Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Lowdown for August…

3-6-11_1378B-Edit Billy Hunt

I’ve been remiss in posting The Lowdown for a while, the doctors have been keeping me busy. But, there’s a lot of fun stuff happening here and I thought I’d catch up.

First, I’ve been trying to expand the mix as far as the books I am reviewing and we led off the month with an interesting auto biography, Simply geniusSimply Genius by one of the most innovative thinkers and interesting musicians, scientists and philosophers of the 20th century. See the review of Simply Genius. “Simply Genius” is filled with wonderful insights into an extraordinary life and mind that reveals that a man of genius is also just a man.

Then I indulged myself with a boo of one of my favorite musicians, Tom WaitsTom Waits on Tom Waits. To set the stage, I moved my office, bass, keyboard and laptop outside to a weedy part of the garden, put on my best Goodwill Blues Brothers suit, complete with a beat to shit “Stingy Brim” Stetson (see the photo). Tom Waits has that kind of effect on me. The book is mostly interviews with Tom over the past nearly 40 years, follow Tom’s  improvisational adventure in this inebriational travelogue. At his darkest he becomes a seedy slathering of organic word ooze that nails your attention span to the wall and keeps it there. He’s the perfect sound track for a film noir. Maybe a black and white porn film shot on 8mm. He’s a professional enigma.

Then, because I can’t stay away from great fiction for very long, I jumped into a great, fun read. by Raymond Benson – The Black Stiletto. Serious, adult novels about caped or costumed super hero crusaders never work…until now. Fans of action-adventure are going to love this. Black Stiletto1

Benson brilliantly forms the story and masterfully turns it from a comic book, to an adult novel. The scenes, the descriptions of the city, the language, the music, the current events all make the story real and familiar. The action is perfectly paced, and the fight scenes, technically described are at once fast and realistic but don’t slow the story. The characters come alive in personality and motivation. Benson uses, whether intentionally or by instinct a great “device” in suspending our disbelief through one of the narrators, The Black Stiletto’s –Judy Cooper/Talbot – son, Martin who discovers through Judy’s diaries that before he was born she was a costumed crime fighter.

The plot is simple, but beautifully crafted in the way that Benson fulfills it. The pace is excellent, filled with just the right amount of detail, personal revelations of the characters, and realism in action as well as background. Martin’s eventual realization - which is shared by the reader - that every so often, a few individuals in this world appear that transcend mere mortals and become something unique and important. And his mother is/was one of those people. I look forward to the next Black Stiletto book next spring.

CannibalNights copy

My next review, which will be up before the weekend is Cannibal Nights: Pacific Stories Volume II by Kiana Davenport.

Cannibal is the second collection of short stories about Hawaii, and the Pacific following on the foot steps of House of Skin K DavenportHouse of Skin.

Cannibal Nights is brutally beautiful and told by the most important author of our fiftieth state. You’ll have to wait for the review, and for me to completely digest this brilliant collection of noirish, darker than the depths of the ocean surrounding the people and the islands she writes of.

Kiana Davenport

Kiana Davenport is one of the most important and poignant authors of the 21st Century. Descended from a full-blooded Native Hawaiian mother, and a Caucasian father from Talladega, Alabama. Kiana is the author of the internationally best-selling novels, SHARK DIALOGUES, SONG OF THE EXILE, HOUSE OF MANY GODS, and a forthcoming novel, THE CHINESE SOLDIER'S DAUGHTER, from Riverhead/Penguin.


Also to be covered this month is The Charlestown Connection by debut author Tom MacDonald.Charlestown Connection MacDonald has been called the heir apparent to Lehane and Parker for Boston Crime Fiction. I just received a signed first edition as well as the ARC in Kindle format from the publishers, Oceanview Publishing, and thank you very much. You’ll be hearing a lot about this book and this author. The book was released on August 1, 2011 so be one of the first to read it, it’s available at all the online retailers as well as your favorite book seller as the publisher is really hyped on this book and has a big promotion on the agenda.

Also on the agenda this month is a first for The Dirty Lowdown, a Juvenile Biography. Yep, you read that right. But what an important story. The book is Little Rock Girl 1957: How A Photograph Changed The Fight For Integration.

Little Rock Girl

In Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957 Nine African-American students made history when they defied a governor and integrated an Arkansas high school in 1957. It was the photo of one of the nine trying to enter the school—a young girl being taunted, harassed and threatened by an angry mob—that grabbed the world’s attention and kept its disapproving gaze on Little Rock, Arkansas. In defiance of a federal court order, Governor Orval Faubus called in the National Guard to prevent the students from entering all-white Central High School. A chilling photo by newspaper photographer Will Counts captured the sneering expression of a girl in the mob and made history. Years later Counts snapped another photo, this one of the same two girls, now grownup, reconciling in front of Central High School. A part of the Captured History series.

The book is aimed at grades 4 through 8 and would be a great education to the real history and struggles of minorities for children, as well as adults who need a little reminder. The ARC was provided through NetGalley and Capstone/Compass Point Publishing. seriously, get this book. It’s only 67 pages of one of the most significant historical events in this country. Nuff’ said.

