The instruments were bagpipes and whistles, guitars, drums, cymbals and bells, mandolins, fiddles, and something that sounded like a button accordion. The music was anything the night called for. There were jigs and reels -- she might have guessed that. But there was hot city blues, too, rock, jazz, funk, and bluegrass full of mountains and whiskey. It should have sounded silly, and didn't. The fusion reminded Eddi of zydeco: wildly disparate musical styles played on inappropriate instruments, all to scorching good effect. Emma Bull's War for The Oaks
Lammas is but a few short days away, so please celebrate it well!
I wasn't going to use a quote from War for The Oaks this time, but this passage which I just read this afternoon was too good to resist. If you haven't purchased a copy of the new edition, what are you waiting for? Go get it now! You can purchase War for The Oaks via this link and Terri Windling's Endicott Studio will donate its share of the sale price to several well-deserving charities for Native American youth. It'll be very difficult to select my next piece of fiction to read as this has been one of the best reading experiences I've ever had! (I am pleased to note that Endicott Studio links back to our reviews, including, of course, War for The Oaks review.)
We have an all-music edition for you this time out with lots of CD reviews and two superb festival reviews!
Green Man has done more concert reviews than anyone else on the net, and two very impressive reviews of summer music festivals lead off this edition. Back in 1995, Will Shetterly wrote a review of the Winnipeg Folk Festival, which was followed by one by Kim Bates last year. Kim now does another one for us this year. As she rightfully notes in this review, 'The 2001 Winnipeg Folk Festival was a roaring success for new artistic director Rick Fenton, with over 40,000 in attendance at the four-day event. This year also saw some changes in the flavour of the festival lineup as well as to the festival site itself, which will make next year a true test of Fenton's new directions.' Read her delightful review to get all the reasons that you should go next year! And Celtic Day at Falu Folk Music Festival was a delight for Lars Nilsson, who notes, 'I still wonder: did they know it was my birthday, or was it just coincidence that made the organisers of Falu Folk Music Festival fill their fourth and final day of this year´s festival with the kind of music I love? Ten groups from England, Scotland and the Shetlands on the same festival site, it sounded like a dream come true.' And indeed it was, so read his review for all the nitty-gritty details!
Big Earl Sellar, who will be away for a few weeks while he moves to another city in search of the blues and worthwhile work, looked at four very different CDs this edition. First up were two from African performer Thione Ballago Seck and his band Raam Daan: Allo petit and XV Anniversary Live! He exclaims 'I will give the whole World Music Scene, commercial side, one thing: as much as it's ripped off artists, it's also helped Third World musicians to receive recognition in the West. A fairly new voice in the West, Seck has been a mega-selling performer in his native Senegal and throughout Africa. Now ready to burst on the North American scene, Seck is a revelation that begs the question, "why didn't anybody promote this guy before?"' Just as tasty was Charley Patton's Screamin' And Hollerin' The Blues, a sampler disc for a forthcoming boxed set for this blues legend. Big Earl notes, 'Revenant, the late John Fahey's label, is about to spring another box set on us: this one featuring Charley Patton. Screamin' And Hollerin' The Blues: The Worlds of Charley Patton is a teaser for the set, which is to be released this fall. And if this teaser is meant to make the listener salivate at the very notion, well, my keyboard is mighty slippery.' And he sort of, possibly, maybe likes the latest from chanting diva Wah!: Hidden In The Name. He notes, 'After enduring Californian singer Wah!'s two previous works, I really shouldn't have bothered with checking out any more of her chant/yoga/New Age Hindu drivel. But, you know, despite the sniping I do, I do believe in artists, I believe that even the lowest of the low can crawl up to their own level of success (or mediocrity). And I'm always interested in hearing whether or not an artist whose work I've despised has improved enough to not be banished to my coaster pile (three inches high, and climbing) ...' You'll have to read his review to see if this CD ended up on the coaster pile.
