David Flitner on “Less Noise, More Soul”


David Flitner, author of Less Noise, More Soul, has graciously written a blog post for us!



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“Anyone who has worked in the art and science of recording music knows the challenge of getting what’s in one’s mind to sound the same when, eventually, it emerges from speakers (or, more problematically, ear buds). There are so many variables that can alter and confound the journey of sound on its way from instruments and vocal chords, through hardware and software. And, for the most part, skilled hands and ears are required to navigate the passage.

This is also the dynamic that attends the writing and editing of a book, particularly one that collects the voices of numerous contributors. Less Noise, More Soul: The Search for Balance in the Art, Technology and Commerce of Music brings together, by design, diverse personalities and points of view, all trying to make sense of where music finds itself amidst the digital paradigm, and all with a passion for that music’s profound relevance in our lives.

Does the message get through?

Reviewers have commented regularly on the “wealth of knowledge” brought by the contributors (many of whom are Grammy winners). The essays have been called “well balanced,” containing “elegant arguments for rethinking where technology is taking the sounds we crave.” One reviewer even referred to the essays as “unexpurgated,” saying they were “amusing and eye-opening and sometimes shocking and will certainly make you start thinking.” (“Shocking” is likely a reference to a metaphor offered by essayist Will Ackerman that I’ll not spoil by revealing here.)

The Journal of the Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association honed in on the diversity of argumentation in the book, declaring the volume “excellent food for classroom thought and study.” Another reviewer succinctly caught the book’s essential concern with “musical authenticity.”

And then there was the review that summed it up this way: “Less noise more soul. No more needs to be said.”

Since its release Less Noise, More Soul has been acquired by dozens of major institutions, from Yale, MIT, and UCLA to the distinguished Eastman School of Music and the Loeb Music Library at Harvard. And, for good measure, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Each reader may decide for herself or himself about the merits of the message. But it’s worth the journey.”


David Flitner - credit Thomas BovairdDavid Flitner (Wolfeboro, NH) holds a PhD from Tufts University and has been a consultant to the US Congress. He is the author of two previous books and has written on music and public affairs for numerous publications, from major newspapers to Billboard. He composes and records with the band Thinline.

Sunburst: How the Gibson Les Paul Standard Became a Legendary Guitar

Superstrat cover singleSunburst, from Backbeat Books, is the latest venture in Tony Bacon’s explorations in guitar models and music. Sunburst unravels a myth and puts into sharp focus how 1,400 or so guitars produced at the end of the ’50s became the most desirable electrics of all time. Check out more of Tony’s books here.

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The Gibson Les Paul sunburst model – the ‘Burst’ – was made between 1958 and 1960, and today  it is probed and picked over like no other guitar. That’s because it really is like no other guitar. In fact, as we discover from the musicians, collectors, and guitar-makers found in this book, it may well be the greatest solidbody electric ever made.

You only have to listen to the music made with this guitar to realise that it’s a special instrument. Its roots are on Eric Clapton’s Beano album with John Mayall in the 60s and Jimmy Page’s classic work with Led Zeppelin into the 70s; there are its appearances on timeless cuts such as ‘All Right Now’ and  ‘Hotel California; and today we hear it bolstering Joe Bonamassa’s worldwide blues-rock success. Many more guitarists have found that the tone and feel of a Burst come together in a magical blend that helps them play better than ever before.

The sunburst Standard can be a beautiful object, too. The pictures in this book celebrate the splendour of its figured maple top, each one a unique signature, and reveal the way that the rigours of time can turn the hardest-worked examples into careworn road warriors with a history in every ding and paint-fade.

Sunburst is the latest book in Tony Bacon’s bestselling guitar series, with a thoroughly researched story partnered by a gallery of full-color pictures of great guitars, rare memorabilia, and famous Burst players – from Keith Richards to Joe Bonamassa and Jeff Beck to Billy Gibbons.

This book shows how Gibson slowly came to understand and more accurately re-create the original Bursts through its reissue programme, under way since the early 90s, and how Gibson’s artist models, limited editions, and collector’s specials have widened the appeal of an already legendary guitar. Sunburst closes with e reference section that provides production details and identificiation clues for every significant model, new and old, of this most enigmatic and revered instrument.


