Category: Music

Wilson Collection pays tribute…

By , January 25, 2016

David Bowie

Recently Updated!

I think it’s safe to say that the year 2016 is starting off a little more bitter than sweet. Not only has the winter weather showed up with a vengeance, but there have been several shocking and heartbreaking deaths already this new year. Though this tribute is predominately focusing on David Bowie and his love for reading, I’d like to first recognize a few other individuals who also recently passed away.

The most recent passing being of the great, English actor Alan Rickman, who passed away last Thursday (the 14th) of Pancreatic Cancer. Though my favorite role he played will Always be Severus Snape in theAlan Rickman Harry Potter films, he was famous for many of his other films including Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, Love Actuallyand of course, Die Hard. No one will ever forget his voice either.

On a more personal note, this next individual that passed away on Jan. 12th is being mentioned because his death was felt by everyone in the Butler Bulldog community – a community I am very much a part of as a proud alumna. At the young age of 25, former Butler basketball player Andrew Smith passed away after 2 tough years battling Cancer.

I could go on about the tough fight Andrew put up, how strong his wife was throughout the battle (and how strong she still is), and what he means to the school, but you’d be reading forever, and as Brad Stevens (former Butler coach-turned Celtics coach) said “it still wouldn’t do him justice.” But I’ll simply say that my thoughts go out to his family and friends, and summarize his character with a message sent out from the school – “He is, was, and always will be a Bulldog.

Andrew SmithSorry to take it down a notch, but like all lives, these are worth mentioning and remembering.

For the last tribute, I’m going to recognize innovative English musician, David Bowie. Bowie passed away on January 10th, just 2 days after his birthday and the release of his latest album, Blackstar.

As sad as I am at his passing like many others, I will halt here on my tribute to Bowie because if you are a regular follower of the Library’s Off-the-Shelf blog, you have already seen the beautiful tribute written by Bryan on January 11th. If not, click here to check it out. Instead, I’d like to share a few of Bowie’s favorite books via the Wilson Collection.

David BowieLike music and art, Bowie enjoyed immersing himself in a book; it was one of his favorite forms of relaxation. When he toured or was filming a movie, he had a large collection of books with him always. And, he was also one of the first celebrities to pose for the American Library Association’s series of READ posters. For the 1987 edition, you can find Bowie jumping for joy (it appears) while he reads Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. 

If you haven’t already seen the many shared articles and Twitter feeds, a list of Bowie’s top 100 favorite books was released (unsure of when and by whom initially). Though I wish we had every single one of them in the Wilson Collection, I was at least happy to find a few.



Here are 3 of his favorites:

Madame BovaryMadame Bovary
Author: Gustave Flaubert
Water-Color Illustrations by: Gunter Böhmer
LEC: 1938

  • This is a tragic story about Emma Bovary, the wife of a doctor, who indulges in adulterous behavior to escape her provincial life. I say “tragic” because the story ends with Emma taking her own life due to unhappiness.
  • This book is not only considered to be a masterpiece, but is also a seminal work of literary realism. It received strong backlash when it was first published due to its controversial content.
  • This copy of the book is signed by well-known German-Swiss illustrator, Gunter Böhmer. Though he was also known as a talented painter and draftsman, he was best known for his stylistic book illustrations.

The BridgeThe Bridge
Author: Hart Crane
Photographs by: Richard Mead Benson
LEC: 1981

  • It is a long poem with varying scope and style and was written as an ode to the Brooklyn Bridge and New York City.
  • Though he traveled around to different cities while writing the poem, Crane also spent time in an apartment that overlooked the famed bridge. What Crane didn’t know when he was living there was that the designer of the bridge also stayed there during the bridge’s construction.
  • The photographs taken for the LEC copy were by talented photographer, Richard Mead Benson – a longtime admirer of New York’s geographical beauty.

