Garrett Harris 12:36 a.m., June 19
Local Book Reviews and Author Interviews
Immersing Deep Into Jazz—and Heroin
Captivating tale of addiction and redemption to be featured at this year’s California Library Association Book Exhibit in San Diego November 12-15
From critically acclaimed musician and writer Don Alberts comes an engaging novel about dreams, ambitions, mistakes, and realizations. Released through Xlibris, The Rushing: Manbaby and the Crooked Road to the Big Time follows one man’s journey through fame and its consequences.
Childhood for Louis Parker was pretty normal. He lived in a blissful home with his mother, stepfather, and half-brother, where love and comfort were always offered. Even as a young boy, Louis exuded a special passion for music with his fondness in playing the piano. His teenage life was even more colorful. Dating several girls and riding around town in his Ford convertible was what life was all about, and enlisting in the navy reserve unit during the Korean war was a such a noble act for a happy-go-lucky person as him.
Always the dreamer and the risk-taker, Louis’ life is now slowly led to the side of danger. With a love for music at hand, he gradually finds himself under the spotlight and into stardom. He has made himself to become a mythic icon in the world of jazz music. But along with the promises of fame are the temptations of drugs. How badly does he want to grasp his dream?
The Rushing: Manbaby and the Crooked Road to the Big Time offers readers a glimpse into the tough sub-culture of drugs and jazz music in the 1960s and the “Crooked Road to the Big Time.” Through the depths of heroin addiction, jazz music, tough rehabilitation and self-discovery, readers will be inspired by one man’s struggle to make it back and survive.
This book will be featured at this year’s California Library Association Book Exhibit in San Diego, on November 12-15, 2010. For more information, log on to Xlibris.com.
A jazz musician through most of his life, Don Alberts took up writing soon after leaving San Jose State College, where he studied with concert pianist Thomas Ryan and majored in music composition and English. Ultimately, writing and music became his bittersweet joy. He continued to develop his skills, spending more and more time writing and playing music at night. In 1990, under the pen name Whitney Louis, he completed his first full-length novel, Beyond the Grand Matoeba.
He has written ten volumes of original jazz compositions. Volumes 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 have won the ASCAP jazz composers award for 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009. His other books include Small Unrested Desires: Short Stories and Poetry, Absolute Time: Poetry, Ancient Warrior: Selected Poems from 1995 to 2005, Play Melancholy Baby: Crime Fiction, The Rushing: Crime Fiction, Bad Boys Fan Club Photo Book: Photo Book, and Don Alberts Original Jazz Compositions Manuscript Workbook.
Alberts has taught jazz composition at the Jazz School in Berkeley California and has published a course book. He has recorded six CDs with his own groups. All CDs are available at http://www.cdbaby.com. He now lives in San Bruno and frequently plays piano at clubs in San Francisco.
THE RUSHING * by Don Alberts
Manbaby and the Crooked Road to the Big Time
Publication Date: May 17, 2010
Trade Paperback; $19.99; 255 pages; 978-1-4500-9320-0
Trade Hardback; $29.99; 255 pages; 978-1-4500-9321-7
eBook; $9.99; 978-1-4500-9322-4
ROCK TO RICHES – LOCAL TEACHES ROCK STAR SECRETS OF FINANCIAL SUCCESS
“You can learn a lot about funding from David Bowie, and about branding from Dave Matthews,” says local drummer and author Lee Silber. His new book Rock to Riches, co-written with Andrew Chapman, is a tutorial on what he describes as “Building your own business the rock and roll way. Learning important business lessons about multiple income streaming from Jimmy Buffett is much more interesting and fun than trying to learn from [wealthy investor] Warren Buffett.”
According to Silber, “If you look at the most successful recording artists, many are also astute business people. Madonna, Kiss, and Garth Brooks have all been smart with their money, and not afraid to market themselves and profit from their efforts.”
The San Diego native - an avid surfer - started his first business at age eleven, repainting his neighbors’ mailboxes, later launching a successful chain of surf shops with his two brothers called Waves and Wheels Surfcenters. His first book, The Guide to Dating in San Diego, was followed by thirteen more books, with Rock to Riches being the first of a two-volume deal with Capital Books.
“The thing I stress most is being systematic and getting organized. I’ve learned a lot about being organized, despite my natural, right-brain tendency to want to hang onto everything I have ever owned or borrowed, and keep it out where I can see it.”
“The way I operate now, and what I teach, is that if it’s not on a list, it doesn’t exist.”
Silber's co-author is Andrew Chapman. "Andrew and I met a LONG time ago at a booksigning I was doing at the Barnes and Noble in Encinitas," says Silber. "We hit it off right away since he is also an author and a musician. In fact, we are teaming up on another book right now for Career Press. The idea for Rock To Riches was Andrew's, but because of my prior success in publishing and enthusiasm for the topic, we teamed up."
