I picked Rock and Roll Explorer Guide to New York City by Mike Katz and Crispin Kott because I love music and everything that pertains to music, and I thought it would be a cool walk through memory lane, an interesting way to walk through the streets in my head. I lived in NYC for many, many years, so a lot of the places listed in the book are known to me, and I have visited, frequented, or at least known about quite a lot of them. But there were also many that I didn’t know about, or didn’t know the history of, so it was really cool to read about them!
Rock and Roll Explorer Guide to New York City is divided into areas of Manhattan and then the rest of the boroughs, and lists venues, homes, shops, street corners, recording studios, bars... Basically any location that has some kind of meaning or place in the history of music in NYC (or at least music in the 20th and 21st centuries). Some locations have just a few words, others span over several pages, and there are longer parts for iconic NYC musicians and bands, such as Lou Reed and Patti Smith, the Beastie Boys, New York Dolls, Blondie, Sonic Youth, The Ramones, and also a long part on Bob Dylan’s time in NYC.
There is so much detail in this book! You can really tell how well the authors have done their research, visited places, visualized places, and talked to people. It’s such a cool book to own, peruse through, use as a way to see the city in a different light. I loved all of the pictures in the book: current day photos as well as old flyers and photos. It was obvious that a lot of time and care had been taken to curate and choose these images.
One small gripe though: there are SO MANY LES locations that are missing! During the early 2000’s there were some iconic bars on Ludlow and Orchard where pretty famous musicians would hang out and/or work and they aren’t mentioned. I guess it was such a big part of my own life that maybe I think it’s more important or interesting than it really is though. But no mention of Lit, or Motorcity, or Orchard Bar? Pianos?? Cake Shop?? An omission in my opinion!
But all in all Rock and Roll Explorer Guide to New York City is a super well-researched, smart, interesting, and cool book. Everywhere you go in NYC there is music to be found, hiding in the walls, in the memories of walls, in the air, and in the ground. This book does a great job of drawing a 3 dimensional map of it.
Rock and Roll Explorer Guide to New York City will be published by Rowman & Littlefield on June 1st. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy!