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It would be tempting, then, to try and spot Simon influences on his debut album, but while there may be some similar guitar stylings though Bert Jansch is far more the touchstone , Sallon's roots are firmly planted in home soil, occasionally prompting the obligatory reference to Nick Drake, but while he's probably never heard him his blues-tinted folk and sometimes tremulous wood-grained delivery more brings to mind that of Noel Harrison he of Windmills Of Your Mind fame , the early recordings of Al Stewart or even, at times, Cat Stevens.

Harking to the sound of the late 60s folk scene, Just The Same sees him alone with just his intricate arpeggio guitar playing, but otherwise the album embraces much fuller arrangements and orchestrations with some effective use of strings, Sallon joined by an impressive bunch of friends that include veteran drummer Evan Jenkins, pianist Neil Cowley and, duetting on the melodically melancholic It's Not Hard To Lose Your Way, Kami Thompson, daughter of Richard.

While working with the folk-blues framework, the album mixes it up effectively so that My Radio has a jazzy rhythm and more of a rocking mood, No No No Know What You're Thinking rides a choppy syncopation with an almost reggae bedrock, I'm Free is stripped back acoustic blues, Give's enfolded in strings, the brooding War has a certain Eastern European air and Too Young To Know builds to a dramatic, drone underpinned finale.

He's trying to break into what is becoming an increasingly competitive market. The third offering from Salsa Celtica their second for Greentrax is an exciting affair, surpassing even the spectacular energy of The Great Scottish Latin Adventure , which was touted as "a salsa album made by Scottish musicians in love with Latin music and by South American musicians in love with Scotland", yet on which the Latin element seemed to over-dominate just a tad.

But I'd say that El Agua De La Vida ranks as the best integrated of the three albums yet, with an unstoppable fieriness and a good degree of commitment to both sides of the divide that transcends the moments where the joins are obvious, to the degree that it doesn't really matter.

The traditional Scottish tunes are allowed to breathe as they enter the basic Latin texture. Admirably too, Salsa Celtica have toned down the bouts of silly forced high-jinks that marred their previous efforts, without letting go of the fun element in the playing.

The basic eleven-piece ensemble is augmented to produce an awesome sound indeed, with blasts of blowsy brass and tinkling piano that enhance the party atmosphere.

We even hear Eamonn Coyne's guest banjo percolating to the front of the mix when he steps forward up to the mike on two of the tracks.

One of these, believe it or not, is Auld Lang Syne , at the thought of which I cringed at first - but the slinky, smoochy opening section soon gets the spirit going with a hair-down workout to finish.

Sometimes I thought the vocal interjections just a little too enthusiastic, and amusingly I experienced a mondegreen moment on Whisky Con Ron I really did think they were singing "Whisky Gone Wrong"!

But seriously, this is a really intoxicating release that should even appeal to those with a distinct salsa-allergy to coin a phrase - at least you know what you're latin' yourself in for.

Saltfishforty is a dynamic Orkney-based duo Douglas Montgomery and Brian Cromarty who bring their own special stamp to the blending of the traditional music of their native islands with contemporary song - much of the latter being their own compositions.

Their particular attributes are well illustrated on the dozen tracks that comprise Netherbow, their third album, which comes after a recording break of five years.

Considering Saltfishforty comprises just two musicians, their live sound is admirably full, and this quality is well translated to the medium of CD, albeit here with a modicum of selective augmentation from percussionist Erik Laughton on a handful of the tracks.

Highlights among the purely instrumental tracks are the genially storming set of jugs track 5 , the intriguing tune The Locks At Athy which the duo learnt from Kris Drever and sprightly, if nicely measured accounts of the title tune, a strathspey composed in the s by Rousay's then-postie Jimmy Craigie, and a wedding march composed for Douglas' neighbours on Burray.

The closing track Svecia is a gorgeously dark-hued tune written and played on a viola part-made from wood salvaged from the wreck of the ship of that name which sunk off the coast of North Ronaldsay in , while the preceding pacy set of Cape Breton reels track 11 has a distinctly playful, almost La-Bottine-Souriante demeanour.

As for the songs, and notwithstanding the high standard of the original writing especially perhaps the traditional-sounding A Ring On Her Hand, which was partly inspired by a George Mackay-Brown story , the pick of these is probably The Bride's Lament, a traditional song that Brian learnt through The Big Orkney Song Project.

Brian's keen vocal work is well counterpointed by his own guitar and mando accompaniments and the intelligent pairing with Douglas's fiddle or viola or mandolin.

Yes, Netherbow is a well-engineered, generous and thoughtfully paced record that lovingly and infectiously extols the virtues of these two musicians.

Other than a couple of acoustic gigs as a duo, the year's seen a fairly low profile for Neal Cook and his Wolverhampton Americana cohorts.

However, now they're back on the scene to kick up a storm with long awaited follow up to 's Asphalt Good. There's no major departures from the blueprint which the web sites calls a cross between the Replacements and Wilco, but which also features a fair dab of Neil Young and Green On Red , but it's served them well so far and it's far from broken.

So, cranked up ringing guitars, throaty dust coated vocals, swaggering rhythms, and twangy melodies then, kicking out of the traps with Mindshakes, a gutsy slow burning guitars on fire song about screwing up things at home by not keep your 'damn mouth shut'.

They keep it amped up and rolling with the circling guitar riffing Sore Eyes, a track that hints to the country side of the Stones as well as more current Americana heroes, keeping the pace moving with a Scorchers-ish Map and the jerky Dixie boogie Still In Love.

But it's probably the slower numbers on which they shine best, here ably represented by a plangent Fair Warning, highway keening closer Windshield Blues with its speed bump time signatures and, arguably the album's highlight, Coming Home, a weary gravel under heel ballad that recently scored pole position in the Cosmic American Radio charts.

They may never find the wider audience and sales enjoyed by such kindred spirits as Ryan Adams and Wilco but, along with the likes of Broken Family Band and Michael Weston King, they're a solid shining reminder that Americana is a matter of mind and musical attitude rather than geography.

Largely recorded live in a Victorian concert hall to catch the ambiences, Peter Pan provides the title along with the recurring themes of escape and flight that surface in Lench's lyrics while the minimalist piano chords of Zweck's contributions reflect a bout of RSI that left her unable to move her right hand.

Although the simple hymnal setting of Brother Jon and a jaunty handclapping flute and guitar strum through the trad Begone Dull Care stand out, it's more of an album to gain attention rather than make them overnight stars in the folk firmament, but they promise a brightly twinkling future.

It's not just his keyboard skills that are apparent here as he shows a silky quality to his voice on the bluesy The Voice Within and the earthy vocals on Hot Dog show his range.

The pick of the self-written songs is You Gonna Win which has a Howlin' Wolf quality to the music if not the vocals.

There's a little Professor Longhair in Gambling Woman Blues and the enthusiasm of King Kong and the title track will have you joining in despite yourself.

Four years in the making, Sandell has had to grab time for her solo debut solo between contributions to albums and live performances by Chris T-T, The Broken Family Band and Magoo, not to mention being one third of Emily Barker's band, Red Clay Halo, with whom she plays accordion and flute.

Not surprisingly, favours have been returned here with appearances by, among others, fellow Halo member Anna Jenkins on violin, Barker, and T-T. As well as her regular instruments, Sandell also reveals her guitar and piano skills on a collection that mixes together self-penned material with a brace of covers.

