In this Q&A, author David Menconi discusses his new book Step It Up and Go: The Story of North Carolina Popular Music, from Blind Boy Fuller and Doc Watson to Nina Simone and Superchunk, out today from UNC Press. This book is a love letter to the artists, scenes, and sounds defining North Carolina’s extraordinary… Continue Reading Author Interview: David Menconi on Step It Up and Go
Today we welcome a guest post from Grace Elizabeth Hale, author of Cool Town: How Athens, Georgia, Launched Alternative Music and Changed American Culture, out now from the UNC Press Ferris & Ferris Books imprint. In the summer of 1978, the B-52’s conquered the New York underground. A year later, the band’s self-titled debut album… Continue Reading Grace Elizabeth Hale: Happy Birthday, R.E.M.
Charles L. Hughes, author of Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South, weighs in on Ken Burns’ new documentary Country Music as well as past and present manifestations of “the central racial paradox at the heart of country music.” In the sound of the 1960s and 1970s, nothing symbolized the rift… Continue Reading Author Interview: Charles L. Hughes on “Country Music: A Film by Ken Burns”
UNC Press is proud to be partnering with the Music Maker Relief Foundation, a local North Carolina non-profit that was founded to protect the soul of America’s music by directly supporting traditional blues, gospel, jazz and folk musicians, so their voices will not be silenced by poverty and time. Music Maker ensures that our cultural… Continue Reading UNC Press partners with the Music Maker Foundation
Today we welcome a guest post from David Gilbert, author of The Product of Our Souls: The Product of Our Souls: Ragtime, Race, and the Birth of the Manhattan Musical Marketplace. The CD companion to the book came out in the summer of 2018 and his liner note essay has been nominated for a Grammy Award… Continue Reading David Gilbert: James Reese Europe at the Grammys
We are very proud that two UNC Press authors are nominated for Grammy Awards this year. William Ferris (@WRFerris), noted folklorist who has written and contributed to several publications from UNC Press on Southern history, the oral tradition, and the blues, is nominated for Best Historical Album for “Voices of Mississippi” on @dusttodigital. David Gilbert… Continue Reading David Gilbert: Pre-war Ragtime, From UNC Press to the Grammys
Today we welcome a guest post from Nadine Cohodas, author of Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone, available in paperback from UNC Press. Born Eunice Waymon in Tryon, North Carolina, Nina Simone (1933-2003) began her musical life playing classical piano. A child prodigy, she wanted a career on the concert stage, but when… Continue Reading Nadine Cohodas: Reconstructing Nina Simone’s Earliest Days
Today, UNC Press Publicity Director Gina Mahalek talks with Adam Gussow, author of Beyond the Crossroads: The Devil and the Blues Tradition, about Sterling Magee, the blues tradition and folklore in the American South, and more. You can also read Adam’s Book Notes post over at the Largehearted Boy blog, where he also shares a… Continue Reading Author Interview: Adam Gussow, Beyond the Crossroads
Today, we welcome a guest post from Anthony Chaney, author of Runaway: Gregory Bateson, the Double Bind, and the Rise of Ecological Consciousness, on Steely Dan, Columbia House and the negative-option record club. The anthropologist Gregory Bateson has been called a lost giant of twentieth-century thought. In the years following World War II, Bateson was… Continue Reading Anthony Chaney: The Royal Scam
Happy Summer! In honor of the summer solstice, we’re posting our suggestions for your summer reading list. If you’re planning a fun tropical vacation or just heading to your neighborhood pool, UNC Press has your perfect summer read. Pick up a fun guidebook or new biography, and don’t forget about our 40% sale! Continue Reading UNC Press Summer Reading List
Father’s Day is a week away! Still looking for the perfect gift? Look no further than the UNC Press Father’s Day gift guide. We’ve compiled our best suggestions to match any dad’s interests. Continue Reading Father’s Day Gift Guide
Macklemore’s 2013 tribute to thrift shops articulates the enduring association of creative output with secondhand commerce. Voluntary secondhand dress persists precisely because it suggests both cultural and economic distinction. It satisfies a desire to be seen as different than the average consumer dupe, as willing to invest time in the cultivation of originality without utilizing class and wealth privilege. In reality, however, secondhand economies and styles throughout the twentieth century are much more complicated; studying them reveals the futility of pursuing an effective anti-consumer consumption. But whatever the continuing or resurgent stigmas and social critiques of secondhand products may be, many creative dressers continue to agree with Macklemore’s concise assessment: “This is fucking awesome.” Continue Reading Jennifer Le Zotte: Poppin’ Tags: How Musicians Helped Make Used Clothes Fashionable
