3 September '00
- Here's what you'll find in today's What's New update at Rambles!
Tom Knapp begins this muggy weekend's update with a refreshing CD from Irish
accordion player Mary Staunton. Bright Early Mornings, Tom says, may have
changed his mind about the accordion.
Jamie O'Brien is next with an odd release from Cape Breton: The Tin Sandwich
by harmonica player Tommy Basker. "His playing is perfect for both dancing
and listening to: the rhythms and tempos trigger the urge to start tapping
feet and swinging legs; and the melodies are infectious," Jamie says.
Our third Celtic music review today is from a new addition to the Rambles
staff, the seemingly prolific Rachel Jagt. Today she makes her debut with
Aengus Finnan's Fool's Gold. The lyrics, Rachel says, "are poetic and
touching, and, as it turned out, form only the base of a well-rounded and
thought-provoking debut from this Irish-born, Canadian-raised
singer-songwriter. It's been a long time since I've been rendered breathless
by a song, but it happened a few times the first time I listened to Aengus
Finnan's Fool's Gold."
Also new to Rambles today is Dave Townsend, who gets his start with the
folk-rockin' Survival by Stephanie Fix. "Stephanie's songs take the best
elements of rock and folk music and combine them with intelligent,
thoughtful lyrics, sung with a strong, confident-sounding alto voice," Dave
Chet Williamson turns to bluegrass with the Monroe Brothers and What Would
You Give in Exchange for Your Soul?. Although based on very early
recordings, Chet says, "the music is so filled with energy and spontaneity
that the flaws scarcely matter."
Next, J. Higgins-Rosebrook gets folky with Harvey Reid's Fruit on the Vine.
"Reid's music is about as all-American as it gets," she says. "Blues,
bluegrass, spirituals, Appalachian, Cajun, all stand out in his music, along
with the sea and woods of northern New England where he has made his home
for over 20 years."
Our final music review for today is from Paul de Bruijn, who heard jazzy Dr.
Dan's Dan on the Moon, which Paul says is "one of those albums which grab
you with the first note and don't let go until the last note fades away.
Each song is a seamless whole, and each one is a joy to listen to."
Donna Scanlon turns to folklore and the telling of stories with Lorna
MacDonald Czarnota and Medieval Tales That Kids Can Read & Tell. "The book
has many strengths, with a brilliant range in the stories," Donna says.
"Certainly, it is an excellent starting point for what could become a
Charlie Gebetsberger explored history with Simon James' The World of the
Celts. The book, Charlie says, "is an entertaining and informative read that
does not over-intellectionalize or dump just straight facts, but informs and
teaches in a more direct, everyday way."
Laurie Thayer leads off a trio of fiction reviews her take on the latest
from Will Shetterly, the novel Chimera. "Chimera is the literary equivalent
of genetic splicing between film noir and science fiction with great
results," Laurie says. "The story is fast-paced and interesting and although
the reader may be relatively sure where it's going to end up, there's no
clear path for it to get there."
Donna Scanlon is next with Geraldine McCaughrean's The Stones are Hatching.
"This is a spell-binding book, lyrically written with passages of
breathtaking imagery and poetry," Donna says. "McCaughrean's handling of the
folkloric elements is deft and chilling, edged with dark and mystery."
Amy Harlib handles the third, Jim Grimsley's fantasy new saga. "Kirith
Kirin," Amy says, "a uniquely elegant and creative fantasy saga, dense and
intricate in text, complete in one volume, is highly recommended to
open-minded readers ready and willing to truly lose themselves in a
wondrous, fantastic other world."
Amy also has a treat for us in the area of visual arts: Dick Jude's Fantasy
Art Masters: The Best Fantasy & Science Fiction Artists Show How They Work.
"Fantasy Art Masters offers an impressive range of the various styles,
techniques and choices of subject matter available to be seen within the
ever-growing realm of fantasy art," Amy says, "dramatically presenting
evidence of the endless potential for new techniques made possible by
technologies that advance almost hourly."
Miles O'Dometer will soon hang up his hat as a movie reviewer and return to
his secluded goat farm for some peace and quiet, but he's not quite ready to
turn his back on society yet. So let's enjoy him while we got 'im! Miles has
two entries for us today, starting with 1999's EdTV. "Blessed with a funny
idea and a great cast, director Ron Howard would seem to be on easy street
with EdTV," Miles says. "But media examinations of media overkill are laced
with land mines, and Howard steps on a few on his way to an otherwise
satisfying and fitfully funny piece of social satire."
Things turn a little more serious with The General. It is both "a bleak and
glorious portrait" of Dublin crook Martin Cahill, Miles says, and is told
with "a cast of characters who can out-act most Academy Award-wining leads."