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Books

'Smithsonian Rock and Roll' Welcomes the Amateur Concert Photographer

This new book featuring concert photos taken by fans is a stylish, interesting, and absorbing, yet somewhat incomplete look at the history of popular music.

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Bought on the Fourth of July

With The Homeland Directive writer Robert Venditti offers a deep and meditative work on the nature of personhood in an era of mass marketing. Easily the equal of the illustrious works of John Reed or Jonathan Franzen, The Homeland Directive elevates both the political thriller genre and the comics medium.

Music

Rocking Chair Blues: Howlin’ Wolf - “Tell Me”

In this final installment of the Between the Grooves series dedicated to Howlin’ Wolf’s Rocking Chair album, George de Stefano states that Wolf's music is so compelling because it seems such a direct, unmediated expression of his singular personality.

Music

Rocking Chair Blues: Howlin’ Wolf - Goin’ Down Slow

"Goin' Down Slow" is a dramatic tour de force in three minutes and 18 seconds, standing as the most emotionally-shattering performance on Rocking Chair.

Music

Rocking Chair Blues: Howlin’ Wolf – “Little Baby”

“Little Baby”, penned by Willie Dixon, is a well-crafted, catchy pop tune with clever lyrics, and Howlin’ Wolf sounds like he’s having a great time with it. You’d never guess that his partnership with its writer was so fraught with anger and resentment.

Music

James Cotton: Giant

The blues harmonica legend is back with his first album in six years, and it's dedicated to the memory of Koko Taylor.

Music

Rocking Chair Blues: Howlin' Wolf - "Shake for Me"

In this new Between the Grooves series, George de Stefano digs beneath the nondescript cover of Howlin' Wolf's "Rocking Chair" album -- an urtext for many rock and R&B artists who have been inspired by it or covered its songs -- to examine some of the greatest blues ever recorded.

Music

Cassandra Wilson: Silver Pony

The pazz/jop contralto’s latest—live and studio tracks mixed together with too little distinction.

Music

The Howling or, 100 Years of the Big Bad Wolf

Howlin' Wolf remains an artist who cannot be imitated and whose unmistakable growl can probably never be adequately explained or understood.

Film

Waltzing with Wilco

As any experienced concert-goer knows, a lively audience can mean the difference between a lackluster event and a memorable night. Sometimes, it’s more important than the band's actual performance.

Music

Laughing Through the Tears: The Enduring Journey of Etta James

As much as Etta James used her songwriting and vocal skills as primary sources for empowerment and critique, her performances and image were equally significant in reflecting a public persona bursting with wit, wildness, and sassy radicalism.

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Retelling the History of Black Music: The Beautiful Music All Around John Work III

Work recorded the soundtrack of people’s lives, and captured the earliest stirrings of much of the music we’ve enjoyed since World War II.

Music

Various Artists: The Rough Guide to the Blues

Twenty-two track compilation covers eight decades of blues music, from Mamie Smith to Ali Farke Touré, with mixed results.

Film

The Last Waltz (2002)

Scorsese's Last Waltz still spirits a tingle up the spine.

Lesley Smith

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