Going Into The City By Robert Christgau

NYU's Tisch School of the Arts
NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Two years ago I attended the Experience Music Pop Conference 2013 New York at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. My major goal that day was to attend a session, Rock and Roll Was Here to Stay with Robert Christgau.


It turned out ideally to be an intimate conference room setting.  I sat to the adjacent left of Robert Christgau. I was jazzed to be in the company of the Dean of American Rock Critics. I have appreciated and respected Mr. Christgau’s album/book reviews for four decades. I loved his energy level coupled with his feisty, articulate nature. Robert Christgau read to us from his memoir-in-progress, Going Into the City. I couldn’t wait to learn more about Robert Christgau’s past and New York City.


I noticed when I went to follow Robert Christgau on Twitter that he was promoting that book as being available next month.

If you happen to be going into the city, Robert Christgau will be interviewed by Rolling Stone Magazine‘s Rob Sheffield at The Strand Bookstore on Wednesday, February 25th from 7-8 p.m. The event will be located in the Strand’s 3rd floor Rare Book Room at 828 Broadway and 12th Street in Manhattan(NYC).

I can’t attend due to a conflict but I did the next best thing I pre-ordered a signed copy to add to my music library.





Mo’ Meta Blues, The World According to Questlove

I enjoy learning what Questlove’s intellect harvests from the dynamics of the music scene. He has logically ascended to the role of music subject matter authority.  I’d love to hang out with him and go record shopping at his favorite record store haunts.

“You have to bear in mind that [Questlove] is one of the smartest motherfuckers on the planet. His musical knowledge, for all practical purposes, is limitless.” –Robert Christgau

It’s fitting that critic Robert Christgau has reviewed Questlove’s new book, Mo’ Meta Blues, The World According to Questlove,  for his Barnes & Noble Rock & Roll & column,  “Give the Drummer Some“. They are both notable vinyl music addicts who exert major influence on our tastes.

The book cover art is reminiscent of Milton Glaser’s famous Bob Dylan poster.

The summer reading list is smartly enhanced by Questlove’s book, co-written with Ben Greenman. I need to find a copy this weekend at my local Barnes & Noble 😉 So many music books, so little time.

The Rewarding Influence of Richard Hell

Last month I wrote an extensive A-Z music journalist series. The tree of music journalism I planted continues to harvest fruit.

I commenced InterWeb reading this morning with Robert Christgau’s Barnes and Noble Review column Rock & Roll &. I was rewarded with a thought-provoking essay about Richard Hell’s new book, I Dreamed I Was a Very Clean Tramp.

The more I dug into Richard Hell, Television, his (s)exploits and writing prowess the more intrigued I became.

I have tried to find  copy of the book at my local Barnes & Noble Stores so I can give you a closer perspective but no luck thus far.

I add this book to my ever-increasing music book reading list.

There is a tie-in event with Richard Hell, Fashion and Punk that I also want to share with you. The exhibit takes place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art May 9-August 14, 2013.

PUNK: Chaos to Couture will examine punk’s impact on high fashion from the movement’s birth in the early 1970s through its continuing influence today. Featuring approximately one hundred designs for men and women, the exhibition will include original punk garments and recent, directional fashion to illustrate how haute couture and ready-to-wear borrow punk’s visual symbols.

Focusing on the relationship between the punk concept of “do-it-yourself” and the couture concept of “made-to-measure,” the seven galleries will be organized around the materials, techniques, and embellishments associated with the anti-establishment style. Themes will include New York and London, which will tell punk’s origin story as a tale of two cities, followed by Clothes for Heroes and four manifestations of the D.I.Y. aesthetic—HardwareBricolageGraffiti and Agitprop, and Destroy.

Presented as an immersive multimedia, multisensory experience, the clothes will be animated with period music videos and soundscaping audio techniques. – Description Courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art 2013

A book, Punk: Chaos to Couture, by Andrew Bolton, with an introduction by Jon Savage, and prefaces by Richard Hell and John Lydon (a.k.a. Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols), will accompany the exhibition. This publication will be illustrated with photographs of vintage punks and high fashion. Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the $45 catalogue (hard cover only) will be distributed worldwide by Yale University Press.

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 – Daphne Carr

I appropriate the letter C music journalism post to Daphne Carr who helms the independent publishing project for best music writing.

Daphne Carr

I discovered the resolve of Daphne Carr in my pursuit of music writing excellence. First and foremost Daphne has been the series editor of Best Music Writing (Da Capo Press 2007-present). The Best Music Writing book series (2000-2011) was published by Da Capo Press until the 2012 edition.

Daphne Carr is taking the Best of Music Writing publication independent in 2013. Last year a  Kickstarter project was created and successfully funded to carry out that goal.

Launch Best Music Writing as an independently published book series

I pledged $15 to get an e-book version of Best Music Writing 2012 delivered to me on launch day and a thank you postcard. Launch day has not been announced yet but I remain hopeful for future communications in this regard.

