Tag Archives: Harry Stafford

Not Just Another Book About #$%@&. An Untold American Story. Plus New Music

             

When the PR people from Penguin invited us to talk about a new book, I Alone Can Fix It – Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year our first reaction was, Oh no! Not another book about him. After five years, haven’t we exhausted the conversation? Then, the authors of A Very Stable Genius, Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker were included. That was more than enough information to confirm this was a book we had to talk about. The acclaimed  Washington Post reporters pull back the curtain on the handling of Covid-19, the re-election bid, and its chaotic and violent aftermath. This is the true story of what took place in Donald Trump’s White House during a disastrous 2020. What was really going on around the president, as the government failed to contain the coronavirus and over half a million Americans perished? Who was influencing Trump after he refused to concede an election he had clearly lost and spread lies about election fraud? Carol Leonnig reveals to Norman B a dysfunctional and bumbling presidency’s inner workings in unprecedented, stunning detail. 

Between 1840 and 1910, hundreds of thousands of men and women traveled deep into the underdeveloped American West, lured by the prospect of adventure and opportunity. Alongside this rapid expansion of the United States, a second, overlapping social shift was taking place: Survival in a settler society busy building itself from scratch required two equally hardworking partners, compelling women to compromise Eastern sensibilities and take on some of the same responsibilities as their husbands. At a time when women had very few legal or economic – much less political – rights, these women soon proved they were just as essential as men to westward expansion. Their efforts to attain equality by acting as men’s equals paid off, and well before the Nineteenth Amendment, they became the first American women to vote. In New Women in the Old West, Winifred Gallagher brings to life the riveting history of the little-known women – the White, Black, and Asian settlers, and the Native Americans and Hispanics they displaced – who played monumental roles in one of America’s most transformative periods. Drawing on an extraordinary collection of research, Gallagher weaves together the striking legacy of the persistent individuals who not only created homes on weather-wracked prairies and built communities in muddy mining camps, but also played a vital, unrecognized role in the women’s rights movement and forever redefined the “American woman”.

Also in the show, new and very different music. UK-based, composer, producer, and late-night broadcaster, Hannah Peel’s latest album, Fir Wave is a wonderful assembly of ambient, experimental, and electronic music. Realistically, slotting Ms. Peel’s work into specific genres misses the point. Patterned Formation being a perfect example. This is music to indulge in. Harry Stafford and Marco Butcher have never met in person. The peculiar circumstances of Covid brought the two musicians together via the magic of the wireless (internet). Harry of Inca Babies fame and punk-blues veteran Marco teamed up and have produced a wonderful selection of cuts for the LP, Bone Architecture. The unintentionally timely, There’s Someone Tryin’ To Get In shows how these to gents have merged their respective talents to full effect.

Show 434

A Conversation On Life In Isolation With Five Creatives. Plant Love. Healthy Skin.

Perhaps you have become acclimatized to living through a pandemic? Maybe you have rearranged your everyday life to accommodate social distancing? Or, are you going stir crazy? These are some of the questions we asked five of our favorite creative guests at Life Elsewhere –  author, educator, Anna Dorn; musician, educator, Harry Stafford; author, educator, Mark Haskell Smith; musician, poet, educator Joshua Idehen; musician, author, educator, Martin Atkins. The conversation was conducted via Zoom, connecting to Stockholm, Manchester, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Their responses ranged from the need for physical contact to being content with a little solitude. And, as expected, all of our creative guests were eager to share their thoughts. Hosting a talk show remotely over the internet may well be the new normal when this pandemic is finally over. If it is, then this edition of Life Elsewhere proves how engaging it can be.

                                               

Also in the program, Summer Rayne Oakes, an urban houseplant expert, and environmental scientist has managed to grow 1,000 houseplants in her Brooklyn apartment (and they’re thriving!) Her secret? She approaches her relationships with plants as intentionally as if they were people. Summer joins the show to talk about her book, How To Make A Plant Love You: Cultivate Green Space In Your Home. Plus, James Hamblin, a  preventive medicine physician and staff writer for The Atlantic was curious about the new science of skin microbes and probiotics. He discovered that keeping skin healthy is a booming industry, and yet it seems like almost no one agrees on what actually works. In his new book, Clean – The New Science Of Skin, Hamblin explores how we care for our skin today. He even experimented with giving up showers entirely. His conclusion on the meaning of “clean” may be surprising and at times, humorous.  

Show #384

A Conversation With Harry Stafford

There is something assuringly honest about Harry Stafford’s demeanor. He says without a hint of self-consciousness that he likes to get up on stage and put on a show and if that means dressing the part, then so be it, he’ll gladly do his best. Which goes a long way to explain why the one-time spiky-haired goth rocker now prefers to wear a conservative business suit with a white shirt and tie to perform in. Harry reckons if people pay good money to come to see you, then they deserve a show, not some bloke shambling on in boring jeans and a t-shirt. It all works because Stafford’s new album, Gothic Urban Blues presents melancholy look backward without being old-fashioned. It’s a collection that could have easily been released ten, twenty or maybe thirty years ago, yet the suggestion that this is a carefully crafted homage to nostalgia is shattered by the crisp production and Stafford’s almost languid but up-to-the-moment lyrics. Gothic Urban Blues can be played all the way through without stopping or one track at a time, it’s one of those albums that works perfectly either way. Which is a lot like chatting with Harry. He gives thoughtful, well-considered answers with a treasure trove of insights and details that could persuade you that your sixty-minute conversation was really just ten minutes. He’s an affable chap is Harry Stafford, the ups and downs of the music biz may have given him cause to be cynical but he manages to keep that persona well hidden. Instead, he recounts the early days as founder, guitarist, and vocalist of post-punk gothic rockers Inca Babies as fondly as he chats about his latest venture. Stafford decided to release untamed solo material that echoes his love of blues piano and barroom ballads. The idea he says was to leave his noisy electric guitar behind – abandoning everything he held and cherished – to make some new music with a piano and a head full of ideas. His band is now called Guitar Shaped Hammers to reflect this cohesion of musical unity – with more guitars from Vincent O’Brien, and an additional layered sonic blast from Nick Brown (The Membranes). With intense percussion from Rob Haynes and a truly masterful trumpet contribution from jazz supremo Kevin Davy, the result is very much the soundtrack of a basement radio station stumbling across a new genre they’ve tagged Gothic Urban Blues

LEM Vol 172