2 August 2008
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 11,000 reviews, interviews and
other bits of excitement.) See you there!
Bowfire is Live in Concert. "If you haven't heard of Bowfire, it's a
group of 10 of the world's top fiddle players in every genre from
classical to Chinese," Becky Kyle says. "What I am most impressed with
is the sound quality of this CD. For a live recording, the rendition
of the strings sounds particularly good on everything from my laptop
to my car stereo. Even if you don't care for live music, you will hear
so little of the audience -- only applause at the end of the tracks --
that you will lose yourself in the joy of the music and just want to
Bruce Holmes "is a teacher, science-fiction author and award-winning
songwriter who at one time wanted to be one of the Beatles. Instead,
Illinois resident Bruce Holmes turned his hand to folk music,"
Sherrill Fulghum says. "Holmes' debut CD, Life's an Intelligence Test,
is a collection of mostly original folk and Celtic-styled songs. ...
Holmes produces songs that at times are real tearjerkers that can
rival the best country music has to offer."
Peter Cooper throws open the Mission Door to a mixed review. "Cooper
is a fine songwriter, with a wide variety of subjects and approaches,"
says Michael Scott Cain. "When it comes to singing, though, Cooper is
not as strong. He comes across as too laid-back, too polite. Songs
that need to be given an anthemlike treatment are merely sung. You
keep waiting for the energy to kick in and it doesn't. ... Mission
Door is well worth hearing and I hope it gets a wide reception, but I
fear it's going to wind up as a sort of demo that other singers will
raid for cuts on their own CDs."
Ronny Elliott slaps a coat of Jalopypaint on his ninth recording.
"Elliott's point of view may be skeptical, but it is never cynical.
It's always engaged with its subject and with life's circumstances,
tragic or merely lamentable, in general," Jerome Clark says. "If none
of Jalopypaint's songs quite measure up to the finest and most
memorable ones on Hep, that's only because Elliott is so good that his
only competition is himself. He suffers the misfortune, sadly, of
being in that class of great living American songwriters unheard by
Americans. An America that listened to Ronny Elliott would surely be a
The Near Myths have Words to Burn in a recording the band calls a
"tuneful and eccentric mix of folk, rock, pop, country and blues,
featuring compelling lyrics," says Michael Scott Cain. "What I heard
in this CD was not an eclectic mix of good stuff, but a set of dull
and mundane pop tunes featuring five singers, all of whom appear to be
singing high harmony so they sometimes seem to be going in different
directions. ... What they call compelling, I'd call everyday, overly
familiar and cliched. Sorry, but I just can't respond to what the Near
Myths are offering."
Yvonne Lyon asks A Thousand Questions Why on this folk-rock recording.
"I can really get in to this type of folk-rock and will confess I have
found myself playing this CD multiple times over the course of a day,"
Wil Owen says. "If Yvonne had the backup of big-record marketing, she
very well could be the next Sarah McLachlan. I have no doubt!"
Randy McAllister serves up a steamin' bowl of Dope Slap Soup for the
blues fan. "He's a Texas based singer-songwriter with a funky gospel
blues sound that is going to strike a chord with fans of many music
genres," Becky Kyle remarks. "McAllister's got some strong messages
that are going to appeal to the human condition as well. You listen
with a laugh and a wry headshake. And yes, sometimes you want to
shout, 'Amen, brother!'"
Ellen Rawson had the good fortune to take in a Bella Hardy performance
featuring Chris Sherburn of Last Night's Fun in Basingstoke, England.
"Traditional ballads were the focus of the night," Ellen says.
"However, it's not just Hardy's voice and fiddle that made the
show. ... The two of them were almost a comedy act on stage, with
Sherburn's wry, droll wit making comments at just the right moment."
Judith Owen is a bit of an eccentric Welsh singer, and writer Gwen
Orel had a chance to see her perform and sit backstage afterwards for
a chat. Gwen describes Owen's music as "a terrific blend of jazz, pop
and folk-rock. It's moody, angry, compassionate, easy to listen to,
hard to categorize -- imagine Kate Bush without the whimsy." Read all
about it right here!
Mel Odom sees a grim future in Hellgate: London: Exodus, in which a
rift opens over London and "in comes a horde of horrifying creatures
that methodically and rapidly devastate the city, killing anyone they
catch and transforming areas of London into a nightmarish swamp of
bubbling acid pools." Odom, Chris McCallister says, "provides a
complicated plot, rich with detail and populated by three-dimensional
characters, yet the pace remains quite fast, with no slow spots. Some
of the action scenes are almost overwhelming, especially near the end
of the book. Another aspect I like is the characters have moments of
reflection during which they work to reconcile what they are doing
with what they believe."
Frewin Jones strolls further along The Faerie Path with The Sorcerer
King and Tania, the seventh daughter of King Oberon and Queen Titania.
