All Time Favorites

This category can only be “Editor’s Choice.” An attempt to recognize those artists that have continued to build their fan base over an entire career and have carved out a special place for this web site to roam. It is surely a matter of taste, who may qualify as ones favorites. We will continue to add musicians and authors to this tab.

Dion

Dion (Dimucci)

“Dion, like a circling star that never fades, generates the energy and fire we need to pull ourselves up and start again.” (Pete Townsend)

Dion may be a household name and Hall of Famer but has earned a post here as he remains relevant at 82.
Currently charting with a new record, Stomping Ground, featuring collaboration with over a dozen major artists.
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Read and remember:

Dion DiMucci had a career unlike any other in 20th century popular music, one that took him from harmonizing doo wop on the streets of the Bronx to baring his soul on a series of singer/songwriter albums in the ’70s, spending his later years bringing his blues into the 21st century. First famous for the hits he had as a teen with the Belmonts, “The Wanderer” and “Ruby Baby” were covers that established Dion as a solo star in the late ’50s, while “Runaround Sue” and “Lovers Who Wander,” which he co-wrote, revealed a songwriting talent that would flourish over the years. DiMucci kept recording after the British Invasion changed the rock & roll landscape of the ’60s, but he didn’t have another big hit until the bittersweet “Abraham, Martin and John” in 1968, a single that introduced a period as an idiosyncratic singer/songwriter, an era encapsulated on the 1975 cult classic Born to Be with YouDion spent some time singing Christian music and oldies before returning to fresh material with 1989’s Dave Edmunds-produced Yo Frankie. From that point forward, DiMucci split the difference between R&B throwbacks and new tunes, eventually settling into a blues groove, beginning with 2006’s Bronx in Blue and stretching into 2021’s Stomping Ground.

When Dion began recording in the late ’50s, it was as the lead singer of a group of friends who sang on Bronx street corners. Billing themselves Dion & the Belmonts (Dion had released a previous single with the Timberlanes), their first few records were prime Italian-American doo wop; “I Wonder Why” was their biggest hit in this style. Dion‘s biggest single with the Belmonts was “A Teenager in Love,” which pointed the way for the slightly self-pitying, pained odes to adolescence and early adulthood that would characterize much of his solo work.

Dion went solo in 1960 (the Belmonts did some more doo wop recordings on their own), moving from doo wop to more R&B/pop-oriented tunes with great success. He handled himself with a suave, cocky ease on hits like “The Wanderer,” “Runaround Sue,” “Lovers Who Wander,” “Ruby Baby,” and “Donna the Prima Donna,” which cast him as either the jilted, misunderstood youngster or the macho lover, capable of handling anything that came his way (especially on “The Wanderer”).

In 1963, Dion moved from Laurie to the larger Columbia label, an association that started promisingly with a couple of big hits right off the bat, “Ruby Baby” and “Donna the Prima Donna.” By the mid-’60s, his heroin habit (which he’d developed as a teenager) was getting the best of him, and he did little recording and performing for about five years. When he did make it into the studio, he was moving in some surprisingly bluesy directions; although much of it was overlooked or unissued at the time, it can be heard on the Bronx Blues reissue CD.

In 1968, he kicked heroin and re-emerged as a gentle folk-rocker with a number four hit single, “Abraham, Martin and John.” Dion would focus upon mature, contemporary material on his late-’60s and early-’70s albums, which were released to positive critical feedback, if only moderate sales. The folk phase didn’t last long; in 1972 he reunited with the Belmonts and in the mid-’70s cut a disappointing record with Phil Spector as producer. He recorded and performed fairly often in the years that followed (sometimes singing Christian music), to indifferent commercial results. But his critical rep has risen steadily since the early ’60s, with many noted contemporary musicians showering him with praise and citing his influence, such as Dave Edmunds (who produced one of his periodic comeback albums) and Lou Reed (who guested on that record). Dion continued to be active as the 21st century opened, releasing Déjà Nu in 2000, Under the Influence in 2005, and Bronx in Blue in 2006. His first major-label album since 1989’s Yo FrankieSon of Skip James was released by Verve in 2007, while 2008’s Heroes: Giants of Early Guitar Rock saw him tackling 15 songs from the classic rock & roll era. Influenced by a conversation with rock critic Dave Marsh about his long and still relevant career, and a dare from his wife Susan to prove it, Dion cut Tank Full of Blues, producing and playing the guitars himself on the recording and writing or co-writing all but one track on the set. Issued on Blue Horizon, it is the final recording in the trilogy that began with Bronx in Blue.

