29 August 1999

Our reviewers are like all normal folks in August -- they take time off from their reviewing activities to actually refresh themselves.Which is why we have a relatively light edition for you this week.

First up is Brendan Foreman's review of not one, but three, albums of Italian music recorded by ethnomusicoligist Alan Lomax in the 1950s: Italian Treasury: Calabria, Italian Treasury: The Trallaleri of Genoa, and Italian Treasury: Folk Music and Songs of Italy: A Sample. Brendan wins an Excellence in Writing Award for this superb look at these albums.

April Gutierrez looks at another Lomax album: World Library of Folk and Primitive Music: Volume One, England. She notes "This compilation is a must-have for anyone with an interest in English folk music, and I cannot recommend this -- or any other Alan Lomax collection -- highly enough."

Jo Morrison looks at Mad Robin, an album by Jacqueline Schwab. (See also Jo's review of Jacqueline Schwab's work with Laura Risk on the Dorian release Celtic Dialogue.) Jo notes that Mad Robin is "a beautiful recording."

Patrick O'Donnell, our newest staff member, contributes a superb review of Moon over The Interstate, the newest album from The Mollys. Patrick notes that The Mollys "blend Mexican, Irish and American folk music with rock 'n' roll elements to come up with quite a nontraditional sound." Patrick thinks this is a very good album. And see Richard Dansky's review of The Mollys' this is my round for a look at their earlier material.

If you like the English group Blowzabella (see our reviews of their albums Bobbityshooty and Blowzabella Wall of Sound), check out Lars Nilsson's comprehensive review of the albums that Shave the Monkey have released: Dragonfly, Mad Arthur, and The Unseelie Court. Lars thinks Shave the Monkey is "a mature band with a direction of their own and is recommended listening to everyone."

Lars also sent us a review of ...it´s about time!, an album by the Committee Band, a group formed in in January in 1985 when the committee for organizing the Knees Up Cecil Sharp ceilidhs at Cecil Sharp House in London couldn't find a band to play for one of the dances. If you enjoy lively English ceilidh music, check this review out! And our final music review will get you shouting from on high in the Church of Blues -- Gary Whitehouse stresses that this album, Shine Eyed Mister Zen by Kelly Joe Phelps "isn't for everybody. This is adult music. Use with caution. This kind of haunting blues can be contagious."

We have only two book reviews this edition but they are great ones. Diane McDonough reviews The Armless Maiden and Other Tales for Childhood's Survivors, a Terri Windling anthology that Diane notes shows that "Windling has once again assembled the finest in contemporary masters of fantasy. This time she has a more refined goal: not just to reinterpret classic fairy tales, but to extricate the subtle horrors of wicked stepmothers and over-affectionate fathers-- in fact, to bring strong attention to the horrors of child abuse and our societal tolerance of these behaviors." Diane garners an Excellence in Writing Award for this review.

Chuck Lipsig finishes out this edition with a review of Robert Graves' Homer's Daughter, a novel in which Chuck notes "Graves took the thesis, originally suggested by Samuel Butler, that Homer's Odyssey was actually written by a woman, who portrayed herself as Nausicaa, the princess who finds Odysseus when he washes ashore."

22 August 1999

We have a particularly good selection of reviews for your reading pleasure this week. First up is the final review in our detailed look at the Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling fairy tale anthology series as April Gutierrez reviews Black Swan, White Raven. Another fine collection, Neil Gaiman's Smoke & Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions, is reviewed by Marian McHugh who would recommend this book to all.

We have a Rebecca Swain review of the Ellen Kushner mannerpunk novel Swordspoint: A Melodrama of Manners -- a review Ellen thinks is one of the best she's seen of her novel! Rebecca wins an Excellence in Writing Award for this fine review. (We will be reviewing Thomas the Rhymer, another outstanding Ellen Kushner novel shortly in Folk Tales. We will also be reviewing Welcoming Children Into the World: A Sound & Spirit program on CD. As Ellen notes in her liner notes: "The birth of a baby calls forth artistic, social and musical festivity in cultures around the world. It's the most important year of your life -- even if it's the one that you forget and your parents remember: the first year a human being spends on this planet. There are many ways people deal with the joys and stresses of that first year -- sweating, celebrating, philosophizing, singing, rocking -- always coping with the needs and demands of an infant. The songs on this album [in this collection] take us through many of those moments as they occur in cultures all around the world." If you want to know more about this CD, check out the Rykodisc Web site for it.)

Another fine fantasy novel is The Dreaming Place by Charles de Lint with illustrations by Brian Froud. Marian thinks "this is a wonderful story, and highly recommended for young adults as well as adults." Our final fantasy fiction review has both reviewer and book hailing from Australia as Michael Hunter reviews Rainbows in the Dark, a work by Ezio de Angelis which may or may not be a work of fiction.

One of the advantages of having a large, talented staff is that they like all sorts of music ranging from the familar (Celtic traditions) to the off the beaten path genres (Nordic traditions and First Nations). Jo Morrison garners an Excellence in Writing Award for her outstanding review of Celtic Dialogue, a CD by Laura Risk and Jacqueline Schwab that interplays fiddle and piano to a degree rarely heard! Her second Celtic review is John McDermott's Remembrance, a moving tribute to those who have fallen in war.

