Gwen McCrae, a gutsy soul singer in the southern style and initially influenced by such leading lights of the soul world as Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin, is known best for her 1975 R&B #1 Rockin Chair . Having married George Rock Your Baby McCrae after a whirlwind romance in 1963 the couple became a vocal duo and were discovered by influential singer/producer Betty Wright in the late 60s.
Classical music for children has been an underserved genre, even though nothing could be more beneficial to the cause of bringing the music to future generations. Any such release is worthy of note, but one like this, charming and original, is cause for celebration. Pianist Jenny Lin organizes for children some favorite compositions and a few delightful rarities along a timeline "from breakfast to bedtime." There are 26 short pieces, enough to give a feel for the variety and importance of this tradition in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Along the way you get Chopsticks, which you may not have known was an actual composition with an actual composer (female, at that), former chestnuts like Grieg's Grandmother's Minuet, the utterly charming I Danced with a Mosquito by Anatoly Liadov, ragtime and jazz works, and, to end, starlight familiar (Mozart) and more rare (Selim Palmgren), plus the famed cradle songs of Brahms and Chopin. Lin and the engineers from the Steinway label create a magical atmosphere, amplified by excellent children's illustrations in the booklet by Mikela Prevost. An ideal holiday, or anytime, gift item.
Recorded in the venerable Irish veterans’ favorite Cape Cod venue circa August 2008, LIVE AT THE MELODY TENT is a boisterous, often moving distillation of the band’s Celtic folk-cum-pub rock legacy. The 14 songs were hand-selected by the group, leaving it no wonder that virtually every track, be it the ska-inspired hopefulness of “Will It Ever Stop Raining?” or romantic drive and handclap/sing-along chorus of “That’s What She Said Last Night,” enthusiastically encapsulates the group’s restless spirit. They may not be as debauched as the Pogues or as righteously stripped-down as Billy Bragg, but MELODY TENT is an awesome testament to their status as fierce songwriters and proud countrymen.