The Universal Tone, My Life By Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana will release his biography, The Universal Tone, My Life on November 4, 2014. The book will be published by Little, Brown and Company, a publishing group of Hachette Book Group.

The intimate and long-awaited memoir of guitar legend Carlos Santana

In the realm of guitar gods, Santana stands alone for what’s come to be called his “universal tone”-both the fact that you can recognize a Santana song from just one note and the fact that Santana is well known to believe music and soul are interconnected.

In the category of major rock memoirs yet undone, this is at the top-a big autobiography by one of the most mysterious and influential musicians of the last 50 years.

From growing up dirt poor in Mexico and suffering abuse to becoming a lowly dishwasher in the US with a hot guitar hand, to a person whom you might almost think is perpetually in a state of nirvana or at least bliss, this is the story of a fascinating man who brings the ideal combination of storytelling gold and a major marketing machine.

This is one of the most sensory (and sensual) major rock bios you’ll ever read. His voice comes through, it’s deeply honest and frank, and from imagining the wisps of smoke from a long gone Miles Davis before Carlos’s shows to describing the depths of his connection to sound, Santana brings a remarkable book to his huge following this fall.


The C in Carlos stands for collaboration. The Santana album, Supernatural commenced Carlos Santana’s collaboration era. All of his next albums evidence that cooperative spirit. It stands to reason that Carlos Santana would collaborate his personal journey with his two close music writer/historian friends, Ashley Kahn and Hal Miller. Carlos Santana, Ashley Kahn and Hal Miller share a common bond, the spirit of jazz embodied by Mr. Miles Davis and Mr. John Coltrane. I feel it is important that my readers gain an appreciation for the backgrounds of these two prominent music journalists. It will increase your anticipation of the quality of the biography we will receive later this year.

I also point you to a Web article about Ashley Kahn interviewing Carlos Santana at the New Orleans Jazz Fest 2014.

Ashley Kahn

Ashley Kahn has authored three of the best jazz books you will ever read. Two of those three books are about major jazz albums, Kind of Blue by Miles Davis and A Love Supreme by John Coltrane. Each book is a masterpiece of research, rich in history and facts about these classic recordings. I own both books, signed and I love to read them as I listen to these two amazing albums to gain more insight about the respective jazz geniuses.

Kind of Blue: The Making of the Miles Davis Masterpiece, foreword by Jimmy Cobb, 2001, Da Capo Press, USA, ISBN 0-306-81067-0

A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane’s Signature Album, foreword by Elvin Jones, 2002 for the first edition, Viking Penguin, USA, ISBN 0-670-03136-4

The third jazz book covers the definitive jazz label, Impulse Records. Nate Chinen just wrote a fantastic article in the New York Times about Impulse Records resurgence.


The House That Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records. (2006) W. W. Norton, ISBN 0-393-05879-4

Ashley Kahn is also a prolific liner note writer for a variety of music reissue labels, for which he has earned three ASCAP/Deems Taylor awards, and two Grammy nominations.

Ashley Kahn presently is an adjunct professor at New York University, teaching various courses for the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music in NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. I’d love to attend one of his courses.

Hal Miller

Hal Miller is a longtime personal friend of Carlos Santana. Hal Miller is Carlos’s documentarian. Hal is a subject matter authority on Carlos Santana and the world of jazz. Hal has authored insightful liner notes for recordings in the Santana catalogue. Hal’s liner notes proved noteworthy for the Santana reissues, Caravanserai, Love Devotion and Surrender, and Moonflower.

Hal Miller has documented many of the Santana concert tours which you can read on the Tour Blog. Hal Miller is also a great photographer, look here for you many of his Santana photographs.

Hal Miller shuns publicity on the InterWeb which I respect about him. This Website had the best tribute and information links about Hal.

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Berklee College of Music – MOOC Course, Introduction to Music

I enrolled in my first massive open online course (MOCC) with the Berklee College of Music. I am an educator  who is emphatic about online learning. I have a graduate degree in instructional design in online learning with Capella University. I earned my degree by participating in a three-year online learning program. I am now a practitioner of designing and delivering a computer network management curriculum with Canvas by Instructure, an Open Source Learning Management System  (LMS). Much of my courses are facilitated directly online along with virtual labs or as a “blended” learning solution of classroom and online learning combined.