Daphne Carr has started Feedback Press which provides a home for new writing about music, along with other reflections on culture and fiction. Feedback’s titles will be available in print and electronic editions.

The first publication from Feedback Press was Pop Papers, a series of short works about music that were  released simultaneously in print and digital formats. The first five titles in the series (Session One) had their début at the IASPM-US/Experience Music Project Pop Conference (March 22-25 at New York University).

I am very interested in this music writing appreciation community. The Music Book club meets periodically in Greenpoint, Brooklyn at WORD the Independent Bookseller to discuss music writings and published works. I hope to attend one of their 2013 meetings the writer series looks interesting.

So hopefully you have a better inkling why Daphne Carr’s momentum matters in the dynamic evolution of music publishing. I know I do 😉

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 🙂

Deep Hang at Pop Conference 2012 in NYC

on the "Music in the '00s" panel, 20...
on the "Music in the '00s" panel, 2010 Pop Conference, EMPSFM, Seattle, Washington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday proved a day of validation for me as a professional music blogger. We attended the Experience Music Project (emp) Pop Conference at the NYU Kimmel Center on 60 Washington Square South. I am an emp museum member(since 2009) who has eyeballed the Pop Conference sessions held in Seattle, WA with distance envy. We were enthralled that the Pop Conference had come east. It turned out to be a shrewd move as this year’s theme was “Sounds of the City”. The event being next to Washington Square Park and set against the Greenwich Village skyline added the symbolic note for this four-day event.

I got the feeling I was about to go into a deep hang of music journalism and community. I had no idea how profound that sentiment would become until later in the day. I walked away from this conference with a lot of knowledge, many more musical influences than I began the day with and a greater insight into music’s direction in the next decade.


1) Roundtable: Where is the City?, Where is the Scene?

Panelists: Consisted of several music authors, musician Paula Carino from Brooklyn, Will Hermes, whose book, (Love Goes to Building on Fire my son had given me as a Christmas present) and Mark Richardson, Editor-In-Chief, Pitchfork, the definitive music webzine of indie rock.

The gist of this session dealt with trying to define the scene in terms of music communities. The real-time dilemma of digital music evolving on the Web poses existing music distribution models such as the record store, releasing a CD versus a digital download recording, and hard copy music publishing substantive issues. I heard the phrase mentioned several times, “Music is the biggest city in the world.”

I have tried several times to write a blog post about why Brooklyn is the music capital of the world, only to abandon the idea after attempting to research this phenomenon. Paula Carino epitomized why this is so indicative of Brooklyn. She stated Brooklyn is organic. Many musicians have come there to be discovered in the Williamsburg scene. However that ship has sailed and the Williamsburg scene is analagous to the mass exodus of people who moved to Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco to experience the hippie scene and flower power. Many did not realize the scene had peaked and was moving on by the time they arrived there. I also learned that Pitchfork had moved its editorial offices from Chicago to Brooklyn to be closer to the epicenter of the indie scene.

Open on Sunday album cover

Highlights: Paula Carino surprised me with a copy of her CD, Open On Sunday on me, I listened to it today and I really like what I heard. Look for a review of her CD this week on this blog ;). I got to say hello to Will Hermes after the panel discussion and asked him if he would sign my copy of Love Goes to Building on Fire. He graciously did so. I was pleasantly surprised to learn he had read my blog post about his book. 😉

New Inputs: Wedding Present, DJ Rupture, Chillwave, Beirut, Open on Sunday, Paula Carino

2)  Sound of the City, a tribute to the genius of Charlie Gillett

Panelists: Robert Christgau, David Laing, Charlie McGovern

One of my principal objectives of the Pop Conference was to catch the session with Robert Christgau. I have been reading Christgau’s music reviews since 1969 in the Village Voice. He has long been an inspiration to me as a music writer. His paper, “The Original Sound of the City, How Charlie Gillett Named This Conference”, was an energetic rambling of tight construction. Robert Christgau proved once more why he is the dean of rock critics as he crystallized Gillett’s role for the theme of the Pop Conference and his influence on many in their mutual love of music. I was enchanted with Christgau’s punctuating style that kept me fascinated, smiling and educated throughout. I love Christgau’s stream of consciousness. He never fails to stir up my sentiment as well as give me new music inputs to research and listen to with active interest.

Dave Laing from England was next on the agenda. He read his paper, “Charlie Gillett, Sound Citizen of London”. Dave solidified Charlie’s role as a disk jockey on the Honky Tonk program on the BBC. It was insightful to get the British point of view about Charlie Gillette. Dave Laing is an eloquent writer who uses words like idiosyncratic path, antipathy, and contrasting/dissonant music scenes as distinct verse. His presentation was a breath of fresh air which exuded through his writing.

