Category Archives: Music Fans

Pearl Jam is on the road!

Pearl Jam is currently on the road and will soon be making their way to Boston and Chicago in August! This is the perfect time to refresh your memory on all things Pearl Jam related  with the book Pearl Jam FAQ All That’s Left to Know About Seattle’s Most Enduring Band. Written by Thomas Edward Harkins, and Bernard M. Corbett, this is the book for all Pearl Jam fans, both young and old!

00139507With record sales of nearly 32 million in the United States and an estimated 60 million worldwide and with no end in sight, Pearl Jam can stake its claim to being the most successful, enduring, and influential band to emerge from the Seattle (or pretty much anywhere else) in the 1990s.

In Pearl Jam FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About Seattle’s Most Enduring Band (May 2016, Backbeat Books, $19.99), authors Thomas Edward Harkins and Bernard M. Corbett explore the entire arc of the band’s career, from their pre-Pearl Jam days to the present. Each of 30 chapters explores a different aspect of Pearl Jam’s fascinating history.

Pearl Jam FAQ looks the band members’ successes, failures, and tragedies prior to joining forces, as well as their early days as Mookie Blaylock and the unusual manner in which they came up with the name finally stuck. Then, Harkins and Corbett go inside the studio and analyze each of their albums in turn and hit the road with them as they set out to conquer Seattle, the West Coast of the United States, and then the entire world.

Beyond the music, Pearl Jam FAQ takes a long look at the way Pearl Jam adapted to an ever-changing media landscape where MTV, not radio, is the major power broker. The book also addresses their battles with Ticketmaster and explores about the roots of their socio-political activism.

With a view of the band from every angle and in every context – on CD, on vinyl, on the radio, on television, on film, in videos, onstage, backstage, on the road, in the air, and at home – through the eyes of Pearl Jam enthusiasts, Pearl Jam FAQ presents a must-have text for band devotees to devour.


Coming soon: “Some Fun Tonight!”

Celebrate the Beatles’ 50th anniversary of their final tour with the boxed set of Some Fun Tonight!, which lets you experience the Beatles’ North American tours through the eyes of those who were there! The boxed set will be on sale this coming June, so make sure to mark your calendars! Learn more about it below.

00160940.jpgNever has there been a book on the Beatles quite like Some Fun Tonight! The Backstage Story of How the Beatles Rock America: The Historic Tours of 1964-1966. Covering the group’s three North American tours (1964-1966) in astonishing detail, author Chuck Gunderson’s comprehensive two-volume boxed set gives readers a city-by-city synopsis of the Beatles’ activities as they traveled the United States and Canada for their groundbreaking series of concerts. So authoritative is Gunderson’s work that Ron Howard is using it as source material for his upcoming Beatles documentary, whose working title is The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, due out in theaters and on Hulu in the fall.

Produced in a slick, glossy, full-color format, and housed in an attractive slipcase, these truly essential books for any Beatles library retail for $160. This fall, Backbeat Books will provide Beatles fans will a less expensive, but no less impressive, alternative: a two-volume soft-cover edition with each volume retailing for $40.

From San Francisco’s Cow Palace show on August 19, 1964, through their last-ever live performance at that same city’s Candlestick Park on August 29, 1966, Some Fun Tonight! covers the music and the madness that characterized the Beatles’ North American tours. Supported by hundreds of photographs and images of rare memorabilia, it is the definitive reference for what is arguably the most important period in the Beatles’ long and winding career.

Never before have the Beatles’ North American concerts been covered in such depth. Some Fun Tonight! includes the behind-the-scenes negotiations, the mayhem at the airports and hotels, the cheeky quotes delivered at the press conferences, the opening acts, the concerts, and the stories behind the shows through the eyes of the Beatles, their entourage, the promoters, the emcees and the fans.

If you witnessed the mania firsthand, you’ll relive the excitement in the pages of these books. If you were born too late to be a part of those halcyon days, you’ll learn what it was like to be swept up and carried away by the phenomena of the greatest musical act of all time.

Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers speaks with Songwriting Scene!

Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers, author of The Complete Singer-Songwriter, had a Q&A with the online blog, Songwriting Scene. Songwriting Scene is a blog for songwriters about songwriting, and that is one of the many things they spoke about in this Q&A. Read an excerpt of the interview after the cut and feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

00145576Looking to take your craft and career as a performing singer-songwriter to the next level? Sometimes the right book can help you do just that.

I recently had a chat with my friend Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers, whose critically-acclaimed book The Complete Singer-Songwriter: A Troubadour’s Guide to Writing, Recording, Performing and Business just came out in paperback. This updated and expanded second edition features songwriting tips and techniques from more than 100 artists, including Joni Mitchell, John Mayer, Paul Simon, Rosanne Cash, Jewel, Jeff Tweedy, Ani DiFranco, James Taylor, John Fogerty, Brandi Carlile, Richard Thompson, Jason Mraz, Rodney Crowell, Jerry Garcia, Dar Williams, and more.

Rodgers is the real deal: He is a grand prize winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest, a contributor to NPR’s All Things Considered, and founding editor of Acoustic Guitar magazine.

Here are some highlights from our talk:

Q: What made you want to write The Complete Singer-Songwriter years ago? Why bring it now to paperback — how has the world of the performing singer-songwriter changed?

A: I wrote the book originally because I felt like I had something unique to offer. As a lifelong songwriter and founding editor of Acoustic Guitar magazine, I had the privilege of talking in depth with so many brilliant songwriters about their creative lives—people like Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Pete Seeger, Jerry Garcia, Ani DiFranco, and on and on and on. There were always “aha!” moments in the interviews, where the artists shared a piece of hard-won advice or an anecdote that cut right to the heart of things. I realized if I combined nuggets from these conversations with my other reporting on the songwriting scene, I’d have something really valuable and enduring that would be altogether different from all the books out there that purport to teach you the “secret formulas” of hit songwriting.

The first edition came out in 2003. Since then I’ve done so many more incredible interviews—John Fogerty, Elvis Costello, Dar Williams, Richard Thompson, Brandi Carlile, Jeff Tweedy… I also wanted to add to the book new lessons on chord progressions, rhyme, songwriting games, and more, and advice on emerging business topics like online performing, house concert networks, digital royalties, and fan funding. So all these things went into the second edition. It is a labor of love.

Read the rest of the interview HERE

Michael Seth Starr is a guest on WFDU Radio

Author of the book Ringo: With a Little Help, Michael Seth Starr, spoke with Ghosty host of The Vintage Rock & Pop Shop. They spoke about the book, why he chose to focus on Ringo and gave some background on the Beatles. Listen to the podcast below to hear the entire interview and leave your thoughts in the comment section below!


00333865Ringo: With a Little Help is the first in-depth biography of Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, who kept the beat for an entire generation and who remains a rock icon over fifty years since the Beatles took the world by storm. With a Little Help traces the entire arc of Ringo’s remarkable life and career, from his sickly childhood to his life as The World’s Most Famous drummer to his triumphs, addictions, and emotional battles following the breakup of the Beatles as he comes to terms with his legacy.

Born in 1940 as Richard Starkey in the Dingle, one of Liverpool’s most gritty, rough-and-tumble neighborhoods, he rose from a hardscrabble childhood – marked by serious illnesses, long hospital stays, and little schooling – to emerge, against all odds, as a locally renowned drummer. Taking the stage name Ringo Starr, his big break with the Beatles rocketed him to the pinnacle of worldwide acclaim in a remarkably short time. He was the last member of the Beatles to join the group but also the most vulnerable, and his post-Beatles career was marked by chart-topping successes, a jet-setting life of excess and alcohol abuse, and, ultimately, his rebirth as one of rock’s revered elder statesman.

Don Randi on BBC Radio!

Don Randi, author of You’ve Heard These Hands, was Spencer Leigh’s guest on BBC Merseyside’s On the Beat. They spoke about Don Randi’s musical background and the many people that he worked with as a member of The Wrecking Crew. Listen to the podcast below to learn more!


