Category Archives: Arts

A Review of Mojo And The American Female by SW Hammond

Mojo And The American Female

by SW Hammond

4.5

I’m really not the target audience for this book. My son or daughter may even be slightly too old to get all the movie and television references, but they would get more of them than I do. Now I can connect to the music. I always keep current, so when Mr. Hammond is commenting about the Riot Grrrl movement, I get it. But those TV shows, I never did watch “Full House”, and who is John Stamos, and why should I care? Someone thirty years younger may get more of the topical items than I do, but I still relate to the actual message that this book is trying to convey.

And another thing! The blurb about Mojo and the American Female seems to indicate that this book is a collection of short stories. I don’t think so. This is more a print version of articles that were  published on Mr. Hammond’s website. If you call something a short story, that implies that it has some sort of a plot and a character or two. Short stories also mean fiction. But these articles are more autobiographical. Mr. Hammond may have distorted the truth, but that still doesn’t make this a book of fictional short stories. He may have changed some facts to fit the story that he wanted to tell, but I think it strongly follows his own life.

And speaking of story. This book really does have an underlying message. Even a 66-year-old guy can relate. If fact, I might get more out of this story than Mr. Hammond intended. He has one section of this book where he is talking about me. He figures that the only thing I have left is to wait until I die. I’ve got him fooled! My life is everything he is looking for in this book, and more. I found my perfect mate. I don’t have to prove anything to anyone anymore. I just get to have fun and that includes spending time with my family that I love and with my children and grandchildren who love me too! I’ve got what he only wishes he could find.

But back to the book. What is it? I think that this is a collection of semi-autobiographical stories that Mr. Hammond has written over the past dozen years. He discovered that he really was growing up in these stories, and thought that his struggles might be worth reading. Well, he was right. This collection is thought-provoking. You can zip though it in one day, but take a little time to let it stew in your brain. Maybe you can hear it speak to you, like it did to me.

I give Mojo and the American Female 4 1/2 Stars out of 5, and a Big Thumbs Up! If you are ready to take a little mind trip, join in, you really might learn something about your life, while reading about his.

I received a Digital Review Copy from the publisher.

Book Description

MojoAndTheAmericanFemale_400x533A collection of short stories spanning more than a decade woven together to create the misguided anti-love story of a young man learning about relationships and the opposite sex through music, movies, and television.

From music and baseball industry professional Sean Hammond, comes Mojo And The American Female, a collection of provocative short stories on his life as a Lost Boy in search of Winnie Cooper.

Raised on rock n’ roll, with a particularly strong affinity for women who rock, Hammond blends an unparalleled view of pop culture and philosophy that follows him from his early twenties through his early thirties. Mojo And The American Female is rich with photography capturing Hammond’s days as a tour manager on Warped Tour and working for Sony Music Entertainment, as well as bringing to life the music, movies, and television that has plagued his rational sense of love and relationships. From childhood viewings of Full House leading to his lifelong hatred of John Stamos, his introduction to the Riot Grrrl movement and Kathleen Hanna, and to a questionable infatuation with The OC’s Summer Roberts – each story blends a reflective Kevin Arnold-like inner monolog with Wild Turkey.

Mojo and the American Female is the byproduct of one too many romantic comedies. Inspiration, enlightenment, and delusion fuel Hammond’s quest as he searches for a bit of meaning to life and someone to share it with.

Book Details

File Size: 30091 KB
Print Length: 81 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Surf Star Media (April 7, 2015)
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00VU3QMLW

About the Author

seanaboutSW Hammond is a freelance writer and fiction novelist. His contributions can be found in music zines, athletic periodicals, and technical publications throughout the world. He has worked in the music industry for Sony Music Entertainment, Warped Tour, WAR Records / United Interest, and has managed and consulted a variety of artists. He has also worked in the baseball industry for the Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels / Diablo Stadium, and in the Commission’s Office of Major League Baseball.

