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October 10, 2016

I have a friend who is of the opinion that nobody does quality work any more.

He is by his own admission a pessimist, and the fact that a road crew managed to crack his sewer pipe while doing street repairs a few weeks ago has no doubt colored his opinion, but I have to admit that there is some merit to his argument. These days, customer service seems almost non-existent (ever try getting a human on the phone when calling an 800 number?). Correspondence and even important business documents like contracts are   often riddled with typos and grammatical mistakes. And don’t even get me started about emails and texts!

I don’t think this is because people are more capable than ever before, or even less            interested in doing a good job. I think it’s simply because we’re more distracted than ever before.

Take, for example, the 30-something woman who was seated next to me on a recent cross-country flight. No sooner had we reached cruising altitude than she fished out her laptop, an enormous sheaf of papers, and not one but two cell phones. Within moments, she had these all arranged precariously on her tray table – no mean feat since she was occupying a center seat – along with the large bottle of water she’d lugged on board and the sandwich that she purchased shortly after takeoff.

After logging her various devices onto the plane’s WiFi system, the next five hours were taken up with a pantomime of sorts which went something like this:

— Pick up cell phone #1, check email.

— Type twenty words furiously into the open document on the laptop.

— Pick up cell phone #2, send a text.

— Extract a page from sheaf of documents, study for five seconds.

— Pick up sandwich, take bite.

— Put down sandwich, pick up cell phone #2, check email.

— Type fifteen more words furiously into laptop, then extract a different piece of paper with one hand and pick up cell phone #1 with the other.

— Send text from cell phone #1 using just one thumb (!) while studying piece of paper.

— Put down cell phone and paper, pick up bottle of water and sandwich, take swig and bite.

— Put down water and sandwich, type three words furiously into laptop.

— Pick up cell phone #2 , send text, then pick up cell phone #1 in other hand. (To check the text just sent from cell phone #2?)

— Put down both cell phones, pick up sandwich, take bite. With free hand, type eight words into laptop.

— Put down sandwich, pick up piece of paper with one hand, water in the other.

— Take swallow of water while studying paper for three seconds.

— Put down water and paper, type sixteen words furiously into laptop, switch to a different document, pick up different piece of paper and cell phone #2, study for vital incoming text/email, put down paper and cell phone, type nine words furiously into laptop, pick up cell phone #1, check email, pick up sandwich, take bite.

On and on and on and on. For five hours. I was getting exhausted just watching her!

This woman was clearly a human version of the Energizer bunny – I’m guessing her usual breakfast consists of a dozen cups of highly caffeinated coffee with a Red Bull chaser – and she seemed to be getting a lot accomplished but I can’t imagine that any of it was quality work. And even if she was the champion multitasker of all time, I can’t imagine that the documents she was massaging with such intensity were not littered with errors.

Sadly, this is the way that most people work these days. The pressure imposed by the     corporate culture to constantly produce seems to outweigh the need to focus and get things right. Despite the fact that quantity over quality is almost always a bad thing, this seems to increasingly be the way of the world. Is this really progress?

September 21, 2016

I’m going to be jumping on a plane to Los Angeles in a few days’ time. The trip will be mostly business – I’ll be attending a technical conference where I have been invited to do a presentation based on my Great British Recording Studios book – but I’ll have ample time for some pleasure too.

That will include visiting old friends and doing a couple of ROADIE book signings, but the highlight will undoubtedly be the event I have scheduled at the Sam Ash Music store on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood on Wednesday, September 28. That’s because the Sam Ash chain – indeed the entire Ash family – have played an integral role in my development as a musician, and, from there, my transition into a music journalist, author, and novelist.

Allow me to elaborate. I believe I may have the dubious honor of having been thrown out of more Sam Ash stores (as well as the fabled Manny’s, which the Ash chain later bought up) than anyone in New York – at least anyone I know. This occurred mostly in my teen years and early twenties, when I had little in the way of disposable income. (Little in the way of any income, for that matter.) But ever since that fateful glimpse of the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show back in ’64 (detailed in my last blog entry), I was drawn to any collection of guitars, basses, and/or drums just as surely as a moth is drawn to a flame. And the Sam Ash store in the Brooklyn neighborhood of my youth – their very first store, in fact – had the finest collection of instruments anywhere. Better yet, they’d let you touch the         instruments and play them for awhile … until they got fed up with you making a racket and politely but firmly showed you the door.

