2 April 2011
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 13,000 reviews, interviews and
other bits of excitement.) See you there!
� � � MUSIC
Stan Rogers is remembered with The Very Best of Stan Rogers. "There
aren't a lot of people sitting on the fence when it comes to Stan
Rogers. Either you love the man and his music, or you've never heard
him before," Tom Knapp says.
"If you're in the latter category, now is the perfect opportunity to
introduce yourself toThe Very Best of Stan Rogers. Although his life
was cut tragically short in 1983 at the age of 33, his music continues
to awe and inspire music fans around the world, even as it remains
standing as a pinnacle of Canadian songwriting."
White Raven peeks in at The Place Where Life Began. "While not all of
the songs are traditional, they all feel very much so. Some of that
stems from the clear and strong vocals that are found on every track,"
Paul de Bruijn remarks.
"The rest of it is carried by the music and the instruments the band
plays. And with White Raven you have a group that could switch either
to purely a cappella or instrumental and still serve up a lovely CD."
Delphia Blize sails down the West River. "If Joni Mitchell had
persisted in the vaguely folkish acoustic-pop style of her early
career and her first two albums, she might sound today as Delphia
Blize does," Jerome Clark says.
"A Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter, Delphia Blize is unlikely ever
to be as famous as Mitchell has been, but that doesn't mean she
doesn't deserve as much attention -- a lot -- as this stunning CD
should bring her, or at least would in a just world. Listening to West
River on a number of occasions until I felt comfortable enough with it
to write about it, I feel the winter chill, physical and psychic, that
we Minnesotans know all too well. Beneath River's icy surface,
however, lie love, loss, faith and a profound connectedness with the
world. Not to mention the amazing grace to pull it off without ever
sounding self-centered or mopish or ridiculous."
Al "Coffee" McDaniel serves up a filet of Sole Music. "There will
never be any doubt that Al 'Coffee' McDaniel has an overwhelming level
and range of talent. This much is solidified by his most recent
album," Bryan Frantz says.
"The one thing that is drawn to question is his understanding of how
an album should run from start to finish. While each song brings its
own unique flavor to the album, the pacing is all over the place."
John L. Holmes y los amigos are running The Holmes Stretch. "These are
complex, original songs that cannot be absorbed in one listening,"
Dave Howell says.
"The Holmes Stretch has a modern sound, but it is still accessible to
any listener. It is especially recommended to those who are tired of
uninspired and derivative albums and would like something with a fresh
approach in both performance and composition."
� � � MUSIC INTERVIEWS
Jason Mundok's podcast series, Around the Wood Stove, continues with
two singer-songwriters, Rhyne McCormickand Mike McMonagle. Check 'em
� � � FICTION
Charles Baxter addresses the short form in Gryphon: New & Selected
Stories. "Baxter's stock in trade is the traditional short story,
which is characterized by an emphasis on characters in conflict,
struggling to resolve their problems and find a way to go on," says
Michael Scott Cain.
"Gryphon is a wonderful book. Each story is magical, a trip into the
mind and soul of the central characters that always results in a
universal truth that applies as much to the reader as to the
character. It's a book you can't get out of your mind."
Katherine Howe revisits Salem in The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane.
"The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane is a very good and enjoyable
read, but I must admit it didn't quite live up to my expectations.
Perhaps I was a bit too intrigued by the premise. I'll read anything
connected to the Salem Witch Trials, and here we have a novel --
written by an historian -- promising to offer a different take on the
controversial subject, one that not only proffers the idea that there
could be an element of truth to the colonial witchcraft charges but
also offers up the prospect of an actual witch's spellbook lying in
wait in some forgotten repository," Daniel Jolley says.
"Unfortunately, the novel never developed into a true page-turner for
Steve North issues an invitation to Mauria. "Mauria is a world with
two intelligent species: the highly industrialized Maurians, who were
the original species, and the Vuervee, who were genetically engineered
by the Maurians as a food source. The result is two extremely
different peoples," Chris McCallister says.
"Although a work of fantasy fiction, this book also stands as social
commentary. The Maurians are caricatures of Western industrialists,
capitalists and materialists, with classicism thrown in. The Vuervee
come off as representing the aboriginal peoples of Earth's different
continents in idealized form. The moral of the commentary, as I see
it, differs from what is often seen today, with the capitalists being
evil and the aboriginal people good, although there is some of that
flavor. Instead, the lesson seems to be that being extreme in either
direction is self-defeating, and the best result comes from the two
groups working together and learning from one another."
� � � GRAPHIC NOVELS
Tom Knapp finds Impaler, Vol. 2 less impressive than its forerunner.
"The story seems tame," he says.
"That doesn't mean there's less violence and bloodshed. Oh no, there's
plenty of that. It's just that the story has settled into a fairly
predictable pattern, wherein various people run afoul of ruthless
bloodsuckers and die. Vlad himself makes lots of weighty
pronouncements, and his cop sidekick complains all the time. And,
maybe it's just me, but the vampires have stopped looking like
vampires to my eye."
� � � SPIRITUALITY
Christopher Coppes interprets Messages from the Light. "Dutch writer
Christopher Coppes is the president of of the International
Association for Near Death Studies in the Netherlands and has been
studying near-death experiences (NDEs) since 1979. That being the
case, you'd expect him to be up to date and bring new dimensions to a
book about them," says Michael Scott Cain.
"He is content, however, to merely make the case that NDEs are a
gateway to spirituality, that they prove that we live in four-
� � � MOVIES
Daniel Jolley enjoys Cult in spite of itself. "There is plenty to nit-
pick and complain about with Cult, what with people and objects being
magically transported to different places, a bloody crime scene that
still hasn't been cleaned up days after the victim was declared a
suicide, the least developed possible love triangle ever, and the
whole story rapidly plunging headfirst down the rabbit hole on its way
to a wholly illogical conclusion. I can forgive a lot of that, but I
don't think there is any possible justification for the 'Dancing Bear'
scene," he says.
"Still, the story -- weak as it was -- kept me interested, there was a
decent amount of blood, and Rachel Miner is pretty hot, so Cult is by
no means a total loss of a horror film."
Tom Knapp reflects on Heathers after sharing it with his teenage
daughter. "Heathers is a darkly funny film, with the emphasis strongly
on dark," he says.
"The focus here is always on teen angst, anger and suicide. There's
real pain here, but also a shining example of the resilience of your
average teen, who can mourn the death of a friend, mug for the news
camera and wonder what's on TV without missing a beat."
You think we're done? Ha!! Come back for more next week.
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