5 December 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!
We are sad to announce the death of Liam Clancy, who at age 74 was the
last of Ireland's beloved Clancy Brothers. We hope brothers Tom and
Patrick, as well as longtime partner Tommy Makem, are waiting to greet
him, and the afterlife will resound with their songs.
Rambles.NET editor Tom Knapp fondly recalls an opportunity he had to
interview Liam along with his nephew, Robbie O'Connell, in 1995. You
can read the results of that chat here.
On the lighter side of celebrity news ... what kind of man pays his
wife ($60 million, no less) to stay married to him? Damn, we suspect
he could find someone at a much better rate on any street corner in
New York City.
Enter the Haggis catches our reviewer's ear with Gutter Anthems.
"Gutter Anthems is my kind of Celtic music, a blend of contemporary
sounds with bagpipes and the traditional themes interwoven," Becky
"Usually, there's one song I'll skip on a CD, but in this case, I can
honestly say all 15 songs are well worth listening to. I've had the CD
in my computer for a week now, and I will probably only replace it
with Christmas music."
Fiona J. Mackenzie packs A Good Suit of Clothes for sharing her Gaelic
songs. "Mackenzie has a beautiful voice ideally suited to the songs on
offer here," says Nicky Rossiter.
"This is an excellent album of top-class if little-known songs sung by
a fantastic singer with sensitive and never overpowering backing."
Anne Price serves up some nostalgia with Very Early Anne. "Price
discovered some tapes of her performances at folk gatherings at Hunter
College in 1965 and '66, when she was a student there. Obviously, they
constitute a piece of her development as an artist, but for us, the
listening audience, they constitute a trip back in time, back to every
night you ever spent in a coffee house, bar or house concert,
listening to an earnest, not ready for prime time, guitar-playing
soprano run through the standard folk repertoire," says Michael Scott
"It was a time when singers didn't have to be singer-songwriters, when
they built their sets out of traditional tunes, a touch of bluegrass
and songs composed by the folk giants of the day."
The New Budapest Orpheum Society has front-row seats to share for the
Jewish Cabaret in Exile. "The title of this CD refers to the
economically based movement of Jews from the country to cities such as
Vienna, Budapest and Berlin in the late 19th century," Dave Howell
"The CD comes with an excellent 62-page booklet, which explains the
history of this music. It is a unique, sounding like vaudeville played
by classically trained musicians, sung in German and Yiddish, with the
minor keys of Jewish music sneaking in here and there. It's a
Bearfoot is throwing open the Doors & Windows. "Originally intended to
be a bluegrass band, Bearfoot's young founders changed direction when
they couldn't find a banjo player in Alaska. So, while remaining
acoustic, banjoless and drumless (at least in live performance; banjo
and drums are heard from time to time on Doors & Windows), the group
became something else not immediately classifiable, at least in the
context it has chosen -- for now -- to operate," Jerome Clark says.
"Mostly original songs, the better part of Bearfoot is the Joni
Mitchell/singer-songwriter sort of material, melodic, lyrically
ambitious and well sung with engagingly ethereal harmonies. The less
interesting part, too close to half of the album, suggests directions
that may lead the band to Nashville to join the legions of
forgettable, mainstream and ephemeral."
Joe Bonomo gets down to the nitty gritty in Sweat: The Story of the
Fleshtones, America's Garage Band. "It is rare to hear a rock band
whose taste in music seems to come out of your own head, like they
were reading your thoughts. To me, the Fleshtones are that band," Dave
"It not only puzzles me, it angers me that such great talent has not
been met with the reward it deserves. It is absolutely infernal that
it has taken the French, who adore them, to keep their fortunes afloat."
Cassandra Clare unearths a City of Ashes in the second volume ofThe
Mortal Instruments. "The blend of magic and real-world New York makes
this series, in some ways, the very definition of urban fantasy. Add
to it the inclusion of vampires and werewolves, a sprinkling of
fairies and a flamboyantly gay wizard, and it starts to seem like
every stereotype on the fantasy shelf. And yet, oddly enough, it
works. The vampires are different than most of the modern vampires:
they're scary and not the least little bit sexy or sparkly. The
werewolves have a social structure that is different from most in
modern fiction, with a harder edge than one might expect in YA
fiction. And you don't even want to tangle with the fairies, 'cause
they ain't Tinkerbell," Belinda Christ says.