The original Sam Ash store of my youth.
The original Sam Ash store of my youth.

Actually, the Ash folks showed remarkable patience with me and those of my ilk. It had to have been completely obvious that we weren’t going to be spending any money, for the simple reason that we didn’t have any. But if the store was busy and the salesmen were otherwise engaged, you could sometimes get away with blasting out licks on a high quality Fender, Gibson, Gretsch, or Rickenbacker guitar – even a genuine Hofner Beatle bass – for a heady afternoon of music-making before you finally got the evil eye and the nod towards the exit door that signalled the end to the day’s adventure.

 Jerry Ash
Jerry Ash

I was in that store often enough that I eventually got to know the manager: Jerry Ash, son of founder Sam Ash.  Jerry was all business, but he was also affable and encouraging, especially considering that I was just this kid hanging around wasting everyone’s time. We never talked about it, not even years later when I got to know him better, but I have to assume that he saw the eagerness in my eyes and knew that he and his store were playing a pivotal role in my life … not to mention the fact that I did indeed become a loyal customer once I actually got some gainful employment and could begin buying the instruments of my dreams.

In time, I would meet Jerry’s wife Bernice and his children, Richie, Sammy, and David, as well as his brother Paul – pretty much the entire Ash clan. Years later, they would hire me to rewrite, reorganize, and modernize the original employees guide assembled by Sam back in the 1930s. In and amongst the rules about clocking in, learning the products, and the importance of being smartly dressed and punctual, there was one prevailing theme throughout: always be courteous to your customers.

Today, the Ash chain is one of the largest in the country, and there are two areas where they have it completely over the competition: One, the fact that all their salespeople, like the family that run the business, are musicians themselves. And two, the courtesy they show everyone who walks in the door, from the most affluent professional to the impoverished teenage kid who’s just there to riff on “Stairway to Heaven” for as long as possible, as loud as possible, and on a guitar he or she probably won’t be able to afford for many, many years. That kid will probably get shown the door after an hour or so, like I did, but they will be back, and will always carry with them a powerful memory of the place that      provided the impetus to play an instrument and pursue a life filled with music.

Now you know why it’s such a big deal – and such an honor – for me to be asked to appear at the Sam Ash store in Hollywood, signing copies of a book written by a musician, for     musicians: It’s entirely possible that ROADIE might never have been written if it weren’t for Jerry Ash and his family.

September 13, 2016

With the imminent release of the way-cool Ron Howard film “Eight Days A Week,” this seems like a good time to reflect on what it was that got me into the music business in the first place.

Like so many of the Baby Boom generation, it was The Beatles, of course. I still remember being mesmerized as they took the stage of the Ed Sullivan show for the first time – a night when, it was later reported, crime statistics plummeted across the entire United States. But even before the group’s ghostly black-and-white images forever captured my attention and imagination, I had been prepped – almost whipped up into a frenzy – by the tidal wave of Beatlemania that shortly was to break upon these shores. It’s a phenomenon that’s hard to describe to millenials or just about anyone who was born later than the mid-1950s, because it was so unique, and so tied to the boundless grief our nation was feeling after the assassination of our young president, John F. Kennedy, in the fall of 1963, and all the bizarre events that followed. (The alleged assassin was himself murdered – on national TV, no less – by a shady figure with ties to the Mob, leading many citizens to question the government’s possible involvement in the whole affair.)

As I reflected on those days and prepared to recapture them for this blog, I realized that I had already done so once before, back when I was an editor for Musician magazine in the late ’90s. I’d been given the coveted assignment to interview Sir George Martin, a personal hero of mine – something that had been awarded to me by the editor-in-chief, I was told, on the basis of his belief that I would likely quit if I didn’t get the gig. He was probably right.