She has a light, airy and slightly quivery vocal with a girlish tone that sits well with a publicity photo of her playing acoustic guitar in a field of flowers.

Unsurprisingly there's a fair amount of natural imagery with references to gulls and seals on Will I Lose My Love? There's patently the heart of a traditional folkie beating through many of her lyrics A Breeze Upon The Hill and Rowan Tree, especially , although the music sounds more influenced by pastoral 60s acoustic folk.

The arrangements are caressingly simple and sympathetic, often weaving a dreamy mood around her voice, notably so on the tender cover of Wild Mountainside, the Trashcan Sinatras ode to the Scottish Highlands, where she's accompanied by just Anna and Emily on violin and guitar.

The album's second cover is a sparse, piano accompanied version of Natalie Merchant's wearied bittersweet love song to the city's concrete sprawl, transformed here into almost a hymn.

Keeping the natural world theme going, it features a musician credit for the rain. Let's just hope her work schedule doesn't mean another four year wait for a follow-up.

Though a long-standing and well-regarded Fairport member, Ric's own back catalogue has been less than lavishly treated where CD issue or reissue has been concerned, and so this disc will be much welcomed.

Its subtitle Instrumental Ballads provides the biggest clue, and its purpose seems to be to amass a representative clutch of recordings that demonstrate Ric's intense musicality and the magnificent breadth of his output outside of his work with Fairport and generally eschewing the more showy technique-driven material in favour of the more restrained elegance of his more classically- or jazz-inclined excursions.

The disc's original recordings are culled from various solo albums and other projects, with a track apiece from the duo albums Second Vision with John Etheridge and One To One with Gordon Giltrap: If nothing else, it all goes to prove how superior and consistent a musician Ric is, over and above his signature work with Fairport, with so much more to offer the cognoscenti.

Deserving of some special place in our affections, I'd say. David Kidman May In Griselda formed Waulk Elektrik, which for almost ten years provided an eclectic and pioneering meeting-point for traditional Scottish and Irish dance and 90s rave culture.

A little after the eventual demise of that band she encountered the nyckelharpa, a strikingly individual if perhaps mildly unwieldy-looking stringed instrument of Swedish origin which is currently enjoying something of a renaissance among enterprising folk musicians newer bands such as Bellevue Rendezvous are eagerly taking up its multifarious challenges.

Usually bowed, it has four playing strings one being a drone , with twelve sympathetic strings and thirty-seven chromatic keys attached to three rows of wooden tangents - and a range of three-and-a-half octaves!

Gris instantly fell in love with its mesmerising sound, and ever since finally acquiring one just three years ago she's been eagerly exploring its myriad of sonic possibilities e.

On Harpaphonics, Gris ingeniously incorporates the nyckelharpa's many and special sounds into an impressive array of settings, moods and textures.

While selectively adding violin, viola, fiddle, chanter, piano and Hammond organ to her own armoury, Gris is further aided in her endeavours principally by James Dumbelton and Sam Yeboah on assorted percussion, with occasional contributions from other musicians including Louis Bingham, Toby Morgan, Alex Roth and Steve Turner.

Gris first introduces us to the nyckelharpa's strange and beautiful resonances by performing Exordium entirely solo: The Irime Ice Warrior reel also featured on the disc's bonus video moves from rippling Carnatic raga-inspired motifs to funkier African bass riffs, while The Charmer and Treadlightly March incorporate samples into their exotic, Malian-inflected tapestries.

But even though plenty else is happening in the soundscape, I too swiftly became addicted to the fabulous sound of the nyckelharpa itself, finding it hard to prise this brave, enchanting and most rewarding disc from the player.

A remarkable sequel to My Prayer, Tamworth born Sandland's sophomore solo album confidently secures her a place at the top table of UK folk music with its assured fusion of traditional atmospheres and arrangements and contemporary sensibilities.

As with the brooding title track, a tale of cruelty and curses inspired by Yorkshire poet William Watson's own The Ballad of Semerwater, much here draws on rural legends and stories, often with a supernatural basis.

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: It certainly worked that time.

But I wonder if Mitrano isn't going to gum up the machine. She seemed normal, and well-intentioned. And pretty well versed in the issues.

Tom's ad was misleading. But first things first. Let's deal with the here and now. But she was clearly intelligent and in control; in fact seemed to be enjoying herself.

Is there a lesson to be learned here? Don't listen to the ads, which generally are over the top. Do yourself a favor and seek out the candidates themselves, in live settings.

You can get a much better read on what they're about. Well, I'd have trouble going with Reed. I've complained in person and by phone about both in the past, to no avail.

But can I vote for Mitrano? I know, I know; we have to vote for someone, or should. It's a simple enough concept: It sounds cool, but has a less than empathetic meaning.

I like this one better: But now I'm thinking I might with Mitrano. Tracy Mitrano at the Human Services Complex town-hall meeting.

Hello, my name is There's so much hooey coming out of Washington, from seemingly everybody, that it has rubbed my nerves raw.

Reading more, but not the news. So if you're driving by, all you see is "Tom. Is Gifford the former Schuyler Legislature chair back in politics?

No, he has State Senate signs out there. That guy who was School Superintendent? Not that I heard of. Ah, I realized at last.

First name only, like Madonna, and Rihanna and Cher. I can only guess how his ad agency arrived at that one. I suspect the term "warm and cuddly" might have been bandied about.

Oh, local races are okay. But he was a hero -- maybe our last one. But admiration for his colleagues? Am I a Democrat?

Paint me Independent, I guess. I never have been good at belonging. Comes with the job -- with the idea that journalists should not be biased.

But clinging to a set of organizational values, and in particular those of a political organization, would not be a very bright way to go for a self-respecting journalist.

And journalist I am. Have been for decades. I bought one when I was a young reporter, the better to illustrate my stories, rather than depend on the hard-to-schedule photographers my paper -- the Watertown Daily Times -- employed.

All two of them. Felt it was a commentary on their work -- that I felt I could do it better. But it was all about convenience, and the personal rush I got -- and still get -- out of a good photograph.

Part of the satisfaction I get from this job comes from the occasional photo that absolutely resonates -- the kind that I marvel that I, of all people, can take.

I need only understand those things that can accomplish for me what I need to make this website work. And I think it does work. At least I hope so.

At least I think so. Very few use my last -- the exceptions being polite adults who telegraph my age by calling me "Mr. I was at a sporting event the other night, for instance, scanning the stands, looking for familiar faces, when my name rang out.

She was smiling and waving. Another photographer, standing nearby, marveled at the incident. Not like Tom, I suppose.

Which, as I said, is annoying. But what the heck. Maybe a single name is the way to go. I feel a contagion coming on.

Not from illness, though; maybe from ego. I'm certainly not running for Congress, but Ah, high school sports What I like best about high school sports is the camaraderie that is evident on teams that are coached properly.

It is no secret that sometimes a coach is there either for the stipend or because he or she was either convinced through flattery or -- gasp!

In all cases that I see now, our local teams -- successful or not -- are very upbeat operations. I especially like the spirit shown by the Watkins Glen High School girls varsity swim team and the same school's girls varsity soccer team.

With the addition of Jason Westervelt to head up the WGHS swim program, we are seeing what seems a renewed spirit -- from the introductory music accompanying the swimmers as they enter the pool area from the locker room; to parents manning the timer posts; to parents raising funds for a large new podium to replace an old and, by comparison, rickety one; to the support given by teammates to teammates that somehow makes the roster seem larger in numbers than it is.

