Sunday, June 26, 2011

Frank Bill's Book Release Party for Crimes in Southern Indiana

Frank Bill's Book Release Party for Crimes in Southern Indiana
Click on the link above for details:

This is going to be an Event you want to put on your calender now. If you could go back in time and attend a first book event for Daniel Woodrell, Larry Brown, or William Gay, wouldn't we all. Well this is going to be one of those times and later you can look back and say yeah I was there. Pretty cool stuff, and that's without saying that some other really terrific authors will be reading as well (Donald Ray Pollock, Kyle Minor, Scott Phillips, Jed Ayers). Who knows, their may be others show up.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Noir @ Bar and Meshuggah Cafe a Winning Team

I caught the latest Noir@Bar on June 11th which is normally held at the Delmar Lounge, but on this occasion was moved to the Meshuggah Cafe. This was due to necessity but in my opinion this was a better setting anyway. It's quieter, spacious, and had A/C along with the same options of drinks as well as coffee. Now, I know Bukowski would be saying,"Hell No" to the nicer digs, he would cry out that a Dive is required for these type readings and he may be right. I can only speak for myself when I say I prefer Meshuggah Cafe as a permanent home for N@B. Now, on to the important stuff like the all star group who read that night and the Alumni who were in attendance as listeners. John Hornor Jacobs ,the author of "Southern Gods" read first and delighted with a short story of Southern Goth & faith and snake handling. Aaron Michael Morales, author of "Drowning Tuscon" followed up with a short story entitled "New Mexico Drive By" and I can only say it will go down in N@B history..along with Aaron, as one of the most memorable readings ever. This was the stuff for which legends are born...both good & bad. Fred Venturini, author of "The Samaritan" then read an excert from his book and a short story about idolizing serial killers. Very funny stuff and did I mention Fred has muscles and that Aaron really liked those muscles...well if you were there then you would know that. Finally, my friend Frank Bill, closed the night with a tiny bit of his soon to be released debut novel, "Crimes in Southern Indiana". This was terrific and a real joy to hear Frank read those same words he has so carefully crafted in this collection. Overall a smashing success !! In attendance were Matthew McBride, Matt Kindt, Dan O'Shea, and of course MC's & hosts Scott Phillips and Jed Ayres. Dont forget Jesus Angel Garcia will be reading from "BadBadBad" at the next N@B in August. Also, Donald Ray Pollock, author of "Knockemstiff" will be appearing at Subterranean Books on July 20th with his new book "The Devil All The Time".

Diners, Drive Ins and Dives

Since the summer has kicked in it seems that Guy Fieri has always been close by. It started when my wife and I made a quick trip over to St. Louis to meet Guy at Left Bank Books while he was promoting his new book "Guy Fieri Food" and then continued on as we traveled to Indianapolis for my Birthday and hit JERSEY"S restaurant (located in Carmel,In.) for lunch. Jersey's it seems had been recently reviewed by Guy on DDI&D's. The East Coast themed restaurant serves great food but is not a place to go if you want your food fast. Everything is made from scratch and you are given a sheet to read when you come in stating this and encouraging those in a hurry to move on. I had a chicken steak sandwich with ham shavings,bacon & cheese, and BBQ sauce, known as"The Red Sox Really Suck" that was wonderful. I also tried an appetizer of loaded chips (homemade potato chips) covered in cheese, bacon & BBQ. Great stuff. On the downside the service was also East Coast. We were ignored by our waiter who screwed up our order with another table, which added to our delay and which while he admitted his mistake he never apologized for it.Somehow I doubt they ignored Guy or screwed up his order.

