I’m lucky to have some really creative friends who are putting some amazing stuff out there in the world. I wanted to let you know about three things that you should really get ahold of now and in the near future.
— Jamie Dubberly was a year behind me in high school down in Brunswick, Ga., and even back then he was a killer trombone player and music nut — I remember a Saturday night driving around town with some buddies when he pulled out a cassette of a trombone player we just had to listen to. We were mostly listening to Journey and Rick James back then, but we gave in, and he was right: The guy was awesome.
Now Jamie is the awesome trombone player making records. He’s teaching and playing out in the San Francisco area, and he just finished a new CD with his group Orquesta Dharma. He funded the CD through Kickstarter — it’s the one and only Kickstarter project I’ve chipped in on, and it was worth every penny. Jamie’s idea was to blend traditional Latin rhythms and horn parts with the New Orleans second-line style. The record is “La Clave del Gumbo,” and it’s just great. It’ll be available on Amazon, iTunes and elsewhere Aug. 5; in the meantime, you can hear the tracks “Jazzy” and “La Esencia del Guaguanco” (plus a bunch of great older tracks) on Orquesta Dharma’s site. This music will make you happy. Go check it out.
Beth Macy is a wonderful writer (and even better person) who spent years writing features for the Roanoke Times in Virginia. One of the stories she covered for the newspaper was the impact of American jobs going overseas — especially in the furniture business, which used to be the big industry in southern Virginia and northern North Carolina. Most of the factory owners threw in with the Asian companies that were copying American furniture at a much cheaper price. John Bassett III — a black sheep of sorts in the Bassett furniture family — decided to fight. And that’s the story of Beth’s great book, “Factory Man.” You will love JBIII, and you’ll want to slap him every few pages at the same time. He’s a complex hero, and this is a complicated story, which makes it so nice that it’s in the hands of someone who can tell the story with style and grace and humor. Beth’s amazing. And if you don’t believe me, the New York Times says so, too.
“Factory Man” is one of the books caught up in the crazy war Amazon is waging against the Hatchette publishing company, so it shows up as unavailable on Amazon. But here’s a trade secret — lots of other places sell books! So try somewhere else for a change. Better yet, go to your local bookstore. “Factory Man” is out July 15.
Somehow, in the middle of a busy spring, I forgot to write about how much I loved “Grandma Gatewood’s Walk.” My buddy Ben Montgomery, a fine feature writer for the Tampa Bay Times, tells the powerful story of the first woman to walk the Appalachian Trail — a 67-year-old great-grandmother who didn’t even tell her family she was going. Emma Gatewood was walking away as much as she was walking forward, and Ben spends time unraveling Grandma Gatewood’s past as he describes her struggles and adventures on the trail. Ben reports down to the dirt, and he writes like a singer, and you’ll get so swept up in the tale that you’ll forget you’re reading a book — which is the best feeling a work of art can give you.