In Keep On Pushing, the "Nor Cal through and through" music writer examines the cultural interchanges of black and white musicians (many Bay Area artists included) and, along the way, takes numerous enlightening tangents uncovering tidbits of musical history not normally unearthed.
This week I caught up with the author, who tomorrow (Sunday, September 18th) will be at Stories Books & Cafe on 1716 Sunset Blvd from 4pm to 7pm and next month at both D.G. Wills Books in San Diego and at San Francisco's literary festival LitQuake, for an in-depth discussion on Keep On Pushing and many of the areas it explores.
Amoeblog: Following a book on the White Stripes, how did you decide on the theme of this book next? How long did you work on this book for?
Denise Sullivan: It's complicated, which is the exact thing I noted in the White Stripes book when I was writing about them covering "Your Southern Can is Mine" by Blind Willie McTell. Matters of race and the sexes, the Great Migration, what was once called the "American Dream," industry, ingenuity, and the entire great American songbook are of deep interest to me and all are tied up in the White Stripes story. Keep on Pushing is a similar story, only it has a lot more people (many of them black, others are Native American, women, or economically strapped, most all of them are trying to survive America), and music is big part of their toolkit. Specifically though, in the case of both books, it was fine art photography that initially inspired me to launch my investigations: American Ruins by Camilo Jose Vergara, and The Black Panthers by Stephen Shames.