'The Endless Rave happens at the edge of Soho proper. Some people say the first humans to return to Bordertown decided to celebrate by dancing there, and the dancing has never stopped. The dancers come and go, of course, and so does the music: sometimes it's made by seedyboxes, and sometimes by B-town drummers gathered to jam, and sometimes by a dancer or two stamping a rhythm and humming a tune. No one knows how large the Endless Rave has been, but everyone swears there's always at least one kid dancing there.' -- Will Shetterly's Nevernever
29th of September, 2002
Jack here. Cat dropped into Tigh-a-Glas where the Green Man offices are located to say, 'I'm using the Endless Rave quote this week because I'm in the midst of a project for next October called, for now, the Endless Jam. Chris White named it. It will be held at the St. Lawrence Arts & Community Center here in Portland, Maine, and will be seventy-hours of non-stop music! Yes, either in the guise of concerts or less formal jammings, the music will not stop for the entire time. Medieval, Celtic, Jazz, Cowpunk, Post-Modern, Contradance, you name it, you'll hear it there. And yes, there'll be lots of room for dancing so make sure to bring your soft soled shoes along! I'll keep you informed as it unfolds as it should be an amazing experience!' And that was the last we saw of him as he muttered something about 'Mark Persky, smart fellow that he is, likes hurdy gurdy music...' and disappeared into the CD Library in search of bands that perform hurdy gurdy music. ... do I now hear the raucous sounds of Blowzabella's 'Between The Wars' drifting up the staircase? I didn't know we had a seelie box recording of that performance!
Now onto this edition... Merlin... Tolkien... Taliesin... Witches in New England... Even a smattering of other mythopoeic material... We've reviews of all of these this edition, and a whole lot more. If you read our Best of GMR issue last week, and I'll bet you did, you noticed that we get more than our fair share of what I'll call mythopoeic material, be it the latest Charles de Lint Newford collection (Tapping the Tree), Beowulf being read by Seamus Heaney, or even Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle Earth, one of the many works of non-fiction that have wandered our way. I never cease to be amazed at what we get here at Green Man. And this edition has many new things that will tempt you to loosen your purse strings! Everything from a review of Inventing the Middle Ages to an in depth look at The Annotated Hobbit, and more than a few tasty Celtic CDs will be found here this outing.
Thanks go this outing to Stephen Hunt for editing the CD reviews; Maria 'Just a Bit Insane Right Now' Nutick for editing the film reviews, proofing everything, and writing the What's New commentary for film; and the rest of the editorial staff for doing their usual excellent job. And please welcome David Kidney on board as the new assistant Music Editor. He has both the knowledge of the music we cover, and the experience building relationships with labels as part of his work with RYLANDER. Stephen, our present assistant Music Editor, is becoming an Editor-at-Large who will be available as need be for interesting assignments!
In their heydey, American Westerns presented a larger than life projection of the aspirations of a people and a time. They were totems, expressing the characteristics that the dominant American tribe found desireable. As autobiography, they wrote America into its own legends and international perception as land of the cowboy. And those legends have interacted with the perception of American history and culture. The visual extension of the dime novel, they determined how the cattle rancher, the outlaw, the frontier lawman, the American Indian, would be perceived in the popular mind. Contemporary Westerns are dialogues with those perceptions - either as film nostalgia or as revision and redefinition. And these dialogues would appear in contemporary Americana and Country and Western music (eg. The Outlaws, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson), in contemporary Western novels (eg. those of Louis L'amour), in quasi-cowboy films (like Urban Cowboy), and in historical research.
David Kidney offers a galloping survey of Westerns in his Western Film Omnibus, which illuminates the icons, shows how transitions in American culture have influenced the Western, and even hints that today's 'cowboys' are the spies and 'special ops' which, similarly, offer us a pantheon for their myth and define American aspirations. David takes an Excellence in Writing Award for his superb essay.
Craig Clarke brings us an intriguing omnibus review about an American folk darling, Pretty Boy Floyd. What is it about flamboyant criminals that captures our imaginations so entirely? Craig's review compares two Floyd biographies, by Jeffery S. King and Michael Wallis respectively, with the novel Pretty Boy Floyd by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana, to discuss this complex question.
Eric Eller offers an overview of '[a] book about scholars, but not solely for scholars,' Norman F. Cantor's Inventing the Middle Ages. As Eric says in his review, 'The evolving nature of 20th century learning changed attitudes and understanding about the Middle Ages considerably. Comparing the fiction of Lord Dunsany or William Morris to that of J.R.R. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis, though only a few decades separate their work, shows the dichotomy between the 19th and the 20th century conceptions of the Middle Ages.' Read the rest of Eric's review to see why he finds this book a "useful and entertaining resource."
Jack Merry went on a Tolkien bender this last week. What we get out of it are a brace of reviews, the first one of The Annotated Hobbit, the newly-released revised edition. Read Jack's loving and detailed review to see why any Tolkien lover must have this book in her or his collection. The second of Jack's Tolkien reviews is an omnibus review comparing and contrasting two reference books, Robert Foster's Tolkien's World from A to Z and J.E.A. Tyler's The Tolkien Companion. Jack says, 'I chose these two reference works because they are contrasting examples of one superb approach and one not-very-well-conceived approach, down to and including their respective titles.' Which is which? Can you guess? Read the review to find out! Our last review from Jack this week covers an anthology of Merlin stories, The Merlin Chronicles. With pieces from folks like Charles de Lint, William Morris and Robert Holdstock, this one is a must-read. 'Suffice it to say,' says our Merry Jack, 'that there's enough reading here for many a cold winter's night.'
Vonnie Carts-Powell takes an appreciative look at the Be Good Tanyas and their CD, Blue Horse. The Be Good Tanyas are a three women folk rock group that, according to our reviewer, have 'the sort of rawness that's been completely expunged from contemporary pop music.' Read her review to see if you agree.
Judith Gennett found a winner in the Finnish-American music that Les Ross Sr. plays on Hulivili Huuliharppu (Rollicking Harmonica. She notes, 'I've been told that Finnish-American music is insular. I've been told that Finns may not hug you when you arrive but that they won't talk about you when you leave either. In any event, Finnish-American music is not well publicized, but when you do find it, it is a joy and not all that 'different' and inaccessible to American tastes. This album in particular is skillfully made and on top of things, and especially warm and a lot of fun.' Christine Lavin's I Was In Love With A Difficult Man is a singer-songwriter CD that our reviewer had strong feelings about... Sort of. Now go read her review!
An odd CD in the form of Ellika & Solo's Tretakt Takissaba arrived at the mail room of Tigh-a-Glas a month or so ago. Why odd, you ask? Because it's a rare event when a recording of a Stockholm jam session between Ellika Frisell, a player of Swedish fiddle and viola in the Bingsjo and Orso traditions, and Solo, a storyteller and adept of the kora, (West African harp), wanders in to Green Man. Mike Stiles says it 'is a must for all who love unusual and rare fusions.' Mike also looks at Irish fiddler Cady Finlayson's Shines Like Silver: 'Cady does a perfectly acceptable job when playing with the more or less traditionally based ensemble on this CD. Personally, I've found that this CD also makes a great background for poetry readings! However, her forays into the world music scene demonstrate that with the right backing, she could easily rival the output of Riverdance alum Liz Knowles.' Sooeeee! Kevin Fowler's High on the Hog has, Mike says, one great song on it, but that's enough to make him recommend this CD for your listening pleasure. Read his review to see if you too will wallow in the mud over this song! Cat tells me that we got two copies of Llangres' Stura, so he kept the extra copy. Lucky bastard! As Mike says, 'Stura belongs in every Celtic CD collection. The music is first-rate and opens a window to one of Europe's oldest traditions. It's a significant step in a cultural movement to preserve and expand the heritage of the Asturian region. Although the CD is self-produced, the recording is of excellent quality, and the cover art rivals anything that the major labels have put out. Let's hope that Llangres get sufficient support from listeners like us to justify a world tour soon!'
Luke Holder's This Was A Giant was a treat for Wolf: 'Holder tells stories, and he lets them unfold slowly. His laid-back folk-pop sound is a great setting, and he makes these stories come alive effortlessly, weaving in and out of different subject matters to form a patchwork quilt that speaks to you, asks you to run your fingers along it's stitches, to find the pathway to the centre of it all so that the entire story, every single word of it, is understood by the heart as well as the mind.'
Peter Massey likes those CDs released on small, somewhat obscure labels, so Karen & Colin Thompson's Time and Tide CD appealed to him: 'Once again I find myself amazed by the standard and quality of real folk music to be found on independent releases and small labels. This album is a testament to the skill of working folk singers for researching and finding little known traditional ballads and poems and setting them to tasteful music.'
A well-deserved Excellence in Writing Award goes to Gary Whitehouse for his country music omnibus. It is, as Assistant Music Editor Stephen Hunt noted earlier this week at the editors weekly breakfast of fresh New York bagels, lox, cream cheese, and really strong coffee: 'full of knowledgeable praise, spiky criticism and genuine wit.' Gary also looks at four CDs (Radney Foster's Another Way to Go, Stewart MacDougall's Hearsay, Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash's Distance Between, and Paul Thorn's Mission Temple Fireworks Stand) of which he notes 'A lot of different styles get lumped together under the umbrella of alt-country. Here are four CDs that cover a wide range: Texas country-rock, mellow country-western, country-tinged roots rock, and southern-fried rockin' gospel soul.'
Maria Nutick, Assistant Video Editor, bringing you this week's assortment of comedy, tragedy, thrills, and romance -- and that's just from one of our fine reviewers this outing!
Craig Clarke has gone psycho! His omnibus this edition takes an in depth look at the life and times of the ever frightening yet strangely compelling Norman Bates. Craig covers Psycho, Psycho II, Psycho III, Psycho IV, the little known Bates Motel, and the 1998 Gus Van Sant remake of the classic Hitchcock film. Find out which film gives the Psycho phenomenon a shot in the arm and which one gives it a shot in the head in this terrific review.
Are you a hopeless romantic who believes in soulmates and destiny, or are you a pragmatic thinker who believes in logic and free will? In either case, Michelle Erica Green thinks you might enjoy Serendipity. Read her very perceptive review to find out why she says 'Anyone who's seen As You Like It or Much Ado About Nothing will be able to predict the twists' and why she still finds this movie to be 'an entertaining...magic carpet ride'.
Wolf hasn't gone psycho, but he may have gone a little nuts...in addition to his contributions to the Music and Book sections, he brings us 5(!) interesting and enjoyable film reviews. He discusses The Witches of Eastwick twice this edition -- read his scathing review of John Updike's novel, and then find out why he's probably watched the film version 30 times. Wolf explains why a 'one note movie' like Death Becomes Her can still, in his opinion, be an amazing film...and have you seen Lady in White? I haven't, but I'm certainly going to now that I've read this loving description of a film that 'makes you think a little bit longer on the life you choose to lead, and the life you may leave behind'. Wolf also brings us a pair of films that explore the struggle of African-Americans post-Reconstruction and during the early part of the 20th century: Beloved and The Color Purple. He calls Beloved 'a work of art', and says that The Color Purple is 'one of the greatest films ever made'. Go read them to find out what he means!
Now where was I? Ah, that was it... Her Greyness (the Walker) and Mia have taken the White Bull of Maeve by the horns and started to clean up our indexes. (Me? Help? No... They know better! Really.Truly.) Small matters got neglected over the summer as they sometimes do, and our review back in June of Charles de Lint's Waifs & Strays collection (still the only review online!) never got indexed. Well, it is now. And they're bringing order to myriad Macs and Mcs who have been runnin' wild in the performer indexes! When they're done, our indexes'll be even easier to use than before, and that's good news for you, our dear readers! Now s'cuse me while I serve them High Tea in the Cloisters, as they deserve pampering for undertaking this grueling task!
'Well, do you ever get the feeling that the story's too damn real, and in the present tense? Or that everybody's on the stage, and it seems like you're the only person sitting in the audience?' -- Jethro Tull's 'Skating Away On The Thin Ice Of The New Day'
I'm Jack Merry, your host for this edition. Welcome to Green Man, the choice of artisan bakers, dancers, poets, fromagers, editors, buskers, publicans, literary agents, publishers, musicians, fishmongers, and writers everywhere! Cat's off coordinating the concert preparations for the second night of our Mabon celebration; Excalibur Rising has been more fussy than usual in their tech needs. Hmmm... Anwir says I'm wrong -- apparently, he's actually off sampling the newly decanted cask of Brasserie Artisanale Du Tregor ale that a busker from France left here in exchange for access to our collection of fiddle tunes. T'was a fair exchange indeed, as it also included a performance by him (and other musicians in town for a meeting of The Buskers Guild) in the Great Hall that lasted most of the night. And he and the other buskers left with many a tune in their heads to keep them playing fresh material for years to come! Now excuse me for a few minutes while I go see how good this brew is... oh, certainly, do come along... Ahhh, most excellent! Shall I pour you a mug? Yes, 'tis indeed it a fine ale! Maggie, you imp of a corvid, mind your manners and keep out of his cider!
