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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for July 2020: Martin interviews Philip Clark, author of Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time

Thu, 07/09/2020 - 9:48am

In 2003, music journalist Philip Clark was granted unparalleled access to jazz legend Dave Brubeck. Over the course of ten days, he shadowed the Dave Brubeck Quartet during their extended British tour, recording an epic interview with the bandleader. Brubeck opened up as never before, disclosing his unique approach to jazz; the heady days of his "classic" quartet in the 1950s-60s; hanging out with Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, and Miles Davis; and the many controversies that had dogged his 66-year-long career.

Alongside beloved figures like Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra, Brubeck's music has achieved name recognition beyond jazz. But finding a convincing fit for Brubeck's legacy, one that reconciles his mass popularity with his advanced musical technique, has proved largely elusive. In Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time, Clark provides us with a thoughtful, thorough, and long-overdue biography of an extraordinary man whose influence continues to inform and inspire musicians today.

Structured around Clark's extended interview and intensive new research, this book tells one of the last untold stories of jazz, unearthing the secret history of "Take Five" and many hitherto unknown aspects of Brubeck's early career - and about his creative relationship with his star saxophonist Paul Desmond. Woven throughout are cameo appearances from a host of unlikely figures from Sting, Ray Manzarek of The Doors, and Keith Emerson, to John Cage, Leonard Bernstein, Harry Partch, and Edgard Varèse. Each chapter explores a different theme or aspect of Brubeck's life and music, illuminating the core of his artistry and genius. To quote President Obama, as he awarded the musician with a Kennedy Center Honor: "You can't understand America without understanding jazz, and you can't understand jazz without understanding Dave Brubeck."

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for June 2020: Martin interviews Cliff Eisen, co-editor of The Letters of Cole Porter

Fri, 06/05/2020 - 9:41am

From Anything Goes to Kiss Me, Kate, Cole Porter left a lasting legacy of iconic songs including "You're the Top," "Love For Sale," and "Night and Day." Yet, alongside his professional success, Porter led an eclectic personal life which featured exuberant parties, scandalous affairs, and chronic health problems. This extensive collection of letters (most of which are published here for the first time) dates from the first decade of the twentieth century to the early 1960s and features correspondence with stars such as Irving Berlin, Ethel Merman, and Orson Welles, as well as his friends and lovers.

Cliff Eisen and Dominic McHugh complement these letters with lively commentaries that draw together the loose threads of Porter’s life and highlight the distinctions between Porter’s public and private existence. This book reveals surprising insights into his attitudes toward Hollywood and Broadway, and toward money, love, and dazzling success.

Martin’s interview with Cliff Eisen was recorded on January 8, 2020.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for May 2020: Martin interviews Andrew Blauner, editor of The Peanuts Papers: Writers and Cartoonists on Charlie Brown, Snoopy & the Gang, and the Meaning of Life.

Fri, 05/01/2020 - 8:45am

Over the span of 50 years, Charles M. Schulz created a comic strip that is one of the indisputable glories of American popular culture - hilarious, poignant, inimitable. Some 20 years after the last strip appeared, the characters Schulz brought to life in Peanuts continue to resonate with millions of fans, their beguiling four-panel adventures and television escapades offering lessons about happiness, friendship, disappointment, childhood, and life itself. 

In The Peanuts Papers, 33 writers and artists (including Jonathan Lethem, Ann Patchett, Adam Gopnik & George Saunders) reflect on the deeper truths of Schulz’s deceptively simple comic, its impact on their lives and art and on the broader culture. These enchanting, affecting, and often quite personal essays show just how much Peanuts means to its many admirers - and the ways it invites us to ponder, in the words of Sarah Boxer, “how to survive and still be a decent human being” in an often bewildering world. Featuring essays, memoirs, poems, and two original comic strips, here is the ultimate listener's companion for every Peanuts fan. 

Martin’s interview with Andrew Blauner was originally recorded on November 26, 2019.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for April 2020: Martin interviews Will Birch, author of Cruel to Be Kind: The Life and Music of Nick Lowe.

