SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

June 13, 2013

New children's book has a musical twist

By Gail McCarthy
Staff Writer

---- — Mariners always have stories to tell.

And, in the hands of Daisy Nell, an avid sailor, musician and now, writer of children’s books, those stories can also focus on music, as she has done in her third writing effort.

Nell will read her new book, “Captain Stan’s Foo Foo Band,” at the Book Store of Gloucester at 61 Main St., tonight at 7 p.m.

“This new book is a celebration of a life surrounded by wonderful musicians here on Cape Ann, and I hope it will inspire children of all ages to find the joy in music,” she said.

Nell, a maritime folklorist, said this book is in part a tribute to her band, Crabgrass — she crafted the characters from the real members of the band. The real-life Captain Stan, who performs with her, is her husband, Stan Collinson.

The illustrations are by George Ulrich of Marblehead, and some of the characters bear a likeness to the real-life Crabgrass members.

There is an added element this time, because inside of each book there is a music CD of the “Foo Foo” song, plus a link to a video of a square dance written by Nell for the Foo Foo crew.

The author noted that, like all of her stories, this one is partly based on local lore coupled with an imaginary scenario.

In this book, Captain Stan is looking forward to a musical evening with his mates on board his schooner when several mishaps cause him to nearly miss his own party.

Nell explained the title of the book.

The French word “fou,” meaning foolish, was adapted to become “foo foo,” to indicate a band of musicians who would pull together instruments that were fashioned out of whatever was on hand on the ship, in addition to some real fiddles, banjos or mandolins, she said.

“The term ‘foo foo’ is from the old days of wooden whaling ships when crew from ports around the world worked together, and often played music when it was time to have a little fun,” she continued. “In the story, Captain Stan likes to use the old term ‘foo foo band,’ but more than that, he liked to just get together with his crew and play foo foo, belting out the old tunes and dances.”

Geoff Kaufman, director of the Mystic Sea Music Festival, called the story “delightful,” and Gordon Bok, a folk artist and author from Camden, Maine, applauded Nell for keeping a worthy tradition alive.

Books are for sale at The Book Store and Maritime Gloucester, and at Toad Hall in Rockport, Sea Meadow gifts in Essex, and Russell Orchards, Ipswich.

What: Author's book reading by Daisy Nell When: Tonight, 7 p.m. Where: The Book Store, 61 Main St., Gloucester