7 November 2009
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!
The new CD 65 Roses isn't just a collection of good music, it's also a
fundraiser for a good cause. "65 Roses is an album that you can buy as
an excellent showcase of very good local Irish talent or you can do
your bit for a cystic fibrosis charity -- either way or both, you will
be the real winner," Nicky Rossiter says.
"This recording has been a cooperative effort that attracted a wide
range of singers and performers and is a worthy tribute to a young
girl who left this world all too early, but in her life she touched
worlds as diverse as those of her pupils in the local technical
college and that of composer Phil Coulter, who spoke movingly at her
funeral," he adds. "But this is not a maudlin album. It is life-
affirming and reflects her love of music and its deep enjoyment."
Kerstin Blodig "has a clear, cool voice that can send chills up your
spine -- and surely will on at least one of the 13 tracks gracing
Nordic Soul. No need to mince words: this is uncommonly good stuff,"
says Jennifer Mo.
"Mythology, musicianship and more than a little magic meet on this CD.
It doesn't matter if you've never heard Scandinavian folk music
before; Nordic Soul is readily accessible while remaining fresh and
evocative. It also doesn't matter if you've never heard of Kerstin
Blodig; her voice and acoustic guitar are pitch-perfect and arresting
from the opening notes of the CD."
Wheeler mixes both gospel and pop sounds into its bluegrass for its
self-titled release,Wheeler. "This is not Bill Monroe or the Stanley
Brothers but something that used to be called newgrass, in other words
more bluegrass-like -- or (as misanthropes and mouldy figs would
insist) bluegrass-lite -- than the thing itself," Jerome Clark says.
"While Wheeler hails from Virginia, it sounds neither especially
Southern nor particularly Appalachian. It could have come from
anywhere, in contrast to Mountain Roads' other releases, which
highlight a more traditional, more clearly regional sound. My
listening preferences are not generally newgrass-oriented, but I know
the worthwhile stuff when I hear it."
Ashley Lennon Thomas "can sing, there's no doubting that. When she
wraps her warm, rich contralto around a song, it stays wrapped. In
fact, it's so thoroughly covered that it'll stay comfortable right
through the winter," Michael Scott Cain reports.
"Thomas's brand of blue-eyed soul, languorous and subtle, is, for much
of the album, a pleasure to listen to. She has the lingering aroma of
Memphis in the 1970s in her songs, with a hint of Stax-Volt in her
vocal and instrumental arrangements," he adds. "When Sparkle Plenty is
good, it is very good, but not all of the disc is up to the standards
set by the best of it."
Kaitlin Hahn files another report from the Celtic Colours
International Festival; this time, she comes to you from Wagmatcook
and the From Coast to Coast fiddle extravaganza featuring Qristina and
Quinn Bachand, Fidil, Ashley MacIsaac and Sierra Noble.
"The Wagmatcook Culture & Heritage Centre is a nice little venue,
right on the Trans Canada Highway in Wagmatcook. Before the show, I
took a little time to look around the room as people took their
seats," Kaitlin says. "There is a beautiful mural of a tree on the
back wall, which portrayed the beliefs of the native people of this
area, and in one of the front corners of the room, near the stage,
there was a group of these very people who were performing their
native songs and drumming. The pre-concert music was a really nice
touch, and the audience was appreciative."
Francesca Lia Block delves into a question of personal identity in The
Waters & the Wild. "This moody, young-adult fantasy benefits a great
deal from author Francesca Lia Block's lyrical style of writing. Rich,
descriptive prose could easily become poetry with only a nudge or two
in the right direction," Tom Knapp says.
"I read this book in one sitting. It is, at 113 pages, short enough to
read quickly, but the narrative also gets its teeth into you and
doesn't let go easily. (I tried to stop reading for the night at least
twice, but never managed to put the book down until I had finished.)"
C.S. Forester once again must Beat to Quarters in the first novel he
wrote in his highly acclaimed Horatio Hornblower series but the sixth
in the chronological order of the tales. "Although in some ways
lacking the polish of his later books -- Forester's habit of writing
with a wink to innovations and expressions unknown in Hornblower's
time is especially irksome --Beat to Quarters is a nonstop thrill.
From the insane Central American dictator who fancies himself a god
to the noble lady who shares Hornblower's ship and pokes holes in his
indomitable facade, the book just rolls along at a heady, breathtaking
pace," Tom says.
