Thursday, October 7, 2021

Details, Details


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I keep trying to think of a way to open his blog with music. Like--the opening of Purple Haze? Or of Piece of My Heart? Or Satisfaction? Some piece that we all know and can recognize in one note. So imagine that, okay? Or imagine a crowd at a rock concert, giving a standing ovation.

Because today we are giving the ovation to our wonderful Clea Simon, a dear friend of the Reds, who has had experiences in the rock scene that none of the rest of us ever have or will.

And today, to celebrate her new book HOLD ME DOWN, Clea takes us...backstage.

 




How one detail can unlock your story…
by Clea Simon

Thanks, Hank and the Reds, for having me back to celebrate Hold Me Down, my new psychological suspense. Hold Me Down follows Gal, a musician of a certain age, as she returns to her old haunts to figure out what caused the death of a former club colleague. A departure from my usual cat cozies, Hold Me Down gets dark at times – but, like so many of us, Gal muddles through and, just maybe, finds her rhythm again by the end. For me to get there with her, however, I had to do my research.


I came to Hold Me Down with a lot of familiarity with the music scene. As a rock critic from the ‘80s into the ‘90s, I spent many nights in the clubs and theaters, watching baby bands mature into headliners and – sometimes – flame out. With a backstage pass or laminate hanging around my neck giving me insider access, I hung out backstage after the gigs and accompanied touring bands to promotional events at record stores and radio stations.

This wasn’t just work, of course. I loved – still love – the music, and made lifelong friends among the musicians, fellow journalists, and club and radio personnel. These were the people I turned to when I realized that “Hold Me Down” needed to center on the persona of Gal, a Boston rocker who – for a hot minute – makes it big, becoming an almost rock star before the excesses of the era, the dysfunction of the music industry, and her own personal history drag her back to earth.

Catching up was fun. Meeting for lunch pre-pandemic and over long phone calls and Zoom, my friends confirmed much of what I remembered. The craziness and, yeah, the drugs. They also gave me details I hadn’t been aware of – like the fact that so many of the drivers were armed. But it was an offhand comment by an old friend who used to sing with the Boston band Vision Thing that really unlocked Gal’s story for me.

“I could see everything from up there,” my buddy Lisa told me. “I don’t think people realized.”


I sure didn’t! I’d played bass in bands before realizing that I was much more comfortable writing about the scene. But during this brief inglorious period, my always-lurking stage fright blinded me to such things. I was lucky to remember the chord changes! (Yeah, I used this in Hold Me Down too.)


But when I started thinking about what Lisa had said, I realized how useful such a detail could be in a mystery. What might Gal see from up there? Adoring fans, sure, but also audience hijinks – and maybe something darker, going down in those shadowy back corners. Then again, when a woman has demons, can she be sure what she sees? These are the questions that raced through my mind as I crafted Hold Me Down, the catchy refrain that kept me writing.

Readers: Have you ever found one little fact that has led you into a bigger story? Would you share it? I’ll give away a signed copy of Hold Me Down to someone who leaves a comment.

HANK: Oh, Clea, you are my rockstar idol. I love that question! And I'd also love to know the rock music tastes of our reds and readers, wouldn't you?

What "record" changed your life? (;-)) Or--do YOU play an instrument? If front of other people? 




A former journalist, Clea Simon is the Boston Globe-bestselling author of three nonfiction books and more than two dozen mysteries. While most of these (like her recent, A Cat on the Case) are cat cozies/amateur sleuth mysteries, she also writes darker crime fiction, like the rock and roll suspense novel World Enough, which was named a “must read” by the Massachusetts Book Awards. Her upcoming psychological suspense Hold Me Down returns to the music world, focusing on PTSD and recovery, as well as love in all its forms. New York Times bestselling thriller queen Lisa Unger calls Hold Me Down “provocative, moving, and suspenseful,” while New York Times bestseller Caroline Leavitt says “this devastatingly powerful mystery hits you like a punch in the heart.” Clea can be reached at www.cleasimon.com or @Clea_Simon on Twitter.

131 comments:

  1. Congratulations, Clea, on your new book. “Hold Me Down” sounds fascinating; I’m looking forward to finding out if Gal can find the answers she seeks.

    Sadly, although I have vague recollections of learning some basics of clarinet-playing in elementary school, I am not particularly musical. [But both of the girls and my oldest grandbaby all play the violin . . . does that count?]

    A little fact that led into a bigger story? Kind of a sad story from many years ago when the children were young . . . a little fact from my kindergartener [I shared my lunch with a little girl who forgot her lunch at home] led to finding out that the child’s family was really struggling and they didn’t have much of anything for their children to eat. So we made a trip to the supermarket and got their next door neighbor to deliver the groceries to them . . . .

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    1. You are the sweetest kindest person in the world.
      And that is way better than playing the clarinet. xxxxx

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    2. Joan! That's more than a little detail. That's life-changing!! You're such a wonderful person ... and yay for the girls and the grand baby! I see some fun recitals in your future! (Sorry about the delay in responding: Google was being cranky!)

