July 23 update! So, I know my last book Mavericks, with a big bucket list of roots rockers, country twangers, and indie icons, was steeply priced because it was aimed in the market at libraries and such, but if you held back because of the price tag, it is 35% off right now, which means you can get it for 30.00! It has a library style sturdy cover, so it should look nice forever. Don’t forget to use the promo code 15SUMSALE! Find it here.
Hello faithful readers of the blog! I waited until midway through the summer to update you regarding all my writerly happenings, but I hope the heat has not driven you too deep into the dungeons of air-conditioning like here in Texas, where it feels like an autoclave in the afternoon streets. First, I finished the final draft of my 300 page book the Politics of Punk, which should be published by Rowman and Littlefield in Jan! As many of you know from Mavericks, their list prices are steep because they mainly focus on selling to libraries and research centers, but I can provide a 25% coupon that will reduce the burden and hopefully entice you.
In the meantime, I have been avidly editing a book on Denver punk history, Denvoid, written by long-time scene participant Bob Rob (Bob Medina), which will be released in mid-Oct. with homegrown, colorful, and keen illustrations by GSL Records founder Sonny Kay. To preview the work, read the description, and pre-order, visit here. I vouch for it, wholeheartedly. The interviews, especially regrading the Frantix, industrial music, and Bum Kon, are thorough, richly-detailed, and evocative.
Mel Hell, Zipperneck, Houston, 2015, by Ensminger
Next, in August I will be turning in my rough draft of Rust City Rebels, the tentative title of my book exploring the underground music scene and history of Rockford, IL for Microcosm Press, which should be released likely later next year as well. I have spent months scouring my own files, vaults, and archives and networking with new and old counterparts, friends, and allies, to make the book spirited and sincere, woven with nuanced anecdotes, and wide in scope.
Another important announcement: I have begun the process of donating my archives to the Southern Folklife Center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. They contacted me after reading Mavericks; after much thought, I consider them an ideal home for my letters, fanzines, flyers, posters, audio/video, ephemera, etc. The donations will be ongoing, and they have promised me the best 21st century equipment will be dispatched to preserve and share the material in an accessible format. Those files, amounting to nine boxes shipped so far, will be searchable in the near future. In fact, I was packing more this morning.
Next, I have a new article in Art in Print discussing the critical contexts and links between Day-Glo, blacklight, and Black Power posters ranging mostly from the 1960s-1970s, with a nod to mid-century movie posters, avant-gardism, and Blaxploitation film promotional material. Titled “Black Light Panthers: The Politics of Fluorescence,” you can preview the issue and order here.
For the last few months, I have diligently penned articles for the weekly paper here, the Houston Press, and I think most of you would enjoy the material I covered.
One of the first people I saw at Houston punk gigs was DJ Rad Rich, a legendary black punk veteran who became a major supporter of my band the Texas Biscuit Bombs. He is screening some keen documentaries about the black punk and rock’n’roll experience this weekend, so check out our conversation here, replete with an examination of history, identity issues, and true fan-core love of music!
For ten years, I have chronicled the life and times of Zipperneck in Houston, shooting more photos of ladypunk warrior Mel Hell than anyone else. They are spending the summer gigging for their anniversary and celebrating well, life, as Mel tries to cope with her possibly lifelong injury due to a dental mishap! So, literally, everyone should read this piece and thank Buddha for the healing potential of self-resilience, the saving grace of health insurance, and music acting as a way to mitigate mayhem! Mel is a hero of mine. See the piece here.
I am also especially thrilled to bring you a special drummer piece: I just published this interview with sonically savvy, agile and artful, and sublimely skilled (I ain’t lying!) percussionist Kevin Carnes, drummer of early 1980’s Texas punks the Usuals! Most of you likely know his tenure in the infamous Beatnigs and Consolidated, as well as him being a leading light in the acid jazz scene of San Francisco! See the piece here.
Although not an interview, you still may enjoy my preview of first-generation idols Slaughter and the Dogs gig (who I interviewed in Left of the Dial over a dozen years ago!) in Houston as well, which can be found here.
Lastly, I had the pleasure of interviewing the super-smart, diligent-as-hell, one-man power unit Roburt Reynolds (Room 101) from New Orleans, who condenses world politics, social justice, and hardcore riffage into bursts of solo songs. Read our conversation here.
And I want to leave you with some live video of me playing drums for the Hates, the longest running punk band in Texas, from a recent benefit gig in which a hula hooper jumped up on stage during one of our raucous psychobilly tunes. We usually gig out every month or two, so if you are in the South, swing by Houston to get a full dose of our power trio convulsive punk!