Archive | November, 2013

Music Roundup: Ladies Who Rock

21 Nov

A few weekends ago I saw the Broadway show, A Night with Janis Joplin, which was fun. Be warned, your fellow audience members will likely sing along to Janis’s hits.

In the show, Janis tells the audience about growing up in Texas and the artists that inspired her, such as Nina Simone and Odetta. This got me thinking about my favorite female artists, and I decided to write about it here. Note that my list spans several different genres, and is in no way authoritative.

Janis Joplin

I’d be remiss if I didn’t start this list with Janis. Her voice is distinct with its gravelly tone and soulfulness. Some of Janis’s well known songs are “Me and Bobby McGee”, “A Piece of My Heart”, and “Mercedes Benz”.

I like Janis’s take on the Bee-Gee’s “To Love Somebody”, which I feel best displays her bluesy voice.

Janis Joplin, The Essential Janis Joplin.

The Ronettes

My parents forced me to listen to 101.1 FM, New York City’s oldies station, as a child so I am very familiar with The Ronettes–Ronnie Spector (then known as Veronica Bennett), Estelle Bennett, and Nedra Talley–and their most famous song “Be My Baby”. This song was played during the opening scene of Dirty Dancing. The New York Times recently published an article about how the track has stayed so popular over the years.

Here’s a performance of that track. Check out those bouffant hairdos!

The Ronettes, Be My Baby: The Very Best of the Ronettes.

Stevie Nicks

I like to imagine that Stevie Nicks is my rock and roll fairy godmother. She wrote “Silver Springs”, which ranks among my favorite songs. Stevie found fame with Fleetwood Mac before striking out on her own successful solo career, with hits such as “Edge of Seventeen” and “Leather and Lace”.

Here’s a clip of Stevie singing “Rhiannon”, her signature track about the Welsh Witch, with Fleetwood Mac.

An honorable mention goes to Stevie’s bandmate Christine McVie, who wrote one of the prettiest love songs: “Songbird”.

Stevie Nicks, Crystal Visions: The Very Best of Stevie Nicks.

Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart

For those who believe that women can’t rock, allow me to introduce you to the sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, lead singer and guitarist (respectively) of the band Heart. I grew up listening to “Dreamboat Annie”, “Alone”, and “Barracuda”, among other tracks. Ann and Nancy released a memoir last year called Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul, and Rock and Roll.

This video is a prime example of how much Anne and Nancy can rock.

Heart, The Essential Heart.

Sharon Jones, of Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

If you ever have a chance to see Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings live and in concert, go. Luckily, they’re touring in 2014! Sharon will have you on your feet dancing with her throwback soul and funk. She and the Dap-Kings are my favorite artists to see live. Sharon was recently treated for cancer, and I’m looking forward to seeing her on the upcoming tour.

See Sharon in action here, performing “How Long Do I Have to Wait”.

Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, 100 Days, 100 Nights.

The Dixie Chicks

Yes, the Chicks are a country band. I’ve been a longtime fan of theirs and feel that Natalie Maines, Emily Robison, and Martie Maguire, are incredible musicians. The band faced major backlash for criticizing President Bush in 2003, the aftermath of which is documented in the film Shut Up & Sing. That experience also inspired the song “Not Ready to Make Nice”, which won the Grammy for Record of the Year in 2006.

I always liked the star-studded video for “Goodbye Earl”, a surprisingly lighthearted song about murder by black-eyed peas.

Dixie Chicks, The Essential Dixie Chicks.

Amy Winehouse

Another fan of old school soul, Amy Winehouse broke out with her Grammy-winning album Back to Black. Amy was influenced by girl groups like The Ronettes, and wore dramatic winged eyeliner and styled her hair in a bouffant. Fun fact: The Dap-Kings were the backing musicians on Back to Black.

Here is Amy’s take on a the famous Jazz standard, “There Is No Greater Love”.

Amy Winehouse, Back to Black.

Which artists do you feel are missing from the list?