And with that spirit -- a can-do attitude energizing quite a lot of talent -- has come a lot of winning as a half-dozen members of the team have consistently placed first or come very close to doing so: And others are not far behind: Isabella Fazzary is a proven winner in distance races, but is just now coming off an injury.

I shortchanged Coach Nikki Chaffee, who put the team on its path to success before Westervelt's arrival.

She instilled fun and a drive for accomplishment, and led them to a sectional title last year. Jason has built on that, turning it all into a remarkably enjoyable show.

As Kate wrote early on the morning after this was published: On the soccer field, Coach Scott Morse has led a group of girls who -- despite the departure through graduation of bunch of players -- have won a division title.

Chief among them is Morse's daughter Hannah, a senior who long ago surpassed the school career scoring record held by Megan Matthews 34 goals by scoring, to date, a total of This year alone, Hannah has scored 26 goals, which is one shy of Matthews' single-season mark.

If it seems odd that Matthews only had 34 total goals, it's because she was, until her senior year, a defensive player. When the coaching staff put her on offense in her final season, she was nearly unstoppable -- like Hannah Morse.

They are enthusiastic, and yes, also fun to watch. But there are other teams with spirit, like the WGHS cross country, volleyball, and boys soccer squads, the Odessa-Montour boys and girls soccer teams, the O-M volleyball team, and the O-M girls swim team, which has too few swimmers but lots of heart.

The Seneca Indians football squad started out with great spirit, but a close loss one point to Waverly and a near-miss against Honeoye Falls-Lima losing by a point by yielding 13 points in the final 3: We'll see if the built-in enthusiasm of the day can reignite that early passion.

Now, about that field And it's getting a lot of use. Every day or night -- and sometimes both -- during the first week saw soccer games there.

And this week it will be busy again, culminating in the football team's first game there -- at 7 p. The Seneca Indians defeated Edison the previous week, The Seneca Indians have outscored opponents , while Moravia has been outscored That sounds promising for the home team.

But they play the games for a reason. But not this time, please, Homecoming gods. You screwed things up for us at O-M's Homecoming the Honeoye game , and I have to think that that particular experience should more than guarantee us a little good juju this time around.

With the addition of the three women, the Hall now has a male-to-female membership -- or put more simply, I've been studying this situation for a while, and have found many other women I consider amazing enough to join those ranks.

I will -- God willing -- be unveiling a dozen soon along with a dozen men not in the Hall, a group I'm calling The Essentials.

Nobody in the Hall of Fame is eligible. These are Schuyler folks who impact or have impacted life here or elsewhere, but haven't received their due.

The funny thing is, filling 12 slots was easy on the female side; in fact, I had to winnow the list down from about But so many men have joined the Hall of Fame that I found it a little more challenging to come up with a dozen not so honored.

But they were there, and will be unveiled in due course. But while the lists are fairly well set, further input is welcome. Flexibility is always a good thing, I think.

So send any nominee suggestions to me in the next week or so. Back in town, and at work O dessa, NY, Sept. I would have liked to spend a little time in the Cheboygan shopping district, for it has improved dramatically over the past decade.

But it was already So I journeyed on, avoided rain, thought about stopping in Erie, Pa. The getaway from Bois Blanc was complicated by an accident suffered by my sister-in-law, Gussie, who fell while loading her rooftop carrier and landed on her wrist, injuring it and leaving it virtually useless.

So I took on an added role of loading heavy luggage. It turns out she had two broken bones, and is now wearing a cast.

Most of the work schedule has been sports coverage -- fall high school sports are in full swing -- along with the Grand Prix Festival and then the GlassBarge festival down at the waterfront.

And then Monday night there was a marathon public hearing at the Watkins Glen Village Hall that kept me up late writing a story about it -- and a Planning Board meeting Wednesday night that did likewise.

For those of you late to the party, the TD24 has been honoring two-dozen students in athletics, academics and citizenship each year for more than a dozen years.

It started with two schools -- Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour -- and now embraces 10 schools around the region, including those in Chemung County.

Each year we also honor a coach with a Lifetime Achievement Award. It is a prized honor. We -- which is to say TD24 Chair Craig Cheplick and I, along with a committee of various educators and non-educators -- are already looking at potential TD24 honorees.

It is normally a pretty fluid process; we see how things shake out academically and athletically through the year. Last year, we had only one repeater from the previous year.

Seniors will be at the forefront again this year, despite the rule, from the beginning, that 9th through 12th graders would be considered. There was one 9th grader our first year, but none since, and likely none again since we have expanded the number of schools without expanding the number of honorees.

And some in-house honors are usually bestowed on folks who have helped us put the program together year after year.

It might not be wasted motion on your part; such nominations have yielded fruit before. And finally, the Schuyler County Hall of Fame will induct four new members in October, and lo and behold, three of them are women: The Hall has been basically a boys club, with 39 men and five women to date.

Now, with this change in stratagem and these three women, the differential has been narrowed -- to There are a lot more women out there who deserve recognition.

I'm in consultation with a small committee in an attempt to come up with a list of 24 deserving people, 12 men and 12 women not currently in the Hall.

I'm not trying to undercut the Hall; it is full of remarkable people. But there are these others, who I would call a Top Drawer 24 if that term wasn't already taken.

I'll think of some other name. Then, when one or more are plucked from the ranks of The Essentials for inclusion in the Schuyler County Hall of Fame in the future, we could add replacements -- maintain a member level.

B ois Blanc Island, Mich. I love it here, bright sun or dreary clouds. When I was a kid, rainy days on Bois Blanc were known as Monopoly Days, because we would hunker down in our rental cottage, near a blazing fireplace and in the light of a nearby kerosene lantern, and play that particular game.

Now, I tend to read by the light of an electric lamp, or watch videos. For the intervening years have brought electricity to Bois Blanc, not to mention running water replacing pumps and indoor toilets replacing outhouses.

And yet the place is much the same as it was a half century ago: One is named Chuck Maki. The library is small: The other half serves as a museum, with mementos from Island years gone by: I was in there at the request of a woman overseeing the place.

It is open for four hours a day, three days a week through July and August. The woman came up empty on workers, and so I received the call, and agreed to work.

He reminisced for a while, and we compared notes of people he might have known versus those I have known. The Pines, as the municipality is known, was where I stayed in the few summers I visited here as a child.

Maki had not, for instance, known Earl and Miriam Hoover, the king and queen of the Island -- owners of many acres in and near the Pines.

Hoover, former head of the Hoover Vacuum Co. I was, in fact, perusing a biography of Mr. Hoover when Maki entered the library, which was why I asked if he had known the old gent.

I did; we rented a place from Mr. Hoover for two summers when I was quite young. It was situated right next to the main Hoover cottage, a large structure that is the centerpiece of an Island estate that now includes four residential dwellings and a tennis court on beautifully landscaped acreage.

I remember him well: He seemed to enjoy life. My brother Bob and his wife Gussie and I are always looking for possible rental buildings for future summer visits, and that particular one will soon be coming on the rental market.

And so we imposed on a woman who manages the property, and she guided us through it. I don't recall ever being in the front portion of the structure before.

I imagine I might have been invited in the back door -- to the kitchen -- when I was a boy, to beg cookies freshly baked by Ethel, who with husband Maxie worked for the Hoovers for years.

They might have been the lone black couple on the Island back then. I encountered Ethel once again years later, in , when my wife Susan and I visited Bois Blanc as part of a round-the-country trip we were taking.