Now to the business at hand... Liath 'Leaf' o Laighin, our Librarian, and member in reasonably good standing of the Summer Court, tells me that her Court celebrates Mabon and the passing of Summertime by feasting, drinking, making music, and, most importantly, remembering what was good about the summer that's just passed. (Don't ask the Puck what he thinks worth remembering -- I don't want to know what that ever-so-creative trickster did. I still remember his tale from the last end-of-the-summer gathering.) The editorial staff here at Green Man decided likewise, so this is a look at what they remember and think you, our dear readers, should know about. Our editors and assistant editors (Cat, Asher, Grey, Stephen, Mia, and Kim) have gone back into our archives of over six thousand reviews of videos, books, live performances, and recorded music to recall what's tickled their fancy. I think you'll find their choices to be well-worth the time it takes to read them!
(It is not so much that I'm not in good standing with the Court as that they do not wholly approve of my liaisons with human poets and musicians down the centuries. Will Yeats was never the same after I showed him what the Fey were really like.)
Kim Bates leads off this issue:
By Mabon everything in my part of the world is straining under the load of creativity. The grapes and apples have long gone to the raccoons (we have 50 per square kilometer here in our city of 4.5 million), and the squirrels keep sampling my zucchini to see if they like it any better this time around. They don't. Did I mention that I have the most beautiful zucchini plant in the world? It's almost tropical with its lush, mysterious dark green leaves with grey accents, covering about two meters in diameter. And the tomatoes, well; with their vivid red flesh and sensuous texture, they boast flavours that commercial substitutes can't even dream of producing.
It's been a fine season even with the drought, but there's a sense of desperation in my garden and along the river where I walk daily with my blonde sidekick, Sylvie the scruffy dog. A tinge of red in the sumac, a bit of rust on the squash vines, some toughness in the basil leaves all whisper what we know in our bones: the days are getting shorter and the end is in sight. Now is truly the time to pause and savour what this season has produced, while everything rooted in the soil strains to produce one more fruit, another new branch, a few more flowers.
Like my garden, Green Man Review has grown and flourished over this season. It is truly a privilege to work with some of the most interesting and knowledgeable writers around. All have brought a sense of passion, a love for the various traditions that Green Man Review covers, and the odd hybrids and mutations that grow out of the roots and branches of folklore and music.
Unlike my garden, our bounty will go on well past the first hard frost, and we can ignore the desperation of the waning light, instead looking forward to our Midwinter celebrations. And, for our staffers living on the other side of the globe, this season brings the renewal of light and the promise of new growth. So, here at Mabon, I've decided to honour all of the writers who have contributed music reviews since Midsummer. After poring over What's New, I've selected one review from each staffer, both old and new.
What's special about each of these reviews? For starters, all of these folks found something to love in these selections, and if you've read any of their negative reviews, you'll realize most are not easily swayed by anything less than excellence. But these are not the paroxysms of overblown enthusiasm you'll find on fan sites or listservs: our folks know their stuff! Here at Green Man Review we value the knowledge that resides in our reviewers. They show us new facets of the traditions they cover, and we believe it when they tell us why new albums blending ancient and post-modern deserve a second look. Readers also know that each and every one can build a solid case for why some discs end up as coasters. But as we're celebrating Mabon, I thought we could celebrate some great music as well.
Read on for a look at our fine collection of writers, listed in alphabetical order.
John Benninghouse contributed a review of an album from 1971 by Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers. These blues were hot then, and they're hot now. As we said in What's New: 'His Excellence in Writing Award winning review is as good as cold beer on a hot afternoon, ham hocks and turnip greens, and smoky blues wailing away late at night.' Is the irrepressible Asher Black in love? Our What's New writer was convinced: 'You'd think so, to read the way he caressingly describes Niamh Parsons' album Heart's Desire. Nothing gets Asher excited like Niamh Parsons -- although we eagerly await his upcoming reviews to see which other artist may light his lucky, er... so to speak. Jayme Lynn Blaschke contributed a fine review of one of his favorite artists, Smithfield Fair, and this CD, Jacobites By Name did not fail to disappoint. Which song seems to borrow a melody from the 'Heffalumps and Woozles' song from Disney's 'Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day'? Read the review to find out! Jennifer Byrne found a gem in Ronan O Snodaigh's album Tip Toe. I've been repeatedly amazed by Kila's frontman, and Jennifer's review eloquently tells us why it's worth checking out.
Craig Clarke links Beck's CD Mutations to the roots and branches of folk -- and he goes on to explain how Beck's need to produce non-commercial music resulted in a commercial success! Richard Condon was delighted by Quebec's Celtic group Athanor, and he does a masterful job of something very difficult for our reviewers: he deftly communicates a real sense of this instrumental album. With so many instrumental efforts by fine Celtic musicians crossing the Green Man Review desk, it's important to have reviewers who can not only give us a feel for the album, but communicate some of the technical reasons that a CD rises above the rest of the pack. Bravo Richard!
Eric Eller brings us vivid glimpse into the world of contemporary Italian folk music with his review of Lucilla Galeazzi's Lunario and Radicanto's Terra Arsa. As he writes, 'Understanding a singer's language is not necessary to appreciate good music. A great album stands on its own regardless of the listener's linguistic ability. Strong, moving singing can tap into the listener's heart through any language barriers. By capturing the listener's hearts, traditional musicians can sustain their native musical styles through audiences outside of their homelands.'
Andrea Garrett perservered with The Blackbirds' The Earth and Gravel, and was charmed by the combination of Welsh and Irish tunes by this Minnesota trio. Read her review to find out why this CD was worth a few spins before writing. Judith Gennett was also seduced by Tony McManus's new CD Ceol More. This disc of gentle guitar music didn't hit her until she was playing it at night, while driving along the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon. I've driven along much of the Columbia River myself, and I can testify that the scenery is magical. I've also had the chance to hear this disc in less enchanting surroundings and I have to agree that this is a beguiling and subtle album from one of Scotland's finest guitar players. But don't take my word for it, read Judith's review. Michelle Erica Green provides us with a great overview of Beth Nielsen Chapman's solo career in her omnibus review. Chapman's songs have been snapped up by a variety of popular artists -- read Michelle's thorough and interesting review to find out why you might want to check out the original. As you may have noticed, here at Green Man, we don't just give albums a casual spin and churn out a review. Robert Gould initially thought Jack Beck's CD Oh lassie lassie, was 'everything I thought I was not into,' with its traditional take on Scottish music. Much to his amazement, he liked it -- although he usually goes for rocked-up hybrids of traditional music. Read his review to find out why.
Tim Hoke is another reviewer who really knows how to convey the sense of an album, and he enjoyed the soothing tones of John McCormick's CDs Western Island and Between Our Hearts. Stephen Hunt truly amazed me with his take on one of my favorite groups, The Waterboys! We both agree that Mike Scott is a fellow traveller, and have followed his many journeys through his music -- from Manhattan's East Village, to the west of Ireland, to Scotland's Findhorn community. Stephen's essay shows remarkable perspective on a remarkable musician.
Speaking of remarkable, Michael Jones was up to his usual entertaining standard with his review of the Flash Girls' CD, The Return of Pansy Smith and Violet Jones. Who are the Flash Girls? You've read about them in other guises here at Green Man Review -- read Michael's review to discover their other talents.
Joe Karrman's debut was a fine beginning, and another trip down memory lane to an influential folk rock band from the 1970s. Read his review to find out why many of our favorite folk rock bands drawing on Celtic traditions build on Horslips -- Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part. David Kidney consistently amazes me with both his knowledge and his enthusiasm for roots music on both sides of the pond. In this entertaining review of Dave Alvin & the Guilty Men, he tells us what some ex-Blasters are up to these days with their CD Out in California.
Sean Laffey is new to Green Man Review but not to Irish music! His review of Clannad career retrospective CD, A Magical Gathering The Clannad Anthology provides a grand look at this influential group of traditional musicians who became avatars of the New Age. Reading his review brought me back to the mid 1980s when I thought I was going to hear a traditional group, and instead was a bit shocked to hear the band's new, ethereal direction. Are these the selections you would have made from Clannad's repertoire? And which GMR staffer compiled this album? It's all in the review!
Chuck Lipsig has been attacking his writing career with a vengeance, so I was thrilled when I received his review of three CDs from Greenwood (Greenleaf Fancy, Windy and Warm, and The Cottage Door). Read his review to find out why I'm always happy to get his perspective on Celtic music.
Iain Mac Harg is a piper, and the perfect reviewer for a labour of love that is sure to be valued by pipers everywhere. This series, Masters of Piobaireachd Volume Four, brings the knowledge and the wisdom of piping teachers to those who are not blessed with being in the right place (Scotland) at the right time (when these folks are teaching). Read Iain's review to find out why those playing the pipes should check out this CD featuring Robert Brown & Robert Nicol. What an undertaking! Peter Massey shows us the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the career changes, the life changes, practically everything one might want to know about a folk music icon, Steeleye Span; 20 studio albums are reviewed here -- a great resource for those who may not have lived through this era, and a thought provoking treatment for the experts. Jack Merry is an epicurian to the core. He likes his stout, his cheese, his coffee, and his dance music. Read his entertaining review to find out why the finer things in life are worth it -- including this collection of dance CDs.
No'am Newman has a new tag for his byline: 'I may not like folk music now, but I liked it 30 years ago.' No'am wins the Curmudgeon Award in my book because he always entertains us with his no holds barred approach! Yet, despite his disclaimer, he actually did like Maggie MacInnes' Spiorad Beatha (The Spirit Of Life). It's all in the review! As we wrote in What's New, Lars Nilsson was happy to get a reissue of an influential folk rock band: 'I liked the Easy Club very much when they first appeared and I must say that their music has aged very well, just like a vintage wine. For those of you who like groups taking the tradition further Chance or Design is a must.' Maria Nutick offered us a unique spin on two CDs by an unlikely hybrid: Apocalyptica. Their Apocalyptica Plays Metallica By Four Cellos and Inquisition Symphony bring the imagery of heavy metal into the medieval world, preserving its dark tone. This music conjured up images of 'dark porter and absinthe and kohl-eyed velvet-cloaked sorceresses.' Is the music as interesting as the review? That would be a feat!
Patrick O'Donnell also enjoyed an unusual musical blend with his review of Patrick Bouffard's Roots 'n' Roll. As he tells it, this is weird and magical from the first track: 'El rey del sallo con pertiga,' opens with a fade-in to a psychedelic-sounding hurdy gurdy that explodes into a heavy acoustic-rock guitar riff. The hurdy gurdy reappears and disappears throughout, like a small child jumping up and down to get your attention. It all adds up to a bizarre, yet likable, mix.' John O'Regan, another reviewer new to GMR, also brings a wealth of knowledge to our staff. He has even been likened to a certain encyclopedic Irish sportscaster, in a review no less! One of his first reviews was of a duo from my home town, The Irish Brigade's Live at the Half Time Rec. Reading his review took me back to my home town, and I look forward to future journeys via his reviews.
Steve Power also joined us this season, contributing a great review of Breda Smyth's Basil and Thyme. As he says in his review: 'The girl from Mayo did good. Basil & Thyme is a grower. Plant it firmly in your CD collection.' We love those horticultural references here at GMR, almost as much as references to Dragon Breath Stout!
Big Earl Sellar is another reviewer who never ceases to amaze me with his musical acumen. Not only is he occasionally hilarious, he is always informative. He doesn't suffer fools gladly, and he always knows why an album or a collection merits attention. His review of 3 CDs by Ensemble Tumbash reveals not only the breadth but also the depth of his knowledge of world music. But he says it better himself: 'My fascination with the music of Central Asia has been ongoing for almost a decade now. In a world of World releases, the very divergent sounds of this section of the planet sound to me like a musical bridge between East and West, where Asian sounds meet those of Celtic and various Arabic forms. These discs by the Ensemble Tumbash present another facet of the myriad of musical idioms in the lands commonly referred to in the West as Mongolia.' Just remember, he's an old punk, not an old hippie. Pat Simmonds also brings a wealth of knowledge of Irish music to his reviews. His review of Liz Doherty's Quare Imagination sets us straight on why this fiddler and university professor brings down the house wherever she goes. Pat's knowledge of musicians playing Irish music, as well as the roots and branches of these traditions all over the word, is phenomenal, and he always manages to bring us into the know in his no-nonsense reviews. Mike Stiles is in the house! Again! And that makes me happy. One of his first reviews after rejoining GMR was of two CDs by the Trailer Park Rangers: Lullabies of All This Mess and Everyone's a Winner. Here's a sample of his passionate review: 'While the mainstream US music scene limps blandly through its sheltered adolescence, the Trailer Park Rangers are running full throttle out at the frontier. They kick up more home-grown American musical wit in one song than most alt-country bands do in an entire CD.'
