Friday, 15 March 2013

Wearing of the Green

Sunday, March 17 is going to be big this year.  St. Patrick's Day was established as a way to recognise Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Originally a religious holiday, it is now practised on March 17th by many people throughout the world with food, drink and all things green.

How are you going to celebrate St Patrick’s Day? Here are some ideas.  

  1.  Learn a little of the history of St Patrick's DaySt. Patrick's Day was not officially recognised until 1976. Saint Patrick, whose real name was Maewyn Succat,  has been credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland. He led a rather interesting life.  He was kidnapped and sold into slavery at age 16 and, to help him endure his enslavement, he turned to God.  At 21 he escaped to France, where he became a priest. Eventually he returned to Ireland where he spent the next 30 years establishing schools, churches, and monasteries across the country. 

 It is thought that St. Patrick used a shamrock as a metaphor for the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), showing how three individual units could be part of the same body. His parishioners began wearing shamrocks to his church services. Today, "the wearing of the green" on St. Patrick's Day represents spring, shamrocks, and Ireland. St Patrick died in March, 461 AD.
  2.  You gotta go green.  You don't have to wear a sweater with a giant shamrock on it. There is a wide variety of St Patrick's day clothing.  A St Pat's Day T-shirt or anything with at least some green on it would be suitable.  
 3.  Accessorise. Buttons, pins and jewelry are all great ways to dress up an outfit. Nothing is too gaudy or outlandish. Buttons with clever (or not so clever) sayings are also encouraged. Small shamrock pins are a great and subtle way to express your support of the holiday. Dying your hair or your pet's fur bright green is also a great way to stand out. Be sure to use a non-toxic dye.
4.  Eat traditional Irish food. Beer and spirits are not the only great "foods" to come out of Ireland. Corned beef (corned beef is not a traditional Irish meal, that tradition started in NYC), cabbage and lamb stew are tasty ways to "keep it real." Potatoes are about as Irish as you can get and are one of the staples of the Irish diet. Traditional Irish foods include bangers and mash, colcannon, corned beef and cabbage, stew, boxty, a Belfast breakfast and praties-potatoes.

 5.  Play some Irish music. There's so much great Irish music out there.  But please, make sure you play something by Van Morrison - play anything or play Irish Heartbeat the album he made with The Chieftains.

6.  Attend a local parade. Failing that, what about fronting up to your local Irish bar/pub? 
7.   Consider staying at home. If you aren't a fan of the bar scene but still want to celebrate, invite a few friends over and have a St. Patrick's Day themed party. Go as extreme or as laid back as you want: insist that everyone wear green or just have them come as they are and chill out with a few beers. Create a delicious St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner. What about a dinner party serving Irish lamb stew and Irish soda bread?  Drink some Guinness.  Decorating for an Irish theme party is easy, just stick with green and you won’t go too far wrong.  St Patrick’s Day is known for people celebrating with outlandish t-shirts, hats, scarfs and Irish symbols.
 8.  Finally, treat an Irishman with some special kindness.  Why not go to Westbury and look Pat Corley up.  Go over and look at his blue wall and then shout him pints of Guinness all night. 
How to Make Green Beer

Step 1. Choose A Light Beer You can enjoy, Light Beer Works best as Green Beer

Step 2. Pour 1/2 of a Beer into a Beer Mug  

Step 3. Pour 4-5 Drops of Green Food Colouring into the beer  

Step 4. Pour in the Second Half of the beer.

How to Make Irish Soda Bread

3 cups flour  

1 tbs baking powder

 1/3 cup of white sugar

 1 tsp salt

 1 tsp baking soda

 1 egg lightly beaten

 2 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup butter
Combine the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt and even the baking soda in a mixing bowl and lightly mix it all together. Blend the egg and buttermilk together and add that to the flour mixture. Stir just until moistened. Then mix in the butter. Pour into a sprayed pan. Preheat oven to 200degrees Celsius. Cook it in a 8×8 pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake for an hour and cook until a toothpick comes out clean. After cooling wrap in aluminium foil and let it set for another 4 hours to let the tastes meld. A very simple bread to make.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Period of Transition - Van's Maligned Album from 1977

In the following post music journalist Rob Steen blogs about rediscovering some of Van's lesser albums.  For the full article see Rock's Back Pages.  In this excerpt he digs out 
Period of Transition

It ain’t easy being unique
Rob Steen  -  28 Jan 2013
I did an extremely un-me thing the other day. Come to think of it, I can’t think of too many music scribes who would have done it either. I dug out an old album and reversed my opinion. In a good way. 
The waxing in question was A Period of Transition, one of the least beloved of all Van Morrison’s works and one I had not listened to in its entirety since its release in 1977. At the time, sure, I’d noted the exceedingly occasional less-than-weedy constituent – Heavy Connection, Cold Wind in August – but the overall sense of disappointment, after an interminable three-year wait since the superlative Veedon Fleece, had been overwhelming. No album had let my teenage self down with a bigger, more dispiriting bump. 
Nor did it help that, after a painful promotional interview with Nicky Horne on Capital Radio, the Man Himself, having kindly signed my copy of Astral Weeks (now framed in gold and living large on the lounge wall), came across in person as the biggest grouch since The Grinch. How on earth, my sister and I wondered as we discussed this with his shortlived manager Harvey Goldsmith, could someone capable of such beauty be so…so…so…the opposite? 

Four decades on, A Period of Transition sounded positively inspired. Maybe it was the fuller sound afforded by a combination of CD and iPod as compared with a wafer-thin slab of vinyl on a cheap record player, but here, in all its uncelebrated glory, is Van’s Stax album. Maybe, in this age of download and overload, the presence of a piffling seven songs, only one of them exceeding five minutes, now sounds refreshingly concise. Maybe, after a period during which he had dabbled with all sorts of unfulfilled projects that would have been eminently worth releasing officially by a less picky performer – plus some unreleased sessions with The Crusaders that at least in theory sound gobsmackingly mouthwatering – it was the shift from white musicians to black. 
Gone were Jeff Labes, John Platania, David Shaar and Jack Schroer, instrumental heartbeat of the band that gave us the showstoppingly magnificent It’s Too Late To Stop Now, still my favourite live album; in their stead, alongside Dr John (keyboards and guitar), came Reggie McBride (bass), Ollie Brown (drums) and Jerry Jumonville (sax). From the opening You Gotta Make It Through The World, the result is mostly as funky as hell.

Basic Details About Period of Transition
 Track listing  (All songs written by Van Morrison)
 Side one
 1."You Gotta Make It Through the World" – 5:10
 2."It Fills You Up" – 4:34
 3."The Eternal Kansas City" – 5:26

Side two
 1."Joyous Sound" – 2:48
 2."Flamingos Fly" – 4:41
 3."Heavy Connection" – 5:23
 4."Cold Wind in August" – 5:48
Van Morrison – acoustic and electric guitars, vocals, harmonica

Ollie E. Brown – drums, percussion
Marlo Henderson – guitar
Jerry Jumonville – tenor and alto saxophones
Reggie McBride – bass
Joel Peskin – baritone saxophone
Mac Rebennack (Dr. John) – piano, electric piano and guitar on "It Fills You Up"
Mark Underwood – trumpet
1977 Charts
US Album Charts   -   43
Album Charts   -   23