Happy Samhain! The weather here is cold, rainy, and very windy -- perfect for the Celtic New Year.
Jayme Lynn Blaschke, who attended the World Fantasy Convention, held at the Omni Bayfront Hotel in Corpus Christi, sent us a note that The 2000 World Fantasy Awards for works from 1999 were presented on October 29 at a banquet. Among the winners were editors Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling for Best Anthology for Silver Birch, Blood Moon, and Charles de lint for his new anthology, Moonlight & Vines.
I'm actually writing this on Thursday afternoon as I'll be busy tomorrow dealing with the complexities of booking dates for Gjallarhorn, a very cool neo-trad band from Finland. Look for a review of their new album, Sjofn, within the fortnight. I'm also doing some promo work for Frifot (Swedish for "fast feet"), another cool band. Look for a review of their work here in the near future!
Jayme Lynn Blaschke is off to the World Fantasy Convention in Corpus Christi, TX, to hobnob with Charles de Lint and other cool folks. Before he left, he gave us his review of Triskell Tales: 22 Years of Chapbooks, a limited edition release from the aforementioned author. (And our thanks to him for providing the review copy!) Our reviewer notes, "This, quite honestly, is a book that I've been looking forward to getting my hands on for quite some time. Years, in fact, long before the good people at Subterranean Press announced they would be putting forth this massive collection, complete with illustrations from the author's talented wife, MaryAnn Harris. While I relish each new de Lint novel and the unexpected twists and turns his fey injections into modern life deliver, I've always felt his style was particularly well-suited for the short form. And that's what's delivered up in Triskell Tales." Naturally I have already ordered my copy of this collection. You will want to order yours after reading his review. Jayme picks up an Excellence in Writing Award for this well-crafted review!
Four very neat books arrived this week from Norton Books. I decided that I wanted to review two of them myself: The Annotated Wizard of Oz and The Annotated Alice, so I did the reviews this week. I noted in my review, "OK, you can't go wrong by purchasing both of these books. Norton has done readers everywhere an immense favor by publishing The Annotated Wizard of Oz and The Annotated Alice in superb editions at very affordable prices. Yule season is approaching -- go indulge the child within you and get both of these! Or buy them for that favorite child in your life!" And Lahri Bond has this to say about The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Kansas Centennial Edition: "Bottom line? If you are a collector of things Oz, this book will be a welcome edition. If you are generally curious, go to your local library or bookstore and sit down with the many editions of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and figure out which one 'feels' the best. It's an entirely personal decision, and you may even find that this edition is the one you like the most." Lahri is the recipient of an Excellence in Writing Award for his insightful commentary.
Naomi de Bruyn has three book reviews for us this week. First up is her look at Andre Norton's Wind in the Stone. "Her latest novel, Wind in the Stone, is as clean as all of her work. There is no profanity, no graphic violence, or graphic sex. And even without these tools which other authors thrive on, Andre weaves her spell and creates a dramatic tale of the age-old battle of good against evil." About R. Chetwynd-Hayes' Cornish Tales of Terror she says, "...The tales within are good and worth reading..." and Reginald Spink's Alexander and the Golden Bird and Other Danish Folk Tales "...is a book of tales to treasure!"
GMR gets far more CD promo copies than I really want to think about. Not all of them are interesting enough to be reviewed here, but many are. And I'm always fascinated by what our reviewers think of the material they get. For example, Gary Whitehouse got Never an Adult Moment by the Austin Lounge Lizards for his consideration. So what did he think of it? He says, "Overall, Never an Adult Moment is a breezy and mostly amusing" CD. And Brendan Foreman, whom Kim Bates covered for while he took two weeks off from being Music Editor before he had to check into Bedlam, really liked Klezmer Conservatory Band's Dance Me To The End of Love. And Big Earl found much to like in Buzz Zeemer's Delusions of Grandeur CD. Big Earl is abuzz about it, and he says, "You remember the eighties? Not that horrid Springsteen/Dire Straits/Poison/Madonna stuff, but all the fantastic music you could find by digging deeper? The Minutemen? The Meat Puppets? Jason & the Scorchers? Buzz Zeemer seems to have tapped into that mine, creating nothing earth-shatteringly original, but still more refreshing than 90% of the crap on radio today." (Many times I don't know we're reviewing something 'til I get the review for uploading from the proofers. Like all legit review zines, we have a staff of able folks who do needed tasks, so CDs generally get handled by -- surprise! -- the Music Editor. I didn't know we had received this CD until the review came in.)