-Kerry Weinstein, Reference Librarian

Tasting History: Shakespeare’s Kitchen, Last Dinner on the Titanic, and Gastroanomalies

18 Nov

Food can be a strong reminder of one’s own past such as Marcel Proust’s madeleine, but it can also go beyond the personal to evoke historic moments in time as well. An amusing British series The Supersizers Go featured restaurant critic, Giles Coren, and comedian, Sue Perkins, eating through time including the Middle Ages, The French Revolution, and Ancient Rome. The title is inspired by the documentary Super Size Me. You can sample some of Sue and Giles’ zany antics on Hulu. Watching them made me want to dip my own spoon in the culinary broth of history and find recipes from the past. These three books all available at the Hoboken Public Library will give you a taste of some sweet and savory flashbacks.

Shakespeare’s Kitchen: Renaissance Recipes for the Contemporary Cook

shakespeares kitchen
Shakespeare’s Kitchen by Francine Segan with color photographs by Tim Turner collects recipes from the Renaissance period. The recipes have been updated for the modern stove top and given in the standard recipe format that we are used to (during the Renaissance ingredient lists, cooking times, and exact measurements were not included). A nice inclusion though is that original recipes are also provided in most cases as well. Additionally, sprinkled throughout are quotes from Shakespeare and historical tidbits. It is interesting to see what ingredients are included and excluded. Prunes and dates are used heavily in savory dishes, but tomatoes are missing. Although several dishes have edible flowers and rosewater featured in them, chocolate and vanilla are not found in a single dessert since they were unknown at the time in Shakespeare’s London. I do not think the majority of the recipes will be making a heavy rotation in most people’s diet today unless they are a heavily committed SCA member, but I would still recommend this book for its interesting historical value and an option for a unique dinner party; the book puts together sample menus, invitations, and decorating ideas for this purpose. Segan has three other cook books available from BCCLS libraries The Philosopher’s Kitchen, Opera Lover’s Cookbook, and Dolci.

Last Dinner on the Titanic

Last Dinner on the Titanic by Rick Archbold with recipes by Dana McCauley is richly illustrated and a treat for food lovers as well as those with an interest in history’s most famous ship. Several menus from the voyage survived (including two from the tragic evening of April 14, 1912) and dishes are recreated from ones that would have been used at the time in first, second, and third class. The book gives suggestions for everything you would need for throwing a Titanic themed dinner party including music likely to have been played on the ship, fashion suggestions, and even down to the proper way to fold the napkins. Beautiful illustrations and photographs of items and the interiors of the Titanic and her sister ship, the Olympic, are found throughout. Vivid descriptions on what it would have been like dining on the ship and short biographies of some of the passengers (amongst them Hoboken born silent film star and model Dorothy Gibson) that you may want to role play are also included. If you find having a dinner party recreating such a tragic moment in history lachrymose, you could instead use the book to create an Edwardian themed meal; the food is representative of the best of what was available at that time in the UK and America. Several other books Archbold has written or co-written are also available from BCCLS Libraries including two more books about the Titanic: The Discovery of the Titanic and Deep-Sea Explorer: The Story of Robert Ballard, Discoverer of the Titanic.


Gastroanomalies: Questionable Culinary Creations from the Golden Age of American Cookery by James Lieks takes a humorous look back at old ads, recipes, and photographs from the 1950’s, 1960’s, and 1970’s. I was slightly disappointed in the book. Although I found some of Lieks quips about the pictures and other materials funny, some of his humor seemed to me to be channeling his inner ten year old boy and a few I found a bit off putting and crude. I was also somewhat disappointed that there were not more recipes to go with some of the images of food. In some case the reader is left wondering what an item might truly be beyond the lump of food in the grainy photograph. Perhaps, though this is for the best, as someone who once served both a turducken and a piecaken for Thanksgiving, my family and friends may have been saved from some jiggly jello abomination that I found amusing. The book is less well researched than the other two books and I would recommend it more for people who enjoy humorous takes on life than foodies or history buffs. If you enjoy this work, James Lieks also has written The Gallery of Regrettable Food and Mommy Knows Worst which are available from BCCLS Libraries.

-Aimee Harris, Head of Reference

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