Dion signed to Instant Records in 2015 and immediately set to recording a new studio album. Entitled New York Is My Home, its first single and title track — a duet with Paul Simon — was pre-released in November digitally and as a striking video. The album was issued in the winter of 2016.

Then the singer/songwriter and Norton Records surprised everyone. In 1965, DiMucci was signed to Columbia, and had cut 15 new songs — all produced by Tom Wilson, who was recording Bob Dylan in the same studios at roughly the same time — for an album that the label, for whatever reason, decided not to release. Dion left the label over the decision. Some tracks were issued on singles, others later on various compilations. But for over 50 years, the tapes sat. That’s where Norton’s Miriam Linna and Billy Miller came in. They received the rights to release the entire record as it was originally intended, completely remastered from the original tapes. Featuring ten originals, one by Mort Shuman (who had co-written “Teenager in Love” with Doc Pomus for Dion & the Belmonts), and three by Dylan (who had been enamored with Dion since the ’50s). Though Miller passed before it was issued, Kickin’ Child: The Lost Columbia Album 1965 was released by the label in May.

In 2020, Dion released Blues with Friends, a collection of original blues songs performed as duets with such superstar pals as Bruce SpringsteenPaul SimonVan Morrison, and Billy Gibbons. The album was released by KTBA Records (it stands for “Keeping the Blues Alive”), which brought out a similar set in November 2021, Stomping Ground. Another star-sprinkled set of original songs, Stomping Ground featured guest appearances from Rickie Lee JonesBoz ScaggsKeb’ Mo’Mark Knopfler, and many more. In between those two albums, in November 2020, Dion issued a Christmas single, featuring his versions of “Hello Christmas” (featuring Amy Grant) and “You Know It’s Christmas

Artist Biography by Richie Unterberger – via All Music Guide

 

Robert B. Parker’s Beloved Characters

Location – Boston Area

Spenser / Jesse Stone / Sunny Randall

and the old west with – Cole and Hitch

With the passing of Robert B. Parker, now over ten years ago, his estate has engaged numerous authors to continue his legacy, but more so, to satisfy the longing his readers have for these characters. Throughout, television has engaged these characters. Spenser for Hire as a series, Jesse Stone in regularly released TV movies and a Cole & Hitch western – Appaloosa.

Now, Ace Atkins continues the Spenser series, Michael Brandman, (3) and Reed Farrell Coleman (5) added Jesse Stone stories from 2012-2019, Robert Knott contributed five Cole & Hitch westerns and most recently Mike Lupica, known for his books and sports commentary, has brought back Sunny Randall in three books and is about to publish his second novel in continuation of the Jesse Stone saga.

In this editor’s opinion, they are all gifts and well worthy of keeping these iconic characters alive in fiction. Having only recently finding out about Mile Lupica’s four entries in the mix, I read them all in the last several weeks. What fun to hang out in Boston with Sunny and Jesse. Thank you all.

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John Prine

Read Obit from Rolling Stone Magazine

John Prine

was an American country folk singer-songwriter. He has been active as a composer, recording artist, and live performer since the early 1970s, and is known for an often humorous style of country music that has elements of protest and social commentary. His legacy is being noted in every corner of the globe. Evidenced by the hundreds of recording on Facebook and Youtube by musicians covering his songs almost daily since his passing from Covid-19 in April 2020.

Check out long time lead guitarist Jason Wilber

 

Chuck Prophet

Chuck Prophet shapes his restless career with inimitable subtle flair: a vivid parade of razor-edged one-liners camouflaged in a slack-jawed drawl, songs about heartbreak and everyman heroism, drenched in twisted lines of rude Telecaster.

