Monday, December 15, 2014

Music books about the South, New Orleans

             Denise Duffy opens “We Are The Music Makers! Preserving the Soul of America’s Music” with a statement that almost all American music has roots reaching southward.
            “Deeply personal and implausibly universal, the blues, jazz, gospel and old time music of the American South form a deep aquifer that contemporary musicians all around the world drink from daily,” she writes in the book’s introduction. “The music is constantly expanding and morphing into country, rock, rap and soul, but trace the origins and you will find yourself standing squarely in the South.”
            Along with folklore historian Timothy Duffy, they have authored a wonderful tribute to southern music makers in exquisite black and white photos, quotes and biographies, produced through their nonprofit organization, Music Maker Relief Foundation. Money raised through the program assists blues musicians in need.             Some of the spotlights include lyrics to songs, many of which will turn your head.
            A companion CD is also available.
            If you’re looking for more great books for the musician on your holiday list, here are a few to consider:
            “The New Orleans Jazz Scene, 1970-2000, a Personal Retrospective” by Thomas W. Jacobsen chronicles the resurgence of jazz in New Orleans in the late 20th century. The book includes more than 70 photos of jazz players and performances.
            Jimmie Rodgers was known as the “Father of Country Music” while Charley Patton was “King of the Delta Blues.” The two held parallel careers from Mississippi poverty to success and Ben Wynne examines both from different sides of the race line in his LSU book, “In Tune: Charley Patton, Jimmie Rodgers and the Roots of American Music.”
            Barbara Barnes Sims of Baton Rouge worked with Sam Phillips as publicist and sales promotion coordinator at Sun Records in Memphis. In the three years she worked there, from 1957 to 1960, she came in contact with Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbinson, Jerry Lee Lewis and Charlie Rich. Her memoir, “The Next Elvis: Searching For Stardom at Sun Records,” discusses a pivotal time at the record company and those remarkable musicians who followed in the King’s shoes.

            Kirkus Awards for best non-fiction books of 2014 include “The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution” by Walter Isaacson of New Orleans and “Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh” by John Lahr.

Holiday releases
            Pelican Publishing has two books perfect for the holidays or gift giving. Carol Stubbs and Nancy Rust of Lafayette have created a delightful combination Louisiana holiday celebration-cookbook with “A Louisiana Christmas: Heritage Recipes and Hometown Celebrations.” And New Orleans home and garden journalist Bonnie Warren has compiled some of the city’s loveliest holiday decorated homes in “New Orleans Homes at Christmas.”
            Just in time for Christmas, Carolyn Haines has published “Bones on the Bayou: A Sarah Booth Delaney Mystery Short Story,” where the town of Shaw, Miss., resurrects the old custom of drifting miniature, lighted Christmas floats down Silver Bayou. The event is designed to honor an Italian delegation from Venice who may bring much-needed jobs to the small, struggling Delta town. Of course, there’s a murder. Haines has also published “Haunted Holidays: 3 Short Tales of Terror,” a collection of spooky Christmas stories. Both books are available for download at online booksellers.

Humanities class
            UL professor of English Dr. Mary Ann Wilson and the UL Friends of the Humanities present “From Kate Chopin to Swamp People: Louisiana in Literature and Film” on Wednesdays, Jan. 14 through Feb. 11. The class is open to all participants and will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays at H.L. Griffin Hall on the UL campus. The class will read and discuss Kate Chopin’s short stories, Lyle Saxon’s “Children of Strangers,” Rebecca Wells’ “Little Altars Everywhere” and view and discuss films/TV shows “Spirit of a Culture: Cane River Creoles,” “Swamp People,” “True Detective” and “True Blood.” The cost is $75 for Friends members and $100 for non-members. For more information, call Wilson at 298-0406 or email

Book events
             UL Press authors Eddie Boyd, James Nolan, Richard Campanella, Michael Marshall, Freddi Evans, Jason Berry, Marty Mulé and Morgan Molthrop will sign copies of their books at 7 p.m. Thursday at the New Orleans Athletic Club, 222 N. Rampart St., at the “Wine & Sign” event.

            Ryan Adam, author of “New Orleans Mother Goose” and Cecilia Casrill Dartez, author of “Jenny Giraffe and the Streetcar Party” will be signing books from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Pop City, 3118 Magazine St. in New Orleans.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at