August 26th, 2001

'Don't wake me for the end of the world unless it has very good special effects.' -- Merlin in Roger Zelazny's Prince of Chaos

We're off next week in observance of the American holiday known as Labor Day, so our next issue will be in two weeks, on the 8th of September. And by the time you read this, Moebius will have done their concert in Congress Square here in Portland, Maine on their way to play at the Alternative Bagpipe Festival in Vermont. I'll give you the details next edition. In the meantime, we have a small but interesting edition for you this time, including our review of Charles de Lint's forthcoming novel, The Onion Girl.

First, an announcement from the management of the Flash Girls: 'Emma and Lorraine are glad that people like their first album, but they're sure it could've been better--when they recorded it, Emma's voice suffered from a cold, and Lorraine was just getting comfortable with her fiddle. So they're hoping that album will disappear from public consciousness and be replaced by the album that they're recording next, The Return of the Return of Pansy Smith and Violet Jones. It'll have all the same songs, and maybe one or two new ones as well. With any luck at all, it'll be out in '02.' You can visit the website of Emma and Will here. There's a link to the Flash Girls official site there!

Let's start off this edition with the Celtic music reviews. Lars Nilsson looks at the latest CDs from the Barra MacNeils: Racket in the Attic and The Christmas Album. Lars comments, 'There is a lot of attention being given to another group of siblings playing music with Celtic roots, but I suggest you forget about them. Barra MacNeils may not have star model looks but musically they are a lot more interesting than the other lot. This is real folk rock, not pop music disguised to sound like it. These two albums are two of the most refreshing and well-produced ones I have heard for a very long time.' Meanwhile, Kim Bates, who is resting up before assuming her duties as Music Editor for Green Man, found Welsh group Rag Foundation's South by Southwest CD to be delightful. She notes, 'I first heard a Rag Foundation tune on Rough Guide to Wales and opined that I'd like to hear more from this ensemble ... et voila! Through the magic of GMR, this five song EP arrived through the letter slot. And after listening to South by Southwest, I still want more. This is a group definitely deserving of more attention, and I can only hope that they've got a full length album in the works.' And Celtic Soul's Wee Blue Man was something that really tickled the fancy of Chuck Lipsig; this CD 'is an outstanding CD that will, in all likelihood, be on my best of the year list for 2001. I'm also going to try to make the time to get out of the house and to one of their concerts, which considering my homebody habits, is no small thing.'

Klezmer is the game afoot in Beyond the Pale's Routes CD. Gary Whitehouse found this recording to be reflective of 'a young quintet making lively klezmer-based music. The fact that they've played more than 200 gigs in their three years together has paid off in this topnotch debut recording.'

Patrick O'Donnell who claims to have two left feet looks at two contradance CDs: the self-titled release from Permanent Wave, and The Way it Really Sounds at a Barn Dance from Two Fiddles and the Wind in the Timothy Barn Dance Band. See if these CDs got him up and dancing!

We have a handful of book reviews this week. Michael Jones gives a glowing review of Charles de Lint's latest novel, The Onion Girl, featuring Jilly Coppercorn. Michael urges, 'For fans of the author, this is a must read. For those who love urban fantasy, magical realism, fantasy with a trace of spiritualism, or just a good read, this is a don't miss. And for those who have ever suffered through some of life's crueler slings and barbs, it's a message that happy endings can and do still exist, even when it's a near-impossible task to overcome the obstacles.' Read his marvelous review to get all the details.

David Kidney was pleased with Pete Seeger's Storytelling Book, written by Pete Seeger and Paul Dubois Jacobs. The book is a collection of stories: biographical, Biblical, etc., interspersed with chapters explaining how to become an effective storyteller. In his succinct yet informative review David says, 'I enjoyed this book immensely, and have taken up the challenge the authors laid down.' What challenge? What has David done? Read his review to find out.

No'am Newman was impressed by a music-related book, Ani DiFranco - Righteous Babe, by Raffaele Quirino. No'am admits, 'I confess that I had never heard a note of Ani DiFranco's music before reading this book; the enthusiasm of the writing convinced me that it would be worth my while to correct that (even though I can hardly be considered to be part of DiFranco's natural audience).' Read his review to find out what he liked so much about the book.