Mike Stevens's The World Is Only Air is the final review from our soon-to-be road warrior. He says of this CD, 'Now here's a cat that really turns a musical genre on its head! Meet Mike Stevens, bluegrass harpist. That's right, a guy who can play "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," at warp speed, on harmonica. A regular at the Grand Ole Opry (!), Stevens finally graces these ears with the very, very, very surreal "The World Is Only Air," a selection of traditional Canadian fiddle tunes adapted for harmonica. '
Jack B. Merry isn't going anywhere, as his city has almost as much live music as the B-Town of Terri Windling's shared universe has! And he also gets more than a decent crop of Celtic CDs from Green Man. This week he looks at Sharyn McCrumb and Sweetwater's 'The Rowan Stave', a musical and literary riff off her Ballad novel called The Songcatcher; Jenny Newman's Toms Fiddle; Slainte Mhath's Slainte Mhath; Michael McGoldrick and John McSherry's at first light; Suffering Gaels' The One-horned Cow; and the Piping Up collection, a tuneful bunch of alternative bagpipe music. He says, 'there's definitely too much really bleedin' fine Celtic music being produced right now!' Naomi de Bruyn looked at Malarky's The Band That Plays At Night, and says, 'This is a highly energized group from Brisbane, Australia, who will not allow you to sit idly by while their music spins on the disc player. They play a wide assortment of musical styles, which ranges from Celtic to Klezmer to Cajun, and everything in between -- yes, even Ragtime! Their style is very unique and flavourful -- each single note contains a passion which is rare to find. Let's face it, some artists have weaker tracks on discs. Well, this disc is strong everywhere.'
English trad musicians Keith Kendrick & Lynne Heraud's Stars In My Crown was a revelation for David Kidney, who notes, 'If you are a fan of the Watersons (or other English folk music) this album should be right up your alley!'
He was also lucky enough to get to review Hobart Smith's Blue Ridge Legacy. This blues CD is worthwhile because, according to David, 'Dock Boggs got all the attention, but there were many other extraordinary musicians playing in the hills. Hobart Smith passed away in 1965. The world was just discovering the Beatles, there was no room for a mountain man on the radio at that time. He was a triple threat, well known as a banjo virtuoso; he could also handle himself extremely well on guitar and fiddle. His voice is an echo from the mountains where he lived. Hobart Smith was a major talent, and now the world is looking for this kind of naive folk music. The Alan Lomax Collection presents a cross section of Smith's work, Blue Ridge Legacy.' However, Lars was less than pleased by English dance band K-passa's Born again CD. His comment on this album is, 'I must confess I do not find very much to get enthusiastic about.' But Ravi Shankar's Vision of Peace: the art of Ravi Shankar was very much to his liking! He notes that this CD is 'a wonderful example of world music. It is a wonderful example of any music beautifully constructed and sensitively played.'
David finishes off his impressive round of reviewing with an omnibus review of Kate Campbell. Who's that, you ask? She is, David notes, 'every bit the equal of Lucinda, or Emmylou. Her songs are literate, musical and memorable. Her voice is entrancing. Her band is skilled, her production warm and professional. Any of these five albums would be the place to start, but discover Kate Campbell, she is a national treasure.'
Chuck Lipsig looks at two CDs by an interesting band called Finnegan's aWake. He explains, "Based in Knoxville, Tennessee, this quintet plays Celtic music with a strong Appalachian feel to their arrangements." Read his review to see if this mix worked for him.
Now we're off now to see the Maine State Music Theater's production of Oklahoma!, the musical which features music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. It should be interesting, and it's an air-conditioned theater! (It's 95º as I write these notes, so several hours in a cool space is very appealing.) May the Summer Queen grace you with interesting experiences until next week!
22nd of July, 2001
You ask me why we celebrate, when nothing has been won; We take dark hours, we make them great, that's all we've ever done.
