Category Archives: Music Fans

A GRAMMY Salute to Music Legends Book Promo

Now for the first time, The Recording Academy and Hal Leonard Books have collected two decades of Special Merit Award honoree tributes in A GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends. A GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends edited by David Konjoyan, offers a glimpse into how artists are personally affected by other artists, and the debt of gratitude, influence and inspiration they owe each other.  Take a look at the book trailer below.

00151136fcThe 87 honorees featured in A GRAMMY Salute To Music Legends have made extraordinary contributions to blues, classical, country, R&B, rock, rap and other forms of music either as performers or behind the scenes as producers, engineers, songwriters, executives or technical innovators. The collected tributes are sometimes touching, sometimes humorous and always inspiring.

Editor David Konjoyan writes in his introduction: “As with other innovations, whether science-, technology-, or business-related, none happen in a vacuum and all have deep reverberations. That’s what this book is all about: the sources of those reverberations and the revelations of those who were impacted by them and filtered them into their own groundbreaking work.” 

In some cases, the relationship between the writer and legend is obvious (Quincy Jones honoring Michael Jackson or Miranda Lambert writing about Dolly Parton); in others the influence is perhaps surprising (Queen’s Brian May paying tribute to Doris Day or Steven Van Zandt writing about Dean Martin). Sometimes the reverberations transcend music entirely, as when Sen. Patrick Leahy writes about his friendship with the Grateful Dead. Additional honorees highlighted in the collection include The Beatles; David Bowie; Earth, Wind & Fire; Leonard Cohen; Carole King; Barbra Streisand; and Run DMC.

DAVID KONJOYAN is the Vice President of Creative Services at The Recording Academy. In 2007 he edited And the GRAMMY Goes To…, a coffee-table book celebrating 50 years of the GRAMMY Awards. He has worked as a music journalist and in radio promotion and public relations and has developed and executive-produced two albums: 1994’s tribute to Karen and Richard Carpenter, If I Were a Carpenter, and the offbeat nod to the neo-lounge movement, Lounge-A-Palooza, in 1997. He lives in Los Angeles.


Kenny Aronoff Interview with Guitar Center

Kenny Aronoff, author of Sex, Drums, Rock ‘n’ Roll!recently sat down for an interview on the Guitar Center blog, Music Aficionado. Sex, Drums, Rock ‘n’ Roll!, Take a look at the excerpt of the interview below.

KENNY_cover3B-b_v2_FF_OLWhat led you to write an autobiography? What made you feel it was time?

It wasn’t my idea to write my autobiography. A writer, Jake Brown, who was interviewing me for a book he was writing about Joe Satriani made the suggestion. He was very enthusiastic and passionate about my writing an autobiography, he and his dad had seen me play at a John Mellencamp show in St. Louis when he was 14 years old. He had to convince me to write my book. The reason I didn’t want to write a book initially, was because I thought it would be a lot of work. And I was right – it took four years!

How did you get started playing music?

I have always been passionate about music. My parents had music blasting on their turntables or the radio all day long when I was a kid, playing mostly jazz, classical, and musicals. My mom taught my sister, brother and myself the piano when we were young, and we eventually took piano lessons, but at age 10 I decided I wanted drum lessons and no more piano – just drums, drums, drums! One year later, when I was 11, I saw The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, aka “The Night That Changed America.” They performed for 72 million people that night. I immediately wanted to be in The Beatles, and when I realized that wasn’t going to happen, I started my first band, the Alley Cats.

What was your first musical “big win” that you let you know “I can do this, I can be a musician.”?

As soon as I played my first concert with the Alley Cats at age 11, I decided I had to do this for the rest of my life, and still feel that way. But I wasn’t sure how to achieve this. There were no mentors, no manuals, or people that I knew that had made it in rock ‘n’ roll. I grew up in a small town of 3,000 people in western Massachusetts. My big commitment was when I decided to go to college as a music major. I studied one year at the University of Massachusetts and four more years at Indiana University School of Music, now called the Jacob School of Music.