We stayed a couple of nights in the Pines Hotel -- which was an arson victim four years later -- and visited places and people I remembered from childhood.

One stop was at the Hoovers' place. Susan and I were greeted at the front door by Ethel. I explained that I had hoped to pay my respects to the Hoovers, but she told me Mr.

Hoover was napping and Mrs. So I asked that she pass along greetings from Chuck Haeffner -- Chuck being my childhood name.

And she grabbed me and pulled me into her ample bosom, and I entertained the possibility of suffocation. My wife watched from the side, I think both amused and astounded.

That was a moment that has lived with me. I never did get to see Mr. And it called to mind years long past, and feelings long suppressed -- warm and embracing and connected, I think, to the sense of adventure that summer used to provide me in childhood.

I got a second chance the afternoon of my Hoover cottage visit. The three of us headed out on ATVs again, this time visiting different locales, including the site of a tombstone -- a shoulder-high creation -- in the middle of sparse woods in honor of Mary McRae, who died in at the age of They no longer are.

The stone is the only one visible now, although local lore has it that several other people were buried nearby. There is a poem chiseled into the memorial -- quite a work of art, from a technical, sculpting aspect; and not a bad poem, popular for headstones back in that era.

Tis hard to break the tender cord When love has bound the heart. But thy memory will be cherished Till we see thy heavenly face. We reached that site along a fairly easy, grassy path that was nonetheless blocked by a fallen tree.

There was no way around it, so Bruce -- ever the ready explorer -- produced a chainsaw and cut a section out of the tree just wide enough for us to pass through.

That was not the first blockage we had encountered. Bruce had managed to cut enough away from another fallen tree on a deep-woods route early in our travels, too -- created a path around the wreckage, as long as we ducked low to avoid fallen and dangling debris.

This was on a narrow path we had followed in from the Firetower Road -- which is a relatively wide dirt track that cuts through the heart of the Island, north to south.

But having cleared the one obstacle, we encountered another -- were forced to retrace our steps a short time later when suddenly blocked by not one, but several, fallen birches.

And we encountered a similar roadblock late in the journey, taking what was supposed to be a shortcut back to the Firetower Road.

That path was grassy and fairly wide, but we were stopped about midway by another grouping of flattened trees, with no way around them. And so we doubled back the long way.

We parked off the North Shore Road -- a wide path that can entertain one car moving very slowly, or any number of ATVs moving quickly -- and walked up a fairly sharp incline, through tangled underbrush and around various trees, until reaching a level landing.

There we saw, in front of us, a sharp rise -- what to my tired eyes looked like a cliff, really, rising to four separate large boulders spaced out across perhaps a hundred yards.

Its highest point is, in fact, feet, according to Wikipedia. Now, eyeing those cliffs, I shook my head. My legs were already screaming from the lengthy uphill climb to the landing; Sally looked as pained as me.

The Feds were after him, and he wanted to change his appearance to keep them at bay. Alas, they caught up to him not long thereafter in Chicago, killing him.

I wrote a novel titled "Cabins in the Mist" some years ago about those cabins and a portal there, through which I encountered Dillinger and became a target-practice partner of his in a ravine behind the cabins.

Now, both times we passed the cabins on our ATVs, I could almost swear I saw Dillinger wandering up from the remains of the main cabin.

And I think he waved, but I was moving pretty fast. I get the feeling she might not even believe Dillinger was ever there.

But there is also the possibility of a return; at least a hope of it. With age comes doubt about how long such trips are feasible.

But I look at it this way: If I can roust myself to go on rather difficult and lengthy ATV excursions to the Island interior, negotiating narrow, dark passages with trees and bushes that often resemble an obstacle course, then I can raise myself up for just about anything.

Certainly a hour drive to the ferry landing in Cheboygan and the minute crossing should be no great challenge.

By comparison, that should be a piece of cake. And so, as I leave, I will be looking backward at the Island's wooded land, watching it grow smaller as the ferry makes its way toward the mainland.

The Island library left half and museum right half ; the Hoovers' main cottage; the Pines Hotel, destroyed by fire in the early 's; Bruce McAfee and Sally Sperry at the McRae grave site; Sally taking a photo of one of the Pinnacles from flat land at its base; and the remains of one of the three Dillinger cabins.

An ATV tour of the Island The dust on the roads here can be thick -- and hover. I went out with two Island veterans, a man named Bruce McAfee, six years my senior, and a woman named Sally Babler Sperry, about my age -- both of whom I knew when we were children during the s.

Sixty-some years later, we were still playing. Bruce has an extra ATV, and Sally has her own, and so the three of us visited all sorts of inland spots -- the beautiful Thompson Lake, which has an island of its own, and is virtually unspoiled; Lake Mary, which has a public dock where a young girl was fishing, and which sported two pontoon boats in the distance, and one multi-level cottage to the west; and Deer Lake, which is more of a marsh and a draw to various wildlife, including a crane family we saw in the distance.

Sally had been missing from the island during the early part of my current stay -- gone traveling, she said, to see a few things on her bucket list, including a moose.

She showed up the night before our ATV excursion, at a party thrown by the nephew of the recently departed, year-old Miriam Hoover, widow of the former president and CEO of Hoover Vacuum.

The party was on a large deck behind a cottage the nephew has remodeled into a beautiful home. It was strange to tour it, for my family stayed there in the s for two summers, renting from the Hoovers.

Back then it was a rustic cottage with bats upstairs and an outhouse for a bathroom. Water came from a pump, and night light from kerosene lanterns.

There were all sorts of familiar faces at that Saturday gathering: Wendy is the local school teacher, who this year will have two students when classes start in the one-room island schoolhouse on Sept.

And there was the visiting minister, Philip Chester of England, whose birthday prompted the celebration; and various of the elderly islanders I tend to see each year, folks who have cottages that they have been inhabiting during summers here for decades.

It has been good reconnecting with all of them, but I have felt a little guilty, what with all hell breaking loose back home. An ugly storm, of course, brought flooding and tremendous damage on Lodi and Valois Points and to parts of Peach Orchard Point; and plenty of flooding elsewhere in the area, from the west hill of Watkins to the outskirts of Montour Falls and beyond.

Blessedly, we escaped any damage at my home in Odessa, overseen in my absence by son Jon. And I was ostensibly relaxing through some disquieting deaths back home -- of Tom Moran of Odessa, like me a sports card collector and all-around friendly guy; of Timateo Kamanga, whose violent death by vehicle while walking in Hector was reported to me rather quickly, sending me into a mild depression; and of Bill Elkins, a wonderful guy who meant a lot to Schuyler County for a lot of years.

And with all the angst caused by the storm and death, there was angst -- from what I hear -- caused by the proposed Business Improvement District in Watkins Glen, by the struggle by the village to counteract the negative effects of short-term Airbnb rentals, and then by the decision by Village Board member Kevin Thornton to depart his seat seven months early.

He did so in a sort of scorched earth fashion, taking to task the spotty communication among board members and between the board and the community, as well as the project selection in the Downtown Revitalization Initiative promulgated by the state.

Yes, all of that angst has been going on, as well as some family issues that have occupied a bit of phone attention.

I hope to tackle another ATV ride, to travel again into the depths of the island woods and witness again some of the inland marvels. About two thirds of the way back, heading south, there is a marker, the number 20, which connotes one of the island attractions -- the remains of three cabins that many believe housed the gangster John Dillinger and his gang while he was recovering from plastic surgery designed to help him escape the law.