Happy Birthday, Bob Elliot!

Today is Bob Elliot’s 91st Birthday! Along with his partner, Ray Goulding, Bob was an huge game-changer in the entertainment industry. His humor and personality has impacted TV and radio broadcasting (as well as the big screen and Broadway itself) to a legendary degree. Thanks for entertaining us all, Bob!

View some images of Bob from Bob and Ray: Keener Than Most Persons HERE

And read more about Bob Elliot in:

Bob and Ray: Keener Than Most Persons
David Pollock
ISBN: 9781557838308
6″ x  9″
320 pages


Nicholas Nigro on his Spirituality series








Nicholas Nigro, author of The Spirituality of Bono, The Spirituality of Carlos Santana, and The Spirituality of Richar Gere has kindly given us a short piece he has written on his new series:

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The Backbeat Spirituality Series


Inaugurating the Backbeat Spirituality Series are three celebrities from decidedly different backgrounds: Carlos Santana, Richard Gere, and Paul David Hewson, better known as Bono. With each man approaching matters worldly and otherworldly from his own unique perspective, it’s the ideal mix of personalities to kick off these compendiums of inspirational quotations.

“Spirituality to me is like water,” Carlos Santana opines. “Religions are like Pepsi-Cola, Coca-Cola, wine, beer, or whatever. But spirituality is what’s going to save you in the battle.” Singer, guitarist extraordinaire, and unrepentant hippie, Carlos is wont to retreat to San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood every now and then to reminisce about the high-minded social activism of the 1960s, which remains so dear to his heart.
“The universe is—simply that,” actor, activist, and devout Buddhist Richard Gere muses. “It’s our job to make it meaningful.” Always and every day, Richard endeavors to do just that as he tirelessly crusades for human rights and kibitzes with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, when time and circumstances allow.
“We’ve got to follow through on our ideals,” Bono preaches. “Or we betray something at the heart of who we are.” The singer, songwriter, and humanitarian is most definitely a power-of-example in this regard as he indefatigably travels the world on behalf of the poor and the suffering in faraway places. Bono is a steadfast voice for the voiceless, and a very vociferous one at that.
The individual titles in the Spirituality Series furnish readers with a thorough compilation of quotations—on a broad spectrum of life questions—from the mouths of their fascinating subjects: Carlos Santana, Richard Gere, and Bono. Gleaned from interviews, speeches, and myriad media appearances, their reflections and observations on so many things—from spirituality to humanitarianism to the artist’s life—are in these books. Their contemplative takes on the meaning of life—and making the most of it—are simultaneously interesting, insightful, and food for thought.
While Carlos Santana, Richard Gere, and Bono have distinct worldviews—from having ventured down varied life paths—they have an awful lot in common, too, including a penchant for speaking their minds come what may.

The Spirituality of Carlos Santana (9781480355453)
The Spirituality of Bono (9781480355460)
The Spirituality of Richard Gere (9781480355477)
April 8, 2014
4 1/2″ x 6″
104 pages


Nicholas Nigro_Au_PhotoNicholas Nigro is a freelance writer and the author of multiple books in a variety of fields. From spirituality to science and medicine, popular culture to pets and animals, his publishing credits span a wide gamut of topics and appeal to an eclectic swath of readers. He lives in New York City.

Interview with Scott Binder

Below, Scott Binder discusses his new book Make Some Noise: Become the Ultimate DJ with the SAE Institute in Istanbul.

 There are books on how to become a DJ, books that talk about beatmatching, mashups, how to perform in nightclubs – even one that claims it can teach you everything in two hours. Make Some Noise is a complete DJ book that has been created on the cutting edge and goes beyond any current book on the subject. Yes, it teaches the basics, but it goes beyond the how-to, discussing DJing while playing with a live instrument as well as goal setting, marketing, and choosing your music genre.
Make Some Noise blends together practical advice and tools for learning the craft, along with an inspirational message that will help encourage you in regard to your own dreams and aspirations about becoming a DJ.


