3 January 2004
Here's what you'll find on the What's New page at Rambles, your best
source on the Internet for roots and traditional music, fiction,
folklore and movie reviews!
Go to http://www.rambles.net to access the new edition and much, much
more! (Our archives now contain more than 6,000 reviews, interviews and
other bits of excitement.) See you there!
Welcome to 2004!! We hope that the coming year is in every way better
than the year before!!
Virginia MacIsaac takes us back to Cape Breton for another installment
of our comprehensive coverage of the Celtic Colours festival. This
week, she takes us to the Guitar Summit in Judique, where J.P. Cormier,
John Doyle, Dave MacIsaac, Scott MacMillan and Anna Massie put their
talents on display.
Andy Jurgis takes us along to see the Kate Rusby Band perform at the
Nantwich Folk & Roots Festival in Cheshire, England. "There is no
doubting the richness and subtlety of Rusby's voice -- a quite
remarkable talent -- and her singing and guitar playing was faultless,"
Still feeling a bit of holiday spirit -- or ready to get the jump on
the coming year? The musicians on Christmas Around the World have
"tapped into the joyous energy of Christmastime," says Sarah Meador.
"With the earnest, barely restrained exuberance of a child who can't
wait for the big day, these artists put their own bright polish on old
standards, spreading an infectious, honest energy that will drown out
any number of forced ad jingles and elevator treatments of favorite
Fonnmhor, a Michigan-based Celtic band, "wastes no time in exhibiting
its perfectly balanced, tightly knit sound" on its self-titled debut,
Tom Knapp says. You'll never guess what nontraditional idea has him
intrigued the most about this album!
The Sheiling sings about The Shape I'm In, and Nicky Rossiter is very
pleased with this Welsh band's sound. "Once upon a time Tom Jones was
the voice of Wales and before him Harry Secombe; now we have another
'Jones the Song' in Dylan Jones," Nicky says.
David Cox brings his knowledge of Welsh folk music to bear in his
review of The Rough Guide to the Music of Wales: Harps, Bards & Gwerin
Sounds. See David's review for his praise of the high points -- and his
questions about what was left off of this popular collection.
Anuna, best known for its performance in Riverdance, explores medieval
Irish music in this early self-titled CD. "This is a very different
take on Celtic music, and includes vast amounts of classical and
(obviously) medieval music," says Jean Price. "But this is no fancy
tenor belting out "Danny Boy." These are beautifully arranged,
well-performed renditions of songs that may otherwise be lost."
Tigerlily explores new styles with traditional instruments on the
Norwegian band's self-titled CD. "In a setting like this, words like
'traditional' and 'modern' become meaningless," says Jennifer Hanson.
"The voice of each instrument reverts to being a pure sound beyond
classifications such as 'digital' or 'acoustic.'"
Boris Kovac & Ladaaba Orchest respond with music to the violence in
their world on Ballads at the End of Time: La Danza Apocalypsa
Balcanica #2. "This is one of the best albums I've heard this year,"
says Ron Bierman. "It's about the day after the apocalypse and the
nervous surprise at having survived."
Animus's self-titled CD is "an eclectic blend of contemporary and
traditional musical styles from the Mediterranean, Africa, the Middle
East and Latin America, with a pinch of jazz and rock," explains Carool
Kersten. "The novelty of Animus's music is further enhanced by the
Eleanor McEvoy revisits an early recording and adds a few extras for
this Special Edition, an album that includes English and Spanish
versions of her hit "A Woman's Heart." "The songs on offer are at times
heart-rending, as McEvoy seems to write very much from feelings of loss
and heartbreak," says Nicky. "Her songs are intelligent, heartfelt and
Amy Fradon shares her Small Town News, an album Nicky says "almost
defies classification as it ranges so easily among genres from
bluegrass through county, jazz to folk in the best possible way. Amy
Fradon is a name to watch, she could veer in any direction and be a
major star in any genre, including as a writer."
Kevin Patrick Baiko should stay away from rockabilly, Alicia Karen
Elkins warns, but on his new CD Fool's Gold he shows a talent for
gospel and folk. "He is a master of voices and characterization,"
Alicia says. "The humor in these folksongs is off-the-wall and
Nancy Apple shows her diverse singing styles on Shoulda Lied About
That. "Apple's music may be too eclectic for her ever to become a major
star in today's music scene," suggests Peter Harris, "but if you are
interested in alt-country and Americana and you like a twangy voice,
this is for you."
Sheri Lee has More Than Words to share on this CD. Sarah says "there's
no getting around it: this is just a strong, powerful dose of
folk-flavored country, with no apologies or distractions."
Sharon Shinn returns to Samaria with Angelica. "Not only does Shinn
tell a terrific story, but also the whole concept of how various
societies evolve and develop over 200 years is intriguing and
thought-provoking," says Donna Scanlon. "This is science fiction with
an anthropological and theological flair and certainly an inspired and
inspiring novel that is not only heavenly but thoroughly grounded in
Christopher Golden "brings a new twist to the vampire legend" in The
Shadow Saga, a book series continuing with The Gathering Dark. Read
Daniel Jolley's review to see the strengths -- and the weaknesses -- of
Golden's Shadow folk.
Marion Zimmer Bradley had completed the editing for Sword & Sorceress
XX, a fantasy anthology that has been guided by her hand since 1984,
shortly before her death. "This volume is a fitting memorial for
Bradley, who may be remembered as much for her discoveries of new
writers as for her own body of work," says Jennifer.
Juliet Marillier dips into Norse fantasy with Wolfskin. "She constructs
her plot with care and her writing is just magical," says Donna. "I
understand that this is the beginning of a series of novels, and I look
forward to reading more by this talented author." Hoopla, Donna, for
Frank Joseph fails to make his point in The Lost Treasure of King Juba:
The Evidence of Africans in America before Columbus, according to
Sarah. "Joseph follows a hypothetical crew of exiled Romans, Africans,
Celts, Christians and Jews across the oceans in extreme and unsupported
detail," she explains.
It's a "dark vision to be sure, but also the setting for a very
exciting, extremely different kind of comic book story," says Mark
Allen. Whither does he speak? The Foot Soldiers, a graphic novel set in
a world "where all heroes have been slain, all hope has been lost and
harsh law is enforced by human/mechanical hybrids."
Tim Hunter comes to America in Girl in the Box, the next in John Ney
Rieber's excellent Books of Magic series. "I suspect I'll be enjoying
Tim Hunter's adventures for a long time to come," Tom enthuses.
Susan Orlean's book The Orchid Thief is made into a movie, sort of, in
Adaptation, which is a movie about making a movie of a book.
"Adaptation mixes reality with fiction more readily, and with more
gusto, than just about anything else that's come along in recent
years," remarks Janine Kauffman.
Tom flashes back to a pivotal moment in his youth -- when Steven
Spielberg and Raiders of the Lost Ark redefined his concept of
action-adventure movies. "Spielberg didn't strive for deep meaning or
to break new ground with this one; it was and remains a boyish fantasy
that appeals to the wide-eyed child in all of us."
That's all for another day here at Rambles. Cheers!