Capsule Reviews

- from folk_music June 21, 1995

There have been a few CD's coming across my desk lately have been compelling enough to distract me from all the things I really should be doing, and lead me to share the news about them.

The first is Rick Lee's new Waterbug release Natick (WBG0016). Rick Lee is living proof of the link between good songwriting and traditional music. Rick's love and deep knowledge of traditional music informs both his own songwriting and his choice of other contemporary songs. There's only one Rick Lee original on the disc (the title song) and one collaboration with Holly Gettings; "Natick" is the compelling story of a local history of one man's idealism set against his people's penchant for genocide, and "Strangers", the collaboration, explores the links between personal alienation, lack of community, and homelessness. Meanwhile, the strong imagery and /or storytelling value of other contemporary and traditional songs here are a veritable primer of what *works* in a song, whether traditional or contemporary, folk or country. Writers represented include Chuck Hall! , Andy and Lauren May, Jez Lowe, and Tommy Collins. There's lots of humor and lots of drama in this release, all connected with a sense of timelessness: musically there's everything from traditional banjo to spaced-out keyboard. Contact Waterbug Records for release information:, or contact Rick at

Crow Johnson dropped off a copy of The Silverwolf Homeless Project (SWCD-1002). This anthology is a virtual Who's Who of folk music writers, including Crow herself, Bill Morrissey, Patty Larkin, Greg Brown, John McCutcheon, John Gorka, Cheryl Wheeler, Tom Prasada-Rao, Jon Ims, Ken Gaines, Tom Paxton, and Ani DiFranco. Lots of compelling storytelling going on here which we ignore at the peril of our souls. Silverwolf's address is RR1, Box 10, Thetford Center, VT 05075-9701.

Finally, I've had the opportunity to listen to Ilene Weiss's Gadfly release Outside and Curious (G-111591). I haven't been as enthralled by a single-artist-alone-with-guitar release since Joni Mitchell's first, and Ilene's release has more humor and better guitar playing. Ilene's songs get covered by such folks as Anne Hills because they're beautiful and rich, but her own rendition of them serves them no less well. She's just about to come out with a new one, too--watch out for it. Gadfly is at P.O. Box 6603, New York, NY 10128 (212)996-7875. Ilene is at