Our garden is full of the good things one finds there in high summer: still small pumpkins, nearly ripe cucumbers, chili peppers, tomatoes, raspberries, and very happy sunflowers! And we've had lots of butterflies and hummingbirds in the garden this year -- a nice thing to watch in the afternoon.
I have an important announcement for those of you who love good fantasy fiction and odd but tasteful folk music: Emma Bull and Will Shetterly have been cleaning up and building on to their Web site. Currently, you can find information about them, their work, books on writing that they recommend, the writing workshops that they teach, and Will's dad, Bob Shetterly, the oldest person to sail solo around the world. You can find their superbly designed website here. And I am pleased to announce that Michael Jones will be reviewing the Flash Girls' lovely new album, Play Each Morning Wild Queen.
We begin with the book reviews, of which we have four. Naomi De Bruyn looks at Graham Joyce's novel Dreamside, about four young people who enter into an experiment on lucid dreaming, and gradually find it harder and harder to tell dream from reality. Patrick O'Donnell reviews The Druid's Head, by Vivien Boyes, a riveting book for young people in which a boy finds himself somehow sent back in time to the age of the Druids. Patrick promises, 'If you're looking for a good book to keep the kids entertained this summer, The Druid's Head has everything today's youngster needs to stay amused: A severed head, supernatural events, Druids, time travel and a bright young hero with a mysterious tie to the past.' Snowqueen reviews a collection of fantasies and fairy tales by Louisa May Alcott, and No'am Newman looks at Judith Fitzgerald's biography of Sarah McLachlan, Building a Mystery. No'am is not happy with this book. Read his review to find out why.
The good folks at Grateful Dead, Inc. were kind enough to send us So Many Roads (1965-1995), a 5-CD set that Brendan Foreman, our Music Editor, quickly snapped up. He notes that 'At first glance, this set seems like any other "best of" CD set that the Dead have been churning out since the late 70s. But there is a great deal here that recommends it well above any of the other compilations. Most of the tracks here are live recordings, and those that aren't, are outtakes and practice sessions.'
Jack B. Merry was awash in CDs from bands interested in playing at his Wild Hunt Festival, so he decided to review a few of the piping CDs he had in the lot. He says it is 'amazing how much good piping music there is even when one avoids the standard Irish and Scottish schools of music!' You'll find him looking at Dudas Latvija [Latvian Bagpipes], Sol de Nit's B-91 00-SN, Eric Montbel's Chabretas les cornemuse a miriors du Limousin, and Storvan's Digor 'N Abadenn and An deiziou kaer albums in his review. Tim Hoke found two very different Welsh CDs to look at: Melangell, a trad album from Llio Rhydderch, and the self-titled debut from Welsh trad rockers, the BOYS from the HILL. Our reviewer says, 'Welsh music isn't something that's easily found, at least not where I live. I have found that it's usually worth the effort when I do manage to track some down. I was thrilled to hear these two discs. One documents an old, but still extant tradition. The other is more contemporary in sound, but the influence of that tradition is heard throughout.'
Green Man gets for review more English ceilidh/barn dance music than any other zine on the web, period. Patrick O'Donnell adds to our reviews of this genre with a rave review of Bedlam's evolution of the lazy tongue. Patrick says 'Bedlam, in the best sense, is much like an English pub. This four-member ceilidh band's music exudes comfortableness, rooted firmly in the traditional.' He also notes this CD will get heavy rotation in his household. Lars Nilsson was equally ecstatic about Magpie Lane's A Taste of Ale: 'I must confess I find it very hard to be impartial about this one. Choosing to fill a whole CD with songs about one of my favourite subjects, English beer, Magpie Lane has surely won my heart.' Review his review to see if this tasty brew is to your liking!
