Blog Archives

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.

Tom DeMichael speaks with Ed Randall on WFAN!

Tom DeMichael author of Baseball FAQ, helped host Ed Randall get ready for the upcoming baseball season when he was a  guest WFAN’s Talking Baseball. Click on the link below to hear the full interview!

>>LISTEN<<

00131156For 10 years, the Backbeat Books FAQ Series has been a one-stop source for information, history, and minutiae on the world of music and pop culture. The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen, The Doors and Johnny Cash, Dracula and the Beats any many more all have gone under the FAQ microscope. Now the FAQ Series has turned its focus to America’s Pastime.              

Was Abner Doubleday the architect of baseball? What exactly did it mean to be a “professional” baseball player in the 1870s? What goes on in the front office? How do you throw a slider? Readers will find the answers to these questions – and many others – in the pages Baseball FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About America’s Pastime (March 2016, Backbeat Books, $19.99) by Tom DeMichael.

Part history book, part instructional guide, and part reference manual, Baseball FAQ covers all the bases – from the rules of the game to the ballparks of yesterday and today, from the minor leagues to the majors, from the stats to the food. This engaging, compulsively readable tome offers baseball fans of all ages a wealth of fun facts and anecdotes on America’s favorite pastime, including sections on the All-American Girls Professional Ball League, the Negro Leagues, the basic skills of baseball, baseball in the movies, the scandals, and the Hall of Famers.

DeMichael, a member of SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research, also digs to into the sport’s seemingly inexhaustible fascination with numbers. While the 19th-century journalist Henry Chadwick was the father of baseball statistics, it was Bill James who coined the term “Sabermetrics” in 1980 and ushered in the era of modern statistical analysis. DeMichael defines Sabermetrics as “an accurate and balanced method by which we can compare players from different eras,” and Baseball FAQ looks at the latest wave of statistical acronyms, including OPS, WHIP, FIP, and WAR.

Looking beyond the wins and losses and the runs, hits, and errors, Baseball FAQ is a remarkable baseball reference and fun-filled reading for fans of the game.

Trevor Tolliver talks about Lesley Gore on WFDU Radio!

Author Trevor Tolliver spoke with Ghosty on WFDU’s Vintage Rock & Pop Shop radio show about his book, You Don’t Own Me: The Life and Times of Lesley Gore. Listen to that and more by clicking on the link below!

>>LISTEN<<

00146488The year was 1963. Tail fins were in, sock hops were hot, and a fairy-tale white knight was president.

That summer, 16-year-old singer Lesley Gore released her debut single, “It’s My Party,” propelling her to Number One on the charts. For the next several years, the crowned Princess of Pop dominated the radio with a string of hits including “Judy’s Turn to Cry,” “She’s A Fool,” “Sunshine, Lollipops & Rainbows,” and the rousing anthem for independence, “You Don’t Own Me,” making her the most successful and influential solo female artist of the 1960s. But beneath the bubblegum façade was a girl squirming against social and professional pressures to simply be herself and to forge a future where she could write and perform music beyond the trappings of teenage angst and love triangles.

Assembled over five years of research and interviews, You Don’t Own Me: The Life and Times of Lesley Gore by Trevor Tolliver (September 2015, Backbeat Books, $27.99) is the first and long-overdue biography of Lesley Gore, one of pop music’s pioneering Mothers. Tolliver chronicles Gore’s meteoric rise to fame, her devastating fall from popularity and struggle for relevance in the 1970s, and her reemergence as a powerful songwriter, political activist, and camp icon.

You Don’t Own Me includes behind-the-scenes stories about the making of her hit records, debunks or clarifies popular myths about her career, and places her remarkable life and times within a historical context to reveal how her music was both impacted by, and contributed to, each decade of her astounding fifty-year career.

Play ball! Tom DeMichael on WGN Radio

Tom DeMichael, author of Baseball FAQ, was a guest on The Nick Digilio Show on WGN in Chicago. With spring training upon, they talked about the national pastime, as well as some of Tom’s other interests. Click on the link below to hear the full podcast and let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

>>LISTEN<<

00131156For 10 years, the Backbeat Books FAQ Series has been a one-stop source for information, history, and minutiae on the world of music and pop culture. The Beatles and Bruce Springsteen, The Doors and Johnny Cash, Dracula and the Beats any many more all have gone under the FAQ microscope. Now the FAQ Series has turned its focus to America’s Pastime.  