Twenty years later, dances remain an important part of reservation social life, where live bands play up-tempo songs and couples mostly dance the two-step, a partner dance moving in a counter-clockwise direction. Dance bands play four-hour sets, typically 9 pm to 1 am, and take one break in the middle. The “sweet spot” for these dances is between 12 and 1: this is when the band is really warmed up, the dancers are relaxed, and dancers come out in large numbers onto the dance floor. It’s a short-lived space, nestled between lots of starts and stops and logistical glitches, but catching it is well worth the wait. For me, it’s a bit of time-capsuled, Navajo reservation magic. Continue Reading Kristina M. Jacobsen: “Won’t You Be With Me Tonight (After the Ace’s Wild Dance)”?: Navajo Country Bands, Stage Patter, and Rodeo Announcers
What struck me this time after many months away overseas is the subtle ways that Diné cultural sovereignty is practiced in this informal economy, where unemployment on the Navajo Nation currently hovers above 50%, and where tribal citizens are incredibly creative about ways to make ends meet in order to live on or close to their ancestral homeland (a statement about sovereignty and connection to homeland in its own right). Although not an explicitly “political” space, Diné citizens express their attachments to being Diné through what they choose—or refuse—to sell in this public space. Continue Reading Kristina M. Jacobsen: The Gallup Flea Market and Navajo Cultural Sovereignty
We have celebrated the theme of Community for the past several days with our sibling publishers in the Association of American University Presses’ #UPweek. Today we invite you into our own virtual rolodex to introduce you to just some of the many partner organizations with whom we have collaborated to make many of your favorite books and journals possible. Continue Reading University Press Week 2016 Blog Tour Day 5: #FF UNC Press Publishing Partners
John Hammond’s knack for discovering talent was so uncanny, so unparalleled in the history of American music, that it’s regularly celebrated. It is, however, rarely examined. Perhaps, that’s because scrutiny can come off as suspiciousness poisoned by ungratefulness. Continue Reading Michael Jarrett: John Hammond’s Golden Ears
Early record men, therefore, most resembled movie producers, not movie directors. Ultimately, their control derived from the power to grant or to deny access to capital. “I invented Louis Armstrong,” said Ralph Peer in a 1959 interview with Lillian Borgeson. Continue Reading Michael Jarrett: Early Record Men: How Talent Scouts, Managers, Recording Supervisors, Publishers, and A&R Men Shaped Music
Gina Mahalek: What is Kīkā Kila? What does it sound like?
John W. Troutman: Kīkā Kila is a Hawaiian expression for describing both a type of guitar and a technique for playing it. The instrument, also known as a “steel guitar,” a “lap steel,” a “dobro,” or a “Hawaiian guitar,” among other names and associations, developed in the Islands in the 1880s and 1890s. Players would physically modify a “standard” guitar, add steel strings to it, and fabricate finger picks and a steel bar, about 3” in length (the instrument is named after this bar). After creating new, open tunings for the guitar, players would place the guitar in their laps, pluck the strings with finger picks on one hand, and then, with their other hand, slide the steel bar along the strings, located high above the fretboard. The technique created an entirely new sound for the guitar, one that better mimicked both the gentle rising and falling of a somber human voice as well as the melodic acrobatics that Hawaiian falsetto singers were becoming known for at the time. Hawaiians soon began creating all sorts of other sound effects on the steel guitar, and very quickly, it became the most important accompanying (as well as lead melodic) instrument in Hawaiian music. Continue Reading Interview: John W. Troutman on Kīkā Kila
Videos from Charles Hughes’s YouTube playlist to accompany his book Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South. Continue Reading Video: Country Soul Playlist by Charles L. Hughes
Gina Mahalek: What was the Manhattan Musical Marketplace that you discuss in your book?
David Gilbert: This is a term that I coined to explain the historical formation of New York City as the center of American popular culture at the turn of the twentieth century. I think that many music fans, musicians, and scholars kind of take for granted that NYC has always been America’s capital of popular entertainment, and I wanted to tell the story about how this came to be. Rather than assume Broadway Theater and Tin Pan Alley song publishing just naturally developed into leading culture industries, I want to call attention to the moment in which these spaces—and their connotations—developed. And I want to emphasize African Americans’ roles in creating both New York’s unique culture markets and important facets of American popular culture. Continue Reading Interview: David Gilbert on the birth of the Manhattan musical marketplace