21 March 2000

I just got around to compiling the website stats for the previous quarter. Folk Tales averaged slightly under 45,000 readers per month for that period -- an increase of nearly 17,000 over the previous quarter. That's nearly 1500 visitors every day! We'll see if those numbers are maintained for the long run when I do the stats again in late April for the first quarter of '00. The most visited sections were our Celtic Music and Fiction reviews.

 19 March 2000

Rebecca Swain leads off this edition with a detailed look at all seven volumes of The Chronicles of Narnia. You'll appreciate her insightful look at this classic fantasy series. Meanwhile, Marian McHugh had a great time reviewing Great Folk Tales of Old Ireland She notes that this collection "offers an enticement into the world of Irish folklore." Jack B. Merry delves into the folktales of the Rom with a look at three volumes of tales: Russian Gypsy Tales, Sister of The Birds and Other Gypsy Tales, and Gypsy Folk Tales. Anyone interested in the Rom should check out this comparative review. And Debbie Skolnik, who reviewed Brian McNeill's To Answer the Peacock CD, looks at the novel of the same name. She says it's not as brilliant as the CD, but definitely worth checking out. Both Jack's Rom folktales review and Debbie's To Answer the Peacock review were deemed by the Editors to worthy of Excellence in Writing Awards.

We've added four books to the music lore section. Gary Whitehouse takes a look at some smaller indie record companies in his review of Little Labels -- Big Sound. Jack returns with a detailed examination of three music guides: musicHound Folk, The Rough Guide to World Music, Volume One, and musicHound World.

Two live performance reviews grace our pages this edition. No'am Newman used his Folk Tales press credentials to attend a four day "Irish fest" in Israel, where he attended a concert by Paddy Glackin & Micheal O'Domhnaill. Brendan Foreman also used his Folk Tales press credentials to attend a gig by the Saw Doctors. Ah, the perks of writing for GMR! And up in Toronto, Kim Bates gives a detailed look at the 9th Annual Chris Langan Traditional Irish Music Weekend. Two of our live performance reviews also garnered Excellence in Writing Awards -- Brendan and Kim wrote reviews that are truly outstanding even by the high standards of Folk Tales!

Four Celtic music reviews came in this week. Kim looks at Bowhouse Quintet's Live in Ennis, an album she says is proof that Irish music is alive and well. Likewise, Gary found Dolores Keane's Night Owl to be a tasty outing well-worth hearing. And Susan McKeown's Bushes & Briars is, according to Meredith Tarr, "an excellent showcase of not only her stunning voice, but the range of Irish music she has discovered ...." No'an Newman wraps up this set of four reviews with a damn fine critique of Sunrush's A Horse Of A Different Color. Meredith's review is the recipient of our final Excellence in Writing Award.

Gary is back again to scrutinize three releases from Compagnia Nuove Indye, an Italian company specializing in folk and folk rock. Agricantus's Faiddi, Novalia's Arkeo, and Tanca Ruja's in terra e in chelu , according to the reviewer, are proof that "[s]omething interesting is going on in Italian folk music."

David Kidney says of Eric Andersen's You Can't Relive the Past, "Andersen doesn't need to relive the past. He is firmly grounded in the present, and the sun is rising on tomorrow." Our last review is from Big Earl Sellar, who delves into Kashmiri music with a review of Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma's Sampraday, an album he says "is a work any world music fan simply must have in their collection."

Location, location, location ... Michael Jones' Peregrine's Prerogative #12 looks at some outstanding worlds that fantasy writers have created. Get your tickets ready for travel to some amazing places!

 12 March 2000

Jorge Luis Borges once said, "I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library." If the books Folk Tales gets for review are any indication, the Library in Borges's Paradise would be worth visiting! Michael Jones leads off with a perceptive look at Everett Emerson's Mark Twain: A Literary Life, a bio that the reviewer gives a thumbs up. (Michael wins an Excellence in Writing Award for this review.) He also treats us to an omnibus review of seven folk tale collections in his On A Dark Night: Folktales and More Folktales. Did I mention that he also has a nifty look at last year's World Fantasy Convention where books were everywhere? That is Michael's idea of Paradise! Marian McHugh has a look at more folktales in her review of Mairtin O'Griofa's The Leprechaun Book.

I firmly believe we do more -- and far better -- music lore reviews than any other online review zine. We have five more for you this week. Patrick O'Donnell leads off with a review of Mickey Hart's Drumming at the Edge of Magic. After looking at this review of drumming as music and as history, cast your eye on two reviews by David Kidney: Edward D. "Sandy" Ives' Drive Dull Care Away, a superb look at PEI music, and John Lilly's Mountains of Music, an anthology of writings from Goldenseal magazine concerning West Virginia traditional music. David garners a well-deserved Excellence in Writing Award for his review of these books. Headed still further south, we find Brendan Foreman's Excellence in Writing Award winning review concerns Zydeco: to be specific, Michael Tisserand's Kingdom of Zydeco. And be sure to read his review of Kingdom of Zydeco , the companion CD. David finishes off our music lore reviews with a look at St. Loius Bluesman Henry Townsend's biography, A Blues Life.

Be sure to check out our virtual coffeehouse too. Talk to Big Earl Sellar, our resident baker, about his new rant: The age of music in this musical age.