Hammond’s writing style, particularly within his commentary, is often compared to Chuck Klosterman-esq with countless references to pop culture, especially music. His brazen and honest approach creates camaraderie with the reader, then tests the boundaries with sensitive subject matter. Philosophy, ethics, and nobility square off against a materialistic society driven by instant gratification, with Sean treading water right in the middle.

His fictional writing makes a conscious effort to blend perception, rumor, and fact leaving the reader to question reality. His stories often taking place in historical settings or playing on modern headlines, Sean uses common themes to drive home critical points about the human condition. Though often grand, epic, and futurist, the backbone of his novels hinge on honor and virtue, or lack thereof.

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A Review of Entertain Us: The Rise and Fall of Alternative Rock in the Nineties by Craig Schuftan

Entertain Us: The Rise and Fall of Alternative Rock in the Nineties

by Craig Schuftan

I wasn’t as engaged with Alternative Rock in the nineties as someone who was born in the seventies would have been. Many of the band names in this book were unfamiliar, but since I had the advantage of a paid membership to a streaming music service, I was able to listen to these groups and hear their music as I was reading about them.

I knew the major players such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Oasis, and Smashing Pumpkins. I had listened to many of the other groups on the radio back then, but didn’t really pay much attention to their stories. I was 41 in 1990 and had to go to work everyday. This book taught me a lot about what was happening in music back then.

Since I’m an American I knew more about the Seattle music scene than what was going on in Manchester, England. Much of the British music never made it here, and I’m sure that most of the lesser known American bands never were popular in Europe. So even if you grew up during the nineties, to really appreciate the book that Mr. Schuftan wrote, you will have to listen to some of the music that he writes about.

Entertain Us goes into depth discussing the role of Alternative Rock. Mr. Schuftan talks about grunge, and how fame affected the way that Kurt Cobain and Eddie Vedder thought, how they tried to make their music less accessible and therefore less popular. He talks about other movements in music, how female musicians revolted, and formed groups that pushed back against the sexist role of women in rock. How MTV used the music of everyone in rock to sell hamburgers and toothpaste. How some bands couldn’t justify the money they made, when they wanted to change the world. Then some people went the other way, and took whatever was up for grabs, and said that it was only rock and roll, not revolution. There was a lot more going on behind the music than I ever knew about,

Entertain Us is a thoroughly enjoyable book about music in the nineties. If you think that none of it will be new to you, you will be surprised, because there was such a separation of music between the US and the UK. Many bands never became popular because there was such a big difference in what was going on in music in their own countries. I can’t emphasize enough that you will have to spend the extra time and effort to listen to the music that Mr. Schuftan talks about as you are reading about it. If you don’t, you will just be reading a bunch of words that won’t make a connection in your brain. Entertain Us needs to come with a soundtrack. Maybe someone can put up a playlist on Spotify or Beats Music, so that we can more easily listen along. It would have helped a lot.

I give Entertain Us 4 1/2 Stars out of 5 and a Big Thumbs Up! If you grew up during the nineties and claim the music from that time, read this book, because you will like the trip down memory lane, and also because you will learn more about what was going on at the time. If you are older, you probably don’t know most of the back story, but unless you are a real music fan, you may not care.

I received a Digital Review Copy of this book from the publisher.

Book Description

9780733328848In 1990 alternative music was where it belonged – underground. It left the business of rock stardom to rock stars. But by 1992 alternative rock had spawned a revolution in music and style that transformed youth culture and revived a moribund music industry. Five years later, alternative rock was over, leaving behind a handful of dead heroes, a few dozen masterpieces, and a lot more questions than answers. What, if anything, had the alternative revolution meant? And had it been possible – as so many of its heroes had insisted – for it to be both on MTV and under the radar? Had it used the machinery of corporate rock to destroy corporate rock? In ENtERtAIN US! Craig Schuftan takes you on a journey through the nineties – from Sonic Youth’s ‘Kool thing’ to Radiohead’s ‘Kid A’, NEVERMIND to ODELAY, Madchester to Nu-Metal, Lollapalooza to Woodstock ’99 – narrated in the voices of the decade’s most important artists. this is the story of alternative rock – the people who made it, the people who loved it, the industry that bought and sold it, and the culture that grew up in its wake – in the last decade of the twentieth century.

