Category Archives: Music Journalism

Nat Hentoff – Journalist Extraordinaire

The passing of Nat Hentoff on January 7th left a discernible void in music and free speech. I have been richly educated by his writing for many decades. The NY Times published an article about his life that I encourage you to read, Nat Hentoff, Journalist and Social Commentator, Dies at 91.

What struck me was this photograph of him at his craft. Notice the use of the typewriter in Nat Hentoff’s Greenwich Village apartment/office. I will make it a point to rent the David L. Lewis documentary, The Pleasures of Being Out of Step and watch it in his honor.

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David L. Lewis/First Run Features
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Sirius XM Volume, Channel 106

For me  it’s always been “debatable” has SiriusXM provided innovative and compelling programming options?  Years ago they launched subscriber based satellite radio. Howard Stern aside,  I think they have struck flint from time to time with the Bob Dylan* and Tom Petty channels where these two illustrious musicians have served as disk jockeys. Those broadcasts have been enlightening as we gain insight from music subject matter authorities who have written the songs that harmonize our lives. (*Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 2016)

SiriusXM has decided to create a music talk channel, Volume, Channel 106 that premieres on Monday October 17th. SXM’s first all-talk channel about music. Live shows, weekly specials, documentaries with the most respected people in music.

The channel features an interesting cross-section of distinct music aficionados, personalities and unique music characters. To my way of thinking that is novel programming and my goal is to promote what bodes to be a worthwhile experiment.

The first show on the Volume channel that has caught my attention will feature a music journalist I respect, Alan Light and one of the original MTV music video jocks (VJ) , Mark Goodman. They will be hosting a program called Debatable.

Debatable Weekdays 4-7 p.m. ET

Every true music fan has gotten into an argument with their friends discussing topics like: Who is the best lead singer of all time? Is KISS better than Mötley Crüe? Who is the best MC of the 90’s? Each afternoon, legendary MTV VJ Mark Goodman and former Spin and Vibe editor Alan Light will attempt to answer these questions on Debatable with the help of celebrity guests, listener phone calls and social media posts.

Curious to hear how this goes as a SiriusXM subscriber.

 

i am Brian Wilson a memoir

Brian Wilson’s musical genius sustainability are his and our remarkable treasures. His new memoir takes us into his creative muse. Isn’t that what we want to learn about Brian’s talent? The thought process behind such great classics as “Good Vibrations” and “God Only Knows”.

I Am Brian Wilson,  written by Brian Wilson with music journalist Ben Greenman will be available on October 11th from Da Capo Press.

I Am Brian Wilson is the story of Brian Wilson’s life, told by Brian Wilson. But he’s not the same man who had a nervous breakdown on an airplane in 1964 or the one who ballooned to 300 pounds and couldn’t get out of bed in the 1970s. This Brian Wilson is older, calmer, filled with perspective regarding his extraordinary accomplishments and forgiveness for the people who complicated those accomplishments, and his life. Wiser, more measured, though still possessed of the youthful spark that helped him rise to the top of the rock and roll world, Wilson relates his life with a level of emotional honesty that has eluded authors of scores of previous works on Brian and The Beach Boys: “Telling my story honestly means remembering things I sometimes prefer to forget. I would like people to get to know what I’ve gone through, and I hope that my story will give them strength.”

Life is a Rip Off: The Complete Book By John Olson – Third Man Books

LIFE IS A RIP OFF: THE COMPLETE BOOK is 404 pages and 12 months of record reviews—one record a day, every day, for one year. Yes, John “Inzane” Olson aka Inzane Johnny of the band Wolf Eyes aka American Tapes did that. And he reviewed everything from death metal demo cassettes to the Staples Singers’ gospel. Enter into the OLZONE and find out about music you’ve never known, bands from places that you’ve never heard, and then read his review of KANSAS. Reading LRIP will make you re-realize why blues is relevant, why every punk band in America matters, why jazz is good for the heart, and metal will always ride by your side.

