Amoeblog

In-depth Discussion with Author Denise Sullivan on Her Latest Book, "Keep on Pushing (Black Power Music - From Blues To Hip-Hop)"

Posted by Billyjam, September 17, 2011 04:00pm | Post a Comment
The recently published Keep On Pushing (Black Power Music - From Blues To Hip-Hop) (Lawrence Hill Books/IPG) is the latest book from longtime California music journalist/author Denise Sullivan whose last book was 2004's The White Stripes: Sweethearts of the Blues. This ever-engaging book by the Crawdaddy columnist and self-described "record geek" could as easily be filed under American political history or American music history (she thinks the latter to be more fitting) as it explores how American history of the past numerous decades is so closely intertwined with protest/revolutionary music (from the early blues, through the musical soundtrack of the civil rights movement, up to the role of contemporary hip-hop as voice of protest).

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.

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out this week 7/13 & 7/20...frank (just frank)...phranc...the kids are alright...

Posted by Brad Schelden, July 22, 2010 01:55pm | Post a Comment

My new favorite band of the week has got to be Frank (Just Frank). I love when a band comes out of nowhere into my life-- I didn't even know they existed until last week but now they are in my life and I love it. I am not talking about Frank Sinatra, and I am not talking about the lesbian musician Phranc. (Although any time I get a chance to talk about Phranc I sort of have to go for it.) Frank (Just Frank) is a new band on the fantastic Brooklyn label Wierd Records. The band is from Paris, France...at least, sort of. They are what you would think Cold Wave would sound like. This album could have easily been made in the 80s, which is, of course, why I love it. It is dark and brooding. It is weird and atmospheric. It is not exactly the sort of album you might put on when thinking of LA in the summer. It's more like London or Berlin in the middle of winter! But I love it for summer. I have my Beach House and Ave Buffalo for the summer, and my Best Coast and Surfer Blood, but I need something dark to balance those records out. Those pop albums can't really exist without something that sounds like their opposite! The new album is called Brutal Wave, a perfect title for the album. It is dark synth, like a dark shoegaze band. There are dark jangly moments that make me think of the darker Smiths songs or the Cocteau Twins. One of their songs replicates the opening of an XTC song. There are some really great songs on this album and it reminds me of Clan of Xymox at times! It's definitely somewhere between New Order and Joy Division.

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Eye On L.A And Its Lasting Impressions

Posted by Gomez Comes Alive!, August 4, 2009 01:10am | Post a Comment
As a youngster growing up in the late 70’s/early 80’s, I had a misconception of L.A. life. Since my reality was based on what I saw on television, Los Angeles was all palm trees with tanned blondes sailing on yachts during the day, then going to the clubs at night, mostly to enjoy female mud wrestling. Why would I have such a skewed vision of Los Angeles? Eye On L.A., of course. Eye on L.A. is Los Angeles’ longest running news segment program, and it is still on today. I feel that Will Ferrell and Adam McKay must have watch many hours of Eye On L.A. as well to have created a movie as twisted as Anchorman. In fact, check out this promo for Eye On L.A. back in 1982, which starts with the startling tale of heiress Patty Hearst, the “Slave Of The SLA,” then ends with female mud wrestling. I can’t make this stuff up.


They used go on and on about the female mud wresting so much that Phranc, former member of Catholic Discipline and All-American Jewish Lesbian Folksinger, once wrote a song about Eye On L.A. called “Female Mud Wresting.” I always remember the line in the song, “Not like Steve and Melody, I do not like female mud wrestling.” The Steve that she referenced in the song is none other than Steve Edwards, who is still in the “light news” game on Fox’s Good Day L.A. Now Phranc has her own Internet show called Phranc Talk. It’s sort of like a Mr. Rogers show, only if an All-American Lesbian Folksinger did it. Maybe she could have Steve Edwards on her show one day. In this episode, she shares her song-writing skills and her bird named Pickles.

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