Book Details

Trade Paperback
ABC Books
400 pages
6.2 in W | 9.3 in H | 1.1 in T | 1.2 lb Wt
Status: Forthcoming
Announced 1st Print: 20K
On Sale Date: July 1, 2015,
Ship Date: June 11, 2015
9780733328848
0733328849
$17.99 USD, £14.99

About the Author

Muso and pop philosopher Craig Schuftan has written two previous books: CULTURE CLUB and HEY NIETZSCHE! LEAVE THEM KIDS ALONE. He broadcasts his program Culture Club each week on Triple J. Last year curated The Eighties exhibition for the Powerhouse Museum. He has a fervid online following.
http://www.craigschuftan.com

A Review of The Gibson Les Paul: The Illustrated Story of the Guitar That Changed Rock by Dave Hunter

 

The Gibson Les Paul: The Illustrated Story of the Guitar That Changed Rock

by Dave Hunter

Mr. Hunter has written a very complete book about one of the most iconic electric guitars ever made. He tells the complete history, explains many of the factors that have made a classic Les Paul such a prized electric guitar. He has short glimpses into the guitar players who have played Les Pauls in their careers. He includes lots of pictures. In fact the pictures rival the text, they tell such a complete story of the artists and their axes. He also includes album covers of the major works in which the artist used his Les Paul. He shows pictures of the custom Les Paul models that Gibson has issued honoring the guitarists that are famous for playing Les Paul guitars.

Mr. Hunter has included some technical details that will be very interesting to guitar players who would like customize their guitars. He talks about pickups, bridges, and various other technical details. He explains how different models of Les Pauls were built, what wood was used, and how they contributed to the sound and playability of the different models. He also has some blueprints and wiring diagrams that were used to build the early Les Pauls.

I give this book 5 Stars out of 5 and 2 Big Thumbs Up! I really enjoyed this book and think that anybody that ever wondered about the mystique of this popular guitar will enjoy it too.

I received this Digital Review Copy for free from edelweiss.com.

Book Description

Release Date: June 15, 2014

The Gibson Les Paul is possibly the electric guitar most associated with rock ‘n’ roll. The result of a collaboration between Gibson’s Ted McCarty and jazz guitarist Les Paul in response to the success of Fender’s Telecaster, the Les Paul has gone on to become a prized instrument played by most of the greatest guitarists in rock history. This massive illustrated history of the guitar examines its prehistory and origins as well as its evolution in the 60-plus years since its 1952 introduction. In addition to the Standards and Customs that guitarists admire so much, author Dave Hunter also gives ample coverage to variations like Les Paul Juniors, Melody Makers, and SGs. To bring the music to life, there are profiles of players well known for using Les Pauls through the years, including Hubert Sumlin, Carl Perkins, Eric Clapton, Mike Bloomfield, Peter Green, Paul Kossoff, Jimmy Page, Neil Young, Peter Frampton, Keith Richards, Bill F Gibbons, Bob Marley, Mick Ronson, Steve Jones, Johnny Thunders, Angus Young, and more. Illustrated throughout with studio photography of the guitars, candid and performance photography of the artists, and relevant memorabilia, this book is prefect for music lovers and guitar enthusiasts.

Product Details

Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Voyageur Press (June 15, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0760345813
ISBN-13: 978-0760345813
Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 9.4 x 0.9 inches
Shipping Weight: 3 pounds

About the Author

Dave Hunter is an author, musician, and journalist. He is the author of several popular books about guitars, amps, and effects, including Voyageur Press’s Star Guitars, The Fender Stratocaster, The Gibson Les Paul, and 365 Guitars, Amps & Effects You Must Play. A regular contributor to Guitar Player and Vintage Guitar magazines, he resides in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

The book description is from Amazon. The Gibson Les Paul: The Illustrated Story of the Guitar That Changed Rock

A Review of Dylan: The Biography by Dennis McDougal

Dylan: The Biography
by Dennis McDougal

I have listened to Bob Dylan’s music since I was in high school in the mid sixties. Mr. McDougal’s biography allowed me to learn a bit more about the stories, legends, and lies that have circulated over the past fifty years of Dylan’s public life.