And Rebecca Swain looks at Roger Zelazny's Amber series, all ten books of which were combined into one thick volume, The Great Book of Amber, in 1999. Rebecca loves this series and tries to explain why, though she also has some criticism of Zelazny's work. This review is the six hundredth work of fiction that Green Man has reviewed!

Now I'm off to read more of "From Beautiful Downtown Burbank" -- A Critical History of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, 1968-1973. Yes, that show! And we're having fresh Maine lobster rolls for supper, it being as warm as usual for late summer here. (Hint -- Don't come here expecting relief from the heat.) We'll see you back here in two weeks.

 

August 19th, 2001

'Dance first. Think later. It's the natural order.' -- Samuel Beckett   

    

September 1st will see our longtime Music Editor, Brendan Foreman, step aside after thirty months of exemplary duty. Kim Bates, our longtime Video/Live Performance/Essay Editor, will assume his responsibilities. Fear not, dear readers, that he's leaving Green Man; he will be assuming Kim's editing duties. Brendan commented to me recently that being Music Editor was 'the second busiest job at GMR' but I can make a good argument that it's often the busiest job here! Thanks, Brendan for a job more than just well done! I should also note that Debbie Skolnik, one of our earliest reviewers, has assumed the position of Editor-at-Large, which means she covers for our other editors when they are unavailable. As I've said before, Green Man is only as good as it is because of its incredibly superb staff of writers, editors, and designers. And that means I must also mention Rebecca Swain, the best Book Editor one could hope for, and Liz Stewart, one of the best proofers we've had!

Green Man has more live performance reviews of folk music than anyone else on the net, period. This week sees three new ones added, the first being Rebecca Swain's look at the National Folk Festival, which has been in East Lansing, Michigan fir the past three years but now moves to Bangor, Maine for its next run. Rebecca says of it, 'I love the National Folk Festival. Three days of free concerts featuring diverse performers, lots of food, and sitting outside in the summertime -- what more could a person want out of life?' Mattie Lennon was likewise pleased with the Sean McCarthy Memorial Weekend, the annual festival to commemorate singer-songwriter, storyteller and legendary Kerryman, the late Sean McCarthy; Mattie has a full and loving look at the weekend in this report. And Kim Bates went to Calgary Folk Music Festival this past July. She says, 'The weather was beautiful on Prince's Island Park, the music was fabulous, and the crowds were abundant for this year's Calgary Folk Music Festival. I was really impressed with both the workshops -- which boasted a lot of great collaborations, and the main stage lineup, which started and ended on time with very few glitches.' Read her in-depth review to see why you should go next year!

Sliding over to the music reviews, I find lots of interesting pieces this edition. Tim Hoke leads off with a look at two CDs from Contradance band Hotpoint: Steppin' On Cords and The Road To Burhania. He notes, 'I've said before that good contradance bands rarely make good sit-and-listen-to bands. I've also noted that there are exceptions to that rule, and Hotpoint Stringband can be added to that list. All of the tunes on these discs are danceable, and they are also eminently listenable.' Read his review to get all the details!

Green Man is pleased to have the first review anywhere of Play Each Morning Wild Queen, the new Flash Girls CD. The Flash Girls are Emma Bull, who was a member of Cats Laughing, a band that you can read about here. (Emma plays guitar and sings), and the Fabulous Lorraine Garland, who displays her awesome fiddling skills. Michael Jones sold his soul again in order to review this CD. Just how good is it? Michael says 'So yes. Play Each Morning Wild Queen is good. It's unique, fascinating, esoteric, and just plain fun. I haven't decided if I like it more than the other Flash Girls offerings, but then again, does that matter? Take this one on its own, or with the others, or on faith, and enjoy it fully.' Read his detailed commentary to see why this is so! Michael picks up a well-deserved Excellence in Writing Award for this review!