AUTHOR BIO:

John Olson joined the seminal noise, trip-metal band Wolf Eyes in 2000. Wolf Eyes has toured and/or worked with musicians such as Sonic Youth and Anthony Braxton. In 2015, Wolf Eyes released the full length I AM A PROBLEM: MIND IN PIECES on Third Man Records.

WITH ADDITIONAL ESSAYS FROM:

Henry Rollins: Born in 1961 in Washington, D.C., Henry Rollins was barely out of his teens when he joined the legendary punk band Black Flag. He won a Grammy Award for best spoken word album in 1994 for his recording of his memoir, Get In the Van.

Ben Hell Hall: Sculptor and composer Ben Hall creates installations incorporating durational performances, existing objects and indeterminacy.all has written for The Wire and BOMB and has performed at INSTAL in Glasgow, Scotland; the Museum of Modern Art in New York City; and kunstenentrum BELGIE in Belgium.

Bryan Ramirez is an experimental, jazz, noise musician. He has played in several collaborations and groups including Ex-Cocaine. He also runs the Killertrees record label.

Tovah Olson has created something approximating music with Dead Machines, Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice and various other projects. She co-founded the Polyamory record label and runs Tovinator. She’s a digital news director and inzane mom living in the middle of Michigan.

 

 

Ralph J. Gleason’s Legacy Honored

Looking back on where my music influences are derived from, I reflect upon the insightful music journalism of Ralph J. Gleason. His writings were lucid and authoritative nurturing the broader base of my music foundation. He created an increased dimensionality to grow my literary and sonic self with exponentiation. I marvelled at how engaging his interpretations were of both jazz/rock artists and their music. I discovered Ralph J. Gleason within the pages of Rolling Stone Magazine. He produced a spontaneity that has never been equalled in my music reading lifetime.

gleason-203x300Ralph J. Gleason was the Rembrandt who portrayed the San Francisco music scene with a rich set of oil paints that added texture and substance to the panorama. I admired his brushstrokes as he painted what was transpiring at The Fillmore West and elsewhere in the city. He transported me to a place I wanted to be an essential part of, where music melded with counter-culture.

I deeply appreciated his extensive knowledge of jazz. When I minored in music at the University of New Haven from 1972-1974 it was his liner notes for the Miles Davis, Bitches Brew album among his other writings that raised my level of jazz consciousness.

I am honored to share with my readers that today, May 24th, 2016 we are blessed with two major anthologies of Ralph J. Gleason’s written works (see below). I will be reviewing both of these books in the next few weeks. I will report back to you what I garner from favorite articles and topics anew.

I smiled broadly when  Steve Wasserman, Executive Editor at Large for Yale University Press told me on the phone, “what a labor of love it was to put together Ralph J. Gleason’s cannon of work…for a new generation to discover and interpret”. It is a result of the long term friendship between Steve and Toby Gleason this book is realized.

I anticipate the innate pride of Ralph J. Gleason’s son, Toby Gleason the accomplished editor and curator of his father’s music(plus more) treasure chest (1950-1975).

Music in the Air, The Selected Writings of Ralph J. Gleason by Ralph J. Gleason, Toby Gleason, Jann Wenner and Paul Scanlon

9780300212167

This book is a collection of the writings that appeared in his newspaper columns for The San Francisco Chronicle, the alternative magazine Ramparts and some from his “Perspectives” column in Rolling Stone (which he co-founded and contributed to until his death in 1975).

 

 

Conversations In Jazz: The Ralph J. Gleason Interviews by Ralph J. Gleason, Toby Gleason and Ted Gioia

During his nearly forty years as a music journalist, Ralph J. Gleason recorded many in-depth interviews with some of the greatest jazz musicians of all time. These informal sessions, conducted mostly in Gleason’s Berkeley, California, home, have never been transcribed and published in full until now.e2798d8e052085dfc34efddb2e8f6ee8

This remarkable volume, a must-read for any jazz fan, serious musician, or musicologist, reveals fascinating, little-known details about these gifted artists, their lives, their personas, and, of course, their music. Bill Evans discusses his battle with severe depression, while John Coltrane talks about McCoy Tyner‘s integral role in shaping the sound of the Coltrane quartet, praising the pianist enthusiastically. Included also are interviews with Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Quincy Jones, Jon Hendricks, and the immortal Duke Ellington, plus seven more of the most notable names in twentieth-century jazz.

