Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I finished The Rule of Four by Ian Caldwell and Dustin Thomason a while ago but forgot to hit the post button. Oops.

The quotes and reviews make this book out to be something like The DaVinci Code only more intelligent, but I think that is misleading. The Rule of Four isn't really a standard thriller at all. There is a historical mystery (based on a real mysterious book called the Hypnerotomachi Poliphili whose author has only been tentatively identified based on an acrostic in the text) but that, along with the Princeton campus, is really just part of the context of the book. It's really more a story of friendship and a classic "coming of age" story. Recommended, but not for people looking for thrillers like the DaVinci Code.

Last night I went to the Freight and Salvage to see a show by three bands put on by the San Francisco Bluegrass and Old Time Festival (aka SFBOT).

The first band was an SF band, Homespun Rowdy. I've seen the Rowdies play at a number of different venues over the year and I didn't used to like their performances very much. In the early days of the band, it seemed like they were going for more of a county rather than bluegrass sound. Happily for me, either they have changed or my taste has evolved because now I like them a lot. They put on a good show of bluegrass done in a mostly traditional style and they've achieved one of the toughest things in bluegrass - a strong and tight band rhythm.

The second band was Spring Creek, from Lyons, Colorado. They were better than I thought they were going to be, based on listening to some song samples on their website, but they were the weakest band of the evening. They obviously have some talented pickers in the band but it felt like they never got into a good groove and their singing is more country than bluegrass. Also, they don't have a fiddle player which is a huge strike against them in my book.

The last band was Town Mountain from Asheville, North Carolina, with local fiddle hotshot Annie Staninec sitting in. I really liked this band. They play mostly originals, and some with a more country feel, but they have my favourite type of band rhythm/sound - hard driving, high energy and a little rough around the edges. They put on an excellent show and showcased some great songs and excellent picking. Highly recommended and I will definitely see them again if they come back to this area.