All Work and No Play Makes Joe a Dull Boy

PawleysIslandI’ve spent the last few months handcuffed to the ol’ computer, hammering out the manuscript for Lines of Scrimmage, exchanging draft after draft with my writing buddy, Scott Pleasant. The book is going well, but my typing fingers (all four of ‘em) need a break. Time to venture outside and play a rock show, or as close to a rock show as one dude with an acoustic guitar can get.

So here’s the skinny. On Tuesday, April 15, I’ll be playing two solo-acoustic sets in beautiful Pawleys Island, SC, at the Pawleys Island Tavern. The show starts at 8 pm, and I’ll be happy to fake my way though any requests you’ve got, as long as you’re requesting Watershed songs. Please come. When the crowd figures out that I don’t know any Jimmy Buffett or Bob Marley, I’m gonna need all the backup I can get.

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Good News from the Magnolia State

MS Logo 300I’m thrilled to report that my current book project, Lines of Scrimmage: A Story of Football, Race, and Redemption (co-written with Scott Pleasant), is now under contract with the University Press of Mississippi. The publication date is tentatively set for the fall of 2014, which would mark the 25th anniversary of the event the book chronicles (see post below).

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For My Next Trick…

ConwayI’m currently working on a book about an episode that happened here in South Carolina, in 1989, when 31 of the 37 black players on the Conway High School football team walked away from the squad for the whole season in protest of the (white) coach’s decision to bench the starting (black) quarterback in favor of a less experienced white kid. The boycott divided the town largely along racial lines, and it soon became clear that the incident was about much more than football. It was about the legacy of slavery and segregation and Jim Crow and all the other points of tension and oppression that many people in Conway had wrongly assumed were settled.

I’ll have more news about the book soon, but in the meantime, you can get caught up to speed on the 1989 Conway Football Boycott by reading the excellent article that Sports Illustrated ran about it back then. To read the SI story, click HERE.

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The Watershed Rock Junket

jetsetThe First Annual

Watershed Rock Junket.

Raleigh, North Carolina.

July 19-21.

In addition to dates in Columbus and Toledo, you are invited to join Watershed, those mighty Hitless Wonders, as they put up stakes for a long summer weekend in Raleigh, the rock and roll capital of the New South. Over three days—from Friday, July 19 to Sunday, July 21—the band will play three shows in three different venues, with all set-lists made up especially for Superfans. We’re talking deep tracks, rarities, B-sides—stuff Colin, Joe, and Dave have long forgotten how to play. Think of this as a Rock Cruise, but without the boat (and without that bothersome norovirus that can run through a cruise ship like, well, shit through a tourist). No seasickness, either. And no over-priced drinks or food buffet cattle calls. Instead you get a reasonably legitimate excuse to come to a kickass city and a chance to bend elbows at the bar next to Biggie and Ricki C. If that weren’t enough, you also get more live Watershed than you can probably stomach.

Here’s the agenda:

Friday, July 19- Colin plays a solo set at Sadlack’s Heroes. 7:00 to 9:00. Across Hillsborough St. from NC State University, Sadlack’s has by far the most rocking patio in the Southeast. Joe will probably read a few pages from Hitless Wonder while Colin takes his beer breaks.

Saturday, July 20 – Watershed headlines the Brewery Reunion show at the Poor House Music Hall Back in the early nineties, whenever Watershed played Raleigh, it was at The Brewery, with legendary mix-man Jac Cain behind the board. Sadly, The Brewery is long gone, but Jac Cain is still up and rocking and running sound at The Pour House. Jac put together this Brewery Reunion, which will undoubtedly be a blow-out bash. Watershed plays at midnight.

Sunday, July 21 – Watershed fights through their hangovers to play two massive matinee sets at one of their favorite bars in the world, Slim’s Downtown. The show will run roughly from 4:00 to 8:00, and the band will attempt to play any Watershed song you request (no guarantees on the quantity of lyrics remembered or the accuracy of chord progressions executed).

All three venues are close to downtown and easy to get to from a central location. Hotwire is currently showing 4 star hotels available that weekend for as little as $75/night. The entire Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area has great restaurants, museums, and plenty to do during the day. If you’ve been there before, you already know this. If you haven’t, now’s your chance. And look, Watershed will do this Rock Junket thing next year in some other city. And that city will surely be cool, too (we hear Scranton/Wilkes-Barre is lovely in July). But honestly, Raleigh’s tough to beat. This is the year. Make it happen.

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It’s Festival Season, Yo.

PhishLet’s eat a fistful of mushrooms, dance like zombified squirrels, and pass out in the mud, with nothing to keep us warm but our collective inner-sunshine and the heat of a million one-hitters.

As appealing as that sounds, I expect an entirely different festival experience on Saturday, May 11, when I’ll be at the Ohioana Book Festival in Columbus. At 10:15 am, I’ll be speaking as part of a panel called “Jazz, Rock, and Hard Rock,” and although the conversation might not approach the gravitas of scholarship like  Understanding ‘It’: Affective Authenticity, Space, and the Phish Scene,* we’ll try to slog along as best we can. Hope to see you there.

*This is the title of an actual Ph.D. dissertation by Elizabeth Anne Yeager (Kansas University, 2011) which “explores how the production of space at Phish shows works to form a Phish scene identity.**”

**I originally Googled “Phish Dissertations” looking for a title that would be easy to make fun of, but now that I’ve read the abstract of this work, I sincerely want to read it. I’m sold, Dr. Yeager. Sold!

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In Praise of Late Bloomers and Beachgoers

atlasbigTwo new essays of mine have just come strutting onto the sand.

BLOOM, a website that features writers over 40, recently published my essay, “The Upside Addiction,” in which I discuss how Watershed’s career was railroaded by three Australian 16-year-olds.

For GrandStrand Magazine, I’ve written “A Salute to the Tourist,” in which I toast mini-golfers, taffy-buyers, and vacationeers of all stripes.

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Westward Ho!

lewis-and-clark-paintingThe Hitless Wonder book tour is now literally coast to coast. Next week I’m going out west where I belong. Where the days are short and the nights are long. I’ll be out there having fun, in the warm*  Seattle sun**.

What brings me to the Puget Sound? On Tuesday, March 12, I’ll be giving a reading and a talk at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. The talk starts at 3:30, and the reading starts at 5:30. For more info, click HERE. I love Tacoma, by the way. For two of the many reasons why, click HERE and HERE. And PLU is a really great school, in the shadow of Mt. Rainier. I was lucky to spend a year teaching there back in ’07-’08.

The next day, Wednesday, March 13, I head up to King County for a reading at a bar in Seattle*** called Kangaroo and Kiwi. On this night I’ll play some acoustic tunes in addition to the reading. My friend, the writer and musician Dave O’Leary, will also be reading and playing that night. If you’ve read Hitless Wonder, it might interest you to know that Dave was in The Generals, the Detroit band that Watershed befriended in the early ’90s.

If you live in the PNW, hope to see you out there.

West of the Rockies, man. That’s a whole new bird book.

*Well, kinda. 52-degrees isn’t so bad for March, but “warm” might be stretching it a bit.
**And by “sun,” of course, I mean mostly cloudy with a 50% chance of afternoon showers.
***In the Ballard neighborhood, for you hipsters who know the area.
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