Posts Tagged With: University of Texas Press

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:

JHUTP

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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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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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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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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American Music Series pursues T Bone Burnett

SachsTBoneDig if you will the cover of our next University of Texas Press American Music Series entry, “T Bone Burnett: A Life in Pursuit,” written by the Chicago-based writer Lloyd Sachs and due out on hardback in October. Among other things, this is the first book we’ve put out that will have pictures as well as prose. And as a longtime T Bone fan who cherishes my autographed copy of Proof Through the Night (which Burnett signed Help fight Truth Decay for me many years ago), I am excited and honored to be a part of this one.

“A Life in Pursuit” has gone through a number of titles along the way, including the original working title “The True True Identities.” Its publication will make it an even 10 titles for the American Music Series since it started up in the spring of 2012; and we’ll get to 11 books with “Chrissie Hynde Up the Neck” in the spring of 2017. A few more books are in the early stages at the moment, and I can’t really say anything about them just yet. But they’re going to be very cool.

For now, I’m enjoying this handsome cover — and the fact that we’ve reached the double-digit milestone, with more to come.

 

 

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Madonna and Mary J. Blige: Lots more drama, coming right up

The American Music Series I co-edit for University of Texas Press marches on with our newest releases, a pair of titles due out on the first of March — and they’ll definitely break us out well beyond anything like Americana. So keep an eye out for two books I’m proud to have been involved with, “Madonnaland And Other Detours into Fame and Fandom” by the fabulous Alina Simone; and “Real Love, No Drama: The Music of Mary J. Blige” by Kansas City-based author Danny Alexander. Now I’ve got two more reasons to obsessively check amazon every day.

Meantime, next up on the American Music Series docket will be T Bone Burnett, coming this fall.

ADDENDA: An actual New York Times review of “Madonnaland,” plus an excerpt on LitHub and a most-excellent PopMatters review. Also from PopMatters, a Blige review.

 

MaddyMary

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Alina Simone’s ray of light

UTP2016As noted here before, the road from proposal to publication is a long one when you’re working with a university press. It’s a several-year process that comes with a number of milestones that include several stages of editing, editorial approval and the cover. One of the last steps before a book actually appears is enshrinement in the catalog, and it just so happens that the Spring/Summer 2016 University of Texas Press catalog arrived in my mail today — including entries given over to a couple of American Music Series titles, Danny Alexander’s Mary J. Blige book and Alina Simone’s “Madonnaland And Other Detours into Fame and Fandom” (both due out in March).

Along with a very nice Amanda Palmer blurb, “Madonnaland” also has an enthusiastic endorsement from best-selling author Ben Greenman:

Alina Simone’s critical (and hilariously self-critical) look at pop culture, ambition, identity, and the strange things that can happen when art meets time is, if you’ll pardon the expression, a ray of light.

Nice.

MadonnaCatalog

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Ray Benson, raconteur

Ray Benson has always been one heck of a story teller, which made “Comin’ Right at Ya” a pleasure to co-write. A large part of the gig was hanging out listening to Ray tell tales, which was always lots of fun. And here’s the next best thing, a University of Texas Press podcast interview where Ray holds forth at length about the book and his career. He gets into the nuts and bolts of how we handled the co-writing process at about the 10-minute mark.

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