 

Don Winslow

Don Winslow

An author with an impact and a message – see Don Winslow Films

April 2022 – The start of a new trilogy – City on Fire

“Epic, ambitious, majestic, City on Fire is The Godfather for our generation.” – Adrian McKinty, New York Times bestselling author of The Chain

Two criminal empires together control all of New England.

Until a beautiful woman comes between the Irish and the Italians, launching a war that will see them kill each other, destroy an alliance, and set a city on fire.

Danny Ryan yearns for a more “legit” life and a place in the sun. But as the bloody conflict stacks body on body and brother turns against brother, Danny has to rise above himself. To save the friends he loves like family and the family he has sworn to protect, he becomes a leader, a ruthless strategist, and a master of a treacherous game in which the winners live and the losers die.

From the gritty streets of Providence to the glittering screens of Hollywood to the golden casinos of Las Vegas, two rival crime families ignite a war that will leave only one standing. The winner will forge a dynasty.

Exploring the classic themes of loyalty, betrayal, and honor, City on Fire is a contemporary masterpiece in the tradition of The GodfatherCasino, and Goodfellas—a thrilling saga from Don Winslow, “America’s greatest living crime writer” (Jon Land, Providence Journal).

A most unusual review – #BooksWithWallace

2020 release, “Broken.”

In six intense short novels connected by the themes of crime, corruption, vengeance, justice, loss, betrayal, guilt and redemption, Broken is #1 international bestseller Don Winslow at his nerve-shattering, heart-stopping, heartbreaking best. In Broken, he creates a world of high-level thieves and low-life crooks, obsessed cops struggling with life on and off the job, private detectives, dope dealers, bounty hunters and fugitives, the lost souls driving without headlights through the dark night on the American criminal highway.

With his trademark blend of insight, humanity, humor, action and the highest level of literary craftsmanship, Winslow delivers a collection of tales that will become classics of crime fiction.

The Trilogy

Of all the blows delivered by Don Winslow’s Cartel trilogy, none may be as devastating as the timing of “The Border,” its stunner of a conclusion. Though Winslow cannot have engineered all of this 14 years ago when he started this series, his sweeping new novel concerns subjects that put it right on the culture’s front burner: the Mexican-American border, the handling of migrant children, the opioid crisis and some barely fictionalized claims about how foreign money has bought influence at the highest level of the U.S. government.

The book’s title, “The Border,” refers to both physical and moral barriers. Winslow is well aware that both that and its cover image, which depicts a razor-wire-topped wall spreading across a desert landscape, are politically loaded. “Loaded phrases, like loaded guns, are more interesting, aren’t they?” Winslow said to Entertainment Weekly in September. As for the book’s depiction of fiercely partisan American politics, including its treatment of characters who are unmistakable versions of the current president and his son-in-law: “I know this book is going to make some people angry. I can live with that.”

Even though the first installment of this trilogy was named “The Power of the Dog,” after a biblical intimation of evil (“Deliver my soul from the sword; my love from the power of the dog,” Psalms 22:20), it only hinted at the magnitude and ferocity of what was to come. That opening novel now looks like the series’ relatively innocent prologue — and it is as blade-sharp, violent, pulse-quickening and reportorially shocking as the pinnacle of some lesser series might be.

“The Power of the Dog” is, in brief, about the first decades that bind the destinies of Art Keller, a Vietnam veteran and later D.E.A. agent, and Adán Barrera, a young Mexican who will go on to achieve the most dizzying heights of power. The book begins in a burning Mexican poppy field in 1975 (“Only in hell, Art Keller thinks, do flowers bloom fire”) and leaves Keller among more poppies in 2004. Many unspeakable acts happen in between, melding the personal with the political (Iran-contra). It is all rendered unputdownable by Winslow’s unrivaled skill at his game.

