Pop Matters Reviews “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey —They Love It!

Above image from the Pop Matters website, May 24, 2022.

Poet Marc Zegans’s beautifully written review of my new book, “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey,” was published today at the cool Pop Matters website/online magazine. Writes Zegans, “Goldberg’s meticulously researched biography delivers a deep-hearted and poignant account of the rare and extraordinary creative talent who—following his legendary entry into the music scene as bass player for San Francisco’s primeval punk band, the Avengers—crafted the incomparable yearning two-note opening to Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game.'”

Later in the review: “Worthy of prominent mention in Goldberg’s portrayal of Wilsey’s elusive life between the notes is the book’s method of exposition. Rather than pursuing a single sustained narrative line, Wicked Game operates as a biography by bricolage. Goldberg, Wilsey’s long-time friend with whom his son took guitar lessons, and photographer of the punk scene in which Wilsey came of age, layers intimate reflection and historical inquiry. Chapter titles are drawn from rock lyrics — ‘He Was a Friend of Mine’ (from Jim Carroll’s song ‘People that Died’), ‘Walk on the Wildside’ (following Lou Reed’s genderqueer classic). Goldberg takes a journalistic perspective and assembles richly quoted voices into a remarkable salade composée of this outsider musician’s life.  The author’s method of massing the voices of Wilsey’s contemporaries.”

Meanwhile, a PlanetLP podcast conversation with me went live this morning and it sounds great. It’s “Episode 50: James Wilsey’s Wicked Game.” Just short of 40 minutes of back and forth about Jimmy Wilsey.

And yesterday the important “Down With Tyranny” blog, where Howie Klein for many years has been making astute political observations and providing the facts about the dire straits this country is in, took a brief detour from politics to run an essay I wrote about why I spent three-plus years writing a book about Jimmy Wilsey. There is a contest and two winners will each get a copy of the book. The winners are the two people who donate the most to one of the political campaigns listed on a page that you can link to from the bottom of my essay.

And finally: I’ll be reading from the book and answering questions at The Beat Museum at 7pm on Saturday, June 18, 2022. Facebook event page here.

Michael Goldberg is the Featured Writer at Rock’s Backpages

tRock's Backpages cover

This week the very cool music journalism website, Rock’s Backpages, has me on the “cover” as the weeks “Featured Writer.” They highlight some of my articles, which are archived there, including an excerpt from my new book, “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey” (HoZac Books), titled: “Watching the Avengers Absolutely Crush the Pistols.” There’s also a profile of Chris Isaak, a feature on the San Francisco music scene circa 1983 and, if you click on my name, dozens of my stories on these artists and others: Bob Dylan, American Music Club, the Bangles, Robbie Robertson, John Fogerty…

Plus I’m interviewed about the book at the podcast “Frets with DJ Fey.” And I’m interviewed on the “ImmaLetYouFinish” podcast.

I’ll be reading from the book and answering questions at The Beat Museum in SF at 7pm on Saturday June 18, 2022.

You can buy “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey” (HoZac Books) here.

Rolling Stone Online Publishes Goldberg Book Excerpt on How Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” Became a Hit

Jimmy Wilsey Rolling Stone

Today, Thursday, May 19, 2022, Rolling Stone Online published an extensive excerpt from my new book, “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey” (HoZac Books). The 4000-word excerpt details how Chris Isaak said he wrote the song, how guitarist Jimmy Wilsey came up with the intro riff and other electric guitar parts and how David Lynch and manager/producer Erik Jacobsen contributed to getting the song into the top 10.

The book is based on over seven hours of interviews with the late guitarist, over ten hours of interviews with Isaak (done from 1985 into 1995) and extensive interviews with over 60 of Wilsey’s friends, family members, and music business acquaintances. It includes over 150 images–photos, flyers and record covers.

It can be pre-ordered directly from the publisher, HoZac Books.

I’m donating 25% of my royalties to Jimmy’s song, Waylon Wilsey.

“Wicked Game” at The Beat Museum: Michael Goldberg on Guitarist Jimmy Wilsey + Cool New Reviews

On Saturday June 18, 2022, starting at 7 pm, I’ll be celebrating the publication of my book on Jimmy Wilsey, “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey,” reading excerpts from the book and answering questions, at The Beat Museum, 540 Broadway at Columbus Avenue in San Francisco. Before the reading, beginning at 6 pm, recordings that Jimmy played on, some quite rare, will be playing. The Beat Museum is across the street and down the block from where the Mabuhay Gardens was located (where Jimmy played many shows in the Avengers, and in Silvertone with Chris Isaak as well.)

“Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey” tells the story of the brilliant but troubled guitarist who was the “heart and soul” of one of America’s greatest punk bands, the Avengers, and who wrote and played the haunting intro and other guitar parts for the Chris Isaak hit “Wicked Game.” As even Isaak has acknowledged, Wilsey was key to that song becoming a top 10 hit that has been streamed over 350 million times.

Jimmy’s story is tragic. At one point he had a movie star girlfriend, was appearing on ‘The Tonight Show,’ and touring the world with “Wicked Game” a hit in 10 countries, but he became a heroin addict and died homeless nearly three and a half years ago.

I’m donating 25 percent of my royalties to Jimmy’s teenage son Waylon. The publisher is also donating a percentage to Waylon.

Marc Zegans, a superb poet with many books of poetry published, writes: “In addition to telling a complex life story [about Jimmy Wilsey], Michael’s book offers a wonderful inside view of early days of the San Francisco Punk scene and of the internal mechanics of the music industry. It’s also a conceptually grounded exploration of the nature, psychology and ravages of addiction.”

At the cool Australian music site i94 Bar, a reviewer who calls himself JD Stayfree wrote “The World Is Only Going To Break Your Heart,” a heartfelt gonzo exploration into how certain recordings, including those made by Jimmy Wilsey and Chris Isaak, have had an impact on his life. “I will be listening to those Chris Issak/James Calvin Wilsey records for the rest of my life, and I know many of my old garage band hombres will always be listening to the Avengers. I am ever so grateful that this sharp writer, Michael Goldberg, put so much passion and dedication into telling Wilsey’s story—about 400 pages of highs and lows and winning and losing and heartbreak and the whole human drama. Only the lonely love Chris Isaak and James Calvin Wilsey like I do. Greatness to behold. Get the book, you’ll be glad you did.” 

“Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey” is based on new and extensive interviews—with over 60 of Jimmy’s friends, family, musicians he played with and other acquaintances—conducted during the past three and a half years. Additionally, Goldberg had four hours of interviews he did with Jimmy himself in 1987 and 1991, access to a three hour interview Jimmy did in 2018, and over ten hours of interviews he did with Chris Isaak from 1982 into 1995. The 414 page book contains over 150 photos and other images—photographers (some of SF’s best rock photographers) include the great avant-garde artist Bruce Conner, Blondie co-founder Chris Stein, Ruby Ray, Chester Simpson, Sue Brisk, Hugh Brown, Marcus Leatherdale, Michael Zagaris, James Stark and others. Flyers are by Avengers singer-songwriter Penelope Houston and Wilsey and others.

Join Michael Goldberg at The Beat Museum for an unforgettable evening.

Check Out the Cover of Michael Goldberg’s Upcoming Book: “Addicted To Noise: The Music Writings of Michael Goldberg”

“Addicted To Noise: The Music Writings of Michael Goldberg” collects the best of my music journalism from the past 45+ years. The book includes interviews with Tom Waits, Frank Zappa, Sleater-Kinney, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, Flipper, John Fogerty, Neil Young and Rick James, and stories about Bob Dylan, Robbie Robertson, John Lee Hooker, James Brown, the Clash, Prince, Michael Jackson, the Flamin’ Groovies, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Laurie Anderson, Stevie Wonder, George Clinton, Devo, San Francisco punks Crime, the Sex Pistols, Sly Stone, Chris Isaak and more. Plus short takes on Muddy Waters, Townes Van Zandt, Talking Heads, Captain Beefheart, Professor Longhair and others. And lots more! Foreword by Greil Marcus.

“Throughout these interviews and essays, Goldberg shows us how consequential music can be. His stance is both as passionate fan and learned critic as he grapples with these artists on their own terms, capturing them at crucial moments, challenging their personas and making the case for their work. He has written a captivating, essential, and personal history of the complications and revelations contained in the ideal of rock & roll authenticity.” – Dana Spiotta, author of Eat the Document, Stone Arabia, and Innocents and Others

Simon Warner wrote about how the cover of the book is based on the original 1953 cover of William Burroughs’ “Junkie” at his “Rock and the Beat Generation” Substack blog. Both covers are reproduced there.

The book will be published in November by Backbeat Books. You can pre-order it right now if you’d like. Michael’s latest book, “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey,” can be pre-ordered here.