When the opportunity presented itself to enroll in edX a non-profit online initiative created by founding partners Harvard and MIT I leapt at the chance to belong to this prestigious community. I realized I could learn more effectively about building, designing and offering MOOC curriculum as a student first, instructional designer second.

The course that appealed to me the most was the Introduction to Music course from a school I have always wanted to attend the Berklee College of Music (part of the edX consortium). I have an undergraduate degree with a major in business and a minor in music. I was missing the music university learning experience in my life.

This free online course will be facilitated online by John P. Kellogg, Esq., Assistant Chair of Music Business Management at Berklee College of Music. Mr. Kellogg is an entertainment lawyer who has represented the late Gerald Levert and the O’Jays. He was also the lead singer for Cameo.

John Kellogg has written a substantive book, Take Care of Your Music Business, Second Edition: The Legal and Business Aspects You Need to Know to Grow to 3.0. His book serves as the recommended reading resource for the course.

I hope to become better informed about the music business which I write about as a music journalist. I can write from a position of strength with authority about music business matters. This course will serve as a foundation for the research I am conducting about cloud music, artist’s rights and micropayments. 

I have read many Web music business and technology articles about the direction that cloud music is floating towards.  It’s a fascinating, controversial, evolution of the music industry. John Kellogg’s course and knowledge is helping to shape my understanding of how the music business operates. This will prove valuable in shoring up the foundation of music industry knowledge I must know.

Wish me luck with my online MOOC course experience. I’ll try to write another article about what I learned from John Kellogg and my fellow students six weeks from now 😉

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John Densmore, The Doors: Unhinged and Record Store Day 2013

I was looking on The Record Store Day Website for The List 2013 when I found something much more valuable.  John Densmore, drummer for The Doors has written and self-published a new book, The Doors: Unhinged, available on April 17, 2013 (CreateSpace and Kindle Direct). There will be a special hardcover edition available  exclusively for sale at independent Record Store Day retailers, April 20, 2013.  John Densmore is conducting a book tour to be held at various record stores across the United States.

The book was self-published with Amazon’s CreateSpace an on-demand publishing platform. I am vehement about this distribution method of distribution. My plan is to self-publish a book this way in the future.

The premise of John Densmore’s book is the “greed gene”, and how that part of the human psyche propels us toward the accumulation of more and more wealth, even at the expense of our principles and friendships and the well-being of society. In effect no amount of money seems to be enough for even the wealthiest people.

This is an important societal characteristic to check. It’s at the heart of the Occupy movement which denotes the classic struggle between the haves and have-nots.


I recall when John Densmore sued The Doors of the 21st Century. I was upset for the rift amongst The Doors. I had seen Ray Manzarek and Robbie Krieger twice live as that namesake band. I liked the moniker and how it felt to see them perform with Ian Astbury on vocals and Ty Dennis on drums. I originally sided with Ray and Robbie in the matter. But after closer examination of the issue and the understanding of honoring Jim Morrison’s wishes, I realized friendship and integrity trump greed.

I’ll am eager to read John Densmore’s interpretation of the lawsuit to get a better understanding about his sentiments and belief. The music press served as a “filter” for what transpired and I feel its best to read this from John’s point of view. I am hoping I can meet John Densmore at one of the record store tour events and get a signed copy of the hardcover edition.

The Record Store Day Official List was published on Wednesday March 20. You can find it here.

The Doors will once again have a Record Store Day Release Exclusive. A special 7″ release in the Warner “Side By Side” series. Side A is The Doors’ “Soul Kitchen” and Side B includes X’s cover of the song, produced by Ray Manzarek. This one is on milky clear colored vinyl and limited to 3000 copies,

Music Journalism A-Z – Additional Authors

I have looked high and low for a music journalist whose last name begins with X. I could not find anyone.

David Byrne speaking at the 2006 Future of Mus...
David Byrne speaking at the 2006 Future of Music Policy Summit hosted by the McGill University Schulich School of Music in Montreal, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I decided to take this opportunity and go back through the alphabet of music journalists that I didn’t get to write about first time. I had some tough choices to make for the Music Journalism A-Z series when I decided I would only feature one music journalist by first letter of their last name.

