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Country Blues => Weenie Campbell Main Forum => Books and Articles => Topic started by: Stuart on March 06, 2007, 01:48:30 PM

Title: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: Stuart on March 06, 2007, 01:48:30 PM
http://www.amazon.com/Feel-Good-Life-Times-Broonzy/dp/0415972760/ref=sr_11_1/102-8769548-1234567?ie=UTF8&qid=1173217491&sr=11-1

http://www.routledge.com/shopping_cart/products/product_detail.asp?sku=&isbn=9780415972765&parent_id=&pc=/shopping_cart/search/search.asp?search%3Dreisman
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: uncle bud on March 06, 2007, 01:54:04 PM
The description from Routledge:

"Big Bill Broonzy is one of the most prolific and well-known of all the blues performers, with a long career that stretches from the late 1920s through to his death in the late 1950s. Throughout his career, Broonzy transformed himself from recording light-hearted 'hokum' songs that appealed primarily to an inner-city African-American audience, to a pioneering figure in the growth of the Chicago blues scene from the mid-1930s through to the later 1940s, to a concert artist who toured Europe, wrote his own autobiography and became a major star performer in the last decade of his life.

Although Broonzy wrote his own autobiography and told his life story at various times in many different interviews, the 'details' of his life have remained shrouded in myth - much of it created by Broonzy himself. There has been a steady stream of re-issues of his over 260 blues recordings in the past dozen years, but the liner notes and reviews have generally recycled the same 'facts' about his life that have circulated since his death in 1958. He has been cited in every blues anthology as a seminal figure in American music, but there has been no comprehensive look at his life and work.

Now author Robert Reisman in I Feel So Good charts the entire story of Broonzy?s life, drawing on newly discovered documents, letters written by Broonzy and his family members, interviews with fellow musicians and his acquaintances and lovers. The result is a true, full picture of a complex man and master musician, who was able to adapt to the many changes in American musical culture that occurred during his life. From the small Delta town of Scott, Mississippi, where Bill?s parents worked as sharecroppers to the streets of Chicago and the symphony halls of Europe, the Bill Broonzy story is a uniquely American one that will appeal to all readers interested in the blues, African-American history and American popular culture."

(So-called "Related titles" on the Routledge site include Molecular Biology and Cultural Heritage  :P)

There seems to be a bit of a blues publishing boom going on. Good news for us.
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: GhostRider on March 06, 2007, 03:36:26 PM
I'm really looking forward to this one.

Alex
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: uncle bud on March 06, 2007, 03:57:24 PM
Well, sorry to dash your hopes so quickly, Alex, but this note just appeared on another list:

"Routledge has backed out of publishing this book, as they have for
blues books in general and, perhaps, trade books in general! I'm sure
the MS will find a new home soon."

Here's hoping it does. This sounds like it will be a must-have.
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: Bunker Hill on March 07, 2007, 11:44:23 AM
I feel very sorry for Bob Riesman and the situation he finds himself in with Routledge. He's been researching this since 2001 and has travelled all over the world putting this book together. I met up with him a couple of times in London and he flabbergasted me with the mountain of new material he'd unearthed. Quite a bit of which he'd trustingly copied for me! Here's an email I was sent (27 June 2001) which I think speaks volumes about the man:

"I write in response to your recent post to the post-war blues listserv asking when someone would write a serious biography of Big Bill Broonzy. I am researching Broonzy for two projects: I'm working with a Chicago-based  documentary film producer to persuade the public TV station in Chicago to fund and air a documentary about Broonzy, and I'm writing the entry on him for the upcoming Encyclopedia of the Blues.

I am doing my research on the basis that Broonzy's accomplishments were significant, and that telling the story of his life and work may enrich our understanding of some of the most influential cultural trends and social issues of the 20th century. It may turn out that the best way to convey these points will be in an article or a book, and I'm proceeding with the idea that this might happen.

For the record, I'm a board member of the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, which Broonzy helped to launch by performing at its opening night concert in December of 1957, along with Studs Terkel. I've spoken with Studs, whose professional life was intertwined with Broonzy's for about a decade, and expect to meet with him in the near future for a more extended conversation. I've had conversations (of varying depths and lengths) about Broonzy with Bob Koester, Jim O'Neal, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Paul Garon, and Sam Charters, and am reading and listening to as much as I can find about him.

I would be interested in any guidance you might provide on identifying resources and materials in the UK on Broonzy, and particularly on his travels and concerts in the UK and Europe in the 1950's. Given the scope of Broonzy's life as reflected in his words and music, as well as the variety of worlds in which he was an active participant, I might have waited until I had done more research before contacting you, but I wanted to respond to your posting. I'm already in your debt, as it was your posting about Ed Komara and Peter Redvers-Lee's Encyclopedia of the Blues that alerted me to that project. I hope to hear from you. Sincerely, Bob Riesman"
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: Stuart on March 07, 2007, 10:10:56 PM
I feel very sorry for Bob Riesman and the situation he finds himself in with Routledge. He's been researching this since 2001 and has travelled all over the world putting this book together.

This is certainly discouraging to say the least. However, if his e-mail to you is any indication, the result of his efforts will surely be a book of quality and significance. Naturally, the next move is to find another publisher, something that I hope happens sooner rather than later.
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: Bunker Hill on March 08, 2007, 11:45:31 AM
In 1999 a guy named Roger House wrote a Ph.D. Dissertation at Boston University Graduate School of Arts & Sciences entitled "Keys to the Highway: William 'Big Bill' Broonzy and the Chicago Blues in the Era of the Great Migration". It basically drew upon published biographical information, song analysis, interviews and a variety of socio-political works in an attempt to get into the "Broonzy mindset" (not my expression). Robert was kind enough to loan me a copy but I found it hard going though I guess that as a dissertation it was fit for its purpose. I couldn't resist make a note of the concluding paragraph which read:

"In short Bill was a poet and singer of Whitmanian stature for African-American migrants. His songs described the world and mindset of a community in a time of historical change. He was the voice of the common man when many were in search of voices that could lend legitimacy to their outlook, as well as promote a sense of optimism for the future. Through his singing, his performances and his friendships Big Bill made the world better than how he found it and left behind an epic vision of his times for our study and enjoyment."
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: mississippijohnhurt1928 on March 08, 2007, 04:40:43 PM
Finally, A Big Bill Broonzy Biography!!
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: Bunker Hill on September 16, 2007, 02:25:40 AM
Just to run an update on Robert's quest for a new publisher he informs me that the University of Chicago Press's scholarly panel of manuscript reviewers have strongly recommended the work for publication by the Press subject to whatever recommendations made by the panel are taken on board. Hopefully that doesn't mean an entire re-write and set the book back further five years.  ;D
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: Bunker Hill on February 20, 2011, 02:41:20 AM
http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/I/bo6701925.html

After ten years of research and writing....... publication 15 May.

Remember Weenie Campbell earns a small commission on purchases from Amazon if ordered via the search boxes on left.

Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: Stumblin on February 21, 2011, 01:28:27 AM
I guess I'll wait for the paperback, my books budget is pretty much done for the next little while.
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: Bunker Hill on February 21, 2011, 02:20:49 AM
I guess I'll wait for the paperback, my books budget is pretty much done for the next little while.
Tell me about it. There's also the Son House due that month and in August the John Hurt. In the words of Blind Alfred Reed "how can a poor man stand such times and live?"  :(
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: harry on February 21, 2011, 06:25:29 AM
thanks, Bunker Hill
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: GhostRider on February 21, 2011, 11:00:02 AM
http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/I/bo6701925.html

After ten years of research and writing....... publication 15 May.

Remember Weenie Campbell earns a small commission on purchases from Amazon if ordered via the search boxes on left.



Ordered it. Very much lookin' forward to this one.

Thanks, Bunker!

Alex
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: daveharrisonemanband on February 22, 2011, 05:53:11 PM
Very much looking forward to this one!
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: Bunker Hill on February 23, 2011, 10:48:23 AM
Lord knows how this will turn out but here's the table of contents and pagination. Please don't enquire how I obtained it.  ;D

Preface vii
Acknowledgments xi
1 Swing Low, Sweet Chariot 1
2 My Name Is William Lee Conley Broonzy 6
3 When Will I Get to Be Called a Man? 21
4 Let's Go Away from Here! 39
5 "I'm Gonna Play This Guitar Tonight from A to Z!" 55
6 Serve It to Me Right 70
7 State Street Boys 83
8 Just a Dream 91
9 Big Bill and Josh Are Here to Play the Blues for You 98
10 Preachin' the Blues ia
11 Blues at Midnight 124
12 "That's the Nicest Guy I Ever Met in My Life" 139
13 Stranger in a Strange Land 147
14 Nourish Yourself on Big Bill 156
15 "Be Proud of What You Are!" 167
16 Too Many Isms 186
17 Low Light and Blue Smoke 204
18 "A Requiem for the Blues" 225
Epilogue 247
Afterword 257
Selected Discography 259
Bill on Film 263
Notes 265   
Index 307
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: Bunker Hill on March 17, 2011, 08:12:12 AM
This came in to me from Bob Riesman on an email circulation:

As many of you know, I've spent the last decade researching and writing a biography of blues musician Big Bill Broonzy. I'm pleased to report that I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy will be published by the University of Chicago Press on May 1.

And I'm delighted to announce that the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago will present a "Tribute to Big Bill Broonzy" concert and book signing on Friday, June 17 at 8 pm. The lineup of superb musicians includes longtime Chicago bluesman Billy Boy Arnold with the Sanctified Grumblers, Mark Dvorak, Joe Filisko, the Pickin' Bubs, and more.

Billy Boy Arnold will be playing selections from Billy Boy Sings Big Bill, his upcoming CD on Electro-Fi, so it will be a rare chance to hear Big Bill Broonzy songs performed by someone who knew the man himself.

Here's a link to the concert listing on the OTS website:
 
http://www.oldtownschool.org/concerts/2011/6/17_broonzy.html
 
And if you'd like more information on I Feel So Good, here's a link to its page on the University of Chicago Press website:
 
http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/I/bo6701925.html
 
I hope to see as many of you as possible at the OTS concert - and please, tell your friends about it too! More events for I Feel So Good are in the works, so stay tuned...
 
Best,
Bob
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: JohnLeePimp on March 17, 2011, 12:15:18 PM
Sorry I ain't too brushed up in this subject... but didn't Big Bill write his own bio, or like tell it to some guy with a Swedishesque name... I remember reading that somewhere
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: Bunker Hill on March 17, 2011, 12:34:26 PM
Sorry I ain't too brushed up in this subject... but didn't Big Bill write his own bio, or like tell it to some guy with a Swedishesque name... I remember reading that somewhere
Indeed he did.

If you look here http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=60&topic=1637.0 you'll not only find a discussion of that book but also some biography Bill gave Art Hodes in 1946 which Hodes published in an issue of his magazine The Jazz Record. BBB was not adverse to telling folk about his life and times.  ;)
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: RobBob on April 22, 2011, 10:18:34 AM
I got word this week that it was available early, and yesterday that is shipped.  i had pre-ordered it and locked in a "best price".  Will let you know when it comes in what I think of it.
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: Bunker Hill on April 22, 2011, 10:22:01 AM
Hey, this is good news. Thanks for the heads up.
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: Bunker Hill on April 22, 2011, 11:03:38 PM
Jeff Harris has a Big Bill Broonzy show this Sunday and I believe Bob Riesman is to be his guest.

http://sundayblues.org/
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: jharris on April 23, 2011, 04:27:58 AM
Jeff Harris has a Big Bill Broonzy show this Sunday and I believe Bob Riesman is to be his guest.

http://sundayblues.org/

Yes I'll be interviewing Bob during the second half of my show. He selected a batch of Broonzy songs and we're going to chat about the book and spin tunes. I'll post a link in a day or so for the interview (it's a live interview).