The alt-country group Spanic Boys and their album, Torture, get the once-over from Gary Whitehouse. Gary raves, '[t]he latest release from Milwaukee's Spanic Boys is a high-energy affair, featuring the signature sounds they have perfected on five albums: close twangy harmonies, searing guitar work and a blend of rock 'n' roll and honky-tonk.' Dave Beegle's A Year Closer gets a thumbs-up from Lars: 'The record company claims that A Year Closer is one of their biggest sellers. I can understand why. Highly recommended.' And David Kidney was quite smitten by Tom Paxton & Anne Hills' Under American Skies: 'Under American Skies is a thoughtful, sometimes moving recording. The sound is clear and beautiful, the performances strong and the sincerity obvious in their voices. I commend Appleseed, and Paxton and Hills, and all their backup musicians for creating this powerful document.' The latter commentary gives us sixteen hundred CDs now with reviews on Green Man!
No'am's review of Building a Mystery wins an Excellence in Writing Award!
Check out the Letters of Comment page for correspondence from Emma Bull and Charles de Lint!
That's it for this week. May your summer be full of great music, tasty food, and wonderful books!
15th of July, 2001 Keep on dancin' through to daylight. Greet the morning air with song. No one's noticed, but the band's all packed and gone. Was it ever here at all? Grateful Dead's 'The Music Never Stopped'
Now who's that? Oh, it's you. Let me put aside my copy of Emma Bull's War for the Oaks which just arrived a few days ago. (What Michael Jones didn't tell you in his commentary on this novel last week is that the design of this edition is quite splendid, with great cover art including neat oak leaves as a border, and a clean, crisp text that's very easy on the eyes. I know what I'll be reading this coming week!) And I suppose you want to know what's new this week, eh? Well, the main focus this week is on Celtic music, with two omnibus reviews by Chuck Lipsig and Tim Hoke forming the bulk of those reviews. And there are other great reviews for you to check out as well!
Chuck and Tim between them looked at Crooked Jack & Billy McGuire's An Audience with Crooked Jack & Billy McGuire; Dalriada's Lost Love's Dressing Gown; Easy Club's Easy Club; Keltz's The Seas are Deep; Joanie Madden's Song Of The Irish Whistle; Donal Maguire's The Clergy's Lamentation; Miserable Few's The Miserable Few; Casey Neill Trio's Portland West: Recorded Live at St. John's Pub; Shenanigan's Mortal Daze; Shenanigans' ... Forest Through The Trees; and the Celtic Twilight collection. Read Chuck's review here, and Tim's review over here to see which of the CDs were really outstanding and which were really awful! Chuck also has reviews of two albums from The Fenians: Band of Rogues and Have Fun or Get Out! He says of them that they are 'Out of Orange County, California... [They] perform traditional Celtic music, as well as some more contemporary folks songs with a strong, modern, almost rock and reel beat.'
Danse Macabre, Jack B. Merry's all-night 'barn' dance band, is looking for a hurdy-gurdy player. Jack found a great one in Nigel Eaton, but Nigel's rather busy to join yet another band! See Jack's reviews of three CDs that Nigel plays on: Ancient Beatbox's Ancient Beatbox; the Duellists' English Hurdy Gurdy Music; and Nigel Eaton and Andy Cutting's Panic at the Cafe. Jack says, 'This is dance music in the tradition of Blowzabella, Citizen Camberet and Prego, which is to say all of these albums are lively and interesting enough to keep you dancing for hours!'
Gary Whitehouse looked at two CDs from country artists Riders of the Purple Sage: Drifting Clouds and 27 Hits Performed Live. He says '[t]he Riders play a very straightforward brand of Western music, leaning hard on cowboy ballads from the Sons of the Pioneers repertoire. They also include some Western swing, a waltz or two, and some novelty numbers.' He also looked at two more Rough Guides: Merengue & Bachata and Samba. He notes, 'I have yet to encounter a Rough Guide collection that is less than excellent in terms of selection, production and presentation, and these two new CDs maintain the series' tradition of quality music.'
