Posts Tagged With: American Music Series

American Music Series: We wanna take you higher

UTPressLogoWhen the American Music Series first started up in 2012, there were two co-editors — my old chum Peter Blackstock, and me — working with Casey Kittrell at University of Texas Press. Peter and I functioned as frontline gatekeepers, trying to coordinate authors and subjects with Casey as in-house acquisitions editor, and I think we got the series off to a solid start with books about Dwight Yoakam, Merle Haggard, Flatlanders and (ahem) Ryan Adams.

But then Peter’s career circumstances changed drastically when the Austin American-Statesman hired him as music critic. Austin is Peter’s hometown and this is his dream job, so I was thrilled for him, of course. But the Statesman’s music beat proved to be so all-consuming that Peter had to bow out of the AMS co-editorship in 2014, leaving Casey and me to carry on as best we could.

We’ve done our best to push things forward and diversify the series beyond its original Americana focus, with books about Madonna, Chrissy Hynde, Mary J. Blige and (coming next spring) Chris Stamey. But it’s been clear for quite some time that moving up to the next level was going to take new blood on the editorial side of things, which I’m delighted to say that we now have.

UT Press announced this week that two new American Music Series editors have signed on: Jessica Hopper, whose books include 2015’s “The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic”; and California State University professor Oliver Wang, author of 2015’s “Legions of Boom: Filipino American Mobile DJ Crews in the San Francisco Bay Area.” Both have super-impressive credentials beyond the books they’ve written, and they’re already at work on extending the series’ stylistic reach even further. As Jessica puts it:

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Welcome aboard, y’all. Let’s do this.

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Chris Stamey spies on the house of loud

CSspyIt’s been kind of a long and winding road, involving a title change — but Chris Stamey’s book is officially in the pipeline as the next title up in the American Music Series. The book’s final, full title is “A Spy in the House of Loud: New York Songs and Stories,” and it’s due out next spring on University of Texas Press.

This will be the 13th book in the series, going back to 2012. And as a long-time dB’s fanatic, I could not be more thrilled to have the co-leader of one of my all-time favorite bands be a part of it. Dig the cover here, and look for “A Spy in the House of Loud” in stores in April 2018.

 

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Next up: “Woman Walk the Line”

WWtLNow that “Chrissie Hynde: A Musical Biography” is out in the world, attention here at the American Music Series turns to the next book up. And this will be an especially good one, “Woman Walk the Line: How the Women in Country Music Changed Our Lives.” It’s our first multi-author anthology in the series, with essays about everyone from Loretta Lynn to Rhiannon Giddens, and it’s a fantastic collection, thanks to the Herculean efforts of editor Holly Gleason. It may say, “Edited by Holly Gleason” on the cover, but “Lovingly sherpheded by” would be closer to the mark because Holly has done a spectacular job pulling this together.

One early fan is Americana icon (and noted author) Rodney Crowell — former husband of contributor Rosanne Cash, son-in-law of her essay subject June Carter Cash and longtime Emmylou Harris collaborator. He writes:

“‘Woman Walk the Line’ is tender, tough, raw, informative and emotionally intelligent, carefully framing twenty-seven of country music’s most evocative and enduring artists. It delivers truth and beauty on every page. I bow in earnest.”

Look for “Woman Walk the Line” in September as our fall release, and the 12th American Music Series book overall.

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Publication day for “Chrissie Hynde: A Musical Biography”

sobseyA few years back, I wrote a News & Observer story about a really cool project called “Bull City Summer: A Season at the Ballpark.” A year-long chronicle of the Durham Bulls minor-league baseball team, “Bull City Summer” brought together more than a dozen photographers, writers and artists to document what went on over the course of a season — not just on the field but in the stands, behind the scenes and even on the streets outside. By all means, buy the book because it’s really worth your time even if you’re not a baseball fan.

I was immensely impressed with everyone on the “Bull City Summer” crew, but especially journalist Adam Sobsey, a baseball reporter who penned a series of insightful essays that brought the world of Triple-A baseball to life. The subject was more sports than music, but I loved Adam’s writing and was also kind of in awe of his ability to turn around fully thought-out essays literally on the spot. I got in touch with Adam because I figured he had a book in him, and that definitely turned out to be the case.

Tuesday is the official publication date for the hardcover version of Adam’s “Chrissie Hynde: A Musical Biography,” a modestly titled but nevertheless brilliant look at the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and iconic leader of The Pretenders. Among other things, “Chrissie Hynde” fills in a lot of time periods that Hynde herself didn’t cover in her own 2015 memoir “Reckless,” and Adam’s music criticism throughout the book is absolutely first-rate.

This is the 11th entry in the University of Texas Press American Music Series (with  No. 12, the anthology “Woman Walk the Line,” set to come out in September). Adam covered some of the background to his book here, and there’s a link to an excerpt here.

Adam will also be conducting readings (accompanied by a live band playing Pretenders songs, of course) at Greensboro’s Scuppernong Books on May 4, and Durham’s Global Breath Studio at a date to be announced later.

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“Madonnaland” — Rolling Stone digs it, too

“Madonnaland: And Other Detours Into Fame and Fandom,” the wonderfully quirky Madonna quasi-biography penned by the great Alina Simone, is shaping up as one of the most acclaimed books we’ve published with the American Music Series. On the heels of year-end honors from National Public Radio, “Madonnaland” has earned a spot in Rolling Stone’s “10 Best Music Books of 2016” list — alongside Bruce Springsteen’s memoir “Born to Run,” Bob Mehr’s Replacements tome “Trouble Boys” and other notable titles. Jason Diamond calls “Madonnaland” a “fuller, weirder and more interesting overview of Madonna than we may have thought possible.” Check the full entry here.