Charlie McGovern was the third speaker and his presentation used audio clips to accent his writings. His paper, “Up to the Streets of Harlem: Black Vocal Groups and Postwar Urban Life” dealt with post war, post modern cities. He took us through urban modernity. He discussed how Clay Cole share cropped the black artist. He played music clips that underscored his paper and produced a skillful, multimedia effect.

New Inputs: Bees Make Honey, Kilburn and the High Roads, a new copy of Charley Gillett’s Sound of the City 😉

3) Jazz Alleys

Moderator: Paul Bresnick, Presenters: David Adler, Nate Chinen, Phil Freeman and Alex W. Rodriguez

The jazz panel presentation and discussion were the most thought-provoking event of the day. The quartet of jazz music journalists represent some of the finest jazz music writing featured in the country today. They created the hang for us yesterday.

The first presenter David Adler has written some great jazz music pieces that I have enjoyed. His presentation was enthusiastic and pinpointed the music of Brian Carpenter’s Ghost Train Orchestra. I was struck by how David juxtaposed the 1920 and 30;s sounds of  the hot house stomp with how the Ghost Train Orchestra is building on that foundation of sound for the future. David contrasted the sounds of John Nesbitt, Charlie Johnson, and Tiny Parham with Brian Carpenter’s updated interpretations. Carpenter’s band is true to the sound and sentiment of the original purveyors of hot house yet take it to its next logical dimension. David Adler served as conductor and arranger as his hand punctuated the air as the sounds played. He was very elucidating. I must get this recording for my collection.

Nate Chinen followed David Adler’s presentation with a talk about jazz artist discrination that took place reagrding New York club cabaret cards were in issue and enforced. I am very inspired by Nate Chinen’s writing. I aspire to write as well as he does one day 😉 What I admire most about how Nate Chinen writes is that he takes a central idea, as he did with his presentation, the cabaret card, focuses his energies on making that a catalyst to further explain and define the next layers of the epicenter. He positioned the cabaret card in a revolving radius fashion as he built out his rationale from there. Nate was quick to point out that there were socio-political hurdles, discriminatory practices taking place against seminal jazz artists such as Billie Holiday and Thelonious Monk who found creative outlets to overcome such censorship tactics.

Nate Chinen was also my major reason for attending this conference as I had read his past Jazz Times [the]Gig column about his Seattle 2011 Pop Conference experience. I had made a note after reading his column that I would attend the next Pop Conference I could.

Alex W. Rodriguez introduced us to the hang. His paper was entitled, “Deconstructing the Hang: Urban Spaces as Cross-Cultural Contexts for Jazz Improvisation.” You can read a preview of that provocative paper here. Alex really got me actively thinking in the area I am focusing more and more upon, music and technology, about how to create a collaborative space, a social network hang. I think I will make a first level attempt with Google Hangout until Apple introduces to its next level of social collaboration with its Mountain Lion cloud solution this fall 😉

The last presentation was an invigorating piece by Phil Freeman, From the Corner to Carnegie Hall and Beyond: The Urbanization of Miles Davis, 1972-1991” that will appear tomorrow on his blog, http://burningambulance.com/. Phil Freeman drew interesting parallels to Miles Davis’s On the Corner and the Sounds of the City. He also raised lots of insight as it relates to Miles Davis’s later years. In order to do Phil Freeman’s talk justice I defer to his publishing on his blog tomorrow the paper he read and commented upon yesterday. If you are into Miles Davis, social activism and the culture of change you won’t want to miss it.

Sex, Hope, & Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Writings of Ellen Willis

Earlier today I was looking for a music topic to write about for my blog. I happened upon an article on npr.org that caught my interest. Being a devout fan of music books and music writers, I thankfully stumbled across an important new book I want to share with you.

The book is entitled Out of the Vinyl Deeps, Ellen Willis on Rock MusicThe book is an anthology of Ellen Willis’s writings cultivated by her daughter, Nona Willis Aronowitz, Editor.

One of my all time favorite music critics is Ellen Willis. I found her writings and musings  fresh, intellectual, articulate, and simpatico with the rock music scene as it was unfolding unto our ears in the late 60s and early 70s.

Ellen Willis was The New Yorker‘s first pop critic from 1968 to 1975, and her essays made the connection between music, pleasure and politics. I associate Ellen Willis’s writing more with Rolling Stone Magazine than I do with The New Yorker. I read with intense passion, Ellen’s interpretation of musicians and the sociological-cultural impact on our generation maturation

A unique music conference was held at NYU on April 30th, it was called “Sex, Hope and Rock ‘n’ Roll: The Writings of Ellen Willis”. The conference was designed to honor, remember, and critically situate the acclaimed New York writer Ellen Willis (1941-2006) and her work across politics, gender, and popular culture, with a special attention to her unique contribution to intellectual history within the fields of music journalism and feminist cultural criticism.

I urge you to read more about the literary and cultural event that I so wished I attended here and here.

I’m adding this book to my Amazon Wish List and looking forward to the time after I complete graduate school to catch up on my music book reading.

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