In the main cabin, which is only three logs high now, the entrance is still identifiable, on the Firetower Road side.

Step through that opening at the right time -- which is to say sunset -- and you just might encounter Dillinger himself, or rather what I take to be his spirit, inhabiting a complete cabin on that very site.

A girl fishes off the end of the Lake Mary dock. At the Saturday party. Sally Sperry and Bruce McAfee head back toward the deep woods after a break along a trail turnoff.

A few Schuyler County flood photos snapped from a drone camera by Tony Vickio can be seen here. A smile a mile wide Timateo Kamanga is dead, struck by a vehicle while walking along Route in Hector Saturday night, around 10 p.

Police are investigating, and the facts are largely unknown, other than that the driver has been identified. I remember him as a young man with a ready smile; he enjoyed other people, and especially enjoyed being in this country.

I recall him telling me in high school that he was returning to Malawi after graduation, but wanted to come back for college, which he did -- earning a couple of associate's degrees and a bachelor's.

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.

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.

Cookie Jar is organ based but Schofield steals the show and turns it into a highlight. It is different enough from the original but still keeps the ethos.

Schofield manages to sound like the great man on guitar and it sounds as if everyone who was in the studio that day is involved in the sing-along finish.

The Matt Schofield trio have an album that keeps them in the highest echelons of British Blues. David Blue June Matt Schofield is a bright young light in British guitar playing and this debut album recorded at the Bishops Blues Club shows why.

There's a strong guitar and drum start on the funky, jazzy Uncle Junior and Evan Jenkins provides a continuing rhythm, for over 8 minutes, on his kit.

His voice is silky but it's not BB King. The stunning guitar work on this make it a highlight. Treat Me Lowdown is a swinging jazzy blues and Jonny Henderson is given his chance to shine on the organ.

There's some good interplay between guitar and organ on Cissy Strut and this 8 and a half minutes of virtuoso playing just makes you realise how good a guitarist Schofield is.

I don't know many people who would cover an Albert Collins track but Matt's version of Travellin' South will have made the maestro proud. His chopping, snappy guitar and vocal are delivered with feeling.

This is different from the original and also from the version done by Cream and Schofield has managed to put his own stamp on the song, something very difficult on a much-covered track.

The trio belt out the jazzy blues Hippology to finish and I detect the Albert Collins style in there once again. The trio are a very good live band and the only thing that I can criticize them on is that they did not offer up any self-written material.

Maybe they are saving that for the next studio album and I wait in anticipation. Many readers will remember encountering the spellbinding Canadian fiddler Oliver Schroer when he performed regularly with singer-songwriter James Keelaghan during the earlier part of the decade; tragically, however, Schroer, an intensely gifted musician and composer and noted music educator in his own right, died of leukaemia in July At the time of his initial diagnosis in the spring of , and while awaiting treatment, Oliver recorded Hymns And Hers, an ensemble project on which he collaborated with friends old and new including some of Toronto's finest musicians including David Woodhead, who's also worked with JK and vocalists.

In direct contrast to many of Oliver's earlier compositions, the music of Hymns And Hers is altogether more spiritual in character, in that it expresses important things about his relationship to life.

It does this by means of more rarefied kinds of forms and melodies outside of pure entertainment vehicles like jigs, reels and waltzes , instead now bringing forth prayers, incantations, melismas and suchlike in lovingly textured musical settings that are sometimes quite plush yet remain pure and intimate.

Each of the disc's dozen items possesses a special character all its own. The opening "prayerful hymn" A Song For All Seasons gradually unfolds like a Mike Oldfield piece Oliver even plays a burst or two of electric guitar , while Flowers centres around a playful baroque fiddle-and-piano arabesque and She's With The Angels Now is a peaceful and reverential though almost unbearably touching piece written after the death of a close friend.

Roses For The Lady, written for Oliver's mother, resembles a slightly cheeky variant of an elegant Edwardian salon-piece, contrasting with the desperate discords and strange vocal juxtapositions and ululations of Hymn For The Dispossessed.

The Morning Star joyfully unites brass and fiddle choirs in hope and jubilation: So OK, we understand the hymns, but why the "hers", you'll now be asking?

Camino, recorded three years before Hymns And Hers, is here re-promoted, hopefully to gain wider circulation. Both albums share a basic quality of intimacy, but Camino's intimacy derives from the purely solo nature of the performances enshrined within as much as from their ambient settings.

The disc presents a series of excerpts from a vivid audio record of Oliver's trek along the Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail, the major element of which consists of pieces Oliver played on the violin that he carried with him like a precious relic on that pilgrimage, wrapped not in a violin-case but in a sleeping-bag in his backpack.

These musical items are like limpid fantasias, both highly ascetic and deeply emotionally charged, like a disenfranchised parallel universe where time stands still for the duration of each piece and the austerely quasi-improvisatory world of the Bach partita meets the mesmeric but spacious liturgical iconography of John Tavener, at times also hinting at indigenous Canadian fiddling traditions.

Oliver's playing is both graceful and evocative, it forming a two-way process whereby the attractive remoteness of the settings informs the almost religious spirit of Oliver's communing with the genius-loci.

Each sonic space is acoustically enticing in its own way, each church possessing its own special resonances, while the trail's various environments also provide the ambient sound-sketches that punctuate the musical performances: Immerse yourselves in this rich and rather magical experience; though it may prove all too easy to get lost in its charms and you may not want to return to our world.

David Kidman January It contains exactly what it says on the label. The opening track's clattering rhythm may initially recall his former paymaster, but as it opens out into Native American tribal colourings the album's globe hopping musical and thematic nature is quickly signposted.

Calcutta, Italy, Malawi are among the places Schwarz's stories visit, taking potent angry, sorrowed or yearning photos of the socio-political landscapes and emotional climates.

Here are the world's unwanted and rootless, forced to move on Same Old World , work in menial jobs Lavaplatos , left ' pacified ' in their own blood Refugees or trying to scrape a life in the land of the free Taxi.

Here are personal stories of torn dreams and crushed hopes but also of the tenacity to survive Mother of Exiles and the strength of love Wind In Our Sails in the face of adversity.

Musically eclectic, it journeys through the blues, Hindustani tala, Bulgarian trad, Tijuana waltzes, Celtic twilights, African funk, Jewish roots, show tunes and Kurt Weill cabaret, constantly and consistently in tune with the humanity from which it's birthed and which it observes.

A quite magnificent and moving work. No it's not The White Stripes. This, their debut album, opens with the angst ridden American Girl not the Tom Petty song and continues to ask questions about your musical leanings for the next ten tracks.

The only song not written by the duo is the final offering, the classic Surfin' Bird which is given a slower treatment than the original but when it gets going it is the best track on the album.

This would be the ideal song for them to do on 'Later With Jools Holland' if they get an invite. Songs like Holy Cat and Twin Donut could easily be modern American classics although the formers title sounds like one that Phoebe from Friends would sing.

The simple yet effective Dinner is one of my favourites and the equally simple and powerful Springtime may have you humming 'Don't Fear The Reaper' before it settles down.

They do tackle the classic them of love as well as the offbeat. Breaking In is their version of a love song. Something Else again a title from days gone by but this is a new song is very reminiscent of The Eels and Schwervon!

Judging by the follow-up, it seems the quest took her deep into the American south. Indeed, on the opening Looking For Elvis she pretty much lays out her map and motivations as she sings "I'm just looking for some inspiration, I'm looking for something to rock my soul, I'm looking for for a brand new destination, I'm looking for Elvis down a Memphis road.

