Sound checking with Joe Oestreich before a reading/performance at the Kangaroo & Kiwi
The Music Book
NOTE: My publisher, Booktrope, has gone out of business so for the moment The Music Book of out of print. In talks with a few indie publishers though so with a little luck it will be back on bookshelves soon. More news on that as it comes.
"On page after page, you hitch a ride as O'Leary asks an existential question: does 2 plus 2 in fact equal 4, or is there a missing element, a spiritual or cosmic element, that can bend reality at any given moment, that can transport you to a different time, a different place, or perhaps lead to orgasmic ecstasy in the moment itself? Where will this journey lead for the main protagonist: to a fulfilling relationship? to discover the twenty-first century heirs to the Seattle Sound? to overcome personal doubts to create his own timeless art? O’Leary offers up all these possibilities in this masterful tome."—Stephen Tow, author of The Strangest Tribe: How a Group of Seattle Rock Bands Invented Grunge
About the Book:
What does music mean? Can it be more than the sum of its notes and melodies? Can it truly change you? Rob, a musician turned reluctant music critic, poses these questions as everything important in his life appears to be fading—memories of lost love, songs from his old bands, even his hearing. He delves into the music of others to find solace and purpose, and discovers that the chords and repeated phrases echo themes that have emerged in his own life. The music sustains him, but can it revive him?
The Music Book is a story of loss, of fear and loneliness, of a mutable past. But most of all it’s about music as a force, as energy, as a creator of possibility. What might come from the sound of an A chord played just so? Rob listens. And among other things, he finds surprising companionship with a cat; another chance at love; and the courage to step on a stage again and finally, fully comprehend the power of sound.
About the Music in the Book:
There are many local bands featured in The Music Book. These are bands whose music affected me, whose music I found at the right moment, and all of it was live so the music could be experienced. I discovered them while writing for the now defunct Seattle Subsonic, and to quote from the book:
"I like to sit at the end of the bar and watch an unknown band swing for the fence. It’s better to discover music that way, more personal than radio, more intimate than a festival with all its distractions that sideline the music. Not that there aren’t great bands playing festivals and stadiums, but in the small clubs, it’s all about the music, only the music. The crowd and the personalities and the sponsors fall away. All that matters, the only thing that matters, is the sound that emanates from the stage."
And the sounds that these Seattle bands make do indeed matter:
The Missionary Position
The Jesus Rehab
Julia Massey and the Five-Finger Discount
The Young Evils
The Head and the Heart
Star Anna and the Laughing Dogs
Christa Says Yay
Bone Cave Ballet
Alabaster (no longer together)
And of course, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Mad Season, Alice Mudgarden.
I continue to write about music for Northwest Music Scene, so if you play in a band here in Seattle, contact me, and I might come check you out.