Lin-Manuel Miranda Tells Us Some of His Favorite Books!

Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator and star of the hit Broadway musical “Hamilton”, was asked by by The New York Times about his favorite books, and we at Applause Books are honored that he included  Everything Was Possible, by Ted Chapin. Read the article below to learn more!


The star and creator of the musical “Hamilton” says “Things Fall Apart” was his favorite book to teach at Hunter College High School: “The kids walk out of the classroom as different people.”

What books are currently on your night stand?

“The Wayfinders,” by Wade Davis; “Between Riverside and Crazy,” by Stephen Adly Guirgis; and “Unabrow,” by Una LaMarche.

What’s the last great book you read?

The last great book I read was catching up on “Saga,” the graphic novel series. An incredible world in which to get lost.

Which writers — novelists, playwrights, critics, journalists, poets — working today do you admire most?

Too many to list, really, not that I won’t try: Junot Díaz, Liz Gilbert, Patrick Rothfuss, Wesley Morris, Michael Chabon, Martín Espada, Sarah Kay. . . . I mean, I better quit while I’m ahead.

What genres do you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?

I’m a biography buff. My favorite book growing up was “Chuck Amuck,” by Chuck Jones. I think I bought it as a kid because of the included flip-book: flip the pages, and Wile E. Coyote chases the Road Runner down the margins of the page. But it’s also one of the most beautiful books about the creative process I’ve ever read. Grabbing Chernow’s Hamilton bio rather famously changed my life, but I’ve also gotten lost in the works of Doris Kearns Goodwin, Robert Caro. Agassi’s astounding autobiography and David Foster Wallace’s Federer essay turned me into an avid tennis fan. Once I’ve spent some time in someone else’s life, it’s hard to shake.

What moves you most in a work of literature?

I’m most in awe of novelists, who move sets, lights, scenery, and act out all the parts in your mind for you. My kind of writing requires collaboration with others to truly ignite. But I think of Dickens, or Cervantes, or Márquez, or Morrison, and I can describe to you the worlds they paint and inhabit. To engender empathy and create a world using only words is the closest thing we have to magic.

Everything Was PossibleWhat are the best books ever written about the theater? Do you have a personal favorite?

“Act One,” by Moss Hart. “Everything Was Possible,” by Ted Chapin. The “Rent” book. Patti LuPone’s autobiography — bring popcorn for that last one. Also, the Maya Angelou autobio that chronicles her touring with “Porgy & Bess” — I haven’t read it since high school, but her evocation of that experience has stayed with me.


Read the rest of the article HERE.

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!

>>Listen<<

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.

Bobby Borg on Taxi Independent A&R

Bobby Borg, author of Business Basics for Musicians, was featured on an episode of Taxi Independent A&R! He speaks about his book and gives you some insight on topics featured in the book. There’s even a little surprise at the end! Click play on the video below to learn more!

00139915

There has never been a greater need for musicians to understand the music business than now, when emerging technologies make it possible for artists to act as their own record labels, and new contracts are structured to grab the biggest slice of an artist’s revenue pie. But in a digital age overflowing with confusing and ever-changing information, musicians need trusted business advice from a veteran artist who can break down the basics in a language they understand.

Business Basics for Musicians is the layperson’s guide to the music industry, written by a professional musician for other musicians. In his book, Bobby Borg simplifies in a conversational tone five vital areas in which musicians need to succeed:

  • Career Execution
  • Business Relationships
  • Pro Teams
  • Deals and Dollars
  • and Future Predictions.

The book not only covers legal aspects such as copyright and record contracts, it also shows to how to deal with the people involved along the way: band members, managers, attorneys, talent agents, and producers. Business Basics for Musicians will help musicians to faster navigate to success.

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!

>>Listen<<

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.

Shelly Peiken on The Pauly Cast!

Shelly Peiken, author of Confessions of a Serial Songwriter, was on The Pauly Cast podcast. She spoke with Paul Samuel Dolman about her book, the importance of connecting with others, and much more! The podcast is available below, click play to hear what they had to say!

>>Listen<<

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.

Howard Massey on Pensado’s Place

Howard Massey, author of The Great British Recording Studios, was featured on the 254th episode of Pensado’s Place! In this episode Howard Massey speaks about Abbey Road, EMI, and many other groundbreaking music operations of the early and mid 20th century and emphasizes the importance of historical knowledge in addressing the modern music environment. Watch the video below to learn more!