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  2. This sounds like so much fun! I was active in the LA music scene from the mid/late 80's to 2000 (and a bass player too!). Can't wait to read it!

    Lisa (Brackmann)

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    1. Oh! Tell us more! We want to hear more!

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    2. LISA!! SPILL!! What bands did you play with/hear/hang with? I know I knew your name from the music scene but didn't realize we were sisters in this way! (Sorry about the delay in responding: Google was being cranky!)

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    3. CLEA, I was in a band called The Pickups (under my RL name Lisa Fredsti). We played all over town, got some nice reviews in BAM and Music Connection and the like. Towards the end of our run we mostly played at Molly Malones (and often opened for Flogging Mollys). If you go to www.lisabrackmann.com/music there's some stuff there.

      I actually went to a lot more shows in the 80s. Saw Talking Heads and X more times than I can count! And lots of bands like Wall of Voodoo, The Alley Cats, the Plugz, that whole scene. I can't even remember for sure what bands I saw because I went to a lot of those big festivals like the first US festival and URGH (I think that was it?) A MUSIC WAR at Santa Monica Civic.

      And I am sorry to just be replying now! I replied kinda late at night and then forgot to check back!

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  3. Congratulations, Clea on your new book and welcome to Jungle Reds!

    Big fan of COZY mysteries here. I remember your Cat cozy mysteries.

    Interesting about music because my writing group was talking about playlists while writing.

    Diana

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    1. Oh, I cannot listen to music while writing! Can you?

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    2. Thank you, Diana! I haven't given up on my cozies - my latest "A Cat on the Case" came out in January (the pandemic has wreaked havoc on the publishing schedule) and I hope to do more! Do you listen to music while you write? If so, does it influence what you write? (Clearly it does for me! ha!) (Sorry about the delay in responding: Google was being cranky!)

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  4. Clea: Welcome back. Did the 'darker' times of the Pandemic lead to writing a thriller? About the one fact leading me on: I was researching events in the 1950's for a friend,spinning many reels of microfilm from the newspapers. Started reading about the wife of the Sheriff of King County WA who disappeared. I wonder about her to this day.

    Hank's question: I played the 'cello from age 7 to age 19. Was good enough for the All City Orchestra but not good enough for a professional career. Today I am in training to be a Bell Master; does that count?
    I can not think of a record that was life changing, unless you mean 'ear wig tracks. Then I would have to nominate Inna Gadda da vida by the Iron Butterfly. or.. Jump by the Pointer Sisters.

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    1. Oh no! Now those two are in my head, too! :-)

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    2. Hi Coralee! Actually, I'd started Hold Me Down before the pandemic. But wow - writing in those first few months was hard. Were you able to concentrate? I had the hardest time!! And YES "All City" is a big deal! I remember making all-county on bass and being SO PROUD. And you are going to be a Bell Master? Wow - What does that entail? As for "earwig tracks..." "Jump" is pretty irresistible. "Inna Gadda da Vida" - ha! - yes, there was a time when that one was central for me too. That and ...hmmm... the Clash's "Safe European Home," probably.

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  5. So many congratulations, Clea. I'm looking forward to reading this. I knew you were a rock critic, but I had no idea you played, yourself. Cool!

    I played cello for some years, until high school fashion (later sixties miniskirts and no pants allowed on girls at school) took precedence over the instrument. SO much great music from that era, I can't pick just one. And by college I was finding my groove with Baez and Dylan and Cat Stevens and Simon and Garfunkel rather than harder rock.

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    1. Well, jungle red has two cellists so far! That’s so interesting!

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    2. Hey Edith! dueling 'cellos? one more and we can be a variety act.

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    3. There's a symphonic metal band called Apocalyptica that features three cellists in the lineup. They started as a Metallica tribute band but do their own original material now.

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    4. There's another all-cello group, Jay... trying to think of the name. More goth - Rasputina! ( I knew I had them on my iPod!). Maybe we could do a two cello and a string bass band? And Edith - I remember a long discussion (smoked substances may have been involved) about who was "harder": Baez and Dylan or the Clash and X. I think we were ostensibly talking about the social import of the music, but it was really just an excuse to keep pulling out records (vinyl!!) and playing our favorite tracks....

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    5. I actually have an Apocalyptica recording, Jay! I have also met a couple of classically trained cellists who work the Austin rock/country music scene, and one Nashville fiddle player who was the Fort Worth Youth Orchestra's concertmaster before he realized that girl like guitar players better. Lots of classically trained kids turn to the "darker" more lucrative side of the business.

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    6. Oh - with all my Google issues, I think I responded to you two down below. I meant to ask you both -Jay and Gigi - if you've heard Helen Gillet (New Orleans improvisational poppy/jazz cellist) - I adore her! If you haven't, please check her out - I think it's www.helengillet.com - Clea (in case this posts as "Unknown" again)

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    7. Will do! I love it when musicians take their music in interesting new directions.

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  6. Ooohhhh, I'm sure I'm going to just HAVE to read this book. I haven't had a nugget turn into a story that I remember.

