Rick Bass and StellarondoThe marriage of four Rick Bass narratives to Stellarondo’s acoustic accompaniments is a welcome exploration of some serious “what if” questions: What if the ancient bardic methods still work? What if a story-teller came down out of the woods bearing a few tales that, over the course of a winter, had moved from his heart to his imagination to his tongue? And what if, instead of imprisoning those tales inside a gewgaw called a “Kindle,” some gifted musicians said, “Hey. Maybe we can help kindle your stories to life”? What if they then discovered that a cello, a bass, and a pedal steel guitar can give us both the high winds, falling branches and crowning trees of a wildfire and the scream of the chainsaw cutting a way through it? What if a mere guitar and kalimba can convey the otherwise inexpressibly huge feelings of a young man in love as he carries a canoe, solo, for his lady through a cricket-song night? What if a lumbering bass solo and lumbering black bear turned out to be first cousins in the dark cave entered through the human ear?What if a plaintively bowed saw can become the love an old woman feels for that same bear, and the three together—woman, bear, saw—could audibly explore one of the bardic “thin places” in which mortals come in contact with the deathless, and loss isn’t loss after all?

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