Here are links to some of my published articles
Blues is the foundation of much American music, but it’s often seen as a legacy genre. These 12 blues artists make the case for its continuing relevance and vitality.
Six years after arriving in Italy as a refugee, Chris Obehi returned to Nigeria, his native land. For the young singer and songwriter, the trip was a first step in constructing “a cultural axis between Sicily and Nigeria.”
John Milward’s history of Americana puts the mixed genre at the corner of country and rock while slighting race and the music’s Black roots and performers.
Histories of Italian American jazz musicians in New Orleans have tended to focus on a few figures, mainly Dominick “Nick” LaRocca, Louis Prima, Wingy Manone, Joseph “Sharkey” Bonano, and a few others. This article discusses later instances of the African American and Sicilian American musical relationship in the Crescent City through three emblematic figures: the recording engineer and studio owner Cosimo Matassa; Alphonse “Al” Belletto, a modern jazz saxophonist who defied aesthetic and racial barriers in the 1950s and 1960s; and Carlo Ditta, a musician, songwriter, and producer who works mainly with African American artists.
A “Finook” in the Crew: Vito Spatafore, The Sopranos, and the Queering of the Mafia Genre (from: The Essential Sopranos Reader)
A Finook in the Crew: Vito Spatafore, The Sopranos, and the Queering of the Mafia Genre” looks at one of the most controversial and compelling Sopranos narratives — that of the gay gangster Vito Spatafore. From The Essential Sopranos Reader” (University of Kentucky Presses)
When Mike Davis published the first version of The Monster Enters: Covid-19, Avian Flu, and the Plagues of Capitalism 15 years ago, the titular “monster” was influenza, particularly the avian flus emerging in Asia and the Middle East. In the updated version, Davis turns his attention to a new and even more fearsome monster, COVID-19.
“Future. Il domani narrato dalle voci di oggi”, the first literary anthology by black Italian women, is a contemporary “j’accuse” that denounces the racism and anti-immigrant attitudes that have become widespread in Italian society and politics. Contributors to the landmark book, Candice Whitney, Camilla Hawthorne, Marie Moise and Angela Pesarini, recounted their experiences and spoke about growing resistance to racial injustice.
It’s a late September night in Manhattan, and downtown venue Joe’s Pub is presenting a quartet plus vocalist performing songs by Don Van Vliet who, under the moniker Captain Beefheart, and with a shifting roster of musicians who made up his Magic Band, created perhaps the most idiosyncratic and original body of work in what can loosely be called “rock”. Van Vliet’s music, from his debut album Safe as Milk (1967) to his final recording, Ice Cream for Crow (1982), is a unique mix of blues, R&B, free jazz, doowop, and surreal poetry
Some historians have conceptualized the 20th century European wars not as two separate conflicts but as one war with a brief interregnum. As the title of Enzo Traverso’s latest book makes evident, the Italian historian shares that view. In Fire and Blood: The European Civil War, 1914-1945, he analyzes the thought and actions of a wide range of historical actors to develop an argument not only about the conflicts but also about how they are remembered and interpreted, and their continued impact on European societies and politics.
Southern Decadence is now New Orleans’ third biggest festival, after Mardi Gras and JazzFest. The weekend-long celebration, however, began in the 1970s as a much more modest affair, a house party and a bar crawl. From those origins, it grew to become not only one of New Orleans’ biggest festivals and tourist attractions but one of the largest LGBT events in the country.
In Which Side Are You On? 20th Century American History in 100 Protest Songs, James Sullivan sets out to “tell the story of modern American democracy” through 100 songs that “span a century of petition in the name of social progress.” Sullivan explores the connections between social movements in the US — nonviolence, labor, civil rights, feminism, environmentalism, free speech, gay rights, immigration rights, and anti-nuclear activism — and songs that either emerged from or came to be associated with those causes.
Ferrante’s four “Neapolitan novels”, which portray the 60-year friendship between two brilliant working-class women, Elena “Lenuccia” Greco and Raffaella “Lila” Cerullo, offer traditional storytelling infused with penetrating psychological and sociopolitical insight. A committed feminist, Ferrante writes with often astonishing candor – and, as not a few critics have noted, “ferocity” – about women’s lives, their conflicted relationships with their bodies, with each other, and with men.