Three Celtic reviews grace our pages this edition. Naomi was lucky enough to review the self-titled debut CD from Beginish, an Irish group on the rise. It was, she says, "...well worth the listening..." and she hopes to see more of them in the future. Lars Nilsson thinks that Carolyn Robson's All the Fine Young Men is a bit uneven: "Though Robson performs well, the arrangement gives you a feeling of the piano and the trumpet not having been able to decide whether they are playing a folk song or a jazz tune." He adds however that "such moments apart, this is a very fine album, one that should be of interest to anyone looking for a good singer or good songs. And we are talking only two out of fifteen tracks. I am sure I will go on listening to a selection of songs from it for months to come." Finally, Jo Morrison, an accomplished Celtic harpist, mouses out what's got in Skyedance's Labyrinth. She comments, "All of the members in Skyedance are consummate musicians, who have honed their craft to excellence. It is pure pleasure to hear these six phenomenal performers work together with such precision and craftsmanship." This reviewer earns a well-deserved Excellence in Writing Award for yet another well-crafted review.
Lars gets the last word with his review of The Bushburys' Trying to Catch the Sun. He says of this English group that "Though they are an English group you can easily detect American influences on the record. Sometimes they come close to country, sometimes the songs sound like Woody Guthrie and there are one or two songs that could easily have been written by early Paul Simon."
Chris Woods has an insightful look at the concert that Steeleye Span did at the Danebank Theatre in Congleton, UK earlier this month. He notes, "This is one of those situations that throw into sharp relief the difficulties of writing live reviews. Lahri, one of our US reviewers, went to one of the American dates on the current tour and found it a significantly less than satisfying experience. Just a few days later I went to one of the UK dates and was knocked out by the gig." Chris gets an Excellence in Writing Award for this review!
That's all for now. See you a week from now!
Now 'tis the time that one thinks longingly of hearty stews, thick novels, and music to drive the dark back just a bit. And live music is best at holding back the dark.
Lahri Bond was fortunate enough to see English folk rock legends Steeleye Span at the Iron Horse in his hometown of Northampton. He was very disappointed in them at this concert, but raves about Bedlam Born, their new CD, and also loves their live album, The Journey. Vonnie Carts-Powell was blessed too, as she had but a short drive to see Celtic legends Brian McNeill and Dick Gaughan. She says, "This is what folk music is about, at its best."
I reviewed the Nancy Kilpatrick and Thomas S. Roche anthology, In the Shadow of the Gargoyle, last week. This week, April Gutierrez looks at Graven Images, another anthology from these terrific editors. April suggests, "pick up this book and read -- you won't be disappointed by the gods you'll meet or the places you'll visit."
We have two musiclore review this week, with Kim Bates's detailed look at The Ballad Book of John Jacob Niles leading off. Kim says, "Readers who enjoy the North American traditional music as sung by today's folk musicians and wonder where they get the songs will enjoy this book. Folks who are gone on the music enough to listen to the home recordings being released by labels such as Rounder will find this book to be a great resource." And David Kidney reviews Wade Hall's Hell-Bent For Music: the Life of Pee Wee King. Who is Pee Wee King? Let's quote the book: "[Bob Wills once asked him], 'Pee Wee, how in the hell can a Polish boy from Wisconsin play the accordion, write 'The Tennessee Waltz,' be a star on the Grand Ole Opry, and lead the country's most popular western swing band? It just doesn't add up!' [Pee Wee replied] 'Bob, all you got to do is please the people and sell records.'"