I've read an electronic version of the book (an uncorrected proof) and have no reservations in recommending it. Bob did a great job. For those who want an advance peak there's an excerpt in the latest Living Blues with some fantastic photos.
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: jharris on April 24, 2011, 05:38:46 PM
Here's the links for the Broonzy feature:

-Interview Segment: www.sundayblues.org/feeds/Bob-Riesman-Interview.mp3 (http://www.sundayblues.org/feeds/Bob-Riesman-Interview.mp3)

-Full Show: www.sundayblues.org/feeds/brb_4.24.mp3 (http://www.sundayblues.org/feeds/brb_4.24.mp3)
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: RobBob on April 25, 2011, 05:58:16 AM
Got my copy in the Saturday mail.  It looks great.  Can't wait to dig in.
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: Bunker Hill on April 25, 2011, 08:18:45 AM
Got my copy in the Saturday mail.  It looks great.  Can't wait to dig in.
If you are interested in such things the bibliography is only available as a download from here http://www.press.uchicago.edu/books/riesman/riesman_bibliography.html

I suppose it cuts down on production cost.

Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: Stuart on April 25, 2011, 08:48:37 AM
If you are interested in such things the bibliography is only available as a download from here http://www.press.uchicago.edu/books/riesman/riesman_bibliography.html

I suppose it cuts down on production cost.

It's the way of the world and has been such for the last ten years or so. For those of us who view the body of the text, the notes, the bibliography, appendices, etc. as functioning as a complete whole, it is less than the ideal way to go. I know of a couple of people who changed presses just because of disagreements with the editors and publishers over this kind of thing. But the merchandising considerations of the publishers and booksellers have to be taken into account as nobody is in business to lose money. Even with subventions, some books are hard pressed to break even. But I digress...

I listened to Jeff's program last night. Thanks, Jeff! --for both doing the show and for posting the links. Recommended listening for all Big Bill fans.

Edited to add: I checked and my copy is on it's way from Amazon U.S.--time to pitch a tent out by the mailbox and order in sandwiches and coffee...
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: dj on April 25, 2011, 09:08:16 AM
Quote
If you are interested in such things the bibliography is only available as a download...

I can't imagine an intelligent reader of a serious biography who would not be interested in the bibliography. 

I was about to lament on the sad state of the modern world, but then realized that in 10 years, when the majority of nonfiction books are sold as eBooks (as is the case with fiction today) and the bibliography is just a few extra bits in a file, this trend will likely be reversed. 

 
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: uncle bud on April 25, 2011, 10:29:15 AM
Quote
If you are interested in such things the bibliography is only available as a download...

I can't imagine an intelligent reader of a serious biography who would not be interested in the bibliography. 

I was about to lament on the sad state of the modern world, but then realized that in 10 years, when the majority of nonfiction books are sold as eBooks (as is the case with fiction today) and the bibliography is just a few extra bits in a file, this trend will likely be reversed. 

Let's lament the sad state of the modern world. A university press not including an existing bibliography is pretty damn sad, IMO. Perhaps Bob Riesman should have tweeted his biography instead.


Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: Stuart on April 25, 2011, 10:37:24 AM
Let's lament the sad state of the modern world. A university press not including an existing bibliography is pretty damn sad, IMO. Perhaps Bob Riesman should have tweeted his biography instead.

It is a sad state of affairs, but all too common. Used to be that the U press world stood for something--an ideal, a higher standard, but now I don't know what that something is.
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: dj on April 25, 2011, 10:39:38 AM
Quote
Let's lament the sad state of the modern world.

