What I've done, before I get back to hitting the keys, is to pay a brief tribute to these bands that helped birth Gifts, some of whom appear within its pages. The one below is a particular favorite of mine; The Only Sons' newest release American Stranger rocks my Kindle, people. And, because they're at SXSW, Gifts is kinda there by proxy. (Ok, so that's a sappy stretch.) I've included a very brief excerpt from where they actually appear in the book. It won't spoil anything if you haven't read it- it's just for context. Kent & co., I know you guys are enjoing SXSW. Please raise some hell for me.
We didn’t speak much on the drive home. I knew I must have looked alarmingly bad because Logan didn’t even complain once when I played the same song over and over. He hated it when I did that. After our third listening of The Only Sons’ American Stranger, I eyed him sideways. “Aren’t you even going to mock me? I mean, I appreciate the play time and all, but I kinda miss the insults.”
He snorted but kept his eyes on the road. “You look awful, Cas.”
And that was it. I should have guessed much worse was in store.- Gifts of the Blood
"Gone Down Swingin' " by The Only Sons:
I find myself increasingly tied to Indie musicians: for inspiration, as successful business models, because they're creative people fighting the same battles as me. I have yet to meet a single one of them, no matter how successful, who isn't incredibly down-to-earth and approachable. (Ok, maybe one. Maybe two. But that's still a very small margin.) And it shows up in my work. I'm more tied than a lot of writers I know; I'm married to a label exec. Who's here, not in Austin, in part because of my impending release. So he's getting an almost constant barrage of information about the amazing things he's not a part of this year: a BBQ crawl, like a pub crawl, but with pig and beer and bands. Impromptu dream bands just playing in the streets. His own bands playing anywhere and everywhere.
I've written a lot about the connections between the music industry and the publishing industry in this Indie age of ours. I've even engaged in lengthy discussions, blogs, tirades- whatever platform I could find- about how this is so much bigger than just being able to bypass New York. That we're in the midst of an actual Indie movement, just as the Romantics were a literary movement in the early 19th C. 100 years from now students will open Lit books and read about "The Indie Movement of the early 21st C." The thing is, it's hard to see change when you're smack in the middle of it. So it's unsurprising that most "movements" get defined by the generations that come later. Hey, whatever; we've all got enough to do anyway in the here and now, right? But what's so cool about being caught up in the Indie Movement, if we let ourselves, is that it does seem to cross genres. This is rare but not unheard of in the history of literary movements; the Pre-Raphelites were both writers and painters. If there are any lingering doubts about the creative power of all things Indie, be they musical or not, just check out some of the live feed coming out of Austin. Rock your Kindle: I’ll be doing it all week.