Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Storytelling: The Oldest Art

Tales from around the world told by Cris Riedel

$15.00 includes shipping & handling. To order email: cris@storiesconnect.com 

Reviewed By Linda Goodman 

            This delightful CD, recorded live at Debbie’s Café in Wayland, New York, features familiar multi-cultural tales given new life by the strong voice and enthusiastic telling of an intuitive teller who grabs the essence of each tale and makes it sing.

            Cris Riedel clearly treasures these stories.  From England’s Lazy Jack, the folktale predecessor of Forrest Gump, to Europe’s Clever Manka, who outsmarts the men in her life at every turn, the listener in engaged and eagerly anticipates the next chapter.

            Do some folks really believe that men work harder than women?  Let them listen to the perils and pratfalls of Sweden’s The Husband Who Minded the House.  That will set them straight!

            Little Rough Face, a Mic Mac Version of the Cinderella theme, and Japan’s The Boy Who Drew Cats both feature outcasts whose hearts and talents win for them both love and honor.

            The First Strawberries is a pour quoi tale about how that delicious fruit came to flourish in Cherokee country.  If an angry woman does not notice the first enticement, make the next one irresistible. Having the Sun as a friend is helpful.

            Friends Always, from India, details the strong bond of friendship that develops between an elephant and a dog.  An elephant is also involved in the Chinese tale Elephant and Hummingbird, which reminds us that if we all do our part, the impossible may become possible.

            Riedel’s stories are nice complemented by Karen Wollscheid’s colorful CD design. The wise owl on the cover seems particularly appropriate.  Kudos to Brandon Pender, recording engineering, for manufacturing a live café CD that sounds flawless enough to have been recorded in studio.

            As Riedel states both in her introduction and on her CD jacket, these stories are “so old on one knows who told them first.” Such things do not really matter. With talented tellers like Riedel sharing them, these tales are given a life of their own. They will live in the hearts of listeners and be passed along until time’s end.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

No Tricks. Just Magic - CD Review

A collection of fairy tales as told by Megan Hicks
Available from CD Baby
$15.00 per CD; MP3 Download $9.99

                Magic you are promised and magic is delivered in Megan Hicks’ latest CD No Tricks. Just Magic.  Concerning the tales shared on this CD, Hicks states , “I strongly feel that they chose me to be one of their voices to keep them alive.”
                Live they do!  In Hicks capable hands (voice?), they become so real that the listener forgets that the world they showcase is not real, though it is just as frightening.  Consider these things:
·         In The Shoemaker and the Elves, a shoemaker who is both skilled and honest cannot find enough work to sustain his family.

·         Twelve Dancing Princesses are locked away each night, held prisoner because their father is more concerned about his own happiness than theirs.

·          Mollie Whuppie’s parents abandon their three young daughters, who must fend for themselves.  Unfortunately, they end up in the hands of a villain who means to do them harm.

·         Davy and the Devil tells of a young man who loses his job because he performed an act of kindness.  He meets a legendary con man who plots to better his own situation at the young man’s expense.
             Such tragic stories appear in real world newspapers every day. In real life, there are rarely happy ending to such scenarios.  In the fairy tales on this CD, however, happy endings are guaranteed when selfless elves take pity on a good man, a kind elder wins a king’s challenge, a brave and clever youngster outwits a giant, and a rescued fish provides answers just when they are needed most.  Magic trumps trickery every time.
                As a bonus, Hicks has included The Shoemaker and the Groundhogs, her “gently satirical take on the quest for ‘happily ever after’.”  This new perspective on the shoemaker’s plight brings the album full circle, for a very satisfying journey, indeed. 
                Hicks has never been in better voice.  The sound on this CD is flawless.  The stories are tight.  When the roller coaster stops, the good guy has won.  If only real life could guarantee the same.