Grey Walker is not just about books. Oh no. She also has a taste for the wonderful and unusual in music. This time she wrote an omnibus review of a troupe that defies categorization and always manages to amaze. Will Cirque du Soleil's CDs hold a candle to their live performances? Read her review to find out. Chris White gives us glimpse into another unusual world. Why did Bob Frank create a CD of the medieval poetry dealing with Robin Hood entitled A Little Gest of Robin Hood? Here's what he says: 'On his Web site folk performer and recording artist Bob Frank includes a description that says, 'Talk about elusive. Bob Frank is so invisible, when he looks in the mirror, he thinks they woke up the wrong guy.' The visible tip of the iceberg of Frank's career was a eponymously titled, long out-of-print, Vanguard recording. Frank's recent release A Little Gest of Robin Hood is in sub-sub-genre so obscure that it will do little to alter Bob Frank's visibility... except among students of medieval English literature and those with a serious passion for all things Robin Hood.' Yes folks, we get it all here at GMR! Gary Whitehouse did a splendid job of tying three Rough Guides together, from 3 mountainous regions separated by culture, continent and tradition: Himalayas, Alps, and Appalachians. There are few writers who could manage such a feat with grace, yet still manage to convey a solid assessment of these collections. As he says, ''High lonesome' is a term coined to describe the bluegrass sound popularised by Bill Monroe, but it aptly describes the outlook of anyone who lives in the mountains. At first glance, the music of the Himalayas, Alps and Appalachians might seem about as different as any three different types of music in the world. And it is, on the surface. But when you dig beneath that surface, you'll find some remarkable similarities. They're mostly found in the spirit that drives the people who make this music.' Chris Woods is another writer with a breadth and depth of knowledge of traditional music -- this time of the English Folk traditions. Heart of England, Volume Two, is a labour of love for both Chris and the folks who raised money for the Teenage Cancer trust -- and produced some fine music to boot. Wolf did a fantastic job with a CD that charmed him as listener and frustrated him as a reviewer: Alva's Love Burns in Me. Why the frustration? All great reviewers like to do a little intel on a new group -- especially one that inspires, but there's almost nothing available on the Web about this CD of medieval love songs sung entirely in the languages of the period. As Wolf explains 'With the translations provided the listener can follow along, but the music is beautiful on its own. The songs lose none of their power by being in archaic languages; in fact, they seem to gain power by having the words submerged in enigma.'
Asher Black, at your service.
I've been thinking about our omnis. I like omnibuses of a single artist, because they have the advantages of placing work in the context of the artist's larger vision, of showing the integrity or disintegration of the artist's soul, and of illustrating the progression of or distraction from the artist's craft. I like omnibuses of a single theme (tying together the work of various artists), because I think that part of the brilliance of folk art (whether in song, film, or story) is its capacity to follow a theme, as a tributary, to its poetic source -- the source which is the secret of its timelessness -- that which makes the old myths, fairy tales, lore, and legend ever-present with us... whether it is expressed as the agony of a soldier's lover or the gods coming down for dinner.
Perhaps it's possible to give a more detailed treatment of a single work by itself, but I'm not sure that reviews which treat a single work, but don't do the other things I've mentioned, are necessarily more detailed at all. I think a review is perhaps more detailed when it draws together the vision of a single artist or the shared theme of myriad artists and shows, by its very form, the relations of individual voices to the universal cries down through the ages, the continuity of antiquity and the presumably modern, the intersection of the individual and the community, the familiarity of the young artist with a later, older self.
An omnibus like that is an essay in the folk process without the need to be merely distant and academic. And when the writer is looking consciously at this process without failing to be confronted with the individual works of art at hand, then the omnibus takes on a kind of brilliance, and shines out in the reviewer's craft as a dialogue not only with the artist or the work, but within the tradition, a part of the folk conversation as surely as are those who clap and hum along at a sessuin. It is not merely a spectator in the outer orbit of an event.
Among our truly amazing collection of thoughtful and delightful omnibuses, I found Lahri Bond describing the qualities of a singer's instrument so well in his June Tabor Omnibus, and his prose such an epicurean feast, that I had to include it as a primary course at our Mabon table. It's a long one, too, and could easily be the equivalent of several reviews. I like them on the longish side. As with films, I think... if it's good, why wouldn't you want it to go on a while, take your time, and savor it with delicate concentration? Lahri's no blurbster. This is exquisite writing that makes one want to say, 'don't stop.'
And then, too, we have Michelle Erica Green's Baseball Film Omnibus. What does it have to do with folkore? Everything. I would say that fine ideas like this don't come along every day, but at GMR they actually do. Michelle's work is typical of the projects our talented staff take on routinely, sometimes crunching on them for a while with the back molars of their minds, and sometimes throwing them out in overnight fits of ingenuity and mania. You'll have to ask Michelle which it is, in this case, but her omni has those qualities I mentioned. Sure, she could just do ordinary reviews of each film, but Michelle has a point to make that can only be made by showing the relationships between the work of different artists handling a common theme. And the point is a brilliant one. Being partial to historiography, I loved her Amelia Earhart Omnibus also. She doesn't just make the usual, obligatory 'tragic heroine' references and try to pass them off as thought. She illustrates how we may perceive a person a certain way because of art, and doesn't preach us into settling for merely one or the other. It's a perfect example of what an omnibus can do.
Jack Merry solves the dilemma of what to do with a library of musiclore books, in his Musiclore Omni. It's one thing to read a lot of books and catalog them in the mind by author, year, number of illustrations... It's another thing entirely to think through them... assembling their details into a relational set of abstractions, so as to become conversant in both. Jack's review is monstrously successful in doing just that; it's a virtual essay on how to distill a pile of books, all competing for attention, all with fancy blurbs, into something like a concise study of theme punctuated by anecdotes so cleverly arranged that it's like having the authors all gathered round one's armchair for one of those smoky late night chats I remember from university, listening to and holding forth with comrades of art and mind. 'Fascinating' would be an understatement. This is, to paraphrase Holmes, a 'three-pipe read,' and I'm about to rub out a bit of flake for my briar, just thinking about it.
New words for garbage... That's what Maria Nutick wants to bestow upon the sequel in her omnibus pair review of Heavy Metal and Heavy Metal 2000. How about excremation? But she likes the original flick because it's tawdry, camp, and cultish... in an 'impossibly large-breasted' sort of way. And I like her omni, because if you've ever felt that something decent...well, maybe not decent... but with potential... was betrayed by an artist's later work or, as in this case, by a Terry Brooks... I mean... a sleazy hack pornographer of the art equals nudie ashtrays variety, how else are you going to say it without placing the moral forgery in the context of the original spark of humanity? It's easy to just trash something, severity for the sake of severity, bitchy-ness as an end in itself, but Maria takes the more difficult and courageous road of... contemplation. And the fact that she doesn't take potshots is why I'll probably erase that bit about Terry Brooks. Mia sets a good example. Of course... there needs to be someone we can point at and say, 'Don't be like that person. Don't be like Asher!' So maybe I won't erase it. I'm a very bad man. Maria, though, is sooo good, and so is her review. That's why I like Kimberlee Rettberg's handling of Beowulf so much... She doesn't whine 'The film is not like the book!' She looks at how a modern retelling can risk betraying everything that's universal and important about folklore, not joining the process by retelling so much as repudiating it... untelling, if you will. Excellent treatment.
And then there's the master of comprehension and condensation. That would be our very own Penguin... Michael M. Jones. I've selected his Peregrine's Perogative (yep, it's a column rather than a review, so note the difference in style). If you want it shorthand, off the cuff, and with a double espresso before rushing out into the corporate anti-folk malaise, trailing traffic jams and security checks, you'll be wanting this old Took. A little Green Man over one of those power-bar lunches that we used to call 'breaks' is just the kind of nourishment one needs to face the cubicle again with a sense that somewhere life still exists. Let the mind waddle around a bit and get comfy, before going to that degenerate meeting on how you're one with everyone else in the company (instead of just cogs in a money machine for the stockholders). Peregrine. Consider it therapy. Hell, hit print and paper the walls of the employee lounge with it! Some poor book-starved soul will be grateful.
Now it's not just omnis that turn me on. Robert Wiersema's review of The Matrix is an anthem. It's Robert's first review for us. He looked at what we do around here, took a good look, and summed it up in one stone cold killer of a piece. It's bulked up. It's tough. I hide my own reviews behind it when they're afraid. Then, when I need break from matrix-like consensual reality, something a little different, I go see what Rachel Brown is reviewing... like Bride With White Hair. Rachel is superb at offering up an oasis... tempting us with a break from the desert of formula films. She tells us, short and sweet, what's different, what's unusual and, frankly, what's interesting.
Grey Walker's attendance at opening night of a film-event, The Lord of the Rings, has all the character of a live performance review, capturing the excitement and shortness of breath common among those who've waited for this for years... for the intersection of our beloved story with technology in the hands of someone driven by sincerity and integrity, unafraid to add a voice and yet not envious enough to mute the original song. Grey's review answers all the permutations of the question...'Is it what we hoped?' What Grey's review indicates clearly is personal involvement with the art. And she'd write a negative review the same way. Is it relevant that a reviewer 'clenched her fists' at a certain point? Absolutely! And self-awareness adds to rather than detracts from a review. A reviewer should let the art affect her. Our physical, visceral responses are as telling as our thoughts. Thankfully, Grey doesn't hold back in her exquisite review.
Likewise, Stephen Hunt, our Assistant Music Editor, in his review of Gosport 2002, transmitted something absolutely essential in a live performance review... a sense of presence... of being there. His narrative shows the symbiotic relationship of folk art with folk event. Stephen is the kind of person who'll travel to festivals so he can review them, and bring back with him more proof that you never step into the same gig twice... His Gosport review captures what's unique about a music festival without sacrificing what's fascinating and substantial for those of us who didn't go this time. I can just about hear the sound system and the crowd when he writes, and the anecdotes feel like walking around at the thing.
Same deal here: What I like about Music Editor Kim Bates' interview with the Bogles is that she doesn't vacuum clean everything that's raw or peel away everything scabby about the dialogue. She sits us down with the artists not on some antiseptic photo set that looks like it has edge but is really a collection of props... She points to a couple of weathered couches, lets you get your own beer, and invites you to stay for the conversation.
Grey must have a master's wheel of book reviewing. Someplace where the latter is akin to Spanish fencing. She spins out rapier sharp reviews with striking economy of movement, tantalizing and drawing her reader into the circle of her perception. So when she reviewed Chretien de Troyes' Arthurian Romances it was sure to be an alluring read. It is, and you should. Master Reviewer Michael Jones' review of A Kiss of Shadows succeeds in simultaneously summarizing the urban fairy tale as a genre along with a particular instance of it. In his review, context and content are the same. Once again... economy of motion.
Asher, too, writes reviews as well as blurbing them. And sometimes when I write, I think 'Damn, I'm good!' So here's a couple of my own... The Adventures of Tom Bombadil ('twas my audition review) and Bloodtide. I like the Bombadil review because it was written as a ruthlessly thorough answer to an argument (whether Tom is Tolkien's great failure, or a meta-example of his genius), and because it concentrates on theme. I like the Bloodtide review because I think it's defining a particular reviewing style: a primary concentration on theme (and considering a work in light of its treatment of universal themes, like love, death, sex, and evil) ... wed to detail, personality, and ornamentation. I think, too, that a fairminded reviewer must be able to love or hate a work and remain critical... intimate and analytical, the whole soul personally engaging the art, with openness and a fencing foil... both at once. To the degree my attempts at this have been successful, I'm pleased with the work.
Cat Eldridge has a dilemma. How to list but a few superb reviews worth reading again? His answer: 'With great difficulty.'