Done!  Thanks, uncle bud.     ;D
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: Bunker Hill on May 19, 2011, 01:38:35 AM
Ron Weinstock's blog contains this enthusiastic appraisal

http://inabluemood.blogspot.com/2011/05/bill-bill-broonzy-celebrated-in-two_02.html
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: GhostRider on May 19, 2011, 02:42:22 PM
Howdy:

I have just finished reading this book-twice. Although I enjoyed it, I was left feeling...unfulfilled. To me there was too little on this early career, too much on his later and too many digressions. Maybe not enough about the music. But these impressions are -vague, there's nothing I can put my finger on.

I'm glad I bought the book, but......

Anyone else have any impressions on this one?

Alex
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: dj on May 26, 2011, 06:40:21 AM
Quote
To me there was too little on this early career...

I know what you mean.  Every good blues biography I've read leaves me feeling the same way.  But to be fair, we just know so much more about Bill Broonzy's, Josh White's, Lightnin' Hopkins', etc. post-rediscovery careers than we do about their lives before they interacted extensively with the white world.  But with that inevitable fact aside, I loved the book.  I was impressed at Riesman's discovery of the details of Broonzy's family, and at his sensitive handling of the inaccuracies and contradictions in Broonzy's own statements about his life.  I also think that his handling of Lester Melrose's financial dealings with Broonzy is about as sensitive and fair to both sides as we're ever likely to see.  If the book had included an extra hundred pages of discography and bibliography, it would have been just about perfect.  Or at least as perfect as it's possible for a blues biography to be when the research is started 45 years after the subject's death.      
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: Bunker Hill on May 26, 2011, 09:12:55 AM
If the book had included an extra hundred pages of discography and bibliography, it would have been just about as perfect. 
I'm with you on that but I guess whatever the economics of publishing are these days they probably don't deem them "cost effective".

The book's extensive notes cite Chris Smith's discography several times but as that's now 15 years old and unavailable there's little point searching that out. See Weenie topic of five years ago http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=60&topic=2327.0
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: Stuart on June 17, 2011, 09:45:30 AM
Via our den mother at the PWBG:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/17/us/17cncblues.html?_r=1&emc=eta1
Title: Re: Big Bill Broonzy Book
Post by: Bunker Hill on June 25, 2011, 09:57:48 PM
NPR review

http://www.npr.org/2011/06/25/137398692/big-bill-broonzy-historys-musical-chameleon
Title: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: jostber on October 23, 2011, 03:47:17 AM
A review of the Bob Reisner book:

http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=40574

Title: Re: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: Bunker Hill on February 08, 2012, 09:46:45 PM
Thought I'd give this a bump in light of my having been informed by Bob that a paperback will be published "in the Fall".
Title: Re: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: Coyote Slim on March 22, 2012, 02:19:29 PM
I read this a few months ago (last year now, I guess, time flies).  I thought it was very interesting -- Big Bill was an interesting, and an inspiring man.  There were a few things I wanted to know more about -- I think mainly about his relationships, but its definitely worth reading.
Title: Re: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: Bunker Hill on April 05, 2012, 09:19:05 PM
Thought I'd give this a bump in light of my having been informed by Bob that a paperback will be published "in the Fall".
The University of Chicago Press has confirmed that it will publish a paperback edition this Fall.
Title: Re: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: jharris on April 18, 2012, 01:21:22 PM
Thought I'd reactivate the thread as I just received the following note from Bob Riesman:

