[tuneful review] Carlos Santana: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World by Gary Golio and Rudy Gutierrez

“There’s a melody in everything. And once you find the melody, then you connect immediately with the heart. Because sometimes English or Spanish, Swahili or any language gets in the way. But nothing penetrates the heart faster than the melody.” ~ Carlos Santana

Just as there are celebrated rock singers whose vocals are instantly recognizable (Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks), there are electric guitarists whose signature stylings and timbres we’d know just about anywhere.

Carlos Santana is rightfully ranked among the greatest rock guitarists of all time, alongside such masters as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. When you hear the pure, piercing tone of his guitar as it caresses a melodic line (oh, those amazing solo riffs and sustained notes!), there’s no mistaking whose fiery, impassioned “voice” you’re hearing.

Santana pioneered a unique fusion of rock, blues, jazz, and Latin, African and Cuban rhythms in the late 60’s and early 70’s — a distinctive sound that continues to electrify audiences today. With early hits like “Black Magic Woman” and “Evil Ways,” the rare addition of percussion instruments (congas, timbales) to guitar and organ flavored the music with an old world, positively primal feel. The aptly named, strictly instrumental “Soul Sacrifice,” with its driving polyrhythms and rousing solos, pulsates with an energy that fairly inhabits the listener, taking him/her on a transformative musical journey.

Though I’ve enjoyed Santana’s music since college, I knew very little about Carlos Santana’s childhood, so I was especially pleased to see that New York Times bestselling music biographer Gary Golio had recently published Carlos Santana: Sound of the Heart, Song of the World (Henry Holt, 2018). Illustrated by Pura Belpré Honor and Américas Award recipient Rudy Gutierrez (who created Santana’s iconic Shaman CD cover), this captivating picture book describes Carlos’s early years in Mexico as he seeks a personal, authentic mode of musical expression.

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[review + recipe + giveaway] Stand Up and Sing!: Pete Seeger, Folk Music, and the Path to Justice by Susanna Reich and Adam Gustavson

“Being generous of spirit is a wonderful way to live.” ~ Pete Seeger

As a music lover coming of age in the 60’s, I was aware of Pete Seeger’s music long before I knew who he was.

I’d heard the Kingston Trio’s rendition of “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” Peter, Paul & Mary’s “If I Had a Hammer,” and the Byrds’ “Turn! Turn! Turn!” regularly on the radio, songs that eventually became part of my social consciousness DNA along with Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are A-Changin.”

It wasn’t until I saw Pete with Arlo Guthrie in “Alice’s Restaurant” that I became more curious about his life as a singer, songwriter, social activist, environmentalist, and collector of folk songs. I was surprised to discover he was behind so many of the songs I loved.

Who was this tall beanpole of a man, this crackerjack banjo picker who could get people all over the country singing and clapping along, stomping their feet to the beat, rousing their emotions enough to spur political action? Who was this community, log-cabin-and-sloop-building-man who steadfastly believed in the power of song through good times and bad?

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[lipsmacking review] The Hole Story of the Doughnut by Pat Miller and Vincent X. Kirsch

Let’s talk doughnuts. Which do you fancy– cake or raised? Powdered, cinnamon sugar, glazed, chocolate dipped, or frosted?

Though in the past I’ve dallied with lemon-filled, jelly, maple glazed, vanilla iced with sprinkles, and even (gasp!) gotten a bit risqué with a warm cruller or two, my true loyalty lies with the plain glazed ring doughnut, the fresher and softer the better. I live for that moment when you take that first luscious bite and the glaze cracks a bit, sometimes sticking to the edges of your mouth. Mmmmmm!

Tastiest endpapers ever!

Now, tell me. For all the times you’ve eaten a ring-shaped doughnut, have you ever wondered who invented the hole? Thanks to The Hole Story of the Doughnut by Pat Miller and Vincent X. Kirsch, we surprisingly learn that a teenager with a knack for creative problem solving was actually responsible, and that his “aha” moment took place on the high seas!

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hotTEAs of Children’s Literature: Matt Tavares

Matt wrote and illustrated his first picture book as his senior thesis at Bates College in 1997. That book, Zachary’s Ball, was published by Candlewick Press in 2000. Since then, Matt has published fifteen more books, and is working on more. Matt lives in Maine with his wife and two daughters.

 

☕ CUPPA OF CHOICE: Coffee, with a bit of Hood golden egg nog (when seasonally appropriate), preferably out of my Mazza Museum mug.

☕ HOT OFF THE PRESS: Growing up Pedro: How the Martinez Brothers Made it from the Dominican Republic All the Way to the Major Leagues (Candlewick, February 2015). Forthcoming: Crossing Niagara: The Death-Defying Tightrope Adventures of the Great Blondin (Candlewick, April 2016).

☕ FAVE FOODIE CHILDREN’S BOOK: June 29, 1999 by David Wiesner (Clarion, 1992).

☕ Visit Matt Tavares’s Official Website. Don’t forget to check out his online shop, where you can order signed giclée prints and hardcover copies of all his books!

☕☕ JUST ONE MORE SIP: Growing up Pedro Book Trailer:

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☕ ☕☕ CAN’T GET ENOUGH: Matt and Growing Up Pedro were recently featured on Portland’s Channel 8 News “Made in Maine” Segment:

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Copyright © 2016 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

Chatting with Susanna Reich about Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the Beatles (+ a giveaway!)

“There is such a thing as magic, and the Beatles were magic.” ~ Paul McCartney

All art ©2015 Adam Gustavson

I remember February 9, 1964 like it was yesterday — the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show!

There, in my aunt’s living room, I tried to process the heart-swelling moment, the excitement, the energy, the burst-wide-open-never-be-the-same-again feeling. Just look at them! Those Edwardian suits, black pointy boots, cool haircuts! They were good looking, different, charming, revolutionary. I could barely breathe as Paul sang, “Close your eyes, and I’ll kiss you . . . ”

My uncle bought “Meet the Beatles” for me from a record store downtown. I plastered the walls of my bedroom with Beatles pics I had cut out from teen magazines. I collected Beatles bubble gum cards and read everything I could get my hands on about John, Paul, George and Ringo. I began writing faithfully to a new penpal who lived in Liverpool, dreaming of the day when I could set foot on British soil.

I still count my lucky stars that I was just the right age to experience the onset of Beatlemania. As I grew up, so did their music. None of us could have foreseen the lasting impact they’d ultimately have on music history, composition, production and pop culture. Half a century later, they’re still number one.

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