Was Abner Doubleday the architect of baseball? What exactly did it mean to be a “professional” baseball player in the 1870s? What goes on in the front office? How do you throw a slider? Readers will find the answers to these questions – and many others – in the pages Baseball FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About America’s Pastime (March 2016, Backbeat Books, $19.99) by Tom DeMichael.

Part history book, part instructional guide, and part reference manual, Baseball FAQ covers all the bases – from the rules of the game to the ballparks of yesterday and today, from the minor leagues to the majors, from the stats to the food. This engaging, compulsively readable tome offers baseball fans of all ages a wealth of fun facts and anecdotes on America’s favorite pastime, including sections on the All-American Girls Professional Ball League, the Negro Leagues, the basic skills of baseball, baseball in the movies, the scandals, and the Hall of Famers.

DeMichael, a member of SABR, the Society for American Baseball Research, also digs to into the sport’s seemingly inexhaustible fascination with numbers. While the 19th-century journalist Henry Chadwick was the father of baseball statistics, it was Bill James who coined the term “Sabermetrics” in 1980 and ushered in the era of modern statistical analysis. DeMichael defines Sabermetrics as “an accurate and balanced method by which we can compare players from different eras,” and Baseball FAQ looks at the latest wave of statistical acronyms, including OPS, WHIP, FIP, and WAR.

In Memory of George Kennedy

George Kennedy, author of Trust Me A Memoir, passed away on February 28. He was best known for starring in films such as Cool Hand Luke, Naked Gun, and Airport. Below is an interview he did with WAMC radio where he spoke about his career, and his memoir, Trust Me. Click on the link below to hear more.

>>LISTEN<<

00314864“These are memoirs of a kid born in New York City in 1925. His dad, George Senior, was a pianist, composer, and orchestra leader at Proctor’s Vaudeville Theatre, and his mother, Helen, played in a classic dance troupe. Hanky-panky ensued. They married, and I soon was the result…

I write like I talk. A long time ago I tried making ‘talking and telling the truth’ one and the same. That isn’t just difficult; it means painfully reviewing things you’ve been led to believe since you were a child. That’s very hard to do. Like many, I have marched along adhering to conventions (sex, color, church, party, gang) without examination. There’s a wonderful, protective ‘togetherness’ in that anonymity. You obey or are damned, less joined together than stuck together. You become an echo rather than a voice.

This book is about what happens when you stop fearing and think.

John Kruth on Talk Radio Europe

John Kruth, author of This Bird Has Flown, was on Talk Radio Europe where he spoke about his book and The Beatles! Dave Hodgson, of The Daily radio show, got the low down on the book and now you can too! Click on the link below to hear more of what they had to say.

>>LISTEN<<

00121941The Beatles’ sixth studio album, Rubber Soul, was a game changer. 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 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.

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.” In This Bird Has Flown, 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.

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.”

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 records of all time.

Dave Thompson on After Hours AM

Dave Thompson, author of Haunted America FAQ, spoke with Eric Olsen and Joel Sturgis of After Hours AM. They spoke about his current book and how he manged to write over 100 books! Click on the link below to hear the entire interview!

>>Listen<<

00128461Asked if she was believed in ghosts, Marie Anne de Vichy-Chamrond, Marquise du Deffand (1697-1780) replied, “No, but I am afraid of them.”

Whether you share the Marquise’s position or not, there is no doubt that the idea visitors from the afterlife has gripped humankind since time began. Ancient cultures East and West took spirits for granted, and reported sightings continue to this day—many of them close to home in every corner of the United States.

In Haunted America FAQ, Dave Thompson has created a fast-paced survey of the ghosts, ghouls, and associated denizens of the country’s haunted history. Tracing local ghost stories back to Native American legends and then forward through horror tales both ancient and modern, the book revisits some of the best-known haunted locales, as well as some of the most obscure creepy places, in America.

Delving deep into the cultural history of American hauntings, Haunted America FAQ features chapters on ghosts in cemeteries, amusement parks, government buildings, hospitals, and more, as well as ghostly books, movies, and television. Also included are a roundup of reality-TV ghost hunts and a state-by-state gazetteer of haunted spots.

Haunted America FAQ will amaze believers and skeptics alike with the history and range of spectral sightings it uncovers from around the country and, maybe, just around the corner.