Andy Irvine played here locally last year as part of Patrick Street and he gave me two of his CDs after the show to review: Rain on the Roof and Out Yonder. Chuck Lipsig was the lucky reviewer for these CDs, and he notes after listening to them that 'Andy Irvine has been a major part of more than three decades of Celtic music, but for all that, he doesn't seem to be lacking freshness or interest in his craft.' Kim Bates, after thoroughly enjoying Chatham Baroque with Chris Norman's Reel of Tulloch, says, 'This instrumental album is a delight. Go buy it. Now.' Read her review if you want to know why she says this. Kim garners an Excellence in Writing Award for this review!

Lars Nilsson looks at The Complete Songs of Robert Burns, Volumes 7 and 8. Lars found these wee samples of a very large recording project to be so good that he is 'seriously contemplating buying the whole series.' Read his review to see why this is so!

With the exception of Rootsworld, Green Man gets more Nordic CDs than any other online review journal. Gary Whitehouse was very pleased by Maria Kalaniemi and Sven Ahlback's Luftstrak, a Nordic CD that is among the very best of that genre! He says, '[t]here's not a single "oom-pah-pah" on this entire record, so if that's your idea of European folk music played on accordion, you owe it to yourself and the instrument to check out Luftstrak.'

Tim returns with a review of two CDs of Russian music: Terem Quartet's no, russia cannot be perceived by wit, and Ensemble Khreshchaty Yar's Traditional Songs From The Ukraine -- Volume I. Both recordings had their strong and weak points -- read his review to get his full takes on these CDs!

Gary says that 'Georgia native Randall Bramblett has recorded an infectious blend of jazzy pop, r&b, soul and country-rock in No More Mr. Lucky.' But the alt-country group Rednex left him with a bitter taste in his mouth after listening to their Sex and Violins (Cotton Eye Joe) release. Indeed, he says of it that 'all of it's bad, and a waste of energy. Don't buy this CD. Don't even accept it if somebody tries to give it to you. Use an old floppy disk if you need a coaster that badly.' You have been warned!

This week we feature an interesting interview Michael Jones had with Emma Bull, author of the classic urban fantasy novel War for the Oaks. To celebrate the re-release of this novel Michael also gives us a slightly revised review of the book, reminding us why it's a classic and why we should read it. He loves this book, adores it, considers it one of his top five books ever -- but all of that pales in comparison to the burning question he answers: 'Neil Gaiman is not a Phouka. Really.' Thank God! I've been agonizing about that!

Now here are our book reviews for this week. First up, we introduce a new staffer, Eric Eller, who wisely chose a book by our beloved Jane Yolen for his first review. Eric writes, 'Though fairy tales were originally told to adults, they became a traditional literature for children and lost much of their original message for grown people. However, the best ones retain an ability to entertain adults and children alike. Instead of a basic "for children of all ages" theme, a well-crafted fairy tale communicates different levels of truth, depending on the audience. A basic theme that entertains children yields to a more complex interpretation and lessons for adults.' He thinks Yolen illustrates his point beautifully in her novel Briar Rose, a modern reinterpretation of Sleeping Beauty. Welcome to the staff, Eric. Busy Michael Jones also reviews a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, Spindle's End, by Robin McKinley. Read his review to see how McKinley's interpretation is different from Yolen's.

Michael Jones looks at the latest Windling/Datlow anthology Year's Best Fantasy and Horror #14. He loves it, of course. Read his reasons why this is a valuable resource to have, and a very enjoyable read. Grey Walker looks at the three books that make up Elizabeth Scarborough's Songkiller Saga. She begins, 'Imagine the best science fiction/fantasy convention you've ever been too -- or wish you'd been to. ... Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, C. J. Cherryh, Jane Fancher, Mercedes Lackey, Suzette Haden Elgin, Robin and Diane Bailey, and Mark Simmons were all there. Oh, and Charles de Lint and Caitlin Midhir were planning on coming, but they couldn't make it at the last minute. But everyone who did come stayed up all night singing old folk songs and as many filk variations as they could come up with.' Sounds like our GMR summer solstice party, but it's not. Read Grey's review to find out what she's talking about and how you can get in on it.