    I write CD reviews (and did concert reviews when I could still go to them) for KNAC.COM. This has enabled me to see a lot of bands I might not have done so and I get to listen to a lot of music and write reviews about it.

    I also write The Cassette Chronicles for Limelight Magazine.com which takes old cassettes and writes a kind of semi-review and then adds in some "Where I Was" when the album was originally released storytelling.

    I've interviewed a couple of people including Leather Leone, which was a blast for me.

    What record changed my life? That's easy! Iron Maiden's 'Somewhere In Time'. The first time I heard it was like being reborn as a music fan. Before that, I listened to Top 40 pop radio (Casey Kasem's American Top 40 radio countdown show on Sunday mornings was my music bible).

    But after 'Somewhere In Time', my life was rock and metal and it mostly remains that way to this day. Savatage, Queensryche, Iron Maiden, Fates Warning, Doro, Leather Leone / Chastain, early Metallica, Helloween, Judas Priest, Dio, Metal Church, Black Sabbath, W.A.S.P., Accept, U.D.O., Overkill and Armored Saint are just some of the metal bands that provide the endless soundtrack of my rock and metal life.

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    1. OK, Jay. Have I ever heard that song? I am going to play it as soon as I finish with these comments… And then I will let you know :-)!

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    2. Hank,

      I was referring to the entire Iron Maiden 'Somewhere In Time' rather than just nominal title track "Caught Somewhere In Time".

      IF you have a few spare minutes, I wrote about my love of the album in my Cassette Chronicles series and you can check that piece out here: https://limelightmagazine.com/2020/09/03/cassettechronicles150ironmaiden/

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    3. Jay!! Iron Maiden!! I'll have to look for the Casette Chronicles. Did you know about the 1971 project over at the ArtsFuse (ArtsFuse.com, I think)? Allen Michie is having a bunch of us mature (ahem) music writers go on about our favorite tracks from the big songs and albums this year... (I surprised some of my friends by writing about the Carpenters). I was never as much into the straight metal but I'd love to read more (I did cover a ton of metal shows back in the day for the Boston Herald. I still love Metallica! You've seen that documentary about when they all went into therapy, yes?) What's your take on the metal-lite/hair bands like Ratt?

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    4. Jay - Just read your post. Yes! The stories, the songs, but also the visuals - a band is a performing entity, after all. The performance is a big part of what we respond to.

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    5. Clea, I think the former director of my local library mentioned something about that ArtsFuse project to me as something I might want to check out. But I haven't done it yet.

      It's funny that you wrote for the Boston Herald, I might just have read some of your articles and not realized it was you. I specified early Metallica in my initial post because I don't listen to their new stuff much. I avoided that therapy documentary since it is pretty much where the wheels fell off for me. The band's 'St. Anger' album is pretty much the nadir of music for me.

      As for the bands that get categorized as hair metal, I love them. That was my time growing up so I listened to all of it. In fact, I've written about the Ratt debut EP and four of their albums in recent months of my Cassette Chronicles series. It was a great way to discover that while I knew the band's hit singles, they had much more to offer and I'd missed out on it back in the day. By the way, there is a documentary on Ratt singer Stephen Pearcy that just came out recently. I haven't seen it yet but if I can find it, I might just take the time to watch.

      The Cassette Chronicles (which I've written about 180 or so articles over 4 plus years) mostly looks back at albums from the 1980s and early 1990s so a lot of what I write about comes from the "When Metal Ruled The World" era. But I do write about other genres at times as well. In fact, this week's article that goes up at some point today looks at the Culture Club album 'Colour By Numbers'. I like to throw in a twist every once in a while.

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    6. I have to go back into the Cassette Chronicles and read more, Jay! And, yeah, that documentary might not be your thing musically - but it was a VERY interesting peak at the band dynamics! And I'm so glad you "Colour" outside the lines sometimes too. If for no other reason than that album was EVERYWHERE that year (1984?)

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    7. That Culture Club album came out in 1983 and yes it was definitely everywhere that year.

      I've written the articles in a variety of ways. Three were written to pay tribute to musicians who passed away. Some were written in conjunction with an area concert appearance. A few have been shared by the bands I wrote about. Some are review heavy while others are more balanced between review and story. I try to mix it up a bit, even if the articles aren't perfect or I have a different opinion than the prevailing opinion about a specific release. Once in a while, I come up with an article that even stuns me with how well it turns out.

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    8. Clea, thanks for taking the time to read the Iron Maiden post.

      Also, here's the link to today's Culture Club article: https://limelightmagazine.com/2021/10/07/cassette-chronicles180cultureclub/

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  7. Welcome Cléa. What an interesting post.
    It made me think of one of my favourite rock song : Brian Adams’ s The Summer of ‘69.

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    1. I am feeling very musically inept… Have I ever heard that song? Let me find it…

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    2. danielle-momo, I love that Bryan Adams song. His 'Reckless' album is fantastic and I wrote a piece on it a while back. I picked up the reissue of the album that comes with a bonus disc of material but haven't listened to it yet.

