Monday, December 19, 2011

SAAB Automobiles RIP | 1950 - 2011

Famously born from jet fighter planes, one of the quirkiest, most geeky car companies ever gave it up today. And it was a sad thing.

Sweden's SAAB Automobiles was not, after much time and effort, capable of sustaining its business model nor putting together the kind of deal to keep the company afloat in hard times. Management was in talks with potential Chinese white knights until the last possible moment. Then it all collapsed and the world lost a great and storied auto maker.

The author adored the 1976, red turbo 99 that graced more than one driveway for almost a decade. That was one wonderful car, one of the first to deploy a turbocharger, and a joy to drive and to look at.

So sure-footed on any kind of terrain. So nimble in the turns. So freaking much fun to drive. I can't tell you how many times that car got me out of nasty, slushy snow; or how it could virtually ford small streams. When on a skiing trip to Vail, Colorado, it was not surprising to find the local constabulary equipped with SAAB police cruisers. Uh-huh. That's right.

The best SAAB memory that remains with me these many years later, is driving all day through the southern Oregon forest and finding ourselves at dusk on an unmarked timber road.  But hey, we had the SAAB. No problem.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Celtic Classics

This is the music of my ancestors. Celtic Song. From my personal Youtube channel, this playlist represents my favorites from Scotland, Ireland, Canada and the USA.

The very best place to hear true, roots Celtic music in the Western Hemisphere is at the annual Celtic Colours festival held every Oct. on Nova Scotia's Cape Breton Island.

A previous series of posts, here and here, document the author's last visit to the festival. The opening video of this playlist features the Beaton Sisters, from a legendary, Cape Breton Island family. It's families like the Beaton's the Rankin's, the MacMasters and the MacGillivray's that are keeping the sound alive and updated.

The Beaton Sisters' Celtic Colours performance below was conducted sometime after midnight on the stage of the Nova Scotia's Gaelic College - the only Gaelic-language college in the Western Hemisphere. It is traditional for most of the musicians who've performed on any day of the week-long festival to cap-off the day with a rousing late-night appearance at the College.  The second video features the very exciting 13 year old Kathleen Gorey-MacSorley. Natalie MacMaster, also from Cape Breton Island, better watch out!

In addition to selections from Celtic Colours, this extensive playlist features a wide variety of traditional and non-traditional Celtic music artists. Young Scot, Julie Fowlis and Irish diva Cara Dillion get special attention and a number of videos each - as they are personal favorites.  But traditionalists won't be disappointed with the likes of Paul Brady, Dougie MacLean, Sean Keane and others. There is no shortage of Jigs, Reels, Strathpeys and waltzes in this, 70-clip playlist. So if you love fiddle, strings, pipes and Sharon Shannon's Concertina, this is the place for you. Comments are encouraged.