Lightnin' Hopkins: His Life and Blues by Alan Govenar

Lightnin Hopkins - His Life and Blues.jpg

By the time of his death in 1982, Sam Lightnin’ Hopkins was likely the most recorded blues artist in history. Alan Govenar’s biography illuminates the many contradictions of the man and his myth.

Born in 1912 to a poor sharecropping family in the cotton country between Dallas and Houston, Hopkins left home when he was only eight years old with a guitar his brother had given him. He made his living however he could, sticking to the open road, playing the blues, and taking odd jobs when money was short. This biography delves into Hopkins’s early years, exploring the myths surrounding his meetings with Blind Lemon Jefferson and Texas Alexander, his time on a chain gang, his relationships with women, and his lifelong appetite for gambling and drinking.

Hopkins didn’t begin recording until 1946, when he was dubbed Lightnin’ during his first session, and he soon joined Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker on the national R & B charts. But by the time he was “rediscovered” by Mack McCormick and Sam Charters in 1959, his popularity had begun to wane. A second career emerged and now Lightnin’ was pitched to white audiences, not black ones, and he became immensely successful, singing about his country roots and injustices that informed the civil rights era with a searing emotive power.

More than a decade in the making, this biography is based on scores of interviews with Lightnin’s lovers, friends, producers, accompanists, managers, and fans.

Conjunto by John Dyer, with essays by Joe Nick Patoski and Juan Tejeda


Conjunto provides vibrant, living portraits of some of the greatest conjunto and Tejano music legends captured in their element – on stage, in cantinas, in living rooms, and in their back yards. The old-timers are included, of course: Valerio Longoria, Henry Zimmerle, Johnny Degollado, as well as performers lesser known to the casual fan, like Lupita Rodela. Alongside legendary singer-songwriter Lydia Mendoza, Rodela is one of a handful of featured women.

"All the early conjunto greats are dying," Juan Tejeda writes in his preface. His deeply personal, insider description of conjunto music is both tutorial and reluctant eulogy for a tradition whose future sometimes appears tenuous. Yet, the book resonates with something rare in this day and age: dignity. Smartly, key figures behind the music are also included. The striking portrait of bajo sexto-maker Alberto Macías silently speaks to the value of craft and tradition, passed down from his father, now passing to his son and grandson.

An introduction by Joe Nick Patoski gives a historic and personal take on the music. Delightful close-ups of graphics that adorn cantinas face each portrait and select song lyrics with brief synopses appear throughout. Tejeda's amazingly distilled captions are perfect; the photos do the talking. While not an exhaustive scholarly work, Conjunto is a stunning album that conjunto music fans will relish. More importantly, it will entice those unfamiliar with the form to discover the music for themselves.

Austin City Limits: A History by Tracey E. W. Laird

Austin City Limits - A History.jpg

Austin City Limits is the longest running musical showcase in the history of television, and it still captivates audiences over forty years after its debut on the air. From Willie Nelson's legendary pilot show in 1974, to mythical performances of BB King and Stevie Ray Vaughn, and recent shows with Mumford & Sons, Arcade Fire and The Decemberists, the show has defined popular roots music and indie rock. 

Tracey Laird tells the story of this landmark musical showcase whose history spans dramatic changes in the world of television, the expansion of digital media, and the ways in which we experience music. 

Engagingly written and packed with anecdotes and insights from everyone from the show's producers and production staff to the musicians themselves, Austin City Limits: A History gives us the best seat in the house for this illuminating look at a singular presence in American popular music.

The History of Texas Music by Gary Hartman

History of Texas Music.jpg

The richly diverse ethnic heritage of the Lone Star State has brought to the Southwest a remarkable array of rhythms, instruments, and musical styles that have blended here in unique ways and, in turn, have helped shape the music of the nation and the world.

Historian Gary Hartman writes knowingly and lovingly of the Lone Star State’s musical traditions. In the first thorough survey of the vast and complex cultural mosaic that has produced what we know today as “Texas music,” he paints a broad, panoramic view, offers analysis of the origins of and influences on specific genres, profiles key musicians, and provides guidance to additional sources for further information.

