I picked up this book last year during the 2023 Winter Reading Challenge, but it did not slot into any of those categories. This year, though, it could slot into either of two categories: Author of a Different Race/Religion Than Your Own (which I already filled with Karate-dō Nyūmon) or Featuring Music. So I have slotted it into the latter, but I do like the additional thrill of reading books that can fit into more than one category.
The book looks like it might have been, at inception, an oral history or a family history that Bedell put together of his musical family, his grandparents, parents, and uncles as well as he and his siblings (a family of eleven siblings) for the next generation–his younger siblings and his grandchildren. As such, the books layout is lacking–it looks to be simply a dumped word processor document whose formatting was lost in the translation to whatever print-on-demand service the author used. Photos are laid out oddly, their captions are misplaced, section headings are widowed (they appear at the bottom of the page and the section starts on the next page). Additionally, the text repeats itself in several places, sometimes a phrase, sometimes a sentence, and sometimes a couple of paragraphs as though in editing, the author copied and pasted instead of cut and pasted. Listen to me on this point, gentle reader; recall, it has been said that my books suck but they look professional whilst sucking.
So it’s an unpolished work, and it does seem a bit voyeurish to look this closely at another person’s family, but the author has some interesting stories to… well, allude to. Born into a musical family, the author, some siblings, and neighborhood kids form a touring band (the Fabulous Elites) in high school in the 1960s (1950s? The book jumps around a lot and does not often root one into the exact time). After a couple of years of performing, the group winnows to a smaller group that tours regionally into the 1970s (The KC Express). When that band’s members starts to settle down, some of them buy and run a club on Commercial Street.
I say that the stories are alluded to because, for the most part, the author just dumps names and some events without building them into fully fleshed-out stories. It kind of reminded me of Danny Mile’s Twice a Week Heroes in that regard except with fast-pitch softball players swapped out for musicians.
Still, I’m glad I read it, and I’ll have to keep an eye out for the author and his current band, ABS Band. I’ll also watch for his bands’ records and recordings when I am out and about.
The last bit of the book has a roll call of the current generation of musicians and artists (again, the book has a bit of a family album feel), and you might have been wondering, is Gary Bedell, artist/author of Thawed a member of the family? Of course!
But what really made me go “Hmmm…” was this bit talking about the author’s grandfather:
I remember my mother’s father, Harry Piggee, was a jolly person full of spunk and who always had a smile on his face. His military background included both Navy and Army amd my grandfather “Piggee” loved the military.
* * * *
My mom was a housewife who took care of us kids. She was a woman who had a love for poetry and a gift for writing it.
Hmmm… Military. Poetry. Could Ronald E. Piggee, author of As Autumn Approaches, be a distant part of this family? It would explain how that small-run book would have found its way to Springfield.
At any rate, the book has promise, but I’d wait for the second edition if I were you.