Posts Tagged With: Dwight Yoakam

Hello in there: More From UT Press

PrineEddie“Ryan Adams: Losering, A Story of Whiskeytown” was published in the fall of 2012 as the second book in University of Texas Press’ American Music Series (following Don McLeese’s “Dwight Yoakam: A Thousand Miles From Nowhere”), and it’s taken a while for us to get it going. As originally envisioned, we’re supposed to be putting out four AMS titles a year — two every spring, two every fall. Some right fine books have come out on Merle Haggard in 2013 and the Flatlanders in 2014, but we haven’t been able to maintain that schedule. Finally, however, we’ve found our footing enough that the pace of publication is about to pick up.

First off, the next American Music Series book coming out will be “John Prine: In Spite of Himself” by my fellow North Carolina music journalist Eddie Huffman. The official publication date is March 15, and it’s our series’ first book to come out in a hardcover version (also, it’s the first with an actual photograph of the subject on the cover). I was one of this book’s primary editors and the process wasn’t always easy. As Eddie writes of me in the book’s acknowledgements, tongue planted firmly in cheek, “He and I are probably both glad he won’t have to ask me ‘How are the rewrites coming?’ next time we cross paths at Cat’s Cradle or the PNC Arena.”

UTPressLogoBut my peskiness and his hard work paid off with a book we’re all quite proud of. And so far, the early pre-release response has been gratifying indeed. “In Spite of Himself” picked up a very fine review in Publishers Weekly, which also named it one of this spring’s most-anticipated books. Kirkus weighed in with a nice review, too, and there are a number of other reviews and reading-type events in the works as well. Eddie’s blog will be the place to keep up with all of that, so bookmark it. I think Eddie did a fantastic job on this book, and I hope you’ll like it.

Beyond that, here’s what else is on the AMS schedule so far:

October 2015

“Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt,” by Kristin Hersh
“Los Lobos: Dream in Blue,” by Chris Morris

Spring 2016

“Madonnaland,” by Alina Simone
Mary J. Blige (title to come), by Danny Alexander

Fall 2016

T-Bone Burnett (title to come), by Lloyd Sachs

Spring 2017

Chrissie Hynde (title to come), by Adam Sobsey

To be scheduled

Tom Jones (title to come), by Jon Langford

The book on the list I’m most excited about is “Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt” by Kristin Hersh, leader of the band Throwing Muses and one of Chesnutt’s closest friends. I was blown away when I saw her manuscript because it’s spine-tinglingly brilliant, the best book of any sort I’ve read in years. Seriously, it gave me chills. I’m thrilled to be a part of that one, and I can’t wait for everyone else to read it.

Meanwhile, you might notice that yours truly is not on the AMS schedule anywhere. But I do have a book coming out on UT Press in October, one I think turned out really well. It’s called “Comin’ Right at Ya: How a Jewish Yankee Hippie Went Country, or, the Often Outrageous History of Asleep at the Wheel,” which I co-wrote with Asleep at the Wheel founder and guiding light Ray Benson. I’ll have more to say about this project later, but for now there’s a bit more about it here.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Frog Trouble for Ryan Adams: When pigs fly

FrogTroubleWell, there’s still no definitive word on Ryan Adams’ next album — if it’s coming out anytime soon, or even whether or not it’s already finished. Even so, he’ll be on at least one release this fall, the upcoming fifth album by the noted children’s author Sandra Boynton. Titled Frog Trouble…and Eleven Other Pretty Serious Songs, it’s Boynton’s first country album and features a dozen Boynton-penned original songs sung by a wide array of big-name guest vocalists including Ryan and his fellow North Carolina expatriate Ben Folds. See the track list below, and look for Frog Trouble on September 3.

1. I’ve Got a Dog, Dwight Yoakam
2. Trucks, Fountains of Wayne
3. Frog Trouble, Mark Lanegan
4. Heartache Song, Kacey Musgraves
5. When Pigs Fly, Ryan Adams
6. Broken Piano, Ben Folds
7. Copycat, Brad Paisley
8. End of a Summer Storm, Alison Krauss
9. Alligator Stroll, Josh Turner
10. Beautiful Baby, Darius Rucker
11. Deepest Blue, Linda Eder
12. More Frog Trouble, Falls Mountain Cowboys (a fictitious group)

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Coming this fall: “Merle Haggard: The Running Kind”

HaggardCover

And now, friends, here is a piece of news I’m quite excited about. Behold the incredibly cool cover of our next UT Press American Music Series book — “Merle Haggard: The Running Kind,” penned by my former No Depression magazine senior-editor colleague David Cantwell. This is another very fine cover design by the incomparable Lindsay Starr, who has earned some choice worldwide  recognition for her first two covers in the AMS series (Don McLeese’s Dwight Yoakam book as well as my Ryan Adams book “Losering”).