Pre-Order “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey”

My new book, which is on the great guitarist James Calvin Wilsey, will be published on June 1, 2022, and is now available for pre-order. Jimmy was the “heart and soul” of the amazing San Francisco punk band, the Avengers. He wrote and played the guitar parts for the Chris Isaak hit “Wicked Game” and, as even Isaak has acknowledged, Wilsey was key to that song becoming a top 10 hit in 1991 in 10 countries including the U.S

I’m giving 25% of every $1 I am paid starting with the first sale to Jimmy’s teenage son Waylon. The publisher is also donating a percentage.

That song has been streamed over 300 million times on Spotify. Just in the three years that I spent writing the book, it was streamed about 200 million times – 30 years after it was a hit.


Here’s one of the back cover blurbs:

“A riveting biography of a brilliant but doomed guitarist who helped usher in San Francisco punk, played haunted guitar for Chris Isaak, then remade himself as a Downtown LA loftista musician and IT guy before self destructing as a homeless junky. This reads like a classic noir spiral and is hard to put down. Goldberg describes the twisted path of addiction and life’s dark side but also wild joy, inspired creation and for a time, unlimited possibility in the life of James Wilsey. Filled with local color, music history, and eyewitness interviews.” – Denise Hamilton, author of the Eve Diamond crime novels and editor of the “Los Angeles Noir” collections

More info here:

https://hozacrecords.com/product-category/books/

Coming Soon: “Wicked Game: The True Story of Guitarist James Calvin Wilsey”

Advance praise: “Here’s the story of an unsung genius that, in many ways, is the story of every working musician, a cautionary tale of crappy apartments and cool guitars, of untold temptations, abject surrender and the pawnshop at the beginning and end of the arc. It’s a story of youth, beauty and inspiration on the razor’s edge, of love and compulsion, solidarity and betrayal, of a quiet man who played loud. Of a dark song and darker fate. And of San Francisco in the era of the Mabuhay Gardens, $150 rent and Persian Brown. Michael Goldberg’s book about his friend Jimmy Wilsey will give you chills. Not since Ben Fong-Torres’s biography of Gram Parsons (one of Wilsey’s musical forebearers) has there been a more heartrending portrait of a rock star.” – Robert Duncan, former Creem magazine writer and author “Loudmouth” and “The Noise”

Wicked Game: The True Story of James Calvin Wilsey

Dreaming On Bob Dylan’s Mythic ‘Basement Tapes’

Bob Dylan photographed by Elliott Landy.

Finally, the Holy Grail is here!

By Michael Goldberg

Bob Dylan and The Band
The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11 (Six-CD set)
Columbia Records

Note: Because the Basement Tapes are, for me, about a time long in the past, and a place that no longer exists, and the feeling of wonder I still had as a teenager back in 1970 when I first heard some of the Basement songs, I have taken an unconventional approach to this review, mixing fact and fiction, thoughts about the actual music with seemingly unrelated text about young love.

It was time to split the city. The Summer of Love was a bust. They were selling “Love Burgers” on Haight Street. If you’re too young to know, Haight Street in San Francisco was a kind of ground zero for the ‘60s counterculture in 1966. But it wasn’t 1966 anymore, and things had changed. A creepy-crawly vibe would soon turn all the colors black.

***

May of 1970, me and my chick in the back of that Ford pickup with all the camping gear. We’re heading for Big Sur. A bunch of us in five vehicles, maybe six. This was a long time ago. I was 16 and so was Sarah. We make a couple of stops along the way; the last one is to get gas and ‘cause some of us need to use the can. It isn’t a town, isn’t a full block same as you find in a town or a city. It’s some beater houses and a motel and the Texaco. What it is, is a no-name, one of those places you drive through to get from here to there.

Only reason I even get out of that pickup is ‘cause of the Coke machine.

***

The Basement Tapes are a myth. They’re one of those stories that serious music fans, the type of fan that most people would call a collector, and others might call crazy, get lost in. As the myth has been told and retold since the late ‘60s, Bob Dylan, then one of the greatest, if not the greatest, rock stars in the world, had a motorcycle accident.

After recovering from his accident in the seclusion of an 11-room house in upstate New York, Dylan called up his band, a handful of musicians who had been known as The Hawks when they backed Canadian rockabilly singer Ronnie Hawkins, and they joined him, soon renting houses not far from where Dylan was residing, one of which came to be known as Big Pink.