John Hall looks at two more Raymond Feist books from the '80s, Silverthorn and Darkness at Sethanon. He reminds us to consider this point when judging a book: 'It can be argued that anyone can write a story, but will you still be interested after the first chapter?' John was. Patrick O'Donnell found Marion Zimmer Bradley and Deborah J. Ross's latest Darkover novel, The Fall of Neskaya, a bit disappointing, though he still enjoyed it. Find out what he did and didn't like about it. Naomi also wasn't completely satisfied with Well of Darkness, from Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis. This book is a rare departure from their Dragon Lance series, and Naomi comments, 'This reads a bit like one of David Eddings' works, but, sadly, is not as captivating as it could have been.'

Do remember to check out our LoC page. Several of our staff members have received kudos from authors and musicians, and we want you all to see how brilliant they are.

Do come back next week as we'll have a review of The Onion Girl, the new novel from Charles de Lint that centers on Jilly Coppercorn, one of his most interesting characters. Michael Jones is the very lucky reviewer of this novel! And Michael this week has an interview with Emma Bull, author of War for The Oaks and Bone Dance. Michael notes that 'Once upon a time, I found a book. This was early on in my exploration of the vast potential of the urban fantasy genre. Oh sure, I'd read plenty of things before. Mercedes Lackey had eased me into the idea of elves living and working among humans in secret. Charles de Lint showed me that magic was real, and possible, and that it wasn't anything so blatant as race car driving elves, but a vast and wild and capricious magic, much like the fairy tales of old. Armed with what I knew then, I stumbled across a certain book. "An unearthly war is brewing in the streets," read the cover, against a fantastic painting of dark Fae, black dog, tough looking blonde woman, all lovingly rendered in green and brown. I read the back. I read the inside. And I fell in love. That book was War for The Oaks, and it forever changed the way I look at fantasy, both urban and otherwise. And that was the beginning of my love affair with the works of Emma Bull.'

I'm off now to make a Moroccan dish I discovered this week, Kafta, which is spiced ground lamb, with saffron rice, carrots, tomato, onion, and cucumber on lettuce! Ymmm! After we eat, I'm back to reading my advance copy of Charles de Lint's The Onion Girl while listening to Whirled by Vasen, a Nordic neo-trad group who will be playing here in Portland this fall. May you too have good eating, interesting reading, and truly enjoyable music.

 

August 12th, 2001 

'I wish they wouldn't hold mornings so early.' -- Zebediah John Carter in The Number Of The Beast

I've been enjoying an amazing summer of reading excellent fiction, and listening to really good music. Note that I did not say that I'd seen good movies -- it's been years since I suffered through the agonies of sitting in a multiplex with bad sound, lousy seats, and the overwhelming smell of popcorn flavored with artificial butter. No, thank you; I'll stick to the comfort of my living room where the company is great, and the couch ever so comfortable! My current reading is the new edition of The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror, our review copy of which just arrived, and I've been wallowing in the usual flood of CDs Green Man gets, with bagpipe combined with hurdy-gurdies being the favored music in this household.

One of our favorite approaches to dealing with multiple albums of a similar nature is to do an omnibus review of them. The approach has been judged to be a success by our readers. This edition has four of these omnibuses, with one covering Celtic music, one on recent Dorian releases, one covering traditional dance music, and one looking at the work of various singer-songwriters.

Chuck Lipsig, who's not getting enough sleep these nights, managed to review these Celtic CDs: Hilary Rushmer's Celtic Sunrise, Larry Kirwan's Kilroy Was Here, Broderick's Kissing Fishes, and the Celtic Links collection. Read his review to see if any of these CDs perked him out! Jo Morrison, absent too long from the pages of Green Man, reviews three releases from Dorian: Hesperus' The Food of Love, The Eternal Harp collection, and Custer LaRue and the Baltimore Consort's Amazing Grace. Jo says of Dorian, 'If you are searching for music to transport you to another age, search no further than Dorian's latest catalogue. The music on these recordings lifts the listener from their modern worries and cares and brings them to a time when music was both spiritual and spontaneous. Each performance brought new life to old tunes, lifting the notes from the page and making them the performer's own. It is this magical transformation that makes this music special, calling the contemporary listener to an age of wonder and contentment.'