Look for “The Running Kind” to emerge in September of this year. More books are in the works and I hope to have some news about them soon.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Losering”: Looking good

LoseringWhen it comes to drawing attention toward a book, it never hurts to have a great cover. For “Losering,” I feel like I have one of the best, thanks to the fantastic work of cover artist Lindsay Starr — and it’s not just me who thinks so, either.

The American Association of University Presses recently put out its list of best-designed 2012 books; and I am pleased to report that not only did “Losering”‘s cover make the grade, but also Lindsay’s cover for another American Music Series title, Don McLeese’s “Dwight Yoakam: A Thousand Miles From Nowhere.” Those are two of 44 covers selected (from 331 submissions), and they’ll be on display this summer at the Book, Jacket & Journal Show as part of the AAUP Annual Meeting in Boston.

Congratulations to Lindsay, and also renewed thanks for making me look better’n I deserve. You can see more of her handiwork here.

ADDENDUM: Lindsay tells me that both of her American Music Series covers have also been selected to appear in the 27th annual New York Book Show, happening April 9. Meanwhile, she also reports she’ll soon be working on the cover for the third book in the UT Press series, on Merle Haggard.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

More year-end love: Hats Off!

OnThatNoteGot another nice little end-of-the-year notice from On That Note, which modestly bills itself as “Just another WordPress.com weblog.” But heck, I live on that planet, too. And I will definitely vouch for OTN’s superlative taste, based on the kind words given to “Losering” in its recap “The Year In Music — 2012”:

Hats off to David Menconi for writing the finest rock book of the year.  ‘Losering: A Story Of Whiskeytown,’ is a look at Ryan Adams, starting when he was an unknown in Raleigh. Menconi was covering the scene for the News & Observer, immediately was taken with the unpredictable, gifted songsmith, who led Whiskeytown to acclaim before going solo.

Great anecdotes and keen observations fill the tome. It’s a rare rock book that’s addictive as potato chips.  You just can’t put it down. Fun take on one of rock’s few remaining characters.

“The finest rock book of the year…addictive as potato chips” — now that is one cool soundbite. Hats off to you, too!

(ADDENDUM: Turns out the author of the above assessment is one Ed Condran.)

In other year-end news, “Losering” picked up an honorable-mention nod from Music Tomes’ 2012 Favorites recap of music books — tied for second with RJ Smith’s “The One: The Life and Music of James Brown.” And the winner of that category is my American Music Series colleague Don McLeese’s Dwight Yoakam book.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Backsliding away

Back in the mid-1990s, Whiskeytown was hardly the only great alternative-country band on the scene. There was the aforementioned Kenny Roby’s 6 String Drag, as well as the Backsliders — dear Lord, THE BACKSLIDERS — who could give any band on the planet a run for their money on a good night. They were a bit older and more grizzled than a lot of their fresh-faced peers in the Triangle, but the Backsliders were just so damn good that they inspired awe far and wide.

As good as they were, however, the Backsliders rivaled Whiskeytown when it came to bad interpersonal vibes between their co-leaders, Chip Robinson and Steve Howell. Oil and water, Hatfields and McCoys, Tar Heels and Wolfpack — whatever metaphor suits ya, they just did not mix.

“Those guys,” Backsliders bassist Danny Kurtz once told me, “are both their own worst enemies.”

Commercial success might have been enough to keep the Backsliders together, but it was not to be. After 1996’s brilliant Throwing Rocks at the Moon (produced with great aplomb by Dwight Yoakam guitarist Pete Anderson), Howell left the band. And while that wasn’t a mortal blow, Howell did take a lot of the Backsliders’ cool country flavor with him. Robinson carried on with replacements, releasing 1998’s still-good-but-not-as-great Southern Lines; neither album sold, however, so that was that.

(ADDENDUM: Producer Eric Ambel says of Southern Lines that, “90 percent of that record was cut with Howell, Chip, Brad, Danny and Jeff. Changes happened before the record was released with one song getting re-cut and a couple others overdubbed; but the bulk of that record is the original band.”)