Friday, June 17, 2011

American Pickers Festival LeClaire, Iowa

I headed up to Leclaire,Iowa for the 2nd Annual American Pickers Festival June 4-5th and had a stroke of good luck. We got in town, and ran by our hotel around 5 p.m. and then decided head over to Antique Archeology and check out the shop. Well the shop was closed but the garage door was open and we were just wandering around snapping some photos when Mike Wolfe pulls in in the new Pickers van. Mike immediately jumped out and greeted us with a "Hey, how you doin" and jumped right into a conversation about where we were from (Effingham,Il.), where he had been (picking in Nashville,Tn.) and opening a new shop & my Oxford,Ms. shirt I was wearing. Seems we both love Ole Miss ! Mike told us we were welcome to look around, and he and his nephew Adam began loading T-shirts into the van. Well, I felt kinda bad just watching and told Mike so, who immediately said "well start grabbing boxes". I spent the next half hour working with the Pickers, which I found pretty cool and my wife found pretty funny (taking a picture to prove I was working). Yeah hilarious. It wasn't long before Danielle came out and Mikes brother dropped by and a couple of appraisers from the show. Mike and Danielle were gracious and took pictures with us and proved to be the same down to earth people you see on the show. No acting here, just downhome folk. I was probably ready to go home then, my dream fulfilled, but of course we hung around and stayed for the Festival and checked out LeClaire. We ate at Wise Guys Pizza, caught the city book sale, attended the antique car show and hit several of the city wide garage sales. The best part of Sat. was the Q & A with Mike and Danielle up on the levee. Mikes Mother, Judy Gimbel, the clowns, and Danielle's Dad were in attendance as well. The one thing Mike & I share and the one thing that always draws me in like a moth to a flame is "PASSION" ! Mike is very passionate about what he does and has since an early age. It was also cool to hear how much he gives back to the community and charity as well. It seems Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz are very generous men. The Laurel & Hardy heads pictured above have been donated to St. Judes to be auctioned off (amongst other items). Mike is also working on a couple new projects including "Kid Pickers" books & website to educate kids on the importance of preserving our history. When the Q & A was over both Mike and Danielle stayed around in the 95 degree heat signing autographs. We left Iowa totally fufilled, and looking forward to coming back to see Frank in the years ahead. And, someday I just might be willing to let loose of some of my collection to the coolest Pickers around.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Debut Authors: Frank Bill and Matt McBride

I truly believe that one of the greatest joys we can get in this life is in helping others and in seeing our friends and love ones achieve success. I have the pleasure of calling Matt McBride and Frank Bill my friends. I posted interviews with both these authors on this very site several months ago and I predicted both of these guys would hit it big. Well.. now months removed, I can say I was right. Matt's book "Frank Sinatra in a Blender" is now available for purchase on Concord E-books website and Amazon for $7.77. It includes a wonderful intro from Ken Bruen, one of the living legends in the mystery genre. I read this puppy when it was nothing more than a manuscript and I loved it and I sent it to Ken who was nice enough to read it.. and thank goodness he loved it. The rest is history...Matt's enormous talent so evident in his early short stories was finally given a home by Concord Free Press. This is only the beginning and someday we'll be able to sit back and laugh about the early days when he was a struggling writer. But, don't take my word for it, get over there and buy the dang thing..I think Matt gets half of every book sold & the other half goes to Concord Free Press to help with their charitable efforts. The only downside to Matt's book is my character, Officer Wiethop, got left on the cutting room floor. Such is my life story...close but no cigar !! Ha ps Also left on the cutting room floor was take a, LEFT ON PHILLIPS & RIGHT ON AYERS now those were streets I was looking forward to driving.

Frank Bill's first book "Crimes in Southern Indiana" comes out via FSG on Sept 7th & Aug 30th via Amazon. I read an early draft and this is one terrific book and early reviews are drawing lines to McCarthy, Woodrell, and William Gay. Those are HUGE shoes to fill. However, Tom Franklin and William Gay himself, have both recently given it high marks. Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff gave raving reviews as well. So, mark it on your calender as this is one book your not going to want to miss.It's available for pre-order on Amazon as we speak.Then as we get closer to those above dates I'll have some other special things posted on here. Jed Ayres and myself spent a weekend with Frank & his wonderful wife Jenn,(she was a saint to put up with the 3 of us) not too long ago, and we shot some terrific stuff down there that will come out in due time. Don't forget Frank will be in St. Louis on June 11th at Noir@Bar and he will also have a short story published in Playboy some time in the Fall. Oh, and he's a Hoosier by the way..born & bred like yours truly.

The great thing, the exciting thing here, is that both of these guys are just scratching the surface of what will be long and fruitful careers. Get aboard these trains now before they leave the station.

Whole Lotta Shakin Going On

Busy times my friends, but good times nonetheless. Traveled to St. Louis,Mo. Sunday May 29th to the Downtown location of Left Bank Books to do a meet and greet with super cool chef Guy Fieri. Guy was there from 12-2 and signed books & took photos with all those in attendance. The time was too brief but I'm still glad we went. Guy Fieri is the host of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives as well as the host of the game show.."A Minute To Win It". Also ran into my buddy Kevin who is one on the great autograph collectors in the Midwest, and who along with his partner in crime Mark Medley, always bring a smile to my face.

