In addition to the two events, I went to SXSW Music festival and realized that I've been to Austin for either the Music or Interactive portion about 6 times. Yeesh.
Was it fun? It was okay. Even though I've been happy with the book's response, real life has crept in and in theory, I could have had a better time if my mind hadn't been in other places. The last year has in some ways been great, as I've been able to accomplish a lot, but in other ways, it has been extremely hard. I hung out with some friends in Austin, spoke on a couple of panels and did a book signing, shared a hotel room with MilitiA Vox (pictured above) and had an amazing time developing a solid friendship with her, but again, life is rough, yo.
After SXSW, I flew to Detroit to attend the Black Women Rock concert, which was a blast. Was it "rock" relation to what I write about? No. Rock, in this sense, meant alternative R&B, soul and funk musicians who had a different viewpoint in how they approach music. Was it inspiring? Yes it was. After my sojourn to Austin, being around these incredible black women was just what I needed to get my mind back on track. The panel discussion which happened the next day, was bizarre, as all of the panelists (me included) shed tears of pain, exhaustion and a bit of greatfulness at the opportunity to be with people who understood who we were and what we were trying to accomplish with our careers.
To be honest, it was hard to swallow. Over the years I have met and listened to a myriad of different musicians whose work is stellar, but they are not getting the recognition they deserve. I'm not talking about getting a major label contract, but being able to live off their art. It is frustrating when someone takes pride in doing something unique only to be told that because they do not fall into a prescribed box, they are unmarketable. It was really, really hard to see women whom I admire, break down in tears describing how hard it has been for them. Really heartbreaking.
A couple of weeks later I went to the International Heavy Metal and Popular Culture conference in Bowling Green, Ohio, which was a blast. I realized I am a total geek, as the opportunity to listen to papers delivered by academics whose work either focused on, or touched on heavy metal culture was so exciting! I felt that I learned a lot and as I just got into graduate school (New School for Social Research, Fall 2013) I felt that I had made a decision to continue my studies in this area. There was some debate, some disagreements, but more importantly, a lot of camaraderie. My keynote went well - I was nervous as hell, as I thought someone in the audience was going to stand up during the Q&A segment and scream, "Liar! LIAR" but it didn't happen.
One of the things that arose from this conference is....who is right and wrong about the history of metal? Who / what was the first metal band /album? A lot of my work has included the argument that Blues - African American Blues music played an integral part in the development of some of the first metal albums and the work of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Judas Priest. This was challenged at the conference and okay.....I took it a bit personally. a couple of weeks later I had a chance to speak to my publisher, Ian Christe - whom of all people, would have an opinion and he somewhat agreed with me but also saw where the argument was coming from.........I think I need to revisit Blue Cheer and some of the other bands that were mentioned.......
I won't list everyone whom I met and silently geeked out over, but one of the highlights was meeting Deena Weinstein, who wrote Heavy Metal: The Music and its Culture one of, if not the first academic-oriented book on metal. That was mad cool, and luckily she is really nice!
Soo.....NYC. The official NYC book launch went well. I am blessed to be liked by enough people to have them help me out! Here is a link to some photos and videos, and see below for the finale!