The interview itself was both a revelation and a disappointment. (Long story, which I won’t get into here, though the disappointment had nothing to do with Sir George himself, who was a total gentleman throughout.) But I walked out of there a changed man, having been given a brief glimpse into the stunning creative process and teamwork that went behind much of The Beatles’ recorded work – a glimpse that would turn into a long look when,      later that year, I met and struck up a friendship with longtime Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick. I would eventually go on to co-author Geoff’s memoir, “Here, There, and Everywhere” – another amazing experience.

Anyway, since I am a firm believer that there is rarely any need to reinvent the wheel, allow me to present an excerpt from the lead-in to my interview with Sir George Martin, as published in that long-ago issue of Musician. But before I do so, one last personal anecdote: It was on that interview that I broke the unwritten Journalists Code – the only time I would ever do so – which says Thou Shalt Never Ask Thy Interview Subject For An Autograph.

I had brought with me my copy of the first record I ever owned (alluded to in the words you’re about to read) and, as I was packing up my tape recorder at the close of our talk, asked Sir George if he would be kind enough to sign it.

“Good Lord,” he said as he turned over the tattered sleeve and gingerly removed the 45 within, its grooves nearly worn flat, “I haven’t seen one of these in years.”

I was a little too stunned to reply; somehow I assumed he had copies of Beatles records all over the place.

After a moment’s pause he looked me directly in the eye and said, “You don’t really want me to sign this, do you? I’ll ruin it.”

“Ruin away,” was my reply.

And to this day it hangs on the wall of my office, in an acid-proof, fire-proof – possibly even nuclear war-proof – frame. It is my prized possession, and one which has a million times more value to me in memories than it can ever do in money alone.

The New York weather in February, 1964 was brutal. Though I was five months shy of my      eleventh birthday, the massive snowdrifts and bitter cold are still indelibly etched in my mind. But the most memorable thing about that bleak winter was that it marked the first time I ever heard a Beatles record.

“The Beatles are coming! The Beatles are coming!” shouted the hysterical DJ, interrupting      “I Want To Hold Your Hand” every thirty seconds, but so transfixed was I with the sound I was hearing, I hardly paid any notice. What the hell was this? It was so different, so much bigger than life than any record I had ever heard before. I listened to it over and over again on my crappy transistor radio (pick a station, any station—it was being played more or less continuously), finally deciding I had to experience it on something a bit better (which in this case was my plastic monaural record player, with its five-inch speaker). Scraping together the better part of a week’s allowance, I bundled up, made the trek to my neighborhood record store and bought my first-ever 45.

I still remember trundling home and excitedly examining my new purchase. The faces on the sleeve were familiar, all right—the Ed Sullivan appearances were coming up, and the Fab Four’s publicity machine was grinding away in high gear—but on the label there was a name and a job title that was unfamiliar to me. “Produced by George Martin,” it said as it spun around endlessly on my turntable. “So he must be the guy that made it sound this way,”           I thought. “I wonder how he does it…”

Fast-forward nearly thirty-five years into the future. The precocious ten year old is now a grown man, sitting somewhat nervously in the lounge of a London recording studio, waiting to—at long last—meet the name on the label. He’s pretty sure he knows what record producers do—he’s met plenty of them and even produced a few records himself—but he’s still in awe, still wondering how George Martin actually crafted that amazing sound all those years ago. In a few minutes, he hopes to find out.

And so, all these years, all these miles later, I find myself awkwardly shaking George Martin’s hand and following him up a flight of stairs to the recording studio where we are convening. There’s no question that Sir George means business—as soon as he settles his lanky frame into a chair, he issues the first direction of the day to me: “Right then, off you go.” Feeling somewhat like a novice singer entering a vocal booth for the first time, I clear my throat and begin the interview, with the sounds of February 1964 still ringing loudly in my ears.

August 17, 2016

Session musicians like to joke that there are three stages to their careers. Stage One: Who is Howard Massey? Stage Two: Get me Howard Massey. Stage Three: Get me someone like Howard Massey, only cheaper.