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    3. Oh, I'm so glad I made you think of a favorite song, Danielle-Momo! And yes, "The Summer of '69" is full of that yearning... Sigh! Music just hits those places in us, don't you think?

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    4. Clea here again ...Jay and Gigi - I can't believe I forgot my all-time favorite non-traditional cellist!! Do you Helen Gillet? She's BRILLIANT! She plays sort of poppy/jazzy treated cello, often based on her own Belgian roots. I see her whenever I';m in New Orleans or she comes up here: https://www.helengillet.com

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  8. Clea, so fascinating--can't wait to read! I wish I'd had enough talent to do something musical. Though I'm certain I would have gotten into trouble on the road:). As for small facts from the past, I've pretty much mined them ruthlessly for my books!

    ps love your hair!

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    1. Thank you Roberta (Lucy)! Yes, I stopped coloring it ... maybe I'll do an Edith and dd some purple streaks, just for fun (Sorry - Clea here, Google is being weird). And, hey, you have enough talent in other fields for five gold albums...

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    2. Just adding that I love your hair, too!! Stopping the coloring has been an unexpected little pandemic blessing for a lot of us!

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    3. Thank you, Deborah and Edith! And, yes, if nothing else the pandemic really gave us a chance to reassess. Also, I'd long been tempted but who wants to go out in the in-between stage looking like a skunk, you know? Problem SOLVED! Still, i might add some color again at some point. I haven't had purple streaks since I was 24.

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  9. Welcome Clea! I remember from high school orchestra performances just how much you can see from the stage. What a great opportunity for a story.

    I started playing piano at age 5. I still have the instrument, although I don't play much any more (it really needs some serious work and tuning). I played violin starting in fourth grade. I wanted to play clarinet (because I eventually wanted to play saxophone and that's where I had to start), but Grandma was paying and she said either flute or violin. I taught myself how to play the viola my junior year of high school because we didn't have any viola players.

    Musically, I'm all over the map, although I prefer 80s pop, 70s/80s rock, and 80s/90s country when I want more than just background (like long-distance driving).

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    1. Liz! I had no idea you were so musical! This is amazing…

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    2. Hi Liz, and thank you! Sorry, Google ate my response! I'm so impressed that you taught yourself viola! (Is that G clef? I can barely remember how to read F clef these days, sigh). So what are your 80s pop favorites? (I will defend to the death Men Without Hats "The Safety Dance") - Clea (in case this posts as "Unknown")

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    3. Hank, yep. That was me in school. Books and music. I was always in chorus, too, including the special ones you had to audition for.

      Clea, I learned it as "alto" clef and where the curved lines meet is middle C. Favorite 80s pop? Oh gosh. "Video Killed the Radio Star." I love Men at Work, Cyndi Lauper, so many I can't think of names!

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    4. I believe that's the C Clef - what cellos read too (Edith? Can you or any of your fellow cellists help me out here?). And yes! Cyndi Lauper! Men At Work! Frankie Goes to Hollywood... I could go on forever.

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  10. Clea, Hold Me Down is quite a departure from your cat cozies! Can you speak to how different it was to write? It sounds like a compelling story, and I'm anxious to read it.

    My parents and two of my kids were/are musically gifted. I always say I play the radio, but I really wanted to learn piano as a kid if my parents had been able to afford lessons. Our next-door neighbor taught piano at UC's College Conservatory of Music, and she has offered to teach me many times. I don't have it in me at this point. She taught our daughters for several years and I know what a tough teacher she is, for one thing! She's the reason I was backstage after a Cincinnati Pops concert to help celebrate Doc Severinsen's 70th birthday, and a couple other times, as well. I suspect classical musicians are far tamer than rock ones!

    Facts that led to story: as the editor of the monthly newsletter for the local sewing professionals I interviewed one member a month for about two years. Their stories led me to send out questionnaires all over the world, and eventually to interview more than 100 more people for a book on 70 different ways to make money with sewing.

    I listened to a lot of piano instrumentals while I was writing.

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    1. Karen, that is absolutely great! What a wonderful and touching idea… And so valuable!

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    2. Hi Karen! Just wrote a long response and Google ate it. SIGH. (I'll save it this time and re-post if it doesn't go through now). Thanks for asking! (And for what it's worth, I hope to keep writing cat cozies - nice to have a comfy place to go back to).
      As to how different it was to write, well, in some ways it was harder. I had to really relive some difficult experiences in order to get the emotions down, if that makes sense. But in another way, it was just the same - I get caught up in whatever world I'm writing and when it's done, I find myself blinking and looking around and wondering, "was that real"?
      I pretty much play the radio at this point as well! I'm hoping you reconsider taking your neighbor up on her offer. My husband started violin at around age 60. He'll never be professional, but he gets great pleasure from it. (Though it does sound like she's amazing - Doc Severison!!)
      Congrats on the sewing project! What piano pieces did you like best? Are there any you're still listening to for pleasure?

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    3. oh yay! Didn't get lost that time!

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    4. So it was much more emotional writing this book? Interesting!

      Yes, our neighbors are both musicians--he played bass with the CSO for 30 years, and they knew Doc socially. We cherish them, so much.