"Blues not over easy" might be a good way to describe Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band's Trout Mask Replica. Reviewer Gary Whitehouse says of this classic CD, "Trout Mask is a semi-symphonic blast of sound, at once complex and primitive; an artifact of the Sixties and a timeless relic of the universal. Beefheart combines Muddy Waters' growl, Allen Ginsburg's howl, modern jazz's polyrhythms, P.T. Barnum's hucksterism, and Richard Brautigan's gothic pastoral surrealism into a heady and sometimes disturbing concoction. Listening to this stuff can be like watching a movie of a train wreck, shown forwards and backwards at the same time. It's frightening and fascinating and try as you might, you can't tear your eyes -- or in this case your ears -- away." Hmmm... Gary follows that review up by looking closely at Southern Culture on the Skids' Liquored Up and Lacquered Down. He notes "...the songs feature the usual cast of Southern ne'er-do-wells, moonshiners, hot-rodders, and women with big hair and short skirts, played in SCOTS' trademark reverb-laden swampy surfabilly style."
Easier on the ear might will be Niamh Parsons' In My Prime, which Lahri thought was a good sign: "With care-filled friends as Niamh Parsons making fabulous recordings such as this, Celtic music is indeed in good hands for many a year to come." Jo Morrison, absent too long from GMR, has an insightful review of Jennifer White's Clarsach. She says of this harp-centered album that "After recovering from the shock of the outstanding recording process, I was pleased to note that the playing is equally remarkable. Crisp, clear notes, passionate performances, and a marked dynamic range bring out Jennifer White's virtuoso finger dancing."
Jack. B. Nimble, who was delighted to have located a source of Drunken Goat cheese, a tasty treat from Breton, looks at three albums by Kornog, a very hot Breton band: Ar Seizh Avel ("On Seven Winds"), Premiere, and Korong, which is their latest album. He says, "Breton music is an intriguing combination of Irish and Breton styles, and Kornog's elaborate arrangements bring out all its of its primal, haunting beauty. Their repertoire also includes Scottish ballads, as well as original instrumental pieces written in the Breton tradition." This review wins the first of three Excellence in Writing Awards given out this edition.
Brendan Foreman found The Morrigans' live album The Spirit of the Soup to be very interesting. He says this group "continue to be one of the undiscovered treasures of English folk rock." This review wins the first of second Excellence in Writing Award given out this edition.
Rip... Shred... Some albums must be torn to bits. David gave Rolling Down to Old Maui, an album by Jolly Jack & friends. just what it needed. This English folk rock album was, he says, terrible: "Sorry, but sometimes the boat hits a reef, or washes aground." Remember The Band, one of the seminal roots rock bands of the late Sixtes onward? Did you know the now late Rick Danko of that group made solo albums? I certainly didn't! Read No'am Newman's look at "Times like these" for a look at this project. Billy Bragg's English, isn't he? Well, yes, but as Kim notes in her look at his collaboration with Wilcoo (Mermaid Avenue, Vol. II ), "Billy Bragg and Wilco have a more personal take on Guthrie's legacy, and have largely been responsible for rounding out our vision of his personality by resurrecting his sensual, personal, and downright silly songs." And she also looks at 'Til We Outnumber Them, which was produced by Ani di Franco, based on recordings made at a conference honoring Woody Guthrie in 1996. It includes Guthrie's prose, several of his most popular songs, and recollections and reflections on his influence. She notes that this "album emphasizes Guthrie's radical political challenges to the powers that be and his earthy honesty." Kim wins the last of three Excellence in Writing Awards given out this edition.
We get the nicest things in the post, which is how Lahri ended up reviewing Celtic singer-songwriter Jez Lowe's Live at the Davy Lamp. He comments, "Jez Lowe is one of the consummate performers in Celtic music today. Hailing from the Northumbrian lands of Northeast England, near the Scottish Borders, he brings a distinctively northern edge to his music. Lowe grew up among the coal miners and working class people of the region. The fact that he is Irish on both sides of his family gives him a bit of an outsider's perspective, and a perfect viewpoint for his novelette style songs. Over his long career he has made many fine albums, each a little gem, and has been backed by some of Britain's most understated and finest musicians." Check out Jez at his best!
