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From World Fantasy to Riley’s Pour House

November 17th, 2012

Still decompressing from World Fantasy in Toronto, I’ll be resurfacing at Riley’s Pour House this Saturday (November 17) for a marathon performance – four hours, four sets, 60+ songs. A real aerobic workout, and I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday night.

I’d like to tell you about that show, but first a few words about the music sessions that took place at World Fantasy.

What a blast!

Organized by Christopher and Barbara Roden, the sessions were a late addition to the program, announced by word of mouth a few hours before the first one went live at 10:00 p.m. Friday, November 2.

Joining me were MaryAnn Harris, Charles de Lint, and Patrick Nielsen Hayden. We took turns calling the songs, sometimes playing solo, but generally jamming together on Celtic, country, and folk-rock standards. We did originals too, with Charles performing “A Dog Named Johnny Cash” and “Cherokee Girl” —  both featuring wonderfully catchy hooks that I haven’t been able to shake yet.

Along the way we were joined by Howard Fox, an artist from Israel whose remarkable paintings generated considerable buzz at the art reception (with one painting going on to win the convention’s Member’s Choice Award.) Playing harmonica, Howard accompanied me on a rendition of  Lennon and McCartney’s “For You Blue.” Then he asked me to lay down some improvised progressions. “Keep it going,” he said, and as I did he made up a song that he called “Fantasy Fair” — completely improvised — proving that he is as skilled at lyrics as he is with painting. This was Howard’s first World Fantasy Con. Let’s hope it’s the first of many.

The crowd grew as the night progressed. A lot of folks sang along, some danced, and when we called it quits around midnight, we were all committed to doing it again.

On Saturday we were joined by Martin Springett, who introduced his original tunes with stories about some of his past performances. Introducing his instrumental “The Dragon,” he spoke about playing for a group of children, all of whom listened with eyes scrunched tight, picturing dragons taking flight while he played.

And then came another improvised performance, this time from Ellen Klages, who asked the audience to call out a song topic. “Manual typewriters!” someone shouted, and she was off – nine minutes of improvised blues about platens, carbon paper, writer’s block, and Nebula Awards. No summary can do it justice. Fortunately, you can catch the whole thing on YouTube.

Click on the link at the end of this post . . . and enjoy!

Also joining us on that second night was singer Angela Keeley, who provided an eclectic mix of songs ranging from the bawdy “Scotsman” to the teen-angst standard “Last Kiss.” Great stuff!

I understand there was a third session on Sunday, but by then I was on the road, heading back to Pittsburgh with all those earworms stuck in my head. I didn’t bother with the radio. The memories were enough.

I’ll be playing some of those same songs again tomorrow night when I perform at Riley’s – the Pub that was recently honored by Irish Echo as one of the best Irish Pubs in the States. For good reason too. Food, drink, ambience, friendly people, music – Riley’s has it all.

I usually open the night with ballads and ramp up from there, but this time I’m planning to start with some rocking sea shanties. Lauren Connolly-Moore will also be on hand, lending her sweet harmonies to some contemporary tunes. I’ll hope to see you there.

So . . . were you at World Fantasy? Did you attend our jam sessions? Do you have anything to add, amend, or comment on?

Are you a fan of the Pour House? Do you have any requests for tomorrow night?

As always, the comment section is open . . . as are my email box and Facebook page. Use the comment option below or the little email and FB icons above. I’d love to hear from you.

Now fasten your seatbelts. Here’s Ellen Klages with her nine-minute blues improvisation “Manual Return.”

“Evocative” – Publishers Weekly

August 28th, 2012

In Lawrence C. Connolly’s evocative “Mercenary,” sniper and musician Lorcan uncovers a dangerous truth about the mysterious, charismatic singer Bobbie Quicksilver . . . .
                                          
Publishers Weekly

Needless to say, I’m really jazzed to be a part of this book.

Fantasy and sf have always seemed to me to be a big part of rock ‘n roll, and with Rock On, editor Paula Guran celebrates that connection with a “diverse collection [that] will appeal to most rock-and-roll and genre fans.”

And you’ve got to love that seven-string Flying-V on the cover!

Preorder from: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Prime Books.

 

Coming Soon: Rock On!

July 6th, 2012

The Greatest
Science Fiction
& Fantasy Hits   

Edited by Paula Guran and coming this fall from Prime Books, the World Fantasy Award-Winning publisher of science fiction and fantasy.