I spent one summer studying at the Aspen Music Festival, run by the Julliard School, and one year at Tanglewood, which is led by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. We were considered the best student orchestra in America. Our teachers and mentors were the musicians in the BSO, so my percussion teacher was Vic Firth. After graduating from school, I had opportunities to join two orchestras, one in Jerusalem, Israel, and the other in Quito, Ecuador. I declined both offers because my heart still wanted to be in a rock band like The Beatles. So I started studying drum sets with two teachers, Alan Dawson in Boston and Gary Chester in NY, practicing relentlessly, eight hours a day unless I was performing. I lived at home for one year before moving to Indiana, where I started a band with a bunch of very talented musicians in Bloomington. Three years later, I auditioned for Johnny Cougar (John Mellencamp). That was my first big break.

You talk in your book about learning to practice “correctly.” What techniques/topics do you focus on while practicing? What recommendations would you make to someone starting out for practice/development?

Know what your purpose is when you are practicing. Know your goals. Know what you are trying to accomplish. If you are taking lessons, pick a teacher who you trust and believe in, and do what he or she suggests to make you a better drummer, musician, and person.

You’ve played with everyone! What universal qualities do those people share? What makes a good collaborator?

Successful people – no matter what business they are in or what they do in life – are self-disciplined, work their asses off, put in lots of time and know how to stay in the game even when they fail. They are driven to be great even when things get difficult.

Read the full interview here.

Jim Washburn, Dick Boak, and The Martin Archives

The Martin Archives, Jim Washburn with Dick Boak, is a unique inside look into C.F. Martin & Co.’s reign as America’s oldest and most revered guitarmaker – viewed through a selection of images, correspondence, documents, and reproduced artifacts chosen from some 700,000 items the company has amassed over nearly two centuries. The excerpt below takes a look further at the book and its compilation with


Forty years into his career at America’s oldest guitar company, the luthier and polymath talks about C.F. Martin & Co’s history and impact on popular culture.

The music industry’s most influential players are often its least visible: the record executives we never see, the lawyers whose names we don’t know, the recording engineers whose names we’ve heard but who we wouldn’t recognize on the street. These are the people that see how music is made and know how the artists act offstage. We may not know their names, but they are the industry’s gatekeepers, its preservationists and visionaries.

Take Dick Boak, director of the museum and archives at C.F. Martin and Company who entered the business 40 years ago while dumpster diving. During the counterculture movement of the late 1960s and 1970s, Boak was a poet, artist, and woodworker who specialized in building instruments. When he requested permission to pick through the guitar factory’s leftover wood scraps while traveling through Nazareth, Pennsylvania in 1976, he was impressed by their selection. “I hit the jackpot with rosewood and mahogany and ebony and spruce: woods I had never seen before, let alone at the dimensions and sizes I needed to experiment with guitar making,” Boak recalls. After he sorted through the piles, Boak was asked for samples of his work and shortly thereafter was offered a job. In the decades since, Boak has built hundreds of specialized guitars and helped develop Martin’s artist relations and archive departments, becoming the company’s in-house expert. “I’m a little overly close to Martin,” Boak says now. “I would’ve done the job for free.”

In his early years at Martin, Boak introduced the idea of signature guitars to the company. In 1994, the company produced their first, the Gene Autry model and, since then, the specialized, artist-driven guitar has become an industry staple.. These days, Boak busies himself with cultivating Martin’s historical documents, a task most recently documented by The Martin Archives, a book co-authored by Boak and Jim Washburn that was released this month by Hal Leonard. “It’s Dick’s life’s work, in a way,” Washburn says of the book. “He has a huge appreciation for what the company was and has the vision to project that into the future.”

Though it took Washburn less than two years to write The Martin Archives’ content, Boak’s work on the project began in the early 2000s when he, Washburn and author Richard Johnston collaborated on an earlier project documenting Martin’s history titled Martin Guitars: An Illustrated Celebration of America’s Premiere Guitarmaker. When they stumbled upon dozens of boxes of company documents in an old factory attic, Boak became determined to preserve the materials and search for others that might exist around the country. He collaborated with museums, music historians, libraries, and eBay traders to track down old photos, newspaper clippings, sales receipts and flyers. When he approached Washburn about The Martin Archives, he handed over a hard drive containing about 4,000 documents.

In the following months, Washburn sifted through the documents Boak provided and research of his own to define the book’s narrative. What they discovered was not only proof of a company’s success but of a country’s march through time. Simple things like factory blueprints and the introduction of paperclips and carbon paper to the company’s filing system told a different side of Martin’s story. “We saw all these inventions come along. Martin moved with the times to take advantage of those things,” Washburn says. “[The book] marks American history as it changed, as seen through the eyes of this one company.”