Meanwhile, Rebecca Swain found a number of interesting albums from singer-songwriters to look at: Keith Johnston's No Stranger to This Kind of Game, The Kennedys' Positively Live, Jack Kid's Espresso Ecstasy, and Bob Schneider's Lonelyland. She says, 'The most imaginative singer-songwriters today sample many different styles of music while trying to remain true to the idea of folk music. They touch on funk, blues, country and pop, as well as traditional Celtic sounds in their music. The musicians reviewed here are examples of these artists.'

Jack B. Merry's been wallowing in great dance CDs, be they English Ceilidh or American Contradance or whatever, and this time he found these to review: Bursledon Village Band's Straight from the Fingers, hekety's self-titled EP, Gwazigan's Y'Vait du monde, Seven Thieves' self-titled album, April Verch's verch-u-os-i-ty, Freyja's self-titled album, and XiM's 989. Jack notes, 'I find meself staring at a tasty pile of CDs. Bleedin' Hell, it's rough job, but someone has to review these CDs!' Read his review to see how these CDs rate in Jack's opinion!

Gary Whitehouse looks at, and I kid you not, Five Furious Fish's Hook, Line & Sphincter. He notes that they are 'a five-piece English electric folk band, playing a unique and engaging blend of cajun, zydeco, reggae and rhythm & blues. On this, their debut CD, they play mostly originals, penned by two band members, plus a couple of choice covers.' Read his review to see if they reeled him in! 

As always, no one reviews more Celtic music on an ongoing basis than Green Man! Kim Bates rounds out the reviews of Celtic CDs this week -- nine in all -- with a look at Capercaillie's Nadurra and Karan Casey's The Winds Begin to Sing. Kim says, 'The Celtic and British Isles traditions boast many fine female vocalists. Indeed these traditions seem to nourish and appreciate the women's voices in a way that most pop and commercial traditions fail to do. Karan and Karen have sung together on several occasions; like Ceol Tacsi, the Scottish television show, and their ensembles show quite a bit of overlap, enough that I decided I had to review these two albums together.'

Finishing off our music reviews this is Gary's look at Ray Wylie Hubbard's Eternal and Lowdown. Gary exclaims, 'Eternal and Lowdown is easily the match of any alternative-country CD released this year. It's packed with solid, passionate songwriting and intense singing and playing.'

We are featuring an all-music edition this week. Come back next week for some fine book reviews.

We're off now to the Portland Public Market to dine in the seafood restaurant there. I'm looking forward to sitting in an air-conditioned space, as the heat index here in 'cool' coastal Portland, Maine has just broken the hundred degree mark. Even more exciting is that the Market will soon have a Greek restaurant complete with the usual tasty lamb delicacies! Ymmm!

 

August 6th, 2001

Terri Windling in her From the Editor's Desk column has this to say about the new issue of Endicott Studio which just went up today:

'Welcome to the August/September edition of the Endicott Studio Web site. We owe the theme of this edition to Midori Snyder, who organized a panel discussion on "The Arabian Nights and Orientalism in Fairy Tales" for WisCon (the annual convention for feminist speculative fiction) in May, thus turning our thoughts eastward. . .

In the Forum this month, Gregory Frost explores the history of The Thousand and One Nights, and how -- in their current form -- these tales became part of the Western fairy tale cannon. In the Gallery, we take a look at illustrations for The Arabian Nights by Kay Nielsen, the extraordinary Danish painter who (along with the English painter Arthur Rackham and the French painter Edmund Dulac) played a major part in the Golden Age of Book Illustration at the dawn of the 20th century. In the Coffee House, we have new Arabian Nights-inspired poetry from Ari Berk and Cory-Ellen Nadel, as Scheherezade continues to cast her spell at the dawn of a new century. For further reading on the subject, we recommend Edward Said's incisive book Orientalism, Husain Haddawy's excellent translation of The Arabian Nights, and A. S. Byatt's The Djinn in the Nightingale's Eye -- a work of contemporary fiction that is deliciously sly and thoroughly magical. Also this month, as usual, you'll find additions to the Recommendations and Links pages, and a new entry in Thomas Canty's beautiful sketchbook in the Gallery.'