Switching to an American singer-songwriter, Sue Trainor, Naomi de Bruyn looks at two of her albums: In a Closeup and Under Tables, Out Back Doors. Naomi notes that Sue "is a very talented woman, able to hold the attention of both adult and children's audiences." Sue's also a member of Hot Soup! whose debut album is reviewed by Big Earl Sellar who we thought was on a break while he worked way up north. Hot Soup! is, he says, "a trio of ladies keeping that tradition alive, while bending the genre enough to sound fairly modern."
We finish out this edition with Patrick O'Donnell's look at The Heron Smiled by Native American singer-songerwriter Annie Humphrey. Our reviewer notes "The Heron Smiled walks the often crooked line between celebrating the joys of life and exposing the ugliness that often lies just on the other side."
I've been remiss in not noting the work of our editorial staff. Rebecca Swain oversees our proofing tasks, with Kim Bates, Michael Jones, and Naomi de Bruyn lending their able hands to this ever-so-crucial task. And our editors are second to none with the core triumvirate of Brendan Foreman (Music), Kim Bates (Live Performances and Video), and Rebecca Swain (Books) making sure our standards of excellence are maintained.
15th of October, 2000
Welcome back to another edition of Green Man , the only zine whose schedule is as dependable as the clocks in the High House! Not that we have Enoch to keep all of our many clocks properly wound, or Brittle as our Butler to provide us with a proper afternoon tea, but still we muddle on in our attempt to give you a decent look at what's new in the roots and branches of traditional literature and music.
Kim Bates was delighted to review the new Shooglenifty CD, Solas Shears, that arrived a few weeks ago. She disclaims, "Tunes over Bass. Hypnofolkadelia. Acid Croft. Celtic something or other. Shooglenifty bring a heavily layered electric world of rhythm to traditional tunes, using instruments carried through time, borrowed from the techno dance world, or invented on the spot. This is a fine album, another one for repeated playing and in depth research on my part." Just as lovely for her was the Oysterband EP, Ways of Holding on (Waiting for the Sun). She says, "I'm hopelessly enamoured of the Oysterband and find John Jones's voice to be one of the most enchanting out there." Not that everything we get is received with unbridled enthusiasm. David Kidney found Endangered Species, the latest offering from Eric Bogle, to be "a strangely schizophrenic work, which totters between engaging folk music and bland, forgettable songs." And Gary Whitehouse reminds us that comedy is very much a matter of personal taste as he notes that Before Radio, the latest release from Archeophone (early -- very early -- comedy recordings) resulted in his feeling "a trifle churlish in dismissing this package, so I want to make clear that much of this is simply my personal reaction to the material." Gary and Kim pick up Excellence in Writing Awards for their reviews.
On the other hand, Rebecca Swain was very pleased with Richard Shindell, who she saw live. This was where she picked up Somewhere Near Paterson, his latest release. Check out her reviews to see why you should listen to this artist! An Excellence in Writing Award goes to our Snowqueen for her review of both the concert and the CD!
Chuck Lipsig's ...And Reels column is back with a superb look at variations upon "The Star of Munster" tune. He notes "Take a classical composition too far and it destroys the composer's intent. Take a rock and roll song too far and it ceases to be rock and roll. Take a Celtic tune -- or most other traditional and folk genres -- to its limits and through the wildest jazz riffs or most precise baroque embellishments, it remains true to itself."
Our reviewers were busy reading this past week, so we have many book reviews for you to check out. Naomi de Bruyn was very excited when she received our reviewers copy of Laurell K. Hamilton's Obsidian Butterfly. She says, "Until reading this novel I was unfamiliar with Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter. I am grateful that the oversight has been remedied, and very much look forward to reading the previous eight novels as soon as I possibly can, and also the upcoming one, of which a teasing excerpt was included at the end of Obsidian Butterfly." I knew most of the writers in the In The Shadow of the Gargoyle anthology which Nancy Kilkpatrick and Thomas Roche edited, and I certainly was not disappointed by the gargoyle-centered stories in it. But Brian McNeill's The Busker was very much a disappointment, and I noted in the review: "I really hate to pan this novel as Brian McNeill's a great musician, but I have to as he's a lousy fiction writer. I love his music -- I have every one of his post-Batties albums, but this is not his forte." My In The Shadow of the Gargoyle review was deemed worthy of an Excellence in Writing Award.