Read the full interview here.

Kenny Aronoff, “Sex, Drums, Rock ‘n’ Roll!” with

Kenny Aronoff, author of Sex, Drums, Rock ‘n’ Roll!, sat down with sharing his journey from his love for the Beatles to working with John Mellencamp, plus his mantra to  “work hard and rock harder.”

KENNY_cover3B-b_v2_FF_OLKenny Aronoff is one of the most famous and hardest working rock ‘n’ roll drummers performing today. After four decades behind the kit playing with John Fogerty, John Mellencamp, Joe Cocker, Bob Dylan, Jon Bon Jovi, and many others, as house drummer for the Kennedy Center Honors, and alongside Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr on the Beatles CBS special The Night That Changed America, Aronoff is listed among Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time” and remains one of the most in-demand live and session drummers in the music business working today.

You got to work your butt off in anything. That’s what the book is about.

In Sex, Drums, Rock ’n’ Roll! The Hardest Hitting Man in Show Business, Aronoff answers these questions and more, painting the portrait of an artist, instructor, and businessman who never followed the norm, always followed his heart, and never settled for anything short of excellence.

You have to go through a lot of experience to understand how to solve problems to see the problems before they come because they’re going to come.

Sex, Drums, Rock ’n’ Roll! takes readers on Aronoff’s amazing journey from the small New England town where he watched the Beatles perform on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964 to performing alongside Paul and Ringo on a television special 50 years later. Along the way it chronicles an uncommon career in which the excesses of the rock ’n’ roll life are always tempered by his core personal and professional values.

I’ll never be as great as I want to be, but I’m willing to spend the rest of my life trying to be as great as I can be.

Check out the video here.

Deke Sharon at the Drama Book Shop

World-renowned arranger, producer, and author Deke Sharon recently visited the Drama Book Shop in New York City for a book signing of The Heart of Vocal Harmony: Emotional Expressing in Group Singing and a discussion. The discussion, led by Steven McCasland, covered his beginnings in a cappella, the broadway play In TransitHeart of Vocal Harmony, plus more. Take a look at the video below.


The Heart of Vocal Harmony focuses on the process of delivering an emotionally compelling performance. This book is like no other a cappella book that has been released. Most of the other a cappella books have been about teaching people how to sing technically well. The goal with this book was to inspire groups to take that extra step with their vocals. It goes beyond being a great singer and sounding ‘pretty.’ What emotions an you exude to your audience? What can you do to make a difference in their lives?

It’s about taking this music….and bringing it to you and infusing it with your own meaning, your own personality, your own character.

What sets The Heart of Vocal Harmony apart is its focus on honest unified expression and the process of delivering an emotionally compelling performance. It delves into an underdeveloped vocal topic – the heart of the music and the process involved with expressing it.

Don’t just pick a piece of music because you like it. Don’t just pick a piece of music because you’re like, “Well, it’s popular right now.” Pick of piece of music because you think there’s something you can bring to it to that will make it at least as good, if not better.

The Heart of Vocal Harmony is not just for a cappella groups – it is also for vocal harmony groups, ensembles, and choirs atall levels, with or without instruments. In addition to the process, the book features discussions with some of the biggest luminaries in vocal harmony: composers, arrangers, directors, singers, and groups – including Eric Whitacre, Pentatonix, the Manhattan Transfer, and more.

Since I find myself talking and working with these groups on the same fundamental things over and over again, I should write some piece down so that people can start to think about music from this perspective because it’s really the place that it should come from and it’s the thing that draws us all to music as listeners.



Back to Black: Amy Winehouse’s Only Masterpiece

Donald Brackett, music journalist and author of Back to Black: Amy Winehouse’s Only Masterpiece, share his take on writing the book and the kind of artist that Amy was. Take a look at the video below.

In Back to Black: Amy Winehouse’s Only Masterpiece, Donald Brackett presents an incisive and fascinating study of Winehouse’s second, and final, studio album.