When I read a biography of a musician, I like to listen to their music as I read their story. Dylan: The Biography let me read and listen in an orderly fashion. Sometimes I had to stop reading and just sit there and listen to one of my favorite Dylan albums. But sometimes the album was so weak that I just skipped it. Many of his lesser albums have a good song or two, but not all of them.

Mr. McDougal tells the story behind each album. He lets you put the music in perspective. You follow the path that Dylan went down. He tells some interesting tales. He examines how Bob Dylan and Robert Zimmerman became two different people, how Dylan and his people fashioned a public persona and kept control of what was known about his private life. They controlled the media. If an interviewer broached a subject that Dylan didn’t want to talk about, he got the look and if he continued along that line, then Dylan would just get up and leave. The interview was over, and most likely the interviewer would never get another chance. So this brings up the question, how much of this book is fact? Has this biography been shaped by Dylan and his people? Much of this book draws on other references, but since they may be suspect, who can ever really know.

So this book was a moderately interesting story, maybe fiction mixed in with the fact. It gives a new way of looking at all the Dylan books out there, and throws them all under suspicion. But it still was a fun read for a Dylan fan. It will open up your eyes and make you reexamine what you thought that you knew about Bob Dylan. I give this book 4 Stars out of 5. It was well written and an interesting biography of a famous musician of our time. It shows that Bob Dylan is a poet and a joker, a Jew and a Born-Again Christian, a master story-teller and a songwriter, …  But who is Robert Zimmerman?

I received this Digital Review Copy for free from edelweiss.com.

Book Description
Release date: May 13, 2014

The ultimate biography of the musical icon.
A groundbreaking and vibrant look at the music hero to generations, DYLAN: The Biography digs deep into Bob Dylan lore—including subjects Dylan himself left out of Chronicles: Volume One.
DYLAN: The Biography focuses on why this beloved artist has touched so many souls—and on how both Dylan and his audience have changed along the way.
Bob Dylan is an international bestselling artist, a Pulitzer Prize–winning author, and an Oscar winner for “Things Have Changed.” His career is stronger and more influential than ever. How did this happen, given the road to oblivion he seemed to choose more than two decades ago? What transformed a heroin addict into one of the most astonishing literary and musical icons in American history?
At 72 years of age, Dylan’s final act of his career is more intriguing than ever—and classic biographies like Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades and even his own Chronicles: Volume One came too soon to cover this remarkable new chapter in Dylan’s life.
Through extensive interviews and conversations with Dylan’s friends, family, sidemen, and fans, Los Angeles Times journalist Dennis McDougal crafts an unprecedented understanding of Dylan and the intricate story behind the myths. Was his romantic life, especially with Sara Dylan, much more complicated than it appears? Was his motorcycle accident a cover for drug rehab? What really happened to Dylan when his career crumbled, and how did he find his way back? To what does he attribute his astonishing success? McDougal’s meticulous research and comprehensive interviews offer a revealing new understanding of these long-standing questions—and of the current chapter Dylan continually writes in his life and career.

Product Details

Hardcover: 540 pages
Publisher: Turner Pub Co; 1 edition (May 13, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0470636238
ISBN-13: 978-0470636237
Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.9 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds

About the Author

With the upcoming publication of “Dylan: A Biography” (Turner Publishing, May, 2014), Dennis McDougal has authored a total of eleven books and hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles in a career that has spanned over 40 years. Currently, he is working on “The Acid Chronicles,” a book and documentary film about the renaissance of LSD as a powerful tool in the treatment of mental illness.