The LeopardThe Leopard
Author: Giuseppe di Lampedusa
32 Photographs from the film by: Giovan Battista Poletto
Arion Press: 2015

  • The story is based on the life of the author’s grandfather, Giulio Fabrizio Tomasi, who was Prince of Lampedusa. It follows the life of a family during the Italian Risorgimento, or Resurgence.
  • Published posthumously after several failed attempts, The Leopard eventually became the top-selling novel in Italian history after initial political attacks, and is now also considered to be one of the most important literary works in the modern Italian literature.
  • The book was also made into a film, the same film that the 32 photographs were taken from.

Upcoming Art Workshops:

The following workshops still have plenty of space if you’d like to register and join in the fun:

April 30th – Miniature Accordion Sampler

Explore the potential for playful variety within a simple accordion book structure. The books that you will make in this class will be no bigger than 3″ when closed, and will expand out to approximately 18″ when open.

May 21st – The Unwanted

Using overprint and found papers to construct and tell a story through Zine making. A simple pamphlet stitch will construct our pages, as you select from a handful of ephemera collected from reuse Artist Courtney Adair Johnson’s collection.

Please call Liz Coleman at (615) 880-2356 to register for a class!

If you’re interested in visiting the Wilson Collection, you’ll find it on the 3rd floor of the Downtown Library in the East Reading Room (between the Fine Arts department and Non-Fiction). The hours are the same as the Main Library hours. If you’d like a personal tour of the collection where you’d get to see the books up close and even get to look through them yourself, either respond to this blog post or call either of the following numbers:

(615)880-2363 – leave a message for myself.

(615)880-2356 – leave a message for Liz.


R.I.P. David Bowie

By , January 11, 2016

David BowieYes, even Martians die. Bowie looms large over pop culture like spaceship in a Sci-Fi movie casting a shadow over Earth. Lucky for us, he came to enlighten.

Without Bowie, would there be Lady Gaga, Elton John, or George Clinton? Okay, Clinton is a stretch, but Mick Jagger would never have worn a sparkle jumpsuit without a visit from Ziggy Stardust. How many people heard Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Brian Eno, and Scott Walker because of Bowie? Not to mention he played Jareth the Goblin King and Pontius Pilot.

Velvet Goldmine director Todd Haynes said that glam rock was a crack in the facade of an oppressive culture. Now that facade has begun the crumble and we can appreciate how subversive Bowie’s gender bending personas were. Don’t let this theoretical touting obscure the fact he was a great tune-smith who never stopped challenging himself or his audience, while most of his peers made the same record over and over for thirty years. I’m looking at you, Mick. Even the records he dialed in had hits. The ones that weren’t hits still changed music forever.

I’m sure other folks will have a lot to say about Bowie in this space, but for the time being here are my favorites:

Blackstar by David Bowie

His last, just released record (aka blackstar) and newer albums are on Freegal.

Low by David Bowie

My personal fave, Low, and a lot more of his discography is on Hoopla.

Stage by David Bowie
If Low is my fave, you know I prefer the Berlin years over the Ziggy years. The gauntlet is thrown, rock snobs. Great live versions of the Berlin era tracks, featuring Nashville’s own prog prodigy Adrian Belew, can be heard on Stage.

“I’m always crashing / in the same car”

The Wet-plate process, Dukes and the Iodine State

By , December 24, 2015


2015 has been a generous year for those who love southern writing. Sally Mann surprised us with her lovely authentic memoir, Hold StillSure, she could have used a stricter editor, but if you ever wandered the backroads below the Mason Dixon line, you enjoyed this ride. And it was her appreciation of her Daddy, after all, that went on too long. So, all is forgiven.

Then The Southerner’s Cookbook reminded us that you can never, ever, ever say enough about southern food. Any cookbook that begins with a “Southern larder” section that includes Duke’s mayonnaise is all right by me. This book was produced by the editors of “Garden & Gun” and includes writing by John T. Edge, Rick Bragg and Roy Blount, Jr. The only bar-b-que sauce recipe you’ll ever need (Eastern North Carolina style vinegar-pepper sauce) is on page 234.