Colin Masson of Morrigan fame has a new album, Isle of Eight, and Lars Nilsson reviews it for us. He says 'Some albums leave you with very mixed emotions. This is one of them. Let me explain why.' Read his review to see his explanation. But No'am Newman did not have mixed feelings on A Rock In The Weary Land, the Waterboys' new album. He tongue in cheekily notes, 'Oh No'am, I know you're disappointed with this disc; I know that you were expecting The Waterboys of Whole Of The Moon and Fisherman Blues and instead you got something else. But it's not my fault: I just receive the discs and hand them out.'
We have six book reviews for you this week, two of novels and four of nonfiction. The first fiction book is Charles de Lint's Road to Lisdoonvarna. Jayme Lynn Blaschke begins with a warning: 'A word of warning to anyone picking up The Road to Lisdoonvarna; despite the name on the title page, this book does not read anything like a Charles de Lint novel.' Apparently this book, written around 1985, is de Lint's attempt at a hard-boiled mystery. Jayme liked it, with reservations. Our other fiction book is by another favorite of ours, Jane Yolen. Naomi de Bruyn says Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast is a collection of short stories for younger readers (but confess, we adults are going to read it too!). Naomi assures us, 'All twelve of these tales are memorable. Some are cute, some are scary, and some are downright odd, but they are all worth reading.'
As for nonfiction, we have Laurie Thayer's excellent review of W. Y. Evans-Wentz's The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries. This well-researched classic, first published in 1911, studies the belief in fairies and even tries to present scientific evidence for the existence of the Celtic Otherworld. Now there's a neat trick! Laurie was both pleased and displeased with the book. Read her review to find out why. Speaking of fairies, Jack B. Merry reviewed At The Bottom of the Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, and Other Troublesome Things. It's no secret to faithful readers of this zine that Jack likes the wild side of life, and he smacks his lips over Diane Purkiss' suggestion that we need to return to a sense of dread of the fairy folk. Forget about the cute, harmless fairies popular culture presents us with. Look under the bridge for the troll!
Lastly, our wonderful reviewer Gary Whitehouse gives us overviews of two music books. The first is No Depression, edited by Grant Alden and Peter Blackstock. This is a collection of thirty-seven articles from No Depression magazine, covering the huge musical territory of alternative country. Gary says the book includes articles about 'the Bad Livers, Buddy Miller, Gillian Welch, Freakwater, Blue Mountain, the Bottle Rockets, Old 97's, Robbie Fulks, 16 Horsepower and many more. Also covered are longtime singer-songwriters Guy Clark, Mickey Newbury and Chip Taylor, and a few that are hard to pigeonhole, like Steve Forbert and Victoria Williams.' Gary liked it -- except for the proofreading. He also liked Modern Twang, by David Goodman. Gary says of this invaluable book, 'Whatever "alternative country" music is, you'll find just about everything about it in this comprehensive book. David Goodman, as a fan of the music and a scholar of American Studies, has compiled what amounts to a one-volume encyclopedia of alternative country music.'
Excellence in Writing Awards go to Laurie for her Fairy Faith review; Jack for his At the Bottom of the Garden review; and Jayme for his Road to Lisdoonvarna review.
And do check out our Letters of Comment page as Chuck Lipsig, our LOC Editor, has added two very interesting letters to it. Please note that we do not reprint everything we get in terms of mail as we get far more comments than you want to read!
That's all for this time. Now I'm off to read War for the Oaks. I'll see you next week! Give me a ring before you show up and I'll have tea and scones ready for you!
"There is a woman who will do, I think. She makes music, the kind that moves heart and body. In another time, we would have found her long before, for that alone. Shall I bring her to show you?" -- Emma Bull, War for the Oaks
I told you that we are off this week! Now go away and do something else 'til next week! But before you go off in search of entertainment elsewhere, Michael Jones, our Managing Editor, has something he wishes to tell you.
