Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Redding Challenge

Next Saturday is it!

It's the Uhavegonaway to Oregonaway Show on September 1, Labor Day weekend, at the Mississippi Pizza Pub in Portland, Oregon from 6 to 8 PM. If you don’t know about this show, you must find out now before it’s too late! Hope to see you there.

I thought of another Refreshments-Portland-related trivia question. Know the answer and you could win some Refreshments booty at the show. Here’s the question:

What singer/songwriter, and Portland resident, played his most famous song with the Refreshments at the aforementioned Portland La Luna Gig in 1996?

(Ed. note: there's been some debate whether this show happened in 1996 or 1997. Frankly, I don't know for sure, but I know we played with this guy at a sold out show at La Luna in either 1996 or 1997.)

If you know the answer, tell me at the show on Saturday and you’ll win a Refreshments sticker. These are the genuine articles, the oval, purple and gold stickers that were used as promotional items back when “Banditos” conquered the Portland airwaves. For those of you unlucky souls who won’t be at the show, I’ll post the answer to the trivia question here next week.

Also, anyone who buys a copy of Stuck Outside of Phoenix at the show will get a free Refreshments sticker, and you don’t even have to know the answer to the trivia question!

On a more serious note, I have to tell you about a game I play every time I drive from Oregon to Arizona, or from Arizona to Oregon. The game is called “The Redding Challenge.”

The purpose of the game is to see how long you can scan radio stations while driving through Redding, California without hearing a song by Led Zeppelin or AC/DC.

Here’s how to play: while driving on Interstate Five, when you see the “Redding, City Limits” sign, hit the scan button on your car stereo and count how many stations you scan through before hearing a song by either AC/DC or Led Zeppelin. In my experience, the average is about four stations. See how long it takes for you and compare with your friends.

In the unlikely event that you make it all the way through Redding without hitting an AC/DC or Led Zeppelin song, something spectacular, thought I’m not sure what, should happen. I believe it’s rarer than a UFO sighting.

I just played “The Redding Challenge” yesterday and made it through seven stations until “You Shook me All Night Long” came up. I laughed, shrugged my shoulders, and rocked the rest of the way through Redding.

See you all Saturday!

Art

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Portland, Michael Anthony, and Camper Van Beethoven

If you follow this blog, you know about the Uhavegonaway to Oregonaway Show Saturday, September 1, Labor Day weekend, at the Mississippi Pizza Pub in Portland, Oregon from 6 to 8 PM. If you don’t, click this blog post for more info.

While on the road with the Refreshments, I was always happy to pull into the City of Roses for a gig. Why?

1) We had great fans in Portland. The local alternative station was on “Banditos” early and often, and from that we cultivated a nice following. We always played to more people in Portland than in any other city on the Pacific coast. I remember selling out La Luna once, which, aside from Phoenix gigs, might’ve been the largest crowd we ever played to. (This of course isn't counting gigs like radio shows, where you can play to thousands more but not necessarily to fans of your band.)

2) Powell’s. Rarely was there enough time to spend more than an hour or two in that wonderful place, but every second was, and is, pure delight. You had to drag me out of there for soundcheck.

3) It never rained. Really. I remember being in Portland for a radio show in the sweltering heat, playing some little bar who-knows-where, playing in Pioneer Square, and not once do I remember it raining.

On an unrelated note, can anyone tell me why Michael Anthony isn’t involved in the latest Van Halen re-grouping?

I have to admit I’ve been more than a little cynical in the past about reunion tours, but all of that changed one weekend in 2004 when Kel and I drove up to Portland to see Camper Van Beethoven. Somehow, I’d managed to miss CVB back in the day (for you Phoenicians, CVB and the Red Hot Chili Peppers played Big Surf back in the late 80s; I was still in Illinois.), and I broke down to see one of my favorite bands.

It was at the Crystal Ballroom, and there were about 800 fellow CVB freaks in attendance. What a show! Nostalgia, nostalgia. They played everything you’d expect them to play, and they played everything you wouldn’t expect them to play, and they even played some stuff you would've thought they’d be embarrassed to play. I couldn’t have been happier with it. Nostalgia, yes. But to see David Lowery set up to one side of the stage as opposed to the center because Camper Van Beethoven was always about the interplay of instruments and not any individual member, to see Victor laying down the law on “Eye of Fatima” and a dozen others, to see that insane fiddle guy dancing around like nobody’s business, it reminded me what it's all about. CVB still seems ahead of its time, and they started doing it two or three decades ago.

Alas, another good memory from Portland. I hope to have more soon.

Art

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Art's Plans for the rest of 2007, plus 2008

I want to tell you about what I have planned for the rest of 2007, as well as my big, big, big project coming down the chute for 2008.

If you follow this blog, you know about the Uhavegonaway to Oregonaway Show Saturday, September 1, Labor Day weekend, at the Mississippi Pizza Pub in Portland, Oregon from 6 to 8 PM. If you don’t, click this blog post for more info.

I have at least one other major market in my sites for an acoustic show by the end of the year, but nothing's final. As always, check back here, or at my web site, and you will know all.

Okay, now for the big announcement.

As many of you know, I've been trying for about a year to get my second novel, Ghost Notes, published by a traditional publisher. Since my search has come up empty, and since I'm not patient enough to wait any longer, I'm publishing Ghost Notes myself in early 2008! This is the sequel to my debut novel, Stuck Outside of Phoenix, and it's bigger, broader, and better than its prequel. I'm in the process of putting the whole thing together right now, and it's one of the most exciting things I've ever done. I can't wait for you to read it. Click the link to learn more about Ghost Notes.

