Posts Tagged With: Lindsay Starr

Books, beer and insights into “Hell”

BooksBeerPerhaps you’ve noticed that the cover of “Losering” depicts a shattered beer bottle (and thanks again to cover artist Lindsay Starr, because that’s a pretty fair summation of how things went for Ryan Adams during his Whiskeytown days). If you’re an enthusiast of the sudsy as well as literary arts, come on out to this week’s “Books & Beer” at The Roost in Pittsboro’s Fearrington Village.

Books & Beer is an extraordinarily cool music/literary/beer-drinking series that presents two participants at a time, talking books in an informal atmosphere helped along by good spirits. This week’s installment features yours truly as well as Squirrel Nut Zippers alumnus Tom Maxwell, who will play some music and talk about “Hell,” the Zippers-era memoir he published last year.

As for me, I’ll probably talk a bit about the paper and “Losering” as well as my next book, if anybody’s interested, and maybe even the one after that (if you really want to know, come on out and ask). But mostly, I expect I’ll spend some time leading whatever audience we draw in a group interview of Tom, because he’s a hilarious and world-class raconteur as well as a fine musician and writer.

It should be a rousing good time, and I’m told that anybody who buys a book will get a free beer to go with it — in an unbroken container, no less. Hope to see you there.

 

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Affordable art

RayPosterMy next book will be out this October, “Comin’ Right at Ya: How a Jewish Yankee Hippie Went Country, or, the Often Outrageous History of Asleep at the Wheel,” a memoir that the great Ray Benson enlisted me to co-write. The project was a ton of fun, and I came away with a pretty cool video souvenir from it — a brief appearance in the video to “Faded Love,” from the Wheel’s new Bob Wills tribute album. And now here’s something I can hang on the wall.

The cover, of course, is another winner by the incomparable Lindsay Starr, staff artist at University of Texas Press (and the person responsible for how great all our American Music Series titles look). As for the poster, it’s the handiwork of my News & Observer colleague/office-mate Tim Lee, who is an incredible visual artist when he’s not cranking out charts, maps and graphs for the N&O. I had Ray sign it when Asleep at the Wheel played in Durham last month.

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Comin’ right at ya

RayCoverI am immensely pleased to report that my next book is not only finished and ready to go, it also has a fantastic cover. And here it is, another first-rate job by University of Texas Press designer Lindsay Starr (who also did the wonderful cover for “Losering”).

I co-wrote this with Ray Benson, founder/guiding light of Asleep at the Wheel. Below is a shot of the two of us last week at South By Southwest (which was the usual insanely fun madhouse), right before the Wheel took the stage. Ray is a man with a million tales to tell and we worked in as many of those anecdotes as we could, but I’d say we ran out of room before Ray ran out of stories. Note the testimonial blurb in the lower left corner from Dolly Parton, who figures into some of those stories. By the time this comes out, there will probably be a blurb from some other famous person in that space up at the top left, too.

Me&RayAs for the cover photo, it goes back to 1975 and shows the first time Ray was trying on a pair of boots he’d custom-ordered from the illustrious country-western tailor Nudie Cohn; I guess he was feeling a little flush from Asleep at the Wheel’s big breakthrough single, the top-10 country hit “The Letter That Johnny Walker Read.” As for the book’s main title, Comin’ Right at Ya was what Asleep at the Wheel called their first album way back in 1973.

Look for “Comin’ Right at Ya: How a Jewish Yankee Hippie Went Country, or, the Often Outrageous History of Asleep at the Wheel” in October. In the meantime, Asleep at the Wheel is playing in my neck of the woods on Wednesday, April 1 — no fooling, they’ll be at Durham’s Carolina Theatre that night; and hell yes, I’ll be there to watch.

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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.

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“Losering”: Looking even better

LoseringWhatever “Losering”‘s writerly merits (or, ahem, lack thereof), it’s undeniable that the book has a truly spectacular cover. As designed by the incomparable Lindsay Starr at UT Press, the “Losering” cover has already won some very fine accolades. And here’s another nice place it has turned up — on the design-display site Cover Reference, where “Losering” more than visually holds its own among the many amazing cover illustrations archived there.

Thank you again, Lindsay! That beer I owe ya is coming right up, just as soon as I make it to Austin. And I also hope to get a look-see at the cover for the upcoming American Music Series book on Merle Haggard…

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“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.

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Judging a book (and a blog) by the cover

RyanWordpressHad all gone according to my original scenario, some version of this photograph on the right would be on the cover of “Losering.” Taken by the very fine North Carolina-based photographer Daniel Coston, it would have made a fitting illustration for several reasons beyond the fact that it’s just a great picture. I love the fact that Caitlin is more visible than Ryan, whose presence is more implied than seen; and its ambience of dark mystery perfectly fits the book’s story, which reaches its apex with Whiskeytown’s black-night-of-the-soul masterpiece Strangers Almanac. It was also taken at a pivotal show described in the book: October 1999 at Chapel Hill’s Local 506, when Ryan sat down and blew a crowd away with a set of brand-new songs no one had ever heard before (see Chapter 11, pages 124-125 — or download that show from here).

LoseringAlas, UT Press had other ideas about the cover and politely put the kibosh on my plans because the marketing department wanted all the books in the American Music Series to have a consistent visual style. Having grown very attached to this picture as the “face” of the book in my mind, I was rather grumpy about the whole thing — a feeling that vanished the instant I saw the brilliant cover that UT Press book designer Lindsay Starr came up with. It makes a great visual representation of the “Losering” story, and I have to admit it’s tons better than anything I had envisioned. It sets a tone I like, equal parts funny and grandly catastrophic, especially the placement of my name on the label. I still owe Lindsay a beer for this, come to think (in an unbroken bottle, of course).

VARMIt was a helpful reminder that sometimes other people really do know better, so it’s best to keep out of their way. But I still love Daniel’s photo, too, so I made it the anchor art for this blog when it first went online. Daniel took a lot of pictures of Ryan and Whiskeytown back in the day, some of which turned up as illustrations for the American Songwriter magazine excerpt several months back. He also has a Ryan picture in a show called Visualizing American Roots Music, on display at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Southern Folklife Collection. That’s on the second floor of UNC’s Wilson Library, and it will be up until the end of 2013.

Visualizing American Roots Music opens on Friday (January 11), in conjunction with a series of symposia and performances titled The Fiddle, happening Friday and Saturday (January 11-12) on the UNC campus. Word to the wise, all of the events are free.

ADDENDUM: Aggie Donkar’s photos of Friday night’s concert can be found here.

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