Actually, this is probably true of most professions. When you’re first starting out (and at Stage One), it’s important to be ready to seize any opportunity that comes your way,          because you are trying to attain Stage Two. More importantly, you need to have the wherewithal to make the most of that opportunity until or unless it’s apparent that it will neither advance your career nor bring you happiness. (Of all the many definitions of true happiness, one of my favorites is: getting paid to do what you like.)

But when you get a little older and you gain some experience and a little reputation, it can often be more beneficial to turn down an opportunity than to go after it — though whenever you say no you should always do it as diplomatically as possible, because burning bridges is almost always a bad thing.

I was reminded of this when two separate, but (in retrospect) similar things happened to me last week. Earlier this month, I was “head-hunted” by a professional job placement specialist —the first time this has ever happened to me, by the way. He had read about me on a social media site and had approached me about the possibility of my doing some well-paying technical writing and marketing communications for a very large                   manufacturer of computer systems headquartered not far from where I live. Since I often do this kind of work on a freelance basis for various music and professional audio           companies, I expressed an interest, and after reviewing my resume and writing samples, a phone interview was duly arranged. I assumed it was going to be a preliminary vetting by one of their HR people, but instead I found myself talking to the manager in charge of the division, along with one of their content editors. We had a good long chat during which I was asked some insightful questions, and I began getting the distinct impression that the gig was mine if I wanted it. But then, after explaining that I had other projects in the       pipeline — including a book I am currently finishing up (my second novel), and two more I expect to be starting soon — I asked if they could give me a rough estimate of how many hours per week they anticipated the work entailing.

“Oh,” the manager said, sounding surprised, “this is a full-time job. We’d definitely need forty hours from you each week.” This was something the head-hunter had completely      neglected to tell me, and so I had to politely explain that I simply could not take on such a committment at this time. At the risk of blowing my own horn, I do believe they sounded disappointed, but even though it was tough to turn down the significant income and job security on offer, I knew in my heart that saying yes — which would require me to either abandon these other projects or try to juggle them all, which could only end up with my being overworked and overstressed— was the wrong thing for me to do. Besides, I’ve always believed that whenever one door closes, another one opens, and things have usually worked out that way in my life; perhaps I’ve just been blessed that way.

The other incident happened just two days later. Over the weekend, my home had become invaded with a swarm of yellowjackets, who had built a nest in the eaves outside and then burrowed through an interior wall. Unable to get ahold of an exterminator, I had spent an unpleasant 24 hours swatting the bastards against the various windows and screens they were hovering around in an apparent attempt to escape. Since their nest was a long ways away, they weren’t particularly aggressive and in fact already seemed half-dead, so putting them out of their misery wasn’t especially dangerous, though it was a somewhat gruesome task. But then later that evening I was sitting on the sofa watching some TV when one of them landed on my bare leg — I later theorized that it had gotten caught in the downdraft of my ceiling fan — and stung me before flying up into my T-shirt and stinging me a second time. Needless to say, it hurt like hell!

So here were two things that had landed in my lap, one figuratively and the other literally. The first I knew instinctively would ultimately turn into a negative experience, and the      second I realized instantly would be not just negative but downright painful. Admittedly it was a lot harder saying no to the putative job offer than it was sending that damn yellowjacket to the particular hell reserved for stinging insects, but in both cases I’m quite sure that taking the action I did was the right thing to do!

July 12, 2016

It seems fitting to write this blog on the very day that Bernie Sanders is endorsing Hillary Clinton, in front of a banner which reads “Stronger Together.” It’s not my intention to use this space to promote politics of any kind, but whatever your political leanings, I’m sure you can agree that the sentiment is a universal truth. We are by our very nature social creatures. None of us exist in a vacuum — we all have a mother and a father, and most of us are blessed with a circle of family and friends that we come to rely on as we navigate our journey through life.