      There were two albums I played constantly: For a Rainy Day was one of them, and the other was Joseph Rojo's Nocturnal Afternoon. Since it was 1994 they were both on cassettes. Thanks for this reminder, I have just located the Rojo album, and I'll be ordering it!

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    5. Oh I am so glad that you are getting the Rojo!! My work here is done! :) - Clea

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    6. Karen - I should clarify: I do get emotionally involved in my cozies. I love those characters so and I worry about them!! But Hold Me Down dealt with some big issues (assault, recovery) so, yeah, digging into more painful emotions, I guess. Does that make any sense? (Anyway, thank you for asking!) - Clea

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  11. Congratulations on your book's release, Clea. It sounds like a wild scene that Gal is navigating, one I know nothing about. Reading opens up whole new worlds to us, doesn't it?

    My musical taste veers more towards folk than rock, with Simon and Garfunkel delivering major memories for me. Also, women's music from the late 70s on is the soundtrack for my feminist politics as they evolved over the decades, with Holly Near being a lasting favourite.

    I learned the recorder in school; it's not a socially endearing instrument to play! As an adult, I taught myself the harmonica during a time when I wanted to shift my behaviour and my attitude; it worked -- must have opened up a part of my brain that shifted things for me.

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    1. I am imagining you playing the recorder! You are so right to say it is not a socially endearing instrument… You are so right! But it has changed so many lives…

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    2. Thank you, Amanda! I so hope you'll "visit" the music scene in my book. Isn't that a great thing about reading? All the places we can go (especially right now, when real travel is difficult or impossible). Simon and Garfunkle were major fo rme too - and yes!! The women's music movement of the '70s!! Holly Near, Sweet Honey in the Rock, such important artists! And you picked up harmonica as an adult - that's hard! I'm very impressed. May I ask what you're listening to today? - Clea (in case this posts as "Unknown" again. I'm logged in but Google is being weird)

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    3. Paul Simon is still one of my music idols.

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    4. Clea: These days, my musical choices are pretty varied from classical through to local indie singer/song writers. But, truthfully, since CDs went the way of the dodo and the new music streaming options require a monthly money commitment, what I mostly listen to is what my local CBC (public broadcaster) radio station plays me. Podcasts are more likely playing for me these days.

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  12. I didn't think I would be interested in Hold Me Down, not my usual sort of thing, but the more you told us, the more I knew I did want to read it.

    In sixth grade I started taking lessons on the saxophone but never got very far. To this day though I enjoy hearing a sax.

    Not sure if it was one song or many that changed my life but they were all by Gordon Lightfoot. I had some cassette tapes I listened to and they were okay until a friend had me put on some headphones at her house and played me one of his albums. That was it! That was the start of a major obsession and I even went on the write what I called a fantasy - my "romance" with a thinly disguised musician.

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    1. Oh, so agree! Gordon Lightfoot‘s voice is absolutely unique and fantastic. What is your favorite song of his?

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    2. There is simply no way I can choose a favorite. I like Salute a lot but tomorrow I would probably tell you something different.

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    3. Gordon Lightfoot was a constant among my friends! That rich burr of a voice, those songs.... I can see falling for him (and you're not alone - a dear friend and I wrote these long fantasies of our lives with the various Beatles at one point. For me, it was George. I do like a pretty boy.)
      And I'm so glad you're considering Hold Me Down! I like to think that it's really a story about a strong woman who is battling with several demons... and a murder. (I don't know if you're an e-reader, but if you are, maybe download the Kindle sample and see if it catches you.) The music setting is a way to "visit" that world without having to stay out late, too!
      So what are you listening to now? What are you reading? Tell! (sorry for the delay - Google ate this!)

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    4. Sorry - "Unknown" is me: Clea ...

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    5. FIGHT TO THE DEATH, EDITH! (But no, we;'ll share. I mean, who could resist - those portraits in the white album? Swoon) - Clea

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    6. You may be surprised to hear that mostly I am listening to Eric Church now. Unfortunately he isn't touring near me, at least not yet, but what I wouldn't give to experience a live concert.

      I am reading all sorts of things, but not so much sci-fi except I guess time travelling comes under that heading and I do like that very much.

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    7. Time travel is fun! Any recommendations?

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    8. Kindred by Octavia Butler is really great but so is Diane Chamberlain's Dream Daughter. Jack Finney's Time and Again and its sequel From Time to Time are excellent as well.

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  13. If I'd had my druthers, I'd have been a cabaret singer. But even my four-year-old daughter used to ask me, Please Mommy, don't sing.
    And I confess, my go-to channel for music listening is classical. Boring, I know.
    Sigh.
    Clea, this sounds like a *big* book. Congratulations!

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    1. You and me, sister. I cannot sing a note. And I can absolutely hear that I am singing it incorrectly, I just can’t fix it.
      And I always had visions of myself in the character roles in plays… Ruth in wonderful town, Adelaide Inn guys and dolls, those roles. Anything Rosalind Russell would play. But alas.