I’ll also be reviewing a book for a friend, Oskaloosa Moon by Gary Sutton. Oskaloosa

OSKALOOSA MOON recaptures beauty, pain and adolescent struggles in a mid-American farm village. Fender skirts, corn fields, a shocking new music called Rock and Roll, white bread and Velveeta, and older kids 'making out' punctuate the coming of age for the young boy they call "Moon". He's illegitimate. Disfigured. And Oskaloosa's civic leaders are embarrassed by his presence. Surviving bullies, making and losing friends, stumbling between jobs, and traversing the country in early adulthood, Moon eventually leaves town, gets educated and finally scratches out his own path. In the spirit of Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn" and movies like "Forrest Gump", OSKALOOSA MOON reveals the adventures of an outcast boy who was unwilling to be invisible.

Gary Sutton

Gary Sutton is a retired CEO, inventor and author. His BS is from Iowa State, he's an OPM alumnus of the Harvard Graduate School of Business and took postgrad work at Christ Church, Oxford.

His wife, Nancy, is a retired teacher with a BS from Iowa State and AA from Mesa College. They live in La Jolla, California, have two daughters, two sons-in-law and four exceptionally bright, athletic, entertaining and beautiful grandchildren.

Gary self-published Oskaloosa Moon through CreateSpace and I am proud he asked me to review this beautiful piece of work. Look for the review early next week.

And finally, I can’t forget the music that rocks my world. The sound track that keeps my blind eyes searching. I’ll be reviewing three new albums all in the “Blues” vein.

First, is Memphis Jewel by Jackie Johnson Memphis JewelCatfood Records just signed Memphis-based soul/blues singer Jackie Johnson, and the album became available on July 5.

The new CD was produced and mixed by Grammy-winning producer Jim Gaines, (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana, Luther Allison), recorded at Sonic Ranch Studios in Tornillo, Texas, and Leeway Music in Memphis; and mixed at Gaines’ Bessie Blue Studio in Stantonville, Tennessee.

One of the many highlights on Memphis Jewel is a stone-cold soul/blues duet with Jackie Johnson and Blues Music Award-winning singer Johnny Rawls on “Love You Still,” a song that recalls the classic duets of Otis Redding/Carla Thomas and William Bell/Judy Clay in the glory days of Stax Records. You can hear samples on the left, near the top of the page or by following the links to Amazon. I want to thank Mark Pucci at Mark Pucci Media for providing me with the CD.  Born and raised in Memphis, Jackie Johnson grew up singing gospel music while attending the same church as the legendary Rufus and Carla Thomas. While in her late teens, she first toured overseas with Rufus Thomas. In addition, Jackie has opened for Bonnie Raitt at the Montreux Jazz Festival; performed at the Royal Albert Hall in London as special guest with Belinda Carlisle, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page at the World Health Organization Cancer Trust Benefit; performed with Aaron Neville at the House of Blues in New Orleans; and toured Italy and Spain as lead vocalist and background singer several times.

Reluctant Saints

I’ll also be taking a listen to Long Drive by Reluctant Saints. This is the latest release from Atlanta-based group, Reluctant Saints on INIO Music.

The band’s CD showcases a blend of country, Southern rock and jam influences and features special guest Hammond B-3 legends Ike Stubblefield (Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Wonder) and Rev. Oliver Wells (Earth, Wind and Fire). Long Drive was produced by Jonathan Beckner and the band and recorded at Real 2 Reel Studios in Jonesboro, Georgia. The album was released in July.

clip_image002Soon arriving in the mail is the latest from Tom Hambridge, Boom, Grammy™, ASCAP and multiple Blues Music Award-winning Tom Hambridge’s latest CD, Boom!, has been announced for August 30th release by Superstar Records. Hambridge wrote or co-wrote all of the album’s 11 tracks, collaborating with such acclaimed American songwriters including Gary Nicholson, Delbert McClinton, Jeffrey Steele and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Johnny Van Zant.

Boom! perfectly showcases not only Tom Hambridge’s skills as a singer and drummer, but also his multiple award-winning talents as a songwriter and producer. He’s backed by an all-star cast of musicians including Delbert McClinton band members Rob McNelley on guitar and Kevin McKendree on keyboards. Other players include long-time Hambridge band member Tommy McDonald on bass, as well as Nashville stalwarts Mark Jordan on piano, Kenny Greenburg on guitar and Michael Rhodes on bass.

Utilizing all of his blues, rock and country influences, songs on Boom! I’m looking forward to this one.

John and I on the deck in Tigard

And, in closing, I’d like to take the time to celebrate my baby brother, John William Puddy’s Birthday on August 12th. He was my best friend, one of the smartest guys I ever knew, and a fellow graduate of The Steely Dan University. I lost him in 2005, R.I.P. Deacon Blue. I know you are learning to work the saxophone and drinking scotch whiskey all night long…


Also, my brother Christopher Thomas Puddy, who would have celebrated his birthday on August 19. He’d be 45 today, except he was murdered in New Mexico in 1992. R.I.P. bro.

And, that’s the….

The Dirty Lowdown

Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

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