A musician himself, Hartman draws on both academic and non-academic sources to give a more complete understanding of the state’s remarkable musical history and ethnic community studies with his first-hand knowledge of how important music is as a cultural medium through which human beings communicate information, ideas, emotions, values, and beliefs, and bond together as friends, families, and communities.

The History of Texas Music incorporates a selection of well-chosen photographs of both prominent and less-well-known artists and describes not only the ethnic origins of much of Texas music but also the cross-pollination among various genres. Today, the music of Texas—which includes Native American music, gospel, blues, ragtime, swing, jazz, rhythm and blues, conjunto, Tejano, Cajun, zydeco, western swing, honky tonk, polkas, schottisches, rock & roll, rap, hip hop and more—reflects the unique cultural dynamics of the Southwest.

PoPsie: American Popular Music Through the Camera Lens of William "PoPsie" Randolph by Michael Randolph

PoPsie Popular Music.jpg

Haunting the recording studios, jam sessions, concert halls, and nightclubs of New York City, William "PoPsie" Randolph chronicled the postwar transformation of American music from swing and jazz, to rhythm & blues and rock n' roll. The 100,000 negatives left behind after his death in 1978 span the giddy, glitzy heyday of swing in the 1940s, the hot and cool jazz spawned in the clubs of 52nd Street, the rumbling emergence of black R&B and doo-wop, the sudden explosion of rock n' roll in the late '50s, the rise of Brill Building pop and the British Invasion of the '60s, and the growth of rock into a multibillion-dollar industry by the '70s.

PoPsie's son Michael has chosen the very best of his father's collection for inclusion in this remarkable book. Here readers will find luscious black-and-white photos of everyone from Benny Goodman and Billie Holiday to Elvis, The Beatles, Hendrix, and the Rolling Stones. Insightful text explains the time, people, and place of each captured moment.

Mind Eye – The Saga of Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators, The Pioneers of Psychedelic Sound by Paul Drummond


The trailblazing 13th Floor Elevators released the first “psychedelic” rock album in America, transforming culture throughout the 1960s and beyond. The Elevators followed their own spiritual cosmic agenda, to change society by finding a new path to enlightenment. Their battles with repressive authorities in Texas and their escape to San Francisco’s embryonic counterculture are legendary.

When the Elevators returned to Texas, the band became subject to investigation by Austin police. Lead singer Roky Erickson was forced into a real-life enactment of One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and was put away in a maximum-security unit for the criminally insane for years. Tommy Hall, their Svengali lyricist, lived in a cave. Guitarist Stacy Sutherland was imprisoned. The drummer was involuntarily subjected to electric shock treatments, and the bassist was drafted into the Vietnam War.

This fascinating biography breaks decades of silence of band members and addresses a huge cult following of Elevators fans in the United States and Europe. The group is revered as a formative influence on Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, Patti Smith, Primal Scream, R.E.M, and Z.Z. Top.

Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers – A ZZ Top Guide by Neil Daniels


Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers celebrates the music and legacy of one of America's most prominent and popular rock bands. It's everything you ever needed to know about ZZ Top, but were afraid to ask. Fifteen studio albums, fifty million records sold, and more awards than you can shake a stick at - including an induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame - have made ZZ Top legends.

So, let's celebrate 'em in a fact-packed handbook that gives you the lowdown on the Texas trio that's been rocking for well over 40 years and are still going strong. What you get here is:
*The essential history of the band from their 1969 roots to the present day.
*A review of the band's studio output, plus notable tours and gigs.
*Mini-biographies of the boys, plus their influences and who they in turn have influenced.
*Awards won, plus bits and pieces of fascinating and fun trivia charting their rise to fame.