Over the summer, in the basement of Big Pink, they recorded over 100 tracks, including some new Bob Dylan compositions that remain some of his best. When it was all over, Dylan moved on, heading to Nashville to record John Wesley Harding, an album of all new songs, none of which had been recorded in the basement.

As for what eventually became known as the Basement Tapes, acetates were made of 14 songs and sent out to artists with the hopes they’d be covered. The tapes with the rest of the songs were shelved.

Eventually the bootleggers got their hands on those 14 songs, and soon we, the serious, obsessed Dylan fans, heard them too. And as word spread that there were more recordings, many more recordings, we lusted for them the way collectors of ‘78s lust after original pressings of Skip James records, or those of Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas.

And so, for the serious Dylan fan, for us nuts, those tapes became the Holy Grail.

***

It’s one of those ancient curved-corners all-red Vendo Coke machines. The V-81a. Filled with cool-ass bottles of Coke. Warhol’s “Green Coca-Cola Bottles” kinda cool-ass bottles.

Ever seen that Warhol deal? Homage to Duchamp, Warhol’s bottles. Warhol was heavy into Coke. Said Coke symbolized the egalitarian nature of American consumerism. Said it didn’t matter if you were Liz Taylor or a bum, a Coke was a Coke, and no amount of money could get you a better one than the one the bum on the corner was drinking. ‘Course what Warhol didn’t say was Liz Taylor could afford to get her cavities filled. The bum gonna end up with a mouth full of rotten.

I guess that’s what America’s all about. The phony-ass everyone’s equal trip. Authentic real, there’s a hierarchy. Fortune or fame, enough of either can put you up on your high horse, up on the steeple with all the pretty people. Warhol was wrong, Coke tastes a whole lot different if you’re drinking it out on the veranda of some place in Beverly Hills, than in the fucking gutter.

***

On July 29, 1966, Bob Dylan, who as a kid idolized James Dean, had an accident while rising a 500cc Triumph Tiger 100 motorcycle on a road near his manager’s house in West Sugerties, not far from Woodstock, New York. Dylan was on break from a grueling world tour during which fans of his folk music booed his new rock ‘n’ roll sound. One of ‘em called him Judas.

“I was on the road for almost five years,” Dylan told Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner during a 1969 interview, looking back to that fateful day, the day of the motorcycle accident. “It wore me down. I was on drugs, a lot of things. A lot of things just to keep going, you know? And I don’t want to live that way anymore, And uh… I’m just waiting for a better time – you know what I mean?

Wenner asks a follow-up question.

“Well,” Dylan says. “I’d like to slow down the pace a little.”

Dylan did slow the pace. “I thought that I was just gonna get up and go back to doing what I was doing before…,” Dylan told Wenner. “But I couldn’t do it anymore.”

Dylan’s crazy schedule of touring and recording – he cut three of the best rock albums ever made, in 15 months! – was over. Instead he holed up with his family at the Byrdcliffe house, known as Hi Lo Ha, having replaced hectic New York with a pastoral scene. Working with filmmaker Howard Alk, Dylan completed a documentary, “Eat The Document,” using footage D. A. Pennebaker shot of the 1966 tour. The film was commissioned for the ABC television series Stage ’66, but was rejected by ABC and has never been officially released, although a bootleg version circulates, and periodically shows up online.

Still in upstate New York, at some point in early 1967 Dylan and some members of The Hawks began a series of informal music sessions in what was referred to as the “Red Room,” a sitting room at Hi Lo Ha that was no longer painted red, if ever it was. The music they began making was recorded on a reel-to-reel tape recorder – one that took seven inch reels of quarter-inch tape — by Garth Hudson, one of the musicians who was also participating in the sessions along with Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko and Richard Manuel. Later they would be joined by Levon Helm.

The genesis of the sessions may have been pressure Albert Grossman exerted on Dylan to come up with more songs, songs for other artists to cover. Grossman owned half of Dylan’s publishing, so it was in Grossman’s financial interest to get more songs out of Dylan while he was still a big star.

Dylan told Jann Wenner, “No, they weren’t demos for myself, they were demos of the songs. I was being PUSHED again … into coming up with some songs. You know how those things go.”

Still, whatever the outside pressure, what happened when the tape was rolling was enjoyable, both for the musicians and for Dylan.

