Friday, January 30, 2015

Another Grateful Week

Couldn't be happier about the book's reception this week. This is definitely the fun part. Brisk business on Amazon, and my agent told me that No Simple Highway made the San Francisco Chronicle's regional bestseller list for nonfiction. (I have an embarrassing story about my attempts to place the Ramparts book on that list. Maybe another time.)

I just listened to this segment hosted by Liz Saint John for Alice 97.3's Weekend Magazine. I really like the way it came out. Thanks, Liz!

I'm looking forward to a KPFA spot today (Jan. 31) with David Gans and the Grateful Dead Marathon). KPFA and other Bay Area radio stations (KMPX, KSAN, KFOG, even KYA) figure significantly in the book, of course. My chat with David today will start at noon. I also plan to work the telephones during pledge drive and will return in March to chat with Brian Edwards-Tiekert.

On February 1, I'm traveling to one of the Dead's sacred sites (Cornell University) for some unrelated business. Maybe I'll light a candle at Barton Hall. Then back to it on Tuesday.


Thursday, January 29, 2015

I Can Be Shamed Productively

I chatted it up this morning with Michael Krasny on KQED Forum. (I'm a longtime listener, first-time guest.) It went well, but a caller asked about Joan Osborne, and I totally blanked. A producer told me not to worry; they had already gone to their pledge drive, and only listeners who paid for pledge-free programming heard my reply.

I decided to make this a teachable moment, especially for me. Here's more on Joan Osborne, for all the fanatical readers of this blog who don't already know about her and her work.

She joined forces with the surviving members of the Grateful Dead when they regrouped to tour in 2003 as The Dead, sang with Motown's legendary Funk Brothers in the acclaimed 2002 documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown, and produced two albums for the great blues trio the Holmes Brothers. She's shared stages with a wide range of performers, including Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Emmylou Harris, Patti Smith, Melissa Etheridge, Taj Mahal, Luciano Pavarotti and the Chieftains. More recently, Osborne has toured and recorded as a member of Trigger Hippy, which also includes rising Americana star Jackie Greene and Black Crowes drummer Steve Gorman.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Shelf Awareness Review of No Simple Highway

Shelf Awareness is a go-to review site for the book industry, so it's especially cool that they've endorsed No Simple Highway. This from Rob LeFebvre:

The Grateful Dead's long, strange trip has influenced several generations of music lovers around the world. Peter Richardson (A Bomb in Every Issue) takes a cultural viewpoint to the 30-year musical career of this lasting group of misfits and druggies, revealing them as intelligent, thoughtful, passionate individuals.

The Grateful Dead is more than a band, it's a community of likeminded musicians, stage crew, sound experts and incredibly loyal fans that remains vibrant today, nearly 20 years after the group's official disbanding when reluctant leader and lead guitarist/vocalist Jerry Garcia died in 1995 (and as the surviving members of the group plan a reunion concert this summer). Richardson delves deep, showing the band and its various musical and business enterprises as truly revolutionary endeavors. No Simple Highway concerns itself with the relevance of the band's jam-based, best-heard-live musical style, looking at the group's 1960s inception in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, its country-music-influenced middle period, and its final massive success in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Richardson avoids romanticizing Garcia & Co., preferring instead to offer a story in vivid detail and let the reader make up his or her own mind about the drugs, the parties, the communal living and the anti-authoritarian, audience-focused stance the Grateful Dead held throughout its career. No Simple Highway offers a complete look at why this influential group was able to become one of the biggest rock bands of all time. --Rob LeFebvre, freelance writer and editor

Discover: An exhaustively researched and entertaining cultural history of one of the most successful yet resolutely iconoclast musical groups ever.


Day of the Living Dead

Lots of radio this morning and yesterday. Here are two representative samples: a long chat with the lovely and inspiring Rose Aguilar at KALW, and a snappier exchange with Ryan Gatenby on WBIG in Aurora, Illinois. I also appeared on nine other shows between 6 and 8 this morning.

Then there's the Dean Russo image, which I love, based on Baron Wolman's photograph. I was lucky enough to visit with Baron, who was Rolling Stone's first chief photographer, near his home in Santa Fe. The Dead attracted many superb photographers--and poster artists--to their project over the years.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

NO SIMPLE HIGHWAY Is Amazon's #1 Best Seller in Rock Music

We had a great first week on the book front with events at Diesel, The Booksmith, and the California Historical Society plus interviews on KGO ("The Pat Thurston Show"), NPR ("On Point") and WDET in Detroit ("The Ann Delisi Show").

Next week is also shaping up well. CBS Radio is tomorrow, KALW is Tuesday, the Premiere Radio Tour will tape Wednesday, KQED Forum will air on Thursday, and I'll appear on KPFA's Grateful Dead Marathon on Saturday. I'm also looking forward to the Book Passage event in Corte Madera on Wednesday at 7 pm. I'll be joined there by Paul Liberatore of the Marin Independent-Journal.

The announcement of the Chicago shows certainly raised the book's profile. Honestly, I don't know how St. Martin's Press pulled that off just four days before the official publication date! But as we all know, it's better to be lucky than good. In any case, I'm delighted that No Simple Highway is Amazon's #1 Best Seller in Rock Music right now, and I want to thank everyone who has supported the book so far. Please don't stop!


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Eagle Has Landed

Today I celebrated the official publication date of No Simple Highway with a lengthy interview with Tom Ashbrook of NPR's "On Point." Gotta say I like these long formats; you can cover a lot of ground without sacrificing key detail. Also, Tom was knowledgeable about and sympathetic to the Dead's project.

Tonight I'll give a talk at Diesel bookstore on College Avenue in Oakland. I want to leave time for a lively Q&A, so I have to make some tough decisions. But mostly I want to celebrate.

Finally, San Francisco State University ran a related article on the book. Thank you, Jonathan Morales!


Sunday, January 18, 2015

No Simple Highway Drops This Week

Lots of book news to report since the last update. Paul Liberatore wrote this piece about No Simple Highway and the Grateful Dead in Marin. Some of our Marin friends were surprised (alarmed?) to see my mug over their morning coffee.

Jonah Raskin's review runs in the Chronicle today. Fanatical readers of this blog will recall that Jonah also reviewed the Ramparts book for the Chronicle. Also, Truthdig ran an excerpt--on the media reaction to Jerry Garcia's death--just in case you want to wet your beak.

We have some events this week: Diesel Books (Tuesday), The Booksmith (Wednesday), and the California Historical Society (Thursday). Paul and I will talk it over at Book Passage next Thursday, too. See event details at the Amazon author page. Please help us celebrate!

Lots of radio interviews, too, starting tonight at 5 pm on KGO's "The Pat Thurston Program." NPR's "On Point" is Tuesday morning. Details to come.

And of course the real news--that the core four will perform in Chicago this summer--broke the Internet.


Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Amazon and KALW Are on the Bus

Just learned that Amazon named No Simple Highway a Best Book of the Month in the history category. Very gratifying for me and the whole St. Martin's team.

Now I'm listening to KALW's "Crosscurrents," which has put together a wonderful show on the Dead that includes a recording of Joe Smith interviewing Jerry Garcia; a segment on our OLLI course at the Freight & Salvage; and an interview with Richard Loren, who managed the Dead and recently published his memoir. Very worthwhile.