Third Man Books Announces Definitive Book About The Stooges As Told By Iggy Pop

Jack White’s publishing company, Third Man Books will release a much-anticipated book, TOTAL CHAOS: The Story of The Stooges / As Told By Iggy Pop sometime this winter.

It was a rare privilege to sit with Iggy as he downloaded the story of The Stooges. He’s an incredible storyteller with a fantastic memory and a great sense of humor, and he held nothing back. The Stooges were pioneers in sound, look, and live presentation, and along the way invented a genre-punk rock-and influenced countless others that followed. There was no precedent in rock music for what they did. They’re definitely the only group in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame who started out playing an amplified Waring blender, a vacuum cleaner, spring water bottles and a 200 gallon oil drum.Jeff Gold, Author of 101 Essential Rock Records

The author team Jeff Gold, Johan Kugelberg and editor/contributor Jon Savage are among the most respected music authors and historians working today. Total Chaos will also feature contributions from Jack White, Joan Jett, Johnny Marr and Third Man’s Ben Blackwell. Now that’s what I call curation!

I can’t wait to get my hands on this essential rock book! Where is the pre-order link, Third Man Books? 😉

Ticket To Write Update

The documentary, Ticket TWrite:The Golden Age of Rock Music Journalism is finally being released. It will run on Alabama Public TV in April/May. Digital downloads and possibly DVDs should be available by summer.

This documentary film explores the Golden Age of rock music journalism, from Crawdaddy magazine to MTV (1966-81). A time I remember fondly as a voracious reader and music collector.

Here is the latest extended trailer.

 

 

EMP POP CONFERENCE 2016

If you want to get your music journalism geek on this is the event for you. The EMP Pop Conference 2016 will be held at the EMP Museum in Seattle, Washington, April 14-17, 2016.

The Pop Conference is free and open to the public. Registration opens March 4, 2016.

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The EMP Pop Conference returns with its biggest roster of presentations yet, looking at the ways music lets us hear voices: singers, to be sure, whether virtuosos or idiosyncratic originals, but also other types of vocalizing. How do instrumentalists insert their selves into their music? When the dominant voices in our songs change, what changes with that, from personal identity to collective messages? A switch in voice—from croon to rasp to rap to Auto-Tune—alters everything it reaches.

In dozens of panels, all free to the public (though we strongly recommend advance registration), we’ll explore musical voices across genre and time period: soul singers and rock singers, singers of exotica and Mexi-Cajun blues. Panels on goth-punk wailer Siouxsie Sioux, warbling rapper Future, and pop-rock duo Hall & Oates. Synthetic “vocaloids” and challenges to female decorum. Singing across lines of color. Good bad singing and bad good singing. Vocal coaching. Southern accents.

Support for the conference is provided by the University of Alabama College of Arts & Sciences, on behalf of the Department of American Studies.

Ninth Anniversary with WordPress!

I’m very proud blogging with WordPress these past 9 years. What a victory for open source computing and freedom of expression. Did you know that one out of every four Web sites in the world today runs on WordPress?

Message from WordPress 😉

Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!
You registered on WordPress.com 9 years ago!
Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!

 

The History of Rock and Roll, Volume 1, 1920-1963 by Ed Ward – Flatiron Books

One of the first music journalists I encountered on a regular basis in Rolling Stone magazine was Ed Ward. I loved his insightful record reviews. He had a significant influence on my album purchases in 1970, which was a foundation year in rock music.

I found his reviews articulate and representative. He avoided the critic egotist personality in his writing. I can pretty much say Ed Ward was a what he wrote, I actually heard kinda guy.

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Ed Ward will be publishing a definitive work with Flatiron Press, The History of Rock and Roll, Volume 1, 1920-1963 sometime in the Fall of 2016. I’ve added his book to my “must have music journalist list”.

I’m looking forward to your labor of love Ed 😉

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