Tomorrow, (June 2nd) kicks off one of the best book sales that the Midwest has to offer, the St.Charles Friends of the Library Sale. It runs Thursday through Sunday and opens tomm. at 9 a.m. with a $10 admittance fee. Don't mean to grumble...but I will anyway, the fee doubled from $5 last year to $10 this year. I understand the St. Louis Book Fair charges $10 on it's opening night, but as good as the St. Charles sale is, and it is good, this is a bit much to ask with the economy the way it is. The answer is yes, I will grudgingly hand over my $10 anyway. Most hardbacks run in the $2 category, well below the $4-6 fee at the St. Louis Book Fair. See you there & happy hunting...oh by the way, do me a favor & leave all the Benjamin Percy, Daniel Woodrell, Chris Offutt, Will Christoper Baer and William Gay's alone..they have my name on it.

The first Annual American Picker Days will take place this Sat & Sun June 4th & 5th in LeClaire,Iowa and will be attended by Mike Wolfe and Dannielle and other guests from the show. The city will be hosting a city wide garage sale in conjunction with the festival. An appraiser will also be on hand to appraise your items at $5 an item. This promises to become an annual event. Frank Fritz will not be in attendance. Antique Archeology will also be open during the Festival. They are also opening a second location in Nashville,Tn. Maybe I'll see you there.

June 11th: Noir@Bar you will not want to miss this one!! Are you ready for this? Aaron Michael Morales "Drowning Tucson", John Hornor Jacobs "Southern Gods", Fred Venturini "The Samaritan" and the next superstar, Frank Bill "Crimes in Southern Indiana" all on the same night at 7 pm in the upstairs loft of Meshuggah Cafe in the heart of U. City. Another N@B has also been added for Aug 6th with special guest Jesus Angel Garcia, author of "badbadbad!" How can you go wrong with an author with Jesus & an angel in his name?

Also just in, the Queen of Crime Noir, Megan Abbott will be at Square Books in Oxford,Ms. on July 27th with her new book, "The End Of Everything" which Entertainment Weekly has called the next "Lovely Bones". Wow, now that's praise you like to hear.Proud of you Megan.

Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit, the Real Deal

It's been awhile since I've posted anything and it's great to be back. Last evening, I was in St. Louis,Mo. at the Old Rock House to see Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit. I became familiar with Jason's work through Frank Bill, as we both share a passion for The Drive By Truckers. Jason Isbell was once one of 3 singer songwriters in the DBT's. Unfortunately, about 4 years ago Jason left the band after splitting with his wife Shonna (also a member of DBT). He soon struck out on his own and formed the band the 400 Units. They have recently put out a new CD entitled "Here We Rest", their third CD and in my opinion the best yet. It's not simply better, it is terrific. Featuring some of Isbell's top notch songwriting, including not soon to be forgotten hits, "Alabama Pines", "Tour of Duty" and my personal favorite "Go It Alone". However, last night was my first chance to catch Jason & his new band in person, and..they were outstanding,simply one of the best shows I've ever seen. They rocked the Old Rock House, with a passion & energy that's rarely seen these days. I expected Isbell to be terrific, but I was unprepared for how talented the members of the 400 Units would be. Isbell is now surrounded by a group of musicians as talented and as passionate as he is. I truly believe in time this band will grow the same kinda cult following that The Drive By Truckers have. If you are going to be anywhere near Memphis,Tn. on June 24th, head on over to The Hi Tone & catch these guys along with Kentucky Knife Fight at 8 p.m.
While I'm thinking about I also want to put a plug in for the new documentary on the Drive By Truckers called "The Secret To A Happy Ending"...which honestly isn't all that happy. If you would like alot of insight into this legendary band and the individuals who formed it ( primarily Patterson Hood & Mike Cooley ), then this is the film for you. The film will also shed some light on Jason Isbell's departure from the band in 2007. So head over to Best Buy, Amazon or Netflix and check it out.


This 9 minute clip was shot by Adam Wangler and features a brief cameo by yours truly if you don't blink. Anthony Neil Smith recently allured to St.Louis as becoming a hub for the Neo Noir world, in a large part due to the efforts of Scott Phillips & Jed Ayres and their little slice of heaven known as "Noir @ The Bar". It is held at the Delmar Lounge in U-City and has hosted writers such as Sean Doolittle, Frank Bill, Matthew McBride, Tim Lane, Derek Nikitas, Pinckney & Laura Benedict, Theresa Schwegel, Dennis Tafoya, Matt Kindt, Anthony Neil Smith, Kyle Minor, Malachai Stone, of course Scott Phillips & Jed Ayres, amongst others I've probably forgotten to mention.