Jayme Lynn Blaschke garners an Excellence in Writing Award for his superb review of Joanne Shenandoah and Lawrence Laughing's Orenda: Native American Songs of Life. Jayme notes that "This isn't raw tribal music, but it's not watered-down New Age gone native, either. Rather, it strikes me as something of a compromise, something a bit more accessible than either of those extremes."

We have two excellent English tradition CDs worth your consideration. First up is Drop The Reed by Belshazzar's Feast. Debbie Skolnik thinks this is "a thoroughly enjoyable album" and we agree. Their first album One Too Many was also reviewed by Debbie for us.

Rowan Inish -- who is still looking for a publisher for his first novel, Beowulf's Daughter -- was very impressed with Flesh & Blood, a Maddy Prior album. An album that any serious lover of lively Cajun music should own is Arc de Triomphe Two Step, a 1976 Beausoleil album just re-released. Gary Whitehouse says this CD "would be a welcome addition to anyone's collection of Cajun or world music."

Chuck Lipsig recommends Lackerbiten, an album by Mats Eden, a Nordic group whose music is from the Varmland region, an area straddling the border of Sweden and Norway. Finishing up our music reviews is Rowan Inish who has found a singer-songwriter, Kristen Mooney, who has done an album, Living Alone, that he says of "Someone once wrote that Raymond Chandler wrote like a slumming angel; by the same token, Kristen Mooney sings like one." This is an album definitely worth knowing about!

Two live performance reviews finish off this edition. One is a review of The Dylan Project + annA rydeR at one of the pre-Cropredy Festival "warmup" gigs, which is written jointly by Richard Barnes and Richard Hamilton (who both survived the actual festival's knee-deep mud to tell the tale). Meredith Tarr didn't have to cope with any mud at the Bull Run Tavern in Shirley, Massachusetts, where she saw Susan Werner perform. Her review of this gig was so good that it earned her an Excellence in Writing Award!

29 August 1999

We're just finishing putting togather the next edition, but I can tell you it's going to be another big one. As promised we've got the final review in our look at the Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling fairy tale anthology series as April Gutierrez reviews Black Swan, White Raven. We also have a review of the Ellen Kushner mannerpunk novel Swordspoint as well as a few other surprises for you in the book department. The music reviews run the gamut from English trad (I'd single out both the Maddy Prior and Belshazzar's Feast as being worth checking out) to Native American music. Finally we have two great live performance reviews this coming edition including our first jointly written review by Richard Barnes and Richard Hamilton -- both survived the knee-deep mud almost intact --of a Cropredy warm-up gig!

15 August 1999

Ok, so nobody really took a break last week which is why we have lots of new reviews for you this edition. We not only have the finest reviewers on the net, but we also have some of the most prolific reviewers one is likely to encounter!

Our first Excellence in Writing Award this edition goes to Jeff Skolnik for his detailed appraisal of three in-print guides to Blues music: All Music Guide to the Blues, 2nd ed., MusicHound Blues: The Essential Album Guide, and The Virgin Encyclopedia of the Blues. Read his review of these guides to see which you should buy.

Other book reviews are plentiful this week. On the fiction side, we have Chuck Lipsig's review of the Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling short story anthology Silver Birch, Blood Moon. (We also have reviews of their Black Thorn, White Rose, Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears, and Snow White, Blood Red anthologies. A review of Black Swan, White Raven will be in the next edition.)

Another fine collection of tales is Jane Yolen's Gray Heroes: Elder Tales from Around the World, reviewed by Marian McHugh. Elizabeth C. Stewart, who joins us this week, reviews Momo, a novel by Michael Ende, an author better know for The Neverending Story. Rounding out the fiction reviews is a look by Rebecca Swain at Tom Holt's engagingly funny look at the Nordic deities: Expecting Someone Taller.

There are two more additions to the music lore section: Wayne Erbsen's Rousing Songs and True Tales of the Civil War and Nolen Porterfield's Jimmie Rodgers: the life and times of America's blue yodeler. Brendan Foreman thinks that the Erbsen book is well-worth seeking out, and Gary Whitehouse believes that anyone interested in the Blues should check out this biography. Gary wins an Excellence in Writing Award for this review.

Remember the fact-based narrative Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil? No? If you haven't read this true urban fantasy (voodoo, drag queens, strange curses), then read Rebecca Swain's review to see why you should. Rebecca has also done a contrasting review of the film version of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.)

Sliding over to the music reviews we have Love Songs of the Civil War, the companion CD to Wayne Erbsen's Rousing Songs and True Tales of the Civil War . Brendan wins anExcellence in Writing Award for this review!

No'am Newman provides us with a biting review of Jesse Winchester's bluegrass CD Gentlemen of Leisure; while Brendan Foreman finds Darrell Scott's Family Tree to be a mixed bag. But Rebecca Swain gives us a most enthusiastic reaction to a bluegrass CD this edition in her review of Judith Edelman's Only Sun -- a surprise to everyone since Rebecca isn't even a bluegrass fan!

