For writer Fred Schruers, his new book, “Billy Joel – The Definitive Biography” (Crown Archetype) has been a long, strange trip - but ultimately a satisfying one.
Schruers, a longtime Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly contributor, was contracted by Joel in 2008 to ghostwrite his autobiography “The Book of Joel” for Harper Collins.
With his new book “On The Road with Janis Joplin” (Berkley Hardcover/Penguin Group) author, historian, photographer and musician John Byrne Cooke has presented possibly the most significant written portrait of the iconic singer yet published.
In June 1967, Cooke was part of director D.A. Pennebaker’s camera crew at the Monterey Pop Festival when Janis Joplin took the stage for two sets with Big Brother and the Holding Company. Six months later, he became their road manager, overseeing day-to-day band concerns, travel arrangements and money collection after gigs.
It was a chance meeting that brought Rex Fowler and Neal Shulman together 43 years ago and a friendship built on mutual respect for their music and audience that keeps them together today.
Fowler and Shulman, of acoustic folk-rock duo Aztec Two-Step, will bring their “Classic Duos” concert to Maine on Friday, Nov. 21 at Portland’s One Longfellow Square. “We’ll be having some fun with the music of our predecessors,” Fowler says.
It’s been a life-changing year for twin brothers Logan and Roger Raskin of New York City-based band The Raskins.
In May, Sony label Miral/Red issued The Raskins’ self-titled debut album of melodic pop metal as the band was in the midst of a tour with Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots.
George Clinton is a humble man yet fully aware of the lofty position he occupies in the pantheon of popular music.
That was the impression I was left with after my conversation with him last week.
Singer-songwriter Howie Day, a native of Brewer, will return to play his first Bangor-area concert in more than a decade this Friday evening, October 24, at Husson University’s Gracie Theatre.
Day says he is looking forward to the hometown show. “I think the last show I did in the area was at UMaine and that must have at least 10 years ago,” he told me in an interview last week.
The opening moments of Pugwash’s first Maine concert, last Thursday at Portland’s Empire, set the tone for the evening. As the Irish band walked onstage to cheers, whoops and hoots, front-man Thomas Walsh greeted the crowd and heard his voice echo in the vocal monitor. “Could you please remove the reverb?” he asked the man in charge of the mix. “We’re an anti-reverb band, you see. We don’t want to sound like Simon Le Bon.”
As if they were reading each other’s minds, the group launched a brief and mockingly dramatic reverb-soaked version of Duran Duran’s “Save A Prayer” much to the delight of the audience, some of whom had driven many hours to greet the Pugs on the fourth show of their first U.S. tour. “Some came here from Kentucky to see us,” an incredulous Walsh commented later. “You people are amazing.”
British author Wendy Leigh’s new David Bowie biography certainly appears to offer a deluge of sordid drug and sex-fueled debauchery, but I’m not sure how much actual rock and roll there is to be found between the covers.
I have not read “Bowie: The Biography” (Simon & Schuster) and admitted that fact to Leigh at the outset of my interview with her, scheduled two days earlier. After reading excerpts of the book via several online U.K. tabloids along with a few garish abridgements published elsewhere, I surmised that it was more of a “gossipy tell-all” than an all-embracing chronicle. Leigh says that isn’t a fair summary.
Writer Jesse Fink recalls the epiphany that lifted him from the dark funk that had permeated his life since going through a painful divorce. “I was missing my wife and feeling quite despondent,” he told me in a phone interview from his home in Sydney, Australia.
“Instead of doing something stupid, I put on ‘Gimme a Bullet’ from AC/DC’s ‘Powerage’ album. There was something about that song that kind of saved my life that night. The next day, I wondered ‘What was it about that music that lifted me up at that time?’”
Acclaimed Dublin band to play Portland Empire on Oct. 9
If you have yet to experience the musical joy on earth that is Pugwash, please allow me to introduce you to “A Rose in a Garden of Weeds: A Preamble Through The History of Pugwash,” a compilation of 17 delectable nuggets of pure pop genius recorded by the Dublin, Ireland band between 1999 and 2011. Released this week by the passionate music lovers at Omnivore Recordings, the collection is designed as a Pugwash-primer and is a generous dip into a wonderfully rich catalog of gorgeous songs.
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