Jack B. Merry found two of our books available for review too good to pass up. First he looks at Erica Jong's Witches, about which he says, "Erica Jong does for witchcraft what she did for sex in Fear of Flying: making sex and the power of harnessing one's sexual drive a creative and fun endeavour!" And Firecrackers: The Art & History is just what it says it is. Jack notes this book "is sure to delight popular culture fans, art lovers, graphic designers, and anybody who likes things that go bang!" Meanwhile, Naomi returns with a look at X. B. Saintine's Myths of the Rhine, a collection of myths she says is a "delightful little handbook ... divided into sixteen comprehensive sections, all of which are informative and very imaginative. The book contains some fairy tales and tales of the gods, and the author's interpretation of history. There are also the occasional nuggets of factual history. Some leaps of logic are frighteningly plausible and really leave you wondering, such as the theory that the Titans were actually the Teutons, a larger than average race of ancient Germans, descended from the Celts." David Kidney wraps up our book reviews with a look at not one but two biographies of Jerry Garcia, an almost famous folk rock guitarist. David comments on Robert Greenfield's Dark Star: An Oral Biography of Jerry Garcia, and Blair Jackson's Garcia: An American Life that "[a]s I said before, I am not a fan of the Grateful Dead, but reading these books caused me to listen to those albums I have in my collection with new ears."
One video review was turned in this week, X, a Japanese anime. April Gutierrez says, "[U]ltimately, X is very unsatisfying as an anime. Beautiful to watch, but hollow at its center."
He's back. No, not Jack Nicholson in The Shining, but rather our very own Michael M. Jones. Read his latest Peregrine's Prerogative to see what he has been up to.
Now I'm off to find tea and scones for a late afternoon snack. May you find good reading and interesting listening to keep you entertained!
11th of October, 2000
Will Shetterly just told me that that Tor Books is planning to do a hardcover and a trade paperback of War for the Oaks. He believes they're thinking May 2001 as the publication date. You can review the GMR review of this urban fantasy here. And you read our review of the legendary War for the Oaks movie trailer at this location. If you haven't read this novel yet, you've missed one of the great reads in the genre of urban fantasy!
8th of October, 2000
I never know from week to week what we'll be getting for reviews, so I was pleasantly surprised at the number of books reviewed this time out! Gary Whitehouse leads off with his review of Molly Gloss' Wild Life, a novel he says is unique, as "...Bigfoot or Sasquatch has been a major figure in the folklore of the Pacific Northwest -- Oregon, Washington and Idaho -- since before white Americans arrived in the early 1800s. Portland, Oregon writer Molly Gloss has used that mythology as the basis for a multilayered novel that is one of the most thought-provoking books I've read this year."
Three series get the GMR treatment next. Rebecca Swain, our very own Snowqueen, leads off with a look at five books by Gary Jennings, an excellent writer of historical fiction. The Snowqueen regally proclaims, "Jennings' books are set in widely different places and times, but his protagonists are similar in some ways. They are all smart, hardscrabble people who live by their own moral codes, while also displaying many of the characteristics and attitudes that were considered normal in their times. Though they are capable of love and loyalty, they do not give these lightly. Their lives present them with challenges which they use daring and the historical equivalent of street-smarts to overcome."
Marian McHugh looks at wee folk in reviewing two novels by Carol Kendall: The Gammage Cup and The Whisper of Glocken. Marian notes, "The Gammage Cup and The Whisper of Glocken weave wonderful tales of magic for children and adults alike. With magical swords that only come to life when enemies are near. Of carnivorous desert plants that contain a cure-all no matter how serious the illness or injury. Tales of heroes, of little people who expect their lives to be quite mundane and would wind their merry way from birth to death without thought of adventure, let alone the experience. Oh how wrong could they be!" Naomi de Bruyn concludes our look at multi-book adventures with her look at a trilogy of novels from Jane Routley: Aramaya, Fire Angels, and Mage Heart. She says "It is not very often that a trilogy comes along which holds my attention fully and completely, and is as interesting at the end as it was at the beginning. This trilogy is one of the special ones, one which can sit alongside The Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay, or even Zelazny's Amber series, without appearing out of place. The magic runs both deep and strong, in lyrical phrasing and poignant moments. This trilogy covers all the bases, and then some. You find you are not reading a mere fantasy, but an in-depth novel of intrigue, of renaissance-style romance, of demon- dealing fantasy, and of adventure."