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    2. Oh, Hallie!! You and me both! Except that I did use to sing UNTIL I HEARD A TAPE FROM THE SOUNDBOARD. Oh, the horror! You know about the infamous "The Tape of Only Linda"? (That was Linda McCartney, a soundboard tape from when she sang with Wings.) Oh, she was better than I was.... And thanks, this was a big book for me. As for how it will do? We'll see. – Clea (in case this posts as "Unknown" again)

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    3. which it did. Google, I am signed in! Go figure.

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    4. Hank, I saw that Rhys asked which of the White Christmas sisters she was, on Facebook. I lost the page before I got the chance to answer: Rosemary Clooney, definitely. She sang both her own and Vera-Ellen's parts in both movies.

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    5. Oh, I didn't know that about Rosemary CLooney! xx

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  14. Clea, that's so true--did I really see that or am I imagining things? Then, filter that through the passing of years--what a great premise, especially when you add in all the confusion/craziness going on both on-and off-stage at a concert!

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    1. Thank you, Flora! Yes, especially when it's just a flash of an image - did we see it? Did we fill in a blank with a memory? Was it real? And it sounds like you know somethng about the craziness of being on stage? Do tell!

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    2. Sorry Flora - "Unknown" is me, Clea. Google being weird.

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  15. Congratulations on your latest! Great premise.

    I still listen to the Doors long version of "Light My Fire" while mopping the kitchen floor or scrubbing bathrooms.

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    1. Oh, such a fantastic song! I love it, too!

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    2. I remember that from high school dances under the Light ball. It was rumored that Julie Krug wasn't wearing underpants...

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    3. (Sorry - that looks creepy. "Unknown" is me, Clea. Google is being ornery!)

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    4. That's such a great song, Margaret! I do love listening to music while doing chores - and I hope you give yourself occasional dance breaks! - Clea (in case this posts as "Unknown" again)

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    5. Exactly! (Though you have to lead)

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  16. Congratulations on the wonderful release! I listen to Leonard Cohen's music all day everyday since it is so meaningful and especially Hallelujah which I can never get enough of.

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    1. He was fabulous. What a genius poet. Suzanne gets me every time, too.

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    2. That's a powerful song, Traveler! And that gravelly baritone... yeah, I can see listening to that every day.

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    3. Sorry - "Unknown" is me: Clea. Google is being weird.

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  17. Congratulations! I admire artists and singers and musicians. They weave a spell which is amazing.

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    1. Thank you, Petite! And don't they? Music gets at something in us that we can't always access.... Do you have a favorite song or artist you'd like to share?

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    2. (Sorry - "Unknown" is me, Clea. Google is being ornery!)

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  18. Congratulations on the new book, Clea! It sounds terrific! There's not much sex and drugs in my corner of the music industry, and not even that much backstage drama. That's what I get for working with a professional classical wind ensemble. On the upside, I get to work in some classy halls, with very nice backstage bathrooms.

    As for me, I can pick out 'Ode to Joy' on a variety of instruments, but I could never call myself a musician when compared to the company I keep. At home I listen to blues, rock, some country, and a fair amount of folk and Americana music. Keb' Mo' is a current favorite, and Sonny Landreth will always be at the top of my list.

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    1. Clea here!! (Google is being weird) Oh, Gigi! Sonny Landreth was one of the last live performers I saw before the shut down! (Double bill with Marcia Ball). Sigh! Love Keb' Mo' too - and, hey, being able to pick out that motif is pretty brilliant. Wondering if the classical world has the same kind of family (sometimes incestuous) atmosphere, minus the drugs...?

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    2. Clea, that is so cool that you saw Sonny! I've seen Sonny--with Gigi!--too, and he is amazing. I think you and Gigi are soul sisters. You should check out her novella, Deep Ellum Blues.
      https://smile.amazon.com/Deep-Ellum-Blues-Fantasy-Novelette-ebook/dp/B08JJCCMCH/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=deep+ellum+blues&qid=1633622246&sr=8-5

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    3. Deborah - Isn't he? Wow - those chops! Cajun blues... And, yes! I've heard of "Deep Ellum Blues," so now I certainly will! Sigh. I SO WANT TO HEAR LIVE MUSIC AGAIN! I know some people are, but ... I'm a little nervous. I've got tickets to a local early music group (Blue Heron) but that's in a big airy church and everyone will be masked. I went to hear a wonderful local musician, Dennis Brennan, in July, during the lull, at a bar and everyone was crowded in, drinking and unmasked and it was WONDERFUL!!!

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    4. While I'm not up on the blues all that much, I have at least heard of Sonny Landreth thanks to him playing a song with the absolutely incomparable Beth Hart on her 'Live From New York: Front & Center' live release.

      Also, while he does do a lot more of blues rocking as opposed to strictly blues playing, Joe Bonamassa is incredible.

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    5. No argument about that, Jay! (And, yeah, the genre lanes are all pretty blurry - as they should be. Music is music is music, just like storytelling is storytelling is storytelling.)