That's not the only specific 60s reference either. But then the whole feel of the album harks back to those musical streets, Play Around a gently rippling ballad that Ben E King might have sung had he been Dion De Mucci while Run, Run, Run struts the sort of dirty heat Tina Turner patented back in her scorching raw youth.

I suppose I should mention that, yes, husband Bruce does play some guitar and organ, while the musicians also include E-Streeters Lofgren and Soozy Tyrell, but, more than ever, it's clear from this album Scialfi's standing in no one's shadow.

Patti Scialfa - 23rd Street Lullaby Columbia. It's been over a decade since Mrs Springsteen released her excellent but underestimated debut album Rumble Doll, immediately attracting speculation that hubbie had anonymously provided the songs as well as playing on the album.

The domestic connections are evident again, Bruce providing occasional guitar and keyboards fellow E Streeters Nils Lofgren and Soozy Tyrell are also present and correct while the nostalgia steeped atmosphere and images of streets, rain and romance recall much of his own work.

No great surprise there, but this is patently Scialfa's baby, the songs hewn from her own and her family's experiences and while the melodies may conjure him indoors its influences hark more to the guitar ringing Jersey soul of Southside Johnny and the delivery to Dylan.

Rich in hooks and harmonies, tumbling emotions caught in folky vocal catch on songs that veer between the Mink De Ville meets The Corrs of Love Stand Up , the swaggering bluesy City Boys, the gospel hued piano ballad showtune that is When You're Young in the City and the wonderful title track's down on the avenue and up on the Brill Building rooftop city valentine.

Musically speaking, this album suggests the quest's well underway. This sparkling new set of 13 contrasted songs also moves their musical development on a stage further, taking their basic approach and extending it with some finely contoured musical arrangements which, while remaining tastefully minimal, really do enhance both the songs and the singing.

Credit here to producer Dave Walmisley and engineer Ken Powell, both formerly of the well-regarded trio Risky Business, whose trademark gentle mellifluosity pervades the proceedings to good effect and all of whose members appear sporadically during the course of the disc.

Both Sue and Liz happen to be really good singers, either heard individually or together in attractive harmony, and their thoroughly professional attitude to their craft enables them to relax sufficiently as they demonstrate their affinity with their chosen material and communicate its essence directly to their audience.

Their delivery is captivating, refreshing and entertaining, and often very moving; coincidentally perhaps, the latter quality characterises my personal highlights: I also really liked the ladies' tender setting of Ron Baxter's succinct yet poignant character portrait Molly, also their unsentimentalised take on Mary Benson's Sail Away, both of these done straight acappella the latter with Felicia Dale guesting , and their lovely treatment of Allan Taylor's deceptively simple Come Home Safely To Me.

But Scolds Bridle can make you laugh as well as cry too - the disc's "fun" song, Lynne Heraud's piquant little discourse on The Menopause, is a perfectly acceptable interlude in this context, while one has always to acknowledge that "fun" songs tend to wear less well in the cold light of home listening hmm, I'm tempted to label this particular song "less suitable for regular periodic sic!

Recording-wise, there's an occasional tendency to fierceness or over-closeness in capturing Liz's lead vocal contributions, but this is a minor point that's more noticeable on some CD players than others.

In summary, this is a very lovely CD that, while almost effortlessly pleasing Scolds Bridle's growing loyal fanbase, really ought also to bring them plenty of new admirers.

This Dublin singer-songwriter had a brilliant start to her career with her debut album Poor Horse, which has subsequently appeared on at least one Irish critic's "best-ever" poll.

Having not heard that album, I was a mite puzzled by the followup, We're Smiling, which I reviewed quite late in the day, finding it a slightly wayward and yet more than intermittently promising collection that purely in sound terms owed more to alt-indie-rock and ambient, opaquely trip-hop-shaded electronica than to the folk songwriting models one might have expected from glances through her press releases.

On that album it was Ann's voice rather than her songwriting that mesmerised, and I was left wondering whether I was missing out on some of the textual substance through paying attention to the voice and the arrangements.

Flo, album number three, does at least allow at times for greater concentration on Ann's lyrics through a generally sparser-textured aural milieu, much of it based around her own acoustic guitar but still for much of the time imaginatively, if blurrily enhanced by assorted strange reverberant layerings, pluckings and strummings "real" cello, violin and piano, with sounds that may or may not be "real" dulcimer, autoharp and vibes, and some programming courtesy of Ann's co-conspirator Kark Odlum and bold, if sometimes ominous percussive gestures.

Notwithstanding the evident attention to precise detailing within that quite tangled web of sound, and the myriad of individual textural strands, there's still a sense of woozy dislocation about Ann's music on this new record, which she describes as "a bunch of songs about being lost and how to get there".

At the risk of making a very obvious comment, it may take a bit of getting into, and once you're in there it might be likened to being lost in a slightly impenetrable maze, such is the nature of Ann's aural imagination.

It's possibly at moments like the spooked Hangman, or the cascading guitar arabesques of All Eternity ringing across the ether before the storm finally breaks, that Ann's work is arguably at its most mesmerising, her moody and yet sweetly wistful voice there being used almost as another instrument.

Having said that, the softly menacing character of the pair of songs opening the disc Love Is In Him, featuring a harmony vocal from Gemma Hayes, and the eerie Killerman with its spectral banjo part is as much of a highlight in its own way, as are the forlorn pointilliste rhythm of Return To Die and the plaintive, deliquescent gamelan of Lost.

Ann has clearly lavished much time and effort on this spare but lush creative endeavour, and its provocative air of sensual mystery is undoubtedly very attractive; I would strongly advocate the listener repaying Ann's effort.

Apparently she's twice been nominated for Best Female by the Irish Meteor Awards and her debut, Poor Horse, has been ranked in the top of the greatest Irish albums.

Maybe I'm missing something, then. The Dublin singer-songwriter certainly has presence, her voice dark and moody, her music swathed in the sort of atmospherics that have seen her dubbed Tori Amos with a guitar and compared to the likes of Imogen Heap, Juliana Hatfield, Cat Power and Gemma Hayes.

And yet I still find myself having to work to find a way into this, her second album, with its twisting rhythmic structures, electronica shaded goblin folk, and murky ambience.

There are entry points. The six minute She: But, ultimately, the shadings tend to remain within a narrowly defined palette and Scott's voice never really shows the same warmth that, for example, Kate Ellis' cello brings to Imelda, a track that oddly reminds me of The Cranberries at their more spidery.

Approach her more from the trip hop alt folk pop perspective that Beth Gibbons assayed with Rustin' Man and many will find the rewards waiting.

And, I suspect, after I've given it a few more plays and soaked it by osmosis, so will I. For some years now, the Irish music scene in Liverpool has been a vibrant one; the charming and distinctive singing of Liverpool Irishman Bruce Scott, one of that scene's most charismatic performers, is captured faithfully on this disc, which has been put together exclusively from recent recordings.

Bruce's performing style is both a reflection and a consolidation of a lifetime spent singing; it embodies a bold and quite florid use of decoration and vibrato, while retaining a fluent sense of pacing that does not destroy the internal rhythms of the songs.

This collection of 15 songs brings together both strands of Bruce's artistry - his interpretation of existing principally traditional song and his own songwriting the latter being a comparatively recent venture, we're told.

