Listen: Stephen Tropiano on Pop Culture Tonight

Stephen Tropiano, author of Saturday Night Live FAQ visits “Pop Culture Tonight with Patrick Phillips” to discuss longest running comedy show on television!

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Television history was made on Saturday, October 11, 1975, at 11:30pm (ET), when Chevy Chase welcomed America to the first episode of a new late-night comedy series. With its cutting edge satire and cast of young, talented performers, Saturday Night Live set a new standard for television comedy while launching the careers of such comedy greats as John Belushi, Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy, Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, and Tina Fey.

Saturday Night Live FAQ is the first book to offer the show’s generations of fans everything they ever wanted to know (and may have forgotten) about SNL. Beginning with the show’s creation in the mid-1970s by Lorne Michaels and the Not Ready for Prime Time Players, SNL FAQ takes you through the show’s history with an in-depth look at all thirty-eight seasons.

It’s all here – the comedic highlights and low points, memorable hosts and musical guests, controversial moments, and, of course, the recurring characters and sketches, catch phrases, and film shorts that have made SNL the epicenter of American comedy for nearly four decades. SNL FAQ also examines the show’s influence on American culture and includes profiles of over 100 SNL cast members, along with a comprehensive guide detailing every episode.

Listen: At the Table with Sheana Ochoa

Sheana Ochoa, author of Stella! Mother of Modern Acting, visited Kelly Lincoln of At the Table. Together, they discuss “the great, ahead of her time Stella Adler, and how the Yiddish Theater birthed American Theater.”

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Arthur Miller decided to become a playwright after seeing her perform with the Group Theater. Marlon Brando attributed his acting to her genius as a teacher. Theater critic Robert Brustein calls her the greatest acting teacher in America.

At the turn of the 20th century – by which time acting had hardly evolved since classical Greece – Stella Adler became a child star of the Yiddish stage in New York, where she was being groomed to refine acting craft and eventually help pioneer its modern gold standard: method acting. Stella’s emphasis on experiencing a role through the actions in the given circumstances of the work directs actors toward a deep sociological understanding of the imagined characters: their social class, geographic upbringing, biography, which enlarges the actor’s creative choices.

Always “onstage,” Stella’s flamboyant personality disguised a deep sense of not belonging. Her unrealized dream of becoming a movie star chafed against an unflagging commitment to the transformative power of art. From her Depression-era plays with the Group Theatre to freedom fighting during WWII, Stella used her notoriety as a tool for change.

For this book, Sheana Ochoa worked alongside Irene Gilbert, Stella’s friend of 30 years, who provided Ochoa with a trove of Stella’s personal and pedagogical materials, and Ochoa interviewed Stella’s entire living family, including her daughter Ellen; her colleagues and friends, from Arthur Miller to Karl Malden; and her students from Robert De Niro to Mark Ruffalo. Unearthing countless unpublished letters and interviews, private audio recordings, Stella’s extensive FBI file, class videos and private audio recordings, Ochoa’s biography introduces one of the most under recognized, yet most influential luminaries of the 20th century.

Listen: Cary Ginell on Inquiry

Cary Ginell, author of The Evolution of Mann and Walk Tallrecently met up with the folks at Inquiry to discuss his latest, Mr. B: The Music and Life of Billy Eckstine!

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I00333475n 1950, Billy Eckstine was the most popular singer in America. Movie-star handsome with an elegant pencil-thin mustache and a wide vibrato, Eckstine possessed one of the most magnificent voices in popular music history. Born in Pittsburgh, Eckstine won a talent contest by imitating Cab Calloway and started leading jazz orchestras under the name Baron Billy. In 1939, he joined Earl Hines’ orchestra, composing and performing the hits “Jelly, Jelly” and “Stormy Monday Blues.” In 1944, he formed what is now considered the first bebop orchestra that included, during its brief three-year run, legendary figures such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, and Sarah Vaughan. Signing with MGM, he rose to superstar status, sold millions of records, marketed his own line of “Mr. B.” shirt collars, and inspired an army of female admirers, known as “Billy-soxers.” Eckstine fought all his life for recognition and respect in his quest to become America’s first black romantic singing idol, but he faced hardships in the segregated music world of the ’40s and ’50s. Despite this, he went on to influence many singers who followed, including Arthur Prysock, Johnny Hartman, Johnny Mathis, Kevin Mahogany, Barry White, and even Elvis Presley. In this book, Cary Ginell traces, for the first time, the life of one of the twentieth century’s most amazing success stories, the man known simply as “Mr. B.”