Terry Pratchett's Carpe Jugulum gets an enthusiastic thumbs up from Richard Dansky. Richard comments, "Carpe Jugulum isn't just a book about vampires on Discworld. It's also a meditation on tradition, knowing your place, modernity, Goths, Highlander, parenthood, faith, religious crises, identity and most important of all, keeping your Igor happy. Got all that? No? Then read the book." This Pratchett review picks up an Excellence in Writing Award.
Good things come in small packages! Anthony Hayward's The Green Men of Birmingham arrived unbidden -- but very welcome -- from the author last week. It's a delightful, self-published chapbook that should interest anyone fascinated by green men. Foliate heads, as they were called before Lady Raglan gave them their present poetic name in the 1920s, are those pieces of sculpture that are composed of heads, human and otherwise, with vegetation going out of their faces. These green men are the ones that Victorian builders placed on their buildings in Birmingham, England.
And Jack B. Merry was very busy this week as he turned in three reviews. First is his review of Jane Yolen's Touch Magic. He says, "What this volume is about is acting as an advocate for the preservation and protecting of traditional folk and fairy tales. It's somewhat ironic to me that August House has decided to release this expanded version of Touch Magic in the midst of the Harry Potter fixation, as Harry Potter has come under rather bloody attack from groups on the right that object strongly to the use of magic and witchcraft within the novels. (Magic, witchcraft, and sorcery have become fashionable in the electronic media too: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Worst Witch, and Charmed are but three of the series which have magic, witchcraft, and sorcery as part of their story -- and these elements are used in a positive manner.) Touch Magic is important precisely because it explains why fairy/Folk Tales are important to children." Traditions are also what's important in Gerald Milnes' Play of A Fiddle, about which Jack comments, "...Any musician or other person interested in traditional music should get a copy of this book as it's a tale most fascinating. It's worth a great deal more than fiddler's pay for those of you interested in traditional mountain music." And Oxford University sent Mr. Nimble their just-released The Encyclopedia of Ireland. Ciaran Brady edited this amazing work about which Jack notes, " .... 'Tis not often that one sees such a finely-done book on Ireland, one that is knowledgeable, readable, and very reasonably priced." Touch Magic wins Jack the second of the four Excellence in Writing Awards that were chosen this time!
The Waterboys' Fisherman's Blues is playing as I write these notes, but the music this edition is mostly not Celtic in nature. Cajun leads as Gary comments on Charivari's I Want to Dance With You, an album that he thinks is "a Cajun album that holds its own with anything released in the genre in the past decade." Big Earl Sellar, who's headed off way North for a month to work as a cook at an oil pumping station before the winter hits up there, contributes one of only only Celtic reviews this time as he looks at Gaberlunzie's Rolling Home. Not that he likes what he sees: "I hope Gaberlunzie continue to connect with their audience: I'm afraid I'm simply not part of it." And Tim Hoke says the Irish Traditional Music collection is a tasty CD, so do check out his review! Gary wins the third of four Excellence in Writing Awards that were selected this time!