Finally, the most spellbinding longing, languid gift of southern writing this year came from Jason Isbell’s Something More Than Free. The magic is that the writing is intimate, and yet it turned out that the whole music world was listening. I’ve got a drawer of snapshots he’s never seen that illustrate this turn through the south. Edited perfectly, it left audiences waiting for more.

“As anyone who grew up on the food can attest, life without a little South in your mouth at least once in a while is a bland and dreary prospect” John Egerton





My Favorite Holiday Music

By , December 22, 2015

It’s that time of year, when the world falls in love. And every song you hear seems to say, “Merry Christmas.”

Wait. I think I heard that somewhere before. Anyway, it’s almost here – that magic day that comes just once a year. I hope your shopping is done. (I hope mine is done, too, by the time this posts!) So this year, I want to share with you my favorite Christmas albums. These are ones I listen to every year without fail.

The Christmas Album
The Manhattan Transfer

I blame this one on my dad. He has always been a huge Manhattan Transfer fan as I was growing up, so of course I loved them too. This may be my super-all-time-favoritest album for Christmas ever. If you haven’t heard it – you need to. It’s gorgeous and peppy and fun. Go download it on freegal right now. Go…oh. What? You only have 7 tracks to download and there’s 11 total? Ok, just come by my office and I’ll sing the other four for you so you don’t have to wait until next week to finish your album. That’s how much I want you to hear this album. I think my favorite song on the album is the very first one – Snowfall. It’s sad that we lost lead singer Tim Hauser (he’s the bald guy in the picture) last year. As the founder and driving force behind the group, he has been and will be missed.

Christmas Songs
Jars of Clay

This one’s all me. I’ve been a Jars of Clay fan since high school. You may have heard of them because of the song, Flood, that came out in the 90′s. I think I like this album so much because of their song choice. They picked some standards like O Little Town of Bethlehem or God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. But they also picked songs that aren’t often sung like Love Came Down at Christmas and In the Bleak Midwinter. My favorites are Wonderful Christmastime, written Paul McCartney, and Christmastime is Here from Charlie Brown. If you can’t get the physical CD because some else has it checked out, you can also listen to this album on hoopla. You don’t want to miss this mellow Christmas celebration.

Christmas Collection
The Carpenters

Ok, so I picked one because of my dad and one I liked. This last one has to be my mom’s favorite album. It never feels like Christmas until I hear Karen Carpenter singing “Merry Christmas Darling.” It seems like we always listen to this one in the car as we are travelling places over the holidays. I think Karen is the more famous of the siblings, but Richard has got some musical chops too. He did all the arrangments and played the piano – which let me tell you as a pianist, those parts are HARD! Besides Merry Christmas Darling, I also like their Carol of the Bells arrangement and Nutcracker medley. You can check out the one of the three CD copies if other folks will share, or you can also catch this one on hoopla.

Well, that’s it. Those are my favorites. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Happy listening…and eating cookies…and opening presents…and watching The Christmas Story

:) Amanda

Popmatic Podcast for December 9, 2015: Best Music of the Year

By , December 9, 2015

It’s the best music of the year! Luckily, Sarah and Jesse are here to ballast this nerd ship. Would Amanda of all people pick something the library doesn’t own? For shame. Plus what is tickling out fancy this week. If anyone wants a Spotify list, ask in the comments. You know what else to put in the comments? Your picks for the best music of the year!