In 1987, Emma Bull revolutionized the way we look at the world around us with her debut novel, War for the Oaks, a no-holds-barred, fast-paced, magically written rock-and-roll fable about Eddi McCandry, a Minneapolis singer/musician who gets dragged into a supernatural war taking place out of mortal sight.
On one level, it was a story about the creatures of myth and legend, the Seelie and Unseelie Courts of the Faerie Folk, and their modern-day struggles against one another for control of mortal territory, a conflict most of us would never even imagine. On another level, it was a coming of age tale for Eddi, who learns to take her destiny in her own hands, seize the day, and grow into her potential as a musician in her own right, no longer defined by abusive boyfriends or second-rate bar bands.
With such memorable characters as Willy Silver, the Phouka, the rival Queens of the Fae, and Eddi herself, War for The Oaks has become a modern classic (if such a term can be used) in the fantasy field.
Published originally by Ace, it was part of a small-scale renaissance taking place in the fantasy genre, with Emma Bull taking her place with Pamela Dean, Steven Brust, Ellen Kushner, Patricia Wrede, and, of course, Charles de Lint. Collectively and individually, they helped to flesh out and strengthen the "magical realism" or "urban fantasy" subset of fantasy that persists to this day in the works of Charles de Lint, Mercedes Lackey, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Jim Butcher, as well as many others.
Thanks in no small measure to Terri Windling, the then-editor at Ace responsible for finding some of these authors, and publishing most of them, War for The Oaks seemed to herald a fundamental shift in style. While the great sweeping epic fantasies set in magical kingdoms are as popular as ever, it can't be denied that the concept of magic in our own backyards is just as popular, and the idea of the Fae living amongst us is no harder to believe than Elvis sightings at the Kwik-E-Mart.
However, for all of its near-cult popularity, War for The Oaks has been out of print for years, with copies floating around in used bookstores and at conventions like holy relics, eagerly grabbed by fans eager to share the magic.
The relative scarcity has kept it from reaching as wide an audience as a book of its caliber might deserve. Luckily, all this changes this month. Tor Books is reissuing War for The Oaks in a trade paperback format, with a stunning cover, available in the stores for the first time in years. And as an added bonus, the new edition comes with a brief appendix that details its star-crossed move towards moviedom, and includes a good ten pages worth of scenes from the Bull-Shetterly movie script, scenes which aren't in the actual book. The online bookstores already list their copies as being in stock; your local store should have them any day now.
To celebrate this event, as most of us here at Green Man are avid WftO fans, we're declaring July to be War for The Oaks Month. Keep watching this space for an exclusive Emma Bull interview! Also, note that our esteemed leader, Cat, is an official bootlegger for Emma Bull's one-time band, Cats Laughing, as well as the legendary WftO movie trailer, an eleven minute teaser for the story-as-movie, produced by Emma Bull's husband and fellow author, Will Shetterly. (And I've also been informed that Will's going to be releasing a re-edited version of the trailer, to further honor the occasion!) So if you want to see what all the fuss is about, just keep an eye on your local bookstore, and keep checking back here.
Our reviews of the book and trailer can be found here for the book and here for the trailer. Our review of Cats Laughing can be found at this location. Our review of Maurice and I, the second release from Emma's -other- musical endeavor, the Flash Girls, is here, with a review of their next album, Play Each Morning Wild Queen, coming soon.
We'll see you next week with reviews of Charles de Lint's Road to Lindoosvarna mystery novel and Diane Purkiss' At The Bottom Of The Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, and Other Troublesome Things -- and whatever else catches the fancy of the Green Man reviewers!
