8 April 2006
Here's what's new at Rambles.NET, 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 contain more than 8,800 reviews, interviews and
other bits of excitement.) See you there!
Scottish fiddler Aidan O'Rourke is Sirius about his music; despite
several ongoing band projects, he found time to release this new, solo
effort. "His playing is always lyrical, very expressive and very
passionate -- any reader who's seen his live performances will attest
to this," Debbie Koritsas says. "The arrangements are expansive and
full of life -- intensely melodious fiddle tunes are swept along by
stirring snatches of trombone and saxophone, the most robust rhythms,
and it's music you can dance to -- lovely, stirring tunes that are
filled with joie de vivre, inspired by Swedish and German folk
festivals, and gentler, more ambient tunes inspired by people, beaches,
Fathom plays the Pollution Blues on a Celtic rock CD that, according to
reviewer Charlie Ricci, doesn't come together. "Fathom generates a lot
of energy on this CD, which is a good thing, but I was disappointed
because energy is all this band offers," he says. "The mandolin is so
dominant that the rest of the band appears to consist of nothing more
than sidemen, and that doesn't wash when your lead player is
Mark Dunn goes for the softer side of music with Return to Peace: A
Celtic Journey Through Central America. "Return to Peace is firmly new
age, having both the advantages and drawbacks of that genre. Dunn's
instrumentals are relaxing and often beautiful," Dave Howell says. "On
the other hand, the whole CD is so smooth that nothing seems to stand
out, and a few of the cuts are undistinguished as generic Celtic
Johnny Coppin climbs The Winding Stair with a Celtic/folk CD that
"quickly shot up to the top" of Wil Owen's CD rotation. "The songs are
a collection of original work as well as a few of his favorites from
England, Ireland, Scotland and the U.S.A.," Wil says. "All the songs
are enjoyable. I don't see how you could be disappointed unless you
don't care for Celtic or folk music."
Michael Egan is coming to you Live at Studio 51. "I like this blending
of old and new styles," Nicky Rossiter says, "which could be great for
introducing an older generation to modern music while letting new
listeners hear a sound of the not-too-distant past."
Mark Stepakoff offers "humorous songs with a bite" on There Goes the
Neighborhood, Nicky says. "The saying goes that we should hide our
profound messages in the long grass. Mark hides his in humour and it
hits home all the more powerfully for that."
Margie Adam makes her mark with Portal. "The two-disc CD/DVD set
features instrumentals filled with superb, inspired playing," Virginia
MacIsaac says. "I'm not one to go out of my way to listen to a piano
concert, but this lady has a touch that kept me listening from the very
Howard Gladstone is burning Candles on the River, and his folk lyrics
touched Virginia's heart. "Though his music is more complex than a lot
of folk styles, his lyrics, his voice and the slow, flowing rhythm that
is consistent all the way through the CD is basically a heart-warming
melody," she says. "It's not quite as sweet as maple syrup -- more like
the warm burst of a blueberry when you bite into the pancake. And no
matter what your station, regardless of your fears, your failures, your
hopes or awards, eating a warm blueberry pancake is a fine, large human
The Gibson Brothers post a Red Letter Day with this new bluegrass CD
from Sugar Hill. "A Gibson Brothers CD is always a treat," Jerome Clark
says. "In no sense merely another bluegrass band, theirs boasts a
distinctive personality, an emphasis not on instrumental flash but on
melodic songcraft -- their own and judiciously selected covers -- and
sweetly expressive harmonies. It isn't exactly traditional, but it
feels a far cry back from Alison Krauss's bluegrass-inflected pop."
Jesse Cook pays a visit to Montreal for an eclectic blend of music.
"Think Gipsy Kings doing samba from Kashmir, at a jazz festival, and
you've pretty much got it," says David Cox. "A fine guitar player and,
to judge by the audience reaction, a true showman, Cook brings together
fine musicians and the music of many lands on this live treat."
Rory Gallagher made his mark in music. "Rory was a one-man Plant and
Page, a man possessed of the spirit of Robert Johnson, but a man born
in Donegal and raised in Cork. While Van the Man's poetic championing
became ever more distant, Rory was always real," Sean Walsh says.
"Songs & Stories: New York Remembers Rory Gallagher looks at the
tribute paid to Rory by a number of mainly Irish-American musicians in
New York's The Bottom Line club on Oct. 23, 2002. ... It sounds like a
cliche, but the gig seemed to have made some kind of spiritual
connection with the late, great hero, and his spirit comes through the
musicians' performances. I know, I know, but it's true."
