Reviews

General Instructions

BOOK REVIEWS

VIVIAN VANDE VELDE: Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird
Orlando FL: Magic Carpet Books, 128 pp.

What would happen if: Goldilocks were a fugitive from the law and a nation-wide APB was issued for her arrest for breaking and entering; Granny and the Wolf were doing their own thing in the backyard while Red was tied up and left in the closet; and the frog, now a handsome prince, wanted to return to his lily pad in the pond. These and other surprises will be the reader’s treat when encountering this wild romp through Storyland with these and other traditional tales gleefully turned upside down. In the very best tradition of the classic fractured fairytales retold by the late Edward Everett Horton in the 1960s, and such contemporary storytellers as Jane Yolen, Charles de Lint, and Barbara G. Walker, Vande Velde shows us what a master yarnspinner can do when taking the most beloved tales and mangling and reworking them into narrative treats that bring hilarity to the fore. But even Vande Velde can turn smiles into dark and sinister doings in a grim tale such as Twins, one of the most baleful and demonic retellings of Hansel and Gretl I’ve ever come across. Thank you to Vivian Vande Velde for giving story lovers a grand new addition to the canon of fractured fairytale literature to enjoy and happily digest. This one comes very highly recommended!

--Robert Rodriquez

CD REVIEWS

FRASER UNION: This Old World, Songs by Fraser Union
Available from Roger Holdstock
3851 West 22nd Ave.
Vancouver BC V65 lJ8, Canada
www.fraserunion.com

Fraser Union is four Canadian friends who have been making music together for two decades: Roger Holdstock, Dan Kenning, Hank Piket and Barry Truter. As in their earlier recordings, most songs selected for This Old World are concerned with the activity that consumes most of our waking hours: work. Some familiar contemporary songs are here: Bruce (Utah) Phillips’s All Used Up, Linda Chobotuch’s Canning Salmon, Leon Rosselson’s The World Turned Upside Down, and Fred Small’s Everything Possible. An older work song is Fraser Union’s Canadian Railroad version of Drill Ye Tarriers. New are Linda Allen’s Where I Stand; Barry Truter’s This Old World; and Roger Holdstock’s Westcoast Lullaby. My favorite is probably "This Land is Whose Land?," described as “questioning who we are and what we are prepared to stand on guard for.” Instruments include 6- and 12-string guitars, dobro, mandolin, harmonica, and banjo with special guest Duncan Truter on drums.

Listening to and singing along with Fraser Union is sheer delight.

--Faith Petric

MAGPIE: Raise Your Voice
Available from Greg Artzner & Terry Leonino
Sliced Bread Records
PO Box 606
Blue Bell PA 19422
www.magpiemusic.com

If “keeping on keeping on” seems to be getting nowhere, get Magpie’s new CD and listen to the first cut: a poem written by Woody Guthrie that Greg and Terry set to music. You’ll likely listen several times (I did!) and find that it helps. And the last cut, Pete Seeger’s "Quite Early Morning" is also guaranteed to help us keep on. In between these are 12 songs, a blend of originals written by Terry and Greg along with some of their favorites written by others. There’s a love song, Connie Boswell’s "Me Minus You," celebrating their 30th anniversary as a duo; Bryan Bowers’ "Friend for Life," and Andy Stewart’s "Ferry Me Over." Original songs are "Arkansas Girl," about Terry’s mother; "Raise Your Voice," for peace; "Over the Estuary," on habitat restoration; "Who Will Speak for the Trees," dedicated to Judy Bari; and the fine "Too Political," written for a club who declined to hire Magpie for that reason. Other songs include "Underneath the Arches" by McCarthy and Flanagan; "One More Parade" by Phil Ochs and Bob Gibson; "Salmon Run" by Dean Stevens, and Victor Jara’s "Vientos del Pueblo."

For those not already devoted fans of Magpie, this is an excellent CD for getting acquainted. There are the usual great harmonies of Greg and Terry. Their passion and concern for each song’s meaning shine through and make the CD emotionally rewarding. Musical arrangements sustain songs and singers, enhancing rather than intruding and dominating the songs. Instruments include harmonica, mandolin, guitar, dulcimer, dobro, concertina and bass. Pat Humphries and Sandy Opatow add harmonies on Raise Your Voice. Please get this CD.

--Faith Petric

MARK GILSTON: Dances with Dulcimers and Lend Me an Ear.
Available from www.markgilston.com (follow the links to CD Baby)

Mark Gilston is an extremely talented musician now living in Texas. These two CDs together showcase his diverse talents— the first as a dulcimer player and the second as a traditional singer accompanying himself with whatever works best (he plays dulcimer, concertina, gaida, ocarina, synthesizer, rubber bass, guitar, and whistle).

Dances with Dulcimers shows what can be done with the Appalachian dulcimer in 1-5-5 and 1-4-4 tunings! There are a few Scottish ("Athol Highlanders," "Road to the Isles"), Irish (Dennis Murphy’s "Slide/Blarney Pilgrim," "Father’s Jig," "Swallowtail Jig/Ten Penny Bit"), and Appalachian ("Going to Boston," "Wink the Other Eye") tunes here, but there are some great original tunes ("Fairy Schottish," "Hound in the Laundry," "Yellow Door Breakdown," "Rose Tickle"), tunes from France ("Bourée," "Rosalie de Bon Matin") and French Canada ("Reel de Père Leon"), and even better, tunes from Macedonia ("Bufcansko Oro"), Bulgaria ("Pandalas"), and Bavaria ("Sommermich’l & Althe Kathe") to whet your appetite for exotic Central European rhythms; several Scandinavian dances ["Ringlander after Ringnesson" from Norway and Swedish hambos ("Jänta Och Ja," "Karis Pers Hambo") and polskas ("Bondpolska av Båtmans Däck," "Bondpolska/Polska efter Zuaw")] complete the European tour.

On Lend Me an Ear, the singing of traditional songs is front and center— and yes the recurring theme is dismembered ears. Some are sung a capella ("Tee Roo" and "On That Day"), most have a simple instrumental accompaniment, and there are a few instrumental solos (dulcimer, concertina, ocarina, and gaida). The tunes have diverse origins, and he succeeds in keeping the spirit of each song’s origins, whether from Bulgaria ("Kakvo E Chudo," "Snoshti Si Dojde"), France ("Quel Dommage Martin," "Perrine"), Australia ("Drover’s Dream," "Shearing in the Bar"), or frontier America ("Silver Jack," "The Cat Came Back," "How to Make Love"). As you can see by these example titles, there’s no chance you will get bored with any of this, and an infectious sense of humor shines through on every cut. Do yourself a favor, and get both of these (or any of his other offerings on the website)!

-- Kathryn LaMar