Ahhh, one moment, jeune fille avec les cheveux rouges, while I introduce this edition...
Kim Bates, our Music Editor, has returned from the Winnipeg Folk Festival and has been busy editing our music reviews for your reading pleasure, and while we may have naught for books this time around, never fear. Come the first issue of August we'll be back with book reviews aplenty! We'll cover the spectrum from a look back at the heyday of Robert Silverberg and Hentry Kuttner's careers to the cutting edge of indie chapbooks today and just about everything in between. Well, okay, maybe not everything in between, but still a fair sampling of a number of genres, including historical, superanatural romance, non-fiction, mystery and even good old-fashioned fantasy. A little something for everyone!
But first a look at why danser avec des ours down in Oberon's Wood is a good thing indeed...
For the longest time this year, summer fluttered her wings against the panes of spring. Now, sunlight lingers long and hot. Afternoons stretch like thrice-pulled saltwater taffy, and the days here at the Green Man have become the drowsy, heat-sleepy days of our warmest season. There is no doubt, when the air is heavy and breath comes languid from the lungs -- warmth exhaled into warmth, drawn in as warmth again -- that those fluttering wings have long since spread, unfurled across the land and become the too-heavy blanket of unfettered summer.
What does one do when the mind and body fall prey to the slow, hot haze of summer days? One waits, of course. One waits for the sun to sink, and for the stars to creep into his vacant seat. One watches the moon rise to hang low and globular in the nighttime sky like overripe fruit, illuminating all of Oberon's wood. And when the hands of the clock in the Green Man hall meet in the middle of Time -- at midnight -- one goes to the party.
You may not have realized you were invited: you may not have paid close enough attention to your dreams of late. That's how such invitations are customarily delivered; in dreams. In fact, you're invited every year, though also never, as Time shows far less consideration for human convention inside dreams and the realm of the Consort to the Faerie Queen.
But perhaps you have attended our parties, after all. It may simply be that later, waking, you dismissed your recollections as mere fancy, or the common (if dreams are ever common) workings of a mind at sleep. Perhaps you recall dancing with a particularly fine gentleman of a bear? The one in the lavender waistcoat? His great, huge paws rested gentle as thistledown upon your shoulders, and he led you in a most divine waltz beneath the trees. (Though he's not quite so light upon his feet as the sylph; who would be?)
No? If it wasn't the bear with whom you danced, might it have been the undine? Not you? Well, if you're sure. They have beautiful voices, those water nymphs, and there really is nothing quite so lovely as a midnight water-waltz on the banks of the old millpond in Oberon's wood. Enough Dragon's Breath Stout and a few turns about the pond, and a man could forget more or less everything he nearly thought he'd hardly ever remembered, almost...
This year we're keeping the festivities simple. Our twelve bands have been booked, both human and fey (and three who refuse to be classified as either). The instruments await: the pennywhistle, the concertina, the dulcimer, the zither. The autoharp, the theremin, the ocarina and the drum. This year there are mad rumors of an invisible gargantuan harpsichord, to be played by a thousand invisible fingers.
But rumors are just that. Such an appearance (so to speak) remains highly unlikely, in the main.
If good food is what you seek, our twelve over-burdened wicker hampers have been packed. (The things are massive! Someone -- we won't say who -- wanted to hire a dozen elephants to bear the load! Elephants, in Oberon's Wood! Perish the thought. The Ents were more than happy to volunteer for the task, once the need was made clear.) When entering the fey-touched realms, one usually feels more comfortable taking food with, though there are plenty here at the Green Man who scoff at the dangers. In fact, more than one on the Green Man staff has been seen to consume quite copious amounts of fey-wrought food, and even more copious amounts of intoxicating beverages of questionable origin. We've not lost anyone yet for more than a fortnight, to our knowledge. Faerie prerogative? Perhaps. You're more than welcome to come find out for yourself; to each his -- or her -- own. As has already been explained, you're always invited, and never. It's up to you.
David Kidney, Master Reviewer and Music Production Editor, here speaking to you from his desk, just before leaving on two weeks' holiday. As we prepare for our vacation to Manhattan, the excitement is palpable. We have our currency exchanged, and the clothes we're going to take are in the laundry hamper, ready to be washed, and packed. I bought myself an MP3 player, finally, after what seems like years of ignoring them, and then weeks of selecting the right one...and I've spent those same weeks creating a playlist, that would suit me on this trip. Trouble is...there's just so darn much music out there. I went with a 4 GB player because 500 songs just wasn't enough. Every time I thought I had it figured out, I'd browse through my CD collection and see another album or two that just HAD to be represented!
And that's a big part of the challenge of writing for GMR. There's new stuff coming in every week, nay, virtually every DAY! Look at the list of musical offerings our staff has reviewed this time...
Donna Bird leads off this batch of music reviews with some Scottish accordion music. I have to confess, I thought there was a typo in the headline, but...nope...it's The Sensational Jimi Shandrix Experience and the album is called Electric Landlady. Donna was confused too...'The band's name, the album title and the very strange cover art, somewhere between psychedelic and Weird Al Yankovic, confused the hell out of those of us who are old enough to remember Electric Ladyland, the 1968 masterpiece by the Jimi Hendrix Experience.' Anyway...once we all got that sorted out...there was a rush to borrow Donna's copy of Shandrix's CD. Read her review to discover why!