The former is the source for just over two-thirds of the CD's material, and includes versions of The Rocks Of Bawn, Easy And Slow, The Month Of January and She Moved Through The Fair which are very characterful indeed, if at times some listeners may find some of the slower songs a mite strident perhaps, or even slightly laboured.

To introduce a bit of tonal variety into the proceedings, Bruce is accompanied on five of the songs, on whistle or flute, by Terry Coyne who you'll know as member of Garva.

Good though Bruce's renditions of traditional songs may be, his own compositions, very much in the traditional style, are uniformly excellent; this CD's title track won him the title of All-Ireland Champion in the category of newly-composed ballads, and no wonder - although all four self-penned songs display a comparable flair for composing within the tradition, especially in respect of Bruce's creative adoption of traditional airs.

This well-presented CD makes for mesmerising listening, and proves a worthy addition to Veteran's catalogue. Still underrated in many quarters, even as an acknowledged virtuoso in the Americana field, Darrell - currently touring with Plant's Band Of Joy - is now celebrating his own talent by unassumingly releasing a whole double album's worth of new self-penned songs.

And wow, not only has he written everything but he also plays every note himself; not just the expected guitars, mandolin, banjo, dobro, but also keyboard, cello, accordion, entire rhythm section and harmony vocals!

This epic of multitracking was Darrell's intention right from the start, but that it all comes off as impressively as it does might be counted a minor miracle well, for those who don't know Darrell that is.

Darrell effortlessly rises above the potential torrent of "oh what a clever boy" criticism by producing a thoroughly musical record for which the phrase "labour of love" is an understatement.

The songs have definitely been written from the heart, and those on the first disc in particular carry a potent emotional weight, a true life experience, without descending into sentimentality.

The melodic element is especially strong, for these are classic songs that you almost feel have been around for ages, genuinely timeless. Darrell's singing has never been better, and his close, almost confessional delivery puts you at ease straight away, with instrumental backing that provides exactly the right contours and measures to suit the songs.

Outstanding cuts include the sparsely scored title track which opens proceedings , the almost unbearable heartache of Candles In The Rain Childless Mothers , the deep pathos of A Father's Song, and the sumptuous evocation of The Open Door.

And then there's For Suzanne, which pays tribute to a litany of songwriters through underselling Darrell's own humble gift as a songwriter. And as far as consistency goes, there's not really a seriously weak moment among the 20 tracks 16 songs and four rather brief instrumentals , so the argument for distilling all the music onto an abridged single disc is probably a non-starter although the two discs weigh in at only just over the minute disc capacity threshold, so by cutting one of the lesser instrumentals Darrell might've been able to make it a single-disc release I guess.

The second disc certainly contains the songs that I'd characterise as mini-epics, more consciously produced and staged creations with by and large a fuller sound and more expansive musical setting I might cynically suggest ripe for cover by other artists.

From personal preference, I might be tempted to skip the rock gestures of Snow Queen And Drama Llama and the slightly tired-sounding gospel of This Time Round on repeat playthrough, but that would largely depend on my mood at the time.

Either way, though, there's no doubting that with his eighth solo album release Darrell has produced possibly the best and most coherent set of his illustrious career to date.

The status of this release is readily apparent right from the first chords of its opening track, Darrell's cover of the undersung Gordon Lightfoot "prayer" All The Lovely Ladies: Darrell's long-term admiration for Gordon's artistry is present in every lovingly phrased note of his interpretation.

As confirmed in his own companionable and anecdotal booklet notes, Darrell similarly conveys his desire to make other folks' great songs truly his own, in the easy company of a stalwart roster of musos that includes Dirk Powell, Danny Thompson, Andrea Zonn, Stuart Duncan, Casey Driessen, Ronnie McCoury and Danny Flowers, with extra vocal support from among others Del McCoury, Kathy Chiavola and the Fisk Jubilee Singers.

In terms of material, Darrell draws on the work of writers whom he clearly considers personal heroes, in a special category which he rather appealingly terms "lock-myself-in-my-teenage-bedroom-and-absorb affairs".

There's Bob Dylan, Hoyt Axton, John Hartford, Kris Kristofferson and Mickey Newbury, for a start; and yet there are also some pretty unexpected choices here, while even the more familiar of the songs are invariably dealt with in intriguing ways.

On the final track, Darrell repays the compliment of Guy Clark covering one of his own songs, by turning in an affectionate rendition of Guy's That Old Time Feeling he even gets to play Guy's old 6 flamenco guitar on the track too!

The one strictly non-vocal number, Pat Metheny's James, is bestowed with a gorgeous wordless part Moira Smiley that when it's not keening the main melody forms a counterpoint to the sensitive newgrass-style instrumental treatment.

No other word for it - this disc is a gem. And it's not just because he's a member of Steve Earle's Bluegrass Dukes, or the producer of two of Guy Clark's albums or even that he plays with John Cowan or Sam Bush, the real reason he's so special is revealed on The Invisible Man - the title shows a nice line in irony because it is going to make him anything but invisible.

The songs on the album aren't plucked from the imagination of a writer, they're hewn from the beliefs and experiences of a man who just happens to be one of the most talented musicians around country music today.

Even if he weren't, the passions that drove him to write and perform I'm Nobody would have to find an outlet somewhere, it's music's gain that his safety valve is a guitar and a lyric.

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. But he has grown in prominence in my memory in the past couple of calendar cycles, ever since I stumbled upon his obituary long after his death at the age of But he came charging back into my consciousness that day, and has stayed there.

His name was Bruno Kearns, and he was the Sports Editor at the first daily newspaper for which I worked -- The Pontiac Michigan Press , back between my junior and senior years of college.

I was an intern -- the lowliest of the low, and treated that way by the City Editor, a disagreeable sort named Thorn.

Kearns, on the other hand, had his own little world -- in a room separated from the primary newsroom overseen by Thorn.

Bruno treated me with kindness and respect, and merely shook his head at Thorn's autocracy, telling me to "never mind" such excesses.

Bruno -- an accomplished reporter, editor and columnist -- was instrumental in getting Pontiac voters to approve construction of the famed Silverdome, a football-themed stadium on Pontiac acres, rising from farmland like some sort of fevered dream.

Its roof was fiberglass, held aloft by air pressure. I once sat so high in the nosebleed section at a Lions game that I got a closeup view of that roof; the playing field, by contrast, was so far away in that 82,seat building that the players looked like insects scurrying around.

Yes, Bruno lobbied for that building -- even was provided with a plaque of thanks in a table in its press box that identified that particular space as his -- amid many big-stage events he covered in a long journalistic career.

He covered all sorts of national and international events, but he was most at home A father of four -- two boys and two girls -- he was most comfortable, I think, reporting the local scene, and taught me something of the art of that particular deal.

He took the time to show me the basics of writing a sports story -- at the same time teaching me the importance of local sports to the local readers.

He was endlessly patient with me, for I was prone to mistakes brought on by ignorance, from a lack of experience.

The man was a teacher. He had just read a story I had written on a local softball game. But you need to humanize it. You need more names.

Who got the hits? Who drove in the runs? Who made a difference? Who provided the turning point? In contrast, I can't remember a thing that Thorn said to me out in the city room -- the main newsroom.

All I remember of Thorn was his volume and the denigration he directed toward me. Sorry I forgot about you there for awhile.

You deserved better from me. You deserved my gratitude for your kindness, for your direction, and for the wisdom you imparted.