You can find Endicott Studio by going here. And I'm pleased to annouce that the Fourteenth edition of The Years' Best Fantasy & Horror is now available for your purchase! (Terri tells us that it hasbeen nominated for the World Fantasy Award in the Best Anthology category.) Our review copy of it just arrived, but we should have a review up shortly! If you want to order it now, order via this Endicott-Studio link and, as always, Terri will donate her share of the sale to two organizations for children in family crisis situations: Talking Feather, for Native American children, and Casa de los Niños, a children's shelter.


August 5th, 2001

'This is dance music, and it's got to have a fair old bit of jizz in it.' -- Kevin Burke

Lammas has passed and summer is waning as the days grow shorter even as the weather reaches its hottest and most humid time. Our pumpkins are turning orange already, the chili peppers are growing long, and I just made the first batch of gazpacho of the season! And as always, great new music pours in to Green Man -- I'm listening to Y'avait du monde by Gwazigan, a Breton trad group that uses guitars, uillean pipes, fiddles, whistles, and the sound of feet tapping. Most tasty!

The legendary Cats Laughing CDs are now available for your purchase. Now you can get both albums -- including one never before released on CD! -- from Green Man. Will Shetterly, the genius behind Spin Arts, the recording company for Cats Laughing, has given his blessing for this project, and Lojo Russo, a member of Cats Laughing and a damn fine singer to boot, has made Green Man a master CD-R copy of the cassette-only release. (The latter is reviewed here.) What you get is two CD-Rs: one of the cassette-only release and one of Another Way to Travel, their only CD, which is long since out of print. The cost of both CD-Rs is thirty dollars, including shipping. Email me if you're interested and we'll discuss the details of getting these legendary releases!

On an equally interesting note, I have now converted the video tape of War for The Oaks movie trailer into a Mac Quicktime film. All I can say is that it would have made a great film! And Will informs me that he has footage of Cats Laughing playing!

We have a lot of interesting reviews this edition, so let's get to them!

Green Man gets an incredibly wide range of CDs to review, and this week demonstrates that quite nicely. Lars Nilsson leads off with a look at the group Sonerien An Aod & Julien Goualo's Sonerien An Aod & Julien Goualo. He says, 'Sonerien An Aod is a fairly traditional pipe and drums band from Brittany. The band was formed in 1973, clearly inspired by people like Alan Stivell. On this CD the band has joined forces with African percussionist Julien Goualo from the Ivory Coast.' Read his review to see why this CD didn't quite work for him. Patrick O'Donnell wasn't any happier with three CDs from German group Lady Godiva: Whisky You're the Devil, Tales of Kings and Boozers, and Red Letter Day. He says, 'the best thing I can say about these three CDs is that they're good for a laugh or two. And they might make really good coasters to keep rings off my coffee table.'

I'll bet that the idea of interpreting Pink Floyd from a bluegrass perspective never occurred to you. Well, David Kidney now gives you a review of Luther Wright and the Wrongs' Rebuild the Wall, Part One. He says it works quite nicely, thank you! Read his review to see why! David also lucked out with Roomful of Blues' watch you when you go. He says, 'I first heard Roomful of Blues when Duke Robillard was their guitar player. I remember being totally knocked out by the mix of horns and guitar, jump blues and a Basie-esque swing completely foreign to the music that was being played on the radio. After Robillard left the band, I lost notice of them, but they've been soldiering on, swinging the blues through a variety of sidemen and frontmen. This new album, watch you when you go is the latest example of their finger-poppin' magic.' And David rounds out his reviewing with an insightful commentary on Sweetwater's Now and Then. 'The songs they sing are drawn from the folksinger's songbook, old, traditional tunes interspersed with a rag or a Christmas song and the odd new tune. The melodies are familiar, the words too, and you find yourself drawn into the good time, singing along with them before you know it. It's infectious. They sound like they're having so much fun!' is his comment about Sweetwater.