I'm pleased to report that the University of Chicago Press will be publishing a paperback edition of I Feel So Good this fall, and I'm starting to work on the marketing and promotion for that. And today the Arkansas Times ran a feature story on Big Bill, which is the first time an Arkansas publication has covered him and the book:

http://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/big-bill-broonzys-complicated-history/Content?oid=2177373  (http://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/big-bill-broonzys-complicated-history/Content?oid=2177373)
Title: Re: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: Mr.OMuck on April 18, 2012, 07:56:38 PM
I read this book this summer along with that other Broonzy Bio Blue Smoke. Both had their strengths, the former certainly cleared the vale of years of accumulated misinformation and is to be commended for finally nailing down the essential biographical outline of Broonzy's life. One can only imagine and admire all the research that went into that undertaking! The latter for providing a more complete social, cultural , historical picture though in truth much of that could have functioned as a stand alone work without Broonzy's inclusion. Blue Smoke also felt to be the better piece of writing. This of course is subjective and has everything to do with how language sounds and the ear of the writer. I Feel So Good is journalistic, straight ahead and perfectly functional, but I found myself wishing for a more "musical" sounding voice if you will.
 Broonzy has special significance for me and while I am grateful to both of these authors for their efforts, I couldn't help wishing that a serious professional biographer of stature, had undertaken the project. But since Doris Kearns Goodwin seems to want to write about other less interesting people, I'm grateful for both of these books as well as for "Big Bill's Blues" Big Bill & Yannick Bruynoghe's book.
Both were better than The Recent Mississippi John Hurt Bio which I found almost unreadable I'm sad to say despite its good research and good intentions. Read it for the info.
I'd have to throw in my vote for Society Blues, the Josh White bio by Elijah Wald as being the best written most compelling of all the blues bios I've read so far.
Title: Re: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: Bunker Hill on April 18, 2012, 09:34:22 PM
And today the Arkansas Times ran a feature story on Big Bill, which is the first time an Arkansas publication has covered him and the book
Four pages, wow, that makes a change.  ;)

Nice to see a photo of Bill's grandnieces taken by the author.
Title: Re: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: Bunker Hill on April 18, 2012, 09:47:05 PM
The Recent Mississippi John Hurt Bio which I found almost unreadable I'm sad to say despite its good research and good intentions. Read it for the info.
"Veteran" blues reviewer Ron Wienstock made a similar observation, he concluded:

One shortcoming of this book is that while he discusses Hurt's performances and some of the reactions of folks like Patrick Sky and Jerry Ricks, he does very little in bringing the music to life, discussing the performances except for example in an overview of the Library of Congress recordings, noting perhaps he showed a little rust 35 years after recording for Okeh.

Despite this significant flaw, Mississippi John Hurt: His LIfe, His Times, His Blues will be the essential reference on Mississippi John Hurt's life. I do not regret purchasing this. It contains a loving introduction by his granddaughter, Mary Frances Hurt Wright, Hurt's granddaughter and a full listing of Hurt's recordings.
Title: Re: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: Stuart on April 19, 2012, 07:22:02 AM
Still waiting for the authorized biography of Willie Mae...

I know where Ron's coming from, but isn't that what we have the recordings for?

Re: Mr. O's comments: Decades ago I relegated critiquing writing style and organization to the back burner, at least for books on music. It's not that I don't perceive the problems or consider them important, it's just that I don't let them bother me. Editing, and even proofreading, has become non-existent in many areas of publishing--not that it should be that way or is an excuse for slop. Still, the professional guiding hand that helps turn a rough draft into a polished, finished product is no longer available in many cases. Many of these works are labors of love, done when time permits by people who have full time jobs in other fields and are not trained and/or professional writers. Thus, I'm glad that they were able to run down the info, organize it , and get it published. Obviously, these are not very high standards, but I reserve those for other areas and am just thankful that anything at all is written about some of our musical heroes. I guess the NJ wise-ass in me wants to say, "If I want great writing, I'll read Shakespeare."
Title: Re: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: dj on April 19, 2012, 07:45:23 AM
Quote
One shortcoming of this book is that while he discusses Hurt's performances and some of the reactions of folks like Patrick Sky and Jerry Ricks, he does very little in bringing the music to life, discussing the performances...

Quote
I know where Ron's coming from, but isn't that what we have the recordings for?