There are many other music journalists that deserve major recognition for their accomplishments and invaluable insights.

The first music journalist I want to mention  is David Byrne. Most people freely associate him as a musician, songwriter, or as a visual artist. He writes a regular journal that I subscribe to,  David Byrne’s Journal. David Byrne is a technology leader who assuaged our collective consciousness. He articulates a much-needed voice  of expression for artistic intelligentsia. He has authored nine books to date.

  • True Stories (1986)
  • Strange Ritual, Chronicle Books (1995)
  • Your Action World (1999)
  • The New Sins (Los Nuevos Pecados) (2001)
  • David Byrne Asks You: What Is It? Smart Art Press (2002)
  • Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information with DVD (2003)
  • Arboretum, (2006)
  • Bicycle Diaries (2009)
  • How Music Works (2012)

The letter C proved challenging as there were two other music journalists of renown I wanted to write about, Robert Christgau and Nate Chinen.

Christgau is the cornerstone of music criticism and his Consumer Guide has helped me purchase  fantastic recordings over the decades.

Nate Chinen constantly turns me on to new jazz sources via his blog and music reviews in the New York Times.

English: on the
English: on the “Music in the ’00s” panel, 2010 Pop Conference, EMPSFM, Seattle, Washington. (Photo credit: Joe Mabel)

The next music journalist I wanted to circle back to is David Fricke, Senior Editor at Rolling Stone. He authors the “Fricke’s Picks” column in the Rolling Stone record review section.

He is responsible for the 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time special edition issue and column that gets a lot of views on my music blog post as a two-part series that I wrote about last year.

The letter G had several music journalists I could have also written about and that have my undying respect. Those journalists include Gary Giddins, Mikal Gilmore, Ralph J. Gleason and Peter Guralnick. I had just written about Peter Guralnick in January so I faded on him for this month.

Gary Giddins has been a long-time columnist for the Village Voice and unarguably the world’s preeminent jazz critic who has won an unparalleled six ASCAP–Deems Taylor Awards, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Peabody Award in Broadcasting, as well as a lifetime achievement award from the Jazz Journalists Association. He’s also received the Raiph J. Gleason Music Book Award.

Mikal Gilmore is a friend on Facebook. I enjoy his posts and love the articles he writes for Rolling Stone Magazine. He has two interviews with Bob Dylan that are must reads in the latest Rolling Stone Special Issue.

Ralph J. Gleason had a powerful influence on me as a music author of depth and substance. He contributed for many years to the San Francisco Chronicle, was a founding editor of Rolling Stone magazine, and was co-founder of the Monterey Jazz Festival. He represented both pop and jazz music with equal intensity. I especially love his liner notes for the pivotal jazz recording Bitches Brew by Miles Davis.

I debated for too long about featuring Nat Hentoff for the letter H. I struggled to do him justice in my draft blog post. I thoroughly enjoy his music sociopolitical bent. He is a jazz subject matter authority and my kinda liberal 😉

Richard Meltzer wrote one of my all time favorite rock music epics, The Aesthetics of Rock. I’m on my second copy now 😉

It was a total toss of the coin between Robert Palmer and Jon Pareles of the New York Times. I can’t get enough of Mr. Pareles writing. I’m drawn to his prose like a moth to a flame.

Jon Pareles Writer Jon Pareles (L) interviews singer/musician Chris Cornell at the New York Times TimesTalk during the 2012 NY Times Arts & Leisure weekend>> at The Times Center on January 7, 2012 in New York City.

I still feel like I could write about 25 more music journalists in this post. What a great well of knowledge to draw upon.

Music Journalism A-Z – Lester Bangs

Music journalist Lester Bangs forged a lasting impression on my music psyche.

Lester Bangs

Lester Bangs was widely considered to be the most influential critic of rock and roll. He wrote for CREEM, the Village Voice, and Rolling Stone. He lived fast and died young like the rock and roll he wrote so passionately about. I believe his formula of self-destructive genius was why he commanded such a command of the subject.

