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6 December 2008

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  • Tom Knapp
    Hello!! 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
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 5, 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 12,000 reviews, interviews and
      other bits of excitement.) See you there!

      First up today, Lorie Line is back with another holiday selection,
      titled Sharing the Season, Vol. 2: Piano Instrumentals. "Combining
      familiar songs with the not-so, she is accompanied here by a few
      musicians that lend a varied touch to the keyboard-based
      instrumentation," Corinne Smith says. "This will always be my favorite
      Lorie Line album, because it was the first one I ever owned -- at
      first, on cassette. I now have two CD copies, one for the house and
      one for the car. This music is the perfect accompaniment to decorating
      the tree, looking out the window at a light-snowfall day, or driving
      to Grandma's house for the feast disguised as dinner."

      Celtic Woman is on The Greatest Journey in music, Nicky Rossiter says.
      "Here are the female superheroes of Celtic music -- Lisa, Chloe,
      Mairead, Alex, Orla and Lynne, along with some of the top professional
      musicians available on these shores -- with a gem of an album," he
      insists. "The ladies of Celtic Woman achieve the almost impossible in
      taking on Enya's 'Orinoco Flow,' probably one of the tracks most tied
      to the original performer, and giving it a new life."

      Linda Welby has A Story to Tell. "From the opening track, 'The Galway
      Fiddler,' Linda Welby sets a scene and continues through the other 11
      tracks on A Story to Tell -- the vocal offerings in particular -- to
      recount stories, just as the album title suggests," Nicky says. "The
      singer/songwriter lists her influences ranging from Sean Keane to Pat
      Boone, and her output on this album certainly gives evidence of this.
      She is not corralled into a particular genre and as such will appeal
      to a very wide audience. In addition many of the songs have the
      strength to become hits for some more established artists."

      Joanna Newsom misses her mark with The Milk-Eyed Mender. "The subject
      matter: ballads, startling metaphors and mythological allusions. The
      instrumentation: harp, piano and harpsichord.The Milk-Eyed Mender is
      defiantly unclassifiable and hyperbolically artsy," says Jennifer Mo.
      "This one's right up the alley of the serious music fan in your life.
      You know the type -- the more avant-garde-than-thou person who sneers
      at anything that isn't atonal, obscure, indie and impossible to like
      on first listen."

      Rachel Harrington finds a City of Refuge for her listeners.
      "Understated and precise, City of Refuge casts an almost hypnotic
      spell in its finest moments, and there are many of them," Jerome Clark
      remarks. "With her band, whose membership includes Tim O'Brien on
      fiddle and regular accompanist Zak Borden on mandolin and guitar,
      Harrington fashions gorgeous, spiraling melodies topped by lyrics of
      startling originality and power."

      Peter Verity offers the "perfect soundtrack for anyone interested in
      contemporary Canadian folk music" on Sometimes a Journey, Corinne
      Smith says. "True to the CD title, Verity takes us on a circuitous
      musical journey around the North America continent, via his voice and
      his guitar. A small band of musicians provides background
      instrumentation and vocals."

      Justin Roth is ready and willing to Shine. "The silver voice of Justin
      Roth is just as provocative as his guitar accompaniment. His poetic
      song lyrics combined with the finesse of his guitar picking add up to
      a successful CD," Virginia MacIsaac says. "With eight very decent
      songs and two captivating instrumentals, I'd recommend Shine as a sure
      addition to the shelves of those who like modern folk served up with
      velvety vocals, incredible guitar structures and atypical but
      discerning lyrics."

      Virginia MacIsaac continues our Celtic Colours coverage with Common
      Ground: Carlos Nunez' Celtic Journey in Port Hawkesbury. "Host Nunez,
      a musician from Galicia, was here for the fourth year to participate
      in the festival, and his energetic presence continued to impress," she
      says. "Dressed in stark white while performing against the black
      Celtic Colours' backdrop, he reflected the music emanating from all
      areas of the stage and orchestrated its flow to the audience with
      rhythmic body movements, even while he wasn't playing." Other
      performers included the Blue Engine String Quartet, J.P. Cormier,
      Annie Ebrel, Gaiteros de La Habana, Corrina Hewat, Jerry Holland and
      Sabra MacGillivray.

      Paul Headrick digs into the merits of Bing vs. Frank in That Tune
      Clutches My Heart. "That Tune Clutches My Heart is an entertaining
      book that will leave readers contemplating their own musical choices
      and reminiscing about their own teenage years. It is a perfect
      offering for a book discussion group or for use in high school or
      college English classes," Corinne Smith says. "Author Paul Headrick
      leaves us with loose ends and much food for thought."

      Jonathan Carroll bears the heart and soul of The Ghost in Love. "The
      book involves swift, often unexpected trips into the past, picnics
      with one's selves, flashbacks, introspections, negotiations,
      conversations with splintered character flaws, hiding in a closet,
      vivid memories, a perfect date at a fancy Chinese restaurant, zouk,
      burnt marshmallows, theological evolutions and a painted rock," Tom
      Knapp says. "It's a love story, a ghost story, a philosophical yarn
      and a cautionary tale. And that's not even the half of it."