Kick out the jams with hot licks and fantastic riffs on rock and roll from the only kind of fiction that feeds the soul: science fiction and fantasy. Like rock, speculative fiction is larger than life and there’s no limit on where it can take you. Electrifying stories with the drive, the emotion, the heart of rock.

Headliners, award winners, and rising stars take the stage with their greatest fictional hits.

Find a place, grab some space…get ready to rock! Includes two original stories: “Mercenary” by Lawrence C. Connolly and “Mourningstar” by Del James. 

 

Contents (in alphabetical order):

Elizabeth Bear, “Hobnoblin Blues”: What if the trickster god Loki—who could sing gold from a dwarf, love from a goddess, troth from a giantess, bargain kidnapped goddesses away from giant captors, and blood-brotherhood from the All-Father—became a rock star?

Poppy Z. Brite, “Arise”: Cobb and Matthews are fictional renditions of Lennon and McCartney. Cobb, who faked his death years before to escape fame, hears Matthews has died of cancer. But the “death” turns out to be a creative resurrection.

Edward Bryant, “Stone” (Nebula Award winner; Hugo nominated):
Stim music: the empathy of the star performer feeds the wired-in audience and the audience feeds it back to the performer. But how far can it go?

Pat Cadigan, “Rock On”: In the near future, rock ’n’ roll faces extinction. Only those who’ve experienced the real thing via neural interface can keep it alive.

Lawrence C. Connolly “Mercenary” (Original): Bobbie Quicksilver turns up to play and Silverheads—musicians and fans—gather at secret concerts. The music seems to bring hope and joy to a hopeless, joyless world, but not all see it that way. Online warnings of hidden threats and secret agendas…and perhaps the sources themselves…disappear.

Bradley Denton “We Love Lydia Love”: To what lengths will the industry go to keep a rock megastar producing platinum? How far will a musician go to get a recording contract?

Elizabeth Hand “The Erl-King” (World Fantasy Award Nominee, Novella):
Linette, the daughter of a survivor of the glitterati Warhol set of the 70s, meets a reclusive former rock star who her mother once knew. He can see magical beings through the windows of his mansion, and these are dark creatures indeed…

Del James “Mourningstar” (Original): Fearing he will lose his guitarist, the lead singer of a band dedicated to darkness is determined his desires will be fulfilled and no sacrifice is too great.

Graham Joyce “Last Rising Son”: Two young people, an old blues song about doom updated, and a haunted Wurlitzer.

Greg Kihn “Then Play On“: Sometimes a guitar player’s fingers hurt so bad you can’t play, but you still gotta play. One night Charlie appears, playing a harmonica, and a guitarist’s prayers are answered…maybe “prayers” isn’t the right word, though…

Marc Laidlaw “Wunderkindergarten”: “Like a monster movie in which the monster gets to tap dance to rock. Only more so.“

Caitlín R. Kiernan “Paedomorphosis”: Annie plays in the band, TranSister, but when she visits a member of the rock band Seven Deadlies (who practice—loudly—next door), she discovers a really weird scene.

Charles de Lint “That Was Radio Clash”: In a salute to the Clash’s Joe Strummer, a story about making the right choices, taking chances—maybe getting a second chance—and a little bit of wish fulfillment.

Graham Masterton “Voodoo Child”: Jimi Hendrix is long dead, but there he is in London, recognized by an old friend. The man who wrote and performed “Voodoo Chile” had more acquaintance with certain strange rituals than we knew.

Alastair Reynolds “At Budokan”: Starts with a nightmare about being crushed to death by a massive robot version of James Hetfield of Metallica fame and ends with a Tyrannosaurus rex playing a Gibson Flying V.

David J. Schow “Odeed”: Nihilism, anarchy, audiences gone wild—it’s all rock’n’roll, right? Then one night the band Gasm takes it all the way…the true power of rock literally annihilates.

Lewis Shiner “Jeff Beck”: Blue-collar Felix loves Jeff Beck. When he takes an unusual new drug he makes a wish: “I want to play guitar like Jeff Beck.” We all know to be careful what we wish for…

John Shirley “Freezone”: Rick Rickenharp is a retro-rocker in a near-future cyberpunk world of warring corporations and multi-cultural chaos.

The book will be released by Prime Books in October. For more information and to pre-order a copy of this rocking anthology, visit Rock On: The Greatest Science Fiction & Fantasy Hits edited by Paula Guran.