00333513From the time that Thomas Alva Edison invented the phonograph in the 1870s, music has become an integral part of everyday life.   Nine decades later, the “British Invasion” spearheaded what was inarguably one of the most important and creative periods in the development of recorded music.

In The Great British Recording Studios (November 2015, Hal Leonard Books, $34.99), Howard Massey tells the story of the iconic British facilities where many of the most important recordings of all time were made. The first comprehensive account of British recording studios ever published, it is endorsed by and was written with the cooperation of the British APRS (Association of Professional Recording Services, headed by Sir George Martin) to document the history of the major British studios of the 1960s and 1970s and to help preserve their legacy.

The Great British Recording Studios surveys the era’s most significant British studios, including Abbey Road, Olympic, and Trident, with complete descriptions of each studio’s physical facilities and layout, along with listings of equipment and key personnel, as well as details about its best-known technical innovations and a discography of the major recordings done there. Seamlessly interweaving narrative text with behind-the-scenes anecdotes from dozens of internationally renowned record producers and a wealth of photographs – many never published before – Massey brings to life the most famous British studios and the people who created magic there. His “Stories from the Studio” take readers behind the scenes of the making of some of the world’s best-loved records, including The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me,” and the Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet.

Meticulously researched and organized, The Great British Recording Studios will inform and inspire students of the recording arts, music professionals, casual music fans, and anyone interested in the acoustically pristine facilities, groundbreaking techniques, and innovative artists and technicians that have shaped the course of modern recording.

Too old for Rock ‘n’ Roll?

Bobby Borg, author of Business Basics for Musicians, is back again to give you some tips on overcoming age discrimination in the music business. After a certain age you can’t become a police officer, join the military, or become a flight attendant, but in the music business things can be a bit different. After the age of 25, some find it difficult to get a record deal, but if you’re open minded and proactive you can find success in the industry. Here are Bobby’s thoughts!  (By the way, this article originally appeared on the Indie Music Bands blog several years ago, but Bobby’s words are just as relevant today!)


00139915Sign With A Major?
Major labels make up the majority of commercial recordings sold in the United States. As of this writing, the three largest record companies (or three majors) are Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group. Each major is also part of larger corporations that run a system of distribution channels, regional offices, international divisions, and other music business companies. Therefore, bottom line profits and corporate reporting are of primary concern—and reps most typically seek younger more “commercially viable” artists who can theoretically ensure a faster return on their investment. Additionally, the benefit of seeking younger acts is that if successful, they could potentially reap a return on the label’s investment for several years to come.

“It’s a young man’s game,” said one A&R representative who wishes to remain anonymous. “We look for artists from age 15 to 25. It may seen harsh, but it doesn’t makes sense to invest an older race horse when you can get the younger thoroughbred crossing the winner’s line for years to come.”

Unless a dramatic shift takes place in the industry in the next few years (which is very possible—more on this later), then seeking a major label deal may obviously not be the wisest focus for more adult artists: plan and simple.

Go Independent
Independent record companies (also called indies) are in majority not owned or controlled by the majors, and are generally distributed by smaller regional distributors. With less overhead and investment risk, indies are more open to signing less mainstream and perhaps more adult artists than the major record companies.

Said one indie rep in a recent music connection A&R poll conducted in 2003, “We tend to stay away from age discrimination. I look to the music first and people who have maturity and a strong business sense. Of course they must still have a marketable image even when they’re older—but it’s the professional performers who keep their health and image a priority and can convince the masses they’re younger than their years. If they have talent and look the part, then who cares how old they are.”

Indies may not just be more open to signing more adult artists, but also older “brands” or “genres” of music. Indies are known to be the sanctuary (literally) for veteran artists are were once successful and no longer can find a home on a the majors. Case in point, Sanctuary records (formerly CMJ) made a name for themselves by signing several of the hard rock bands that were once very popular in the 1980s. Surely, labels like Sanctuary aren’t trying to market to the masses nor do they have the budgets, but by signing artists who still have a modest (albeit dwindling) fan base and who are still willing to get out on the road and tour, a potential profit can be made for all parties involved.

Read the rest of the article HERE!!

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