Star Trek FAQTomorrow, William Shatner will turn 83, and to celebrate, we’d like to dip into Mark Clark’s indispensable guide to all matters pertaining to the first voyages of the Starship Enterprise, Star Trek FAQ (Unofficial and Authorized).  In this excerpt, Clark writes about the circuitous route Gene Roddenberry took to settling on Shatner as his captain.

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While Roddenberry struggled to develop a teleplay that would meet NBC’s demands, Star Trek was dealt another serious blow: Jeffrey Hunter wanted out. Hunter, who had starred in the [the first pilot] “The Cage” as Captain Christopher Pike, was under contract to appear in the series if the original pilot sold but not to appear in the unforeseen second pilot. The actor was unhappy with “The Cage” and ambivalent about moving out of feature films and into a full-time job on television. The show’s leadership had no recourse than to let him go, leaving Star Trek without a star. Selecting Hunter had been a long and arduous process. Among the forty names submitted for the role by one casting consultant were Hunter, Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack, George Segal, Jack Lord, and William Shatner. The list was eventually whittled down to a group of five that included James Coburn in addition to Hunter. NBC asked Roddenberry to consider Patrick McGoohan and Mel Ferrer, but neither were serious candidates. Now, with Hunter out of the picture, Roddenberry, Desilu production chief Herb Solow, and casting director Joe D’Agosta went back to the forty-name original list and reconsidered their options.

            The team settled on Jack Lord as their top choice. Lord (the stage name of John Joseph Patrick Ryan) had appeared in more than a dozen films and guest starred on scores of television series but, in 1965, was best recognized for his turn as CIA agent Felix Leiter in the first James Bond Film, Dr. No (1962). Roddenberry offered the captaincy of the Starship Enterprise to Lord but balked when the actor asked to produce as well as star and demanded an astronomical 50 percent profit participation in the program. Roddenberry moved on, and so did Lord. In 1968, the actor agreed to star in Hawaii Five-O, which ran for 12 seasons and 279 episodes (200 more than Trek). For appearing as Detective Steve McGarrett—whose signature catchphrase “Book ’em, Danno” quickly entered the popular vernacular—Lord received one-third profit participation. When series creator Leonard Freeman died in 1974, Lord took over as executive producer and gained complete creative control over the series.

            After scratching Lord’s name off his list, Roddenberry turned to a Canadian actor with a resume not dissimilar to Lord’s—William Shatner. Shatner was stinging from the mid-season cancellation of his first television series, the courtroom drama For the People. Despite the failure of that program, Shatner remained recognizable to TV viewers as a frequent guest star on other shows—by 1965, he had racked up appearances on 45 television series, some on multiple occasions, not counting appearances on stage and in feature films. Casting director D’Agosta told Roddenberry biographer David Alexander that in 1965 Shatner “had the same thrust going for him that Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen did.” Clearly, Shatner would be the show’s star (or so he thought), and his agent negotiated a star’s contract. Shatner received $5,000 per week plus 20 percent of that salary for the first five reruns of each episode, as well as 20 percent profit participation. He was an inspired choice to play Trek’s new starship captain. His zesty, upbeat approach to the role helped supply the energy boost NBC felt the program needed.



Love, Peace and SoulEricka Blount Danois visited The Marc Steiner Show on WEAA in Baltimore to talk about “Soul Train” and her book Love, Peace, and Soul: Behind the Scenes at America’s Favorite Dance Show.


Love, Peace, and Soul tells the story of the television phenomenon known as Soul Train, a show created in the land of bell bottoms, afros, and soul power; a show that became the touchstone of the Baby Boomer generation. Don Cornelius, host and owner of the show, was one of the coolest cats on television. With his platform shoes, wide neckties, and mellifluous voice, he showed the world just how corny American Bandstand was in comparison. In 2012, fans were shocked to hear one of the most powerful men in the music and television business took his own life.

Love, Peace, and Soul is a celebratory, behind-the-scenes collection of anecdotes, stories, and reflections, from the people who were there, about the host, the show, and the power of black music and dance on television.