Recent Work from Favorites

This is a difficult category to keep up with. Recent one month, in the rearview mirror the next. The purpose is to tag new books and new music. I know the artists appreciate the attention.

The Pretenders/Chrissie Hynde

Over the years, the Pretenders became a vehicle for guitarist/vocalist Chrissie Hynde’s songwriting, yet they were a full-fledged band when they formed in the late ’70s. With their initial records, the group crossed the bridge between punk/new wave and Top 40 pop more than any other band, recording a series of hard, spiky singles that were also melodic and immediately accessible. Hynde was an invigorating singer who bent the traditional male roles of rock & roll to her own liking, while guitarist James Honeyman-Scott created a sonic palette filled with suspended chords, effects pedals, and syncopated rhythms that proved remarkably influential over the next two decades. After Honeyman-Scott’s death, the Pretenders became a straightforward rock band, yet Hynde’s semi-autobiographical songwriting and bracing determination meant that the group never became just another rock band, even when their music became smoother and pop-oriented.
Originally from Akron, Ohio, Hynde moved to England in the early ’70s, when she was in her twenties. British rock journalist Nick Kent helped her begin writing for New Musical Express; she wrote for the newspaper during the mid-’70s. She also worked in Malcolm McLaren’s SEX boutique before she began performing. After playing with Chris Spedding, she joined Jack Rabbit; she quickly left the band and formed the Berk Brothers.
In 1978, Hynde formed the Pretenders, which eventually consisted of Honeyman-Scott, bassist Pete Farndon, and drummer Martin Chambers. Later in the year, they recorded a version of Ray Davies’ “Stop Your Sobbing,” produced by Nick Lowe. The single made it into the British Top 40 in early 1979. “Kid” and “Brass in Pocket,” the group’s next two singles, were also successful. Their debut album, Pretenders, was released in early 1980 and eventually climbed to number one in the U.K. The band was nearly as successful in America, with the album reaching the Top Ten and “Brass in Pocket” reaching number 14.
During an American tour in 1980, Hynde met Ray Davies and the two fell in love. Following a spring 1981 EP, Extended Play, the group released their second album, Pretenders II. Although it fared well on the charts, it repeated the musical ideas of their debut. In June of 1982, Pete Farndon was kicked out of the band due to his drug abuse. A mere two days later, on June 16, James Honeyman-Scott was found dead of an overdose of heroin and cocaine. Pregnant with Davies’ child, Hynde went into seclusion following Honeyman-Scott’s death. In 1983, two months after Hynde gave birth, Farndon also died of a drug overdose.
Hynde regrouped the Pretenders in 1983, adding former Manfred Mann’s Earth Band guitarist Robbie McIntosh and bassist Malcolm Foster; the reconstituted band released “2000 Miles” in time for Christmas. The new Pretenders released Learning to Crawl early in 1984 to positive reviews and commercial success. Ending her romance with Ray Davies, Hynde married Jim Kerr, the lead vocalist of Simple Minds, in May of 1984.
Apart from a performance at Live Aid, the only musical activity from the Pretenders in 1985 was Hynde’s appearance on UB40’s version of “I Got You Babe.” Hynde assembled another version of the Pretenders for 1986’s Get Close. Only she and McIntosh remained from Learning to Crawl; the rest of the album was recorded with session musicians. Get Close showed the Pretenders moving closer to MOR territory, with the bouncy single “Don’t Get Me Wrong” making its way into the American Top Ten in 1987. Hynde recorded another duet with UB40 in 1988, a cover of Dusty Springfield’s “Breakfast in Bed.”
Hynde’s marriage to Kerr fell apart in 1990, the same year Packed! was released, although it failed to ignite the charts in either America or Britain. Hynde was relatively quiet for the next few years, re-emerging in 1994 with Last of the Independents, which was hailed as a comeback by some quarters of the press. The album did return the Pretenders to the Top 40, with the ballad “I’ll Stand by You.” In the fall of 1995, the live album Isle of View was released, then the group remained silent for a few years. Hynde finally returned in 1999 with an album of new material, Viva el Amor. Three years later, the Pretenders left their longtime label for Artemis. The reggae-tinged Loose Screw appeared in November and a tour followed in January 2003. In March 2006, the band released their first-ever box set, Pirate Radio, via Rhino. The four-disc package included over five hours of music and a DVD of rare performances. Two years later, the Pretenders released Break Up the Concrete, their first album in six years; it debuted at 32 on the Billboard charts and 35 in the U.K.
Following the release of Break Up the Concrete, the Pretenders spent the next few years touring, but after 2012, Hynde put the band on hiatus. In 2014, she released Stockholm, her first-ever solo album, which was followed in 2015 by her memoir Reckless: My Life as a Pretender. In 2016, Hynde revived the Pretenders to record a new album with Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach as producer. Alone emerged in October 2016. 2019 saw the belated release of The Pretenders with Friends, a CD, DVD, and Blu-ray package that documented both sound and images from a 2006 concert in which Hynde and her bandmates were joined on-stage by Iggy Pop, Shirley Manson of Garbage, and members of Incubus and Kings of Leon. The Pretenders reunited with producer Stephen Street for 2020’s Hate for Sale, which also was the first album since Loose Screw to feature Chambers on drums. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Joan Osborne

