News & Observer Music Critic, David Menconi

Scuppernong Words of Note Festival

News & Observer Music Critic, David Menconi

Friday, September 9, 7pm

David Menconi is a music critic/arts reporter at the Raleigh (NC) News & Observer, his professional address since 1991. Before that, he spent five years at the Boulder(CO) Daily Camera. His degrees include a masters in journalism from the University of Texas, an undergraduate English degree from Southwestern University and a valid high-school diploma. In addition to writing for various other publications on the side, he is also co-editor of the American Music Series for University of Texas Press, which published Ryan Adams: Losering, A Story of Whiskeytown in 2012. UT Press will publish his next book in October 2015, Comin’ Right at Ya: How a Jewish Yankee Hippie Went Country, or, the Often Outrageous History of Asleep at the Wheel.

Ryan Adams: Losering, A Story of WhiskeytownBefore he achieved his dream of being an internationally known rock personality, Ryan Adams had a band in Raleigh, North Carolina. Whiskeytown led the wave of insurgent-country bands that came of age with No Depressionmagazine in the mid-1990s, and for many people it defined the era. Adams was an irrepressible character, one of the signature personalities of his generation, and as a singer-songwriter he blew people away with a mature talent that belied his youth. David Menconi witnessed most of Whiskeytown's rocket ride to fame as the music critic for the Raleigh News & Observer, and inRyan Adams, he tells the inside story of the singer's remarkable rise from hardscrabble origins to success with Whiskeytown, as well as Adams's post-Whiskeytown self-reinvention as a solo act.

Menconi draws on early interviews with Adams, conversations with people close to him, and Adams's extensive online postings to capture the creative ferment that produced some of Adams's best music, including the albumsStrangers Almanac and Heartbreaker. He reveals that, from the start, Ryan Adams had an absolutely determined sense of purpose and unshakable confidence in his own worth. At the same time, his inability to hold anything back, whether emotions or torrents of songs, often made Adams his own worst enemy, and Menconi recalls the excesses that almost, but never quite, derailed his career. Ryan Adams is a fascinating, multifaceted portrait of the artist as a young man, almost famous and still inventing himself, writing songs in a blaze of passion.

Comin’ Right at Ya: How a Jewish Yankee Hippie Went Country, or, the Often Outrageous History of Asleep at the Wheel: A six-foot-seven-inch Jewish hippie from Philadelphia starts a Western swing band in 1970, when country fans hate hippies and Western swing. It sounds like a joke but—more than forty years, twenty-five albums, and nine Grammy Awards later—Asleep at the Wheel is still drawing crowds around the world. The roster of musicians who’ve shared a stage with the Wheel is a who’s who of American popular music—Van Morrison, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, George Strait, Vince Gill, Lyle Lovett, and so many more. And the bandleader who’s brought them all together is the hippie that claimed Bob Wills’s boots: Ray Benson.

In this hugely entertaining memoir, Benson looks back over his life and wild ride with Asleep at the Wheel from the band’s beginning in Paw Paw, West Virginia, through its many years as a Texas institution. He vividly recalls spending decades in a touring band, with all the inevitable ups and downs and changes in personnel, and describes the making of classic albums such as Willie and the Wheel and Tribute to the Music of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. The ultimate music industry insider, Benson explains better than anyone else how the Wheel got rock hipsters and die-hard country fans to love groovy new-old Western swing. Decades later, they still do.

 

Comin' Right at Ya: How a Jewish Yankee Hippie Went Country, Or, the Often Outrageous History of Asleep at the Wheel (Brad and Michele Moore Roots Music) Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9780292756588
Availability: Limited Availability - Give us a call, we'll track it down for you!
Published: University of Texas Press - October 1st, 2015

Ryan Adams: Losering, a Story of Whiskeytown (American Music) Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9780292725843
Availability: Limited Availability - Give us a call, we'll track it down for you!
Published: University of Texas Press - September 1st, 2012

Event date: 
Friday, September 9, 2016 - 7:00pm
Event address: 
304 S. Elm St.
Greensboro, NC 27401