Thankfully, that's what we have Weenie Campbell for!

I thought Bob Riesman's writing in the Broonzy bio was just fine.  Philip Ratcliffe's in the Hurt book was a little odd - I'd often hit a phrase and stop and say "That's not the way an experienced writer would put it", but I eventually got used to that.  I've read much worse prose.  David Evans when he's got his academic hat on comes to mind.  I realize he is an academic, but his writing is vastly improved when he forgets that fact (in his old columns for Blues Revue Quarterly, for example).

O'Muck, if you enjoyed Blue Smoke, you'd like Rosevelt's Blues by Guido van Rijn.  It provides "a more complete social, cultural , historical picture" which functions "as a stand alone work without Broonzy's inclusion".  I think van Rijn is a better writer than Roger House, and he makes it his policy to quote entire songs rather than just a few odd lines taken out of context, which I think is important.

I guess good writing really is in the ear of the reader.  My take after reading the two Broonzy books almost back to back was that Bob Riesman was a far better writer than Roger House. 

Title: Re: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: Stuart on April 19, 2012, 08:12:14 AM
Re: "Academic prose" (this has been mentioned before, but just in case you missed it--a couple of sources for this classic piece):

http://www.soc.umn.edu/~samaha/cases/limerick_dancing_with_professors.html (http://www.soc.umn.edu/~samaha/cases/limerick_dancing_with_professors.html)

http://wolfweb.unr.edu/homepage/calabj/pdf/Academicprose.pdf (http://wolfweb.unr.edu/homepage/calabj/pdf/Academicprose.pdf)

Edited to add: Actually, I found all three books to be quite readable and enjoyable. Like dj, I would find myself saying at times, "This isn't the way that I would have written it," but so what? I sensed that at times the authors knew that they had information that they shouldn't leave out, but didn't have a way to include it that didn't come off as awkward.

Sometimes a person gets only one shot at writing on a subject or topic (especially in a niche area), so the decision to include all the available info--even if circumstances dictate that it is done in an awkward manner--overrides stylistic considerations.
Title: Re: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: Mr.OMuck on April 19, 2012, 09:59:53 AM
I did have reservations about posting my thoughts and I hope I made the point that I was grateful for the efforts of the authors. It is certainly true that budgets for editing and the like are not there and that these books were written by non professional writers in most cases, probably at great cost and sacrifice to themselves and their families. So thanks again. Part of my reason for posting is that a Gary Davis bio is in the works and I wanted to put out there what I see as some of the pitfalls of this kind of undertaking in hopes that they can be avoided in THAT book..which I want to be great.
And yeah if I want great writing I'll read Shakespeare. Actually I don't really believe that. One of the things that makes Wald's Josh White book work as well as it does is that he understands that he's telling a story, rather than disgorging accumulated research in a comprehensible form. A story has to have a dramatic arc of some kind in which to place the pertinent information. Josh White's life had many dramatic episodes and plenty of living witnesses to relate them. But having the knack of knowing when to usher an instance on stage, how long it should remain, what the essence and larger meaning for the whole is, is the mark of a good story teller.
BTW My Garfield Akers Bio* is being published next October by Random House. So far it is 980 pages mostly of arguments between a Freudian & a Jungian analyst as to the meaning of his lyrics, right hand method, and exact moment of when his singing begins in each stanza. Throw away that Ambien!

* This is a joke folks!
Title: Re: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: Bunker Hill on April 19, 2012, 10:25:37 AM
BTW My Garfield Akers Bio* is being published next October by Random House. So far it is 980 pages mostly of arguments between a Freudian & a Jungian analyst as to the meaning of his lyrics, right hand method, and exact moment of when his singing begins in each stanza. Throw away that Ambien!
* This is a joke folks!
L-O-V-E I-T, needed a belly laugh.