Before he began covering movies and media for the Los Angeles Times in 1983 and, more recently, the New York Times, McDougal worked as a staff writer at dailies in Riverside and Long Beach, California. A UCLA graduate, McDougal holds a Bachelor’s in English and a Master’s in Journalism. He was awarded a John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University and spent a year teaching and studying in Palo Alto, Japan and Canada. Over the years, his journalism has won over 50 honors, including the National Headliners and George Peabody Award. He was a producer for CNN during the O.J. Simpson murder trial and co-produced “Inventing L.A.: The Chandlers and Their Times” (2009) for PBS.

A contributing writer with TV Guide, McDougal has also written for Los Angeles Magazine, Premiere, and the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine.

McDougal has lectured in journalism and creative writing at UCLA, Stanford, and the California State Universities at Fullerton and Long Beach. He and his wife, Sharon, live near Memphis, Tennessee, have five children, and 14 grandchildren.

The book description is from Amazon.  Dylan: The Biography

A Review of Legends, Icons & Rebels: Music That Changed the World by Robbie Robertson, Jim Guerinot, Sebastian Robertson and Jared Levine

TUNDRA BOOKS - Tundra Books to publish Legends, Icons & RebelsLegends, Icons & Rebels: Music That Changed the World
by Robbie Robertson, Jim Guerinot, Sebastian Robertson and Jared Levine

This large coffee-table sized book comes with 2 CDs of music included inside the back cover. There are 27 songs, one from each of the artists covered in this volume. Most of the stories of the artists can be read in the time that their song is playing, just keep the remote handy so that you can pause once in a while. I often play the music for an artist when I am reading a book about him. When I was reading the biography of the early Beatles, Tune In: The Beatles: All These Years , I had to purchase a lot of music that was mentioned, just so that I had a real feel for the book. This book does that for you. You get to connect an artist with his work. What a concept!

I didn’t know that this book is targeted to young readers when I read it. I didn’t feel like the authors were talking down to me. They use a lot of fun graphic and font elements in the thumbnail biographies of the artists. Looking back, I can see that it would work for middle school students. If you had younger children, you could listen to the music and read this book with them also. This would give them a feel for the music that you listened to and enjoyed. Maybe you could find an artist or two that you both liked.

I really enjoyed listening and reading this book. The authors knew what they were talking about. It was just a fun couple of hours. I give this book 5 Stars out of 5 and a Big Thumbs Up! If you like music of the Twentieth Century, and aren’t too hung-up on just one genre, then I think you will enjoy this too. If you have kids that are getting into rock, rap or pop, and you want to connect with them musically, give this a shot. Who knows, it might bring you closer.

I borrowed this book from my local library.

Book Description
Release date: October 8, 2013

Exclusive insights from a celebrated musician and passionate industry insiders, two accompanying CDs of legendary tracks and beautiful packaging make for a book with broad appeal — one that will captivate fans of Robbie Robertson and music lovers of all ages.

Part memoir, part tribute, and all great storytelling …
Music industry veterans Robbie Robertson, Jim Guerinot, Jared Levine, and Sebastian Robertson invite young readers to share with them in celebrating twenty-seven musical legends. Short profiles chronicle personal stories and achievements of extraordinarily talented artists whose innovations changed the landscape of music for generations to come. Carefully compiled like any great playlist, the line-up features originators, rebels, and risk-takers across diverse genres. From Ray Charles to Johnny Cash, Chuck Berry to Bob Dylan, Robertson shares anecdotes about these artists and the influence they had on his own musical journey.

Always respectful of their reader, the writers never shy away from speaking about the difficult challenges these recording artists faced and the very human foibles that sometimes led to their tragic end. Most of all, it’s the authors’ passion and insights into these personal stories of creativity and collaboration — and the power of music to shine a light on injustice and foster change — that will fascinate, enlighten, and inspire music fans of all ages.”Exclusive insights from a celebrated musician and passionate industry insiders, two accompanying CDs of legendary tracks and beautiful packaging make for a book with broad appeal — one that will captivate fans of Robbie Robertson and music lovers of all ages.