It was both a joy and a challenge to do the research for this book. One of the pleasures was in discovering, in the research, that Amy Winehouse didn’t just drop out of space from nowhere. She’s the most contemporary exponent of a long tradition. And although it was challenging to live in her music, for a very long time, I definitely appreciate the opportunity to explore it and share it with readers.

d8364e1f-d4be-486a-9eac-70d23c6290a3Brackett fully considers Winehouse’s legacy ten years after her multi-Grammy winning album – exploring the origins of a global cultural phenomenon by examining her roots as a storyteller; studying her swift arrival as a demonic pop diva; the crucially important creative role played by her gifted producers in the studio; the historical musical influences on her style; the soul magic of her superb backup band, the Dap-Kings; her live performance style onstage; and her magnetic public image as a video star. Back to Black is also examined, song by song, in an appreciation of its status as a true pop-art artifact.

Ten years after the album was produced and created, it still has a fishiness that I don’t this is going to go away in the future. And I believe that if we can divorce the soap opera from her story and bring out the musical history that she brings to life, I think we’ll a be much better for it.

Along the way, he opens the door not only to the full experience of this remarkable record, but also explores the seductive sonic hook that pop artists always strive for and unearths what makes the record unique, influential, and unforgettable. He reveals the creative steps in its inception and production, the technical virtuosity that makes it special, and why it deserves to be considered a pop classic.

In a strangely alluring way, there’s everyone else in pop music, and then there’s her.

Back to Black: Amy Winehouse’s Only Masterpiece is a book about Amy Winehouse’s music and the music that inspired it; it is not about the problems or flaws that caused them. His book reminds us that it’s the songs that make up Back to Black which go far beyond our potentially prurient fascination with the unique singer’s early demise five years ago and instead bring vibrantly to life the surprising pop majesty she personified.

If you love Amy Winehouse as much as I do, I hope this book will help you get a grip on the history that informed it.

James Campion Talks KISS With Iron City Rocks

James Campion, author of Shout It Out Loud: The Story of KISS’s Destroyer and the Making of an American Iconrecently sat down with Iron City Rocks to discuss the book. Shout It Out Loud is a serious examination of the circumstance and serendipity that fused the creation of the band’s seminal work, Destroyer – including the band’s arduous ascent to the unexpected smash hit, Alive!; the ensuing lawsuits between the band’s management and label, plus more. Take a listen to the podcast below.


00141630The rock band KISS has galvanized the entertainment world with an unparalleled blitz of bravado, theatrically, and shameless merchandizing, garnering generations of loyalty rabid fans for more than 40 years. But if not of a few crucial months in late 1975 and early 1976, KISS may have ended up nothing more than a foot note. What changed it all? Their album Destroyer. 

Author James Campion discussed this album in particular in the interview  saying that KISS, who had never been involved in controversy in their career before, were now in the forefront with the release of Destroyer. It was an album that you either loved or hated.

Destroyer is the indisputable KISS mission statement   – the realization of a dream that  stridently reflects the extraordinary time from which it was fashioned. Destroyer is 70s rock: loud, yes and decadent, you bet, but mostly it is pompous, weird, and fantastical… It is a cartoon fantasy’s parody of excess. Its message is fun and doom all rolled up in a thunderous package of melodramatic farce.

James Campion

Shout it out Loud is the story of how an underground rock and roll oddity became a cultural phenomena.


10 Things We Learned from Maynard James Keenan’s Biography

A Perfect Union of Contrary Things, Sarah Jensen with Maynard James Keenan, presents Maynard’s story as a metaphor for the reader’s own evolution and an encouragement to follow our dreams, hold fast to individual integrity, and work ceaselessly to fulfill our creative potential. Team Rock made a list of 10 things learned from the ‘semi-autobiography.’ Team Rock covers all rock from Classic to Metal Hammer, Prog, and more. Check out the list below.

00146489The name ‘Maynard’ came from his poetry.

At high school, James Herbert Keenan wrote poems and illustrated them with a “small, witchy character” named Maynard.He adopted the name while he was in the army.

He idolized Kiss.

He even made a ceramic Gene Simmons face at school, but his dad and stepmom worried Kiss was an acronym for ‘Knights in Satan’s Service’ and that Maynard was a degenerate.

He can navigate a battlefield.

In the military, Maynard was as an artillery surveyor, plotting diagrams and escape routes for his battery during warfare. The first thing he did when he left was get a mohawk.

His first band were political.

C.A.D., aka Children Of The Anachronistic Dynasty, produced two cassettes. Each came with a manifesto questioning the values and future of corporate, middle-class America.

Birds are a big deal for him.

Maynard worked as a merchandise manager at pet shops in Boston and LA, and constructed an aviary in each bedroom he lived in. He once kept a turkey called Butterball.