Listen: “Down the Rhodes” on Soundcheck

On the very first day of the New Year, Gerald McCauley met up with Soundcheck host John Schaefer. As one of the authors of Down the Rhodes: The Fender Rhodes Story (along with Benjamin Bove), Gerald has a lot to say about the history of this powerful and revolutionary instrument!

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Rhodes_Jacket_4-colorThe Fender Rhodes story is a historical tribute to the electric piano that changed the sound of music. Invented by Harold Rhodes as a rehabilitation tool for soldiers in World War II, the Fender Rhodes piano both revolutionized and empowered musicians to explore a new, electric frontier of music. Through interviews with a remarkable cast of music notables, the book takes an insider’s look into how this electric piano played – and continues to play – an integral role in the creation of a wealth of music, from the 1960s through today. The collection of interviews with Michael Bearden, George Benson, Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea, D’Angelo, Eumir Deodato, George Duke, Larry Dunn, Donald Fagen, Ronnie Foster, Rodney Franklin, Robert Glasper, Jay Graydon, Dave Grusin, Don Grusin, Onaje Allan Gumbs, Ellis Hall, Herbie Hancock, Lalah Hathaway, Rami Jaffee, Bob James, Quincy Jones, Ramsey Lewis, Jeff Lorber, Robin Lumley, Ray Manzarek, Les McCann, Marcus Miller, Steve Molitz, John Novello, David Paich, Jerry Peters, Greg Phillinganes, James Poyser, Patrice Rushen, Joe Sample, Lenny White, Maurice White, Vince Wilburn Jr., Allee Willis, the CBS musical instruments staff, and others provides for a rare glimpse at the music history behind some of the most memorable music of our time.

Listen: John D. Luerssen on 96 Rock

John D. Luerssen visited Cincinnati’s Morning Show with Fin and Mistress Bridget to talk about Nirvana FAQ!

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00110230Nirvana FAQ traces the band from its genesis to its end. Founded by friends Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic, Nirvana had a rocky start and a succession of drummers, but by the end of 1990, its debut album, Bleach, had garnered international attention and the group’s sixth drummer, Dave Grohl, had joined the fold.

Following its mentors Sonic Youth to Geffen Records, Nirvana had hoped for modest success. Instead came unexpected wealth and fame on the strength of 1991’s Nevermind and its iconic, breakthrough single “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Success didn’t sit well with Cobain, who began to numb the stresses of rock stardom with heroin. Despite 1993’s hit album In Utero, Cobain’s unhappiness became increasingly apparent. His suicide in April 1994 shocked the music world and put an end to a band at the height of its popularity.

Nirvana FAQ answers such questions as, What guitar teacher did Cobain and Novoselic have in common? Where did Cobain record his first demo? What was the cause of his first arrest? How was second guitarist Jason Everman hired and fired? What was the name of Grohl’s first band, and where did he meet Cobain and Novoselic? Who is “Teen Spirit” about? How did Nirvana’s war with Guns N’ Roses begin? And more.

Listen: Bob Allen talks about George Jones on the Breakfast Club show

Bob Allen, author of George Jones: The Life and Times of a Honky Tonk Legend, met up with the folks at the Breakfast Club on WBUT in Butler, Pa., to talk about his book and the life of George Jones! Check out the podcast here.