Product Details

Hardcover: 128 pages
Publisher: Tundra Books, Har/Com edition (October 8, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1770495711
ISBN-13: 978-1770495715
Product Dimensions: 12.1 x 12 x 0.8 inches
Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds

The book description is from Amazon.  Legends, Icons & Rebels: Music That Changed the World

A Review of Here We Are Now: The Lasting Impact of Kurt Cobain by Charles R. Cross

Here We Are NowHere We Are Now: The Lasting Impact of Kurt Cobain
by Charles R. Cross

This was a good examination of the continuing influences of Kurt Cobain, but it felt more like a series of feature articles from Rolling Stone than a book. Each of the chapters dealt with one major topic. This style made reading the book very easy. You got to concentrate on one thing at a time.

Here We Are Now is not a biography and doesn’t want to be. It talks about things like Cobain’s suicide and examines how it may have actually saved lives. How his complete lack of money and very skinny body caused him to layer clothing from thrift stores, which spawned a clothing style, Grunge. Of course there is a chapter on his influence on music, but I thought that the most eye-opening chapter was covering his heroin addiction, and the changes that may have accrued because of it.

This was an interesting read, but sometimes it felt like Mr. Cross thought that Cobain had a larger influence than most people would. He may have been too close. Once you leave the Northwest, the Cobain effect is much smaller.

I enjoyed reading Here We Are Now, but it probably wouldn’t be for everyone. I give it 3 1/2 Stars out of 5. I recommend it to people who like to read “Rock & Roll” books.

I received this Digital Review Copy for free from edelweiss.com.

Book Description
Release date: March 18, 2014

In Here We Are Now: The Lasting Impact of Kurt Cobain, Charles R. Cross, author of the New York Times bestselling Cobain biography Heavier Than Heaven, examines the legacy of the Nirvana front man and takes on the question: why does Kurt Cobain still matter so much, 20 years after his death?
Kurt Cobain is the icon born of the 90s, a man whose legacy continues to influence pop culture and music. Cross explores the impact Cobain has had on music, fashion, film, and culture, and attempts to explain his lasting and looming legacy.

Product Details

Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: It Books (March 18, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062308211
ISBN-13: 978-0062308214
Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces

About the Author

Charles R. Cross graduated from the University of Washington in Seattle with a degree in creative writing. At the UW, he served as editor of the Daily in 1979, and caused a major ruckus when he left the front page of the newspaper blank. The only type was a small line that read “The White Issue,” in deference to the Beatles’ White Album.

After college, Cross served as editor of The Rocket, the Northwest’s music and entertainment magazine, from 1986 through 2000. The Rocket was hailed as “the best regional music magazine in the nation” by the L.A. Reader, and it was the first publication ever to run a story on Nirvana. Cross wrote stories on such seminal Northwest bands as The Wailers, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and hundreds, if not thousands, of lesser-known bands. In addition to The Rocket, Cross’s writing has appeared in hundreds of magazines, including Rolling Stone, Esquire, Playboy, Spin, Guitar World, Q, Uncut, and Creem. He has also written for many newspapers and alternative weeklies, including the London Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Seattle Times, and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He has lectured and read at universities and colleges around the world, and has frequently been interviewed for film, radio, and television documentaries, including VH1’s “Behind the Music.”

Cross is the author of seven books, including 2005’s Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix (published by Hyperion in the U.S., and Hodder in the U.K.). His 2001 release, Heavier Than Heaven: The Biography of Kurt Cobain (Hyperion/Hodder), was a New York Times bestseller and was called “one of the most moving and revealing books ever written about a rock star” by the Los Angeles Times. In 2002, Heavier Than Heaven won the ASCAP Timothy White Award for outstanding biography. Cross’s other books include the national bestseller Cobain Unseen (Little Brown), Backstreets: Springsteen, the Man and His Music (Harmony, 1989); Led Zeppelin: Heaven and Hell (Harmony, 1992); and Nevermind: The Classic Album (Schirmer, 1998).

The book description is from Amazon.  Here We Are Now: The Lasting Impact of Kurt Cobain