Posts Tagged With: Southern Folklife Collection

Next up: Rounder Records

Now that I’ve caught my breath a bit from “Step It Up and Go,” it’s time to look forward, and I have some news about my next project. I’m pleased to announce that I’ve signed a contract with University of North Carolina Press to write another book, this one a history of Rounder Records.

“Rounder Records and the Transformation of American Roots Music” is the working title, and the book will trace the story of the legendary folk label that marked its 50-year anniversary in 2020. Initially based in Massachusetts, Rounder has been label home for everybody from Alison Krauss and Sarah Jarosz to George Thorogood and even Rush over the years, earning platinum records in addition to Grammy Awards.

UNC Press is a logical imprint for this book, since Rounder founders Ken Irwin, Marian Leighton Levy and Bill Nowlin have their archive housed at UNC’s Southern Folklife Collection. And I’d like to think that I’m the logical author for it, since I’ve always had folk/Americana leanings as well as a perverse fascination for the music business. “Step It Up and Go” even has a chapter about North Carolina record companies, after all.

uncpress

So if everything goes well and the schedule holds up, I’ll be turning in the manuscript about a year from now and it will come out sometime in 2022. Here’s hoping.

Meanwhile, the “official” publication date for “Step It Up and Go” isn’t until Oct. 19, but the book is already pretty much out in the wild. It’s picking up a nice response so far, people are posting pictures of it, I’m getting requests for signed copies — this stage of the process is always very pleasant, even if it’s not possible to do in-person bookstore readings this fall here on Planet Pandemic.

Nevertheless, we are carrying on with some cool online events featuring notable guests including Scott Avett, drummer-to-the-stars Jon Wurster and even North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green, among others. Hope to virtually cross paths with some of you folks out there in the coming weeks.

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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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