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4 February 2001

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  • Tom K
    Check out the What s New page at Rambles (http://www.rambles.net) for these new reviews! What s the news in your part of the world? Pennsylvania s most famous
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 3, 2001
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      Check out the What's New page at Rambles (http://www.rambles.net) for these
      new reviews!

      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
      Day special!

      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
      second visit."

      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!
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