Meeting the Blues – The Rise of the Texas Sound by Alan Govenar

Z.Z. Hill, Albert Collins, Leadbelly, Mance Lipscomb, Bobby "Blue" Bland, "Lightnin'" Hopkins, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Copeland, Charlie Christian, Charles Brown, "Cleanhead" Vinson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Johnny Winter, Clifton Chenier, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, B.B. King, "T-Bone" Walker, Lowell Fulson--these are just a few of the many Texas blues makers pictured and profiled in Alan Govenar's Meeting the Blues , a book that not only vividly documents the rise of Texas blues, but also gives it life through the words of the men and women who sing the lyrics and play the music. With more than 200 rare and new photographs, a selected discography of blues recordings, and oral histories from almost everyone involved with creating the Texas sound, Meeting the Blues is an unforgettable chronicle of one of America's richest and most exciting music scenes.

Keith Ferguson – Texas Blues Bass by Detlef Schmidt


Ask any blues bass player to name their most influential blues bass player, and almost all will mention Willy Dixon for upright bass and Keith Ferguson from the Fabulous Thunderbirds for electric bass. In this extensively researched biography, author Detlef Schmidt starts with Keith's early childhood, from his birth in 1946 in Houston, Texas, and on to his playing days. Keith's role in the late 1970s blues revival can't be forgotten, with his style of playing and dressing being influential to many blues bands all over the world.

Keith played with all the great guitar players from Texas: Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimmie Vaughan, Rocky Hill, Billy F. Gibbons, Omar Dykes, and Alan Haynes, just to mention a few. As a member of the Austin Blues Club "Antone's" he played with nearly all the blues greats during that time: John Lee Hooker, Hubert Sumlin, Muddy Waters, James Cotton, Jimmie Reed, Eddie "Playboy" Taylor. Many of Keith Ferguson's old friends and musical partners share their memories of a great bass player and fascinating person, with quotes and interviews from Billy Gibbons, Johnny Winter, Jimmie Vaughan, Lou Ann Barton, Fran Christina, Preston Hubbard, Mike Buck, Armando Compean, Denny Freeman, Don Leady, Tommy Shannon, and many more. A must-have book for every bass player!

The Handbook of Texas Music by The Texas State Historical Association

The Handbook of Texas Music.jpg

Texas music was born at the crossroads of America. And it has reached out from there to touch the world. Texas has been a remarkably fertile seedbed for music coming from every point of the compass, and few places on any continent have produced musical styles and musicians whose artistic and cultural impact have been so profound on a national and international scale. The Handbook of Texas Music carefully documents the complex convergence of numerous musical and cultural traditions.

Armadillo World Headquarters by Eddie Wilson and Jesse Sublett

Armadillo World Headquarters.jpg

On August 7, 1970, Eddie Wilson and a band of hippies threw open the doors of the Armadillo World Headquarters and the live music capital of the world was born in Austin, Texas. Over its ten-year lifespan, the Armadillo hosted thousands of high-profile musicians – Willie Nelson, Frank Zappa, Bruce Springsteen, to name a few. The Armadillo helped define the Austin lifestyle, culture, and identity, setting the stage for successors such as the SXSW music festival and Austin City Limits, which have made Austin and international destination for music fans.

Miss Rhythm – The Autobiography of Ruth Brown, Rhythm and Blues Legend by Ruth Brown and Andrew Yule

Miss Rhythm - The Autobiography of Ruth Brown.jpg

Before Etta James, Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner, there was Ruth Brown, the legendary rhythm and blues singer best known for her hits “Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean”, “Teardrops in My Eyes” and “5-10-15 Hours”. Her powerhouse voice and sassy squeal brought such worldwide success to the fledgling Atlantic label in the 1950’s that it came to be known as the “House That Ruth Built”.

Swamp Pop – Cajun and Creole Rhythm and Blues by Shane Bernard

Swamp Pop - Cajun and Creole Rhythm and Blues.jpg

Music of Louisiana was at the heart of rock-and-roll in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Many swamp-pop favorites were hits of the day – Dale and Grace’s “I’m Leaving It Up to You”, Phil Phillip’s “Sea of Love”, Joe Barry’s “I’m a Fool to Care” and Cookie and the Cupcakes “Mathilda”. Here is the exciting story of swamp pop, a form of Louisiana music invented by teenage Cajuns and black Creoles.