1) “Cassette” by Viet Cong and their video for “Continental Shelf
2) The Deepest Lake by Dengue Fever
3) Heroes by Sabaton

The Fool by Ryn Weaver1) The Fool by Ryn Weaver
2) Daybreaker by Moon Taxi CD | Freegal
3) Then Came the Morning by The Lone Bellow

A Special Episode of Open Mike Eagle1) Beat Happening‘s catalog
2) A Special Episode by Open Mike Eagle
3) Natalie Prass by Natalie Prass

Skrillex and Diplo present Jack U1) Jack Ü by Skrillex & Diplo
2) Capture the Sun by Blockhead
3) “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson

Art Angels by Grimes1) Art Angels by Grimes
2) Mute Records’ catalog
3) Over the Edge Radio


Underdawgs: How Brad Stevens and the Butler Bulldogs Marched Their Way to the Brink of College Basketball’s National Championship by David Woods


Winter by Marissa Meyer

Bryan’s into file formats.


Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

Kickoff Banned Books Week with Freedom Sings

By , September 17, 2015

Freedom SingsThe library is going full tilt this year with Banned Books Week—a week long celebration of the freedom to read (Sept. 26-Oct.3). Every year during Banned Books Week, libraries, schools, bookstores, authors, publishers, and readers ensure open access to information by highlighting the problem of censorship with public readings, displays, discussions, and concerts.

We are kicking things off with Freedom Sings—a critically acclaimed multimedia experience featuring music that has been banned, censored, or sounded a call for social change. Freedom Sings is the inspiring story of free speech in America told through rock, pop, hip-hop and country music. Fight censorship and come to this free concert on Saturday, September 26th at 2pm at the Main Library.

Ken Paulsen, creator of Freedom Sings and president of the First Amendment Center, didn’t want me to spoil the show by revealing a full set list but you can pregame with a little Janis Ian (CD | Freegal) and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (CD | Hoopla).

If you come to the show and are “guilty” of reading banned books and proud of it—and we hope you are—take a “shelfie” with your favorite banned book. Librarians from the teen department will be on hand with a ton of banned books and a photo backdrop. Share your “shelfie” on social media with the hashtag #NPLbannedbooks to enter a contest to win Banned Books Week prize packs. Post those shelfies before October 3rd.


Free Music, You Say?!

By , August 14, 2015

Did someone say free and live music all in one sentence?! That’s right, it’s that time of year again when NPL and local radio station, Lightning 100, begin both of their free concert series – the Courtyard Concerts and Live on the Green. Both concert series provide a wide variety of talented performers for any connoisseur of music…don’t believe me, just watch! Check out the line-ups below along with links to what the Library has to offer…

2015 Courtyard Concerts

All concerts occur in the 2nd floor Courtyard, from 11:45 – 1:00 on nine consecutive Tuesdays from August through the beginning of October. And they are rain or shine, with a secondary location already set up just in case.

Occurred this week – August 11th - Riders in the Sky
“America’s Favorite Cowboys”


August 18thRod McGaha


August 25th - Marshall Chapman, Malcolm Holcombe & Mary Gauthier
Songwriter’s Session


September 1st - Sara Sant’Ambrogio
Grammy Award-Winning Classical Cellist


September 8th - The WannaBeatles
Beatles Music at its best


September 15th - Jonell Mosser


September 22nd - Andy T Nick Nixon Band


September 29th - Jerry Douglas and Friends
Bluegrass and more


October 6th - Revolfusion


To learn more about each artist and the event, click on the following link to view the Courtyard Concerts’ page.

Live on the Green

And now for a slightly more crowded yet still as entertaining concert series. Live on the Green takes place in Public Square Park in front of the historic Metropolitan Courthouse, in downtown Nashville. Starting August 20th, the 4-week music festival occurs every Thursday evening, beginning at 6:15 and finishes around 11:00. For the second year in a row, the festival concludes with a 3-day, multi-stage event with many great artists, several of which are local.