(Big) Al Anderson

Al Anderson

Listed as one of the top 100 guitar players of the 20th century by Musician Magazine and with over 900 cuts internationally, Big Al’s music career was destined. Raised by his piano teacher mother and a radio that would get WWVA in Wheeling West Virginia late at night, he would devour all genres of music from Hank Williams, The Everly Brothers, The Ventures, Chet Atkins, Elvis, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Motown and Stax paving the way for what would be a giant life in music.

NRBQ years

His first band “The Sixpacks” became “The Wildweeds,” recording a regional hit “No Good To Cry” that went on to chart nationally. With a change in record labels (from Chess to Vanguard) and a change in musical direction, Al caught the attention of the members of NRBQ. In 1971, Al left Connecticut for New York’s to enroll at the “University of Q” — a 22 year planetary course in all things musical. Al’s exposure to a evener wider range of musical genres served him well in the “Q.” His mind and string-bending guitar playing coupled with his giant stage presence had become legendary, and in the course of recording over a dozen albums with them, he had written some of the band’s most memorable songs — ‘Ridin in My Car’, ‘Never Take The Place of You,’ It Was An Accident,’ ‘Comes to Me Naturally,’ ‘What a Nice Way to Go,’ ‘Feel You around Me,’ and many more.

After over two decades of hard touring, hard living and encyclopedic musical knowledge, Al was ready to change his already prodigious song writing talent into a full-time venture.

Two years before he left NRBQ, he wrote a song with Carlene Carter, “Every Little Thing” that she took to top 5 all over the world. That song, and meeting music publisher Pat Daniel McMurry (Escott), were the turning points in Al’s career and life. With the support, guidance and belief that Pat provided, Al became unstoppable. At the same time that Al signed with Pat, he decided to quit drinking and suddenly became one of the most prolific writers in Nashville. “I went from 3 songs a year to writing sometimes 3 a day”.

The parade of hits is long and include singles and cuts by Vince Gill, Bonnie Raitt, Trisha Yearwood, Jimmy Buffett, Martina McBride, Patty Loveless, George Jones, Sheryl Crow, Leann Rimes, Tim McGraw, George Strait, Rascall Flatts, Zac Brown, Anthony Hamilton, Harry Connick Jr and many others.

He latest love is Music City’s premier rock band “The World Famous Headliners” rounded out with top tier penmen/artists/musicians extraordinaire Pat McLaughlin, Shawn Camp, Michael Rhodes and Greg Morrow

 

Bradley Denton

Bradley Denton

Bradley Clayton Denton is an American science fiction author. He has also written other types of fiction, such as the black comedy of his novel Blackburn, about a sympathetic serial killer. He was born in Towanda, Kansas, and attended the University of Kansas at Lawrence and graduated with degrees in astronomy (B.A.) and English (M.A.).

An all time favorite of Roaming the Arts is Denton’s 1993 classic:

Read Kirkus Review of Blackburn

Link above is to Goodreads site while the BradleyDenton.net site is being reimagined.

Loudon Wainwright III & Family

Loudon Snowden Wainwright III

is an American songwriter, folk singer, humorist, and actor. His natural delivery and wry humor speaks to the fact that there will always be a “Dead Skunk” in the middle of the road.

His sister is Sloan Wainwright.

He is the father of musicians, Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright, and Lucy Wainwright Roche

Hot Tuna/Jorma Kaukonen & Jack Casady

Jorma & Jack (aka Hot Tuna)

Hot Tuna is an American blues band formed in 1969 by former Jefferson Airplane members Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady. Although it has always been a fluid aggregation, with musicians coming and going over the years, the band’s name has essentially become a metonym for Kaukonen and Casady’s ongoing collaboration. Wikipedia

Don’t miss Hesitation Blues -circa 1970

Tom Rush

Tom Rush

Tom Rush is a gifted musician and performer, whose shows offer a musical celebration…a journey into the tradition and spectrum of what music has been, can be, and will become. His distinctive guitar style, wry humour and warm, expressive voice have made him both a legend and a lure to audiences around the world. His shows are filled with the rib-aching laughter of terrific story-telling, the sweet melancholy of ballads and the passion of gritty blues. (website)

Interview – Over 55 years of recording and performing

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