Monday, January 26, 2015

In My TBR Stack:

Literary Cash: Unauthorized Writings Inspired by the Legendary Johnny Cash
Edited by Bob Batchelor
BenBella Books
Trade Paperback

Fro the publisher's website:

The legendary lyrics of Johnny Cash are the inspiration for this collection of extraordinarily creative works that provides a new spin on this musical legend. For nearly five decades, Cash captivated audiences with his unique voice and candid portrayal of the gritty life of a working man, and his songs continue to strike a chord with listeners today. But it is the stories behind the music that remain with audiences and provide the inspiration for the work in this thoughtful compilation of fiction and non-fiction from contributors such as Lauren Baratz-Logsted, Don Cusic, Amanda Nowlin, Gretchen Moran Laskas and Russell Rowland.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

In My TBR Stack:

Strange Beautiful Music: A Musical Memoir
by Joe Satriani and Jake Brown
BenBella Books

From the publisher's website:

"Joe has refined his own style of playing to a point where he’s forever up there in the stratosphere of excellence that is reached by very few musicians."
—Brian May
"Every time Joe puts his fingers on a guitar, what comes out sounds like inspired music, even if it’s just a finger exercise. He created and branded a niche with his own voice and in so doing he wielded an entire genre."
—Steve Vai
Go behind the scenes with the musician The New York Times called “a guitar God!”
Oft-hailed as the Jimi Hendrix of his generation, living guitar legend Joe Satriani has long-transcended stylistic boundaries with a sound that raises the bar like a new horizon for the broader genre of instrumental guitar rock. Joe’s 6-string secrets have astounded listeners around the world for nearly 30 years.
In Strange Beautiful Music: A Musical Memoir, Joe and co-author, music biographer Jake Brown, take fans on their first authorized tour of the story behind his climb to stardom and the creative odyssey involved in writing and recording of a storied catalog of classics including “Surfing with the Alien,” “Summer Song,” “Satch Boogie,” “Always With Me, Always With You,” “The Extremist,” “Flying in a Blue Dream,” “Crowd Chant,” and more!

Featuring previously unpublished photos and hours of exclusive, first-hand interviews with Satriani, Strange Beautiful Music offers a unique look inside the studio with Joe, giving fans a chance to get up-close and personal like never before. With insider details about his collaboration with multi-platinum supergroup Chickenfoot, exclusive interviews with Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony of Van Halen and Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, first-hand commentary from fellow guitar legends such as Steve Vai, Metallica’s Kirk Hammett, Primus’s Larry LaLonde, and legendary music producers including Glynn Johns and the late Andy Johns, this memoir offers a rare inside look for die-hard Satriani fans, guitar enthusiasts, and anyone who loves to rock.

Friday, January 23, 2015

On My Radar:

Balls: The Life of Eddie Trascher, Gentleman Gangster
By Ken Sanz, Scott M. Deitche
Skyhorse Publishing
Trade Paperback

From the publisher's website:

Eddie Trascher had balls. Born in the bayou of Louisiana, Eddie learned about gambling at the side of his stepfather. Starting his career in 1950s Vegas, he moved to pre-Castro Cuba and became adept at running a casino and stealing from the mobsters who owned it. He was a regular fixture at Rat Pack–era Vegas—stealing chips from the craps table, running gambling out of his bar, and hanging around with a wild assortment of gangsters, conmen, thieves, and celebrities.

By the time he moved to Clearwater, Florida, after a stint running a Los Angeles hotel for the Chicago Outfit, Eddie was the biggest bookmaker in the state. But the FBI made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: “Help us get the Mafia and we’ll let you keep bookmaking.” For the next twenty years, Eddie became the Bureau and later the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s eyes and ears as they investigated organized crime in Florida. From the famous Donnie Brasco case to the new guard of the Tampa Mafia, Eddie was in the middle of it all. Eventually, he gave up the booking to become a professor, teaching law enforcement everything there was to know about bookmaking and running the scams.

Balls is the story of the quintessential gangster, a man who didn’t make money for anyone but himself. Instead of working for the Mafia bosses, Eddie stole from right under their noses. And he lived to tell the story.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

On My Radar:

The B-Side: The Death of Tin Pan Alley and the Rebirth of the Great American Song
by Ben Yagoda
Riverhead Books

From the publisher's website:

Everybody knows and loves the American Songbook. But it’s a bit less widely understood that in about 1950, this stream of great songs more or less dried up. All of a sudden, what came over the radio wasn’t Gershwin, Porter, and Berlin, but “Come on-a My House” and “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” Elvis and rock and roll arrived a few years later, and at that point the game was truly up. What happened, and why? In The B Side, acclaimed cultural historian Ben Yagoda answers those questions in a fascinating piece of detective work. Drawing on previously untapped archival sources and on scores of interviews—the voices include Randy Newman, Jimmy Webb, Linda Ronstadt, and Herb Alpert—the book illuminates broad musical trends through a series of intertwined stories. Among them are the battle between ASCAP and Broadcast Music, Inc.; the revolution in jazz after World War II; the impact of radio and then television; and the bitter, decades-long feud between Mitch Miller and Frank Sinatra.