And, while I was writing this, I decided that the fate of the Silverdome needed checking. What I found echoed my melancholy mood. It reopened in and hosted several events, but closed again, this time permanently, in The roof was destroyed by a winter storm in Owners auctioned the stadium's contents in In , the Silverdome was condemned and prepared for demolition; the upper deck of the stadium was imploded on December 4, , after a failed attempt the previous day.

Bruno Kearns, had he still been writing, would have fought that fate, I'm sure. And had he been alive to see that implosion, he might well have wept.

This award is unique, and more difficult to attain than when we started -- although it was difficult back then, too.

Whereas we started with just two schools -- Watkins Glen and Odessa-Montour -- we have 10 now: And there are still only 24 slots on the team. If any of you folks out there have a specific nominee in mind, let me know, and send along some supporting information.

The honor is open to any high school student in those 10 schools, 9th through 12th grades, although the tendency of late has been to lean toward seniors and juniors.

Baseball conjures the past. I collected baseball cards when I was a kid; memorized the statistics on those of the Detroit Tigers, the team I followed.

I lived north of that city. Later, after growing up and entering the workforce, I was a huge fan of Yankees pitcher Catfish Hunter, who was an inspiration after I moved to New York in the early s.

I liked the Mets, too. I was there at Shea Stadium for Game 6 of the World Series against the Red Sox -- watching the two-out comeback that propelled the Mets to a 7th game and a world championship.

I grieved when a former major leaguer named Bubba Phillips -- who played a decade in the majors from the mids to mids -- died of a heart attack in at the age of I had known Bubba when he played for the Tigers for a couple of years; he even attended one of my Little League games.

See an account I wrote about that here. I sat in a living room of a condo in Florida in and talked with Brooklyn Dodgers great Pee Wee Reese, a friend of the condo dwellers -- who were residing in the same housing community as my parents.

I was, of course, in awe. I still follow the game, but without memorizing annual stats -- although I can still tell without looking that Norm Cash, the Tigers first baseman in , batted.

I can tell you how I was friends with a gentleman connected to the Little League Museum in Williamsport who got us credentials for three years running to the Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Cooperstown -- and even to a private gathering with Hall of Famers -- including Kaline, who I recall looking at me as though wondering what in heaven's name I was doing there.

I was probably misreading the look, but I wondered the same thing myself. I have cards from all the sports, along with magazines, posters, autographed photos and so on.

I know from speaking with the new superintendent at Watkins Glen that he feels there are too many sports in his district for such a small enrollment.

But he is thinking more along the lines of trimming wrestling and boys swimming, each of which had somewhere around four participants this past season.

It pictures a bunch of boys in baseball uniforms -- Bloomfield Hills Michigan Little Leaguers -- standing and seated in a team photo, along with their coaches.

Yes, I played Little League baseball, and Babe Ruth ball, and even made the varsity at my high school. I was more a procrastinator than a doer.

Unfortunately, there were no names printed on the back, as they were on a couple of other photos of my childhood.

I remember the head coach was Mr. Mersky; he's standing on the right. I recall Bob Calhoun, standing third from right, who was probably the best athlete on the team; and next to Mr.

Mersky stands Dick Strong, who was a close friend but, oddly, I forgot was even on the team until I studied the photo.

Dick and I hung out together quite often -- playing board games he killed me time and again in Risk and listening to music in particular the Beatles, who rose to prominence in our teen years.

We won the league title, but we started out dysfunctionally with Robin wearing what seemed like a perpetual chip on his shoulder that unnerved most of us.

But along the way, he shed the chip, delivered some key base hits and helped us to the championship.

I was pitching and playing outfield. By high school, I was a second baseman. And I hit something over. It was a storybook year, although I developed a nervous tic before games, blinking furiously as game-time neared.

It drove my mother nuts, to the point where she scolded me gently, but firmly for it -- which only made it worse. Nobody ever said growing up was easy.

It was, from my reading of the matter, a form of hazing abolished not long after my brother endured it. My Mom thought the West Point brace was an actual physical device to be worn, and that if I donned it, it might help overcome my slouch.

She wanted one sent to us, though no such device existed. Which amuses me to this day. Anyway, I love you, Mom, and miss you.

The Tigers, and me. I still have that glove, though the laces are shot. Wh ither goest our young? But honest to God, the things they were saying Tuesday had any number of adults using that time-worn and biblically-based term.

Down in Florida, of course, all sorts of students are expressing themselves. A year-old boy at Watkins was arrested for just such an ill-conceived communication back in October.

But there she was Tuesday before hundreds of fellow students in the WGHS Auditorium at a function prompted by an article on school violence and safety that she and Prien had published as part of the journalism curriculum under teacher Travis Durfee.

I thought so highly of the effort that I published the speech here. I have nothing but admiration for what she and Prien did and for the many comments made, and questions raised, by their fellow students at the assembly, for this whole matter of school violence needs to be aired, and aired some more.

The greater the communication, the greater the awareness -- and that can prove key. Being in school can seem safe, but the image of terrified students being gunned down in the hallways by a maniac is all too real -- too easy to imagine happening here.

One school official in the area said the response time by state and county police to a school shooting would literally be only minutes, but that those minutes can prove so very costly.

Locked doors and other defenses -- short of an armed guard -- can only hold off a gunman briefly. Protocols in place can serve as little more than delaying tactics, measures to keep the carnage to a minimum before a shooter can be stopped by law enforcement.

His name is David Waite, and he carries a Glock with him. Not a taser, though. In those days, he said, such situations created hostage scenarios, with the perpetrators surrounded and talked down from further mayhem.

It is a different era today. When asked if he would charge in after a shooter, Waite simply nodded yes. I have no doubt.

Maybe there can be training, as one student suggested, in talking down or bringing down a student who suddenly pulls a gun in class; or more security; or One or more of those ideas might provide an edge if the horror ever visits local school hallways.

It was, as expected, a celebration of everything going on around here of a developmental nature, with an emphasis on tourism: And then came the children -- or more correctly the young adults, embodied in juniors Sutterby and Fazzary -- with a look at the area from a completely different vantage point Those 12 WGHS students, along with a couple of dozen others who had met at the school in the days beforehand, conceded the beauty of the area, but decried an absence of jobs, especially in the winter -- and in fact the boredom of winter in a low-keyed community like Watkins Glen.

More importantly, they said, there is too much of an emphasis on tourism; that what we need is large industry -- and greater opportunities for growth in careers beyond food service and antique shops.

Ice cream and pizza shops are nice, they said, but not exactly career stepping stones. But coming at the end of a session focused on tourism and strides that have been made to enhance that part of our economic spectrum A local official expressed surprise at their presentation -- laid out effectively and with some gusto, humor and assuredness by Fazzary and Sutterby.

The former wants to be a lawyer her father is the District Attorney and the latter wants to be a surgeon possibly orthopedic.

In other words, they have hopes and plans, and will need to get away from here to start them rolling. That might depend upon the direction in which this county is heading.

Will it embrace more of the same tourism, grantedly essential , or tourism plus growth beyond it? It really is quite a large question. Fazzary, Sutterby and the other students are representative of the plight Schuyler has long faced and continues to face: And after that ceremonial milestone?

What is next for them? Will they circle back home, or keep on going? Where I came from Rotarian Stewart McDivitt, in suggesting I address the club, asked that of me: How did I end up here?

But beyond a flippant answer, there are innumerable ones, for life is full of hundreds of variables, of intersecting facts and emotions and attendant decisions.

I am, I suppose, a product of my parents, a peaceful, loving couple named Gus and Eleanor Haeffner, now both deceased.

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