Wed, 04/01/2020 - 3:11pm

Described as "Britain's greatest living songwriter," Nick Lowe has made his mark as a pioneer of pub rock, power-pop, and punk rock and as a producer of Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, the Damned, and the Pretenders. He has been a pop star with his bands Brinsley Schwarz and Rockpile, a stepson-in-law to Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, and is the writer behind hits including "Cruel to Be Kind" and "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding." In the past decades, however, he has distinguished himself as an artist who is equally acclaimed for the second act of his career as a tender yet sharp-tongued acoustic balladeer.

Biographer Will Birch, who in addition to being a music writer was a drummer and songwriter with The Records, has known Lowe for over forty years and melds Lowe's gift as a witty raconteur with his own authoritative analysis of Lowe's background and the cultural scenes he exemplifies. Lowe's parallel fame as one of the best interviews in the business will contribute to this first look into his life and work--and likely the closest thing fans will get to an autobiography by this notoriously charming cult figure.

This is not an authorized biography, but Lowe has given it his spiritual blessing and his management and label are fully on board. Cruel to Be Kind will be the colorful yet serious account of one of the world's most talented and admired musicians.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for March 2020: Martin interviews Louie Kemp, author of Dylan & Me: 50 Years of Adventures.

Mon, 03/16/2020 - 10:48am

"It was at summer camp in northern Wisconsin in 1953 that I first met Bobby Zimmerman from Hibbing. He was twelve years old and he had a guitar. He would go around telling everybody that he was going to be a rock-and-roll star. I was eleven and I believed him.'' So begins this honest, funny, and deeply affectionate memoir of a friendship that has spanned five decades of wild adventures, soul searching conversation, musical milestones, and enduring comradery. As Bobby Zimmerman became Bob Dylan and Louie Kemp built a successful international business, their lives diverged but their friendship held fast. No matter how much time passed between one adventure and the next, the two ''boys from the North Country'' picked up where they left off and shared experiences that will surprise and delight Dylan fans and anybody who loves a rollicking-good rock-and-roll memoir.

 

Martin's interview with Louie Kemp was recorded on September 18, 2019.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for February 2020: Martin interviews Jeff Guinn, author of The Vagabonds: The Story of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison's Ten-Year Road Trip

Fri, 01/31/2020 - 12:51pm

Jeff's book tells the fascinating story of two American giants—Henry Ford and Thomas Edison—whose annual summer sojourns introduced the road trip to our culture and made the automobile an essential part of modern life, even as their own relationship altered dramatically.

In 1914 Henry Ford and naturalist John Burroughs visited Thomas Edison in Florida and toured the Everglades. The following year Ford, Edison, and tire maker Harvey Firestone joined together on a summer camping trip and decided to call themselves the Vagabonds. They would continue their summer road trips until 1925, when they announced that their fame made it too difficult for them to carry on.

Although the Vagabonds traveled with an entourage of chefs, butlers, and others, this elite fraternity also had a serious purpose: to examine the conditions of America’s roadways and improve the practicality of automobile travel. Cars were unreliable and the roads were even worse. But newspaper coverage of these trips was extensive, and as cars and roads improved, the summer trip by automobile soon became a desired element of American life.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for January 2020: Martin Bandyke interviews Alan Paul, co-author of Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 12:31pm

Texas Flood, co-written by Alan Paul and Andy Aledort, is the first definitive biography of guitar legend Steve Ray Vaughan.

Just a few years after he almost died from a severe addiction to cocaine and alcohol, a clean and sober Stevie Ray Vaughan was riding high. His last album was his most critically lauded and commercially successful. He had fulfilled a lifelong dream by collaborating with his first and greatest musical hero, his brother Jimmie. His tumultuous marriage was over and he was in a new and healthy romantic relationship. Vaughan seemed poised for a new, limitless chapter of his life and career.