I got the chance to meet Lester Bangs in 1978. I was walking through the Rock and Roll Memorabilia Expo at the Hotel McAlpine in New York City. I literally stumbled upon Lester Bangs. I did not recognize him at all, but then I didn’t know what he looked like. I just knew him from his byline in Rolling Stone and CREEM. He was sitting at a card table selling his collection of Rolling Stone magazines. As I poured over his pile of Rolling Stone issues I saw the mailing label with his name Lester Bangs typed on it. I don’t recall his physical street address but I think he resided in the East Village section of New York City.

I remember that he was witty and sarcastic as hell. This matched the writing persona I had come to relish from Lester Bangs. We discussed music and bands. He was very articulate. He was also very direct. “Hey kid”, he said to me, “Are you going to buy some of my magazines or not?” I had every intention of purchasing his back issues as they were rare and from him. He had no love lost for Rolling Stone or Jann Wenner let me tell you.

I forgot about that past interaction until I saw the movie, Almost Famous in 2000. The memory of my 15 minutes with Lester Bangs surged within me as I watched Phillip Seymour Hoffman portray Lester Bangs in the film. Having met Lester Bangs I can attest to Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s ability to capture and represent Lester’s dynamic/caustic personality.

I love what Lester Bangs tells young Cameron Crowe about becoming a rock journalist, “You have to make your reputation being honest and unmerciful.”

Its difficult for me to pinpoint my favorite Lester Bangs music article. Thankfully several music journalists have captured his work for us to savor today.

Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung: The Work of a Legendary Critic: Rock ‘n’ Roll as Literature and Literature as Rock ‘n’ Roll a collection of essays written by Lester Bangs.  It was edited by Greil Marcus and released in 1987.

Let it Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America’s Greatest Rock Critic by Jim Derogatis is a definitive biography of Lester Bangs’s wild enigma.

Five Easy Pieces – EMP Pop Conference 2013

The Experience Music Project (EMP) Pop Conference in 2013 will be a five city live streaming event. The five easy pieces for Pop Conference 2013 will take place in Seattle (Central site), New York (the site of the 2012 Pop Conference that we attended), Los Angeles, New Orleans and Cleveland.  Please refer to the EMP Pop Conference page for more specifics, as the event is just unfolding.

Five different gatherings, in the East, West, South, Midwest, and Pacific Northwest, will take place on the same weekend, with a goal of live streaming the content for those unable to travel and preserving it for posterity. At each location, there will be one panel at a given time, rather than concurrent sessions, to foster regional community.

Local organizers, all veteran conference participants, will steer the program for each Pop Conference city: Oliver Wang of Cal-State Long Beach in Los Angeles (working with the USC Dornsife Center for Feminist Research, directed by Karen Tongson); Tavia Nyong’o of NYU in New York (working with the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music); Joel Dinerstein of Tulane in New Orleans (working with the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South); Lauren Onkey of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland; and Jasen Emmons of EMP Museum in Seattle.

My aim as an EMP/SFM Member(since 2009) is to increase my Pop Conference involvement in 2013 from the attendee level in 2012. I’m glad the NYU event is open-ended. I have contacted Tavia Nyong’o of NYU to learn more about where I can hopefully take part.

I learned that the Pop Conference 2012 event was published as a collection of papers by the Duke University Press soon after the event. Eric Weisbard served as Editor for Pop When the World Falls Apart, Music In The Shadow of Doubt. Eric is the EMP Pop Conference Organizer and is also Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University. This is the third collection of Pop Conference papers

I have a better idea now why Robert Christgau calls the Pop Conference,  “the best thing that’s ever happened to serious consideration of pop music.” I attended the session where he spoke last year (Refer to my blog post about Pop Conference 2012 here)

I look forward to the EMP Pop Conference 2013. I plan to update readers about this event moving forward. When I’m informed you will be informed, so stay tuned 🙂

Uncut Magazine – World Exclusive Neil Young The 2012 Interview

The music magazine that continues to impress me the most with their compelling, well articulated music articles is Uncut Magazine from the UK. Last month they featured an exclusive with Patti Smith that I enjoyed tremendously.

Uncut - July 2012

The present stateside magazine is the Take 183/August 2012 issue. The cover features the prolific Neil Young who at 67 years of age is rocking like a hurricane these days. Uncut features a 15 page article/interview that is aptly billed as a world exclusive.