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    6. So nice to be among Sonny fans! I usually have to explain to people who he is, but he's a wonder. And you've heard of my story, "Deep Ellum Blues"? You might be the first "non-family" person I've encountered who has happened onto it independently, so, Cool! I hope you enjoy it.

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    7. Gigi - I think I heard about it here!

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    8. Jay, I found video of Beth Hart and Sonny Landreth--outstanding stuff! https://youtu.be/5ruv1cX_6DQ

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    9. Gigi, Beth Hart is one of the most electrifying artists I've ever seen.

      I saw her in concert a few years back and it was an almost transcendent experience for me.

      If you want to read my review of that show here's the link: http://classic-rock-bottom.ning.com/forum/topics/a-night-at-the-wilbur-beth-hart-live-in-concert

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  19. Good luck with the new book, Clea. Sounds great! Must read. Myself, I have no real-life backstage music experience - love it but am pretty tone deaf. However. Ahem. I did to to college with the future-reading Jon Landau, Bruce Springsteen's long time manager. PS> I discovered Keb Mo when he opened a concert for Bonnie Rait, a lot of years ago.Memorable on all counts.

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    1. Triss! That's the beauty of books, you get to go backstage (or to Scotland with Ann Cleeves or Catriona McPherson) or anywhere without having to pack (or worry about COVID, sigh). And oh! So glad you got to hear Keb' Mo! And kudos for listening to the opener! I've found some new favorites that way, but a lot of people just tune out until the main act comes on.

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    2. Triss, Bonnie Raitt fan here!!

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    3. Flora, you have good taste in music!

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  20. Your book sounds wonderful! So fun to use all that insider info. My musical tastes are all over the spectrum. Loved cathartic music: Paint It Black, Light My Fire. Fun music like Elvis's Burning Love and Isley Brothers' Shout. Our unofficial HS senior class song: The Animals' We Gotta Get Out of This Place. Willie Nelson's Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain. Faded Love by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys.
    BB King's The Thrill is Gone. Glen Campbell's Galveston still brings me to tears because of the lyrics and the time period it came out. Queen's We Are the Champions brings my youngest (deceased) sister to mind for several reasons. I love music but musically I'm a dud. Can't play instruments, can't carry a tune in a bucket.

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    1. But you listen widely (and, as I originally typed) wildly! Just like books need readers, music needs listeners. So much to unpack here -- I;m so sorry about your sister, and, yes, music just touches all those places, doesn't it? Triggers memories like nothing else. "Galveston." Sigh, yesCampbell's voice always makes me tear up too. And Bob Wills, yes! Do you know Don Walser? Texas yodeller (really) who I got to see a few times in Austin and up here - brilliant. And I LOVE that you used that Animals song as your unofficial class song! Ha!!

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    2. Donnie Walser. Yes! We heard a radio interview with him and he was so funny and charming. He used to sing and yodel up in a tree as a child to keep from being scared while his daddy was away at work. The neighbors noticed! I have one of his CDs and he also guested on a track on one of Asleep at the Wheel's albums.

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    3. Yes! I think I have that Asleep at the Wheel album. I hadn't heard that story about him – thanks! He was quite wonderful. He played up here once, and a friend's band opened (they did a fun mash-up of "Convoy" and "Truck Drivin' Man," which Walser played too). My friend was totally awestruck!

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    4. I completely remember singing We Gotta Get out of this Place (if it's the last thing we EVER do!) at the top of my lungs.

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  21. When we were twelve, my best friend and I took guitar lessons. When we did our recital, her dad was laughing so hard he had to get up and leave the room. So, that was the end of my musical aspirations. Can't sing, either, sadly, but I'm fascinated by musicians and bands, so your book is going on my must-read list, Clea. (One of my continuing characters, introduced in The Sound of Broken Glass, is a girl bass player, too.)

    Having been a teenager in the sixties and early seventies, there is just too much music to pick any one song as life-changing. It was such an amazing era for creativity and innovation. For years I listened to a lot of classical music. I had both symphony and opera season tickets. Now I listen to all sorts of things but favorites tend towards jazzy. Last night I heard someone do a cover of an Ingrid Michaelson song and then had a lovely hour listening to Michaelson herself. So talented.

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    1. OK, I have to pick up "The Sound of Broken Glass." How did I not know about this?!? I'm with you in my listening - have opera tix for the new season and at least one early music show on the calendar, but a lot of jazz (my husband writes about jazz). Do you know Patricia Barber? Just got her latest CD (she's not touring now because she has asthma). I adore her!

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    2. Clea, "The Sound of Broken Glass" is my favorite in Debs's series. The characters are great!