00140980With that, Don Randi begins his introduction to You’ve Heard These Hands: From the Wall of Sound to the Wrecking Crew and Other Incredible Stories, a fascinating look at the life and musical times a keyboard musician, composer, arranger, music director, and record producer who has thrilled music lovers for years, even if they weren’t aware of it.

Randi played keyboards on over a thousand popular recordings and was a member of the remarkable “Wrecking Crew” of studio musicians during the explosive pop music era of the 1960s and early 1970s. Nancy Sinatra, the Beach Boys, the Jackson 5, Elvis Presley, Sammy Davis Jr., Neil Diamond, and Linda Ronstadt are among the many music greats Randi has worked with and writes about in You’ve Heard These Hands.

For many years, only music industry insiders, close friends, and jazz fans who visit Randi’s nightclub, The Baked Potato, have heard him tell some of the amazing, heartfelt, and hilarious personal stories in this collection. Now everyone can discover the in-studio, behind-the-scenes, and on-tour tales from the man whose hands we’ve heard playing on our favorite hit tunes. You’ve Heard These Hands will capture the attention and emotion of its readers, who won’t be able to resist sharing Randi’s stories with their friends.

Shelly Peiken on SongCraft: Spotlight on Songwriters

Shelly Peiken, author of Confessions of a Serial Songwriter, was on the SongCraft Show! She spoke with hosts Scott Bomar, author of Southbound, a book published by Backbeat books, and Paul Duncan. She talks about what inspired her to write songs, her experience with certain artist, and how the book came to be! The podcast is available below, click play to hear what they had to say!


COASS-Final_CVR_152159Shelly Peiken, well known for writing culturally resonant, female-empowerment anthems such as Christina Aguilera’s No. 1 hit “What a Girl Wants” and Meredith Brooks’s smash hit, “Bitch,” looks back on her career and inside the business of songwriting in her memoir, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter (March 2016, Backbeat Books, $19.99).

A humorous and poignant pop culture memoir about Peiken’s journey, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter takes readers into the rarefied world of the music business. From a young girl falling under the spell of magical songs to a working professional writing hits of her own, Peiken describes how she built a career, from fledgling songwriter, pounding the streets of New York City to Grammy nominations, international hits, and the first Number One song of the millennium.

David Wild, contributing editor for Rolling Stone, calls Confessions of a Serial Songwriter “a great book [that offers] an insightful, honest, often funny, emotional look inside the good, the bad, the ugly, and ultimately the transcendent aspects of trying to lead a creative life inside a competitive career.”

In addition to the fascinating biographical trajectory, Peiken presents invaluable information for the aspiring songwriter, including tips about the creative process and how to adapt to the constantly changing currents. “Now more than ever, people who want to enter this topsy-turvy world of professional songwriting need to know how to handle the inevitable ups and downs that accompany what, for me, has a been an incredibly gratifying journey,” said Peiken.

In Confessions of a Serial Songwriter, Peiken writes about personal growth, how to recognize your muse and navigate the creative process as well as the struggles that arise between motherhood and career success. While she’s not afraid to delve into the divas, celebrity egos and schemers, it is the talented and remarkable people she’s found along the way that predominate the text. And, finally, Confessions of a Serial Songwriter raises the obvious though universal challenge of getting older and staying relevant in a rapidly changing and youth-driven world.

Elliott Landy interviewed by Hudson Valley!

Elliott Landy, author of The Band Photographs 1968-1969, was interviewed by the Hudson Valley Magazine! Elliott speaks with writer for the Hudson Valley Magazine, Mary Forsell, about why he decided to put the book together and working with The Band. Read below for an excerpt of the interview, and let us know your thought in the comments below.