Denise Dutton has a look at another of Raven Records' re-issue two-fers. This time it's Gary Stewart and Dean Dillon, Brotherly Love / Those Were the Days. Their brand of honky-tonk seems to have sparked Denise somewhat, 'You can almost smell the sawdust and beer...this CD has me up for some good old low-down music myself. I'll be the gal in the back of the joint picking out certain George Jones songs on the jukebox 'til the band of the night's next set comes along.' Read the whole review here.
My first CD review this issue is of the newly expanded, re-issued tribute to my favourite cowboy. The Riders In The Sky released Public Cowboy #1 ten years ago, but 2007 is Gene Autry's centennial, so they added a track or two, some new artwork, liner notes, and put this one back on the market. Is it any good? Well, you'll have to read my review , but I'll give you a hint, 'If you remember Gene Autry and the days of the classic western -- or if you just want to relax to some quiet, if a bit hokey, music -- this is just the ticket.'
Then I listened to 70s Soul which is one title in a new series called Number 1s. That's right 1s. The big numeral 1 is the sign you've found the right series. The digit is cutout as part of the cover design for each of the individual CDs. I liked this one because it 'is filled with 18 funky tunes, and not necessarily the ones you might be expecting.' Read my review to find out which ones (1s) they picked!
Peter Massey writes about something that's not a folk album, but definitely worth a listen. And that's Catherine Howe's Princelet Street about which Peter says, 'I asked to review this album...only because 30 years ago I used to park in Princelet Street and indeed I recall getting a parking fine for doing so...Princelet Street... is...only really famous for being the stalking ground of Jack the Ripper!' Turns out, the album isn't about Jack, it's not about parking tickets either...but...well, why'n't you read for yourself what Peter says about it.
Mr. Massey also writes about some new Canadian music, Terry Tufts' The Better Fight, and he has some Tufts' inspired suggestions for how you might dispose of it, if you don't enjoy it. You can read all about them in the review here, but based on Peter's comments about the, 'new wave, contemporary acoustic folk style on the rest of the album, which is essentially very North American and easy listening...put[s] me in mind of Tom Paxton and Gordon Lightfoot with a nice clear concise delivery that never sounds strained,' you're advised to read the whole review.
Next up is Danansooz At Last CD, reviewed by Lars Nilsson. He confesses that while '...there are a few lows as well on the record...this a good debut album by any standards...they might even establish themselves as a big name on the folk scene. I am already waiting for the next one.' Don't know Danansooz? Find out about them here.
Lars tackled >Music from a Small Island by Simon Mayor with Hilary James for his next assignment. He says, '...if you like real people playing real music without worrying a second about what is popular or fashionable...' then this might be an album for you. Read the rest of what he said, here.
Here's a couple of albums of Welsh music also reviewed by Lars. Allan Yn Y Fan's Belonging and Aros by Delyth Jenkins are both recommended by Lars. He says, 'it is difficult to pick out individual tracks...[but] it works very well as a whole,' about Belonging and that Jenkins's album is 'filled with great tunes and lovely performances.' But to read the details, you'll need to go thisaway.
If you were wondering about a definition of what a lullaby is, you might want to check out Lars's look at Kelly Hood (and friends) Little Woolly Lullabyes. 'Here we have an album of...lullabies, in this case Scottish and Irish ones, with the bagpipes, an instrument that once was used to get signals through to troops during raging battles, as one of the main instruments. Am I missing something?' Go here to find out what Lars missed.
Lars Nilsson might have missed loud lullabyes but he sure got the CDs in the mail. He reviews Eddi Reader's Peacetime too. '[She] must be one of the greatest singers of our time.' Lars declares 'With more than 20 years of experience from rock, folk-rock and folk, and with more than a little jazzy influences in her music it is a wonder that she has remained a secret for the vast majority of the CD-buying public.' Well, judging by Lars' review she won't remain a secret much longer. Read his rave here.
And there you have it, a batch of new releases to ease the summer doldrums. Pour yourself a tall cold one, and settle back with any of these CDs. Me? I'm busy adding a couple of tracks from Public Cowboy #1 to my MP3 player. After that, I'm gonna borrow that Lullabyes disc...
Orla Melling has a reading recommendation for all of us: 'The Endicott Studio's summer edition of the Journal of Mythic Arts is up and it is, as always, a treasure trove of stories, poetry, critical essays, and fabulous illustrations. This edition is specially dedicated to Young Adult fiction and they've included excerpts from The Light-Bearer's Daughter accompanied by two beautiful pictures. Do pop over and have a look (at all of it, I mean, not just my bit!) here. I'm going to make myself a cup of tea and sit down for a great read.' Our review of Melling's The Chronicles Of Faerie are thisaway.
From the liner notes to Y Ffordd I Aberystwyth (The Road to Aberystwyth), the new recording from Robin Huw Bowen which we will be reviewing in the first edition in September. The liner notes go on to say that 'The selections on the CD are a celebration of the 20+ years he's been touring, with each track dedicated to friends and family, musicians he has worked with. The music includes hornpipes and Gypsy tunes as well as gigs and waltzes. Where would Welsh harp music be today if Robin was still working in the library rather than touring the world and spreading the word on this music?'
Updated 13.00 Hours, 29 July by The Old Man