But that's only half the fun.

Because of the talents and willingness of Bret Hartley, I will also be releasing Songs from Memory, my first ever solo CD, at the same time! This is my first full-length studio effort since my work with the Refreshments, and let me just say that I'm flipping over the results. The story of how this collaboration came about is a good one, so if you haven’t, read this blog post to catch up.

And check out the cred Bret Hartley brings to the table.

The great thing about releasing these two projects together is that they're companion pieces. The first single from Songs from Memory, a song called "Riverboat Captain," is also present in the novel as a song written by one of the characters. "Riverboat Captain" becomes a bridge between the two projects, and brings music to the novel-reading experience. The novel and the CD can stand alone, but they can enrich each other, too.

Expect pre-sales for both Ghost Notes and Songs from Memory to start in February of 2008 at my web site, with an official release in March.

We've just started talking about promotional ideas for the Novel/CD, and let me just say that 2008 will be a very busy year for me.

Everyone stay cool out there.

Art

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Portland Show Update/Rock Lit

I’m afraid I have to start with a bit of bad news. Stephen Ashbrook has graciously asked to bow out of our Uhavegonaway to Oregonaway Show Saturday, September 1, Labor Day weekend, at the Mississippi Pizza Pub in Portland, Oregon from 6 to 8 PM. Stephen has a family outing he’s looking forward to, and he can't make it. So, no Stephen on 9/1. He will be missed.

In an effort to fill the void, Jim "Jimmi G" Gerke and I will be doing a short set together, which will include covers from some of our favorite bands, including a few that fit the theme of our show. You can count on songs by…Oh, you’ll just have to come and find out.

So, to update, Gerke plays first, Gerke and I hold down the middle, Art plays last.

You’re probably wondering how much this little shindig of ours is going to set you back. Surely, for a couple of hours of entertainment you’re prepared to dish out a few bucks. You’ve done it before, and this Uhavgonawhatever sounds right up your alley. Well, guess what?

It’s free.

That’s right. You will not pay a cover to come and hear Jim Gerke, and Art Edwards, and Jim Gerke with Art Edwards, and anyone else we can cajole into playing that night. You can save your cover for a drink, or for dinner, or for later in the evening when you go see a band. This one’s on us. Everyone have a good time.

Of course, if you must pay for something, copies of Stuck Outside of Phoenix will be on sale.

I promised some more publishing talk, so here it goes.

From my experience trying to get Ghost Notes published, I could draw some blanket conclusions. For example:

1) Ghost Notes is not good enough to get published.

2) Those in the publishing industry are blind to the potential of Ghost Notes.

3) People are not interested in reading rock novels.

Which do I believe?

None of the above.

I don’t believe number one because my novel is damn good, and you’ll just have to trust me on that until it comes out. I wouldn’t have wasted a year trying to get it published if it weren’t.

I don’t believe number two because people in the publishing industry are just like everyone else: they want to keep their day jobs. Representing and publishing rock literature is not a good habit to get into if you want to eat, pay the mortgage and advance your career. There are easier sales out there, and they have to take it where they can get it.

I don’t believe number three because most readers either have no idea there are such things as rock novels, or the rock novels they’ve read haven’t been very well-written. It’s a sad commentary on the genre that few seem to do it well, or if they do, they write only one such book before moving on to a more respected, or lucrative, genre.

But I don’t think this genre can be ignored by the publishing industry. Here’s why I think rock novels are so important.

If you follow publishing, you’re probably aware of the fairly recent NEA study "Reading At Risk" that found a sharp decline in young readership, and in particular young male readership, over the last ten years. Things were already pretty bad in this demographic, but to generalize the finding, people, in particular men, 18-34 years of age are less likely than ever to read anything for pleasure, much less fiction.

Why would that be? Why would people roughly my age and younger be turning away from the novel form, or from reading for pleasure in general?

Here’s why.

Most literary genres—erotica, Sci-fi, western, chick lit—play to our curiosities. If we read sci-fi, we're curious about outer space. If we read westerns, we're curious about being a cowboy. If we read erotica…you get the picture. These genres play to our curiosities and thereby capture our imaginations, making us devoted readers.

What are the curiosities of people, particularly men, in this under-represented demographic? (Okay, not that curiosity.) Well, I know what mine was. I wanted to know what it was like to be in a big rock band. I wanted to know what the gigs were like, the inter-band relationships. I wanted to know how it felt to "get signed," have a song on the radio, play big arenas, meet Gene Simmons.



I don’t think it’s a crazy leap to think that part of the demographic that is less likely to read for pleasure is also the demographic that grew up listening to rock radio, that bought CDs and guitars, that idolized Jimmy Page, David Lee Roth, Bono, and Kurt Cobain. They bought records and read the album sleeve while the record played. They went to concerts and rocked out and wondered what went on backstage and on the tour bus and back at the hotel. They would’ve done anything to shake the hand of their hero and say, “Your music changed my life.”

The industry--writers and publishers--has failed this demographic because they haven’t played to these people’s curiosities. They haven’t, on a very basic level, given them what they wanted. We've missed the boat.

So far.

Next week, learn how I plan to help this little cause along.

Art