Green Man has reviewed more Rough Guide compilations than any other review journal, period. And Big Earl Sellar looks at three more: The Rough Guide To Native American Music, The Rough Guide To Tex-Mex, and The Rough Guide To The Music Of Japan. Gary notes, 'The Rough Guide series likes to careen around this globe, creating interesting music compilation discs. Although most are aimed at the neophyte, many are worthwhile collections to win any music fan's heart.' Take a look at his review to get all the details on these tasty CDs!

Kim Bates looks at a bonnie bunch of CDs, all of which share the 'trad arr.' composer: Wayne Erbsen & Laura Boosinger's Log Cabin Songs, Graham and Eileen Pratt's Borders of the Ocean and Early Birds, and compilations Home on the Range and A Chesapeake Sailor's Companion. Kim, who is making her way across Canada one folk festival at a time, notes, 'What makes for a great, or even good, album of "Trad, Arr." songs? After all, these are songs generally people know, so presumably we could all sing them if we tuned up our vocal cords. Is it artful new arrangements, reinterpretations? That often works for me, but first and foremost in my mind is the soul of the song, filtered through the singer's vocal abilities, and framed by the instrumentals. There are some singers with lovely voices out there who just can't manage to get to the heart of a song, and others with less technical skill who steal your heart.' Do read her review as it has some interesting things to say about how to and how not to use 'trad arr.' material!

We have a huge crop of book reviews this week. Michael Jones reviews three books: Narcissus in Chains by Laurell K. Hamilton; Eccentric Circles by Rebecca Lickiss; and Grave Peril by Jim Butcher. He liked all of these dark fantasies and certainly made me want to read them. Grey Walker gives an excellent review of King of Morning, Queen of Day by Ian McDonald. This novel is about a girl who discovers a way to get everything she wants -- at great cost to the rest of the world.

Something Wicked's in Those Woods is a young reader's novel by Marisa Montes. Naomi de Bruyn thinks it's a moving story of a young boy who must start his life over and battle terrible evil simultaneously. The final novel reviewed this week is Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel's Dart, reviewed by Rebecca Swain. This novel features a wonderful heroine, Phedre, courtesan and spy. Rebecca liked the book, with a few reservations.

We review several nonfiction books this week as well. Gary Whitehouse reviews the All Music Guide to Country. He assures us, 'The All Music Guide to Country profiles more than 1,000 musicians, and reviews more than 5,500 CDs in the stupefyingly enormous field of country music. It's a good resource for the fan looking for some help in weeding out the good from the bad, the true "best-of" collections from the rip-off compilations and budget remakes that sadly are too common in the genre.' Rowan Inish looks at Terry Pratchett: Guilty of Literature, a collection of essays about one of his favorite authors. He lets us know which essays are worth reading and which we should skip.

Chuck Lipsig, a great admirer of Jack Zipes, looks at two of his translations of German fairy tales: Utopian Tales from Weimar, and The Fairy Tales of Hermann Hesse. See which collection he enjoyed, and which left him dissatisfied. Jack B. Merry turns in a review this week of a book by Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer. He says, 'About Revels is a slim chapbook about arguably the most important community-based festivals in the United States that have arisen in the past forty years.' Cat Eldridge reviews Direct Roots: The guide to folk, roots, and related music and arts, edited by Alan Bearman. Cat wails, 'OK, I'm quite jealous. Why the hell don't we have something similar to this publication in North America? I've been involved in folk music promotions for many years now and I'd have loved to have something that was even a pale shadow of this resource guide that covered the USA and Canada.' Read his review to find out what information this guide gives. There's a lot of it!

That's all for this time; we're off now to the Maine Festival which features the best roundup of music, crafts, food, and so forth that one could possibly hope to find in Maine in the summer. If you are truly lucky, you too will experience the Maine Festival. And did I mention the lamb kebobs, spicy meat turnovers, veggie pot stickers, and strawberry cheesecake? Even Sparrow, the character from Emma Bull's Bone Dance, would be impressed with the food offerings at the Maine Festival!