Click Here To Purchase Experienced: Rock Music Tales of Fact and Fiction

Edited by Roland Goity and John Ottey

Publisher: Vagabondage Press LLC

ISBN-10: 0981919898    ISBN-13: 978-0981919898


Imagine, if you will, the entire realm of rock ‘n roll as a massive kaleidoscope that changes colors and shapes with a simple twist of the eyepiece. Then, imagine opening up the viewing tube and pulling out 16 small shards of the colorful glass that the kaleidoscope converts into those images. Experienced: Rock Music Tales of Fact and Fiction is something like a literary equivalent to this picture. The anthology includes 16 short stories, vignettes, and character sketches that individually are little shards; together, they are a vivid, jagged, and rough-edged mural of what rock means to its creators and audiences.

 More specifically, this collection is not a series of biographies but rather an assembly of portraits of music-makers, would-be music-makers, fans, and interviewers and DJs who bring the music to those fans. Some of the performers have been around perhaps longer than was good for them, some are on the starting line. In all cases, an astonishingly excellent range of writers capture both little moments and full careers alike in very succinct stories encapsulating decades of the rock lifestyle on and off the stage.

 The book appropriately opens with “Hunting Accidents” by James Greer, the story of a new ban on the rise choosing whether to sign with a major label or go with one more accommodating to their musical direction. Corey Mesler's “The Growth and Death of Buddy Gardner” is about a Memphis guitar player who almost made the big time in his band Black Lung. When he dies, he represents the ‘60s as a whole—unrealized dreams gone too soon. Likewise, “Road Life Wearies Harmonica Virtuoso” by  Brad Kava is about gay harp player Jason Riccie who can blow anyone off the stage whenever he wants—but being gay doesn’t fit in the skirt-chasing crowd. Perhaps the only performer profiled to overcome all the odds is “Madonna” as described by Harold Jaffe.

 There’s something about all these rockers that gets deeply into the psyches of their listeners. For example, Tim Weed's “Steal Your Face” follows a Grateful Dead “dead head” who sympathizes with a fellow concert-goer who goes over the edge in public—and then follows the same path himself. Adam Moorad's “David Bowie against the Enemy” has a Ziggy Stardust devotee seeing his hero everywhere, filling his day-dreams. In “Little Leftovers, “Fred DeVries demonstrates the line between an interviewer and a fan, a stalker and a professional isn’t always clear. Then there are the DJs. Brian Goetz's “Heavy Lifting Days” is about the 1970s when jocks had to build homemade speakers, add in light-shows and dry-ice fog machines—only to see the digital age make it all so simple for his nightclub descendents. Few readers are likely to forget Scott Nicholson's “Dead Air” in which a Kansas late-night radio show gets a rating boost after a serial killer starts calling in.

 As the book opened with the hopes of an up-and-coming band with enviable choices to make, the final story, “If a Tree Falls” by Carl Peel, is about an aging performer playing in the smallest of clubs where even his own family won’t come see him. As he plays his songs, he’s surrounded by the equipment of the band that will follow him, youngsters just waiting for his set to end. This after “Dee Dee's Challenge,” Ed Hamilton’s story of a Ramone haunted by his days with Sid Vicious and the punk generation. So the story comes full circle. Musicians on the rise, on the fall, on the road, over the edge. Fans on the road, in the crowd, fighting with girlfriends, bailing each other out of jail. To spice up the visual aspects of the proceedings, illustrations by Kimy Martinez are included to make the book just a tad more than a literary experience.

 If you love rock ‘n roll and all that comes with it, you’ll not only enjoy this fast-moving book, but you’re likely to see at least one reflection of yourself in it. But as the level of writing is so high, you need not be solely interested in the subject matter to appreciate what the editors have collected here. Experienced is chock-full of memorable characters—real and imagined—settings and situations—fact and fiction—and narratives that move with the pace of a pop classic. A most enjoyable kaleidoscope indeed.   

   Click Here To Purchase Experienced: Rock Music Tales of Fact and Fiction