Regarding their joint writing methods, Silber says "Nobody would ever be able to tell, but Andrew and I wrote entire chapters by ourselves. I can barely remember which is which when reading it now. We worked to our strengths. You also may never be able to tell (but I thought I'd mention it) that Andrew prefers KISS, head-banger music, and more or the modern bands while I like everything from the seventies. I also went WAY back to pull examples from early rock stars, too."
The book is published by Capital Books, based on the east coast. "Our goal for the Rock to Riches book is to sell out of the first printing as fast as possible. That's why I am so thrilled you may be able to get us some much needed exposure in the Reader, the only paper local musicians really read."
The book's Abbey Road-inspired cover certainly conjures up the notion of rock star riches (tho not even Sir Paul McCartney was rich enough to buy back the Beatles' publishing). Says Silber, "In the [book cover] photo, my wife is John Lennon, I'm Ringo, and Andrew Chapman is George Harrison."
ROCK & ROLL HOMICIDE by RJ McDONNELL
“I moved to San Diego in the 1980s and intended to earn a living as a musician,” says author RJ McDonnell, whose just-released novel Rock & Roll Homicide is set amidst the local music scene. “However, I shattered my wrist a few months after my arrival and my plans changed.”
The book concerns Little Italy native Jason Duffy, a musician-turned-private eye investigating the death of a local singer. “Jason’s client is the widow of the deceased rock star,” says McDonnell. “She suspects that the record company, based in downtown San Diego, was involved in her husband’s death…he also investigates the band members, as well as a roadie and a groupie.”
Suspects among the murdered singer’s band include an alcoholic drug addict drummer on the verge of being booted from the group, a bassist who camouflages his rock star status by living in a lower middle-class neighborhood, and a lead guitarist who wrote half of the band’s songs and lives well beyond his means.
The investigation takes Duffy to a Mission Beach bar that resembles London’s West End in PB, a T.G.I. Fridays in El Cajon, Jake’s restaurant in Del Mar, and a Steve Poltz concert at the Belly Up. He also makes trips to Rancho Santa Fe, Cardiff by the Sea, Alpine, and Southeast San Diego.”
“My depiction of San Diego as home to a record label featuring an emerging headline act is my way of acknowledging the quality of music originating in San Diego,” says McDonnell, who resided locally for 26 years but now lives in Pennsylvania. “My love for music and belief in the San Diego music scene has never changed.”
Rock & Roll Homicide by RJ McDonnell is retail priced at $25.95 and is available on Amazon and at www.rockandrollhomicide.com.
FORTY SCHMORTY; LIFE KEEP HAPPENING by EVE SELIS & MATTIE MILLS
Singer/songwriters Eve Selis and Mattie Mills have written a book, Forty Schmorty; Life Keeps Happening. “During the process of writing the book,” says Selis, “Mattie was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 45, and I became pregnant at age 43.”
“Mattie and I helped each other get through this journey,” says Selis. “She went through her chemotherapy with courage and the knowledge that she was going to kick cancer’s ass, not the other way around. I felt powerless over the disease, but knew our friendship would help us conquer anything.” Selis’ sister is a breast cancer survivor.
“As for my pregnancy, our friendship provided support…Mattie had two children in her forties, and had her fourth child at age 45. She was a great inspiration and help to me, because it had been so long since my first pregnancy…my daughter is thirteen years old.”
In addition to their book, the duo blogs about their experiences at FortySchmorty.com, which offers merchandise including BBQ aprons, tote bags, and string thongs, all emblazoned with the FortySchmorty logo. Selis recommends the latter as a gift for men, to purchase for their forty-something wives.
“Most males have been very curious and said that they’d love to read our book, just to get a better idea of what’s inside a women’s mind. It definitely helps answer a lot of questions men have when their wives are going through difficult or challenging times.” In addition to the book, blog, and website, related FortySchmorty podcasts are available from iTunes.
THE SUMMER I DIED by RYAN C. THOMAS
“My first paying sale was a story called ‘Cookies Have No Souls,’ for Space Squid Magazine,” says Buzzbombs guitarist Ryan C. Thomas (aka “Johnny Fuego”), whose side gig is as a horror and sci-fi author. “Up until that sale, all my stories were freebies for webzines or fiction magazine that paid, like, $5 a story.”
The executive editor for North County’s Ranch & Coast Magazine says his first novel The Summer I Died, published by Canada’s Coscom Entertainment (mainly known for comic books), pits rural teens against a razor-happy killer with a man-eating dog. “It’s my attempt to do a written version of a slasher film.” Thomas’ short stories have been published in anthologies like DreamGoblin and Twisted Cat Tales.
