Built for Speed Reading

Ridin' writin' for rolling rockers and travelin' fans

Nolan says hers is "more of a music book. I tried to turn it into a travel book, tried to cram every sort of piece of information about local scenes and how they affected other bands that may have gone on and gotten bigger, how they were encouraged in that forum to play in the big time." Sheerly amazing coincidence number two: Nolan is also a drummer. "I've been kicked out of lots of bands," the 27-year-old Harvard grad says, "including Trip Shakespeare and Raw Youth and others I'm sure will become famous."

And when they do, one hopes Walker and/or Nolan will be around to document where they started, where they were discovered, where they were arrested, whatever. Walker wants to know if Hurricane Andrew obliterated any of the sites he mentioned (it didn't), adding that he'd love to update and revise his book. Nolan feels the same way. "I'm very interested in doing subsequent editions," she says. "I left a lot out, and you can always find more."

Even with two guides, it's obvious there's plenty more to include, and rumor exists of a third author writing another such book even now. "I think these two books," Nolan offers, "are complementary. If you're interested in cities as cities, you want mine. His has more out-of-the-way places."

Walker pretty much agrees, although he finds it "weird" that the two books arrived in print independently and simultaneously. "It's an aberration," he points out, "that two publishers were suckered into doing this at the same time. Maybe a country-music book is next. There's already a good jazz and blues lovers' guide" [see sidebar]. As for a sequel, Walker asks, "Why not?" noting that certain aspects of clubs, such as their transient nature, eventually require updating. "And you know the Chess studios building [in Chicago] is not in good shape," he says, referring to one of the longest entries in his book. "It's pretty much at risk of being sold or torn down or fucked up. They sent a recording of `Johnny B. Goode' into space. Someday someone will come down from Alpha Centauri to see where `Johnny' was recorded, and they'll be mighty pissed off if it's not there."

And not too happy either if it's still there but they can't find it because they don't know where to look.

Sometimes it seems more people write about music than play it. On the other hand some of us, me especially, find it impossible not to share the semi-relevant aspects of the lives of those whose purpose on this planet rests mainly in soundwaves. One of those aspects is the "where." Biography might be the only history, but geography is the only reality. Bruce Springsteen slept here, and while Springsteen is what you make of him, a bed is a bed is a bed.

Back in the mid-Eighties I idled into an idol, the only Elvis sighting that ever mattered to me. Elvis Costello had booked two nights at Sunrise, and I had gone early to get good seats to the first show. A couple of days later we won a pair of tickets to the second night's concert. We took I-95 up to Broward and checked into a Holiday Inn, made a weekend of it. As we drove over to K-102's headquarters (WCKO-FM, 4431 Rock Island Road, Fort Lauderdale) to pick up our free tickets, we heard the DJ say that Costello would be on the air presently for an interview. At the station we had to wait in the lobby while someone tracked down our ducats. As we did we listened to Elvis talk about All My Children and other stuff on the air.

We sat and we waited, and by the time the guy found and handed over our tickets, the interview was over. Costello came barreling out of the studio toward his limo, parked out front and surrounded with fans who were not allowed into K-102. Elvis had to hustle right by me to get out the door, so I stopped him. I'm proud to say I didn't drop to my knees. "So, Elvis," I asked, "do you think Jenny's gonna die?" That, at the very least, got his attention, and we indulged in a brief chat about All My Children.

Okay, so it's not a great anecdote. But at least it's documented.

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