The Band: Pioneers of Americana Music:
New Book Coming April 2014: Scarecrow Press
I’ve read two books about The Band: Across the Great Divide – The Band and America by Barney Hoskyns and This Wheel’s on Fire – Levon Helm and the Story of the Band by Levon Helm with Stephen Davis. Both are fascinating accounts of one of the greatest and most different bands in rock history. Indeed I’ve long considered that The Band are the godfathers of alt. country and Americana music, presenting a roots-based blend of “native” American music like no one else.
Now it looks like I’m going to have to increase my book collection on The Band, with the news of a forthcoming new release – The Band: The Pioneers of Americana Music by Craig Harris, available April 2014.
At a time when acid rock and heavy metal dominated popular music, The Band rebelled with a mix of tight ensemble arrangements, masterful musicianship, great vocalists, highly literate lyricism, and respect for the musical traditions of the American South. Comprised of Canadians Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, and Garth Hudson, and Arkansas-born Levon Helm, The Band sparked a new appreciation for America’s musical roots, fusing R&B, jump blues, country, folk, boogie-woogie, swing, Cajun, New Orleans-style jazz, and rock, and setting the foundations for the Americana that would take hold thirty years later.
The Band: Pioneers of Americana Music explores the diverse influences on the quintet’s music, and the impact that their music had in turn on contemporary music and American society. Through previously unpublished interviews with Robbie Robertson, Eric Andersen, Pete Seeger and the late Rick Danko, as well as numerous other sources, Craig Harris surveys The Band’s musical journey from sidemen for, among others, Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan to rock legendary in their own right. The book touches on the evolution of rock and roll, the electrifying of folk music, unionism, the Civil Rights Movement, the growth of America’s musical roots, changes in radio formatting, changing perceptions of the American South, and the commercializing of the counter-culture, as well as drug dependency, alcoholism, suicide, greed, and the struggle against cancer.
Harris takes readers through their albums, from Music from Big Pink and The Band to their final releases and solo recordings, as well as their historic appearances at the Woodstock Music and Art Festival, the Isle of Wight Festival (with Dylan), Summer Jam at Watkins Glen (with the Allman Brothers Band and the Grateful Dead), and the finale, Martin Scorsese’s The Last Waltz (with an all-star cast) and their participation in The Festival Express (also documented on film).
You can pre-order the book here.