00146104Born in 1942, he started off as a complete unknown who published photos of Vietnam War protests in underground newspapers. When his work caught the eye of rock manager Albert Grossman (whose client list included Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, and Peter, Paul and Mary, among others), photographer Elliott Landy suddenly had access to the biggest names in the rock and roll industry. In the ’60s, he took hundreds of thousands of photographs of rock music icons like Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix; he was also the official photographer for the 1969 Woodstock Festival. Now this legendary lensman has released The Band Photographs: 1968-1969 (Backbeat Books), a new book that is chockablock with some 200 photos, many of which have never been seen before. The book chronicles the intense year and a half that the group spent in the Saugerties-Woodstock area working on its first two albums. We caught up with Landy and asked him to share his thoughts on that incendiary period and its resonance today, as well as his love for his adopted hometown of Woodstock.

How did the photo sessions with the Band come about?
I was living in New York City and becoming a photographer, learning the craft and how to make money from it. I was asked to come [to Woodstock] and photograph the Band for the Music From Big Pink album. Albert Grossman, the Band’s manager, asked me. The album and the group didn’t have a name. First, they wanted to be anonymous. They didn’t want to label themselves with any particular “cutesy name” — they used that term. They wanted to remain free to change the kind of music they were playing. The Band was living in West Saugerties in a house they dubbed Big Pink. [Lead guitarist and songwriter] Robbie Robertson and his wife, Dominique, lived in Woodstock in another house by themselves.

How did the sessions work?
I went to Big Pink on Easter Sunday weekend in 1968. I was a fly on the wall. I don’t work conceptually at all; I try not to think about what I’m doing. I bring my camera and take pictures of whatever the person is offering up. I let the dance happen. There was no schedule, it was very casual.

What’s your favorite photo from the book?
One great photo is of them sitting on a bench in front of a pond [left]. You don’t know who they are. I didn’t set it up.

How did you come up with that iconic sepia image of the Band standing in a field?
After two shoots I’d gotten to know them, and I really liked and respected and admired them; I felt they were wise people. They were very grounded, and, in a way, very old-fashioned, polite. I had a book of Civil War-era photographs by Mathew Brady. I just felt that that style of photography was who they were. Once I established that, I had to analyze the mind space of 1860, what photography was like then. When the photographer came around, the people respected him, and got dressed up and faced the camera and focused on it. I explained it to them, you have to stand straight and pay attention and act like it’s very important and very unusual — like you haven’t seen a camera before.


Read the entire article HERE!

Want to play like the Grateful Dead? Relax.

Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers, author of The Complete Singer-Songwriter, taught Boston Globe reporter David Filipov how to play some Grateful Dead songs on the acoustic guitar, like the Grateful Dead would. David was rather stressed-out trying to play these songs, but Jeffrey says a key component is to try to stay relaxed. Read the article below to learn more and click on the link below to watch David’s guitar lesson take place!

>>Click here<<

00145576Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers teaches acoustic guitarists how to play Grateful Dead songs — which, he acknowledges, is a contradiction in terms.

The Dead never played their songs exactly as they sounded on their studio albums, instead reinterpreting them in pretty much every performance. And since improvisation was the foundation of their shows, each live rendition was unique.

So “learning” a Grateful Dead song is quite a different proposition from learning to play, say, “Yesterday” by the Beatles or “Wonderwall” by Oasis.

“Normally when people want to learn a band’s songs, they want to learn it like it is on the record,” said Rodgers, who will hold a workshop at the Passim School of Music in Cambridge on April 2. “That doesn’t really apply with the Dead.”

During a recent interview at the school, Rodgers demonstrated his approach: He teaches the basic chords of the song, adds in leads, inversions, and other embellishments that capture the feel, and encourages his students — who range from low intermediate to experts — to do the same.

Click here to watch David’s guitar lesson!

The 50th Anniversary of Buck Owens at Carnegie Hall!

This past Friday marked the 50th anniversary of the day that Buck Owens changed the course of country music, when he and the Buckaroos played Carnegie Hall, as well as the 10th anniversary of his death. The Bakersfield Californian marked both anniversaries in this article, which is filled with quotes from Buck Owen and Randy Poe’s book, “Buck ‘Em!”.

