Don't let me forget: I've got to mention that my new book is out--it's the Grateful Dead Scrapbook--and I'm giving it a light push; mainly at The Booksmith on Haight St. October 7 (a Wed.) at 7...
Anyway: The Banned Books concert at the Main Library here in SF was fun, considering the subject was the censorship of books and other artistic works and expressions. It was partly the weather, which had the crowd in a sunny mood; it was partly because the Friends of the Library decided on a musical motif, with a band called the Pimentos, led by chef and cookbook author Joey Altman on guitar, opening and closing the program. Altman began with "Must Have Salad," an ode to healthy eating, to the tune of "Mustang Sally." They also did "Banned Books," to the tune and beat of "Willie & the Hand Jive."
The outdoor event drew about 100 people, and they seemed to dig all the participants: Jewelle Gomez, who MC'd; Jack Boulware, who read a piece about a Jello Biafra bust; singers Frank Portman and Penelope Houston, Roy Zimmerman (he sang Phil Ochs' "A Small Circle of Friends"), Richie Unterberger (who blasted out Velvet Underground's "White Light/White Heat"), Kathi Goldmark & Sam Barry, who did a lovely "This Land Is Your Land," and me.
I noted that the Wisconsin Travel Federation had just changed its name to the Travel Federation of Wisconsin, having learned that WTF has multiple meanings. "Where have these people BEEN?" I asked. Oh, yes. Wisconsin. I did my own song parody, of "Rainy Day Women 12 + 35," which is in one of my previous blogs, and it went over fine. I think the crowd was just relieved that I didn't do an encore of "White Light/White Heat"...
Telling Stories: The event at The Redwoods, the retirement community in Marin County, also was a hoot. A full house, of both seniors and much younger people, seemed to enjoy the program, of stories, tips on how to produce one's own oral history/memoirs, and more or less live music, with four musicians and singers supporting me. The director of The Redwoods, Barbara Solomon, reported that not one person nodded off, as a signal of the program's success. Books Passage represented, with a table holding books by Sam Barry, who played piano and harmonica; Kathi Goldmark, who interviewed me and sang, and me. The store had only two copies of the Grateful Dead Scrapbook available, since it wasn't officially released yet, so it enjoyed its first sellout.
But now the book is out, so I'll go and flog it on some radio shows, a TV spot, and a bookstore or two. The Booksmith on Haight St. on Oct. 7 and maybe a shop in Clayton, in the East Bay. Oh, and at Litquake. On October 10th, I'm part of one of those marathon readings at the Koret Auditorium in the SF Main Library (about 3 pm.), part of a group of authors of books that are heavy on art and graphics. That's what the Scrapbook is, so I'm not sure what I'll be reading, exactly. Captions? We'll figure something out. Although my writing in the book is limited to a brief, 25,000 word history of the band, and sidebars on ten seminal G'Dead songs, I was happy to be part of the project. As I say in the book, I never was a Dead Head, but I always admired and appreciated the wide, wide world of music that the band played, and all the good causes its members have supported. They're good guys. And by the way, four of them: Mickey Hart, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, and Tom Constanten--have published books of their own.They didn't need me at all ...
Causes Ben Fong-Torres Supports
Susan G. Komen For The Cure Rocket Dog Rescue