The construction debris around the site has been cleaned up as we've finished remodeling. The tired and rather cliched neo-Celtic look has been replaced by a cleaner look consisting of geckos and a hand written font for our headers and buttons. And we must be doing something interesting -- Web stats for our magazine show that we have slightly over 13,000 individual (non-duplicated) readers in the last month!
Some minor changes in the scheme of the magazine have been made recently. North American Roots has been renamed to more accurate North American Traditions -- Blues, Country & Bluegrass, Jazz, and Other N.A.Traditions are the genres within it. British Traditions is now known as English Traditions, and the Scandinavian section is the Nordic Traditions section. The latter change was courtesy of Drew Miller of Omnium Records who pointed out that only the word Nordic covers the entire region.
Word on the street is that Folk Tales will be included in the list of internet resources that will be in the next volume of The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror which will be out in August. If you buy no other collection of fantasy and horror this year, buy this book. (We'll have a comprehensive review soon for you to read.) If you haven't checked out the Endicott Studio site that Terri Windling has created (and which is maintained by the husband and wife team of Richard and Mardelle Kunz), do so now. It's a great site chock full of interesting folkloric things! We'll be linking our book reviews to their amazon.com codes so that any book you purchase from our site actually will be credited to their account. We are doing this because they are donating all their revenues from amazon.com sales to the fight against child abuse.
First up is Jo Morrison's review of the Heart of England CD which gets our pick for honesty in reviewing for noting that is not the "The Legends of English Folk" anthology that it claims to be. A much better look at English folk music traditions is Charles E. Owston's Murder, Betrayal and Death: Observations on Traditional Ballads, a self-published chapbook which is reviewed by Michael Hunter. Michael's review of this chapbook wins one of two Excellence in Writing Awards this week. Keeping in the folk vein, Michael Jones contributes a review of Twisting in the Wind: The Murderess and the English Press, a difficult but rewarding look at the folk process as it involved sensational cases and the early press in England -- If you think our press likes to dish up the dirt, you ain't seen nothin' 'til you read this book!
Our second Excellence in Writing Award this week goes to Chuck Lipsig for his insightful commentary on Ruth MacKenzie's Kalevala: Dream of the Salmon Maiden, an album based on part of the Finnish epic world myth poem The Kalevala. Chuck thinks that "...Kalevala: Dream of the Salmon Maiden is an impressive performance..." and we agree!
An Irish traditional band resident in Germany? And our reviewer thinks they're really great? Read what Chuck Lipsig has to say of Ear to the Ground by Midnight Court and see if you agree.
If you're interested in seeing how Clannad has evolved over the years, check out Jayme Lynn Blaschke's review of their early material as represented on An Diolaim.
April Gutierrez wraps up this edition with a nifty album called Song About a Train by Pennsylvania singer-songwriter Tom Flannery. If you're looking for a damn fine singer with roots deep in the land, check this one out!
If you live in the Northern hemisphere, welcome to Summer!
Along with our site redesign, an ongoing process (you did notice, didn't you?), we have renamed the section formerly known as Folkways with the new name Folk'n About. Folk'n About will continue to feature live performance reviews, interviews with authors, musicians and other artists, and essays of various types. It will also now include film reviews -- and you should check out this week's Excellence In Writing award-winner now to be found in Folk'n About, L.G. Burnett's review of The Princess Bride movie.
Check out our new Jazz section. Danny Cohen, the coolest jazz reviewer 'round these parts, has contributed enough jazz reviews that they now have their own section in the North American Traditions listings.
Marian McHugh reviews Randy Lee Eickhoff's The Feast: a dramatic retelling of Ireland's epic tale and suggests that reading the original tales may be a better use of your leisure time.
Jayme Lynn Blaschke also garners an Excellence in Writing Award for his new Book Folk Interview with Stanley Schmidt, Editor of Analog magazine.
Gary White, who notes that "Sin, redemption, judgement, betrayal, vengeance, tired angels, grinning devils, whiskey bottles and empty beds are the primal stuff of American folk and country music...." treats us to a review of Prayer Bones by American Roots group The Flatirons.
April Gutierrez found a singer-songwriter, Lynn Miles, who, with some hard work on her part, might someday be worth checking. Lynn's album Night In a Strange Town was an effort that didn't quite make it.
Watch out for the construction debris around the site for the next week or so as we're remodeling. The tired and rather cliched neo-Celtic look is being replaced by a cleaner look. Check out the front page whick looks much better and loads much faster now thanks to the work of Danny Cohen! Thanks Danny!
And thanks to all our readers -- the latest stats show that we have over 13,000 individual readers each month. Thank you for taking an ongoing interest in this arts magazine! If you're interested in commenting on Folk Tales or other related matters, we will be starting a letters column soon. Just email us with your letters. The most interesting letter each month as determined by our editorial staff will get a selection of CDs from our slush pile!
Jessica Skolnik wins an Excellence in Writing Award for her splendid examination of the Modest Mouse CD The Lonesome Crowded West. And Richard Hamilton (see next paragraph) also garners an Excellence in Writing Award!
Broadening the international scope of our staff, we welcome Koen Hottentot from the Netherlands, whose review of a one-off Fairport Convention concert held on the grounds of an institution for the mentally ill should pique your interest! We add another writer from the UK, Richard Hamilton, who tackles (both literally and figuratively) the joys (?) of camping at UK folk festivals. And finally, from right here in the US, Gary Whitehouse waxes enthusiastic about the Vela Luka Croatian Dance Ensemble self-titled CD that they did with with the Ruze Dalmatinke Orchestra.
Some of our veteran staffers have been busy too. Brendan Foreman who wrote his first review for Folk Tales back in 1995 gives us a detailed look at two CDs by Doc Watson, noted Bluegrass pioneer: The Original Folkways Recordings: 1960-1962 and The Best of Doc Watson 1964-1968. Jo Morrison, another long-time reviewer who can be counted on for superb reviews, offers us her imperssion of Tamborea, the new album by the Rom group Energipsy. Suffice it to say that this is an album that will get you up and dancing in no time at all!
A fantasy novel is recommended this week by L.G. Burnett: Yves Meynards The Book of Knights. She thinks that this is a novel to be treasured for years to come. Read her review and see why.
Chosen this week by the editors to receive the Excellence in Writing Award is Jayme Blaschkes' look at Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace. Star Wars fan or not, you'll want to read this review.
Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling have. through their co-editorship of their Fairy Tales series on Avon Books, established themselves as the foremost collectors of intelligent, interesting tales done by some of our very best storytellers. Laurie Thayer, who earns her promotion to Senior Writer with these reviews, tells us about two of these collections: Snow White, Blood Red and Black Thorn, White Rose. Terri herself thinks that "These are lovely reviews..." and we wholeheartedly agree!
Next up is a smashingly good review by L.G. Burnett of what may be one of the best rock and roll novels to be written in years: The Exes, a Boston, Massachusetts based story written by Pagan Kennedy of Wired fame.
Michael Hunter turns in a bloody good review of the Fairport Convention live CD Cropredy 98, and Geoff Muldaurs' blues CD The Secret Handshake gets a thumbs up from Dan Herman. Dan joins us this week as a staffer. Welcome to Folk Tales Dan!