Gary's back with a look at a CD single that's worth tracking down: Jennifer Cutting's All-Stars' Forgiveness. Gary notes, Forgiveness is a piece that shouldn't be analyzed. Oh, it could be done, but to little point. This is a song one ought to listen to and feel. I doubt that many people could listen to it and not feel something." Did I mention that Maddy Prior is the vocalist? Kim Bates tackles American Fiddlers, a Library of Congress Archive of Folk Culture released by Rounder ass part of their North American Traditions series. Our reviewer comments, "This album is clearly aimed at musicians, fiddle enthusiasts and collectors looking for a reference work. However, I found the music to be so evocative of times past, and so refreshingly different from today's commercial recordings that I would recommend it for anyone with a passing fancy for fiddle music." (Kim wins the last Excellence in Writing Award that was picked this time!) Lars Nilsson really likes Tom Lehrer, or why else would he have listened to 4 CDs worth of him? Lars has "been waiting for this CD-box The Remains of Tom Lehrer for many years, in fact ever since I bought a CD player in 1987. It took 13 years but it was worth the wait." Brendan Foreman wraps up our music reviews by looking at some Turkish Rom music: Selim Sesler's The Road to Kesan. He notes that "...the music of this particular CD sounds like it was recorded at a very, very busy crossroads. This is the music of the Turkish Rom and of Thrace (the northern coastal region of the Mediterranean between Greece and Turkey). This area has been the scene of migration after migration since the days of Pericles. Everyone from Eastern Europe and the Near East seems to have passed through Thrace at some time or another: Greeks, Turks, Jews, numerous Slavs, all leaving a little bit of themselves in the area."
Jack has reviews of three charming English trad albums: Band of Hope's 'Rhythm & Red', Blowzabella's A Richer Dust' and 422's One. Jack liked all three and notes the tradition seems to be in fine hands if these groups are any indication! And Chuck Lipsig reviews another album for former Cats Laughing member Lojo Russo: Funks Grove's Albuminium Blue. He says: "for solid, smoky folk-blues, this is one great group."
Gary wraps up this edition with a review of The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack video. This video is "is the story of both sides of Jack Elliott -- the wandering troubadour and the absent father -- told by his filmmaker daughter, Aiyana Elliott. It is at times an almost uncomfortably personal document of a woman's search for the dad she never had, a search that is in the end unfruitful."
02 October 2000
I would be remiss if I didn't note that Terri Windling has recommended Green Man for the second year in a row in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror. And please read our review of the newest edition of that wonderful anthology here. You can read a review of the previous edition of The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror by accessing the link on the Endicott Studio Web site here. And do buy your copy at amazon.com via the link on the Endicott Studio Web site as they donate their profits to Children First, a small but effective organization in Tucson, Arizona dedicated to improving the lives of local Native American children. Children First exists because of the tireless efforts of Ann Mitchell (director) and Rupert Encinas (cultural coordinator), along with volunteer work by Jodi Encinas, Austin Nunez, Tony Burrell and a host of others. Green Man doesn't need your money, but Children First most certainly does, so please give them your active support!
Rooting 'round the net, I found some articles worth your attention: Rootsworld has an interview with Native American activist and poet John Trudell; Rock 'N' Reel has a superb piece titled Remembering Gram Parsons; Musical Traditions has a great piece on why The Songs of Elizabeth Cronin is bloody awful; and Charles de Lint has a page on Triskell Tales: 22 Years of Chapbook, his forthcoming chapbook. Jayme Lynn Blaschke will be reviewing Triskell Tales for GMR. My thanks to Charles de Lint for the Advanced Uncorrected Proof of this very impressive collection!
If you are interested in Fairport Convention, then check out the new Fairport Convention Website that Musikfolk has created including a worldwide discography at this location.
01 October 2000
Ah, fall has arrived here along the North Atlantic coast with cool temperatures, rainy days, and misty mornings. I had my first cup of hot chocolate the other morning while listening to the sound of bagpipes playing off in the fog while the geese flew overhead on their way south. However, Green Man goes on as always, with interesting product coming in for review, and our writers providing you, our readers, with insightful commentary on these books and CDs.
First up is Gary Whitehouse's look at yet another release from Archeophone Records. As he notes, this label "...is a small Bloomington, Indiana, label that specializes in restoring and releasing music and other material from the recording industry's early years." And 1920: Even Water's Getting Weaker is a dandy snapshot of an important year in American roots music as Al Jolson, W.C. Hardy, and Irving Berlin were all active. More roots is what you get in Gerhard Kubik's Africa and the Blues. Unfortunately, reviewer David Kidney notes, "Kubik's book provides an academic's look at a music dependent on feeling. His writing is not particularly engaging and at various times seems drier than the dust blowing across the Transvaal, at other times muddier than the banks of the Mississippi. This is surprising considering that Kubik plays clarinet and guitar in a band from Malawi and might be expected to write with more emotion about his art form." Both of these insightful reviews win Excellence in Writing Awards!