However (he goes on), I can pick reviews that clearly impress me now even more than they did they were first published. Jo Morrison's review of Jane Yolen's The Wild Hunt is a cool look at a truly unique novel, and one should pair it with Grey Walker's superb introduction to Jennifer Stevenson's short story, 'The Solstice'. Grey's review of Charles de Lint 's The Wild Wood is also so good that I want to read it now. Rowan Inish's detailed review of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere not only makes me want to re-read this novel of magic realism, but brings London Below to life! Slipping into historical fiction, Jack Merry's overview of four works centering on Robin Hood and his myth are a great introduction to that genre of fiction. My review of George R.R. Martin's The Armageddon Rag captures the feel of that rock 'n' roll as apocalypse novel. On a lighter note, Michael M. Jones' omnibus review of J.K Rowling's Harry Potter books is, to my thinking, the definitive look at that series. On the non-fiction side, Chris Woods' insightful look at Clinton Heylin's No More Sad Refrains: The Life and Times of Sandy Denny gives us a nice feel for the musician herself. Food and the magical aspects of it are what Stephen Hunt found in Cait Johnson's Witch in the Kitchen - Magical Cooking for All Seasons, a tasty treat for all of us! A truly great reference work, Medieval Folklore, is given a superb review by Kim Bates, as is Donna R.White's A Century of Welsh Myth in Children's Literature. And Michael Jones gets the last word in this section with his enthusiatic review of Emma Bull's The War for the Oaks, in which he brings that novel of the Fey Courts alive for the reader.
Music reviews are even more difficult than book reviews when I try to single out but a select few! The single best review I've ever read anywhere is Michael Jones' review of Heather Alexander's three Celtic CDs (Wanderlust, Life's Flame, and Midsummer), which makes me ache to hear her play live! Now, Maria Nutick's review of Apocalyptica's Apocalyptic Plays Metallica By Four Cellos and Inquisition Symphony didn't make me want to hear them, but I was reminded of what the music of The Winter Court must be like... Brrrr! An absolutely perfect reason to do omnibus reviews is exemplified by Lars Nilsson's look at the nearly two dozen CDs in the Swedish Folk Music series. It'd be damn silly to have them as separate reviews! Same applies to the CDs covered in Jack Merry's A Celtic Music Feast, where each CD is given its due within the context of his tale-telling. Not that Jack can't give a CD his undivided attention -- just read his review of MacKeel's Plaid to see him do so! And I would be remiss not to admit that I love a truly thorough trashing of a bad CD -- which is why Big Earl Sellar's thumbs down review of Randy Armstrong's Dinner On The Diner wraps up this section.
We do a lot of live performance reviews, far more than anyone else. And some make me curse for not seeing that show, damn it! I'll single out three that really caught the feel of the performance for me: Fairport Convention: A Classic Evening, The Mill, Banbury, England (reviewed by Chris Wood), Lunasa at the Majestic Theater, Corvallis, Oregon (reviewed by Gary Whitehouse), and Oysterband, Leadmill in Sheffield, UK. Yvonne Carts-Powell's review truly gives me the feeling that I was there.
For film and video, David Kidney's twofer of The Three Musketeers and The Four Musketeers is on my list of great reviews, as well as Richard E. Dansky's overview of The Lion in Winter and Jack Merry's detailed examination of Robin Hood and Robin of Sherwood -- not to mention Asher Black's truly stunning review of Brotherhood of the Wolf / Le Pacte Des Loups! Need I even say that Michael Jones' review of The War for The Oaks trailer has a special fondness for me? I think not!
Anwir ap Evnessyen offers us his views:
During my tenure as liaison to Green Man from the Winter Court, I've had the opportunity to explore the archives with cousin Liath. How delightful it has been to read such witty and educated prose! Sir Cat has asked me to mention a few of my favorites. 'Tis my honor and privilege, of course.
So much of the material reviewed by Green Man deals with my People in some way. Fortunately, many of the reviewers here are quite familiar with my Folk, and so are able to provide an educated viewpoint in reviewing such work. As I hail originally from the land you now call Wales, I was particularly delighted to read Kimberly Bates' fine and comprehensive review of an omnibus of Welsh literature. Another such superb review came from Jack Merry and deals with Celtic folklore.
Now, few members of the Court are fond of Lady Cottington and her habit of collecting Fey folk for study, but Michael Jones was still able to provide a brilliant review of her Pressed Fairy materials. And your Rowan Inish writes marvelously about various sea monster tales. Even my own pet kraken Gwithir was amused when I read it to him one eve.
Oh, and I should mention that I was particularly taken with Donna Bird's well done review of Age of Homespun. I had read this work whilst involved in some of my research on mortalkind, and was delighted to find that she had provided such an intelligent and well written review.
Naturally, music is quite important to my Folk. Few magazines that I've seen in my wanderings amongst mortals can provide the sort of reviewing prowess that is available here. Chuck Lipsig's omnibus Boiled in Lead review and Stephen Hunt's terribly thorough look at the Waterboys spring immediately to mind. I am also quite fond of Judith Gennett, and her musings on Yid Vicious are such a treat.
As it happens, I was visiting the Northwest Folklife Festival earlier this year, and Gary Whitehouse has a nearly flawless review here. I was also quite impressed by Mattie Lennon's explanation of the Irish Rambling House, as I've spent more than a few nights in Ireland at these sorts of gathering places. I am fond of mortal music festivals, though of course lodging is never a problem for my People. But Richard Hamilton's Festival Camping essay could be quite useful for mortals planning a trip to such an event.
I must admit, films have never been a mortal medium I've enjoyed. I much prefer to mingle with your sort at a play or a concert. Still, I've seen a few films in my time and find that Green Man reviewers are quite skilled at dissecting this form of entertainment. Maria Nutick provides quite my favorite perspective of The Wicker Man, and Asher Black (how I love that name) has a fascinating review of one of your mortal fantasies about dear Jeanne D'Arc (nice girl, but so gullible), The Messenger. Of course, Grey Walker is always a delight; likewise, her review of The Fisher King was deliciously detailed. And Michelle Green's work on Roald Dahl's The Witches...oh my, yes indeed.
Now, I must be off, as you might imagine I'm terribly busy with preparations for Mabon. And of course the Court looks forward so to the coming Samhain...such a lot of tasty dark surprises we have in store for the next few months.
Stephen Hunt says that 'It's all the fault of James Fagan, the Australian musician and singer.'
James (continues Stephen) is blessed with being six feet tall, handsome, generous hearted, and having more musical talent than any human being has a right to. I'm blessed to be able to call him my friend, so it was no surprise when he bounded into my house one day (James always 'bounds.' 'Sloping' or 'shuffling' are alien to him.) with a huge grin on his face. 'Have you seen our CD on Green Man Review?' he asked. My face must have momentarily registered incomprehension (after all, 'hello' is a more usual form of greeting). 'What? Don't you know about Green Man? Come here, you'll love this,' he said, setting himself at my PC and bashing away furiously at the keyboard.
I dutifully stood by the screen, and smiled as the title page Green Men appeared and slowly winked at me. Meanwhile, James was babbling excitedly about Fairport Convention, Charles de Lint, and how this was 'made' for me, before triumphantly rising from the chair with an exclamation of 'here it is!'
That review was of Nancy Kerr and James Fagan's Steely Water, and I did indeed 'love it.' When I got to the name of the reviewer, I remember saying something along the lines of 'this Kim Bates knows what she's talking about, doesn't she?' I'm still discovering just how true that initial assessment was!
Having discovered Green Man, I began reading it almost obsessively, starting with the books and CD's that I knew and loved, just to see if all these writers 'knew what they were talking about.' Grey Walker's review of Charles de Lint's The Little Country and Lars Nilsson's review of two Robb Johnson CDs merely confirmed my enthusiasm.
I quickly discovered that Green Man was a great way not only of visiting my current interests, but also of revisiting and remembering the cultural landmarks of my childhood. As a young boy in Britain in the 1960's, the role models for my fantasy play were divided fairly equally between American (The Virginian, Superman) and indigenous (Robin Hood, King Arthur) influences. Disney's animated film adaptation of T.H. White's 'The Sword in the Stone' was an early favourite, and the gift of the book (as a Christmas present from my mother), was the starting point for my ongoing love affair with books. When I got a little older, I moved onto White's The Once and Future King. Rebecca Swain's fine review not only brought back these memories but reminded me to take the yellowing old paperback off the shelf and read it again.
While we're in Arthurian movie territory, my all-time favourite (to date) is Excalibur. Asher Black's review of this film is intelligent, insightful, original and beautifully written. You could say that about any of Asher's reviews, but hey, these are my choices!
While voyages of reminiscence and self-discovery are all very fine (!), the bottom line for any arts review magazine is 'do the reviews make the reader want to discover more about the work that's being reviewed?' Michael M. Jones' review of Charles de Lint's The Onion Girl certainly tipped the scales for me, while Cat Eldridge's piece on Paul Brandon's Swim the Moon made this novel a book that I had to own (never mind the fact that I had to buy it as an expensive, U.S. import hardback. It's mine I tell you, muhuhuhahahaha!). Gary Whitehouse wrote a review of the early Joan Baez reissues that was so good it sent me into the nearest record store.
Something that I have seen (lots of times!) is Fairport Convention in concert. GMR is a valuable resource for followers of the venerable British folk-rockers and boasts a large number of impressive reviews. I particularly enjoyed (and empathised with) Debbie Skolnik's review. Debbie is the only Green Man staff member that I've actually met face to face and she's every bit as engaging, articulate, funny and delightful as her writing!
Finally (and I'm not sure if this is allowed), I'm going to choose one of my own efforts for the 'live music' category. The Gosport and Fareham Easter Festival 2002 was a truly magical weekend of music, friendship and laughter. As I started writing the review I came to the conclusion that the best approach to the job would be to try to capture the collective state of mind of several hundred people as it evolved over the four days! This review has earned me more feedback (to date) than all my other reviews put together. I was particularly pleased to receive the following messages. 'The review is really good, much appreciated. At last, a thought out, grown up write up!' (from Bluehorses' Nic Waulker) and 'I enjoyed the review a lot -- it captured the spirit of the event' (from The Waterboys' Mike Scott).
I'm still something of a 'new boy' at Green Man, and the other folks that I've mentioned here (and many others) are my mentors. I hope that you enjoy their inspirational reviews as much as I do.
Mia Nutick here: I have a friend who says she wakes up every morning and asks herself 'what am I proud of today'. For me, that's an easy one -- I work for GMR. That I am considered worthy to work in the company of such a consistently fine group of writers is an absolute honor. As the newest member of the Editorial staff I'm happy to contribute my thoughts on some of the work I've really enjoyed from other GMR staff. It would be quicker to just say 'all of it,' but the Chief frowns on that kind of cowardice...
Books are my passion, and we've published some really superb book reviews over the years. A couple of my favorites would have to be April Gutierrez' look at The Sandman: The Dream Hunters and Grey Walker's fantastic analysis of our shared favorite, Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series. Grey also had me envying her writing with her review of Terri Windling's The Wood Wife. Of course, Matthew Winslow's marvelous translation of a letter he found in our staff lounge had me at 'hello,' as did Rachel Brown's merciless skewer of a pompous autobiography by travel writer Richard Sterling.
Some wonderful essays sit in our archives, too. Chuck Lipsig makes some great observations in Living My Fantasy - Music & Other Neat Stuff on the Internet, and Jack Merry's Celtic Music, An Insider's Viewpoint and Live Music, A More or Less Polite Rant are both entertaining and educational to a musical novice such as myself.
Sometimes, like Stephen, I find the reviews more entertaining than than the material being reviewed -- for example, I've never listened to much Central Asian music, but Big Earl Sellar's review of an omnibus of Ensemble Tumbash CDs was absolutely fascinating. Stephen Hunt's Bob Dylan omnibus was also terribly well done, and Michael Jones made me nearly giddy with his review of The Return of Pansy Smith and Violet Jones.
I'm not a Joan Baez fan, but Gary Whitehouse made me wish I'd been at her recent concert with this lovely piece. Our video section has grown exponentially this past year, with such excellent contributions as Asher Black's take on Signs and Michelle Erica Green's Dangerous Liaisons/Cruel Intentions/Valmont omnibus. And I can't forget Robert Wiersema's fabulous look at The Matrix... I still don't like the film but I can never look at it the same way again!
Happy Mabon to our readers: thanks for taking the time to look at our work. And Happy Mabon to our staff: thanks for the inspiration!
This is Grey Walker, the lucky person who gets to edit the book reviews. And the aigne. Don't ask me what 'aigne' means unless you really want to know.
