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Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P.O. Box 425, Keller, TX  76244-0425

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Cover Art: A Night at
          Devil's Tavern
A Night at Devil’s Tavern
Blackbead Books, 2009, $6.00


This salty CD of original compositions, both poetical and instrumental, captures the essence of a pirate and his life at sea. Steven Sanders reads all but one of the poems, six of which he wrote, while Kenny Sanders provides five musical interludes interspersed between the readings.
The first offering is Kenny’s “Blackbeard’s Melody” – a snappy tune that calls us to rise from our seats to dance a jig. A smile forms, and while not exactly the image we might envision of the fearsome Blackbeard, the music swiftly transports us back to another era where wooden ships sail the seas and pirates lurk, waiting for unsuspecting prey.
The other songs in this collection are “Sailing under the Black Flag,” “Down Village Creek,” “Farewell, My Old Friend,” and “Before the Sunset.” This last tune is reminiscent of dancers swaying to the last song before the night ends. The serene melody lulls them with a promise of future adventures the next time they visit, yet is tinged with regret that the night must end.
Kenny not only wrote these compositions, but also performs them on a variety of instruments: guitar, guitar synthesizer, mandolin, and synthesized hornpipes, bongos, and other instruments. As you listen, your mind’s eye easily sees him entertaining sea rogues and wenches at the Devil’s Tavern, or playing for his mates when taking their rest from a hard day’s work at sea.
The other offerings on this disc come from poetry that first appeared in Raising Black Flags, and include Debra Estes Peterson’s “The Angel of Death,” Kittye Williams’ “The Last Watch,” Desiree Simons’ “Steal from Me Tonight,” Pamela A. Williams’ “Remembrance,” Shari Land’s  “Galley Cook’s Lament,” and Steve Sanders’ “God Take the King,” “Farewell, Brave Lion,” “The Ocean Rolls On,” “Prize Island,” “A Tale from the Devil’s Tavern,” and “Raising Black Flags.”
All the poems conjure up vivid imagery that easily allows us to “see” what the words say.  Being a storyteller myself, I have particular favorites because of the pictures they paint. Shari Land quintessentially captures the sea cook in “Galley Cook’s Lament.” Although not a prerequisite for the job, a chef who cleverly created concoctions from sparse, and often rotting or infested, ingredients to nourish the crew was a prize indeed. But this particular pirate adds a secret ingredient to his Salmagundi that gets him and his stew marooned on a deserted island. A dire consequence indeed, but Shari adds a twist that leaves us with a smile on our lips.
Steve reads all the poems with the gravelly voice of a pirate. In “God Take the King” he spins the tale of why a seaman turned to piracy.  His rendering grips your heart and you easily empathize with the mariner, knowing you, too, might well follow that same path had you endured the same. A pirate’s regret in “Farewell, Brave Lion” causes you to experience that same lament after the loss of a stalwart and true friend, the pirate’s ship. This telling of “A Tale from the Devil’s Tavern” is as haunting for us as the young lad who discovers a fiery ghost claimed another victim, a mate who scoffed at his fellow pirates’ superstitious beliefs.
No matter which poem becomes your favorite, each offering here will evoke emotions in you. The voice mesmerizes you and takes you back to a time when the pirates ruled the Caribbean.
To Purchase the CD 
Review of Raising Black Flags
 God Take the King (poem) 
Remembrance (poem)
Blackbead’s Books
Review Copyrighted ©2010 Cindy Vallar