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Chris Stamey’s “New York Songs”

stameystudioLong before I ever moved to North Carolina and met Chris Stamey, I was listening to him in the dB’s, one of my all-time favorite bands. And I’ve loved pretty much all his solo records over the years, too, avidly following his many projects (including his new radio play). So it’s a huge, huge thrill for me to be able to welcome Chris to the American Music Series as our newest author.

University of Texas Press has signed Chris to write a book for the AMS, which he is calling “New York Songs.” Chris describes it as “a cross between annotated songbook, musicology and recording-technique tome, and memoir,” with his songs serving as reference points. And thanks to his time playing with Alex Chilton and various CBGB denizens in Manhattan and beyond, not to mention his current status as one of Chapel Hill’s top studio gurus, Chris has some pretty amazing stories to tell.

If all goes according to plan, “New York Songs” will hit bookstores in 2018.

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NPR’s year-end visit to “Madonnaland”

Hearty congratulations of the season go out to Alina Simone, whose American Music Series title “Madonnaland: And Other Detours Into Fame And Fandom” has picked up some pretty exquisite year-end love from National Public Radio. NPR included “Madonnaland” in its Book Concierge listing of 2016’s best books, with book critic Michael Schaub pronouncing it “wonderful” — and I quite agree. The full blurb is below.

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Coming in 2017: “Woman Walk the Line”

UTPressLogoWith Lloyd Sachs’ “T Bone Burnett: A Life in Pursuit” safely launched, we turn to the next book in the American Music Series, which will be the 11th that University of Texas Press has published since 2012. And that’s “Chrissie Hynde: A Musical Biography,” by Adam Sobsey; we’ll have plenty more to say about it closer to the March 2017 publication date. Meanwhile, there’s also some American Music Series news beyond that.

Coming in the fall of 2017 is “Woman Walk the Line: Women Writers on the Female Country Artists Who Marked Their Soul,” which will be something of a departure for the series. Up to now, it’s been all critical biographies by a single author and about a single subject. But “Woman Walk the Line” is our first essay collection by multiple authors. Subjects include a wide range of artists from classic to contemporary — Rosanne Cash, Taylor Swift, Loretta Lynn, The Judds, Alison Krauss, Bobbie Gentry, Tammy Wynette — with Cash, Swift, Holly George-Warren and Meredith Ochs among the contributors writing about why these artists matter.

Overseeing “Woman Walk the Line” as editor is Holly Gleason — a long-time critic, author and Nashville insider who is also the only music critic I know with a co-writing credit for a No. 1 hit (Kenny Chesney’s 2008 country smash “Better as a Memory”). Between her connections, critical chops and deeply passionate writing voice, there’s no one better to edit a book like this.

“‘Woman Walk the Line’ came about because it feels like we’re not just in danger of losing the story of so many incredible artists, especially the women, but that deeper sense of what music can truly to mean to someone in their life,” says Holly. “The way this music and these women are written about says so much about the way music marks our lives, shapes our journey or keeps us safe in rugged times. It’s women of varying ages all writing about how music touched and changed their lives — part witness, part love letter, a bit of music criticism, a little history and a whole lot of heart. It’s more than what they wore or who they dated, as today’s reductionist media makes it. And that’s where the marrow of these essays begins.”

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Launching “A Life in Pursuit”

Just in time for this week’s Americana Music Festival & Conference in Nashville — where T Bone Burnett is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech — dig our latest American Music Series title, which is about that very artist and penned by the estimable Chicago-based scribe Lloyd Sachs. Officially, “T Bone Burnett: A Life in Pursuit” won’t be published until after the calendar rolls over to October. But it’s already picking up reviews, and here is an excerpt.

Lloyd and my University of Texas Press editorial colleague Casey Kittrell will be in Nashville to unveil “A Life in Pursuit” with some events at the Americana festival (which was also where I launched “Losering” four years ago). This brings us to an even 10 titles for the series. Meanwhile, “A Life in Pursuit” should already be on the shelf of your favorite retail establishment wherever fine books are sold. And of course, you can order it online from the usual places.

ADDENDUM (9/23/2016): Here is Mr. Burnett’s Americanafest keynote address.

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Kristin Hersh’s lighter side

TobySnaxOf the 10 books that University of Texas Press has published on our American Music Series imprint, one stands out as the best by a mile: “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt” by the phenomenal musician/author Kristin Hersh, which will also be coming out on paperback this fall. It’s a beautiful and amazing book, and intermittently hilarious — but it’s also very, very dark, to the point that I found it shattering to read.

Kristin’s literary followup to “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die,” however, will be a considerably lighter affair. Coming this fall, right around the same time as the “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die” paperback, is “Toby Snax,” a children’s book that Kristin wrote and illustrated based on stories she used to tell her four sons. Kristin originally self-published “Toby Snax” herself in 2007 with a few hundred copies (which have since become very valuable collector’s items). UT Press is reissuing the book, which will get it back into wider circulation; look for that in September. Meantime, the catalog description is below.

Toby Snax is a little bunny who’s reluctant to experience things away from home. When Mama asks him to join her on a trip, he needs a bit of encouragement. So Mama tells Toby about the wondrous things that await him out in the wide world, helping him to look forward to new adventures.

This charming, gentle book will resonate with any child who’s nervous about trying new things. The acclaimed musician Kristin Hersh created Toby Snax to encourage her son, Bodhi, to embrace the experiences of touring the world together while she performed both solo and with her bands 50 Foot Wave and Throwing Muses. The first edition of the book sold out immediately and has become highly collectible. This new edition makes Toby Snax available again for all fans of Hersh’s evocative storytelling, as well as children—or even adults—who need a little reassurance that the world is full of wonders.

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