Uncut - August 2012

The magazine also features informative articles that you can really sink your teeth into about the MC5, The Dirty Projectors and Peter Tosh.

Keep it going Uncut Magazine!

Neil Young and Patti Smith, Prolific Writers

I have discovered a music, social activism and journalism synergy  between Patti Smith and Neil Young.  Each is a respected cultural icon with a distinct style  and loyal fan bases. Its magical when their artistic muses intersect.

Copyright Kate Simon 1979

Both have new studio albums coming out on the same day this year, June 5th, 2012. Patti Smith will release Banga on Columbia Records on June 5th.  The last song on Banga is Neil Young’s “After The Gold Rush” which sews the Patti Smith and Neil Young tapestry closer together.

On June 5th, Neil Young & Crazy Horse will release a very special album titled AMERICANA, which is the first Neil Young & Crazy Horse recording in nearly nine years.

AMERICANA is a collection of classic, American folk songs. In their day, some of these may have been referred to as “protest songs”, “murder ballads”, or campfire-type songs passed down with universal, relatable tales for everyman!

  1.       Oh Susannah
  2.       Clementine
  3.       Tom Dula
  4.       Gallows Pole
  5.       Get A Job
  6.       Travel On
  7.       High Flyin’ Bird
  8.       Jesus’ Chariot
  9.       This Land Is Your Land
  10.       Wayfarin’ Stranger
  11.       God Save The Queen

Patti Smith performed at the Music of Neil Young  at Carnegie Hall in New York City to pay tribute to the legendary 50-year, 34-album career of Neil Young.

Patti Smith, with her daughter Jesse on grand piano, stood at the mic, hands behind her back, and recited “It’s a Dream,” a spare tune of simple emotion from Young’s 2005 album Prairie Wind, which he wrote after his father’s death, with a nod to his own brush with mortality from a brain aneurysm. It’s a song of retrospection and appreciation, with Young revisiting his boyhood in Ontario and celebrating life’s little beauties, like the sound of the birds in the morning, and holding his wife in bed at night. Smith choked up, missing a verse. When she continued, the crowd carried her on their cheers. Now that’s a tribute.

Patti Smith has established herself as an award-winning author with the book, Just Kids which won the National Book Award for Non-Fiction in 2010.

BookExpo America announced that Neil Young will speak June 6 (the day after Americana is released…) about his upcoming memoir on Blue Rider Press, “Waging Heavy Peace”. Young will speak on stage at the Jacob Javits Center with an interviewer to be named later. One interviewer possibility: Stephen Colbert, who has interviewed Young on his Comedy Central show and is already a featured speaker at BookExpo

“I felt like writing books fit me like a glove; I started and I just kept going,” Young said.

The Doors A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years by Greil Marcus

The DoorsI love to haunt the stacks in a book store that feature books about music. Whenever I enter a new book store I make a beeline for the Music and Arts section of the store. I will find at least two-three new titles or thumb through old favorite books I don’t own yet.

My two favorite music book authors are Greil Marcus and Peter Guralnick. They are each articulate writers who write authoritative, well researched works. My admiration for their writing stems from their superior command of the music subjects they cover. They each paint a poetic landscape that is captured in stunning prose and incredible descriptive depth. Their passion for music, its artistry and the artists who create the sounds reaches way inside of me.

The Doors

Greil Marcus has released a new book, The Doors, A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years, published by PublicAffairs books. The book is receiving  solid press and there are two Web articles in particular about the book, the author and The Doors I want to bring to your attention. One was written two weeks back for the New York Times by Dwight Garner, “Listening Again to Rock’s Wild Child and Finding Grandeur and Dread”.  That article stimulated my interest and I thumbed through a copy at Yale Bookstore on Black Friday.

I didn’t buy it that day but I placed it back in the stack with gingerly care as if to say, “I’ll be back for you someday soon…”

Then today I saw a Facebook share post about The Doors on NPR. “The Doors Prove Strange Days Are Still With Us.” It was a continuation of Greil Marcus and his subject The Doors. So I got to read a chapter excerpt and to hear Greil Marcus’s thoughts about this eternal band I love so much.

So Santa Claus I am adding this book to my Christmas list 😉

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