Had enough suggestions for your reading pleasure? How about some music reviews? Grey Walker leads off with a look at Hymnody of Earth and Pleasure, the albums by Malcolm Dalglish and the Ooolites, an English traditions group that uses the hammer dulcimer as its core instrument. She picks up an Excellence in Writing Award for this review. Lars Nilsson's look at Mick Ryan & Pete Harris's Hard Season shows this CD to be a fine example of English folk music at its best. Moving to the Celtic music genre, we start off with Kim Bates's look at Kevin Macleod's Springwell,, a CD she thinks is an energizing instrumental recording. Less pleasing was Christy Moore's Live in Dublin, an album that reviewer David Kidney found quite depressing. However, Big Earl has recovered from his ranting long enough to write an appreciative review of Let Zion Move, a two-CD appreciation of the amazing music Shakers made. April Gutierrez finishes with a review of Serras, the self-titled debut from a most talented Danish folk group.

Now get out and listen to some live music! And be sure to drink your Lapsang Souchong tea!  

05 March 2000

Big edition this time -- 21 items all told!

Read the book, listen to the music. April Gutierrez looks at the first book of a trilogy, The Rhymer and the Ravens, and a recording by Dragonship, a group founded by the author of the novel, called, not surprisingly, The Rhymer and the Ravens. The reviewer says "Jodie Forrest has taken a familiar story -- that of Thomas the Rhymer -- and successfully fused it with both Norse mythology and her own blend of history and fantasy." April wins a double Excellence in Writing Award for these exceptionally well-crafted reviews.

Your Editor has a special fondness for Emma Bull -- indeed, I have a personally signed copy of her Finder novel. And I agree with Marian McHugh's review of her children's novel The Princess and the Lord of Night, which is illustrated by Susan Gaber. If you haven't discovered the superb writing of Emma, read this review to see what you've been missing!

Liz Stewart looks at J. F. Beirlein's Parallel Myths, a book John Campbell would have approved of, and Kim Bates looks at Gillian Bennett's Alas Poor Ghost,, a folklore study that "debunks the idea that contemporary people lack a belief in the afterlife and that rational people never encounter ghosts."

Jack B. Merry tells tales about the live music scene in his essay Live Music: A More or Less Polite Rant. He says that some names have been changed to protect the guilty and the stupid, but all of the stories in this essay are true. Jack's rant garners him an Excellence in Writing Award. Chuck Lipsig responds in Speaker's Corner to Big Earl's essay on why he found the Internet to be a poor place for music distribution, alnd wins an Excellence in Writing Award in doing so.Finally, Michael Jones in his Peregrine's Prerogative column looks at Simon Green, an underappreciated fantasy writer.

As always, we have lots of Celtic music reviews to tickle your fancy. No'am Newman leads off with a look at two CDs by the trio of Ken Kolodner, Laura Risk and Robin Bullock: Walking Stones and Greenfire. Michael Hunter reviews Lenahan's Hooligans In Suits. He says "[t]hey do what they do well."

Carol Thompson's The Blossom and the Rain has music that Jo Morrison says "...is light and delicate, and her interpretation leads the listener to the proper sitting parlors of days gone by, when society women would gently lure their suitors with the delightful sound of the harp." Claire Roche's Dancing in the Wind is Rebecca Swain's cup of home-brewed hot chocolate. She says this album "...is a beautiful album of W. B. Yeats poems set to harp music. Lovers of Celtic music, as well as admirers of Yeats, may enjoy this album."

Patrick O'Donnell looks at Gaelic Voices. He says "Gaelic Voices -- the sequel to Green Linnet's Celtic Voices -- is like opening a history book on the Celts and jumping into the pages to catch a firsthand glimpse of the past: a wedding on Rathlin Island; a dance in the Hebrides; the weaving of a tartan in the Highlands." And to wrap up our coverage of Celtic music this week is Debbie Skolnik's detailed look at Brian McNeill's To Answer The Peacock. Debbie notes "...the fiddle takes center stage in this recording, dancing its heart out, strutting its stuff like ... well, like the peacock of the CD's title. It takes a breather every now and then, mind you. In McNeill's hands, the fiddle is a living being, not just a beautifully carved piece of wood with strings." Debbie will also be reviewing the novel To Answer The Peacock, a mystery by Brian McNeill that has a busker as its central character. Debbie's review was selected by all the voting editors as being deserving of an Excellence in Writing Award.

A tetralogy of wide-ranging music reviews wraps up this edition. Kim Bates leads off with a look at David Lyndon Huff's Worldbeat: World Music for a New Millenium. She says this album "...is smooth and well produced, with good transitions between the numbers, and vocal styles, which range from Christian monks chanting to rain sounds to African vocals." Jack Hardy is a respected singer-songwriter who is well-represented in a sampler culled from The Collected Works of Jack Hardy. Rebecca notes "If you already know and love Hardy, you will undoubtedly want the complete set. But, if you are just discovering him, you might want to listen to this to see what he has to offer."

Gary Whitehouse opines that "John McCutcheon is one of America's great traveling troubadours." Read his review of Storied Ground to see why. Brendan Foreman gives us one of two Nordic music reviews this time as he looks at JPP's Kaustinen Rhapsody, an album he notes is "...an interesting and compelling group of tunes, showcasing the playing (and composing) of a very talented group of musicians who seem to have good doses of both imagination and humor in abundance." April appropriately gets the last word, after starting off this edition with a Nordic theme. Her opinion of Swedish group Groupa's Lavalek is that it "...is a fine introduction for those who have yet to experience them."