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Book Review: Music + Travel Worldwide: Touring the Globe Through Sounds and Scenes by Museyon Guides

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Music + Travel Worldwide is your father’s music and travel guide (and yours, too)… which is a good thing, and a surprising matter of a specialized travelogue that adds a little musical depth to a breadth of wanderlust wonder. After all, your education about Celtic punk music isn’t really complete until you can work into your tour bus conversation the fact that in the 18th century penny whistles, throbbing fiddles, and banjos came to Dublin via farm laborers. Even more fascinating is the chronicle of “The Digital Domain” of Argentina and Buenos Aires from its folk beginnings in the 17th to the 18th centuries when the cumbe (clave and drum music) was brought to South America by Guinean slaves.

Equal parts travel guide and crash course in world music, Music + Travel Worldwide: Touring the Globe Through Sounds and Scenes features 12 genres of music and the cities they are synonymous with. These sections include Jazz in Chicago, IndiPop in Mumbai, Chanson in Moscow, Techno in Berlin, Art Rock in Melbourne, Ethiopop in Addis Ababa, Experimental in Beijing, Classical in Istanbul, and Hip-Hop in Paris.

The enlightening and sumptuously organized book from Museyon Guides features accessible and well-structured sections, and is attractively splashed with page- after- page-packed, full-color photographs of artists, venues and more, citing over 125 albums. Sidebars and practical travel tips include easy-to-read maps, while 100 festival listings worldwide are available.

Section 12: Folk Lure covers the mountain/desert/ocean freedom of Southern California’s peaceful, sometimes rowdy feeling – from the 1930s Dust Bowl migration and Sons of the Pioneers to the likes of Dwight Yoakam and Devendra Banhart in the ‘90s and 2000s — and offers a good representative example of how Music + Travel Worldwide goes 'round and 'round. What comes out, first of all, after an annotated timeline gives a beneficial overview, and a “Before You Go, Get in the Know” sidebar lists nine or 10 websites and a couple of magazines on the topic at hand, is an expressive and elegiac write-up – this one by writer and filmmaker Jessica Hundley, who penned a biography of Gram Parsons – which makes a case for the label “Calicountry."

It’s the rough and tumble, hard-scrabble sound of sweat and dirt colliding with the glitz and glamour of the Hollywood Singing Cowboys, the early stars of the small and silver screens who rode into the sunset with a long song on their lips. California is the last and final stop for roots and Americana music, and Calicountry – ever-evolving – reflects the starry-eyed dreaming, free-love rambling, and blown-out yellow-sky of the Golden State itself.

Hundley goes on to duly outline and update the influx of the folk and the influence of the folk lure – including L.A. as the undisputed epicenter, the Bakersfield sound, the “craggy canyons and cavernous studios” and the dirty denim and Hollywood glitz. But the redefined and resurrected nature of Calicountry has seen it emerge as a “”Multiquilted blend of everything from folksy dreaming to ghost town haunt to raucous, beer-buzz sway.” And to accentuate the positive and the negative multiplicity of it all are photos from Merle to Amoeba, and the annotation-rich specialty “Side Roads and Sister Cities” (supplanted by “Art Imitating Life: The Music in Movies” in a few other sections) that include Joshua Tree, Pioneertown, and a couple of my old haunts, Topanga Canyon and Laurel Canyon. You can find these locales on the “Map of Venues and City Landmarks” with which you’ll also find such prominent sites as The Troubadour, Buck Owen’s Crystal Palace, Chateau Marmont, and The Stagecoach Festivals in Indio.

“Albums that Influenced Calicountry in the LA Area” include some usual suspects like Gram Parson’s Grievous Angel (1974), The Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968), and Merle Haggard’s Mama Tried (1968). But a couple of under-the-radar classics also get listed, such as Lee Hazelwood’s Trouble is a Lonesome Town (1963), and Gene Clark’s Live at Ebbbets Field (1975) [Silverado '75: Live & Unreleased]. Bringing us more up to speed is the “Calicountry Today” roundup of a half a dozen current and up-and-coming artists which includes Jenny Lewis, Fruit Bats, the Watson Twins, Mike Stinson, and She & Him.

Of course, as the above depictions attest, none of the sidebars and features as extended to all 12 sections of Music + Travel — from the well-considered commentaries to the explanatory listings — are intended to be all-inclusive. If travel guides were made to be such suitcase-jamming half-ton tomes you’d have to leave them at home – but the grab-and-go guide admirably presents the essentials, the salient points. The cover-to-cover tips and suggestions are not only educational pointers but also jumping-off points for spring-boarding into action, so that once you get to your destination, the journey continues as you fill in the gaps in the timelines and go on fact-finding missions for other influential albums, hometown heroes, venues and landmarks, and more.

Given the concern for the past, present, and future the Museyon Guides place each city-celebrated genre — both the historical context and the artistic direction — Music + Travel Worldwide fulfills its purpose in being ‘’a curated guide to your obsessions.” 

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About Gordon Hauptfleisch

  • thisisheatherc

    fresh idea. i’m curious to see what they do with art.

  • Gordon Hauptfleisch

    Me, too — unique series, indeed.