Most of us, too, work alongside co-workers and team members dedicated to accomplishing daily tasks. If you run your own business, it’s likely you rely on employees and/or contract workers to get things done. If you’re a roadie, you know the show can’t go on without your fellow technicians and sound people and lighting crew and riggers. If you’re a musician, whether you’re playing in an orchestra or a rock band, you know that your sound is totally reliant on your fellow musicians. Even if you are engaged in a solitary occuption, like writing books or composing music, the feedback of your readers, listeners, and/or peers is a necessary component in honing your work and taking it to the highest possible level.

On July 28, I will be participating in a group reading in New York City with fellow authors Céline Keating and Garinè Isassi, both of whom have written music-themed novels that I highly recommend. The official title of the event is “Novels That Rock: Three Notes in a Power Chord” but, really, what it’s all about is our belief that we are stronger together. Three authors should, at least in theory, attract three times as many attendees as an event featuring any one of us, and I can tell you that we are all looking forward to not only sharing our work with our own audience, but to exposing it to the audiences of our fellow authors. I hope all of my NYC-area friends and fans will be able to attend — there will be      refreshments, stimulating conversation, and good company. As a certain Mr. J. Lennon once said, a pleasant time is guaranteed for all!

June 28, 2016

“There are two kinds of fools. One says: ‘This is old and therefore good.’ And the other says: ‘This is new and therefore better.’”

Until recently, I was not aware of the source of this quote—one of my all-time favorites, and one which, I confess, I have used probably too often in my writing—but apparently it was English author and clergyman Dean Inge. Inge wrote this in 1931, when he was            already 71 years old, so I think it’s safe to assume he knew what he was talking about!

For me, the quote hammers home the futility of resisting change. After all, one of the      universal precepts of life is this: Everything changes, always. From the moment you are born until the moment you die, you are changing, as is everything around you. There is no point in resisting it, or lamenting it; it is simply a matter of fact.

The music business is full of people who point to the “good old days” of analog recording and vinyl, implying or insisting that everything sounded better back then. They’re wrong. As are those who insist that we are living today in the golden era of audio, pointing to the power and flexibility of digital recording, not to mention the sheer convenience of being able to listen to your music on the same pocket-sized device you use to make phone calls, take photos, surf the internet, and text your friends.

Similarly, there are those in the publishing business who hate the idea of reading books on Kindles or iPads or smartphones, as if that makes any difference at all. Now me, personally, I prefer the feel of a real book in my hands, just as I prefer the so-called “warmth” that comes from a well-crafted recording that originated on tape. But that doesn’t in any way lessen the worth of an eBook or the value of streaming audio.

At the end of the day all that matters is the quality of the content we read or listen to, not the delivery mechanism. And equally important is the idea of not just accepting, but         embracing change, in whatever form it arrives … though without assuming that things     always change for the best. Do otherwise and you’ll just be one of those fools that Dean Inge wrote about all those years ago.

June 11, 2016

Ever since Roadie got published, I’m often asked what bands I roadied for. The short         answer is: none. In fact, other than the occasional stint doing FOH (Front of House) sound, I’ve never been part of a road crew, period. But during my early years as a touring and     session musician as well as my later career as a music journalist, I’ve gotten to know lots of roadies and believe me, they are always very interesting, and often extremely bright and talented individuals – sometimes even more so than the artists they are working for.

If you’re surprised to hear that, it’s probably because roadies are supposed to be invisible. That’s why they almost inevitably dress in black – so you won’t notice them up on that stage when the need arises for them to venture out and adjust a mic stand or change a guitar string. God forbid they should draw any attention away from the star!

Roadies like to joke about how the show is just that little distraction between load-in and load-out, but from their perspective, it’s the truth. They are, after all, the folks who put in the long, grueling hours before and after every performance – tough physical labor that largely goes unseen and is too often unappreciated. That’s one of the reasons I’m looking forward to the Cameron Crowe TV series Roadies, which debuts on Showtime in a couple of weeks. Other than the fact that it has nearly the same name, there’s no connection with my book (which was written and awaiting publication long before the show went into production), but I am rooting for the show’s success. Not just because I’m a big fan of Crowe’s, but because it’s about time the spotlight shone on those hard-working individuals who are truly the backbone of every live concert.