The Backsliders dissolved, and Kurtz and lead guitarist Brad Rice wound up in one of the umpteen late-’90s versions of Whiskeytown. Rice later played with Ryan in various incarnations, including the Pinkhearts. He was Ryan’s lead guitarist on “Saturday Night Live” in 2001; and as Rice told me when I interviewed him for “Losering,” he was just starting a guitar solo at the 2004 show in Liverpool where Ryan fell off the stage and broke his wrist. Brad has done plenty more sideman work since then, including a long stretch with Keith Urban a few years back.

Robinson and Howell kept busy with bands and projects of their own, all of them good — especially Robinson’s terrific  solo album Mylow — but neither was as good apart as they had been together. In 2003, they did reunite to play a benefit show for Alejandro Escovedo (who was ailing and without health insurance, a sadly common situation in the music business nowadays). They were still great and it felt as if no time at all had gone by, but it was a one-off…

…Until now. Saturday night, four-fifths of the classic mid-’90s Backsliders lineup (everyone except Brad Rice) will play as the Howell/Robinson Quartet at Slim’s in Downtown Raleigh. It’s another benefit, this one for the Inspirality Elder Project; and I’m told it’s the first time the co-leaders have spoken since that 2003 reunion.

This will probably be yet another one-off with no followup, the Backsliders scattering to their separate corners afterwards. But hey, I can dream.

ADDENDUM (9/30/12): I was otherwise occupied Saturday night, but multiple witness reports say that Backsliders drummer Jeff Dennis went up to Chip’s microphone toward the end of their set and hollered, “David Menconi oughtta write a book about THAT shit!”

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

MusicTomes.com is music to me

Today brings another nice “Losering” review — this one from Music Tomes, a blog that covers music-related books. Eric Bannister writes that, even though he still has major misgivings about Ryan’s general demeanor, the book makes him “want to dig into the music in-spite of that moodiness. For me, that’s a feat.”

Anyway, check it out.  And while you’re there, also give a look to the Music Tomes interview with my American Music Series colleague Don McLeese about his Dwight Yoakam book. A “Losering” interview is scheduled to run on Music Tomes next month in two installments.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m your man

When I go to a convention, I’m usually there to cover it — typically for the News & Observer but occasionally for someone else. Coming to Nashville for this week’s Americana Music Association Festival & Conference has been different because I’m here in a marketing capacity to launch “Losering.” As part of the N&O’s financial struggles, the paper’s employees have to take unpaid furlough weeks this quarter. I chose mine to coincide with AMA so I could focus on book matters. That’s been good, but it also feels weird not to be filing AMA dispatches for my work blog.

So I did my first reading the other day, on the mezzanine of the AMA conference hotel, and it went well. About 15 people came, paid attention and asked questions; and we sold into double figures on books (thanks to Nashville’s Parnassus Books). Some of the people who came, I didn’t even know. Every writer has war stories about readings they’ve done where the only attendees were friends or relatives; and as glad as you are to see them, it’s even better when strangers come because then you feel like you’re making progress. Still, we’re grateful when anybody at all shows up.

I guess you could say I’m here on behalf of UT Press, too. My American Music Series colleague Don McLeese did a reading for his Dwight Yoakam book (at the Country Music Hall of Fame, no less). So I put on my co-editor’s hat and introduced him, talking a bit about the series. I’ve connected with a few other scribes at the conference, and we’ve had some really good discussions about potential future titles. Here’s hoping they continue on-course.

Another writer who did a reading at AMA was Sylvie Simmons, whose “I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen” is just out and earning raves in all the right places. Of course I’m green with envy — this is the kind of New York Times acclaim every author dreams about, and her book is also in amazon’s top-100 — but not resentful. Simmons is much-beloved in the rock-write world, and she has definitely earned the acclaim. What I’ve read so far of  “I’m Your Man” is great, and Simmons went through quite an odyssey getting the book done. At her reading, she broke out a ukulele to do a lovely rendition of Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat,” a very charming touch that made me feel awkward about the stammery reading I’d done the day before. But we endeavor to persevere.

I was proud I could give Simmons a copy of “Losering,” and she was kind enough to accept it with enthusiasm. A cool thing about participating in something like AMA is seeing your name in the event program alongside people you admire, musicians as well as other writers; it’s probably the equivalent of getting the late-season call up to the big leagues for the proverbial cup of coffee, but a thrill nevertheless. And after Simmons’ reading, as folks were standing around in clusters making plans for Friday evening’s shows, two people who hadn’t been at my reading came up to me with copies of “Losering” they wanted signed.