July 1st, 2001
'They're worse than real critics, they're amateur critics!' -- Richard Thompson
Please note that we will not be publishing next week as the Green Man staff is taking a well-deserved break. We'll be back on Sunday, July 15th. In the meantime, we have reviews of William R. Eakin's Redgunk Tales and Neil Gaiman's American Gods and other nifty books as well as our usual assortment of CD reviews to tickle your fancy. And my listening pleasure right now comes from having recently received a copy of Zephyrus' The Halfe Hannikan Variations -- Rhapsody for Six Bagpipes & Percussion! Yes, this is another Jon Swayne of Blowzabella fame project! Lovely music with six sets of bagpipes and percussion-- just right for a hot summer's day. It's playing as I write these notes...
We have a number of great works of fiction reviewed this time. Michael Jones has an enthusiatic review of Neil Gaiman's just released American Gods. He says this novel 'is the sort of book where you have to reread passages several times, just to be sure you've caught the meaning properly. It's subtle, complex, and at the same time straightforward. It's a story about gods, men, belief, and change. This is the sort of book just about anyone can appreciate.'
Just as interesting was William R. Eakin's Redgunk Tales which Rowan Inish reviewed. He notes 'So what are the Redgunk Tales? They're stories, sit-around-on-the-step-and-listen-to-your-crazy-uncle-bullshit stories. They have that kind of easy rhythm and flow and enthusiasm, and they're written with a love of the sound of language that doesn't rear its head often. However, they're also shot through with references to Diomedes and Irish poetry, to the Python at Delphi and to enough other classical and otherwise erudite nuggets of knowledge that the end result is that there's a richness to the material that lifts it beyond pure regionalism and into an altogether more sparsely populated neighborhood.' And somewhere between being a very odd novel and an ethnographic study of what might be is Ursula K. Le Guin's Always Coming Home which Jack B. Merry says is 'an ethnographic history of a people living in a future version of Northern California. Though it's possible that this might be a far future version of our culture, LeGuin cares not a bleedin' bit about where or when this takes place; the intent here is world building at its very finest. And world building that is very anthropological in nature.' Wrapping up our fiction reviews is Michael's review of Peter David's Sir Apropos of Nothing which he says is the 'book that Tolkien is glad he didn't write, the story Eddings shut the door on, the tale too unpredictable for Jordan.' Read his review to see if this makes sense!
Green Man, or Greenie -- which is what many folks call him as they refer to our zine in the first person singular, gets lots of folklore related books for review. Laurie Thayer was lucky enough to snag Peter Narvaez's The Good People for review. The Good People is nineteen essays by various authors on the subject of fairy lore. Laurie says it is 'not by any means light reading. But for the reader truly interested in all aspects of fairy lore, it is worth struggling through.' Look for our forthcoming review of Daine Purkiss' At The Bottom Of The Garden: A Dark History of Fairies, Hobgoblins, and Other Troublesome Things which looks at the not-so-nice aspects of the Fey.
David Kidney has a written a tasteful meditation in the form of poetry on the matter of four Bob Dylan bios: Carl Benson's The Bob Dylan Companion: four decades of commentary, Clinton Heylin's Bob Dylan: a Life in Stolen Moments, Day by Day 1941-1995, Paul Williams' Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, the Early Years 1960-1973, and Paul Williams' Bob Dylan: Performing Artist, the Middle Years 1974-1986. Go ahead -- take a minute and read it! On the other hand, Lars Nilsson was sort of not pleased with John Platt's Disraeli Gears, Cream. Read his review to see why this was so.
John Miles Foley's Teaching Oral Traditions was an unexpected treat for Jack: 'Teaching Oral Traditions is an odd book for me as a musician to be reviewing. Ask me 'bout a tune, oh, say, the tune called 'Culloden's Fancy' and I can tell you the entire history of who has played it and how it's evolved down the years, while draining several pints of Belhaven Scottish Ale. But me reading is generally for pleasure, and not as an academic. Nonetheless, Teaching Oral Traditions has turned out to be a very interesting read and a book that would be of great use to anyone interested in storytelling.'