also see Trigger Hippy

Joan Elizabeth Osborne is an American singer, songwriter, and interpreter of music, having recorded and performed in various popular American musical genres including pop, soul, R&B, blues, and country. She is best known for her recording of the Eric Bazilian song “One of Us”, from her debut album Relish. Wikipedia

Sample Track from new release Trouble and Strife

Don Winslow

Don Winslow’s latest is “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.

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.

Steve Forbert

Samuel Stephen “Steve” Forbert is an American pop music singer-songwriter. Bob Harris of BBC Radio 2 said Forbert has “One of the most distinctive voices anywhere.” His 1979 song “Romeo’s Tune” reached No. 11 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and No. 13 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary Chart. Wikipedia

The featured video dates back to Steve’s first recording “Alive on Arrival” and to me was the best break up song of 1978. I may have even sobbed to it once or twice. (ed.)

For more video variety vist Steve Forbert on social media.

Jason Wilber

Jason Wilber is an American singer, guitar player, songwriter, and recording artist. In addition to his work as a solo recording artist, he is also known as the long time lead guitar player for singer-songwriter John Prine. Other artists Jason has accompanied live or in the studio include Iris Dement, Greg Brown, Tom Russell, Sheryl Crow, Mary Gauthier, Todd Snider, Simrit, Hal Ketchum, Tim Grimm, Krista Detor, Greg Trooper, Carrie Newcomer, Kim Fox, Bill Wilson, and Over the Rhine.

Jason Wilber’s solo albums include Lost In Your Hometown (1998), Behind the Midway (2000), King For A Day (2004), Lazy Afternoon (2006), Live and Otherwise Volume 1 (2006), Ghost of Summers Past (2009), Live and Otherwise Volume 2 (2009), Secret Window (2014), Echoes (2016) and Reaction Time (2017).

Jason Wilber’s work with John Prine includes the Grammy Award winning CD Fair & Square, and the Grammy nominated CDs Live On Tour and In Spite of Ourselves (which spent 32 weeks on the Billboard Country Charts). In addition to playing guitar on John Prine’s 2017 album For Better or Worse, Jason also served as a Co-Executive Producer. Jason has accompanied John Prine on duet recordings with Iris Dement, Allison Krauss, Susan Tedeschi, Emmylou Harris, Miranda Lambert, Kathy Mattea, Amanda Shires, Fiona Prine, Lucinda Williams, Josh Ritter, Patty Loveless, Lee Ann Womack, Connie Smith, Melba Montgomery, Morgane Stapleton, Kacey Musgraves, and Sara Watkins.

