'It had been a wonderful show. La Gata Verde had been transformed into a dreamscape that was closer to some miraculous otherwhere than it was to the dusty pavement that lay outside the gallery. Paintings, rich with primary colours, depicted los santos and desert spirits and the Virgin as seen by those who'd come to her from a different tradition than that put forth by the Papal authority in Rome. There had been Hopi kachinas--the Storyteller, Crow Woman, clowns, deer dancers--and tiny, carved Zuni fetishes. Wall hangings rich with allegorical representations of Indios and Mexican folk lore. And Bettina's favourite: a collection of sculptures by the Bisbee artist, John Early--surreal figures of grey, fired clay, decorated with strips of coloured cloth and hung with threaded beads and shells and spiralling braids of copper and silver filament. The sculptures twisted and bent like smoke-people frozen in their dancing, captured in mid-step as they rose up from the fire.'
-- from Charles de Lint's
Forests of The Heart



27th of July, 2003



Kim Bates speaking.

What draws a Green Man into the desert? Melodies, bones, and ghosts, I'd say. We go on these pilgrimages from time to time, searching for our heart's home, and often it's the border country of the American West that calls. Coyote? Well, yes she's here, but more often than not, it's that little man with the flute that lures us into a world that borders our own simply because the ghosts linger longer in arid land. Take the North Platte River -- on one side the Mormon trail, and on the other side the one used by other settlers, and everywhere a sense of the First Nations people of the plains. Their memories seem to linger, insisting on atonement, or at least recognition. And the melody? It comes on the wind, in the incredible lightning storms that light up the night sky. The bones of dwellings are here too -- or why would so many be fascinated by the Anasazi that peopled Mesa Verde so long ago. Here the ghosts linger because so many seem to have died violently; oral traditions say witchcraft, archeologists confirm that many died a brutal death amongst these kivas.

Have you stopped to see the horned skull of a cow bleached white and hard? Thank Georgia O'Keefe, for she was drawn here too, inspired by the starkness that seemed to have a spiritual component. Like it was to many of northern European ancestry, the vibrance created by mixing native, Anglo-German and Spanish cultures was irresistible. I'm not sure she's to blame for the New Age seekers of Sedona, but I do know she seduced me, just as the land itself seduced my people in earlier generations. Every day I wear a turquoise bracelet my grandmother picked up in the 1930s, and when I look at the cars and tents that were used to get to Arizona, I'm amazed. My grandfather's family made the journey to Oklahoma in a covered wagon. You can see the effect of the wide open spaces in their faces, peering out of old brown photographs. The land itself has seduced many and sundry.

Where would the Southwest be without those stolid Germans who brought their accordions with them? Or the guitars of the Spanish? Hollywood may have stereotyped the cowboys, but there's no denying that they were on to something, even if they ignored the incredible hardship faced by the men who drove cattle in the 19th century. Charles de Lint, in Forests of the Heart, wove a story around the Southwest, this place that has become the adopted hearts home for so many. Was he drawn by the music or the scenery? Hard to say. His animal people have been here for a long time, as fans of Somewhere to be Flying know; perhaps they, like me, still wonder how long the Magpie Margaret and whiskey drinking Coyote danced together in the dark. It's a place to dance, to write lonely songs, to appreciate vast, painted vistas, and to indulge in vibrant colours, and stark adobe buildings.

We don't have a Film section this week...because we're featuring both of the film reviews we have for you. April Gutierrez and Maria Nutick have written strongly opinionated reviews -- one of the ladies liked the film she reviewed very, very much, and one is hoping for some amnesia inducing event to scrub the memory of the movie from her mind. Which is which, you ask?

April starts us off with her impressions of a film which is currently in theaters. She says '[W]hen I first heard that a movie was planned for Alan Moore's exquisite graphic novel League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I thought to myself, "This could either be a very good thing ... or a very bad thing." When the advertising campaign hit, unveiling the preposterous LXG acronym, my hopes took a downturn. Still, I held out hope that something good might come of the effort. Alas, it was not to be.' Go read her review to find out why she wins the Grinch Award for her discussion of this 'lifeless celluloid cleverly masquerading as a movie.'

Maria, on the other hand, confided to the other editors that she feels very fortunate to have been able to see the film she reviewed. Maria enjoys documentaries, but as she says, they're 'like the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead: when they are good, they are very, very good, and when they are bad, they are horrid.' This documentary, a biographical look at renowned artist Frank Frazetta, gets her enthusiastic recommendation. Go read her Excellence in Writing Award winning review of Frazetta: Painting With Fire to discover why you must see this movie.

No summer doldrums for us here at the Green Man offices. We're too busy enjoying all these great new books to be bored. We've quite a selection of interesting reading for you to sample this week. And if these are not enough, we've got reviews coming in August of the new Year's Best Fantasy and Horror (which will be Terri Windling's last, by the way), and Neil Gaiman's Wolves in the Walls! In addition, Grey Walker will be interviewing Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling on the history of the YBFH series.

Donna Bird leads us off this week with a look at a book chronicling the history of the Detroit Industry Murals and their artist, Diego Rivera. Donna's review of Diego Rivera: The Detroit Industry Murals is a fascinating look into this little-known corner of Mexican/American art.

Craig Clarke had the awesome task of reading not one, but two massive Ray Bradbury short story collections published by two different publishers! Which one's better, Bradbury Stories or The Stories of Ray Bradbury? Craig leaves that up to you to decide, but he aptly guides us through the strengths of each collection.

'What's the difference between the book and the film?' is a question that gets asked often. Some movie adaptations are faithful, some aren't. Cat Eldridge reviews both the book and the film of Like Water for Chocolate for us this week. He found that the movie differed from the book in only one... interesting way. Read the review to learn the difference!

Interstitial books are a favorite here at Green Man, often launching a bidding war when one is offered up for review. Andrea S. Garrett drew the long straw this time and got the privilege to review Sharyn McCrumb's latest Ballad Novel, Ghost Riders, a combination of real history and a modern-day ghost story. Andrea writes that 'McCrumb is at her best telling a good ghost story, and I enjoyed this aspect of the book very much.'

We're slowly making our way through our summer reading lists, and Jason Erik Lundberg shares some of his with us, specifically the entire (!) catalog for new small publisher Small Beer Press. Jason wins an Excellence in Writing Award for his review, which combines a detailed history of Small Beer with insightful reviews of their works.

Maria Nutick read Coyote Cowgirl by author Kim Antieau and came away with mixed feelings about the book. 'Written well, [magical realism] can be spectacularly successful;' Maria writes, 'written poorly, it can rapidly deteriorate into laughably twee New Age schlock. Coyote Cowgirl is a disconcerting mix of both.' Read the review to find out more about why this promising-looking book didn't deliver.

We've got a new issue of The Book of Tales for you. Matthew Scott Winslow, who originally started the column, is joining Craig Clarke to co-write it from now on. This week, Matthew takes a look at David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer's Year's Best Fantasy 3. Although this anthology is a relatively new kid on the 'year's best anthology' block, Matthew thinks it's here to stay. Read his column to see why.

Peter Massey serves as a steward at the annual Chester Folk Festival, which puts him in the perfect position to test all the beers served and make sure they pass muster. He is happy to report that this year 'they have not been watered down and are of outstanding quality. I take this duty upon myself each year, purely on your behalf, you understand. I recommend you try the Weetwood 'Old Dog' or 'Eastgate' ale. From a small local brewer, the beer is brewed in an old pig-sty, don't you know! ...A singing beer if ever there was one!' Of course, there's the music to consider, as well. Peter has detailed descriptions of that, too, so read his review to get the low-down.

Lars Nilsson hit another folk festival in the UK in June, The Beverly and East Riding Folk Festival in South Yorkshire. Like many festivals, this one held concerts simultaneously in different places all weekend, but Lars and his wife packed in as many as they could, including Barachois and the Eliza Carthy Band, about whom Lars has rather a lot of positive things to say. He also caught a workshop with guitarist Martin Simpson.

Maria Nutick wins an Excellence in Writing Award for her review of The Wicked Tinkers. She caught two of their sets at the Portland Scottish Highland Games on July 19. She says, 'I've paid five times as much for tickets to see bands ten times as famous in venues twenty times as large, and not had half as much fun. If you ever get the chance to catch the Tinkers onstage, don't pass it up.' Read the rest of her review to see why, and catch her review of their new album, Banger for Breakfast, in an upcoming issue.

Gary Whitehouse saw the uncategorizable Rosanne Cash on July 17, at a free concert in the park, along with about 8,000 other people (!!!). She performed a wide selection of her own old songs, some of the Cash family songs, and her one smash country crossover hit from 1981, 'Seven-Year Ache', but you've got to read Gary's review to find out which song she sang for her encore that had the crowd 'electrified'!

Music Editor Kim Bates appropriately leads off the music section with two bloody good reviews. First she comes clean: '[D]isclosure: I'm a long time Molly's fan! Live, recorded, whatever, I'm there. There's something about the world-weary defiance, the determination to feel joy -- or at least pleasure -- in The Mollys' music, that warms the soul.' Does she feel any differently about this offering from Nancy McCallion and The Mollys? Go read her Excellence in Writing Award winning review of Trouble to find out. And when you're finished there, Kim says of the next two CDs that they 'will make her fans particularly happy, and should provide an excellent introduction to her work for those who have not had the pleasure of hearing her before.' She's referring to Kathryn Tickell's Borderlands and Kathryn Tickell.

David Kidney, Master Reviewer, has done several reviews of work by Mose Scarlett, Jackie Washington, and Ken Whiteley. Is it safe to say that he's a fan? Oh, my, yes. But he's still a discerning critic. And we're sure he'd point out their faults...if he could find any. As David says, 'at the Green Man offices, deep down in the darkest recesses, where the amontillado is stored and Spike is allowed to play his Clash albums at full volume, we listen to lots of different music. But a new CD from Mose, Jackie and Ken (or any of the trio individually) is played loud and regularly.' This week he brings us their latest triumph, Sitting on a Rainbow.

Next up is Peter Massey, who writes 'often singer-songwriters are a strange breed. They all have these wonderful words and music in their heads, but for some of them, to their frustration, the good Lord didn't bless them with the ability to perform it, or at least not as it should be performed.' Is that the case with the trio he reviews here? Read his review of Chris O'Brien's self titled E.P. -Apt.4, Richard Thorne's Undercover Overachiever, and New Roots from Amberjack Rice to see if he gives these three the thumbs up or the back of his hand.

Jack Merry finds us the most interesting music.This time around it's a CD by Jackalope, perfect for this month's theme of Borders (and how we cross them, of course.) Jack declares 'the other Jackalope albums that I've heard over the years were not very interesting for me. But Dances with Rabbits has had more playings in this household that I can count.' Well, what more do you need to know? Go see why Jack recommends it so highly...and find out just exactly what the frell synthacousticpunkarachiNavajazz is! Oh, and if you see Jack lurking anywhere, tell him to come pick up his Excellence in Writing Award.

John O'Regan has a nice fat omnibus of Celtica for us. John, of course, knows his Celtic music! Here he brings us 'Scots, German, Swiss and English bands playing Celtic music or music where the native roots are plainly visible': The Baltimore Consort, The Best of the Baltimore Consort; Paul Machlis, The Bright Field; Us Not Them & Friends, As Good As New; Various Artists, Femmes De Bretagne; Jiggerypipery, The Drift; Kilbride, Sidan; More Maids, Live; Heidi, Stef & Bow Triplets, One Spot On Earth; and The Irish Experience, The Irish Experience.

Finally, Gary Whitehouse explains that '[t]he Brooklyn Cowboys aren't really what you'd call a supergroup. That term implies well-known musicians from established groups getting together in a sort of uber-band; Crosby, Stills and Nash and Golden Smog are two of the better known examples. The Cowboys instead are mostly a bunch of established sidemen who've gotten together to pool their considerable talents at making country-rock music.' In his review of Dodging Bullets he reveals why he thinks that '[T]hese guys have chops galore...'

If your heart longs for the West, take cheer, as we continue our exploration of the folk themes, music and mysteries of this vibrant mélange of cultures. But remember the border between this world and the other world may grow thin when you least expect it. Be careful where you wander.

20th of July, 2003

'Coyote is an anarchist. She can confuse all civilised ideas simply by trotting through. And she always fools the pompous. Just when your ideas begin to get all nicely arranged and squared off, she messes them up. Things are never going to be neat, that's one thing you can count on. Coyote walks through all our minds. Obviously, we need a trickster, a creator who made the world all wrong. We need the idea of a God who makes mistakes, gets into trouble, and who is identified with a scruffy little animal.'

Ursula Le Guin in an interview in Jonathan White's
Talking on the Water:
Conversations About Nature and Creativity Dreams

Borders are interesting realities — something that Coyote knows all too all.

This zine you're reading started life long ago as a print journal, so it has crossed the border from print to digital. Other borders are more hard to see when crossing ... I know a band from the Southwestern USA that was at its very best when it had two lead vocalists -- one Mexican, one First Nations in origin -- but it doesn't realize that it has since crossed a not so desirable border on its way to commercial success. And I know at least one arts organization that exists both in the physical realm and in the digital realm. Terri Windling, who wrote one of the definitive magic realism novels set in the Southwest, The Wood Wife, divides her time during the year, as Maria noted last week here in Continuity, between two vastly different physical realities. And we here at Green Man passionately believe in that which we call Continuity, as it crosses many borders, some known, some unknown. Some of what is said here is real to this universe; some isn't, and some might be. Does it matter which is? Only if you're scared of border crossings. Or take yourself too seriously. If the latter, I do hope that Coyote will be visting you soon!

The Hedgehog, the inhouse newsletter for the Green Man staff, has had a running discussion for several issues among the staff and visitors here of what the perfect Southwest Border breakfast is. I said that I'd go with an old favourite of mine, Huevos Rancheros, which for me are eggs and chorizo wrapped in warm tortillas, then covered with a green chile sauce. That and strong black coffee will do nicely after a night of dancing, drinking, and listening to Los Tricksters play. (Go ahead -- you tell me they don't exist! I know that they're in Ernest Hogan's Smoking Mirror Blues, a novel which in its depiction of LA during a future Day of the Dead fits the border-crossing motif all too well. But they are here too. Really. Truly.) The Lizard King himself has wandered in to our Pub from time to time and ordered tequila, with a beer chaser, and he likes Huevos Rancheros for breakfast too. Now, Grey says she's fond of fresh mesquite tortillas smeared with sour cream and drizzled with wild honey, accompanied by Loooosiana chicory coffee or yarrow tea with more honey. Will Shetterly says, of what he and Emma Bull prefer, that it 'depends. Anglo southwestern is something like biscuits, home fries, and eggs with salsa for us. Mexican is prob'ly huevos rancheros with beans and homemade corn tortillas on the side.'

So what's your favourite?

Donna Bird is back with A Nation of Shopkeepers by Bill Evans and Andrew Lawson, which is a slim book of photographs and written description. 'Concerned about the imminent demise of a way of life, the authors spent time in the mid-1970s traveling around England looking for small local shops that demonstrated a particular aesthetic appeal.' Donna wins an Excellence in Writing Award for her evocative review, which gives us a taste of a delightful book about a vanishing cultural facet.

Rachel Manija Brown also wins an Excellence in Writing Award for her review of Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay. Rachel looks at Kay's novel not only as 'an epic on a grand scale, studded with grim battles, larger-than-life characters, plot twists, dramatic irony, and operatic flourishes', but also as the exploration of 'a potent metaphor for the destruction of a native culture and language by foreign invaders'.

Craig Clarke brings us an overview of a short story anthology with an interesting theme. Witpunk, edited by Claude Lalumière and Marty Halpern, sets out to prove that reading scifi and fantasy can still be fun. Does it succeed? Read the review to see what Craig thinks.

Faith J. Cormier has mixed feelings about Absolution by Murder, a mystery by Peter Tremayne which is set in Ireland and Britain in 664 A.D. Faith appreciates Tremayne's 'fascinating glimpse of a lesser-known era in European history', but she has reservations about the main character...

Cat Eldridge, on the other hand, has no reservations whatsoever about Forests of the Heart, a 'Newford' novel by Charles de Lint. Cat opens his review by saying, 'Some novels are so good, so interesting, that they bear repeated readings over a period of time. I read Forests of the Heart first in the form of an advanced reading copy, and have read it once a year ever since. For pure storytelling, it remains my favorite de Lint novel bar none.' Read the rest of Cat's review to see why Forests of the Heart deserves reading and re-reading.

April Gutierrez had the pleasure of re-reading Stephen King's classic fantasy The Gunslinger: The Dark Tower I recently. Viking is planning on re-releasing the entire series, with revisions by King, preparatory to publishing the long-awaited fifth book in the series later this year. 'The Gunslinger is light on actual action,' April says, 'but makes up for it with King's extraordinary characterization of Roland [the gunslinger himself].' April earns an Excellence in Writing Award for her knowledgeable and enthusiastic review.

Wes Unruh reviews another short story anthology, this week, which also has an interesting theme. The Bakka Anthology, edited by Kristen Pederson Chew, is a collection of stories all written by people who at one time or another worked at Bakka, a science fiction book store in Canada. What is it about the atmosphere of Bakka that makes it a breeding ground for authors? Wes, who hopes to be published someday himself, would sure like to find out!

Matthew Scott Winslow compares two recently published books on J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Bradley J. Birzer's J.R.R. Tolkien's Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-earth and Mark Eddy Smith's Tolkien's Ordinary Virtues: Exploring the Spiritual Themes of The Lord of the Rings. There's a difference, Matthew says, between appreciating the impact Tolkien's Catholicism had on his writing and reading his work as devotional literature. Read his review to see which these two books succeeds as respectful and worthwhile scholarship, and which is drivel.

Leona Wisoker finishes our book reviews with a fond look at a children's classic, Moominland Midwinter by Tove Jansson. For those of you who have been following Leona as she re-explores this delightful series from childhood, here's the next book, in which Moomintroll learns that 'sometimes it's best if things aren't so easy.'

David Kidney is off in Ireland, the lucky beggar. If that's not bad enough, he only just returned from Hawaii. He went to Hawaii, officially, on business. Unofficially, he went searching for the roots of the music he's loved since childhood. David says 'I recall standing at the Canadian National Exhibition with my Nana listening to a genuine Hawaiian band. I would've been 14 or so. My Dad played Jimmy Rodgers and Bob Wills records when I was an infant, all featuring steel guitar. The Charlie Chan films my Mom watched always had a club sequence with a steel guitarist, who might have been Sol Hoopi'i himself. Yes, this music and I go way back.' What did David find? Read his Excellence in Writing Award winning essay, A Long Journey to Hawaii, to find out.

Maria Nutick here. If you only knew what I had my reviewers working on for future issues...well, I might give you a little taste...April Gutierrez will be writing up her impressions of The League of Extroardinary Gentlemen...Grey Walker is polishing up what I know will be a gem of a review of Shadowlands, the Anthony Hopkins C.S. Lewis bio-pic...David Kidney's taking on a DVD of Allison Krauss and Union Station...heck, I have a tasty looking biography of fantasy art legend Frank Frazetta that arrived in my mailbox on Wednesday, so look for a review next issue! But enough about the future, as we have some superb film reviews for you right here and now.

Rachel Manija Brown went to the Japanese Outlaw Masters Film Festival and of course she brought us back some exciting reviews. Two films by a man Rachel describes as 'auteur of the yakuza mythos, Seijun Suzuki' were worth a thumbs up from Rachel. Rachel claims that the first, Underworld Beauty, is 'very much like a good solid American film noir from the 1940s, except that it's a Japanese movie from the late 1950s. If John Huston had been Japanese, he would have made this instead of The Maltese Falcon. Which is not to say that Underworld Beauty is of the same level of quality -- it isn't -- but it's flying reconnaissance over very similar territory.' Of the second, Tattooed Life, Rachel uses the phrase 'crazy and spectacular'.

Rachel also viewed the recently released horror 'neo-classic' 28 Days Later, which has been getting raves willy-nilly. Does Rachel agree? Well, she does advise 'don't bring the kids', but is that a good thing? Read her Excellence in Writing Award winning discussion to find out.

Kimberlee Sweeney Rettberg reminds us of a 10 year old film that really shouldn't be missed; she says it's 'a great film, and it works on several levels. It is an urban fantasy, certainly, but more in a Twilight Zone kind of way, than a folk or fairytale aspect. In one man's life-overhaul we can recognize every one of us -- and it makes us wonder what we would do in Phil's situation.' Kimberlee picks up an Excellence in Writing Award...oh, the film? Why, it's Groundhog Day...

Finally, Will Shetterly brings us another thorough and insightful exploration of the Buffyverse, with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Complete Second Season on DVD. Season Two -- 'the year in which Angel -- Angel with a soul, anyway -- became boring' -- the year 'about love in many forms'. No surprise that Will picks up another Excellence in Writing Award for this fabulous review. Go on, go check it out! And come on back next week for more great film reviews!

'Come into my mailroom,' said the Green Man to the fly ... oh, wait, that was me. That's the wonderful thing about nursery rhymes — underneath the façade of mindless literary entertainment is a meaningful message to send in your letters to Green Man Review.

Or maybe not. But you can enjoy the letters in any case.

A few weeks ago, a reader wrote in asking for information on Celtic snake tattoos that he thought may have been made of blue woad, prompting responses from several members of our staff. Now, another reader, Rebecca Scott, has responded with a fountain of information on blue woad tattoos that may shed some light on the subject.

Both the publisher and the author of Ashes and Angel Wings wrote in to thank reviewer Nathan Brazil for his review and to respond to a particular complaint regarding the text size.

Jeffrey Wendt certainly appreciated Rachel Manija Brown's look at John Woo's Last Hurrah for Chivalry. He's going to pass it along to his friends. We love it when people introduce us to new readers.

Josef Olt wrote in from Austria in order to say that, while Gülay and the Ensemble Aras took exception to a couple of things mentioned in Tim Hoke's review of their Colors of Silk album, in general they were quite pleased with it.

A Green Man review is going to be included in a forthcoming book. Linda Schultz and Lorrie Clark want to include David Kidney's nostalgic review of A Hard Day's Night in their book on Beatles memories. Congratulations, David.

And then there was the letter from the record producer who didn't like our review of one of his albums. His belief was that we should remove it from GMR because other magazines had reviewed the thing positively. Haven't seen that one in a while; it must still be getting passed around the office. Even now, I can hear the echoing laughter....

Jack Merry here. I'm listening to 'Finnegan's Wake' off the Mollys Tidings of Comfort and Joy CD which has the lovely harmonies of the two girls, and the ever pleasing sound of accordion and fiddle. Cool. Now grab a Tres Equis beer with lime from the bar and join me in discussing the music this outing!

Four Canadian banjo players (Arnie Naiman, Brian Taheny, Chris Coole, and Chris Quinn) have releases a CD called, surprise, The Banjo Special. Now just how good is it? Judith Gennett likes it quite a bit, but would have preferred it if it had been live instead of studio produced. Go read her Excellence in Writing Award winning review to see why.

Hilarie Burhans' Put On The Skillet, Hubie King and Diane Jones' There Are No Rules!, and Reed Island Rounders' Goin' Back. Banjos? as in the film Deliverance? Now, now -- like the accordion that suffered from being associated with Lawrence Welk, the banjo deserves better! As Tim Hoke notes 'I was lucky to get to hear some good old-time banjo recordings recently. Now there doesn't seem to be much middle ground when it comes to banjos. There are the folks who love them, and then there are the misguided. I think there's hope for the misguided, though; they just haven't listened to the right recordings. These three, for instance.'

Songster Rick Neeley's General Merchandise is a bit of disappointment for Tim: 'This an album that grew on me with each listening. There's good music here, but still there seems to be something missing. Listening to this gives me the feeling that Neeley has tremendous stage presence, which doesn't quite come through on a studio recording. A live recording might have captured that better.'

David Kidney says that 'Blackie & the Rodeo Kings's BARK, named after their initials [Blackie and the Rodeo Kings], or after an old forgotten Jefferson Airplane album, or after what the dog on the CD is going to do when he finishes smoking that big doobie, is a dramatic leap forward and a rollicking great album of roots music. Individually the trio brings a background in folk, blues, rock, barrelhouse, to bear on a sound that is reminiscent of classic Band music more than anything. And the support of latter day Band-member Richard Bell on keyboards makes the comparison even closer to the mark. Gary Craig on drums and John Dymond's bass complete the sextet providing astonishing depth in the rhythm section.'

June Carter Cash's Wildwood Flower is a bittersweet experience for David: 'On my desk, next to my keyboard, is a notice I printed out from Rolling Stone's Web site. 'June Carter Cash Dies' says the headline. It's been there since May 15th. Why'd I print it out? Good question. I guess she'd been on my mind. My son came home one night with the new Johnny Cash album, When the Man Comes Around, in a special edition which included a DVD with the video of 'Hurt.' This is probably the most potent use of video I have ever seen in promoting a new song. The director looked at the Johnny Cash Museum, which had slipped into disrepair, and decided to do the shoot on location. An aged and tired John R. Cash sings the weary injured lyrics of Trent Reznor's song, as he sits surrounded by the memorabilia of a lifetime. At one point, his wife is seen, looking over his shoulder, a tear runs down her cheek. It seemed a given that this was Johnny's last record, that it might be the last time we saw him. June seemed to know that. A protective angel, she gazed on, tired, loving, gentle. And then...we heard she'd gone into hospital. And a week later, she was gone.' Do I need to say that this review won Excellence in Writing Award? I think not!

Blues King Pins -- one volume each of BB King, Elmore James, Fats Domino, Ike Turner,John Lee Hooker, and Lightnin' Hopkins. Need to know more? Phillistine! Sigh... So, let's listen in on David and Spike:

Look Spike, a half dozen albums with the same title. What do you make of that?

Lack of @#$%in' imagination?

No, it's not that...it's a series. These discs are available (or will be soon) either individually, or in a boxed set.

Wotsa point? There's nuffink new!

No, you're right. Nothing new...but this set is a goldmine of reissued material. Music that's been lost to the ages, forgotten, or overlooked for years and now Virgin Records, EMI and The Right Stuff are packaging all these classics in celebration of the Year of the Blues.

Roger Chapman's Techno-Prisoners and The Shadow Knows + Live In Berlin gets the once-over from David. Roger Chapman? The bloke with the hoarse, wavering voice which me wife Brigid says sounds like a goat that ate the wrong bit o' grass -- and she likes him! If you like Blues on the rough side, check out David's Excellence in Writing Award winning review.

Sean Tyla's Just Popped Out + Redneck In Babylon and Tyla Gang's Moonproof reminded Dvaid of Spike, the bouncer... err, security associate... at the Green Man pub: 'Just about the time Spike and his brother Fred were recording their only official album, The Jap Zeros @#$% the System, there was a second movement in popular music. There was the punk rock of the Clash, Sex Pistols, and the Zeros, and across town there was a thing called pub rock. Slightly older musicians trying to maintain or jump-start a career, stripped their sound down, played old-time rock'n'roll and rolled up the cuffs of their dungarees.' What the %$#@ that's got to do with these albums is something you'll need to read the review to discover. Me, I'm going to get another Tres Equis...

Peter Massey comments that '[s]ometimes I think only Americans can really sing blues, ragtime, country western and Bluegrass songs.' However he considers Graham Bellinger's The Old Blue Suit to be an exception to that belief. Go read his review to see why!

Pat Simmonds gives us a number of nicely done reviews this outing including a look at two Leitrim lads, fiddler Charlie Lennon and accordionist Johnny Óg Connolly, and their CD, Dusk Till Dawn, which he says is 'a concept album. It is divided into three sections, 'Warming Up', 'Dedications' and 'In Full Swing' describing the course that an evening's entertainment might take.'

Next up is The Dubliners' Spirit of the Irish -- The Ultimate Collection which he says is a 'tastefully packaged item [which] packs 20 songs and a 12 page liner together to present something that's called the 'ultimate collection'. There are absolutely no surprises here; anyone with even a passing knowledge of Celtic pub bands from Calgourlie to Calgary will recognise the songs. These lads single-handedly created the repertoire. The Dubliners have been on the go for a long time, and their antics both on and off the stage are legendary.' It's worth noting that John O'Regan, Green Man reviewer, wrote the liner notes!

Spin's debut contradance album didn't completely sit well with Pat: 'I certainly am not dismissing Miss Schneckenburger's ability to play her instrument, and I imagine that I would be first on the dance floor at the Saturday night hop, but this record swings in all the wrong directions for me. There is a growing trend towards a homogenised 'celtique' fiddle style and sound these days; it's impossible to say where anyone is from because they all sound the same, and unfortunately this record reflects that. I'm sure that with time this ensemble will make a more substantial contribution to the pantheon of recorded American fiddle music.'