      Holly Lisle shows a little Sympathy for the Devil in this outing. "It
      addresses a serious subject, but it's also one of the funniest and
      flat-out best novels from author Holly Lisle," Becky Kyle remarks.
      "Just pick up the book and read the first page. If you're not laughing
      out loud enough to embarrass yourself, thenSympathy for the Devil is
      not the book for you."

      Peter Ackroyd "is an undisputed expert on London and a number of its
      literary inhabitants. He has written prolifically on subjects ranging
      from transvestism in Dressing Up to Notes on New Culture with
      biography, brief lives and many fine fiction titles added," says Nicky
      Rossiter. The Lambs of London "is one of those fiction titles. ...
      Writing a novel based on real events is a blessing and a curse. The
      bones of the narrative are already in place, but woe betide any who
      deviates too much from known fact. However, Ackroyd is so steeped in
      the history and lore of London that there was little chance he might
      stray from the facts. In fact, he knows the city and its past so well
      he manages to transport the reader to a very real and vivid
      streetscape. This novel evokes a London that disappeared centuries ago."

      Ian McEwan has The Daydreamer to share. "This is a light-hearted set
      of linked stories about a boy, Peter, between the ages of 10 and 12,
      who is a chronic daydreamer. Sometimes, this results in big problems,
      and sometimes it results in ... knowledge and understanding," Chris
      McCallister says. "At first glance, I wondered if this were a
      children's book, and it could be used that way. I can imagine parents,
      or grandparents or aunts or uncles, reading this book along with
      children, ages 4 through 10, but I think it is mainly to help remind
      adults of the power of imagination, including the potential for growth
      and for damage."

      Many comic-book heroes "have spent decades forgotten on a dusty shelf
      for good reason. Some are silly concepts, others wear ludicrous
      costumes, and most don't have the wherewithal to make it in the 21st
      century," Tom Knapp says. "Of this, writer J. Michael Straczynski
      seems well aware. And yet, he unearthed a dozen risable heroes from
      the World War II era -- and made it work." Read Tom's review ofThe
      Twelve to learn more.

      Zorro makes a triumphant entrance in The Lady Wears Red. "This
      collection, published in 1998 by Image Comics, reprints a trilogy of
      comics first printed earlier that decade by Topps. It is satisfyingly
      brimming with clever whip and rapier work, verbal ripostes and
      swashbucklery of the Old West variety," Tom says. "The action is
      thrilling and the dialogue is even better. This is a crisp, fun story
      that deserves to come back into print, and soon. The only problem in
      this case is that, despite the fine artwork by Mike Mayhew, the book
      would only improve with color."

      Mark Allen rounds out today's trio with Zinc Alloy collections Super
      Zero and Revealed. "As a parent, I want my children to enjoy reading.
      As a comics fan, I want more young readers drawn to the hobby. Zinc
      Alloy could help on both counts," Mark says. "Author Donald Lemke has
      created a character in Zack Allen to which most young children will be
      able to relate. He has also produced a story that is brimming with
      action, humor and the potential for great learning."

      Mary O'Brien is Dicing with the Tide in her new book of poems. "There
      is a saying that to meet a global audience, you are best to write
      about local subjects -- because in the end, everything is local,"
      Nicky Rossiter says. "In this slim volume of poetry, Mary O'Brien
      concentrates on town and parish, and in so doing she will strike
      chords in hearts from her chosen Wexford to Sydney to Santa Fe and to
      Moscow -- anywhere people who enjoy words and feelings read the poems."

      Roger Osborne examines the history of Civilisation for the education
      of all. "Osborne has done the almost impossible. He has managed to
      condense the history of the West into just under 500 pages without
      missing a single important epoch, incident or person. Indeed, not only
      has he tabulated the history, he gives some excellent, concise and
      erudite interpretations of events that will make reader consider
      points previously overlooked," Nicky says. "The book is sweeping in
      scope, microscopic in examination and a joy to read. It treats so many
      epochs of history with new evidence that we can discard some of our
      older volumes."

      Also in time for the holidays, Alicia Karen Elkins offers up this
      Christmas Present. "Christmas Present is in many ways the Irish
      version of Christmas Vacation -- and it's a perfect example of a movie
      that does everything right!" she exclaims. "Christmas Present is a
      splendid choice for any time of the year. I would love to see a series
      of sequels so I could spend more time with this family. It is the next
      best thing to being home with my own folks."

      Miles O'Dometer descends into a London subculture in Eastern Promises.
      "Eastern Promises is a brutal tale, an endless stream of bloody
      killings that, had you missed the beginning, might have fooled you
      into thinking you'd walked in on a slasher film," he warns. "What
      distinguishes Eastern Promisesfrom such fare, however, is an
      intelligent script that offers viewers an insight into a very real
      world most have never heard of or know little about. ... Stuff like
      this doesn't come along very often. Make a note of it."

      Jen Kopf, meanwhile, dips into the life of New York Dolls bassist
      Arthur 'Killer' Kane via the aptly titled New York Doll. This
      documentary of his life could have become a second-rate VH1: Behind
      the Music episode, Jen says. "Instead, it's one of the most
      bittersweet, inspiring movies you'll see this year. And the
      soundtrack? It rocks. ... The concert footage will blow you away."

      You think we're done? Hardly!! Come back for more next week.

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