Check out the line-up for this year:


"Moon Taxi" at Ascend Ampitheater on August 6th

Moon Taxi at Ascend Amphitheater on August 6th

As of recently, Lightning 100 has released the last few remaining artists. One of the last headliners that was announced is the local band, Moon Taxi (you can find Moon Taxi’s music on Freegal). Along with the Louisville-native band My Morning JacketMoon Taxi played a show at Ascend Amphitheater on Thursday, August 7th. Lightning 100 sponsored that show as well and announced after Moon Taxi’s performance that the band would be returning for Live on the Green. I know because I was there. I’ve seen both of those bands now several times and every time is different but equally as awesome. Moon Taxi has played Live on the Green many times in the past, only missing out on two seasons in its six-year span. So make sure you don’t miss them this year, they do a killer Pink Floyd cover of “Another Brick in the Wall.”

Without further ado, here is this year’s schedule:

August 20th - Elliot Root, Shakey Graves, and Lord Huron (Freegal)

August 27th - Houndmouth, J Roddy Walston & the Business (Hoopla), and Cold War Kids (Freegal)

September 3rd - Greg Holden (Hoopla), The Delta Saints (Freegal)and Moon Taxi (Freegal)

Three-Day Festival EventSeptember 10th-12th

Thursday - Civil Twilight (Freegal), Humming House, Kopecky (formerly the Kopecky Family Band) (Hoopla | Freegal), JD McPherson (Hoopla), Delta Rae (Hoopla)and Rodrigo y Gabriela (Hoopla|Freegal)

Friday - Smooth Hound Smith, Turbo Fruits (Hoopla|Freegal), Zella Day (Hoopla), The Vespers, Big Data (Hoopla), Colony House (Freegal), and Passion Pit (Freegal)

Saturday (starts at 1:15) - Mr. Steve, The Districts (Hoopla | Freegal), Future Thieves, Lennon & Maisy, Kaleo, Elle King (Hoopla|Freegal), Anderson East (Hoopla), Family of the Year (Hoopla), All Them Witches (Hoopla), another band to be announced on Aug 14th, and the final headliner is…….(drum roll please)…..BEN FOLDS (Hoopla|Freegal)!

Though I’m excited to see all of these bands (a few I’ve already seen and loved), I’m mostly looking forward to:

Elliot Root: Minus the multiple voices, they remind me of Milo Greene and The Lone Bellow a little – and seem like they’ll be great live.
Lord Huron: For obvious reasons, they have such a unique and lovable sound.
Rodrigo y Gabriela: I mean, come on…acoustic guitar duo that did a cover of “Stairway to heaven.” Yeah. 
Passion Pit: 
I missed him when I was at Bonnaroo a few years ago, so I’m glad I’m getting a second chance. With an indietronic sound and high-pitched talented voice, Passion Pit is similar to the bands Empire of the Sun, MGMT and a personal favorite - Matt & Kim
Kaleo: Another awesome band from Iceland, I think of the bands Ásgeir and Hozier when I hear them. Yes, Ásgeir is also from Iceland but the softness of this lead singer’s voice is very much as enjoyable as Ásgeir. And I was reminded of Hozier in their song “Way Down We Go” because of its edge.

Also, fun fact: one of the performers at Live on the Green this year is the daughter of comedian, Rob Schneider. Can you guess who? Here’s your hint, she has a catchy tune about her exes…

Find out more information about the festival, VIP tickets, personalized schedules and more at the Live on the Green website.  

Bessie Smith, Empress of the Blues

By , June 26, 2015

Bessie Smith photo by Van Vechten, Carl - Library of CongressLegendary blues singer Bessie Smith was born in 1894 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She performed on the vaudeville circuit and was one of the first African American vocalists to be recorded (along with Nashville’s Fisk Jubilee Singers). She signed with Columbia Records in 1923 and soon became known as the “greatest and highest salaried race star in the world,” selling over 4 million records between 1924 and 1929.

Bessie’s song, “Backwater Blues,” recorded in February of 1927, is believed to be about the Nashville Flood of 1926. She was scheduled to start performances at Nashville’s Bijou Theatre on December 30 and would have arrived in town in the aftermath of the Christmas Day flood. Music scholar David Evans revealed this discovery during a blues class at Vanderbilt in 2004.