The B Side is about taste, and the particular economics and culture of songwriting, and the potential of popular art for greatness and beauty. It’s destined to become a classic of American musical history.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

In My TBR Stack:

The Train to Crystal City: FDR's Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America's Only Family Internment Camp During World War II
by Jan Jarboe Russell

From the publisher's website:

The dramatic and never-before-told story of a secret FDR-approved American internment camp in Texas during World War II, where thousands of families—many US citizens—were incarcerated.

From 1942 to 1948, trains delivered thousands of civilians from the United States and Latin America to Crystal City, Texas, a small desert town at the southern tip of Texas. The trains carried Japanese, German, Italian immigrants and their American-born children. The only family internment camp during World War II, Crystal City was the center of a government prisoner exchange program called “quiet passage.” During the course of the war, hundreds of prisoners in Crystal City, including their American-born children, were exchanged for other more important Americans—diplomats, businessmen, soldiers, physicians, and missionaries—behind enemy lines in Japan and Germany.

Focusing her story on two American-born teenage girls who were interned, author Jan Jarboe Russell uncovers the details of their years spent in the
Jan Jarboe Russell -- photo by
Trish Simonite
camp; the struggles of their fathers; their families’ subsequent journeys to war-devastated Germany and Japan; and their years-long attempt to survive and return to the United States, transformed from incarcerated enemies to American loyalists. Their stories of day-to-day life at the camp, from the ten-foot high security fence to the armed guards, daily roll call, and censored mail, have never been told.

Combining big-picture World War II history with a little-known event in American history that has long been kept quiet, The Train to Crystal City reveals the war-time hysteria against the Japanese and Germans in America, the secrets of FDR’s tactics to rescue high-profile POWs in Germany and Japan, and how the definition of American citizenship changed under the pressure of war.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

On My Radar:

Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully

The true account of one boy’s lifelong search for his boarding-school bully.

Equal parts childhood memoir and literary thriller, Whipping Boy chronicles prize-winning author Allen Kurzweil’s search for his twelve-year-old nemesis, a bully named Cesar Augustus. The obsessive inquiry, which spans some forty years, takes Kurzweil all over the world, from a Swiss boarding school (where he endures horrifying cruelty) to the slums of Manila, from the Park Avenue boardroom of the world’s largest law firm to a federal prison camp in Southern California.

While hunting down his tormentor, Kurzweil encounters an improbable cast of characters that includes an elocution teacher with ill-fitting dentures, a gang of faux royal swindlers, a crime investigator “with paper in his blood,” and a  onocled grand master of the Knights of Malta. Yet for all its global exoticism and comic exuberance, Kurzweil’s riveting account is, at its core, a heartfelt and suspenseful narrative about the “parallel lives” of a victim and his abuser.

A scrupulously researched work of nonfiction that renders a childhood menace into an unlikely muse, Whipping Boy is much more than a tale of karmic retribution; it is a poignant meditation on loss, memory, and mourning, a surreal odyssey born out of suffering, nourished by rancor, tempered by wit, and resolved, unexpectedly, in a breathtaking act of personal courage.

Whipping Boy features two 8-page black-and-white photo inserts and  83 images throughout.

Monday, January 19, 2015

In My TBR Stack:

Mojo Triangle: Birthplace of Country, Blues, Jazz and Rock 'n' Roll
by James L. Dickerson
Sartoris Literary Group
Trade Paperback

From the publisher's website:

At long last—the truth about the birth of the blues, rock 'n' roll, country and jazz!
Draw a straight line from New Orleans to Nashville, then over to Memphis and then follow the Mississippi River back down to New Orleans, and you have the Mojo Triangle, a phrase coined by the author in the early 2000's.
"So much of what has been written about the music of the South is untrue," says Dickerson. "I wanted to set the record straight and put the development of the music in perspective. The Mojo Triangle is where all of America's original roots music was created: country, blues, jazz, and rock 'n' roll. How did this music come about? What is there about the Mojo Triangle that has contributed to the creation of so much original music?"
The book points out that although the music itself was created in the geographical area defined by the Mojo Triangle, the two portals through which the various musical components entered and then morphed into the finished products were Natchez, Mississippi and Nashville, Tennessee, with the Natchez Trace serving as the main artery.
Based on interviews with the recording artists, musicians, producers and songwriters who created and performed the music, it traces the development of the music from the early 1800s in Natchez, Mississippi, where Native Americans played an instrumental role in the development of the blues, all the way up to the present day.
There is probably no author in history who has interviewed as many music legends and musicians as the author—and the reader benefits from that experience in a big way. Among the music legends who participate are: Al Green, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B. King, Carl Perkins, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, Chet Atkins, Ike Turner, Jack Clement, Marty Stuart, Mose Allison, Rita Coolidge, Roy Orbison, Scotty Moore, Tammy Wynette, Vince Gill, Waylon Jennings, Garth Brooks, Chips Moman, Billy Sherrill, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Jimme Vaughan, Willie Mitchell, Booker T. & the MGs, Bobby Womack, Estelle Axton, Dave Edmunds, Pinetop Perkins, Bobbie Gentry, and the list goes on and on.

This incredible book, which contains rare photographs, some of which were taken by the author himself, not only allows the music greats themselves to express themselves about the music they made famous, it explains for the first time the development of  that music.