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.

Steve Forbert

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

Latest release – Early Morning Rain — In Steve’s own words: 

“For the past few years things have been extremely hectic–nonstop issues and distractions. Now we’re trying to cope with a full-on pandemic – the very kind of contagious thing we studied back in history class! My new record is my idea of rather a  “breather”.  I’ve released 20 studio albums of original material by now and I’m taking my time writing more  songs…but this EARLY  MORNING RAIN “cover” album is a what you might call an “easy assignment” for  Americana/folk music fans. You don’t have to study new chapters here, just enjoy these renditions of songs you already know and probably love!”

For more video variety vist Steve Forbert on social media.

And check out his book:

Big City Cat: My Life in Folk Rock

 

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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The Pretenders/Chrissie Hynde

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

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.

 

Joan Osborne

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

Most recent, “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.

Jason Wilber

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

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

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
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