Review: James Joyce: a new biography

James Joyce: a new biography  
Gordon Bowker  
Farrar, Straus and Giroux. New York 2011  
656 pp.  

To celebrate the 100th birthday of Joyce in 1982, I read Richard Ellman’s magisterial biography of the writer and it’s still, I feel…

Recipe: Pasta and Potatoes w/broccoli and red bell pepper

I remember trying to explain the wonders of the ‘chip butty’ to a group of people online — a ‘chip butty’ is french fry sandwich. It requires something like Wonder Bread (two slices), butter, french fries and salt and pepper…

Some books and a recipe.

It’s March — “the mad March days” and certainly the craziest time of the year for us. As well as seasonal concerts we’ll also be teaching again at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. The Music of Ireland, MU 395 with…

Recipe: Black Bean Pizza

Black Bean Pizza 

For years I never really understood pizza. I'd had many pizzas that I'd liked and a few (always commercial brands) that were more than a mystery to me. But, somehow, the soul of pizza had not…

Book Review: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train  
Paula Hawkins  
Riverhead Books 2015 

I avoided this book for a long time. The fact that it was a #1 bestseller was part of the reason and the fact that so many commentaries likened…

Colcannon Christmas Holiday Show

Well, Thanksgiving is over and a lovely time it was, too. All the band members were here, the food was great and the company better. More about that below. And, of course, since it’s the beginning of the Christmas season,…

Recipe: Tiramisu

This month’s recipe is for Tiramisu. This was served up at our recent Thanksgiving feast by Jean’s sister, Mary Harrison, and was a big hit. All of the food was just great but this was served at the end and…

Review: Voice of the People (Topic Records)

Topic Records, and its huge catalogue of wonderful music, has long had a place in my heart. It was through that label that I first became acquainted with performers such as Martin Carthy, June Tabor, Dick Gaughan and Ewan…

Book Review: Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin

Better Than Before 

Gretchen Rubin 

Crown 2015 320 pp. 

Some of the best advice I ever got was from an old soldier I met in England. I remember it well even though it was some forty-odd years…

Jake Thackray and Sister Josephine

Far and away our most popular song is Sister Josephine. We’ve been performing it since early in our career and when we dropped it briefly from the setlist, it was requested at every show — so we eventually reinstated…

Book Review: All That Is by James Salter

All That Is 

James Salter 


2013, 304 pp. 


James Salter, who died recently, was long known as an under-appreciated writer. Critics loved his books but they didn’t sell well. I hadn’t heard of him…