NR Postcard Collection - 036e - Bijou Th., Nash, TN

Last month HBO premiered a biopic of the singer, directed by Nashville native Dee Rees. When asked why it was so important for her to tell Bessie’s story, Rees told Madame Noire,

“My grandmother played her records, my mom played her. There’s this album that they had called One Mo Time, that was recorded from a 1979 a Black Vaudeville kind of sendup. And so that was something I remembered as a kid. So I was always curious about her life. She was a woman from Tennessee, a Black woman, a queer woman from Tennessee, who wasn’t afraid to be who she was.”

Interested in learning more about Bessie Smith? Make it part of your Summer Challenge!

Read about Bessie:

Blues Empress in Black Chattanooga: Bessie Smith and the Emerging Urban South
Blues Legacies & Black Feminism

Listen to Bessie:

“Backwater Blues” on The Essential Bessie Smith
“My Man Blues” on the One Mo’Time Original Cast Album

Visit a museum honoring Bessie:

The Bessie Smith Cultural Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee

Music review: Belgian musician Stromae

By , April 10, 2015

Promo stromaeThere is so much music out there in the world, my friends.  As residents of Music City, we can sometimes forget to explore beyond the musical borders of our beloved Nashville.  To make new music discoveries, I follow some of the big music happenings, like the South by Southwest festival in Austin.  Every year when I read about artists who wowed folks at SXSW, I happily discover a new musical obsession.  See the cutie in the picture to your left?  That’s Stromae, the Belgian pop star who has a bazillion views on Youtube!  Music fans all over the world already appreciate his artistry.  It’s about time we join in.

You might be wondering just how to pronounce his name.  Say the words “my strobe light.” Now reverse the words, and remove the be and the lightStromae has said it’s a play on the word “maestro.” Get it?  If you’ve never heard any of his music,  Stromae is an artist smartly influenced by the melodies and rhythms of the world.  Many of his songs make dancing a necessity.  Stromae sings and raps in French but you can easily find English translations of his lyrics online.  Do watch his videos – they reveal the tone and intent for those of us who don’t speak French.  Take his hit song Papaoutai.  In the video you see a young boy trying in vain to connect with his father.  Stromae’s father abandoned his family in Belgium to return to Rwanda, and was killed in the  genocide of the 1990′s.

I gotta give a shout out to the folks at NPR Music who hosted Stromae at their 2015 SXSW showcase.  You can watch his performance here.  Check out his music on Hoopla.  And let’s start a campaign to bring him to Nashville!!


Book review: Girl in a Band

By , March 15, 2015

Girl in a Band by Kim GordonGirl in a Band
by Kim Gordon

Depending on the amount of amplification, a guitar can cut a listener to the quick, or it can bludgeon them into submission. That’s why they call them axes. Holding one is like holding a weapon. For thirty years, Kim Gordon wielded her bass axe as a founding member of the band Sonic Youth. The band’s noise-infused rock gave Gordon ample opportunity to pummel her audience and carve a space for herself in the pantheon of American punk rock, but her arsenal isn’t limited to music.

Gordon is also an accomplished visual artist, having exhibited works around the world, and 1993 she co-founded the fashion label X-Girl. In 2015 she adds the title of author to her list of credits with the memoir Girl in a Band.

The book begins with endings: first with Gordon’s marriage to fellow Sonic Youth member Thurston Moore and, as a result, her band. Being in a band with your spouse, touring the world in various cramped vans and buses, seems like a recipe for disaster, but somehow Gordon and Moore made it work. Until it didn’t.

Like her singing, Gordon’s voice on the page goes from menacing growl in one sentence to whisper quiet in the next. The breakup of her marriage colors her memories of her family history, her brother’s struggle with mental illness, and her work with Sonic Youth. There are tabloid details if you want them, but Gordon’s book reads more like purging than exploitation.


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