Gary Whitehouse looks at two CDs focusing on regions that are very different: first he looks at the Appalachian Mountains in reviewing Song of the Hills: Instrumental Impressions of Appalachian Classics by Brian Keane and Company, while his look at Holding Up Half the Sky: Voices of Latin Women suggests yet another CD you should seek out.

Our single English Tradition review is a corker: Debbie Skolnik wins a much deserved Excellence in Writing Award for her review of Here I Stand, the new Oysterband CD. Here I Stand is the first studio album for the Oysterband since their release of Deep, Dark Ocean -- see why Debbie thinks it's one of their better outings!

The rest of our CDs cover a wide gamut of genres. Michael Hunter looks at Australian folk song collector and singer's own performances of the music he collected on the CD Pleasant & Delightful: Percy Grainger Plays Folk Songs. Jo Morrison looks at acoustic music as collected from 'round the globe -- Unwired: Acoustic Music from Around the World -- and finds it an excellent recording.

Jo Morrison finds yet another fine harpist in Ursula Burns. Check out her review of According to Ursula Burns.

Is it Pagan? Is it Celtic? Either way (or both) Diane McDonough thinks you should check out two fine recordings by Olvardil Prydwyn: At the Feet of Mary Mooncoin and Witch at the Well.

Speaking of Pagans, do check out Michael Hunter's interview with Spiral Dance, an Australian Pagan/Celtic band that is touring the United States next year. Michael Hunter wins an Excellence in Writing Award for this review.

Richard Barnes finishes off this edition with his fine review of a Show Of Hands concert at Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, Dorset, England.

10 August 1999

This review is too good to hold 'til Sunday! An Excellence in Writing Award goes to Jeff Skolnik for his detailed examination of three in-print guides to Blues music: All Music Guide to the Blues, 2nd ed., MusicHound Blues: The Essential Album Guide, and The Virgin Encyclopedia of the Blues. Read his review of these guides to see which you should buy.

07 August 1999

A reminder that there is no new edition tomorrow as we're taking a week off. Our edition next week will put us well over the six hundred mark in terms of total articles. We would have reached that mark months ago but our very high standards means that we do not print every review that we get. Indeed we have weeded nearly two hundred reviews from this site for being clearly not good enough to meet our present standards of excellence. If you can take the time to read our magazine, then we can take the time to make sure that what you see here is worth your valuable time!

One activity that would not be a waste of your time is checking out Endicott Studio, winner of a Site of Excellence Award from us. We are pleased to note that Endicott Studio has linked their recommendations of books worth seeking out to our review of the same. For example, their recommendation of Richard Bowes' Minions of the Moon on their Recommended New Works, Exhibitions, and Publications page is linked back to our review of that Tor Books novel. We are very pleased that Folk Tales has been selected to be linked to Endicott Studio in this manner!

Terri Windling in her letter this month on the Endicott Studio Web site says of this arrangement:

Another addition to the site this month: we have now linked a number of books on our Bookstore and Recommendations pages to reviews on the Folk Tales Online Magazine web site. In exchange, they are encouraging their readers to purchase books via our site (in order to help raise money for our charity, Children First). Many thanks to Cat Eldridge and all the other good folks at Folk Tales for doing this.

01 August 1999

Welcome to the Lammas edition of Folk Tales! This date marks (more or less) our first full year on the net after fifteen years as a print-based journal. WebStats shows that we've had over 125,000 individual readers of our magazine in that time. Not bad for our first year. We'll be taking next week off as our vacation from this endeavor so look for the next edition on August 15th.

Our lead review this time is The Living Goddesses, the last volume by Marija Gimbutas of her series that looked at the matriarchal societies of Eurasia. If you read our review of Judith Tarrs' White Mare's Daughter, then you'll want to check this out. April Gutierrez wins a well-deserved Excellence in Writing Award for this review.

Next we continue our look at the Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling Fairy Tale anthology series with Laurie Thayer's appraisal of Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears. Suffice it to say that this volume is as good as the other ones in the series. In a slighty different vein, Chuck Lipsig looks at a horror collection, For the Blood Is The Life And Other Stories, the collected works of F. Marion Crawford. Is that a door I hear creaking...?

Our music reviews run the gambut this time... Jayme Lynn Blaschke reviews Smithfield Fair's Highland Call, a Scottish-Irish band hailing from Baton Rouge, Louisiana! Danny Cohen found the Phil Collins Big Band CD A Hot Night In Paris to be an unexpected treat given that we're talking about that Phil Collins.

Michael Jones -- recently promoted to Senior Writer -- continues to provide us with great reviews. This weeks he reviews a David Olney release Through A Glass Darkly which he finds "gloomy but good." Read his review and see why.

We finish this edition with a review of The Dylan Project at the Zodiac Club, Oxford UK. This report is by Lars Nilsson, our first staff member from Sweden. Lars will be providing us a complete review of the English band Shave the Monkey in a forthcoming edition of Folk Tales.)