Re. the RGD biography, I guess you are referring to the Ian Zac work in progress. Are you in contact with him? If not I'll point you in his direction.
Title: Re: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: Mr.OMuck on April 19, 2012, 10:36:52 AM
Yes Ian and I are in touch and I've already conveyed some of my concerns to him. I don't have a sense of how far he's gotten yet but he did interview me for the book which should automatically disqualify it from serious consideration  :P  . Ian IS however a professional writer so I am hopeful.
He is also the father of twins, a huge motivator in wanting and needing the book to be successful.
Title: Re: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: Stuart on April 19, 2012, 10:52:34 AM
Re: Shakespeare--It was my NJ wise-ass talking, Phil. Sorry if it came off as snide as it wasn't meant to be--just a nod to the wide range of writing out there.

I enjoy Elijah's writing, too, and think that he's quite talented. And I've always wondered if having a Nobel Laureate father and a Ph.D. mother had any thing to do with it.
Title: Re: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: Mr.OMuck on April 19, 2012, 10:58:52 AM
No offense taken. It was a fair shot and made the point well I thought. Its also ALWAYS funny.
Title: Re: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: Johnm on April 19, 2012, 11:09:33 AM
I like the sound of your Akers biography, Phil, though I don't know if 980 pages is enough to deal with Akers' right hand technique adequately.
All best,
Johnm
Title: Re: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: Stuart on April 21, 2012, 06:55:53 AM
Bob Riesman posted the following link to the PWBG today:

http://www.fretboardjournal.com/features/online/bob-shane-big-bill-broonzy-louis-armstrong-and-horses-and-best-correction-ever (http://www.fretboardjournal.com/features/online/bob-shane-big-bill-broonzy-louis-armstrong-and-horses-and-best-correction-ever)
Title: Re: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: Bunker Hill on August 30, 2012, 09:19:07 PM
This was in my mail box.

I?m very pleased to announce that Chicago blues harp master Billy Boy Arnold and guitarist Eric Noden will join me on Thursday, October 11 at 6:30 pm at 92YTribeca in New York City for I Feel So Good: A Celebration of Big Bill Broonzy, Featuring Billy Boy Arnold. The event will mark the publication of the paperback edition of my Big Bill Broonzy biography, I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy (University of Chicago Press).
 
Here?s a link to the event listing on the 92YTribeca website:
 
http://www.92y.org/Tribeca/Event/I-Feel-So-Good.aspx (http://www.92y.org/Tribeca/Event/I-Feel-So-Good.aspx)
 
The evening will feature Billy Boy Arnold performing songs from his recently released tribute CD, Billy Boy Arnold Sings Big Bill Broonzy (Electro-Fi). Eric Noden, who produced and played guitar on the CD, will accompany Arnold on guitar. In addition to performing Broonzy?s songs, Billy Boy Arnold will also sit down for a conversation with me in which he?ll share his first-hand recollections of Big Bill and the Chicago blues world of the 1940s and 1950s.
 
Tickets are now on sale, and I hope you can join us for what promises to be a memorable evening of words and music. Please tell your friends, and I hope to see you there!
 
Best,
Bob

I Feel So Good on Facebook - paperback edition due out October 2012

Title: Re: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: Pan on August 31, 2012, 01:16:10 AM
Thanks Bunker Hill. I shared the facebook pages.

Cheers

Pan
Title: Re: I Feel So Good - The Life And Times Of Big Bill Broonzy
Post by: Mr.OMuck on September 01, 2012, 07:32:13 AM
Well I'll certainly be at that event. When I was first researching my fabulous and successful "come back" five years or so ago, I did a bit of research regarding my likely competition (i.e. guitar players working more or less out of the same bag of material) in the U.S., and Eric Noden emerged as one of the better players I encountered ,along with
Frankie Basile before I knew him of course and also John Hennigan. They were also people who I felt had an authentic feel and good chops. I wasn't looking at more established people like Ari for instance. I think we should try to get Noden and Hennigan to become participants here. I know John but have never met Eric I think he's a Minnesotan?