00151800Friday, March 25, marked two important anniversaries in the extraordinary saga of Buck Owens.

Ten years ago the iconic performer, Bakersfield’s best known citizen, died just a few hours after performing at his Crystal Palace dinner club and museum.

And 50 years ago, to the day, Owens changed the course of commercial country music with a concert he once would have never thought possible or desirable: He and his Buckaroos performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

The circumstances of Owens’ death in 2006, well chronicled, fit the narrative of his life perfectly. Scheduled to perform with his Buckaroos that Thursday night, he had come to the Palace earlier than usual to dine on his favorite meal, that unpretentious standard of southwestern cuisine, a chicken-fried steak.

He wasn’t feeling well, though, and so he told the band they’d have to go on without him; he was heading home. On the way to his car, however, a group of fans stopped him and introduced themselves. They’d traveled all the way from Oregon to see him.

Owens pivoted and walked back into the club. He just couldn’t bear to disappoint.

Owens gave it his best shot, groaning and wheezing through the show, still managing to deliver for those fans from Oregon and beyond. He died of an apparent heart attack early the next morning, March 25, sometime after 4:30 a.m. Within hours, the country music world, and his adopted hometown of Bakersfield, were in full mourning.

The other, happier anniversary is much more telling of his stature.

On March 25, 1966, at the height of his renown as a country hit-maker, Owens and the Buckaroos rolled into Manhattan to perform what would eventually be recognized as one of the best performances of his life; certainly among his finest performances preserved on record.

“Carnegie Hall Concert,” released four months after that landmark show, rose to No. 1 on the Billboard country charts. But then so did virtually everything Owens laid down on vinyl in those heady days of commercial success.

Owens hadn’t been especially thrilled by the prospect of playing at Carnegie Hall. He agreed to it only after his manager, Jack McFadden, pleaded.


Read the article in its entirety here!

John Kruth on The Vintage Rock & Pop Shop!

John Kruth, author of This Bird Has Flown, was on WFDU Radio! He spoke with Ghosty, host of The Vintage Rock & Pop Shop. They spent some time talking about This Bird Has Flown, and how Rubber Soul was a game changer for popular music.  The podcast is available below, click play to hear what they had to say!


00121941The Beatles’ sixth studio album, Rubber Soul, was a game changer, and in This Bird Has Flown: The Enduring Beauty of Rubber Soul, Fifty Years On, (November 2015, Backbeat Books, $19.99) John Kruth not only analyzes the songs and making of Rubber Soul, putting the album in context of the turbulent times in which it was created, but captures the spirit of musical innovation and poetry that makes the record a standout in the Beatle’s canon.

By December 1965, when the album was released, the Beatles had played the first arena rock show at Shea Stadium for 55,000 delirious fans, been awarded MBE (Member of British Empire) medals, and were indisputably the greatest musical phenomenon since Elvis Presley. With their first film, A Hard Day’s Night, John, Paul, George, and Ringo laid down the blueprint for everyone who ever wanted to form a group. The movie, entertaining as it was, became an instruction manual for aspiring pop stars of the day on how to play, dress, and act. Richard Lester’s 1964 comedy turned out to be the touchstone for every music video that followed.

Then, with the release of Rubber Soul, the Beatles created an artistic benchmark to which their peers measured their craft and creativity. Touring the world over two years, the band had grown up fast. Both musically and lyrically their new album represented a major leap. Upon hearing Rubber Soul, Bob Dylan allegedly remarked, “I get it, you’re not cute anymore.” Newsweek hailed the Beatles as “the Bards of Pop,” while critic Greil Marcus claimed Rubber Soul was “the best album they would ever make.” For Traffic’s Steve Winwood, the album “broke everything open. It crossed music into a whole new dimension and was responsible for kicking off the sixties rock era.”

A must-have for Fab Four devotees, This Bird Has Flown reaffirms Rubber Soul’s place as one of the most important rock ’n’ roll albums ever made.


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