musicians

Space Opera

By Catherynne Valente
4
Rated by Diane H.
Jun 16, 2018

I was expecting something zany and I got it. Space Opera is pretty over the top. It reminded me of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series in its absurdity, which I mean in a good way.


What better way to avoid inter-galactic war and determine the sentience of newly discovered species than through a galaxy-wide singing contest?


Are humans sentient? That is what Decibel Jones and the Absolute Zeroes (a once-upon-a-time, glam rock and glitter, despair and joy band) have to prove or all of humanity will be exterminated. No pressure.


While I

Song to Song (DVD)

By Terrence Malick
4
Rated by Zachary C
Dec 12, 2017

The term "visual poem" gets thrown around a lot when describing Terrence Malick's most recent work, starting with 2011's Tree of Life. Even before then his films relied heavily on visuals to help tell the story, but his work increasingly favors beautiful imagery and strives towards creating feelings and moods more so than a continuous narrative thread. Thus, dialogue is intermittent and often jumps around. I can certainly see why this might not appeal to people. That being said, Song to Song is my favorite of Terrence Malick's recent "visual poems," and my favorite film of his since 2005's The

Echo

By Pam Muñoz Ryan
5
Rated by Emily D.
Nov 29, 2017

Echo follows the stories of Otto, Friedrich, Mike, Ivy, and the mysterious harmonica that ties them together! The magical thread of music carries you through this wonderful tale. Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California are all dealing with the wrath of a war that tore countries and families apart. Friedrich is living with a birthmark that Hitler deems unsuitable, Mike will do anything to keep him and his brother together, and Ivy is learning that prejudice in America affects even the innocent. But they all find solace in music. With the help of the harmonica, someone

Love & Mercy DVD

By Paul Dano
5
Rated by Brent W.
Aug 26, 2017

In portraying Brian Wilson of Beach Boys fame, Love & Mercy perfectly evokes the Southern California of 1967. I left the theater deeply affected by the sweep of Wilson’s tumultuous life. Paul Dano is superb as the young Brian, and John Cusack is very moving as the deeply troubled middle-aged Brian. In fact, all the actors are superb. While I wasn’t a fan of either the man or the group before, I am now. This is a great movie and I’ve watched it at least five times.

My favorite scenes depict the recording of Brian's masterpiece, Pet Sounds. Highly recommended.

Dec 16, 2016

In his introduction to Forever Words, Paul Muldoon says, “So ingrained in our collective unconscious is the voice of Johnny Cash that we can all but hear the boom-chicka boom-chicka of his guitar accompaniment, at once reassuring and disquieting in its very familiarity.” That was absolutely true for me as I was reading through this collection. 


Some of these poems are familiar songs by Cash, like “Don’t Take Your Gun to Town,” but the poetry expands the story beyond the recorded song, and reading it brings a new appreciation to the familiar lyrics. Others were previously unpublished works

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl

By Carrie Brownstein
3
Rated by Bryan V.
Dec 30, 2015

2015 has been a strange year for rock documentaries, biographies, and memoirs. The perennial  obsession with artists who died young spawned feature-length examinations of the lives of Elliott Smith, Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain, and Jimi Hendrix. This year also saw Chrissie Hynde, Kim Gordon, Patti Smith, and Kristin Hersh all publishing acclaimed music-themed memoirs. Add to this list Sleater-Kinney co-founder and Portlandia star Carrie Brownstein’s Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, an account of her life growing up in the Pacific Northwest through the first several years of the rise of one of the

Playing With Fire

By Tess Gerritsen
4
Rated by Lisa J.
Nov 15, 2015

In a total departure from her usual fare of FBI profilers, Gerritsen takes the reader on a journey that starts in WWII Italy to present day Boston where Julia Ansdell lives with her husband and daughter.  While in Rome, Julia, a professional violinist, purchases a book of gypsy sheet music for her collection. Tucked inside the pages is a single sheet of hand written music, a waltz. Julia is immediately intrigued by the passion and complexity of the music. Upon returning to Boston, Julia sets out to master the haunting and difficult piece, titled Incendio, setting into motion something strange