Edrick Thay provides examples illustrating a controversial phenomenon
in Premonitions & Psychic Warnings: Real Stories of Haunting
Predictions. "The five chapters of Premonitions & Psychic Warnings
present 38 accounts of people of all ages who report psychic
experiences, either their own direct premonitions or those received via
a psychic," Laurie Thayer says. "Some of the language is a bit
sensational, but the book makes no effort to convert non-believers,
leaving that choice up to the reader."
Jennifer Crusie brings together varied schools of thought on Flirting
With Pride & Prejudice: Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-Lit
Masterpiece. "As someone new to the cult of Jane Austen (I just read
Pride & Prejudice for the first time last year), I found this entire
book fascinating for the different perspectives offered," Laurie Thayer
states. "I'm sure even long-time Janeites will find something new and
enjoyable in these pages."
The fiction section today focuses on some new material on the shelves,
as well as some notable novels from bygone days.
Julian May provides the next installment of The Boreal Moon Tale with
Ironcrown Moon. "Ironcrown Moon takes a different tack from many
fantasies; instead of overthrowing a tyrant, we see a man -- who may
have begun with the best of intentions -- slowly becoming one," Laurie
Thayer says. "It presents an interesting choice for the reader."
Charles Dodd supplies understated science fiction in Code 18. "Dodd
brings us face to face with a very real possible disaster scenario,"
Nicky Rossiter explains. "Dodd reminds us in a fast-paced thriller that
our lives would be crippled by the loss of electrically controlled
equipment. But he goes further in letting us know that the potential is
there for terrorists, criminals or others to use what he terms an
e-bomb to induce such social paralysis."
Katya Reimann blows a Wind from a Foreign Sky in the first book of The
Tielmaran Chronicles. "Reimann's debut novel, Wind from a Foreign Sky,
is surprising in its thorough world-building and exciting (and even)
pace," says Jennifer Mo. "The well-developed religion and geography are
fascinatingly different; equally interesting is the system of magic."
Robert Jordan spins The Wheel of Time for The Eye of the World. "The
Eye of the World, the first book of this substantial series, introduces
characters and concepts that, while familiar in all the fun ways
without being derivative or mundane, never fail to amuse, amaze or even
affright," Stephen Richmond says. "Working with the elements of the
great hero story, Jordan tells of a grand journey with lots of
adventure along the way, experienced by a set of characters to whom
everyone can relate."
Alfred Bester crafted a science-fiction classic for his generation with
The Stars My Destination. "It's one of the most influential novels of
the 1950s, but how many people have really heard of it?" Theo deRoth, a
new Rambles.NET reviewer, explains. "And where many science fiction
novels have become dated, this one remains remarkably fresh. Even its
gutter slang -- something that never seems to wear well -- seems at
James Patterson wants to Kiss the Girls in this new audiobook version
of a 10-year-old novel and 8-year-old movie about detective Alex Cross.
"I generally enjoy Patterson's Cross series. His other novels are hit
or miss for me, but the Cross series is, for the most part, good," Wil
Owen says. "This audiobook, unfortunately, is one to be avoided."
Mark Allen is embroiled in Space Wars fomented by comics legend Steve
Ditko. "Ditko, a long-time fan favorite in the comic book world, has
always seemed to have a knack for originality, and Space Wars is a
perfect example of that trait," says Mark. "Extremely talented, and
with a singular style seen nowhere else, he seemed to have the ability
to marry said style to any genre in the medium of comics."
Tom Knapp plays along with the Super-Buddies, Formerly Known as the
Justice League. "A dark, gritty and violent atmosphere pervaded many
comic-book titles in the 1980s," Tom says. But, he adds, "where most
comics were grim, these JL books were whimsical. The heroes were
fallible, lusty, irritating and sometimes easily annoyed, occasionally
cowardly and almost always goofy."
Reading Marville was a mistake, Tom warns. "Unfortunately, the book by
Bill Jemas is so busy trying to be clever and patting itself on the
back for its obvious references to DC, Marvel and real-life icons that
it forgets to come up with a plot and eliminates any pretense of
character growth," he explains. "Trust me, if you find one chuckle
here, make it last -- 'cause you'll need it for the rest of the book."
Chris McCallister breaks on through to the other side with The
Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe. "They aimed
for greatness ... and I think they hit that target," he says. "I
thought that the makers of the Harry Potter films had done a good job
finding talented young actors and actresses, but this film might just
surpass that series with the performances of the four leads."
Daniel Jolley shares a taste of Chocolat. "With its exotic yet familiar
feel, beguiling music and focus on truly human characters, the movie
stands as an oasis in the middle of the desert we call life," he says.
"There are some really poignant moments as the film draws near to a
conclusion, and in the end you're left with something tangible, a
renewed spirit. Maybe it's just for a few moments, but you stop and
think about the truly important things in life."
That's all for today here at Rambles.NET. Come again soon!