Miami is often stereotyped as a booze-soaked tourist playground with little intellectual depth or value. Far too many people think of the Magic City as a one-dimensional, endless Ocean Drive experience — Las Vegas with a beach view. Over the past three decades, the Miami Book Fair has gone a long way toward issuing a strong rebuke to that ill-informed perspective by bringing many of the world's most renowned authors, leaders, and luminaries to its readings and street fair. The book fair has hosted authors ranging from Hunter S. Thompson to Maya Angelou to Questlove. This year's festival, which begins Sunday, will present blockbuster literary names such as Isabel Allende and Salman Rushdie, as well as former Vice President Joe Biden, who will no doubt have plenty to say about the current administration's effort to undue the legacy of his years in office with President Barack Obama.
The Miami Book Fair isn't just for bibliophiles, though. Organizers go to great lengths to offer a lineup of diverse cultural interests, and music lovers will have plenty of options, including readings by some of today's leading music critics and legacy musicians, as well as opportunities to catch live music. Here's a roundup of the best events for music fans at this year's Miami Book Fair.
1. Patti Smith. Punk pioneer Patti Smith rose to prominence in the 1970s by underpinning the nascent genre's primal emotiveness with the intellectual weight of furious study of history's greatest poets. Decades after the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee stomped her mark into music history, she's known as one of the nation's most prolific and evocative writers of poetry and prose. Her 2010 book Just Kids, which recounts her relationship with legendary photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, won the National Book Award for Nonfiction. She last appeared at the fair in 2015, for a reading of her selection of essays, M Train. She returns this year with her latest book, Devotion, an exploration of her creative process. 8 p.m. Monday, November 13, at Chapman Conference Center, Building 3, Second Floor, Room 3210, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami. Tickets cost $35 via miamibookfair.com.
2. The Porch. You might need some downtime or a cold beer after running from reading to reading during the weeklong, event-packed festivities. Slow down at the Porch, which the Miami Book Fair calls "the ultimate urban hangout space." The Porch will be open beginning in the afternoon on weekdays and from morning till night on the final Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the fair. There will be craft beer, comedy, karaoke, games, food trucks, drag burlesque theater from the Bearded Ladies, and live music by Afrobeta, Elastic Bond, Magic City Hippies, and other acts. Sunday, November 12, through Sunday, November 19, at 300 NE Second Ave., Miami.
3. John Capouya. In his book Florida Soul, University of Tampa journalism professor John Capouya argues that Florida doesn't get proper credit for its role in soul music history. Though soul capitals such as Memphis, Detroit, and New Orleans are always an integral part of the conversation, little is mentioned about Ray Charles' early Florida recording sessions or the Miami roots of iconic duo Sam & Dave. Join Capouya to learn more about the surprising role the Sunshine State played in the rise of these classic artists. 4:30 p.m. Sunday, November 19, in Room 7128, Building 7, First Floor, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami.
4. Holly Gleason. As the world of music criticism makes room for more women writers, there's been a concerted effort to rediscover and reclaim the music of female artists who were overshadowed in music history's male-dominated narrative. Earlier this year, NPR published a deep dive — The 150 Greatest Albums Made by Women — in the hopes of issuing "a correction of the historical record and hopefully the start of a new conversation." In that same spirit, music journalist Holly Gleason has published Woman Walk the Line, a collection of essays from the country music world's top female artists writing about the female country artists who inspired them. Contributions run the gamut, from Rosanne Cash's tribute to June Carter Cash, to a teenage Taylor Swift's take on Brenda Lee. 1 p.m. Sunday, November 19, in Room 8203, Building 8, Second Floor, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami.
5. Ben Greenman. Novelist, biographer, and former New Times staff writer Ben Greenman began writing his book Dig if You Will the Picture: Funk, Sex, God & Genius in the Music of Prince the day after the artist's shocking and untimely death. Greenman, a superfan of Prince's music, grappled with the tragic realization that the musician had decades of work and genius left in him. "It was written very much in that spirit of trying to go back inside that fandom and feel all the excitement of it and the energy of it and then the sadness of his disappearance," he told New Times earlier this year. 10:30 a.m. Sunday, November 19, in Room 8201, Building 8, Second Floor, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami. (Greenman will also appear at a New Times book fair event with authors Jim DeFede, Luther Campbell, and Tristram Korten at 4 p.m. Sunday.)
6. Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib. In times of culture war and political instability, society tends to look toward its artists; sometimes it's a desperate plea for guidance when traditional routes have failed, but mostly it's a search for a well-phrased, cathartic expression of the roil of emotions that can result from societal schism. In They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib looks to the music he's heard throughout his life, as well as in his work as a cultural critic, for answers about identity and the current political moment. In the process, he's wound up becoming one of the freshest voices in the nation. 4:30 p.m., Saturday, November 18, in Room 8202, Building 8, 2nd Floor, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami.
7. The Okee Dokee Brothers. The Grammy Award-winning duo the Okee Dokee Brothers will play not one, not two, but four sets throughout the final weekend of the book fair. The songwriters grew up exploring the great outdoors in Denver and later moved to Minneapolis, where they began making bluegrass music for children with the mission of reminding them and their families of the benefits of playing outside and exploring nature. Noon Saturday, November 18, at MDC Live Arts Theater, 300 NE Second Ave.; 12:30 p.m. Saturday, November 18, at Once Upon a Time Stage in Children's Alley, 300 NE Second Ave.; 12:30 p.m. Sunday, November 19, at Once Upon a Time Stage in Children's Alley; 2 p.m. Sunday, November 19, at Once Upon a Time Stage.
8. John Cordero. In 1998, John Cordero was inspired to start his own newspaper, The Cipher, after coming to the realization that hip-hop from Miami was largely being ignored by the leading hip-hop publications. His new book, named for the newspaper he founded, will be released November 19, the same day as his Miami Book Fair appearance. The Cipher traces hip-hip history during the era, as well as Cordero's recollections of his time interviewing and partying with the genre's heavyweights. 3 p.m. Sunday, November 19, in Room 7128, Building 7, First Floor, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
9. Danny Goldberg. Veteran music journalist Danny Goldberg wrote Billboard magazine's review of Woodstock in 1969, so he's exactly the kind of figure you'd be wise to look to for perspective on Vietnam and the Summer of Love. His latest book, In Search of the Lost Chord, explores a decade of stark generational social divides, racial strife, and seemingly endless war. Sound familiar? Goldberg's search for the questions and answers of this explosive decade might provide some much-needed insight into the current moment. 11:30 a.m. Saturday, November 18, in Room 8203, Building 8, Second Floor, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami.
10. Music Programming for Children. The Miami Book Fair's staff and organizers know you're never too young to fall in love with music. They designed the events in Children's Alley at this year's book fair with this in mind, so there will be plenty of opportunities for kids to watch other kids make music. Try performances by Modern School of Music students and the children of the nonprofit Guitars Over Guns. Kids will also get a chance to learn about musical instruments from around the world in the fair's Fun Room. Live! Modern School of Music. 1 p.m. Friday, November 17, at Once Upon a Time Stage in Children's Alley. Rock Out With Guitars Over Guns. 5 p.m. Saturday, November 18, at Once Upon a Time in Children's Alley. Fun Room: The Rhythm Factory. 9 a.m.,= Friday, November 17, in Children's Alley, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami.