'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
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
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.'
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.'
Le Guin in an interview in Jonathan
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
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?
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
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'.
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.
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...
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
had the pleasure of re-reading Stephen King's classic fantasy
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.
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!
Scott Winslow compares two recently published books on
J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Bradley J. Birzer'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.
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.'
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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,
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!
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 @#$%in' imagination?
No, it's not that...it's a series. These discs are available
(or will be soon) either individually, or in a boxed set.
Wotsa point? There's nuffink new!
No, you're right. Nothing new...but this set is a goldmine of
reissued material. Music that's been lost to the ages, forgotten,
or overlooked for years and now Virgin Records, EMI and The
Right Stuff are packaging all these classics in celebration
of the Year of the Blues.
Roger Chapman's Techno-Prisoners
and The Shadow Knows
+ Live In Berlin gets the once-over from David. Roger
Chapman? The bloke with the hoarse, wavering voice which me wife
Brigid says sounds like a goat that ate the wrong bit o' grass
-- and she likes him! If you like Blues on the rough side, check
out David's Excellence in Writing Award winning review.
Sean Tyla's Just
Popped Out + Redneck In Babylon and Tyla Gang's
Dvaid of Spike, the bouncer... err, security associate... at the
Green Man pub: 'Just about the time Spike and his brother
Fred were recording their only official album, The Jap Zeros @#$%
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
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!
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.'
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
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
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!
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
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.
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.
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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Entire Contents Copyright
2003, The Green Man Review. All Rights Reserved.
Updated 27 July 03, 09:00 GMT (MN)