I had a very difficult time coming up with reviews for this issue. Not because I couldn't think of any, but because I could think of so many. The only way I could do it at all was to continually tell myself, 'These are not the best reviews. These are just the ones catching my eye this week.' Otherwise I'd find myself in bed at three tomorrow morning, lying awake and thinking, 'Now, how on earth could I have forgotten that one???!'
The first review I want to mention is Stephen Hunt's review of The Eleventh Annual Gosport and Fareham Easter Festival. I know it's been mentioned already, but I want to mention it, too, partly because it's one of the first reviews I edited for GMR, and therefore has a special place in my heart. But also partly because it's so amazingly amazing. I awarded Stephen the Odysseus Award for Intrepid Reviewing only half-humorously. I awarded him an Excellence in Writing Award in absolute seriousness. Stephen made me feel like I'd been to the festival myself. This review was a staggering tour de force, catapulting Stephen into Senior Writer status (and I worded it that way on purpose to make our modest Mr. Hunt squirm. He hates it when I talk like that...).
Another form of intrepid reviewing is Maria Nutick's review of a Shaolin: Wheel of Life performance. Maria e-mailed me and said, 'I'd like to review a martial arts exhibition as a folk event.' I told her, 'You're going to have to sell me on this one.' She did. Tim Hoke didn't sell me anything in his review of a concert by Red Priest. He lured me, instead. I want to hear Red Priest now, I don't care how. Tim is notable for his muscular, not-a-single-spare-word reviewing style. He's the Ernest Hemingway of GMR (and need I say that, Tim being quite as modest as Stephen, my effervescent praise will make him just as uncomfortable?).
Film reviews. Hmmm.... Asher Black's review of The Thirteenth Warrior especially stands out in my mind -- and not just because Mr. Black agrees with me about this generally misunderstood film! His review is a thoughtful explication of the way the movie follows not only the plot, but also the narrative style of a traditional epic. I also have to mention my own review of Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring, not because it's particularly fine, but because it was the review I had the most fun writing. I went to the movie on opening night and then came home and stayed up for several hours, talking with friends both on the phone and online, re-hashing every frame of the movie, and writing most of my review in the white fever heat of that long enchanted moment. I've already claimed dibs on the review for The Two Towers. I'd have bought my tickets already, except that they aren't available yet.
I'm also going to plug one more of my own reviews, the one of Malcolm Dalglish and the Ooolites' albums Pleasure and The Hymnody of Earth. The music on these two albums is uniquely enchanting, combining traditional American folk music of all sorts with gorgeous choral singing and ethereal hammered dulcimer. Ok, I know, I already reviewed them. So why haven't you bought them yet? And how about Kim Bates' review of Garmarna's Hildegard von Bingen? The review is superb, and so is Hildegard.
I saved the book reviews for last, because books are my first and true love, and I still can't quite believe that I get to edit the work of so many wonderful reviewers writing about what I love. Following are my favorite reviews (this week), in no particular order. Pamela Murray Winters' review of Josepha Sherman and T.K.F. Weisskopf's Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts: The Subversive Folklore of Childhood makes me laugh with delight. Christine Doiron's review of James Herbert's eerie novel Once... (is it fantasy or horror? or both?) makes me shiver.
Two series I love, for very different reasons, are Guy Gavriel Kay's The Fionavar Tapestry and Robert Holdstock's Ryhope Wood cycle. Matthew Winslow's review of The Fionavar Tapestry captures perfectly the feeling of Kay's deliberately heart-tugging writing. And Richard Dansky manages the difficult task of describing Holdstock's involuted, ancient, disturbingly yearning visions in his review of the Ryhope Wood books.
One thing that makes Green Man Review unique is the way we highlight the mythic and folk elements in culture. Rebecca Swain was inspired by this strand of cultural examination to review John Berendt's delightful and thought-provoking book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Rebecca's review focuses on the book as a biography, a biography of both a tragic love story that ended in murder, and also of a dark, turned-in-on-itself town in America's Deep South.
Michelle Erica Green examines a mythic figure for Americans, Amelia Earhart, in an ambitious and splendid omnibus review of two novels about Earhart, a scholarly study, and a collection of Earhart's own writing. You have to read Michelle's review to see how she turns all the facets of a folk heroine to the light, one by one.
And finally, three splendid reviews of three of my favorite books. Maria Nutick took on the challenge of reviewing Emma Bull's Bone Dance, one of the most often-quoted books around the GMR water cooler. She met the challenge and did us proud. Michael Jones, who -- we are all fairly sure -- doesn't even eat, drive, or shower without a book in one hand, wrote a magnificent review of Spindle's End, Robin McKinley's re-telling of the Sleeping Beauty story. Michael's review shows clearly why the old, old tales can be told again and again without losing any of their power. I've mentioned J.R.R. Tolkien's The Smith of Wootton Major in my staff bio as the book I'm most likely to re-read. I love it so much that I would never dare review it, for fear of being reduced to wordless tears. I am fortunate that Asher Black has reviewed it, saying many things I would have said, and other things I would have kept in my heart. Thank you, Asher. And thank you, every one else at GMR whose reviews keep me awake, listening, and looking
Sweet Mab, now I have more suggestions for me winter entertainment pleasure! Shall I start with Paul Brandon's Swim the Moon? Or perhaps J.R.R. Tolkien's The Smith of Wootton Major would do? And I certainly hadn't heard of A Magical Gathering The Clannad Anthology, which sounds like a real craic of an album! And Asher made a brilliant suggestion for a spot of reading pleasure in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil ... Sigh... I'll need a few more pints of that French ale to help me with the sorting out of all the suggestions, so let's grab a mug and head down to the Great Hall to see if Excalibur Rising is doing their sound check... And you can join us later for our feast. A succulent roast goose stuffed with apples is the main course, along with lots of Avalon Applejack, fresh baked bread, and other fine eating! Why there might even be a pumpkin pie... After you, honoured guest...
'It was one of those awesome Wednesday nights at the Dubliner when just about every musician in town decided to turn up for a chance to play and drink. We were greeted by the brisk sound of an Irish reel and edged our way through the crowd toward the circle of musicians planted in the back around a table cluttered with beer and whiskey glasses. There were at least eight fiddle players, their bows stabbing the air and skittering wildly over the strings in the fast-paced reel. A mandolin player, his pick hand a blur against the pretty flatback instrument, was shouting out the chords to a bouzouki player I'd never seen before. Two flute players leaned together like a pair of doves, the hollow sound floating easily over the scrape of strings. A bodhran player with a sweat-streaked forehead towered over a trio of guitarists. He held his drum up over their heads and added a throaty rhythm.' --from hannah's garden by Midori Snyder
Greetings, and a fair wind to you, particularly should you find your heart following the geese as they arrow southward.
Liath here, taking a brief respite from clearing out and ordering the Green Man offices in preparation for Mabonfest next week. Our corvid in residence, Maggie Pye, has surprisingly been of great assistance. She can find shiny flotsam no matter what deep, shadowy corner it may be lying in. On the other hand, she considers any nearby earrings or edibles fair game, so I advise you to be wary around her, especially if you are a wearer of sparkling, dangling jewelry (and if you are one such, may I say I admire your taste).
Sweet Mab, there she goes now... she's after the strings of the fiddlers gathered for the Buskers Guild meeting in our Great Hall. And the seanachie says she's also taking a strong interest in the bags of the pipers -- I shall have to lure her away with something. On a bright note, we have here a cask of Brasserie Artisanale Du Tregor ale left as payment by a fiddler for services rendered. I have no intention of telling you what those services were. Suffice it to say that the fiddler is quite satisfied.
And if Liath won't say, she won't! 'Tis me, Jack, sticking me nose in for a tick. Now 'tis the time that one thinks longingly of hearty stews, good companionship, interesting ales, thick novels, and lively music to drive the dark back just a bit. We here at Green Man find much to keep the coming dark at bay. One of the joys of working here is that we often get more than one copy of an item that's being reviewed. Both Cat and Our Greyness are reading the hardcover edition of hannah's garden, and over a half dozen staff members got to enjoy Holly Black's tithe -- A Modern Faerie Tale. Grey also snaffled the extra GMR copy of the new edition of The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror! CDs are the same -- methinks we routinely get from two to four of a given title, including most of the Celtic CDs. Our favorite haul was the near seven hundred CDs that Northside sent us to give away. Now that was fun to do! Off hand, I'd say without fear of being gainsaid that we get more product for review than anyone else involved in a similar undertaking. Which means o' course, that you get accurate, interesting reviews of new and gently aged product here first. Righto. So, Liath is raising one eyebrow... must mean I've rambled long enough.
Yes, be off with you, Merry Jack Fiddler. Are you not supposed to be with the buskers just now?
Yes, so I'm off...
We have a number of splendid offerings for you this week, including a brief mention of some excellent writing reviewer Rachel Brown has had published in another forum. Do go read Rachel's articles on martial arts in fantasy writing and the interplay between YA (young adult) and adult fantasy in Strange Horizons, a wonderful sister publication. Also, I should mention the review below of Midori Snyder's novel, hannah's garden, by Anwir ap Evnessyen, our current attache from the Winter Court. But have a care, dear readers, and remember where his allegiances lie!
Cat here. I am not going to quote from Grey Walker's review of the Subterranean Press hardcover edition of Charles de Lint's Wolf Moon. No, I'm going to let you discover and savor every word of her exquisitely crafted commentary. This is a charming novel from a master of fantasy fiction, who has had nearly thirty works reviewed by Green Man. Suffice it to say that this review is so excellent that all of the editors agree that it deserves an Excellence in Writing Award! Now go read it before continuing on with What's New.
Rachel Manija Brown starts us off this week with a look at a new children's novel by Susan Cooper, Green Boy. There are those of us who eagerly anticipate any new book by Cooper, Rachel included. But that didn't stop her from examining Green Boy thoughtfully and honestly, and offering a carefully critical review.
We are fortunate to have Anwir ap Evnessyen with us this half year at GMR. He offers us a truly unique chance to catch a glimpse of things through the eyes of the Winter Court, the 'darker' side of Faerie. In reviewing Midori Snyder's new novel hannah's garden, Anwir brings a Winter perspective to bear on the conflict between life and death, creation and destruction. He says in this delicately challenging review, "Perhaps the Red Clan embraces the magic of blood and decay while the Green flourishes amidst wildflowers and herbs, but again these are merely two sides of Nature. One cannot exist without the other." We must admit that Anwir has a valid point, and bestow upon him an Excellence in Writing Award for this unsettling review.
Andrea S. Garrett has two reviews for us this week, the first of a charming children's book created by writer Marion Dane Bauer and artist Trina Schart Hyman, Ghost Eye, which is "a sweet story about a lonely old lady who loved cats and a lonely little girl who would like to have a cat to love." Ghosts and beautiful pictures of the unique Cornish Rex cat breed fill this little book. Read Andrea's review for more, as well as links to all sorts of interesting Web sites. Andrea also reviews one of the more unusual things we've ever received at GMR, The Faeries' Oracle, by Brian Froud and Jessica Macbeth. Is it a book? Is it a set of oracular cards? Is it a series of gorgeous pieces by one of the foremost fantasy artists of our day? Yes. It's impossible to pull a single quotation from Andrea's review. You must read the entire thing to understand how unique and beautiful this Oracle is. We've come to expect Andrea to bring us enthusiasm, careful research, a plethora of other Web sites to explore, and lots of visual, tactile description in her reviews. This one is no exception, and naturally wins an Excellence in Writing Award.
David Kidney is up next, with another for his collection of reviews of musicians' stories. This time, it's a memoir by Neil Peart, reknowned drummer for the band Rush. After suffering a series of profound personal tragedies, Peart set off on a cross-continental odyssey to rediscover life. David found his account of that journey, Ghost Rider, to be profoundly satisfying. As he says in his review, "This is a triumphant book. Sometimes sad, often funny, never dull, and always engrossing."
Rebecca Wright rounds up the book reviews this week with a delightful collection of folktales by Jane Yolen and Shulamith Oppenheim, The Fish Prince and Other Stories: Mermen Folktales. Small in size, this book still offers wonderful stories, a thorough bibliography, and plenty of background information. "Though targeted at school age children," Rebecca says, "this is an excellent book for any student of mythology or folklore."
If you've ever been so energized by a live performance that you literally couldn't sleep after you got home, you'll enjoy Maria Nutick's Excellence in Writing Award-winning review of Portland Taiko's recent show, Taikokinesis, where Maria had a similar experience. Her writing is so vivid that you might have trouble sleeping too if you read it right before you go to bed.