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00122446George Jones: The Life and Times of a Honky Tonk Legend by Bob Allen  is a hard-hitting portrait of one of the most revered singers in the history of country music.  Jones’s nearly six-decade-long career has had a profound impact on modern country music and has influenced several younger generations of singers, including Alan Jackson, Randy Travis, Tim McGraw, Trace Adkins, and others.

Jones, who died last year at the age of 81, recorded classics like “Why, Baby, Why” (1955), “Window Up Above” (1960), “The Race is On” (1964), “Golden Ring” (1976 as a duet with ex-wife tammy Wynette) and “He Stopped Loving Her Today” (1980).  These Jones hits and others have earned indelible inclusion in the pantheon of all-time country classics. Along the way, Jones recorded duets with everyone from Garth Brooks, Linda Ronstadt, and Elvis Costello to Ray Charles, Keith Richards, and Gene Pitney.

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For his longevity and influence, Jones was awarded Kennedy Center Honors in 2008, and that same year, was inducted into the Country Music Hal of Fame. In 2012, he earned a Grammy Award for Lifetime Achievement.

In George Jones: The Life and Times of a Honky Tonk Legend, Allen recounts Jones’s larger-than-life tale of rags to riches and (at least for awhile) back to rags again. From the start, Jones’s life, as often reflected in his music, was shaped by misdirection, chaos, turmoil, and emotional strife aggravated by a ferocious appetite for alcohol.  Fame and adulation seemed to only intensify his personal travails.  As he once observed, “All my life, it seems like I’ve been running from something.  If I knew what it was, maybe I could run in the right direction, but I always seem to end up going the other way.”

 

Listen: Scott Von Doviak on Pop Culture Tonight

Scott Von Doviak, author of the Stephen King Films FAQ met up with Patrick Phillips on Pop Culture Tonight to talk about his book and the King of Horror!

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Stephen King Films FAQOver the past four decades, the Stephen King movie has become a genre unto itself. The prolific writer’s works have spawned well over 100 adaptations for both the big and small screen, ranging from modern classics of horror (CarrieThe Shining) to Oscar-nominated fare (The Shawshank RedemptionThe Green Mile) to unapologetic, B-movie schlock (the King-directed Maximum Overdrive). The filmmakers to put their stamp on King’s material include acclaimed auteurs Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg, and Brian De Palma; masters of horror Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter, and George Romero; and popular mainstream directors Rob Reiner, Frank Darabont, and Lawrence Kasdan. Stephen King Films FAQ is the most comprehensive overview of this body of work to date, encompassing well-known hits as well as forgotten obscurities, critical darlings and reviled flops, films that influenced King as well as those that have followed in his footsteps, upcoming and unmade projects, and selected works in other media (including comic books, radio dramas, and the infamous Carrie musical). Author Scott Von Doviak provides background information, analysis, and trivia regarding the various films and television productions, including “Bloodlines” sections on related works and “Deep Cuts” sections collecting additional odd facts and ephemera. All you ever wanted to know about the king of horror onscreen can be found here.

Listen: Cary Ginell on “Inquiry”

Cary Ginell recently was a guest on Inquiry on WICN radio in Worcester, Mass., and the subject was Julian “Cannonball” Adderly and Ginell’s book, Walk Tall.  (Keep an eye out for the next book from Cary Ginell in the Hal Leonard Jazz Biography Series, The Evolution of Mann: Herbie Mann and the Flute in Jazz!)

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Walk TallCannonball Adderley introduces his 1967 recording of “Walk Tall,” by saying, “There are times when things don’t lay the way they’re supposed to lay. But regardless, you’re supposed to hold your head up high and walk tall.”

