2016 - A very good year. I’d take a baker’s dozen of them. They say it takes a year to get your feet under you after a move. We beat that milepost easy. It helps when you know the city a bit, already have some friends in the area and your kids are here and happy to hang with you. Spokane despite its poverty and rough exterior is a delightful place to live. Four very distinct seasons, each one glorious. Mellow, genuinely friendly people everywhere. Skiing 40 minutes away. Restaurants? Excellent. Music? Amazing, amazing. And Wallowa County four hours south on one of the most beautiful drives in the Union.
It’s been lots of fun getting this property up to speed and so much fun to be able to work with my hands again after a 17-year hiatus. There’s been lots of help, hundreds of hours from Jonathan, as well as Lydia and Gregory whose strong backs got a lot of work done.
But, this is not really a newsletter, rather my annual retrospective of music. Last year I stated that "The gift of music poured down in buckets, pressed down and flowing over." Well, the cornucopia has not ceased. Here's my favorite tunes, either released this year or discovered by me in 2016.
The album title is lower case, but the music is CAPS LOCK excellent. My favorite album of the year. It is lower in honor of the convener of the group, the butch cowgirl, k.d. lang. The case is Nekko Case. Laura Veirs posts last in this alphabetically arranged title. If I haven't already sent you this album, don't miss this lush, fresh piece of North Americana creativity. If you are spotifying it, start with "Honey & Smoke," "Song for Judee," "Blue Fires," and "Down I-5."
Joseph, "I'm Alone, No You're Not"
This must be the year of female trios. I first posted about these ladies Portland, Oregon sister-band in 2015 after hearing about them doing a concert at the OK Theatre. They've only gotten better since then, shooting like a rocket from backyard concerts to world tours and The Tonight Show. We've been privileged to see them twice at Spokane's intimate venue, The Bartlett, with a third local concert mid-March 2017. Clearly the best sibling sonic curtains since The Beach Boys, or as the famous Belfastian music critic, Paul Bowman, describes as "blood harmonies."
The Gloaming, "2"
Speaking of Paul, this discovery was on his recommendation of a "supergroup of Celtic musicians." Like Blind Faith supergroup? Well not really. But what a treat of traditional Celtic with touches of classical and jazz in the mix. We are listening to their self-named first album and the appropriately titled "2."
Max Richter, "Vivaldi Recomposed"
This pearl was brought to our attention through the exquisitely crafted Netflix show "Chef's Table." We were captured not only by the breathtaking cinematography and stories presented on this series, but also by the music. It wasn't easy to figure out through the credits, but this is where it comes from. Available on Deutsche Grammaphone. Click below to hear "Spring 1."
David Macintyre, "Ave Maria"
This piece has just come to me in the last month, presented at the Whitworth University Christmas choral concert. The composer, David Macintyre, is another Canadian, Vancouver and not lower case. Here sung by a Czech choir. This ain't your mother's "Ave." Good stuff, don't pass it up. Enjoy!