One of the GMR staff's favorite artists is Richard Thompson. Combine his somewhat sardonic takes on the human condition with his mastery of the guitar, and it's no wonder he appeals to many of us. Gary Whitehouse counts himself amongst the staff RT fanatics, and his review of a recent Thompson concert in Portland, Oregon should help you see why.
Craig Clarke finds the re-release of Beck's Mutations to be worth hearing. It has, he notes, everything from folk to rock to country to hip-hop, Arabic and Indian, and Latin! Give this review a bit of time to see if Mutations will please you too!
Clo Iar-Chonnachta sent us a copy of Seamus Quinn & Gary Hastings' Slan le Loch Eirne which Stephen Hunt quickly grabbed. Was his greed rewarded? Oh, yes! Stephen says in his Excellence in Writing Award winning review that 'Seamus Quinn and Gary Hastings, like The Blues Brothers (another pair of rascals who dressed in black!) are 'on a mission' to reassert the timeless, joyful values of 'real' music. If our curmudgeonly letter writer ever gets to hear this CD, then who knows, even he may find himself unexpectedly dancing on the spot and declaring 'I have seen the light!'
David Kidney has a singer-songwriter he wants you to listen to now: 'Scott Merritt is making a few carefully chosen appearances in southern Ontario to promote this album. If he comes close, don't miss him. He's an edgy and talented performer. If you're not fortunate enough to see him...don't miss the detour home, which captures the qualities of his live shows brilliantly.' It's no surprise that this reviewer loves a wide range of music as is exemplified by his review of two Latin music CDs by Paquito D'Rivera (Brazilian Dreams) and the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet (LAGQ latin): 'Latin music is everywhere. Was it Gloria Estefan, or Ry Cooder and his associates in Cuba, or was it Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias? Who cares what started it! When you have music as fulfilling as is found on these two albums, we can only add, 'Viva la musica latino!'' David gets a well-earned Excellence in Writing Award for this review!
Clannad? Those New Agish wannabes? Well, Sean Laffey treats us to an Excellence in Writing Award winner of a review of their CD, A Magical Gathering The Clannad Anthology that refutes that idea just a wee bit. He starts off this superb review by noting, 'For those unfamiliar with the full panorama of the Clannad sound archive, these two discs might come as a surprise, as they contrast the band's acoustic roots with more recent, perhaps familiar work, which is all too often formulaic, elegiac and in the hands of their most successful scion, Enya, totally commercial.' Oh, hell -- his review made me want to buy this CD and me taste does not lean to the likes of Clannad!
Peter Massey, a fine musician himself, was not that fond of Garrett & Westcott's Kate's Front Porch CD. Peter sadly notes, 'these are two excellent musicians. Reggie sings well, but none of the songs on the album are outstanding or groundbreaking. Although it is well recorded and makes pleasant listening, it does not make a statement.' He was much fonder of Dave Ellis & Boo Howard's Amber CD which he says 'Would I recommend you buy this album? Yes definitely. For this class of contemporary folk music, Dave and Boo must take the crown for being amongst the best. It is sufficiently different, and makes a pleasant change from the run of the mill folk music. So if you like nice gentle singing, easy listening, plus some tasty guitar work, this album's for you.' And Irish folk rocker the Racketeers new CD, Long Time Gone, gets an approving nod from him: 'In summing up, this is a good album. It's easy on the ears for a fringe rock band. I would have liked to have seen more use of the violin, and a stronger bass line in the mix but that's purely a personal thing.'
Pat Simmonds offers up a tasty review of Brian Pickell's Fresh Canadian Fiddle Tunes. Fellow fiddle players take note: 'You don't realize that you're playing his tunes or that you have been for some time. You see, Brian's tunes have become so widely played and recorded that many people accept them as being traditional in origin. It is with that in mind that Brian has set about the task of collating a great many of his pieces and creating a body of work that is distinctly his.'
Gary Whitehouse was the lucky bastard who got to the first CD from Linda Thompson in nearly twenty years. Was Fashionably Late worth the long wait? Let's ask him: 'Linda Thompson still has all of the qualities that made her one of the most striking voices in English folk-rock in the 1970s and '80s. Her new CD, her first recording in 17 years, puts all that's best about her on display. She remains an excellent interpreter of other people's songs, and a singer of subtlety and controlled passion. Even the title, Fashionably Late, evinces her wry, self-deprecating wit. And she has grown into a songwriter of some note as well.' And Gary does enjoy acoustic jazz, so does he like the offering of Under Paris Skies from Pearl Django, a Seattle-based quartet [who play] acoustic swing jazz a la Django Reinhardt and the Hot Quintet of Paris circa the 1930s? Yes, he does: 'the disc could perhaps use a little more variety in pace, with maybe a slow foxtrot or a waltz tossed in now and then. But otherwise, there's nothing to complain about when dancing Under Paris Skies.'
Asher Black meets Joe Black in his review of a film about the ultimate enigma coming to dinner. 'Yes, I've been on vacation.' says Mr. Black (Asher), 'And Joe's on vacation, too. A brief holiday. It seems fitting, then, for me to introduce the other Mr. Black at precisely this time. I hope you like him as much as I do.' Mister Asher finds himself in possession of a freshly cast Excellence in Writing Award for this well-crafted review.
Rachel Brown does it again! Another wild Hong Kong film... wilder than any she's touched on yet... The Heroic Trio, complete with an 'albino demon eunuch and his psycho henchman with a flying guillotine hat'! Yup! If you thought The Bride With White Hair was unusual, The New Legend of Shaolin bizarre, and Mr. Vampire eccentric, you'll want to read her latest review for something truly over the top!
Craig Clarke was inspired, after reading GMR's recent review of Paul Mazursky's Tempest, to revisit another adaptation of Shakespeare's final play: Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books. He says that it 'is a perfect example of using the cinematic form to its fullest extent,' but hopes you'll not take his word for it and watch it anyway. He also does a bewitching review of The Blair Witch Project and Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, reminding his equally enthusiastic editor why these films outshine the stunted, more expensive horror offerings that rely on more cheaply-gotten scare gimmicks. Lastly, Craig offers a review that you know we're going to appreciate, since the film is entitled The Green Man.
And with that, I bid you sweet flight. Keep in mind that next week, in honor of Mabontide, we will be presenting you with an issue devoted entirely to the best of past reviews published in GMR. Come and sift your mind's fingers through the treasures each of our editors will offer.
But before you are entirely gone, may I invite you to cast a quick glance over the table by the door? Maggie and I have been piling various and sundry oddments there as we find them while organizing this rath (I beg your indulgence -- I meant office, of course). If you see anything you like -- and I believe there are a number of duplicate song glasses, various intriguingly empty boxes, and an antiquated faq or two -- do take it with you.
'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
8th of September, 2002
Jack Merry here. It won't surprise you, our dear readers, that music is what originally led to the creation of Green Man Review so many years ago. I'm not at liberty to confirm or deny the rumours that a Seisiun centuries old has been going on in a corner of our Great Hall with players coming and going as they please, but I can say that there's always a tune playing somewhere here in the Green Man building. Be it a concert with Excalibur Rising, or an all-night contradance with Mouse in the Cupboard, the music never stops here. I find me fingers itching to play even now.. Do I hear 'The Shrews Bourrée' drifting up the stair case from somewhere below? Indeed I do... Let's go see who's playing in that Seisiun...
To this day, we cover more traditional and not so traditional music than any other online zine, period. Not to mention fiction with a musical bent, such as Midori Snyder's hannah's garden and Charles de Lint's Forests of The Heart; non-fiction music lore books such as Breanda'n Breathnach's Folk Music and Dances of Ireland, and Alan Lomax's Brown Girl in the Ring: An Anthology of Song Games from the Eastern Caribbean; and live performance reviews covering everything from a Charles de Lint reading from the aforementioned musically-tinged Forests of the Heart to a Skyedance concert.
Cat, our esteemed Editor, who's again off on business elsewhere in the building (or so he says), told me earlier today that there are roughly one hundred and fifty compact discs out for review at any given time, with another fifty or so awaiting assignment to a reviewer. What that means to you is that you'll always encounter lots of music right here that you'd otherwise never set ears on! Yes, GMR reviews releases from the likes of Green Linnet and Rounder, but also music from labels such as GO! in Denmark, Greentrax in Scotland, Tuti in the Faroe Islands, Topic Records in Britain, and Musique Keltique in France. And we take great pride in reviewing CDs that are self-released, such as the fine Celtic and English dance albums that we've reviewed -- so many that we can't count 'em! In recognition of how central music is to Green Man, this issue will feature only CD reviews. Everything else of a reviewable nature will return next outing.
Grey Walker, or Her Greyness as we know her around the office, wishes to pass along this note: 'We've had a passel of letters of comment come in over the past several weeks. Check out the Letters of Comment page for remarks on everything from shades to the soporific effect of acoustic music to the fine fury of an indignant Clement-Davies fan.'
Speaking of Grey Walker, she has been promoted to Aigne (see the staff page), Hand Dexter to our beloved Chief, Cat Eldridge, whereas Asher Black remains, quite appropriately, the Hand Sinister. Mia Nutick, also, is promoted to Assistant Video Editor, and now is responsible, as Senior Proofer, for chasing down the gremlins.
As you read the CD reviews, please note that a number of reviewers from Ireland have joined us here as of late. We are particularly pleased to have Sean Laffey, Editor of Irish Music Magazine, and John O'Regan, one of the finest Irish music reviewers ever, as well as Steve Power, and Pat Simmonds who lived in Cork for 10 years and speaks fluent Gaelic. ) Also joining us is Joe Karrman, a well-know Irish musician who's writing under this name (and no fair guessing who it is!). Let's all have a properly poured Guinness in their honour! Some have reviews here this week, some will have reviews next week!
Judith Gennett gives us a review of Alan Moorhouse's Small Voice Crying album. He is, she says, 'a quirky Cornish singer-songwriter living in Koln, Germany. Small Voice Crying is his first album, after years and years busking on the streets of Europe. Actually he's played inside as well, and years of musically standing on his head for deutschmarks has led to a batch of interesting lyrics. Many of his songs are about street people, people on the margin, and other topics of social injustice. At the turn of a hand, however, Moorhouse can turn from serious to completely goofy, in a characteristically British way.' Sliding over to the Balkans, she looks rather approvingly at Slavic Soul Party!'s In Makedonija and Sanda Weigl's Gypsy Kille. You know she liked 'em, so just go read her review to find out where to get them. And grab a slice of the baklava for our kitchen too! Judith wraps up her reviewing this out by examining the matter of the latest CD from Malinky which they call 3 Ravens. She says '3 Ravens is a sure bet for almost any reasonable Scottish music enthusiast.'
Who is Beth Nielsen Chapman, and why should you like her music? Just ask Michelle Erica Green as she looks favourably at four CDs by her (Beth Nielsen Chapman, You Hold the Key, Sand and Water, and Deeper Still) and offers up really good reasons for you to like her and her music. Read her superbly written review to get all the juicy details on this artist!
April Gutierrez reviews a Miles Davis CD, errr, it's actually a Lynn Miles by the name of Unravel, and it's not jazzy at all: 'Miles defies convenient pigeonholing, varying her musical style from track to track. Her songs traverse the spectrum from the barebones piano and vocals of 'You're Not Coming Back' and 'Brave Parade' to the bluesy feel of 'Now I Understand' and 'Over You,' which are vaguely reminiscent of Chris Isaak, to the downright country twang of 'When Did the World.' Miles also proves adept at straightforward pop with 'Undertow' and 'Unravel.' As with her previous work, the instrumentation -- primarily electric and acoustic guitars, complemented by piano, strings, accordion and dobro -- is straightforward and uncomplicated, a solid foil to Miles' strong, clear voice.'
A man known for loving Celtic music is Stephen Hunt, our Assistant Music Editor. Not 'tall surprising was it to me that Liz Carroll's Lake Effect tickled his fancy to no small degree as he notes in his Excellence in Writing Award winning review: 'Two years on from Lost in the Loop, here's the latest from Chicago's Queen of the fiddle. While Carroll composes almost all the music here (with two traditional tunes slipped in), there's plenty of variety in found in the various reels, jigs, airs, waltz, slides and slip jig.' A Celtic effort that wasn't as much as to his liking was Karie Oberg,'s Hard Times: 'This is a collection of (mainly) traditional Irish songs from this Minneapolis singer. Oberg has a fine voice, her supporting musicians aren't short of ability and there isn't a dud song to be found here. It's exactly the kind of thing that I really like, wherein lies the problem... The songs on this CD are all so familiar that anyone who's been collecting records of this music for a while will already have a cherished version that they've come to regard as 'definitive.' Vin Garbutt, a singer-songwriter of some repute, also pleased Mr. Hunt with Word of Mouth: 'Anyone who regards 'folk music' as an interchangeable term with 'easy listening' is in for something of an awakening from this CD, but the shock will be an exhilarating, rather than unpleasant one. Garbutt is an uncompromisingly intelligent moralist who uses his observational and anecdotal skills to work thought provoking masterpieces without recourse to hectoring or piety. He's also a superbly gifted tunesmith, a skilled arranger and an authoritative singer.'