"Of particular note, however, are the sea battles -- three in total,
all against the same Spanish ship of the line that outweighs and
outguns Hornblower's newly commissioned frigate, Lydia. TheNatividad
boasts more guns and crew, it's true, but the Lydia has Hornblower,
who remains more than a half-century after his invention one of the
best and truest fictional heroes of the British navy."
C.L. Talmadge begins the Green Stone of Healing with The Vision. "The
strengths of this book are many and varied. The writing is crisp,
clear and fast-paced, creating a real page-turner. The characters are
definitely well-developed and three-dimensional," Chris McCallister
"The story is also replete with complexities, including religious
oppression, racism, political intrigue, attempted murder, kidnapping
and complex interpersonal relationships. ... Underlying all of this
there is the hinted-at possibility that this world and its culture are
the surviving remnants of our world after some form of cataclysm. This
is not clearly stated, but there are enough clues to leave the reader
Perry Moor reveals a Hero in this off-the-wall novel. "High-schooler
Thom Creed is trying to come to terms with two life-altering changes:
the development of his superpowers and his emerging sexuality. It's
not easy being a teen superhero, but being a gay teen superhero is an
extra helping of angst. Add to that the fact that Thom's father Hal is
a disgraced former hero with a troubled past he won't discuss with his
son. This sets the stage for one of the more interesting hybrids -- or
rather, what should have been one of the more interesting hybrids --
to emerge in the superhero genre in the last few years," Mary Harvey
"As stories go, it's interesting in places, but about halfway through,
Hero begins to fall short of its own expectations before dissolving
into hazy mess of borrowed plot lines and a total loss of empathy for
the lead character, who seems to do little more than muddle through
life at the complete mercy of events."
Mark Allen lauds the four-color adventures of Conan the Barbarian.
"One of the best series ever produced by Marvel Comics was, in my
opinion, Conan the Barbarian. Begun in 1970, Conan was the first
adaption of Robert E. Howard's wandering Cimmerian to comic books. It
made an instant splash among what became rabidly loyal readers, most
likely due to the ready-made fan base inspired by the novels," he says.
"To simply label Conan a 'sword and sorcery' comic does it an
injustice. Though it certainly had its share of wizards and magicians
-- and there was, indeed, plenty of steel clashing and teeth-gnashing
-- this particular sequential series was about a man of indomitable
will, from a hard, unforgiving place, making his mark on the world --
whether the world liked it or not."
Zecharia Sitchin takes his readers along on Journeys to the Mythical
Past. "Journeys to the Mythical Past concentrates on various
archeological findings to establish his hypothesis that aliens
actually visited Earth in the distant past and not only built several
ancient monuments and space stations, but genetically created
mankind," Whitney Mallenby says.
"While Sitchin's sensational writing style does hook the reader in, it
does not extend to cluing in the audience to opinions conflicting with
the author's notions unless coupled by insinuations that those other
opinions are the faulty results of the duped or cover stories. Add to
that the fact that his one-sided explanations of the points he brings
up lack references to other sources than Sitchin's previous works, and
his credibility fades to nothing."
Tom Knapp visits a mixed-up past in Year One. "The trailer for Year
One was funny enough when we saw it in the theater that my wife and I
kept it on a short list of movies to watch -- and, while we never
caught it on the big screen, we did finally rent it and settle in for
a few hearty guffaws," he says.
The thing is, Year One isn't all that funny. Certainly it pales beside
that classic caveman flick, Caveman, starring Ringo Starr. Now, read
that last sentence again and realize just what that means for Year One."
Dave Sturm takes a look back at The Counterfeiters (a.k.a., Die
Falscher). "The Counterfeiters is the true story of the largest
counterfeit operation in history, Operation Bernhard, in Nazi Germany
during World War II. The Nazis recruited about 20 expert engravers,
printers, photographers, etc. -- almost all Jews -- and stashed them
in a secret compound at Sachsenhausen concentration camp," he says.
"At first the men are astounded at their 'good luck' at being spared
the gas chambers. Yet as they work and become successful forgers
(especially with the pound), they face a moral dilemma -- they are
helping the Nazis in the war effort. One of the forgers, the only one
who knows the rotogravure processs to make passable dollars, begins
sabotaging the operation. The others are ready to throttle him because
he's putting their lives at risk."
You think we're done? Ha!! Come back for more next week.
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