Tuesday, November 4, 2014

[book review] Song of the Fool by Hunter Sharpless

I have been looking forward to this book for a long time.  When I saw Hunter promoting it on Facebook, I knew I needed to buy it.  Then, he offered a sort of pre-sale for a limited number or signed copies.


Synopsis from Amazon
When nineteen-year-old Hunter Sharpless e-mails roots rock band Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, he doesn't expect a response. He wants to write a book about them. When his inbox chimes two hours later, telling him he has a chance to tour with the band for three full months, he dreams of groupies and Almost Famous. It doesn't take long, though, for Hunter to discover that the road isn't the electric collection of glories it's often billed to be. He's mistaken for a homeless person in Sacramento, thrust onstage in Iowa, and cradled against a toilet in New York. The road is hard. No cocaine, no sleek tour bus. But the Sixers see it differently. Stephen introduces Hunter to a more authentic perspective: behind the lights of the stage, after the glow of the performance, away from the noise of the amps. This is the world Song of the Fool begins to unravel.


I met Hunter Sharpless (the author) a few years ago when he was traveling with Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers (one of my all-time favorite bands) doing research for this book.  I was intrigued about his project and a little envious too.  As a live music fan, I've often wondered what life on the road is like.

Song of the Fool offers a snapshot of this experience ... and a lot more.

Hunter did a great job of describing time spent in the van, hotels, and venues as well as introducing readers to the guys and girl who let him join them on the road. I expected to learn more about the band throughout this book, but I got the bonus of learning more about Hunter.  Early on in the book, he confesses his insecurities about his writing, but by the end of the book, he has a lot more confidence. In that way, it became a bit of a memoir in addition to being a tribute to Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers. I also enjoyed the fact that each chapter focused on a member of the band (or entourage, in the case of Cousin) and what Hunter was able to learn from each of them.

It was a quick and easy read, though I definitely stretched it out because I wanted to really take my time with the story, savoring each word and line.

If you enjoy memoirs, live music, and stories about real people, I highly recommend you pick this up. Even if you're not a fan of Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers (and I don't understand why not), there is still much to enjoy about this book.


More links:
Hunter Sharpless Facebook page
Stephen Kellogg Facebook page
Stephen Kellogg on YouTube

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