Joe Karrman was fortunate indeed to review the Horslips re-released CD, Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part, album crucial to the history of folk rock music itself: 'It's not many bands that can claim to have invented a whole musical genre, but that's what Horslips are credited with. Without them we wouldn't have Celtic Rock. Of course Fairport Convention had been rocking up jigs and reels for a few years before the Irish band released their debut single 'Johnny's Wedding' in 1971, but with their first album Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part in '72, the first real Celtic Rock album came into being.'
David Kidney found much to like in Dave Alvin & the Guilty Men's Out in California: 'Dave Alvin? Wasn't he a Blaster? Guilty! And so's the rest of his band...the Guilty Men! This new CD is a barn burner! Recorded live out in California by Mark Linett, the disc finds the band playing songs from Alvin's past, from the long past, and new songs for tomorrow, with verve and vitality.' Out stellar reviewer picks up an Excellence in Writing Award for this review!
Sean Laffey, the aforementioned Editor of Irish Music Magazine, offers up a review of Ewan MacColl, Charles Parker and Peggy Seeger's Singing the Fishing, A Radio Ballad. We here at Green Man have a soft spot for Ewan and his superlative work, so it's no surprise that he likes this audio play with music: 'In an age when much folk music has lost touch with its underlying narrative, Singing the Fishing is a reminder of the magnificent potential that is locked inside this art form.'
Iain Mac Harg found Robert Brown & Robert Nicol's Masters of Piobaireachd Volume Four, the latest one that we've reviewed, is a great one: 'this album is a must have for any serious Ceol Mor student. May Masters of Piobaireachd be one of many more to come in the future.'
Peter Massey was pleased with Tony Reidy's The Coldest Day in Winter CD: 'This album is an independent release by Tony Reidy, a singer songwriter from Ireland, and was recorded and engineered by Brendan Minish at Raheens, Castlebar, Ireland. Tony Reidy writes all the songs bar one. As a rule I like to listen to singer-songwriters, and in particular, songs I have not heard before. Afterwards I ask myself: was this a particular tune that caught my attention, were the words interesting and did they carry a hidden message that entertained me? The Coldest Day in Winter is a testament to Reidy's work.' He was not at all pleased by Sharron Kraus, and her output on Beautiful Twisted' 'all singers, some listeners may find their songs are good, and others find them weak. Every now and again a songwriter will touch base and come up with a really brilliant song, but I did not find that to be so on this album.' He fared much better with Jenny Crook & Henry Sears' Chasing The Dawn release that changes his mind on the matter of harpers: 'I have to confess, up to now I have never been a great fan of harpists, if only because I have never paid them much attention. On the few occasions I have encountered a harpist playing and singing at a folk club, their repertoire has been somewhat dull or limited. However after listening to this album I am changing my opinion.'
Isle of Hull cheddar... bottles of Avalon Applejack... A whole lamb roasting in the Green Man kitchen... The pleasures of working for this endeavour are legion! It's bleedin' wonder that I, Jack Merry, got any reviewin' done this week given the food, drink, and music here in the Green Man offices! But I did do an omnibus of six dance albums, three American contradance and three English sort of trad dance albums (Wake the Neighbors's self-titled debut album, Carnival Knowledge's A Little Knowledge Is A Dangerous Thing, Barn Owl Dance Band's Dance Owl Night, GIG CB!'s GIANT!, Random's deviatoin, and the Hosepipe Band's Hell's Bells) I note in the review 'that every CD here about is well-worth your time to acquire -- and I know that you will listen to all of 'em over and over again. All of these bands use a variety of source material , mostly English/Irish/Scottish/French. There are a number of other European musicial influences, including but not limited to, Breton, Balkan, Greek, and Nordic. This is not your gran's ever-so-traditional dance, but rather for both the English and American bands, a full reflection of the current musical diversity of the current dance music.' And Kim tells me that I gleaned an Excellence in Writing Award for this review!
John O'Regan leads off his reviewing here at Green Man with a review of Here's to Song by the Canadian Celtic Choir of which he notes: 'Choirs singing folk songs is not a new phenomenon. In Ireland The Guinness Choir and more, latterly Anuna have engendered a revival in the possibilities of traditional music and song within a choral context. The Canadian Celtic Choir owe more to the Guinness Choir in sound and approach rather than Michael and John McGlynn's epic creations. This is a choir in the established sense with male and female voices in massed unison attacking a varied programme of songs from the Celtic folk traditions of Ireland, Scotland and Wales with some homegrown material and some surprises.' Read his review to see if he enjoyed this CD. Kim Bates tells me in an email that 'make sure the blurb for Live at the Half Time Rec mentions that I have spent many evening and lifted many glasses from the bar at this, one of the oldest and longest running Irish bars in St. Paul, MN, a town heavily influenced by Irish Americans. And don't forget to mention the dancing, or the bocce ball in the basement!' Good enough, oh honoured Music Editor? The CD itself, according to John who reviews this CD by The Irish Brigade, straddles the board between a straight traditional group with sets of tunes using flute, tin whistle and bodhran and a mainstream Irish folk group playing a mix of revival ballads...' He rounds out his reviewing with a look at Shilelagh Law's Together In The End CD which John says is ' is another example of the Irish American bar band playing a mix of tunes and songs both old and new. Where Irish music is concerned a similar bar band circuit exists in the US as much as for that of a rock bar band and these bars have a slew of bands playing their venues. As usual there's the good, bad and indifferent.'
Steve Power reviews the second of the two CDs we got from Bob Frank, his Keep on Burning CD. He says in his Excellence in Writing Award review, 'I like the sound of Bob Frank. And I don't just mean his voice, which is pretty good - most of the time - in a warm and fuzzy kind of way. No, what I'm referring to is his sense of humour. Here's guy who doesn't take himself or his songs too seriously.'
Pat Simmonds found Liz Doherty's Quare Imagination CD to be quite tasty! Indeed he notes, 'Liz gets a fantastic earthy tone out of her fiddle and her playing really swings. While this album may not be for the purists it shows a vibrant young fiddler at her best in the company of some great friends. It reflects the modern trend of interaction between various styles, tune writing and tune swapping.' Patrick picks up an Excellence in Writing Award for this review!
Liath's cataloged the library copy of Midori Snyder's hannah's garden, so now I'm happily reading it. (Nothing gets borrowed 'til it's been properly cataloged! Well, unless Cat gets it... dunno what he bribes Liath with.) (Coffee with cinnamon and nutmeg in it with a bit of dark Bavarian chocolate dusted on the surface. And scratching behind the ears works exceedingly well too. -- Cat) She was keen to mention the fact that the title is not capitalized. Apparently, some other woe-betiden reviewer elsewhere on the Web missed that, and Liath -- of course -- noticed (trust an archivist...). Anwir's been properly warned, and doubt me not, he'll be reading this book backward and forward before he reviews it for you, dear readers! There's a craic look at a Seisiun that any reviewer who likes Celtic music will have to remark upon, as it's as good as the description of the session that's in de Lint's Forests of the Heart. The only better description of a Seisiun I've found is the one penned by October Browne called 'The Gate' that is on Morgaine Le Fay's only CD, up she flew. Now there is the matter of the strange Midsummer's Eve Seisiun that occurs in Emma Bull's War for The Oaks...
I believe in fires at midnight, when the dogs have all been fed.
A golden toddy on the mantle, a broken gun beneath the bed.
Jethro Tull's 'Fires At Midnight'
Oh, you're back... Did you find anything interesting in our video library? Ahhh, you found 'Still Life' at The Penguin Cafe! This is a recording of the performance of the David Bintley ballet 'Still Life' at The Penguin Cafe. Eight Penguin Cafe Orchestra classics were orchestrated by Simon for the original Royal Ballet performance, which is still being performed. It's certainly an interesting look at Simon and his work -- I know of no other commercially-released video showing the PCO at work (no, it doesn't include 'Music for a Found Harmonium,' but that piece is on the Still Life CD release). Sadly, this world became a poorer place when Jeffes died in 1997 of a brain tumor at the age of forty-seven. His genius is sorely missed by all who knew him and his music. It's certainly ironic that Penguin Cafe Orchestra is better known now than it was in its heyday. And yes, we'll be reviewing 'Still Life' at The Penguin Cafe in Green Man.
I've been remiss in a matter that should have been dealt with some months ago. As usual, Green Man reviewed Charles de Lint's Seven Wild Sisters sans artwork and other design details, because we reviewed it using the uncorrected proof. (You can read the review by Sarah Meador here.) Sarah notes in her review that, 'As self-sufficient as Seven Wild Sisters is, the proof I reviewed lacked a large chunk of its final self; illustrations by Charles Vess will add the last touch of enchantment to the sisters' story.'
Now, I do believe that a good book is more than merely the text within, so I will purchase a book based -- at least in part -- on the physical appeal of it, i.e. I've purchased the Phillip Pullman trilogy, His Dark Materials (reviewed below by Maria Nutick), in the original hardcover edition because the forthcoming edition has artwork that I find unappealing.
Seven Wild Sisters has a a full-color dustjacket as well as full-page interior illustrations and page decorations by Charles Vess, who also did the page decorations and cover art for The Green Man anthology. Charles de Lint says that he and Charles Vess have been wanting to do this for years. That's understandable, given how cool the final product is!
Seven Wild Sisters is a slim, just over a hundred pages long, novella that I read on a very warm summer's evening. And the art by Charles Vess certainly enhances the pleasure of reading what is already a great tale. He starts off with full-color cover art: a picture of one sister apparently flying under a freize of all of them dancing, which creates a mood of young women bursting with vim and vigor. This motif's repeated on the inside cover -- but before you look there, take off the dust jacket and look at the small fey fiddler on the book itself. Wonderful! The interior black-and-white drawings have to be seen to be full appreciated -- my favorite ones are the fey cat just after the contents page, the tree-being with a mug in his gnarly hands inside the cabin (page forty-nine), and two of the sisters watching the fey fiddler (page seventy-six). Oddly enough, this tale by a Canadian writer feels more real to me as a tale of the Appalachian Mountains than the Ballad novels written by Sharyn McCrumb, a writer born and raised there, do. I suspect that there will be more collaborations set in these Mountains between these two gentlemen!
A note before we go to the reviews. Because we don't have to make money from commissions, errr, kickbacks from Amazon or the like, our reviewers, unlike some others, are free to totally trash a bad CD when need be. If you go to our Letters of Comment page, you'll find a somewhat bitter response to Big Earl Sellar's review of The Rough Guide To Arabesque which is, according to him, well, shitty. Does this mean that all of the Rough Guides compliations are shitty? No, most are quite good, but not every one of them is. Does this mean you wouldn't like this CD? Of course not. An opinion is simply an opinion. Now, I didn't find it terribly good either, so perhaps...
(Liath is also reminding me to note that Green Man Review is quoted in Locus this month. Really. Truly. Page 84 of the September issue has an advertisement for A Walking Tour of The Shambles, the Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe chapbook. The top quote is from Richard Dansky's review: 'If you can find it, get it. If you can't,beat the bushes and bribe your local bookseller until you can.')
Our first Featured Review this edition is actually a set of contrasting reviews from Maria Nutick, who picks up an Excellence in Proofing Award for her outstanding work behind the scenes, and who is also a bloody fine writer. This week she look at Celtic artist Steve McDonald and his CD, Sons of Somerled. She notes that, 'Somerled was a 12th century Scottish lord and war leader who helped defend the land from Viking invaders. His grandson founded the largest and most powerful of the Scottish clans, Clan Donald. When New Age musician Steve McDonald of New Zealand became aware of his Scottish ancestry he began to intensively research his heritage as a member of Clan Donald; he also decided to write a concept album dedicated to the history of the Clan. Sons of Somerled is the very satisfying result.' She also knows shite when she hears it, and David Arkenstone's The Celtic Book of Days is shite: 'I am by no means the most musically knowledgable member of the GMR staff -- in fact, Stephen Hunt, our beloved Assistant Music Editor, despairs of curing me of my affection for 'dodgy metal and blokes with mullets' -- but I do know derivative schlock when I hear it. This attempt to pass off overproduced, lifeless, New Age drivel as Celtic music is an insult to both the tradition and to the many talented artists who play the real thing.' There are a lot more gory details in her review... Need I say more? Oh, there's the small matter of an Excellence in Writing Award that Maria gets for this review.