“The Basement Tapes refers to the basement there at Big Pink, obviously, but it also refers to a process, a homemade process,” Robbie Robertson was quoted as saying in Sid Griffin’s book about the Basement Tapes, “Million Dollar Bash.” That quote also appears in the liner notes Griffin wrote for The Basement Tapes Complete: The Bootleg Series Vol. 11, the 6-CD set which will be released on November 4, 2014.

“So some things we recorded at Bob’s house, some things we recorded at Rick’s house…we were here and there, so what it really means is ‘homemade’ as opposed to a single location in a formal studio.”

Talking about the sessions to Jann Wenner, Dylan said just moments after he talked about being “PUSHED” to demo new songs, “They were just fun to do. That’s all. They were a kick to do. Fact, I’d do it all again. You know, that’s really the way to do a recording—in a peaceful, relaxed setting—in somebody’s basement. With the windows open … and a dog lying on the floor.”

Read the rest of this column at Rhythms magazine.

Photo by Elliott Landy

“900 Miles From My Home”:

“Tupelo”:

“Yea! Heavy and a Bottle of Bread”:

“Ain’t No More Cane (Take 2)”:

“Dress It Up, Better Have It All”:

“Lo and Behold!”:

“Odds & Ends”:

“Don’t Ya Tell Henry”:

here.

And hear more of the Basement songs at NPR.

[I just published my rock ‘n’ roll novel, True Love Scars.” Rolling Stone has a great review of my book in a recent issue. Read it here. There’s info about True Love Scars here.]

Musician David Monterey Does Dylan at “The Dylan-Kerouac Connection”

I got the call at 5:03, two hours before the event I was doing with singer/guitarist Johnny Harper was to begin. I was in my car, had just gotten on the freeway, and was heading to San Francisco.

Johnny was sick; he wasn’t going to make it.

The plan had been for me to read excerpts from my essay, “Bob Dylan’s Beat Visions,” and interspersed between those excerpts, Johnny would perform relevant Dylan Songs including “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)” and “Visions of Johanna.” My essay was recently published in the book “Kerouac On Record” (Bloomsbury). In it I delve into just how much the Beat Generation writers including Jack Kerouac influenced Dylan’s 1960’s songwriting. (A lot!) The show was divided into two sets, each lasting about 45 minutes. Key to making it work were Johnny’s musical performances — it’s one thing to read for, say, 20 minutes, but if you plan to read for 45 minutes, you better have some great music to break it up. But Johnny was sick. Those musical performances weren’t going to happen.

So what was I going to do?

First thought: We’ll just have to cancel. Second thought: But no, people are already on their way to The Beat Museum on Broadway. It would be a lot of people. Johnny and I had been on KPFA previewing the show. I’d promoted it on Facebook and blogged about. The Dylan news site, Expecting Rain, had included it in their Thursday night news.

And then it hit me. My longtime friend, singer/songwriter/guitarist David Monterey, was planning to attend. It was long shot but maybe Dave would bring his guitar and play some of the key Dylan songs.


David Monterey with guitar (left) and Michael Goldberg with guitar (right) out at the beach in West Marin in the late Sixties.

Dave and I have been friends since elementary school. As I recall, he turned me on to Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind. As teenagers we used to play Dylan songs on our guitars. Dave is as much a Dylan fan as I am (and as you likely know, I am obsessed with Dylan). Dave is a great singer and songwriter, and he currently leads the excellent Bay Area Americana band, the String Rays; he’s released numerous albums (both group and solo) and he’s a total pro. If anyone was going to fill in singing Dylan on less than two hours notice, it would be Dave.

I pulled off at the Gilman exit, parked by the side of the road, and got Dave on the phone. He hadn’t left the house yet. Whew! After a few seconds of silence, after he digested my request, he asked me which songs. Cool. He was in!

The Beat Museum is an incredible place. The ground floor has a huge book store (I bought a copy of the late Tom Clark’s Kerouac bio), as well as used vinyl for sale and many cool posters. Throughout the place are Beat items for viewing only including various first editions of classic Beat books, and one of Allen Ginsberg’s typewriters. The museum is located close to City Lights, Ferlinghetti’s legendary bookstore and not far from that classic Beat hangout, Caffe Trieste.

The performance space and the main museum area is upstairs, and up there it was cool to see, in a glass case, a plaid jacket that Jack Kerouac used to wear.

As it got close to 7 pm, folks started arriving — soon nearly every seat was filled.

The show itself was a blast. I began by quoting a comment Ferlinghetti had made to me in February of 2017: “He [Dylan] was a poet first. He wanted to be a published poet. But luckily he had a guitar and he knew how to make it into music. His early songs in the 1960s were long surrealist poems.”

