Heck of A Way To Stay Warm, A
A Heck of A Way To Stay Warm; Stories and Songs That Kindle Winter's Hidden Light (audio-cassette) by John Porcino. Self-produced. $10 plus $2 s/h.
Well, now, I couldn't have chosen a better day to listen to John Porcino's tape. After an unseasonably, unreasonably, unnaturally warm autumn, the still-blooming pansies of December (!) were finally covered by snow. And more snow, and more. The wind howled, the unlatched gate banged but I was well and truly warmed by this delightful tape.
Perhaps because it was the Christmas season when I listened to it, I expected to hear holiday stories. In fact, there is one touching story which is described as a Christmas story for people of all faiths, and there is a haunting song which is described as a Chanukah meditation for people of all faiths. The rest of the songs and stories, however, simply and zestfully celebrate winter.
One is a collection of familiar tall tale whoppers about the cold, cleverly adapted and combined by Porcino and told in a New England accent. One of the things that I liked best about this story was the way the teller involved the listeners by addressing questions to them. You have to hear it to understand that these are not just rhetorical questions tossed out to an unseen public. They are truly involving and give the listener a tantalizing glimpse of what it would be like to experience Porcino's magic in live performance.
As you regular readers know, I don't use the term magic lightly. However it seemed the best word to describe how Porcino was able - with only his voice and his selection of musical instruments - to bring his material so fully to life. His skill, characterizations, and the time he took in creating the stories let the listeners know that they are in good hands. They can relax, confident in his ability and warmed by the respect and affection he shows for both the material and the listener.
The tape was extremely well-produced with good use made of several tracks in the story It Could Always be Worse. That story and The Cremation of Sam McGee, were masterfully told.
Even the liner notes are good -- generous in both information and spirit. It's too late to give this as a holiday gift, but not too late to give it as a winter warmer-upper. After all, we have February and March ahead of us and I hear la nina is in town. For families of all ages.
Order from John Porcino, 120 Pulpit Hill Road #10, Amherst, MA 01002 Tel: 413 549-5448 john.
http://www.johnporcino.com/ [Links okay Apr 2014]
The Second Story Review, Vol 3, No. 4, March 1998