Instead, it all came to a shocking and sudden end on August 27, 1990, when he was killed in a helicopter crash following a dynamic performance with Eric Clapton. Just 35 years old, he left behind a powerful musical legacy and an endless stream of What Ifs. In the ensuing 29 years, Vaughan’s legend and acclaim have only grown and he is now an undisputed international musical icon. Despite the cinematic scope of Vaughan’s life and death, there has never been a truly proper accounting of his story. Until now.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for December 2019: Martin interviews Cecelia Watson, author of Semicolon: The Past, Present, and Future of a Misunderstood Mark.

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 8:32am

The semicolon --- Stephen King, Hemingway, Vonnegut, and Orwell detest it. Herman Melville, Henry James, and Rebecca Solnit love it. But why? When is it effective? Have we been misusing it? Should we even care?

In SemicolonCecelia Watson charts the rise and fall of this infamous punctuation mark, which for years was the trendiest one in the world of letters. But in the nineteenth century, as grammar books became all the rage, the rules of how we use language became both stricter and more confusing, with the semicolon a prime victim. Taking us on a breezy journey through a range of examples—from Milton’s manuscripts to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letters from Birmingham Jail” to Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep—Watson reveals how traditional grammar rules make us less successful at communicating with each other than we’d think. Even the most die-hard grammar fanatics would be better served by tossing the rule books and learning a better way to engage with language.

Through her rollicking biography of the semicolon, Watson writes a guide to grammar that explains why we don’t need guides at all, and refocuses our attention on the deepest, most primary value of language: true communication.

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for November 2019: Martin interviews Jonathan Scott, author of The Vinyl Frontier: The Story of the Voyager Golden Record

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 3:00pm

In 1977, a team led by the great Carl Sagan was assembled to create a record that would travel to the stars on NASA’s Voyager probe. The Vinyl Frontier reveals the inside story of how the record was created, from the first phone call to the final launch, when Voyager 1 and 2 left Earth with a playlist that would represent humanity to any future alien races that come into contact with the probe. Each song, sound and picture that made the final cut has a story to tell.

The Golden Record is a 90-minute playlist of music from across the globe, a sound essay of life on Earth, spoken greetings in multiple languages, and more than 100 photographs, all painstakingly chosen by Sagan and his team to create an aliens' guide to Earthlings. The final playlist contains music written and performed by well-known names such as Bach, Beethoven, Chuck Berry and Blind Willie Johnson, as well as music from China, India and more remote cultures, such as a community in Small Malaita in the Solomon Islands.

Through interviews with all of the key players involved with the record, this book pieces together the whole story of the Golden Record. It addresses the myth that the Beatles were left off of the record because of copyright reasons and will include new information about US president Jimmy Carter’s role in the record, as well as many other fascinating insights that have never been reported before. It also tells the love story between Carl Sagan and the project’s creative director Ann Druyan that flourishes as the record is being created.                                                                                              

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Martin Bandyke Under Covers for October 2019: Martin interviews C.M. Kushins, author of Nothing's Bad Luck: The Lives of Warren Zevon.

Tue, 10/01/2019 - 1:07pm

As is the case with so many musicians, the life of Warren Zevon was blessed with talent and opportunity yet also beset by tragedy and setbacks. Raised mostly by his mother with an occasional cameo from his gangster father, Warren had an affinity and talent for music at an early age. Taking to the piano and guitar almost instantly, he began imitating and soon creating songs at every opportunity. After an impromptu performance in the right place at the right time, a record deal landed on the lap of a teenager who was eager to set out on his own and make a name for himself. But of course, where fame is concerned, things are never quite so simple.

Drawing on original interviews with those closest to Zevon, including Crystal Zevon, Jackson Browne, Mitch Albom, Danny Goldberg, Barney Hoskyns, and Merle Ginsberg, Nothing's Bad Luck tells the story of one of rock's greatest talents. Journalist C.M. Kushins not only examines Zevon's troubled personal life and sophisticated, ever-changing musical style, but emphasizes the moments in which the two are inseparable, and ultimately paints Zevon as a hot-headed, literary, compelling, musical genius worthy of the same tier as that of Bob Dylan and Neil Young.

In Nothing's Bad Luck, Kushins at last gives Warren Zevon the serious, in-depth biographical treatment he deserves, making the life of this complex subject accessible to fans old and new for the very first time.