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.