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  22. Clea, welcome to JRW and congratulations on your new book which sounds amazing. So many memories have been triggered by your post that I had to set it aside until there was a little clear time to chime in.
    I studied violin from age 7 until I graduated from high school. I still miss the comradery of that time. My main extra curricular activities in school were all around the music program. Among the several performances throughout the year, our choir and orchestra staged musicals each spring that were just amazing. (One of the performers who was a senior when I was a sophomore, became a fairly well known actor of TV, movies and mostly stage, winning a Tony or two.) I sure learned about stage fright at the tender age of 9 and there are some things I just would never do again. But I was never shy in the orchestra or even in a string quartet, because there is safety in numbers;-)

    You asked about a moment when one small detail can make things snap into focus. I think everyone experiences those moments, like when you realize a friend is in love with someone you didn't expect. Or you realized, from a glance, that someone had a big crush on you. But the ones that stick out the most are from my teaching days as an elementary school special education teacher. The first time it happened was when I realized that a small girl could not hear me when I was behind her and was not a "slow" learner at all. Boy, I really changed the way I worked with her from that day on. I remember a teacher I had calling those moments haiku moments, when your brain goes...ah-ha!

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    1. Wow, your insight undoubtedly changed that girl's life! Haiku moments, I'll have to remember that. And thank you for your kind words on the book! Your memories of the school orchestra reminded me just now of something silly we used to do in the bass section. There was some piece or other that had a rest every couple of bars, and we decided (there were four of us) that we would spin our basses (upright basses, on metal pegs) at every rest. We got away with it too, until the violins (who faced us) started to crack up. ...

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    2. I laughed out loud. The violins gave you away...too funny!!

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  23. Wow! You think you have an idea of who someone is, and then, bam, that gets blown out of the water. Because you write the cozy cat mysteries, Clea, I guess I thought your life leaned toward the cozy, too. Then, I learn here about your days in rock 'n roll, and I realize that it's never a good idea to presume what someone is about. How wonderful that you are able to bring your previous life into your writing life now. Hold Me Down sounds like a great read.

    I'm very eclectic about my music taste and music artists I enjoy. The underlying music of my soul is jazz, the sound track that carries me from year to year. About the only music I don't care for is heavy metal, and I'm not too crazy about rap. I do think that it should become an accepted norm for people to break out in dance to songs piped over systems in public. I played bassoon for seven years in school, and I so wish I'd continued it. I love to pick out the bassoon sound when I hear an orchestra playing. I also play the piano but not on a great level at all. I do like that I can read music, and I forget that not everyone can. Oh, and I played the clarinet in elementary school, before changing to the bassoon, which I liked much better. Of course, there were loads of clarinet players in the band, and only two bassoonists.

    The only backstage experience to speak of was almost fifty years ago now. I accompanied a young journalist friend of mine to a county fair where my friend was to interview Pee Wee King after a performance. I sat with my friend as he talked to Mr. King, and I thought the performer a lovely gentleman. Pee Wee King did get some mention in Ken Burns' country music documentary. So, there's that.

    I think the first song that truly meant anything to me was Stormy Weather. As a child of probably 8 or so (it was 1960 or early 60s), I was with my family on a vacation to Lake Erie, and we stayed at the grand old hotel there close to Sandusky. There were paths to walk around the hotel grounds, and my family was out walking, probably after super, and we passed by the enclosed band pavilion where the band was playing. The windows were screens, so the sounds of the band drifted out into the night and to where we were walking. The band happened to be playing Stormy Weather, and my mother exclaimed that it was her favorite song. I'd not thought about favorite songs before that, and since my mother loved it, the song became a favorite of mine, too. So, I guess that was the pivotal moment when I realized certain songs were special to people, and that loving a certain song brought lovely, good feelings whenever you heard it.

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    1. Oh, I LOVE that song! Oh, and what a revelation in general about that..wow. I cannot even listen to Sting's Fields of Gold, it affects me so much. I literally turn it off if it comes on.

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    2. Hi Kathy! I think I'm out of Google jail! Responded to you privately about "Stormy Weather" - that's such an evocative memory, the sound drifting out into the night... Wanted to add that I too find my musical tastes shifting. It helps that I'm married to a jazz critic! (Our first common ground was blues and then, of all things, early music - go figure! I guess for me that's very rock and roll?) As for the cozies, yes, that's a real part of me as well. We all have different moods at different times, no? At any rate, thank you for writing!

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  24. How bizarre - my response keeps disappearing.. . trying again.

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  25. oh, I just got asked a bunch of CAPCHA queastions. Maybe the system thought I was spam? Anyway, I hope my response (above) stays this time! Thanks for reading - and yay for public dancing!

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  26. I've been told that Mercury is retro right now, which may explain why I'm unable to post my actual response. Will try again later, Kathy, but thanks for writing! - Clea

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  27. Woo Hoo! I married the music critic for the Tribune. Hub has some crazy stories from those days - not as wild as his own rock band days but darn close! This is a great premise for a book, Clea! I can’t wait to read it.

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    1. Jenn - I bet we could trade some stories! - Clea

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  28. Congratulations, Clea. This sounds like a book I would love. My TBR pile just expanded!!

    As for music, I confess I'm a Def Leppard girl. I had tons of fun in the early 90s getting to know their lead singer Joe Elliott at some concerts. I also spent time back stage at a Stray Cats concert doing research for a book. It's a fascinating life style.

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    1. Thanks, Carol! I remember covering Def Leppard – they were fun. And now I want to hear about the book that had you backstage at a Stray Cats show! Please share.

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