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May 23, 2016

Confucius, who was nothing if not wise, once said that “true wisdom is knowing what you don’t know.” I was reminded of this recently when I met an earnest young man at a literary event. He was of that certain awkward age—perhaps 15 or so—when instincts dictate that the best way to approach a strange adult is to bedazzle them with the depth and breadth of knowledge accumulated through a decade and a half of hard living.

“Not sure if I need one of these,” he stated with studied boredom as he thumbed through one of my two published collections of interviews with the world’s top record producers and audio engineers.*  I was about to ask him why when he volunteered the answer:           “I already know everything there is to know about recording.”

“Whoa,” I replied, not unkindly (I hope). “I know people who have been doing this for sixty years and they’d be the first to tell you that they don’t know everything there is to know about recording.”

It’s true: the most successful and seasoned (also inevitably the most self-aware) professionals in any business—not just the recording industry—will gladly admit that they still have much to learn. All you need to do is to face a health crisis or two to realize that there’s much more that doctors don’t know than what they do know, as the best of them will readily admit. (Hint: Avoid the ones who say otherwise like the plague.)

To his credit, this young gentleman backpedaled politely, which is possibly more than I would have done when I was his age. And he didn’t seem to take offense at my response… which is definitely more than I would have done when I was his age! Ah, the joy and innocence of youth—a magical time when you don’t yet realize how little you actually know.

* The two volumes in the “Behind the Glass” series, available at fine booksellers everywhere, if you don’t mind an unabashed plug.

May 10, 2016

I’m often asked who my writing influences are. If you’ve read Roadie, I think one is             apparent: the late, great Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson. I love his skewed, surrealistic view of the world, even if his writing sometimes veers into the bizarre. The quote that opens Roadie (“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a    negative side.”) is usually attributed to HST, although that seems to be apocryphal. Never mind: I’m sure whoever actually said it was a major Gonzo fan.

Another major influence is Gore Vidal. He’s best known as a political essayist, but he was also a gifted novelist. I particularly like his seven-book series of historical novels: Burr, 1876, Lincoln, Empire, Hollywood, Washington, D.C., and The Golden Age. Vidal was a master of descriptive writing: With just a carefully worded sentence or two, he had an uncanny ability to portray every scene just as vividly as if you were watching a movie.

Other all-time favorite books: the evocative and beautiful Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman; the wonderfully creative A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan; Glimpses by Lewis Shiner; and Horse’s Neck by Pete Townshend (yes, that Pete Townshend). I’ve read and reread every one of these many times, and they only seem to get better with age.      Like me, I hope.

April 28, 2016

Writing is such a solitary occupation, which is why I’ve always been surprised that some authors dislike — even dread — doing book signings. Not me! I really enjoy interacting with my audience, discussing the inspiration behind Roadie, fielding questions, talking about the creative process. I especially like meeting fledgling writers; their enthusiasm never fails to energize me and validate this crazy career I’ve chosen.

I’m about midway now through a kind of extended book tour. Last month I was in LA,    London and Glasgow; this month I’m staying a little closer to home. I did a signing last week in Woodstock (yes, the Woodstock), and I’ll be  appearing  this  weekend  on  Long   Island — both places I used to live, and where I have many friends. In two weeks’ time, I’ll be doing a signing at my local Barnes & Noble in Poughkeepsie — my current stomping ground.  (For a listing of the times and dates, click here).  It’s great  reconnecting with old friends, but I love having the opportunity to make new ones — something that inevitably happens at every event I’ve done.

My publisher and I are working hard on adding more dates, both locally and across the country, so if you’d like me to come to your town, send me an email. Roadie is ready to hit the road!