That was pretty danged cool. And so was this, the first local review to turn up in the Triangle. On we go…

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

AMA-bound — Nashville, here I come

So I’m off to Nashville this week to attend the Americana Music Association Festival & Conference, which is exciting. For one thing, I’ve never been and  every AMA regular I know swears by it as a fantastic event — and this year’s lineup does indeed look stellar. People have described AMA as a less-overwhelming version of South By Southwest; and as much as I love SXSW, it certainly has grown to insane, almost unmanageably huge proportions in recent years.

I’m also excited because AMA represents the “official” (whatever that means) launch for “Losering.” I’m doing my first reading for the book on Thursday, Sept. 13, at 3:30 p.m. on the Legislative Terrace of the Downtown Nashville Sheraton.

AMA will be a coming-out party of sorts for the UT Press American Music Series, because my colleague Don McLeese will do a reading from his Dwight Yoakam book at noon Friday, Sept. 14, at the Country Music Hall of Fame. So if anybody reading this is headed for AMA, please feel free to drop in on either reading. Or even both.

Down the road a bit, I’ll be doing another reading at the Texas Book Festival, Oct. 27-28 at the State Capitol in Austin. The lineup for that is being announced today, so check that here.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

More on the American Music Series and UT Press

UT Press and I had agreed on Ryan as a subject at South By Southwest 2010.When the next SXSW rolled around in March 2011, I met again in Austin with my then-editor, Allison Faust, as well as UT Press marketing director Dave Hamrick and No Depression magazine co-founder Peter Blackstock. I hadn’t gotten very far with writing by then; in fact, I wasn’t much past the “Preface” and I was still nervous about making the Sept. 1 deadline. But I kept that to myself. Instead, the four of us brainstormed ideas for the series.

It was a very productive meeting, yielding up a long list of possible subjects and authors. That meeting also resulted in me coming on-board as series co-editor. Some things have changed about the series over the past year and a half, including the name. It’s the American Music Series now, and the primary UT Press editor is Casey Kittrell. As co-editors, Peter Blackstock and I get some input on artists and writers (although UT Press still has the final say).

The first AMS title came out in March 2012, “Dwight Yoakam: A Thousand Miles From Nowhere,” written by the estimable Don McLeese. My book “Ryan Adams: Losering, A Story of Whiskeytown” is the second in the series. The Aug. 31 issue of Publishers Weekly magazine included a piece about music-related books under the headline, “The Music Didn’t Die.” Alas, it takes a subscription and password to see the whole thing. But here’s the part that pertains to the American Music Series, which comes at the very end of the story:

In 2005, the University of Texas published “The Best of No Depression,” an anthology of articles from the hip alt-country magazine, No Depression. Working with the magazine’s co-founders Peter Blackstock and David Menconi, Texas’s sponsoring editor Casey Kittrell grew excited about these two editing a possible series. Austin City Limits promoted the first book in the American Music Series, Don McLeese’s “Dwight Yoakam,” when Yoakam played on that stage. This season Menconi chronicles the rise to fame of alt-country star, Ryan Adams, in “Ryan Adams: Losering, a Story of Whiskeytown” (Sept.), and forthcoming topics include Merle Haggard, Uncle Tupelo, and John Prine, among others. Kittrell says that the series plans to publish “musical biographies about important American musicians and that eventually it will edge into genres beyond alt-country and feature books by musicians and literary writers.”

For the record, Allison Faust was the first UT Press editor to work on the series, before Casey Kittrell; and while I was in on No Depression magazine from the start, I wasn’t a co-founder. That was Mr. Grant Alden, who we very much hope will be writing a book for the series at some point. A lot of the ideas we tossed around at that March 2011 meeting are still cooking along at various stages, and we’ve had further conversations. I hope to be able to tell you about more American Music Series books before too long. But here are the ones under contract (or firm enough to talk about) at the moment:

Merle Haggard, by Dave Cantwell
Uncle Tupelo, by Dan Durchholz
Los Lobos, by Chris Morris
John Prine, by Eddie Huffman
The Flatlanders, by John T. Davis
Vic Chesnutt, by Kristin Hersh

As the proud owner of a vinyl copy of Throwing Muses’ House Tornado, I’m especially excited about that last one. But I think all of these have the potential to be fantastic.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.