As we mentioned earlier, Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy is being re-released in a trade paperback edition this coming week. Maria Nutick has reviewed all three books, so that you can decide, if you haven't already, whether or not to go out and grab 'em from your local bookstore. We'll just tease you with this quotation from Maria: 'Ultimately, this series fails to truly support it's central idea...and I'm glad.' Now, go read the rest of the review!
Kate Brown brings us the second intricately-plotted, dense installment in Paul Kearney's series The Monarchies of God. The Heretic Kings, 'a mere handful of men, effect great change across the entire face of this vast and diverse world.' Read Kate's review to get a tantalizing preview of what promises to be a wonderfully time-consuming read.
Cat Eldridge is back with more Kage Baker, who writes science fiction with (Cat promises) fey elements. Black Projects, White Knights: The Company Dossiers is a collection of short stories set in Baker's Dr. Zeus, Inc. Company milieu. 'Admittedly,' Cat says, 'I was predisposed to liking the tales because the novels were all far beyond merely good, but I wasn't completely convinced that Baker's sprawling universe, i.e. thirty thousand year-old characters, could be contained within the confines of a few short pages. But it worked far better than just fine.'
Michelle Erica Green struggled with her review of The Leto Bundle by Marina Warner. Not because the book was bad, mind you, but because it was so very good. 'Warner's interweaving of legend, history, anthropology and politics makes The Leto Bundle both a fable for our time and a timeless tale of the human condition.' Michelle's struggle produced a wonderful review of a book that sounds like a must-read! Michelle also offers for your pleasure a review of the sort that we love here at GMR. She considers the legend of Amelia Earhart by examining the novels I Was Amelia Earhart by Jane Mendelsohn and Hidden Latitudes by Alison Anderson, with supporting insights from Susan Ware's Still Missing: Amelia Earhart and the Search for Modern Feminism and Last Flight, excerpts from Earhart's own writing. Michelle earns an Excellence in Writing Award for this superb review.
Michael M. Jones is pleased to announce the reappearance of one of the best-loved anti-heroes of our day, Sir Apropos of Nothing. 'It's hard to hate Apropos for taking the easy way out when we can sympathize with him. He's a bit of a sleaze, an opportunist, a cad, a rogue, and rather easily manipulated, not to mention easily tempted by power and motivated by revenge. So he's no worse than the average politician or used car salesman, so what? He's believable. He's real. He's pitiable to an extent. And he's not afraid to admit his own failings, usually while he's trying to escape a bad situation.' Still not convinced? Read the rest of Michael's review of Peter David's The Woad to Wuin, and I assure you, you will be. Donna Jo Napoli takes another fairy tale by the ears in Beast. Michael says of this re-telling of 'Beauty and the Beast,' 'The real magic lies in the telling, and in Napoli's ability to really get inside the head of the Beast, and make us understand what sort of conflict he was going through daily.' And last up from Michael is the sequel to a book that took the fantasy genre by storm when it appeared, Cecilia Dart-Thornton's The Ill-Made Mute. Michael believes that The Lady of the Sorrows is a worthy successor to that book. 'I'm hard-pressed to find any objections to this book. If anything, it's perhaps too detailed. I'm so used to simpler language that something like this comes across like a triple chocolate cake: inordinately rich, a treat you can't eat all at once, something to be savored.'
Jack Merry, in true fey style, brings us a 'children's' book that adults have permission to read, too. Is Cornelia Funke's The Thief Lord the next Harry Potter, as its publicists are insisting? Jack doesn't think so. 'And that, me friends, is as it should be. We here on the Committee to Keep J.K. Rowling from Taking Over Literature and Everything Else in Our Universe (referred to hereinafter as KJKRTOLEEOU) applaud any author who does something original in the genre of fantasy. And Cornelia Funke has certainly done so.' Jack likes this book! And, of course, that means you will, too.
Maria Nutick has another delightful children's book up for grabs this week. Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer, is witty and fun. 'Artemis Fowl is 12 years old, and even worse, he's a criminal mastermind.' Does this remind you of 'There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrub, and he almost deserved it'? Us too! On a more serious note, Maria also reviews Brides of Eden by Linda Crew. A novelization of the rise and demise of a religious cult at the turn of the twentieth century, 'Brides of Eden is an outstanding novel, both a tribute to history and a cautionary tale for future potential victims.' But Maria's most amazing review this week is an omnibus of eleven (yes!)novels by Parke Godwin. Covering all of Godwin's books in the fantasy genre, this review is thorough and informed work of a devoted reader. 'Have you ever finished a book with a lump in your throat and a tightness in your chest, not because the ending was happy or sad, but simply because the book was finished and you wanted it to go on and on? Have you ever finished a book and consciously realized that you had a different view of the world, maybe a better view, for having read it? Both have happened to me, and both happened because of the same author. That author is Parke Godwin.' Maria's loving tribute wins an Excellence in Writing Award.
Wolf hasn't experienced any sharp, piercing pains after his review of Anne Rice's The Witching Hour series last week. Not that they'd have stopped him. Oh, no, our intrepid Wolf is back... This time, he's written another simply enormous review of all the vampire books Rice has written to date. As you might expect, he loooves some of them, and simply hates the others. This 'gotta read' review is another Excellence in Writing Award winner for a reviewer who just doesn't quit!
Kim Bates found Bruce Cockburn's new CD, Anything Anytime Anywhere very, very good. Of course, she's a bit biased: 'Bruce Cockburn is a Canadian treasure, or to be more specific, Toronto's treasure. Once can even find a web-tour of his local haunts. I was a Cockburn fan long before I landed here in TO, drawn by the songs, the voice and the unfolding journey expressed in his music. I can't claim to be as tolerant of singer-songwriters as they probably deserve, but then I've been spoiled by the dozen or so that really speak to me, and even amongst this small and elite group, Cockburn is one of my favorites. Now that I've disclosed my prejudice, dear reader, you will not be surprised to read that I heartily endorse this 'best of' collection.' Read her insightful review for all the juicy details!
One of the most talented and prolific reviewers here at Green Man is Judith Gennett. Just savor her look at David Jacobs-Strain's Stuck On the Way Back and Mark Graham and Orville Johnson's Still Goin' Strong CDs. I for one will not spoil your reading pleasure by telling you anything about the review, so you'll need to go now and read them. Really. Truly. Scottish guitarist Tony McManus, has a CD, Ceol More, that Judith says, 'did not 'hit me' until I'd played it in the car at night, with the lights of White Salmon shimmering in the Columbia. Here is music for outbound journeys at night and for quiet evenings by firelight.' The latter review receives a well-deserved Excellence in Writing Award!
Michelle Erica Green lucked out in getting David Celia's Organica CD: 'If David Celia's Organica didn't declare -- in the liner notes -- that all songs had been recorded in his house on a Macintosh G4, I would not have suspected this was a home-grown project. The first solo project of Celia, a guitarist from the Toronto 'rootsy-rock pop' band Invisible Inc., Organica has a more polished sound than Invisible Inc.'s 2000 release Poor Folks Welcome, though it's hard to pigeonhole in terms of genre. The guitars (acoustic and electric) are superb, the keyboards well-balanced, the percussion nicely understated. Celia could give other independent artists lessons on how to record and package their own music.'
I always expect great reviews from David Kidney and he certainly didn't disappoint me this outing. His review of Glenn Kaiser's Ripley County Blues is superb: 'This is a fascinating and utterly enjoyable exercise in the blues.' Go read his full review now!
Peter Massey found a true treasure in English music in Mick Ryan & Pete Harris' The Long Road CD: 'I don't know why, but I have never seen a live performance of Mick Ryan & Pete Harris. They really are a superb duo, and they epitomise what I call real folk music. They fit nicely into my pigeonhole for what you might expect to hear from a session at any folk club in the U.K. This is exactly what they sound like on this album, and performing a nice, well-balanced repertoire. The only thing missing is the sound of the audience joining in on the chorus, just to complete the atmosphere.'
Our newest Senior Writer is No'am Newman who reviews Maggie MacInnes' Spiorad Beatha (The Spirit Of Life) this outing. His review starts off thus, 'I recently changed my email signature to read 'I may not like folk music now, but I liked it 30 years ago.' In doing so, I recognized the fact that I haven't enjoyed most of the folk/roots discs to which I've listened over the past few years. I'm not too sure whether this is due to my musical tastes changing as my arteries harden (although I'm still faithful to the prog-rock discs of my youth), or whether this is simply due to the folk revival dying out.' Does this mean he didn't like this CD? Maybe. Maybe not. Take a gander at his review for his somewhat compex answer. And our thanks to No'am for giving Green Man many, many interesting reviews!
Hedgehog Pie lives! Well, not really, but Lars Nilsson notes that The Hush's Dark to the Sky has guitar player Jed Grimes, a survivor from Hedgehog Pie, in it. So how's their debut CD? Lars says, 'All in all Dark to the Sky is a good effort from a newly-formed group. It will not grab you instantly, but slowly grow on you with repeated listenings. Sometimes the arrangements are a bit over-soft, but the highlights are far more common than the tracks that get programmed away.'
Topic Records very kindly sent us their four CD set, The Acoustic Folk Box, a look at four decades of English acoustic folk music. What's the judgement on this set from Big Earl Sellar? He says 'So, is the Acoustic Box Set worth it? That's a hard call. There are not many rare tracks here to entice someone who already owns the cream of the tracks. It's a little daunting for the newcomer, especially given the material on the first two discs. But find me a multi-disc various artist compilation set that doesn't have these problems. Overall, it's a good buy, and is bound to have at least a couple of hours of great music for even the most jaded listener.'
Chris White, who's taking a few days off from running the Chris White Gallery for some much needed R-and-R, did find much to admire in Bob Frank, A Little Gest of Robin Hood CD. Bob Frank? Who's that? Good question which Chris answers this way: 'On his web site folk performer and recording artist Bob Frank includes a description that says, 'Talk about elusive. Bob Frank is so invisible, when he looks in the mirror, he thinks they woke up the wrong guy.' The visible tip of the iceberg of Frank's career was a eponymously titled, long out-of-print, Vanguard recording. Frank's recent release A Little Gest of Robin Hood is in sub-sub-genre so obscure that it will do little to alter Bob Frank's visibility... except among students of medieval English literature and those with a serious passion for all things Robin Hood.' If you are a fan of the Robin Hood myth, do read this review! Chris -- your Excellence in Writing Award is awaiting your pick-up upon your return from vacation!
Gary Whitehouse has somewhat Celtic singer-songwriter Denis McArdle's Untold CD: 'The frequent heavy use of reverb and a tendency to oversing and over-orchestrate sometimes push McArdle perilously close to Roger Whitaker territory. But if you enjoy your folk music professionally sung with a strong pop element, Denis McArdle is worth checking out.'
The reviewer known only as Wolf was fascinated by Alva's Love Burns in Me, a charming CD rooted in all things Medieval. Wolf exclaims that 'Love Burns In Me is sung entirely in old medieval English and French, including the Occitan dialect of the troubadours. With the translations provided the listener can follow along, but the music is beautiful on its own. The songs lose none of their power by being in archaic languages; in fact, they seem to gain power by having the words submerged in enigma.'
One final note before we leave you. If you read Michael M. Jones Excellence in Writing Award-winning review of James Stoddard's The High House and The False House that we ran last edition, you'll want to check out the audio version, complete with music, of the first chapter of The High House -- with James Stoddard himself narrating! My thanks to the author for sending Green Man this wonderful file. It's well-worth the download time to hear it. If you don't want to download it on a slow connection (as it's a six megabyte file), Green Man will send you a copy on CD-R. E-mail Cat for the details. We are planning on a review of the limited edition versions of these two wonderful novels in the near future.
Now you'll excuse me as I'm off to read one of the three copies of hannah's garden, the new fey novel from Midori Snyder, that Viking sent us. No, I'm not reviewing it -- that honor falls to Anwir ap Evnessyen, the envoy from the Winter Court in residence at Green Man 'til the changing of the Courts. I look forward to reading his take on this novel.
Grey Walker, our Book Review Editor, got the third copy of hannah's garden, and she's taking the next week off so she can read it and lots of other novels -- such as Charles de Lint's re-released Wolf Moon -- that have been not so slowly taking over her life, errrrr, house.
Last Updated, 10 Oct 2002 12:31CST Asher