Check out the rest of the list here.

A Perfect Union of Contrary Things presents the outtakes, the scenes of disappointment and triumph, and the events that led him to take one step after the next, to change direction, to explore sometimes surprising opportunities. Included throughout are passages in Keenan’s own words, often humorous anecdotes that illuminate the narrative. There is also commentary by his family members, friends, instructors, and industry colleagues. The book also features a foreword by Alex Grey, an American visionary artist and longtime friend of Keenan, who has designed Tool’s album and stage art.

Woodstock and The Band

The Band FAQ by Peter Aaron, digs deep to discuss different facets of the Band’s collective and individual stories – providing intensive analysis of their recordings; highlighting their key concerts, plus more. The following is a feature a brief history of the formation of the band plus their connection to Woodstock.

00139910Snow was general over the mountains, just a little more to the north, but Woodstock basked over Thanksgiving weekend in chilly air and the last fall leaves, hanging on and brightening the streets and yards of the little town. The big tulip poplars, shining, stayed gold in the graveyard that covers the right-hand side of Rock City Road, heading out of town. Before we went to the launch of Peter Aaron’s new book, The Band  FAQ,we stopped by to say hello to Rick and Levon… as we often do.

The launch, arranged by The Golden Notebook — one of the best independent bookstores you could ever hope to find, and right across Tinker Street from the venue — was at the Kleinert/James Center of the Byrdcliffe Guild, an American treasure for arts in all media since 1902. In Woodstock, the embarrassment of riches for such an event is evident, when a book launch to do with the Band is combined with a conversation with friends of the musicians — Elliott Landy and Happy Traum — and a concert of their songs.

Landy had the eye they needed to make their first album cover, most literally, the rock of ages. Asked by Albert Grossman to photograph “the guys in the band” with no name, yet, for their first record, Landy grappled with locations and ideas. “We drive all over the place,” he remembered, and the first two shoots gained nothing. Then he paged through a book of Civil War photographs and thought of ways in which the men were connected to the faces from the past. “I hadn’t heard their music yet,” Landy grins. He would go on to take over 15,000 photographs of Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Robbie Robertson — as well as photographing his friend and neighbor Bob Dylan (one of Landy’s portraits is on the cover of Nashville Skyline, 1969).

Read the rest of the feature here.

Deke Sharon, New York Times Feature

Deke Sharon, author of The Heart of Vocal Harmony, was recently featured in the New York Times. His latest venture? A Broadway play, In Transit.  In addition the “guru of a capella” shared stories of his evolving career and his lifelong mission.

00156135World-renowned arranger and producer Deke Sharon, whose credits include television’s The Sing Off and Pitch Slapped, the movies Perfect Pitch and Perfect Pitch 2, and, this fall, Broadway’s first a cappella musical, In Transit, puts emotion where it belongs – front and center – in The Heart of Vocal Harmony.

Where did a career like Deke’s begin? Back in the early 90s, he was the co-founder of House of Jacks with singers he met not he college circuit. A few years later he enrolled in Tufts University just so he could join their a cappella group, Beezlebubs. In the midst of all this Kurk Richard Toohey Jr. became Deke Sharon.

It wasn’t meant to be a stage name. Everybody called me Deke, and my mom had remarried, so I had all these different names in my childhood. I just wanted an identity of my own.

That newly found identity poured through Deke’s work for years to come. With a book such as The Heart of Vocal Harmony he is fulfilling his lifelong mission of creating harmony with harmony. A capella has surely evolved since Deke began his career back in the 90s.  In addition to In Transit, he’s traveling to workshops, camps, master classes, concerts, recurring studios, and overseeing the touring group Vocalosity.

In his book, The Heart of Vocal Harmony there’s focus on honest unified expression and the process of delivering an emotionally compelling performance. It delves into an underdeveloped vocal topic – the heart of the music and the process involved with expressing it.

He truly believes that groups of people singing together creates goodness int he world. And at this moment in time, we really need that kind of harmony.

Kristin Anderson-Lopez

The Heart of Vocal Harmony features discussions with some of the biggest luminaries in vocal harmony: composers, arrangers, directors, singers, and groups, including Eric Whitacre, Pentatonix, the Manhattan Transfer, and more. It is a unique and invaluable tool for helping singers connect with the song and deliver powerful and emotional performances each and every time.

Check out the full feature here.