after several years in the wilderness.

That experience led, more or less directly -- gave the impetus -- to this website.

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