Celtic/Worldbeat artist Eileen Ivers is a favourite of both Green Man staffers and readers, so we were delighted to get a review copy of her latest release, Eileen Ivers and Immigrant Soul. Is it good? Oh, bloody 'ell yes! As Mike Stiles says: 'Here's the latest from one of the greatest pioneers of the World Sound today. If this CD doesn't immigrate its way into your soul, you're most likely a candidate for relocation under the turf.'

Gary Whitehouse, fresh from the discussion the staff has been having of Southwestern Border music, has an Excellence in Writing Award winning look at folk-pop duo eastmountainsouth and their debut album. They have good creds: as this CD 'debuts as one of the first releases on the new DreamWorks label, signed by legendary musician Robbie Robertson and produced by legendary knobsman Mitchell Froom. Whether they'll live up to the obviously high expectations placed on them remains, as they say, to be seen.' It's, as Gary puts it in his review, 'folk music for the dance-hall crowd.'

I must be off now as Stephen Hunt is talking about Swarb -- Forty Five years of Folk's Finest Fiddler, the Free Reed Boxed Set that he just got from them for us to review. There was a second copy which will go into the Green Man audio collection, so do come have a listen to it soon.

And lastly, we've been having a fine debate over what's the best Southwest border band. I'm arguing for the Mollys, who blend Tex-Mex and Celtic influences, but Spike hasn't had enough Oaxacan Mescal Tequila yet to figure out if he disagrees with me. Gary Whitehouse notes over a Tres Equis that 'I'd have to go with the Texas Tornadoes ... the late, great Texas Tornadoes, that is. They mix the Texas/Louisiana swamp-rock of Freddy Fender, the norteña and corridos of Flaco Jimenez and the psychedelic Texas blues-rock of Doug Sahm and Augie Myers.... On the radar: Calexico, whose 'desert noir' sound mixes American rock, lounge-jazz, techno and country with mariachi, cumbia, corridos and afro-peruvian.'

13th of July, 2003

'In the desert, you can remember your name...'

Artist and author Terri Windling spends half of each year in England and the other half in Arizona. On the surface this appears to be the perfect analogy for the lives of those of us who call ourselves artists, whether writers, composers, painters, or sculptors: periods of greening fertility mixed with periods of parched desolation. As I said, on the surface. Those of us who truly know deserts realize that such desolation is a masquerade. The desert, every desert, is alive with possibility. From the dust and sagebrush of the Oregon High Desert to the saguaros and red river washes of the Southwest, hardy plants and animals make ingenious use of every available resource with only one goal: survival. Are we so often drawn to the music and literature of the green, moist, fertile climes because they represent ease of living, a harmony within nature that we seek for ourselves? Perhaps. But like the creatures of the desert, like that old laughing trickster Coyote, we who create for a living (and to live) often do our best in our desert times. Nothing worth doing, it has often been said, is easy. When art doesn't come easily -- when we have to dig down deep beneath the dry landscape to draw up the water -- it may indeed be when we have truly accomplished greatness.

So, dear readers, like our beloved Ms. Windling, this month we're exploring the connections between the Old World and the New with a Southwestern desert flavor to our pages. And while we have no reviews for you this week, we have been out panning for gold, so to speak. While some review zines are published with the barest minimum of effort on the part of writers and editors, we at Green Man prefer to scrabble a bit deeper, dig beneath the surface, and offer something of substance to our readers. With this in mind, we've been revamping our Resources page. We've got links to some of the sites that we consider to be the best on the Web for lovers of books, films, and music. Go on, discover, explore, and enjoy...and come back next week when we'll return to our regularly scheduled review format.

6th of July, 2003

'With tender, paternal attention the Alvaro Brothers unwrapped their musical instruments, which traveled in comfort, nestled in bright-blocked quilts... The elder Alvaro, dressed in cowboy boots and a formal Western shirt, cradled a gunmetal saxophone that reminded me of World War II planes. A middle-aged Alvaro with shoulder-length hair played accordion, and two boys in T-shirts played bass guitar and drums. The old sax player stepped up to the microphone. 'We are the Alvaro Brothers,' he said. 'If we make too much noise, let us know.' It was the last time any of them smiled. From the instant they began to play, they stood motionless with their mouths turned down in concentration. Everybody else was dancing in their seats. Chicken Scratch music is Mexican-spiced Native American polka. It sounds like a wild, very happy, and slightly drunken wedding party, and it moves you up and down; you can't keep still.' -- from Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Dreams

This past week those of us who live in the United States celebrated our birth as a nation. Around such times, there's always a lot of public talk about 'our national heritage.' And usually, as you probably already know, the first -- and sometimes the only -- thing that gets mentioned is 'freedom'. While I, Grey Walker, a Narrative American, am certainly grateful for the freedoms I have, I don't think of them as treasures in and of themselves. Freedom to do what? To live how?