The Summer I Died concerns Roger, a nebbish comic book geek of the new Millennium variety, ie less Comic Book Guy and more Kevin Smith but still likely to cut in front of you in line to meet Scott Bakula. Gun totin’ dope smokin’ buddy “Tooth” would like to drag his friend-slash-pet-nerd into a more adventurous and thrill-filled life, far from the four color bubble our hero Roger has so far immersed himself in. As bad luck would have it, he does just that ------
The Summer I died is available at Amazon and at www.ryancthomas.com.
HEAVY MENTAL by IAN SHIRLEY
Author Ian Shirley is by definition what you’d call a rock ‘n’ roll writer, and he would be even if most of his works didn’t concern rock music in some form or other. The same way you can’t help but hear ‘50s doo-wop in your head when you read Christine, or the Sex Pistols whilst you read anything by Richard Meltzer, Shirley’s books seem to come with their own internal aural soundtrack.
In the case of his newly released sci-fi novel Heavy Mental, Shirley actually recorded a song, “Spy on Love,” essentially soundtracking a bit of peep show-inspired naughtiness from his rockin’ opus – you can find that MP3 here.
Dig that ‘70s porn wah-wah!! You can almost smell the chlorine urinals and feel the sticky floors, huh?
Heavy Mental concerns a metal singer named Brett Ray, who finds himself whisked off to another world/reality/dimension/dreamscape/acid peak, ala Adam Strange or John Carter, only instead of becoming a People’s Hero he becomes an accused pigf-cker -------
Far less dunderheaded than heavy metal/cartoon rocker spoofs like Cartoon Network’s Metalocalypse or Britain’s Bad News, Heavy Mental is loaded with nods to the lores and legends of rock, displaying an encyclopedic fondness of the genre and sprinkled with enough witty musical in-jokes to read like a transcript of the best episode of Mystery Science Theater ever dreamed up ------ think "Hitchhiker's Guide To The [Hawkwind]Universe" meets an imaginary Ramones In Space cartoon...by Ralph Bakshi. On acid. G-o-o-o-o-o-d acid.........
Shirley is the author of the definitive books on Bauhaus and the Residents, and he’s written for Mojo, Record Collector, and other pop cultures mags - his first sci-fi novel Shadowplay was published in 1998.
Shirley also authored Can Rock & Roll Save the World, an exhaustive history of comic books and comic strips which have crossed over into the world of rock and roll, and vice versa (a subject of particular interest for me, having perpetrated some of the Rock ‘N’ Roll Comics covered in his colorful art-heavy book).
Heavy Mental was released in October '08, and is available at Amazon, and at www.safpublishing.co.uk.
EBEN BROOKS GOES SCI-FI - ZELAZNY ROCKS!
“I’m a very big fan of Roger Zelazny’s work, and I’ve read all the Amber Chronicles,” says singer/songwriter Eben Brooks, who just finished shooting an elaborate video for his song “Champs Élysées,” inspired by Zelazny’s sci-fi classic Courts of Chaos. “We chose Lestat’s to shoot at, because the writer and director wrote a script that fits perfectly with their setup and décor. Lestat’s has great stone gargoyles!”
Brooks explains the video story: “In Courts of Chaos, from the original Chronicles of Amber, there’s a scene where the protagonist is worried that one of the cornerstones of reality has been destroyed…the only way to save the universe is to create a new cornerstone. While he’s doing that, he lets his mind wander as he creates this new ‘pattern,’ to anchor reality once again. I read that passage, and the imagery was so powerful that I found myself thinking about it a great deal over the next several weeks.”
He says he’s influenced by sci-fi songwriting. “I’ve always been a big fan of Jethro Tull, who tend to weave fantasy and sci-fi elements into their songs. Hawkwind writes music heavily influenced by Michael Moorcock, and there’s always Led Zeppelin’s work based on Tolkien.”
Around a dozen people scheduled to appear in the video were no-shows. “An hour after shooting was to begin, we were frantically calling people to come to Lestat’s. Even the makeup and wardrobe girl ended up on camera, because of the lack of people.” The video for “Champs Élysées” – which opens on one of Lestat’s stone gargoyles - can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsTT2sJDnB8.
(Eben's virtual sci-fi alter-ego)
Formerly with the Celtic folk band The Wild Oats (1991 – 2002), Eben Brooks has been playing monthly at Lestat’s since 2000.
Like this blog? Here are some related links:
OVERHEARD IN SAN DIEGO - Several years' worth of this comic strip, which debuted in the Reader in 1996: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/overheard-san-diego/
FAMOUS FORMER NEIGHBORS - Over 100 comic strips online, with mini-bios of famous San Diegans: http://www.sandiegoreader.com/photos/galleries/famous-former-neighbors/
SAN DIEGO READER MUSIC MySpace page: http://www.myspace.com/sandiegoreadermusic
JAS MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/jayallensanford