If one could wear out the ridges of a digital LP, “Cappadocia” might be reaching critical mass. Jeff Johnson and Phil Keaggy have created a lush, intriguing, and satisfying album that I can’t stop listening to.
“Cappadocia”, named after the semi-arid, beautiful region of Turkey, is really a stunning achievement. Johnson is a master of creating expansive moods and atmospheres on his magical keyboard and when coupled with Keaggy’s sweet melodies and amazingly textured guitar playing, you have an instrumental album that reveals new discoveries at every listen.
The title track is infectious with glimpses of Middle Eastern tones without being overwhelmed in the regional sounds. Keaggy’s playing is always surprising. There are times when a melancholic chord turns hopeful and surprisingly takes the music in a way I never would have thought of. I’m thankful that this duo are the ones writing the music and not me.
All of the tracks are outstanding, but I am literally hooked on Cappadocia and Quo Vadis. However, there’s this musical phrase at the end of Trinity which I can’t get out of my head – and that’s a good thing! It’s so beautiful.
If you love instrumental music by truly master musicians at the peak of their craft, you won’t want to miss this album. It’s a treasure.
Now let me delve back in and see what other gold nuggets I can find.
Book reviewer Michelle Clements James has become the first reviewer of A Parting in the Sky which releases on March 20, 2019.
In part, she says:
“With colorful characters and vivid scenes, the story has a bit of everything–riveting suspense, sensational action, plausible crime, and mystifying fantasy. I was genuinely sorry to finish reading A Parting in the Sky.”
“[Sasse’s] work flows smoothly, and the carefully crafted characters and engaging plot jump off the page.”
A short while back, Lars from Brandywine Books posted a great review of “A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far.”
Here’s a couple excerpts:
“A sort of a cross between A Christmas Carol and Winter’s Tale. ”
“It’s hard to evaluate an idiosyncratic book like A Man Too Old For a Place Too Far. It’s the beginning of a trilogy, so a lot of things remain unexplained. We don’t learn clearly what sort of creatures Bee and Ash are, and what their purpose is.”
“Fascinating. Easy to read. Enjoyable … recommended!”
I’ve been meaning to post a 5-star, two-thumbs-up review of Needtobreathe’s “Forever on Your Side” EP. So here it is.
Get it! It’s tremendous.
The EP released last month in anticipation of their national “Forever on Your Side” Tour, which recently kicked off. The EP consists of four songs.
“Bridges Burn” – a song about forgetting the past, leaving your regrets behind, and burning the bridges that link us to those things we should leave behind. Here’s the chorus:
I wanna watch all my bridges burn
Stand in the rain ’til the page is turned
Dance in the light of a lesson learned, lesson learned
I wanna leave everything that hurts
Never go back to the way we were
Set it on fire, baby, watch it burn, watch it burn
“Darling” – This is a sweet and revealing glimpse of a musician who doesn’t want to be on the road anymore. He just wants to lie down with his “darling” and talk. This is a beautiful song with a wonderful, stripped down production with gorgeous evocative saxophone.
“Bullets” – Oh my, I love this song. It’s got this funky-soul-rock groove going on that’s just infectious. The layers on instruments build on each other, starting with a soaring melodic guitar riff and Bear Rinehart’s soulful voice and crescendos with the entire band jamming. You’ll be tapping your toe or dancing. One or the other.
“Forever on Your Side” – This song ends the EP, a tremendous wave-your-cell-phone-in-the-air anthem that is inspirational and moving. Here’s the chorus:
All these pieces they fall in line
Because I’m forever on your side
Take my hand when you can’t see the light
‘Cause I’m forever on your side
I will carry you every time
Because I’m forever on your side
Oh I’m forever on your side
The only thing wrong with this EP is that it’s an EP. If they would have added 6 more songs along the same vein, they would have themselves a truly terrific album.
Here’s my advice to them. Please, start the entire show with “Bullets.” This song builds expectations and would be an awesome way to get the show rocking. Then, as a second curtain call song, end everything with “Forever on Your Side.” Bookend the concert like that and it will be a great success. Needtobreathe’s a talented band, and they shine on this EP. Check it out!
I, like millions of other children from my generation, grew up watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. Living just 30 miles north of Pittsburgh, I watched it on his home station, WQED – PBS Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
His gentle demeanor, memorable opening song, iconic sweater, simple puppets, and the ever-cool red trolley are indelible parts of my childhood. I enjoyed the show, but soon out-grew it, and never really thought of its overall impact until I watched the documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” from film-maker Morgan Neville.
If you haven’t seen it, please go. I’ll briefly put my thoughts on the movie in relationship to the four words above.
Touching. There are many touching moments in this film. Fred Rogers had the ability to reach the hearts of those he spoke to – and not only children. One of the most remarkable parts of the film is watching the many interviewees listen to a short clip of Fred telling people to think for one minute about a person who made a difference in their lives. Of course, Fred framed the scenario in such a lovely way, that every single one of the interviewees teared up. He encouraged them to slow down, think, remember, and cherish those people who made them who they are. Some answered ‘Mom’ others a relative or friend, one said ‘Fred.’ All of them were unmasked in a beautiful way by Fred’s amazing ability to speak to the soul of an individual. It was a perfect scene.
Timely. In this day and age of everything being hyper-politicized, Fred’s message of love and acceptance to the children he had passion for is such a tremendous message. One, albeit, lost daily on the TV airwaves. Just a quick perusal of TV channels this Sunday evening made this all the more real. The plethora of choices available were dearth of heart, meaning, sincerity, and substance – all of which Fred displayed in abundance, not only on his show but as a person in real life. Be like Fred, everyone. It should be a motto on a t-shirt.
Inspiring. As an educator, I walked away from the movie truly inspired. The way he spoke to children, the way he listened to children, the way he advocated for children, and the way he educated children has, I believe, never been matched. He tackled difficult topics with care and heart (here’s that word again). Topics like war, assassination, divorce, racism, acceptance, disabilities, etc… while the rest of TV land droned on in a flashy drivel void of meaning or substance. Watching this movie made me want to be a better teacher.
Infuriating. I was not upset at Fred at all. How could I be? Well, it seems that some people can be upset at just about anyone. If you can find fault in the public discourse and actions of one Fred Rogers, you’d probably would have lined up in glee to watch the decapitation of the Apostle Paul. Seriously, what is wrong with people? Some pundits have blamed Mr. Rogers’ philosophy of telling children that they are good and lovable and worthy of love as a message which has poisoned a whole generation by making a bunch of spoiled, entitled brats who feel they don’t need to work for anything because Fred Rogers told them that they are special. If I can be frank, what kind of idiot analysis is that? If you have a problem with telling every child that they are unique and special and lovable, then you have a problem. In fact, the philosophy of Fred Rogers is, in my view, one of the keys that the world desperately needs if we are ever going to bridge the divides which have pulled us apart.
Thank you, Morgan Neville, for bringing this touching and timely reminder of what decency and civility really is. I wish someone would bring it back to children’s television.
The venerable Midwest Book Review published a review of A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far in their online book review magazine “Small Press Bookwatch” in April 2018.
They categorized A Man Too Old under the Fantasy/SciFi heading and had this to say about it:
“Critique: A unique, entertaining, and deftly crafted novel by an author with a genuine gift for imaginative and engaging storytelling, “A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far” is an especially and unreservedly recommended addition to community library collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that “A Man Too Old for a Place Too Far” is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $3.99).”