To my mind (and if you're a regular reader you'll agree), one of our greatest treasures as a nation is our music, the music that was brought here by immigrants, the music that was already here, created by native peoples, and the music that has flown and mingled from those two deep streams. Or should I say, in keeping with GMR's motto, 'grown and branched out from those deep roots'? What does 'folk music' mean? It means music of/by/from/for the 'folk'. And the folk are all of us.

Every nation, every people or group, has certain musics as its heritage. And we here at GMR are determined to celebrate and re-celebrate as many of them as we can discover. This week, we're celebrating two 'American' treasures. The first is the Chicken Scratch that Barbara Kingsolver describes so wonderfully in our opening quotation above. The second is the work of the composer Aaron Copland. We have interesting reviews of Copland's compositions for you, and one omnibus review of several books focussing on classical music, including Leonard Bernstein's The Joy of Music and The Infinite Variety of Music, and Copland's What to Listen For in Music.

We invite you to join us in celebrating American music.

Maria Nutick here. I had a wonderful time reading this week's Copland reviews, and now I'm itching to add some of these CDs and books to my collection. You will be too, after you read these tantalizing commentaries by some of our best writers -- all of whom, by the way, win well deserved Excellence in Writing Awards this time out!

Jack Merry starts out our Copland journey with a set of CDs from Sony entitled The Copland Collection. Spike, Bela, and Reynard joined Jack for a listening session in the Library and spirited discussion down in the Pub and collectively they've thoroughly explored Early Orchestral Works, 1922-1935, Orchestral & Ballet Works, 1922-1935, and Orchestral Works, 1948-1971. Jack says 'Our greatest joy however was how much we enjoyed all of the CDs in the rather large set. None of us, save Bela, are great classical music fans, and none had heard Copland in any organized fashion. These discs played over the sound system in the Library as we sat around one of the old oak reading tables brought a new and delightful experience to all of us.'

Copland's work is usually considered 'post-classical classical' music. Fortunately for us, Kelly Sedinger volunteered (actually he was wheedled into it) to give us an omnibus review of five books that provide a superb mini-reference shelf -- or even a sort of independent study of 'Classical Music 101' -- for someone who wants a starting place in the vast world of the classical genre. The titles included in this fabulous review are The Lives of the Great Composers by Harold Schonberg, The Essential Canon of Classical Music by David Dubal, The Joy of Music and The Infinite Variety of Music by Leonard Bernstein, and What to Listen for in Music by Aaron Copland.

But that's not all Kelly has for us this outing; he reviews Copland's music, too -- 'a body of music,' Kelly says, 'that still is surprising in its freshness, even with some of his familiar works going on sixty years old.' See what Kelly has to say about these recordings: Fanfare for the Common Man, Rodeo (Four Dance Episodes), Appalachian Spring (Suite), and these 'Copland conducts Copland' CDs, Fanfare for the Common Man, Appalachian Spring (Suite), Old American Songs (Complete), Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes, Appalachian Spring (Original Version for chamber orchestra), A Lincoln Portrait, Billy the Kid (Ballet Suite), and Our Town, The Red Pony (suite from the film), El Salon Mexico, Danzon Cubano, Three Latin-American Sketches.

Grey Walker takes a look at some of Copland's works as conducted by his great friend, Leonard Bernstein. Grey tells us that '[I]t has been said that Bernstein, as a conductor, was 'the ideal interpreter' of Copland's music.' Of one of the four pieces on Music for the Theatre, El Salón México, Grey says 'Copland wrote it in Mexico City, while he lived there between 1933 and 1936. It was first performed by the Orquesta Sinfonica de México, directed by Carlos Chávez. Like most of Copland's work, El Salón is bright, grand and hopeful, yet threaded through it are strains of lilting, minor melody, echoes of Mexican folk songs.' Read her fascinating review to find out more.

Gary Whitehouse begins by explaining that for 'what would have been Aaron Copland's 100th birthday in 2000, Sony Classical disgorged a cornucopia of Copland works. This three volume, six-CD set gives a good overview of the career of this quintessential American composer. It includes the best-known works -- chamber, orchestral and choral -- as well as a smattering of some of Copland's lesser-known works, and some alternate versions and rarities previously unreleased on CD; and even a few never before released at all.' He goes on to give us one of his (as usual) scrupulous reviews of this intriguing material: A Copland Celebration, Vol. 1, Famous Orchestral and Chamber Works, A Copland Celebration, Vol. 2, Chamber Music and Rarities, and A Copland Celebration, Vol. 3, Vocal and Choral Works.

Thank you all for celebrating with us this week. Come back next week, when we debut our updated and revamped Resources page. And in the meantime, enjoy your musical heritage, wherever you live. As (we're pretty sure) Big Bill Broonzy said, 'It's all folk music; I ain't heard no hosses singin' it!'



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Updated 27 July 03, 09:00 GMT (MN)