4 February 2001
- Check out the What's New page at Rambles (http://www.rambles.net) for these
What's the news in your part of the world? Pennsylvania's most famous
whistlepigs, Punxsutawney Phil and Octorara Orphie (the latter of which is
really a stuffed effigy on a stick), both did their bit for seasonal
prognostication on Friday ... and both saw their shadows, signifying another
six weeks of winter. Ugh. Well, at least we have plenty to read her at
Rambles ... and at the bottom of today's edition, you'll find a Groundhog
Amanda Fisher begins our post-Groundhog Day update with a bit of Wales.
Fernhill's Whilia "is a fascinating introduction to Welsh dance-song
traditions," Amanda says. "I loved this album, and recommend it to those who
love Celtic music; it's a different sound than the more usually encountered
Irish and Scottish styles, and well worth hearing." (It's also worth noting
that this marks Amanda's 60th review for Rambles!)
Donna Scanlon maintains the Celtic theme with the self-titled release from
One Eyed Fiona. The album, Donna says, features "high-energy performances
with good balance among the musicians and an overall cohesiveness to the
selections and arrangements. Furthermore, the musicians sound as if they're
having a grand time, and that's an important element as well."
Tom Knapp is next with the Celtic and European sounds of Broceliande's
self-titled debut. "Vocally and instrumentally, the band is flawless and the
arrangements are never dull," Tom says. "This is a keeper."
Chet Williamson has a pair of new Rounder releases to share: The Cowboy Tour
and Deep River of Song: Big Brazos, each by various artists. There are some
bright moments in The Cowboy Tour, Chet says, but "much of it struck me as
tedious, both musically and verbally. ... As for Big Brazos, if you're
interested in the true roots of folk, blues and R&B, or in the raw state of
the human condition, this one is something you should hear."
Paul de Bruijn steps up to the plate with Breakaway's new bluegrass CD, Hold
with Hope. "The music is great and so are the songs," Paul says. "Take the
time to listen to these wizards weave their magic."
Audrey Clark is next with Candye Kane's bluesy, ballsy The Toughest Girl
Alive. "The real attraction to this music is Kane's attitude; she's open and
honest, and the music is infectious," Audrey says. "Even listeners who might
normally be turned off by Kane's attitudes toward all things sexual
shouldn't be able to resist the tempting grooves on these tunes."
Cheryl Turner dishes up a bowl of Hot Soup and Soup Happens. "Hot Soup
serves up a hearty helping of songs, well-seasoned with humour and harmony
and rich in variety," Cheryl says. "These three women are quite versatile
with their material, have a knack for harmonizing, and come across to the
listener as personable and fun."
Laurie Thayer continues our folk-rock set with Witchita duo Amy & Robin's CD
Little Did I Know. "Described as 'neo-folk,' they have a singular sort of
sound that seems to combine folk and pop with hints of classical singing,"
Laurie says. "They're well worth listening to."
Debbie Gayle Rose loves listening to Music for the Native Americans,
originally scored as a television soundtrack by Robbie Robertson & the Red
Road Ensemble. "The music is haunting and haunted," Debbie says. "Each song
has its own independence, and yet, as a whole, the CD flows together like a
river of music that carries you almost without notice from beginning to
Rachel Jagt shares her time with Jory Nash, Aengus Finnan and Joel Morelli
in her review of their performance at C'est What in Toronto. "The relaxed
format of the show, with the artists trading songs and stories, worked
really well and showcased unique songwriting, instrumental, and vocal
talents," Rachel says. "I look forward to seeing these artists again."
Tom Knapp shifts our focus from recorded music to printed songs -- Shanties
from the Seven Seas by the late, great Stan Hugill. "Although the material
is sometimes a trifle dry, Hugill's casual approach to his topic and his
narrative style of writing keep it interesting to read and evoke a certain
sadness for a way of life long gone," Tom says. "Shanties from the Seven
Seas is a fascinating treasure and valuable resource for singers of songs
from the sea."
Next, Donna Scanlon gets a little buggy with Sue Hubbell and Waiting for
Aphrodite: Journeys In to the Time Before Bones. "Her subjects and locales
range from the common to the exotic, from earthworms to sea sponges, from
the coast of Mine to Belize," Donna says. "Hubbell's prose is graceful,
lovely and lucid, and her insights and connections are clear and
Donna also offers up our first fiction review of the day with the first
volume in Joan Aiken's newly reprinted trilogy, The Wolves of Willoughby.
"Aiken's Wolves Chronicles rank with Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles
and Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising sequence for imaginative and timeless
writing," Donna says.
Paul de Bruijn hits a double-header with his review of Orson Scott Card both
old and new: the science fiction classic Ender's Game and Card's recent
sequel Ender's Shadow. "Each story can be read on its own, but together the
two books add much to each other," Paul says. "This story is well worth a
Amanda Fisher is less happy with James Schmerer's noirish Twisted Shadows.
"Nothing in the book is described sufficiently to evoke it in the
imagination," Amanda says, "and many things -- most especially the behaviors
and reactions of the main characters -- are inexplicable without the
humanizing effect of actors making them breathe."
Tom Knapp explores an alternate universe with Grant Morrison in Justice
League of America: Earth 2. It's an alternate universe DC Comics had once
gone to great lengths to erase, so Tom questions the wisdom of bringing it
back. "With that complaint sharply registered," he says, "I'll add this
note: it's a damn good story."
Elizabeth Badurina adds another one to our 'zine page with Pisces Rising.
"If you're an artist (professional or hobbyist), and you need inspiration --
subscribe," Elizabeth says.
Janine Kauffman opens a triple feature in the Rambles cineplex today, so
grab your popcorn and take a look at The Straight Story from director David
Lynch. "As gentle as the rolling hills of Iowa where it was filmed, The
Straight Story is a small, quiet gem in the midst of a summer blockbuster
season," Janine says. "Every detail ... is a nod to the endurance of small
towns, the foibles of the people we love."
Tom Knapp, who had plenty of time to watch and review movies while
convalescing from carpal tunnel surgery last month, offers a double-slam of
films today. First is the gripping Irish-American story of The Devil's Own
with Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt. "The Devil's Own is a potent, powerful
film which will likely leave viewers unsettled by the time the credits roll,
but it's a movie worth watching," Tom says. "Anyone who thinks there are
easy answers to the unending conflict in Ireland may gain a better
perspective by the film's end -- but, global issues aside, this is a solid,
emotional piece of storytelling."
As promised, Tom concludes our post-Groundhog Day update with a review of --
yes, you guessed it! -- the 1993 film Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray and
Andie MacDowell. OK, folks, here's your chance to see the world-famous
Punxsutawney Phil do his bit for Hollywood!
Just as a final aside, I should mention our two newest pages here at
Rambles. Recently, we unveiled a section devoted to movie and various other
soundtracks, giving some recognition to a category of music which is often
overlooked. It's small, but we expect it to grow! Also, we added a page
recently listing a variety of music-related videos, including taped
concerts, stage musicals, musical movies, movies about musicians and films
with a music-heavy theme. There's no rhyme nor reason to it, it's just
something we thought would be fun to have ... so have a look and let us know
what you think!