Naomi de Bruyn, in reviewing Mollie O'Brien's Things I Gave Away, notes that the artist "...could well be one of the mythical Sirens." If you like your bluegrass sassy and hot, check out this CD! She also like the English group Morgan Le Fay's GLORORUM (...and the people we know). She says that this group has "great music and extremely honest and deep lyrics. They're a touch country with the occasional 'pop' sound. Strong guitars and rhythm, and all of the tracks will have you tapping your foot, be it slow or fast-paced."
As usual, we have a number of Celtic CDs that got reviewed this edition. Tim Hoke leads off with a look at the self-titled debut effort from the Brothers 3's. Our reviewer says, "The material they perform is Celtic, but I mainly hear a lot of rock and bluegrass in their arrangements. Mark's fiddle and mandolin handle most of the leads, supported by Tom's trap drumming and Tim's bass. The guitar work is primarily rhythmic, but there are a few places where the guitarist gets to stretch out a bit. The vocals have the same big sound that characterizes the rest of the album. The brothers do some nice harmony singing which often seems influenced by the currently popular boy-band singing groups." Much more traditional is the Riverside Ceilidh Band's First Footing, which is subtitled A Beginner´s Guide to Ceilidh Dances. Lars Nilsson notes, "The CD is a generous one. You get everything you need to do for eight dances, such as 'Dashing White Sergeant' and 'Highland Schottische.' You get the music, all very well played with a lot of enthusiasm and spark. You get a caller to help you along at the start of every dance, and you get clear, well-written instructions for the dances in the little booklet that comes with the record. As a bonus, you get two sets of tunes each for eight of the dances, so you may do them twice with different music. And if you get tired there are even two songs thrown in for resting." Lars also reviewed Rod Paterson's Up-to-Date, a double CD about which he says, "If you like Scottish music and are looking for something special, look no further." Chuck Lipsig found Ronan Hardiman's Anthem to be -- oh, let him be blunt: "There's nothing offensive or even particularly unpleasant about Anthem, but too many of the tracks seem more like tacked-together components than heartfelt composition and performance. The result is disappointing." Kim Bates has the last review in this section with a look at Osna, the debut album by the group of that name. She says, "This is also a great album for folks without extensive collections because the tunes on this album are among the most popular session tunes around, the ones many of us think of first when the phrase 'Irish Traditional Music' is mentioned."
Lars' First Footing was deemed worthy of an Excellence in Writing Award. One editor "really liked his no nonsense attitude!"
Kim also has another of her interviews that she conducted at the Winnipeg Folk Festival earlier this year, Kev Carmody, She notes that "Kev Carmody is a singer-songwriter, who comes highly recommended by Eric Bogle as someone who has been a positive and dynamic influence on folk music, sending a positive message to young people in the indigenous community, combining a political sensibility with hard hitting, personal song writing."
Gordon Hall Gerould's The Grateful Dead: The History of a Folk Story was, according to Kim Bates, a difficult book for her to review. She says, "This is a fascinating, yet ultimately horrifying book for several reasons. It has taken me quite some time to finish it after starting it some months ago, a process that happens more often with music, rarely with books. So why did I keep relegating it to the bottom of the review pile? Simple: sometimes it's easier not to see certain things that explain so much. First published in 1877, revived with a new introduction written by Norm Cohen this year, The Grateful Dead tells us as much about nineteenth-century folklorists as it does about the persistence of some gruesome beliefs about the nature of women, and duty toward the deceased. Do we still hold these beliefs somewhere in our collective consciousness? Probably, but that doesn't mean I have to like it." This review was picked by our editors for Excellence in Writing Award.
That's all for this week. Look for Green Men, all things Irish, Michael Jones on his new job, and lots of CD reviews next time out.