music stars––the famed 400 block of
downtown Nashville’s Broadway Avenue,
formerly the site of the Grand Ole Opry
and the Ryman Auditorium.
Groove Interrupted: Loss, Renewal,
and the Music of New Orleans. By
Keith Spera. 2011. St. Martin’s, $25.99
New Orleans has always been a musical seedbed, come hell or high water, as
Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Spera discovered in the wake of Hurricane Katrina
when he got to know the musicians who
stayed, including Clarence “Gatemouth”
Brown, Aaron Neville, Allen Toussaint,
and Fats Domino.
Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans. By
Thomas Brothers. 2006. Norton, paper,
Brothers offers a uniquely perceptive
look at New Orleans’ rich, rolling musical
culture fed by French, Spanish, Creole,
and African tributaries, and sustaining
numerous musicians, prominent among
them the one and only Louis Armstrong.
NE W YORK
Harlem: The Four Hundred Year History
from Dutch Village to Capital of Black
America. By Jonathan Gill. 2011. Grove,
paper, $20 (9780802145741).
Gill offers an exquisitely detailed
account of Harlem’s long, dynamic, art-filled history, shaped by waves of overseas
immigrants and African American migrants, and punctuated so indelibly by the
Inside the Dream Palace: The Life
and Times of New York’s Legendary
Chelsea Hotel. By Sherill Tippins. 2013.
Houghton, $30 (9780618726349);
Mariner, paper, $15.95 (9780544334472).
Tippins charts the ups and downs of the
Chelsea Hotel from its 1884 opening on,
telling riveting stories about such Chelsea
residents as Edgar Lee Masters, Dylan
Thomas, Jackson Pollock, Sam Shepard,
and Patti Smith.
The Last Bohemia: Scenes from the
Life of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. By
Robert Anasi. 2012. Farrar, paper, $15
An industrial wasteland with Oz-like
views of Manhattan and strict ethnic and
racial demarcations, Williamsburg was
hardly welcoming to scruffy art kids such
as Anasi, yet it proved to be the ideal hot
spot for wildly innovative, downright
Grit, Noise, & Revolution: The Birth
of Detroit Rock ’n’ Roll. By David A.
Carson. 2005. Univ. of Michigan, paper,
Carson chronicles with vivid detail
and full appreciation the world-shaking
rise of Detroit’s indelible music, from
John Lee Hooker to Iggy Pop, along
with the stars of Motown, among them
Smokey Robinson, the Supremes, and
The First Bohemians: Life and Art in
London’s Golden Age. By Vic Gatrell.
2015. IPG/PenguinUK, $27.95
Drawing on art, literary, and social history, Gatrell explains how and why the
one-square-mile area around Covent Garden in eighteenth-century London became
“the world’s first creative ‘bohemia.’”
The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies.
By David Thomson. 2012. Farrar, paper,
Hollywood is a mega hot spot, as film
expert Thomson so richly and provocatively elucidates in this compelling history
studded with dozens of capsule biographies of film greats working in every
aspect of the industry.
Creating the Future: Art and Los Angeles
in the 1970s. By Michael Fallon. 2014.
Counterpoint, $28 (9781619023437).
As Los Angeles’ sunny dreamscape gave
way to the harsh realities of the 1970s,
artists responded accordingly, including
Chicano street muralists Salvador Torres and Judith Baca, and conceptual and
performance artists James Turrell and
Rebels in Paradise: The Los Angeles
Art Scene and the 1960s. By Hunter
Drohojowska-Philp. 2011. Holt, $27
(9780805088366); e-book, $16.99
Los Angeles in the 1960s was a wide-open place of rampant creativity. At the
nucleus was the Ferus Gallery and such
trailblazing artists as Edward Kienholz, Ed
Ruscha, Robert Irwin, and John Baldessari.
Nashville’s Lower Broad. By Bill Rouda.
2004. Smithsonian, $29.95 (1-58834-
In this exceptional photo-essay, Rouda
documents the launching pad for country-
reckless artists until gentrification sani-
tized the scene.
New Art City: Manhattan at Mid-
Century. By Jed Perl. 2005. Vintage,
paper, $18.95 (9781400034659).
Perl tells the many-faceted story of
mid-twentieth-century art in New York
City, portraying artists as diverse as Joseph
Cornell and Donald Judd, and attesting
to how the city itself inspired abstract expressionism, pop art, and new realism.
The Village: 400 Years of Beats and
Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues—a
History of Greenwich Village. By
John Strausbaugh. 2013. Ecco,
$29.99 (9780062078193); paper,
$17.99 (9780062078216) e-book
Strausbaugh’s sizzling and capacious
history of bohemian Greenwich Village
spotlights the likes of Edna St. Vincent
Millay, James Baldwin, Bob Dylan, and
Willem de Kooning as they “collided and
fused like subatomic particles in an accelerator, unleashing an explosion of creativity.”
In Montmartre: Picasso, Matisse, and the
Birth of Modernist Art. By Sue Roe. 2015.
Penguin, $29.95 (9781594204951).
Roe continues the story of Paris as art
incubator that she began in The Private
Lives of Impressionists (2006). Her second
group biography spans the first decade in
the twentieth century, when the emerging
avant-garde included Picasso, Matisse,
Braque, and André Derain.
Shocking Paris: Soutine, Chagall, and
the Outsiders of Montparnasse. By
Stanley Meisler. 2015. illus. Palgrave, $26
Chaim Soutine arrived in Paris in 1913
as part of a wave of Russian Jewish artists
fleeing persecution, and found tentative
sanctuary in Montparnasse, among other
brilliant, struggling immigrant artists,
including Chagall and Modigliani.