Brittany Howard/Alabama Shakes

Alabama Shakes is an American blues rock band formed in Athens, Alabama, in 2009. The band currently consists of lead singer and guitarist Brittany Howard, guitarist Heath Fogg, bassist Zac Cockrell, and drummer Steve Johnson. Wikipedia

In 2019 Bruttany Howard released a solo album, Jaime, adding a second dimension to what Alabama Shakes had accomplished.

See both web sites for updates and video collections.

Brittany

Alabama Shakes

Michael Connelly

LOCATION – LOS ANGELES

Michael Connelly is an American author of detective novels and other crime fiction, notably those featuring LAPD Detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch and criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller. Connelly is the bestselling author of thirty-one novels and one work of non-fiction

New Book – Fall 2019

Luke Brindley

“The rambling acoustic environment of New Morning—era Dylan and the smokiness of early Townes Van Zandt…his own compelling musical voice.” – Acoustic Guitar

In his own words

I’ve been obsessed with writing songs and the guitar for as long as I can remember. I married young, am an adoptive parent, and the son of a preacher man. I toured a lot for years and put out a few records as Luke Brindley, Brindley Brothers, and Native Run. I spent a lot of time in Nashville writing with some of the top writers in the business. I never quite fit into (or cared about) “the business”. I grew up in New Jersey but live outside of Washington, DC. Along with my brothers, I run Jammin Java in Vienna, VA – one of the Top 100 Clubs In The World and Union Stage in Washington, DC

The songs have a definite focus on the lyrics and hopefully offer a kind of deeper perspective. I tend to gravitate toward the larger worldview questions such as, Why are we here? What are we supposed to be doing? What does it mean to know another person? To love someone?

Steve Ulfelder

Steve Ulfelder is the author of four mystery novels featuring unlikely hero Conway Sax. He’s also a freelance writer and co-owner of an auto-racing business.

Purgatory Chasm, Steve’s debut, was published by Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books in 2011. It was nominated for the Edgar and Anthony Awards in the Best First Novel category, and was named Best First Mystery by RT Book Reviews. The second Conway Sax novel, The Whole Lie, was published in 2012, with Shotgun Lullaby following in 2013. Book four, Wolverine Bros. Freight & Storage, was named Best PI Novel of 2014 by the Sons of Spade blog.

A new hero and new series : One Mississippi – Available now

Archer Dixon: 37 years old, Ivy educated, smart, funny, well read – but he never has amounted to much. He’s been reduced to bartering handyman services for a roof over his head. Having staggered all his life from job to job, Arch is a newly minted private detective. His first case looks easy-peasy – but when he starts digging, things quickly grow tangled. Before Arch knows it, he’s in the middle of a gang war between Nigerian car thieves and murderous Russians.

Billy Price

2016 Blues Music Award Winner Billy Price first attracted national attention during his three-year association with guitarist Roy Buchanan. Price is the vocalist on two of Buchanan’s LPs, That’s What I’m Here For and Live Stock. Since then, with the Keystone Rhythm Band, the Billy Price Band, and solo projects, Billy Price has recorded and released a total of 16 albums, CDs, and DVDs.

In April 2016, he was officially recognized and inducted as a Pittsburgh Rock ’n Roll Legend at an award ceremony.Price’s album This Time for Real, with the late Chicago soul singer Otis Clay, received a 2016 Blues Music Award in the category of Best Soul Blues Album of 2015. It has been nominated for a 2019 Blues Music Award in the category of Best Soul Blues Album of 2018.

The Pittsburgh-based Billy Price Band consists of Dave Dodd (drums), Tom Valentine (bass), Lenny Smith (guitar), Jim Britton (keyboards), Eric Spaulding (sax), and Joe Herndon (trumpet).

The Billy Price Charm City Rhythm Band, based in Billy’s new hometown of Baltimore, MD, consists of El Torro Gamble (drums), Greg Haughey (bass), Pete Kanaras (guitar), Tam Sullivan (keyboards), Dan Gutwein (sax), and Vince McCool (trumpet).

His latest album, Dog Eat Dog, debuted at number 9 in the Billboard Blues Album Chart the week of August 17, 2019.

Scroll to top