Thursday, October 27, 2011

RIP American Pop Music Historian Charles Hamm

Charles Hamm was a pioneer in taking American popular music seriously, and in doing so, convinced others that it was worthy of scholarship. His books Yesterdays: Popular Song in America (ML3477 .H36 1983) and Music in the New World (ML200 .H36 1983) have become standards in the field, and he was a founding member of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. He died October 16.

New York Times Obituary: Charles Hamm, Author on American Popular Music, Is Dead at 86

Books by Hamm at Stan Getz Library

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sister Rosetta Tharpe Honored

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was honored on October 24 with the placement of a official state historic marker in front of her home in Philadelphia. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission marker states:
Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915-1973) One of gospel music's first superstars, she popularized the genre by including secular music elements. A guitar virtuoso and charismatic performer throughout America and Europe, she toured with Count Basie, Cab Calloway, and Benny Goodman. Her home was here.
Listen to her music with CDs available in the Media Center, or learn more from an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer and an NPR interview with Tharpe biographer Gayle Wald.

New marker in N. Phila. labels home of music pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe

A Sister Rosetta Tharpe Biography

Monday, October 24, 2011

Happy Birthday, Franz Liszt

October 22 marked the 200th anniversary of Franz Liszt. While Berklee admittedly has a limited focus on classical music, Liszt is notable for the many innovations he brought to performance practice. As NPR discusses, his influence is still be seen today in popular music.

How Franz Liszt Became The World's First Rock Star

To learn more about Liszt, explore the library's collection of materials by and about him.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

We're Prepared for the Noise

Inside the Reading Room is quiet, but we acknowledge that outside the Reading Room has been particularly noisy lately and will be getting worse. Scaffolding is going up around our building, street work on Mass. Ave. and Belvidere St. has brought jackhammers, and workers are preparing to take down the building across the street.

But have no fear. The reference desk always has a bowl of ear plugs available for the taking, and we're making sure to stay well-stocked. We even have a thematic playlist. What else would you suggest?

"Demolition Man" by the Police, from Ghost in the Machine (CD 5994)
Wrecking Ball by Emmylou Harris (CD 5622)
Appetite for Destruction by Guns N' Roses (CD 210)
It Might Get Loud (DVD 3913)
"Cum On Feel the Noize" by Quiet Riot, from Metal Health (CD 14550)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Stone Roses to Reunite

The Stone Roses have announced their reunion for a pair of shows in 2012 and to record new material. NME has full details from the press conference and a history of the reunion rumors.

Why is this a big deal? Their 1989 classic self-titled debut (CD 14216) is a crucial part of the Madchester scene, a movement of Manchester, England-based bands that fused rock music with dance rhythms. Listen for yourself or check out Alex Green's contribution to Continuum's 33 1/3 series on the album (ML421.S754 G74 2006) as well as our other material by the band.

They have brought new meaning to their song "I Am the Resurrection."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy Birthday, Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry celebrates his 85th birthday on October 18. Duck walk on over to the library to find ways to honor the ground-breaking rock and roll guitarist. Some highlights of our collection include:

The Chess Box by Chuck Berry (CD 5937-5939)

Taylor Hackford's Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll (DVD 4181-4184) Covers the concert at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis, Missouri, to celebrate Chuck Berry's sixtieth birthday and also discusses his life and career.

Chuck Berry transcribed by Fred Sokolow (MP126.B477 C42 1999) Includes a guide to notation and an introduction by Fred Sokolow explaining Chuck Berry's guitar style.

Brown Eyed Handsome Man: The Life and Hard Times of Chuck Berry: An Unauthorized Biography by Bruce Pegg (ML410.B477 P44 2002)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Magnet Resurrected

Magnet, a Philadelphia-based magazine covering alternative music, is back in print and in the library. Magnet was founded in 1993 but ceased publication in 2008. It continued as a web-only magazine. They have resumed publishing a monthly print version, and issue 81 is on the shelf with our periodicals. If you like the cover story on Wilco, give a listen to their new album, The Whole Love, CD 33257-33258.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The 20 Most Underrated Bass Guitarists

Paste Magazine generates a list of the day, and their entry for October 12 is the 20 Most Underrated Bass Guitarists. Writer John Barrett start with a useful point:
First things first: Nearly all bass players are, by definition, underrated and overlooked, since the focal point is usually the lead singer or the guitarist. But even in discussions of great bass guitarists, a select few names get thrown around all the time: Victor Wooten, Flea, Les Claypool, Geddy Lee, etc.. So this week we thought we’d pay tribute to a few of the less-celebrated bass guitarists with fantastic chops from the past several decades of popular music.
While Paste's list compilers have a tendency to run to the willfully obscure, this list contains a thoughtful balance of lesser-known bands, lesser-acknowledged bassists from well-known bands and well-known singers whose bass skills are often overlooked.

The 20 Most Underrated Bass Guitarists

Paste's focus is on popular music, but to explore the full range of genres for bass, take a look at the library's bass research guide. Or give a listen to a Sound Opinions interview with Bootsy Collins, who qualifies as one of those select few names that gets thrown around all the time.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

RIP Pianist Roger Williams

Roger Williams, whose 1955 single "Autumn Leaves" was the only piano instrumental to reach number one on the Billboard pop charts, has died. "Autumn Leaves" remains the best-selling piano record of all time, with more than 2 million sold. NPR has a full obituary.

Famed Pianist Roger Williams Dies At 87

Thursday, October 6, 2011

How Do You Make Money As a Jazz Musician?

No, this is not a how-to but the basic question of a survey. NPR reports that the Future of Music Coalition is trying to find out about revenue streams for jazz artists to get an accurate measure of how the field is doing. Take the survey if you're a jazz artist whose making any money (we hope there are plenty in the Berklee community), and spread the word.

Artist Revenue Streams - Future of Music Coalition
NPR story on the Artist Revenue Streams project

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

RIP Bert Jansch

Prolific folk artist Bert Jansch has died of cancer at 67. NPR has coverage, including his World Cafe performance from earlier this year. Explore his career with The Best of Bert Jansch (CD 19267) and Heartbreak (CD 20735).