Black and Blue: The Redd Foxx Story

 Black and Blue: The Redd Foxx Story, written by Michael Seth Starr this book tells the story of the veteran comedian and “overnight sensation” at the age of 49 whose early life was defined by adversity. Featured below is an interview with Michael Seth Starr on St. Louis Public Radio, where he talk about the book and the life of a true comic genius —  Jon Sanford a.k.a Redd Foxx.

>>LISTEN<<

00314800Black and Blue: The Redd Foxx Story tells the remarkable story of Foxx, a veteran comedian and “overnight sensation” at the age of 49 whose early life was defined by adversity – and his post-Sanford and Son years by a blur of women, cocaine, endless lawsuits, financial chaos, and a losing battle with the IRS.

Foxx’s frank, trailblazing style as the “King of the Party Records” opened the door for a generation of African-American comedians including Dick Gregory, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, and Chris Rock.

Foxx took the country by storm in January 1972 as crotchety, bow-legged Watts junk dealer Fred Sanford in Sanford and Son, one of the most beloved sitcoms in television history. Fred’s histrionic “heart attacks” (“It’s the big one, Elizabeth! I’m comin’ to join ya, honey!”) and catchphrases (“You big dummy!”) turned Fred Sanford into a cultural icon and Redd Foxx into a millionaire. Sanford and Son took Foxx to the pinnacle of television success – but would also prove to be his downfall.

Interviews with friends, confidantes, and colleagues provide a unique insight into this generous, brash, vulnerable performer – a man who Norman Lear described as “inherently, innately funny in every part of his being.”

John Breglio on The Producer’s Perspective podcast!

John Breglio, author of the book, I Wanna Be a Producer, was on The Producer’s Perspective podcast! He spoke with Ken Davenport about his career, expertise, and his upcoming book. Click on the link below to hear what they had to say!

>>Listen<<

IWannaBeCOVERWhat does a producer actually do? How does one travel from that great idea for a show to a smash hit opening night on Broadway? In I Wanna Be a Producer: How to Make a Killing on Broadway…or Get Killed (April 2016, Applause Books, $29.99), John Breglio – a Broadway veteran with more than 40 years experience – shares an exceptional road map for the hows and wherefores, the dos and don’ts of producing a Broadway play. In this highly informative book, Breglio offers practical concepts for the aspiring producer and entertains with great personal anecdotes from his illustrious career as a leading theatrical lawyer and producer.

Breglio recounts not only his first-hand knowledge of the crucial legal and business issues faced by a producer, but also his experiences behind-the-scenes with literally hundreds of producers, playwrights, composers, and directors, including such theatre luminaries as Michael Bennett, Joe Papp, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Patti Lupone, August Wilson, and Mel Brooks.

Says Breglio, “Ultimately, my goal is to give the business of producing the respect it deserves. It is a profession that requires numerous skills, both business and creative. It demands relentless fortitude and optimism, and it should never be assumed casually without recognizing the enormity of the task.”

Working or aspiring producers, investors, directors, actors, designers, teachers — as well as those who are simply curious about the backstage reality of the theater — will relish John Breglio’s sage advice and irresistible storytelling. They’ll also treasure the included DVD of Every Little Step, a documentary of the auditions for the 2006 Broadway revival of A Chorus Line.

I Wanna Be a Producer is indispensable reading for theater professionals and fans of all levels – from high school drama clubs to college theater programs, from community theater groups and summer stock to The Great White Way.

Alisha Gaddis is a guest on “I Want Her Job” podcast

Alisha Gaddis, author of the comedic monologues series, was on the “I Want Her Job” podcast! She spoke about her new book Teen Girls’ Comedic Monologues, her music, family, and more! Click on the link below to hear what she had to say!

>>LISTEN<<

00130749As humorist and writer Alisha Gaddis explains it, this is how the process goes. “You have an audition. One where you are supposed to be funny. Really funny. They want you to actually make them laugh…in an audition. And you want to be funny, so funny you book the job, land the part, steal the show!”

But, you can’t do that without a comedic monologue, and that’s where this series of books steps in. Never before have monologue books been written completely by people who are actually funny for a living.

The fourth volume in Gaddis’s groundbreaking series, Teen Girls’ Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny (December 2015, Applause Books, $14.99) features an incredibly hysterical, cutting-edge collection of monologues will give an actor the extra bang she needs to land the perfect comedic role. Teen Girls’ Comedic Monologues features more than 75 monologues by writers and comics who have written for or performed on Comedy Central, Backstage Magazine, Huffington Post, The Onion, Second City, E! and many more.

This book is the answer to the comedic monologue needs of teen girl actors everywhere!

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