This sums up the life of Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, a man who used a gargantuan technique on the alto saxophone, pride in heritage, devotion to educating youngsters, and insatiable musical curiosity to bridge gaps between jazz and popular music in the 1960s and ’70s. His career began in 1955 with a Cinderella-like cameo in a New York nightclub, resulting in the jazz world’s looking to him as “the New Bird,” the successor to the late Charlie Parker. But Adderley refused to be typecast. His work with Miles Davis on the landmark Kind of Blue album helped further his reputation as a unique stylist, but Adderley’s greatest fame came with his own quintet’s breakthrough engagement at San Francisco’s Jazz Workshop in 1959, which launched the popularization of soul jazz in the 1960s. With his loyal brother Nat by his side, along with stellar sidemen, such as keyboardist Joe Zawinul, Adderley used an engaging, erudite personality as only Duke Ellington had done before him.

All this and more are captured in this engaging read by author Cary Ginell.

Listen: Randy Poe on WSM Radio

The Onstage and Backstage podcast from Hal Leonard is available on iTunes and Libsyn. You can catch Randy Poe talking about Buck Owens on WSM Radio on our podcast!

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Buck ‘Em! The Autobiography of Buck Owens is the life story of a country music legend. Born in Texas and raised in Arizona, Buck eventually found his way to Bakersfield, California. Unlike the vast majority of country singers, songwriters, and musicians who made their fortunes working and living in Nashville, the often rebellious and always independent Owens chose to create his own brand of country music some 2,000 miles away from Music City – racking up a remarkable twenty-one number one hits along the way. In the process he helped give birth to a new country sound and did more than any other individual to establish Bakersfield as a country music center.

In the latter half of the 1990s, Buck began working on his autobiography. Over the next few years, he talked into the microphone of a cassette tape machine for nearly one hundred hours, recording the story of his life.

With his near-photographic memory, Buck recalled everything from his early days wearing hand-me-down clothes in Texas to his glory years as the biggest country star of the 1960s; from his legendary Carnegie Hall concert to his multiple failed marriages; from his hilarious exploits on the road to the tragic loss of his musical partner and best friend, Don Rich; from his days as the host of a local TV show in Tacoma, Washington, to his co-hosting the network television show Hee Haw; and from his comeback hit, “Streets of Bakersfield,” to his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

In these pages, Buck also shows his astute business acumen, having been among the first country artists to create his own music publishing company. He also tells of negotiating the return of all of his Capitol master recordings, his acquisition of numerous radio stations, and of his conceiving and building the Crystal Palace, one of the most venerated musical venues in the country.

Buck ‘Em! is the fascinating story of the life of country superstar Buck Owens – from the back roads of Texas to the streets of Bakersfield.

Click here to watch a video extra on YouTube for Buck ‘Em.

The Sound of Music

At 8:00 pm tonight, NBC is airing a live edition of The Sound of Musicstarring Carrie Underwood as Maria. Feeling nostalgic for the original movie musical? Below is a podcast from Onstage and Backstage podcast with three of the film’s stars, talking about what it was like to work on the film as well as the book they put together, The Sound of Music Family Scrapbook. The podcast is courtesy of Rodgers and Hammerstein.

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It’s not an exaggeration to say that The Sound of Music is the most beloved film musical of all time. It has touched more than one generation, as over the years, many parents have shared the magic of this wonderful movie with their children. Seven very special children experiencedThe Sound of Music firsthand: the seven young actors cast as the von Trapp children. Now, for the first time, they tell their stories about making this celebrated film, from their auditions to rehearsals in Los Angeles to an incredible spring and summer in Salzburg, Austria. What was it like to work with Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer? How did they learn the songs and dances for the musical numbers? Who almost drowned when the boat tipped over? What was it like to attend the gala Hollywood premiere? What were their lives like after starring in this legendary movie? And how did they become a family in real life, remaining as close as any brothers and sisters for the last 45 years? The answers are revealed at last and as a bonus, they have collected their never-before-seen own home movie footage on a brand-new DVD. It is included here, along with personal cherished memorabilia, such as letters sent home to their families from Europe, a page from the script with edits written in the margin, and a ticket to the premiere. For anyone who is thrilled by the sight of Julie Andrews spinning around on top of a mountain, or who spontaneously bursts out singing “Do-Re-Mi,” this captivating behind-the-scenes inside story is a must read.