Green Man has reviewed over three hundred American Roots (Blues, Jazz, Contradance, Cajun, and so forth) CDs and we add a number of American Roots CD reviews to this edition. (And do keep an eye out for Big Earl Sellar's forthcoming review of the 7-CD Charley Patton boxed set from Revenant. Charlie's generally regarded as the father of Delta Blues, so all Blues lovers will want to read this review!) We lead off this time with a look at Bluegrasser Rhonda Vincent's Back Home Again and The Storm Still Rages. Reviewer David Kidney says 'give Rhonda Vincent a few minutes on your playlist. You'll be glad you did.' Contradance music has proved to be a favorite of our readers and our reviewers alike. Lars Nilsson looks at the recorded output of the Elftones, a North Carolina based duo: Elftones, Mist-Covered Mountains, and The Moon and Seven Stars. He comments 'I find the Elftones a rather charming acquaintance.' Read his review to see why this is so! And Gary Whitehouse liked what he heard from Tim Erksen of Cordelia's Dad fame on his debut album: 'this is intense music, much of it springing from the time when Americans were beginning to create their own music out of old European folk traditions.'
Our Celtic music coverage is second to none with more CDs reviewed than anyone else on the net. And this week has a number of interesting CDs in this genre reviewed including the debut from Canterach, a Scottish five-piece band, of which reviewer Lars says: 'One question a reviewer must ask when evaluating the item he or she is reviewing is: Would I feel contented with it if I had paid for it? The answer is easy when it comes the Canterach´s first album: Yes, I would.' Read his review to get all the details! He was equally impressed with Whirligig's First Frost. He says 'the group sound[s] very medieval, sometimes coming across like a less bombastic Blowzabella.' And No'am Newman was pleased by the Celtic Airs collection even if it belongs to '...the "tartan elevator" genre of music, for indeed, the music tends towards the dreamy, without any known tunes being played (and the tunes that are played don't have memorable melodies). On the other hand, this music provides a fine Scottish ambience.'
Brendan Foreman wraps his look at arguably the best group of Irish musicians today, Dervish, by looking a trio of their albums: at the end of the day, Midsummer's Night, and Live in Palma. You know you should have all these CDs, but read his review if you doubt that! Otherwise, just head to your favorite CD shop now!
Mattie Lennon, our first reviewer from Dublin, Ireland, gives us an essay entitled P.J. Murrihy and Pat Murphy's Meadow. Read his essay on the song and the songwriter to get the full story!
Cuban music has become increasingly more popular if the number of CDs we get in that genre is any indication. David Kidney looks at Conjunto Casino's Montuno en Neptuno #960 and Julio Padron Y Los Amigos De Sta. Amalia's Descarga Santa. He notes 'Cuban music was unknown, or only hinted at for many years, but there is another storm brewing in the home of Fidel and we owe a debt of gratitude to courageous companies like RealRhythm (and World Cicuit/Nonesuch) who provide these great musicians with an outlet. They provide us with hours of enjoyment as well.'
Richard Thompson provided us with our quote this week, and Irene Jackson Henry has a review of a concert by him and John Gorka. She says 'this was a memorable concert, and one of the finest and most generous I've seen Richard do.'
Rebecca Swain, our very own Snowqueen, was not pleased with Dangerous Curves' Ladies of a Certain Age. With the swirling sounds of bagpipes still in her head from her trip to Scotland, she proclaims 'I can't lie. I don't get the point of this CD. It sounds to me like three fun-loving nine-to-fivers with some musical talent cutting loose and recording a CD to pass around to their friends. There's nothing wrong with that, but why are they selling it to strangers?'
That's all for this edition. Come back in two weeks to read more fascinating reviews including Jayme Lynn Blaschke's review of Charles de Lint's Road to Lindoosvarna mystery novel which, due to the generousity of Charles who sent two copies, I'm reading right now! After you read Jayme's review, you'll want to read it too!
My thanks to Donna Bird and Brendan Foreman for editing What's New this week!