Saturday, September 11, 2010

Double the Fun

It's always a pleasure to have a client's custom model railroad design project presented in the commercial press. This month it's a double treat as two projects are featured in the September/October '10 issue of Model Railroad Hobbyist mediazine.

One article describes a substantial multi-deck N scale design focused on the New York Central, Pennsylvania Railroad, and Norfolk and Western in Ohio. In order to include everything on the client's wishlist, we resorted to some significant proto-freelancing. But the result is a very engaging layout.

The design includes a substantial yard, river port area, and an extensive steel mill area based primarily on the Walthers line of kits. Developing this design provided a reminder of how well N scale works to achieve a large number of operating elements comfortably in a moderate space (less than 200 square feet).

The other article is not a full custom project, but instead features my client's compact HO scale Central Vermont Railway design on which I consulted. This was a great example of what I call "Compressive Selection".

The client's original layout inspiration was the famous White River Junction, Vermont area, but I felt this was simply going to be too much of a good thing to fit into his restricted space in a high-rise apartment.

With some back-and-forth discussion, we were able to choose nearby locations of a more modelgenic scope which still incorporated many of his desired features. Then we worked together to tune his layout design for the greatest scenic and operating potential in the available space.

Both projects were fun to work on, with great clients, and it's a pleasure to see each of them featured in MRH.

My recent on-line listening has turned up two artists with fresh takes on very American musical styles -- though both hail from Sweden!
The Langhorns are a Swedish band playing classic instrumental Surf music that sounds straight from the beach. Which, strictly speaking I guess could still be true -- though the beach is somewhat nearer the Arctic Circle than most surf spots. The tunes from their CD Langhorns are melodic and easy-going.

The production is sometimes a little rough (and I might have eschewed some of the ambient sounds), but it's still a fun listen. Steve Leonard's (The Pyramids) classic surf tune "Penetration" receives a respectful cover here, showing that the lads from Lund have an appreciation of the past masters. But there are also plenty of original tunes which show the Langhorns to have creativity of their own.

As unusual as Surf music from Scandinavia might seem, how about Bluegrass and old-timey tunes? From an all-woman band -- with a cello! Sweden's Abalone Dots are playing dates in the US now and into the Fall. I heard their music somewhere on-line and then was a bit surprised to discover that they're not from Nashville, but from Stockholm! ("Abalone dots", by the way, refer to the fret markers on stringed instruments such as guitars).

The album Traveler is a great introduction to the Abalone Dots sound, which includes shimmering three- and four-part vocal harmonies. The group incorporates a very traditional Bluegrass feel into their playing and repertoire, which I guess speaks to the universality of music!