April 10, 2016

I’ve just returned from a long trip to the UK (promoting my other recently published book, The Great British Recording Studios), followed by an all-too-brief vacation in Iceland — an amazing experience, and one that was truly life-changing. For those of you who have never been to this place of stark beauty, I highly recommend it. All the wonders — and dangers — of nature are there: glaciers, volcanos, lagoons, numbing cold and wind, and beaches of black sand, crashing waves, and stunning ice crystals. Closer to the arctic circle than even the northern-most reaches of Alaska, visiting Iceland is about as close as most of us will ever get to walking on the surface of the moon. My only regret is that I didn’t get to see the northern lights — it was far too cloudy on the nights I was there — but a visit to the Aurora Museum in Reykjavik was almost as good as the real thing, thanks to the      mesmerizing “best of” long-form video they show continuously on a gigantic screen,      accompanied by the gentle sounds of meditative music. I could have spent entire days in that warm room, and I’m sure that if they provided comfy sofas instead of straight-back chairs I wouldn’t have been the only one!

Anyway, now I’m back home, coping with the realities of everyday life and the vagaries of jet-lag… but looking forward to my next three book signing events in New York. Hope to see many of you there!

February 22, 2016

I’m  really  looking  forward  to  my  trip  to  Los  Angeles  in  3 weeks’ time  for  the Roadie  book signing I’ll be doing at Book Soup in Hollywood (on March 14). As a New Yorker, I only get out to LA a few times a year but I always have a great time there visiting good friends and soaking up the sunshine and laid-back vibes!

LA is, of course, the film capital of the world, and nothing would make me happier than to see Roadie made into a movie! (I think it would be pretty great, actually, but then of course I am highly biased). A friend of mine recently sent along the following suggestions for casting after he’d read the book:

Hinch:   Russell Brand
Cody:   Jack Black
Donnie:   Nick Nolte
Hans:   Christoph Waltz
Rudie:   Ronald Niedermann
Alan Schiffman:   Leonardo DiCaprio
Janet Jaworsky:   Amy Schumer
Miranda:   Angelina Jolie
Katie:   Jessica Alba
Dr. McFarlane:   Kate Beckinsale
Salvatore and Luigi Antucci:  David and Larry Sontag
John Thomas Wallingford:  John Hurt
Lilith:   Kate Winslet
Joe Dan:   Tommy Lee
Vernon:   Adam Levine
Mike Testa:    Channing Tatum
Hank:   Martin Kove
VandeVoort:   Nicolai Cleve Broch
He wasn’t too sure about who to cast in the Bernie Temkin role, but I can tell you that in my mind’s eye I saw Dennis Franz, at least back in his NYPD Blue days.
I agree with some of his suggestions (DiCaprio as Alan Schiffman, Kate Winslet as Lilith, Angelina Jolie as Miranda — brilliant!), though not all of them. (For one thing Hinch needs to be tall and blonde, kind of like Tom Petty; I’m not sure Russell Brand could pull that off, though he’d make a great JTW.) What do you think?
February 1, 2016

Today is the official publication date for Roadie and I find myself in a reflective mood.

It’s more than eight years since I started writing this book — my first novel — and what a long, strange road it has been! The thrill of inventing a rich cast of characters and weaving them into an intricate plot line, followed by dozens of edits and rewrites, capped by a search for an agent and publisher so that the work could eventually see the light of day… and now, at long last, Roadie is reality. I’m so, so grateful to all the friends and colleagues who were willing to read these pages as the project slowly took shape, and especially to the members of the writing groups I have belonged to, all of whom provided me with invaluable feedback. The finished book is the product of many, many long days and nights, not to mention all the months and years I spent on the road itself — experience which provided the basis for many of the most outrageous stories in Roadie.

Was it worth it? Ultimately the public will be the judge. But whether Roadie becomes a best seller or sinks into obscurity, I know what my answer is: Absolutely.

January 19, 2016

I’ve been trying to think about how to describe Roadie in a few words. I guess I’d have to say that it’s gritty, irreverent, funny, profane, and occasionally profound — kind of like most of the people I know who make their living in the music business.

A few people have commented about the amount of swear words in the book. I could have toned it down, but then it wouldn’t sound real, and I was determined to give the reader a true picture of what really goes on behind the scenes. Hang around with most musicians and their road crews and there are bound to be more than a few F-bombs floating in the air. As Bruce Hornsby once said, that’s just the way it is. If anything, the salty language only serves to enhance the biting wit that permeates most offstage conversations. I’ve never laughed harder than during my years on the road!

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