"Tania is a strong, determined heroine, yet still a little confused
about her two identities: Mortal teenager and Faerie princess. Her
feelings are conveyed well and make her a likable character, as does
her agonizing over the dilemma presented by two sets of loved
parents," says Laurie Thayer. "The Sorcerer King is a quickly paced
young-adult novel. But, as it is the third in the series and very
dependent on the preceding books (The Faerie Path and The Lost Queen),
I do not recommend beginning with it."
Carrie Vaughn is off to Denver with Kitty & the Silver Bullet. "Vaughn
does some of the best world-building in urban fantasy today. She's
taken very logical steps with cause and effect to generate some very
plausible scenarios in how a post-paranormal world would develop,"
says Becky Kyle. "Her character development is also stellar."
Ann Rinaldi takes us back to the Salem witch trials in her novel A
Break with Charity. "If you know your history, you know how it all
turns out. But ... I cannot imagine reading this book without feeling
a sense of dread the people then must have experienced, the constant
terror that they or their families might soon be touched by the
madness," Tom Knapp says. "Historians will probably never know the
complete truth of the Salem hysteria, but Rinaldi has captured its
Sybil G. Brinton dabbles in the classics with Old Friends & New
Fancies: The Imaginary Sequel to the Novels of Jane Austen. "While it
stretches credulity that all of Austen's many characters should have
known one another, Brinton manages to pull it off," Laurie Thayer
says. "And what is the story? Love, of course. Will she have him? Will
he propose? Has he set his sights on the wrong girl? Will her past
continue to haunt her? And will Emma ever learn to stop
matchmaking? ... Old Friends & New Fancies is utterly charming and
difficult to put down -- were it not for that pesky day job and
occasionally needing to sleep, I'd've finished it in one sitting --
and at 377 pages, that's saying something!"
Jeffrey Eugenides gets into Middlesex with a "coming-of-age story
about a (genetically speaking) male coming to terms with his ambiguous
genitalia," Eric Hughes says. "The book is unlike any other piece of
fiction I have ever come across. ... Though only Eugenides' second
novel to date -- The Virgin Suicides precedes it -- Middlesex is
Eugenides at his best. It is a high achievement in fiction writing,
and will be near impossible to beat should Eugenides publish a third
Ron Marz continues his reinvention of Witchblade in Awakenings, Tom
Knapp says. "While the last bit is mostly filler -- a wonderful
assemblage of artists notwithstanding -- the book otherwise shows
Witchblade still climbing in promise as Marz shakes the heroine free
of her cheesecake image. These stories are solid and entertaining, and
Sara Pezzini is growing rapidly into a mature character with staying
Tom likes what Steve Niles has done with vampires over at IDW. "He's
redefined a tired horror cliche into something new that, while I doubt
it will ever replace the majority view of vampires, has injected some
new life into the genre. So, when he had a chance to work with A-list
character Batman over at DC, who'd he bring to the party? Zombies."
Trek out with Batman to the Gotham County Line if you must, Tom says.
"OK, so maybe Niles is stuck in an undead rut, but if he can give us
some solid Batman storytelling, it's all good. Right? We'll never
know, with Gotham County Line as the evidence, 'cause this book is
Marvel Comics set a lofty goal but fell short in the execution of Last
Hero Standing, Tom says. "Set in the misty, uncertain future of
Marvel'sSpider-Girl and Fantastic Five titles, Last Hero Standing is
an attempt to recapture the climactic, end-game potency of past tales
like The Last Avengers Story or DC Comics' Kingdom Come. But Last Hero
Standing just doesn't have the juice needed to bring it home."
Karen Houle gets poetically philosophical in During. "It explores
ideas, particularly those of continuity, of -- as the press release
says -- being in process and of seeing through," says Michael Scott
Cain. "You can see that her images are fresh, her connections mainly
implied and that, if she makes demands on her readers, she offers a
lot in return. Ready slowly, attentively, with a little reflection on
each poem, and Karen Houle will reward you."
Women share their moments in Water Cooler Diaries: Women Across
America Share Their Day at Work, edited by Joni B. Cole and B.K.
Rakhra. "These glimpses into other women's lives are extraordinary,"
Laurie Thayer says. "Some of the diarists work in very nontraditional
jobs, and following them through their day is simply fascinating. But
one thing revealed is that no matter how disparate women's lives and
occupations may be, there are often more similarities than differences."
Ready for another movie? Becky Kyle is ready to roll the video for
Set on the Pine Ridge Reservation, the movie has a great deal to teach
about Native American folklore and culture. "The imagery on this 180-
minute special is amazing," Becky says. "Director Steve Barron has
gone to a lot of trouble to create a mystical landscape for the
stories to take place and the work far exceeds any made-for-TV
production I've ever seen."
Alicia Karen Elkins heads back to the 1980s for a horror classic
called Wolfen. "If you want a horror movie to scare the stuffing out
of you, get Wolfen. It will terrify you, make your heart pound, make
you hold your breath and send chills up and down your spine," she says
with great enthusiasm. "Someday, Wolfen will be considered a horror
classic and a pioneer in werewolf photographic manipulations. For now,
simply consider it a must-see, super-scary movie!"
Bunches more is on the way!
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