And then a quote from Dylan’s friend and road manager, Bob Neuwirth: “Remember, Bob Dylan’s a poet, man. So when he writes, it’s a poet writing, and when he talks, it’s a poet talking.”

Right away I could tell the audience was into it, and things flowed smoothly from there.


David Monterey at a gig earlier this year. Photo by Michael Goldberg

When I got to the part about Peter, Paul and Mary scoring a hit with Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” I asked Dave if he’d play the song for us. He stood, strapped on his guitar and played an achingly beautiful version of the song. I’ve heard “Blowin’ in the Wind” countless times over the past 50-plus years. Yet hearing it in the intimacy of the Beat Museum performance space, it sounded brand new, and totally in tune with the horrific Trump years. These lines hit me hard:

“Yes, ’n’ how many years can some people exist

“Before they’re allowed to be free?

“Yes, ’n’ how many times can a man turn his head

“Pretending he just doesn’t see?”

Dave has a great voice. I hear a little John Prine sometimes, and Jesse Colin Young, perhaps some Jackson Browne and a little Paul McCartney. But really, Dave has his own unique voice. Sometimes there’s a slightly rough edge, other times it’s smooth as a billiard ball. There’s a passion in Dave’s voice, and compassion, but also a toughness. Dave is someone with true integrity. He was conscientious objector during the Vietnam War and he stands up for what he believes. Often he likes to quote the Elvis Costello line, “What’s so funny ’bout peace, love and understanding?”

During “Blowin’ in the Wind” (and all the others that Dave sang), some members of the audience just couldn’t help themselves and they quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) sang along.

When Dave finished “Blowin’ in the Wind,” he got a great round of applause.

By the end of the show, Dave had also sung a heartfelt “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” as well as potent renditions of “Chimes of Freedom,” “Desolation Row” and a concluding “Mr. Tambourine Man.”

Meanwhile, I read excerpts from “Bob Dylan’s Beat Visions” that probably added up to about one third of the essay.

The audience dug it, and I was invited back! Can’t beat that.

— A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post —

LIVE FRIDAY! The Dylan-Kerouac Connection

Jack Kerouac (left) and Bob Dylan.

“The Dylan-Kerouac Connection” will be performed one more time on Friday, Nov. 9 at 7 pm at The Beat Museum, 540 Broadway in San Francisco.

Former Rolling Stone Senior Writer Michael Goldberg (that’s me) will read from his acclaimed essay, “Bob Dylan’s Beat Visions” and singer/guitarist Johnny Harper will perform Dylan songs referenced in the essay.

When Johnny and I did this in Berkeley earlier this year and charged admission we had a sold out enthusiastic audience at the Art House. This time the event is free.

From the Beat Museum writeup for this event:

“Veteran music journalist Michael Goldberg is a former writer and editor for Rolling Stone, and has written for numerous other publications. His brilliant essay, “Bob Dylan’s Beat Visions,” appears as a chapter in the new book “Kerouac on Record” (Bloomsbury Press), which explores Jack Kerouac’s relationship to music — the music he was inspired by, and the many famous musicians who were inspired by his writing. Michael’s chapter explores in detail the influence of Kerouac and other Beat writers (Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti, more) on Bob Dylan’s world-changing songs of the 1960s. Michael has written on Dylan for many years, and his chapter draws not only on a lifetime of study, but also on important new interviews with major figures including Ferlinghetti, D.A. Pennebaker, and John Cohen, who knew both Bob and Jack personally. The connections he makes between Bob’s songs and the specific Beat writings that inspired them are surprising and exciting.

“Singer-guitarist Johnny Harper is a celebrated Bay Area musician who has performed and recorded with Barbara Dane, Maria Muldaur, Charlie Musselwhite, Katie Webster, Queen Ida, Tony Marcus, Ernie K-Doe, and other well-known performers. He is also a band leader, record producer, and an exciting solo performer. In this special event he performs live versions of the classic Dylan songs Michael discusses in his essay — “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Desolation Row,” “Like a Rolling Stone,” “It’s Alright Ma,” lots more! — and gives them new life with his powerful interpretive singing and his dazzling work on acoustic and electric guitars. Hearing the combination of Michael’s spoken insights with Johnny’s compelling performances makes for an exhilarating and thoroughly delightful evening.”

— A Days of the Crazy-Wild blog post —