The Midnight Special (DVD)

By StarVista Entertainment
4
Rated by LeeAnn B.
Nov 9, 2015

If you remember (or have heard anyone talk about) LPs, 8-tracks, bell bottoms and the time when disc jockey Wolfman Jack ruled the FM radio waves; watch this to relive it or to see what it was like.  The 6-disc set compiles some of the best performances from the NBC Friday night variety show.  The program premiered in 1972 and was regularly broadcast from 1973 through 1981; it was a time before MTV and music videos brought rock music stars regularly into our homes.  Be sure to catch Episode 81 hosted by 1950s icon, Little Richard who introduces a younger but largely unchanged Steven Tyler and

Simple Dreams

By Linda Ronstadt
3
Rated by Marty J.
Jun 19, 2015

Wow, what an amazing life Linda Ronstadt led! In a musical career that spanned almost half a century, she sang rock/pop, opera, American standards (accompanied by an orchestra), country, blues and Mexican rancheras (with a mariachi band)!  Along the way she performed, jammed, hung out and/or formed friendships with an eclectic group of famous musicians including Jim Morrison, the Eagles, Jackson Browne, Dolly Parton, and Rosemary Clooney—to name just a few.


Simple Dreams is not a particularly well-written memoir, and it doesn't reveal much personal information (like the names and ages of

Lips Unsealed

By Belinda Carlisle
3
Rated by Diane H.
Oct 26, 2014

Belinda Carlisle seems to have lived the quintessential rocker’s life—starting off poor and dreaming of a magical life, being in love with music at a young age, starting a band almost on a whim, seeing her band rise to fame, drowning in drugs. Belinda’s story, Lips  Unsealed, is one of brutal honesty about how her own shortcomings and insecurities kept her in the grip of addiction even while her life seemed perfect and almost fairy-tale like to those on the outside. Her life reads as an inspiring and cautionary tale. It also made me want to dig up The Go-Go’s albums and listen with a greater

Wild Tales: a Rock & Roll Life

By Graham Nash
4
Rated by Vincent S.
Apr 14, 2014

Graham Nash’s autobiography captures the inner workings of three significant bands of the Sixties and Seventies: The Hollies; Crosby, Stills, & Nash; and Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young. It’s well worth the read.


Musical harmony was a trademark of the three groups. Nash may have named his first group after Buddy Holly, but his major influence came from the distinctive harmonies of the Everly Brothers, a 1950s and early Sixties Nashville duo that is mentioned several times in the course of the book. Crosby, Stills, and Nash astonished themselves when rehearsing Suite Judy Blue Eyes for the

Mar 16, 2010

In a ten-month time span in 1997 and 1998, Neil Peart lost his 19-year-old daughter to a single-car accident and his wife to cancer. He was devastated.

Peart is best-known as the drummer for the Canadian rock band Rush. He's also their lyricist. Yet Ghost Rider, his chronicle of healing from his terrible losses, reveals talents barely hinted at in his music career.

Peart is a wonderful prose writer and a capable stylist. In unpretentious, vivid prose, he recounts the journey that helped his wounded spirit heal: He rode his motorcycle more than 50,000 miles across the North American continent

Jan 22, 2010

A life of Louis Armstrong by Terry TeachoutLouis Armstrong is an iconic figure in American popular culture and in jazz. This newest biography reveals a little more of the man than previous books, but the story is the same: Rising from the bottom of society in early twentieth-century New Orleans to virtually create jazz improvisation, becoming a popular music star, finding a niche in the entertainment world that ensures fame and fortune and ending life beloved by black and white, rich and poor, Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong comes to epitomize the American dream.

The author had access to tapes of hundreds of recordings that Armstrong made