"In other words, what Clare has done is go back to older myths for her
source material. Everything has a harder, darker edge than some of the
YA books coming out today. In some ways, it is like comparing the
Disney versions of fairy tales to the Grimm tales. The older versions
are earthier, darker and, ultimately, more frightening."
William H. White takes on the First Barbary War, a little-known period
of American naval history, with The Greater the Honor, a novel that
sets fictional midshipman Oliver Baldwin in the heart of the action.
"Baldwin isn't the hero here; rather, White sets him among numerous
real, larger-than-life naval figures, such as Commodore Edward Preble,
who commanded the blockade of Tripoli in 1803 from the deck of the
mighty USS Constitution, plus Stephen Decatur, William Bainbridge,
Isaac Hull, James Lawrence and more. Through Baldwin's eyes, we see
the burning of the capture frigate,Philadelphia, as well as the
bombardment of the walled city and attacks on various vessels in the
Tripoli fleet," Tom Knapp says.
"There are some weaknesses, however, that might put off some readers."
Jessica Day George unveils the Princess of the Midnight Ball. "With
one exception, all of the recent retellings of 'The Twelve Dancing
Princesses' have been spectacularly mediocre. There's Dia Calhoun's
overtly psychological The Phoenix Dance, Suzanne Weyn's overwrought
The Night Dance and Juliet Marillier's forgettable Wildwood Dancing,"
says Jennifer Mo.
"Princess of the Midnight Ball blows them all out of the water.
Seamless storytelling meets understated magic, sure-footed prose and
surreptitious knitting in this satisfying retelling."
The second volume of The Sword finds former paraplegic Dara Brighton
seeking revenge against the man/god who murdered her sister. The
journey takes her and two friends to the Bahamas ... and she even gets
to fight pirates along the way," Tom Knapp says.
"Much of Water is taken up with Dara's journey and search for Zakros.
The rest is a fierce and thrilling duel of powers and will -- and
readers will learn just what a creative mind can do with water."
David Hadju examines a four-color controversy in The Ten Cent Plague:
The Great Comic Book Scare & How It Changed America. "It is one of the
book's greatest ironies that those in charge of images and
storytelling in a highly commercial venue, with a vast reservoir of
creative talent at its disposal, were unable to grasp how quickly
public sentiment had turned against them. They lost control of the
rhetoric early on and never got it back. This was due largely to the
fact that they didn't treat the growing threat seriously enough until
it was very late in the game," says comics reviewer Mary Harvey.
"For a while, comic-book publishers tried to walk the line by forming
the CMAA, their own version of an in-house censoring panel, but the
reforms that were demanded literally left nothing to the imagination.
The result was that hundreds of talented artists and writers were, by
the end of 1955, working as security guards, post office clerks and
secretaries. But it certainly wasn't the end."
Dave Sturm's first viewing of Waltz with Bashir became an opportunity
for discussion. "I am somewhat film-savvy and was well aware of what
it was about and drove nearly an hour to see it," he recalled. "There
were only three people in the audience, myself included. The other two
were an elderly married couple. After it ended, the couple immediately
came up to me. They were very disturbed and wanted to talk to someone,
anyone, about what they had just seen.
"Let there be no doubt -- this is film art of the highest order, and a
landmark in film history."
Tom Knapp offers up a big ol' hiss for Anaconda. "Let me say this
about Anaconda: an opening scene with Jennifer Lopez in a sheer
nightgown is just about the best special effect in the film," he says.
"Otherwise, the effects are pretty terrible. When, for instance, the
giant snake attacks the hungry panther, you will believe that a
computer-animated serpent can kill a stuffed cat. And when that giant
snake attacks members of the cast, you will believe the actors were
between jobs and really just needed an income."
You think we're done? Ha!! Come back for more next week.
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