Awaiting Review (Some Still Waiting—Some New)

To review any of the following CDS, contact SFFMC, 885 Clayton Street, San Francisco, CA 94117:

General Instructions


Bill Amatneek: Acoustic Stories: Playing Bass with Peter, Paul & Mary, Jerry Garcia, Bill Monroe, and 18 Other Unamplified Tales.
ISBN 1-928578-11-X.
Vineyards Press, Sebastopol, California

“The twenty-one extraordinary narratives in this memorable collection are at one and the same time funny, generous, humble, sweet and thoughtful.” These words are the cogent observation of nationally acclaimed storyteller Milbre Birch, who states that in Bill Amatneek the current folk music world has indeed found its Homer. Amatneek's entire life has been an ongoing love affair with the world of music. As a professional bassist and banjo player, he has interacted with some of the finest musicians in today's music scene—folk, country, bluegrass, blues, rock and roll, and big-band jazz. Amatneek has lovingly interacted with people representing a veritable Who's Who of the world of modern music: Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin, Bill Monroe, Frank Wakefield, Dionne Warwick, Al Collins, and David Grisman.

Amatneek is also a true wordsmith. Whether it was helping Bob Dylan find the stage at a 1963 Philadelphia concert; performing with Peter, Paul and Mary at the 1979 Bread and Roses festival; or two poignant tales in which Amatneek helped celebrate two anniversaries of the Allied landings in Normandy in 1944 with veterans of theses titanic events, these tales come from the heart and the soul. They sing to the eternal spirit that makes music the special art form it is and has been since time immemorial.

It is perhaps the highest testament to Amatneek's excellence as a raconteur that praise for his efforts have come from both storytellers and fellow musicians, showing that he has had a major impact on the world of acoustic and unamplified music, and, in turn, it has affected his development as a major talent within the storytelling community. The worlds of music and story are much the richer for it.

--Robert Rodriguez

Nadia Nagarajan: Pomegranate Seeds: Latin American Jewish Tales
(ISBN 0-8263-2391-X) University of New Mexico Press 3721 Spirit Drive SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106; 1-800-249-7737.

Nadia Nagarajan has given the world of storytelling and comparative cultural studies a true pioneering first with this unique anthology of tales centered around the five centuries of the Jewish historical and cultural experience in Latin America, representing countries from Argentina to Brazil, Chile to Panama, and as far afield as the Caribbean island of Curaçao. Amazingly, it has only been in the past three decades that any serious research and scholarship has transpired in the collection, analysis, and dissemination of Jewish oral narratives from Latin America; thus this first-ever such collection is such an important milestone.

The tales in this volume are personal narratives, often called memorats, involving family history and personal reflections often several generations removed from the time and locale of the incidents recounted. But all these stories were heard and collected through encounters with the descendants of the persons involved and through interviews with current Jewish residents of these countries. Here are stories of rabbis, peddlers, and financiers found from modern urban centers such as Buenos Aires to remote Amazon rainforests and Andean mountain valleys. Underlying each tales is the dominant theme of the attempt of Jewish settlements to survive and prosper in environments ranging from primitive and indifferent to downright hostile throughout the last five centuries. These tales reflect the constant theme of Jewish survival, adaptability to new and unusual circumstances, and bringing their own unique cultural experience to bear in strange lands under tropical skies. Very highly recommended.

--Robert Rodriguez


GENE BLUESTEIN: Gene Bluestein Retrospective 1956-1986.
Available from Evo Bluestein, 10691 N. Madsen, Clovis, CA 93619-9704; (559)297-8966;

What an amazing CD! Gene Bluestein was a man who defied categories and we are all richer for his skills and diversity. Here are songs from many traditions--Norwegian, French Canadian, Caribbean steel drum, Yiddish, Appalachian both white and black, Scottish--all played with style and substance. The songs are grand. His love for the people from whom he gathered music is evident in every cut. But this CD manages to be both entertaining and something more significant at the same time. It offers us a glimpse into the work and life of a complex man; one who saw the similarities in seemingly different cultures.

The notes and pictures have been beautifully put together to complement the music. You'll learn about Gene's life, travels, family and his impact on the rest of us. This CD will become a treasured part of your collection. Highly recommended!

--Ray Frank

LINDA ALLEN: Where I Stand.
Available from October Rose Productions, (360) 734-7979

With this new recording of original songs, Linda Allen has come up with an absolute masterpiece. Each song is an exquisite jewel, with vocals front and center, set in spare but perfect background vocals (provided by daughters Jen and Kristin, Tracy Spring, and Lydia McCauley) and instrumental accompaniment to show each to best advantage. All of the songs are eminently memorable and singable. As usual, most of the songs present stories and word portraits of seemingly ordinary individuals meeting the trials and tribulations of life with extraordinary courage and humanity, inspiration this time came from a midwife (Partera), the tsunami of last December (God of all Beyond the Sea), Rachel Corrie, (Song for Rachel) and others who have “laid their bodies down” for their beliefs, the events of 9/11 (Ashes and Smoke), Julia “Butterfly” Hill (Heroes) and her own family (my personal favorite, Many Generations). Also included are statements of personal belief (Where I Stand, I Believe), and a beautiful love song written for her husband (Old Love). The recording closes with a series of chants and rounds that I hope will soon be sung the world over. Get this without delay!

--Kathryn LaMar