After some weeks of silence on this site, I am breaking that silence with an announcement that has long been in the works.
After making a significant connection with the family of singer Al Jarreau, and getting the go ahead from Joe Gordon, Al’s last manager, I’m letting all of you know that I am currently working on a biography of the late great singer.
Born in 1940, Al grew up in Milwaukee, attended Ripon College – my professional home for 39 years, got a master’s degree at the University of Iowa in vocational rehabilitation, then headed to California. After a number of years working by day as a counselor while doing gigs at night, he finally went full time into music in the late 1960s. Although he was able to make a living as a professional musician, he did not sign a record contract until 1975, very late in the game for most recording artists (you can do the math). After several successful albums, he finally hit the big time in the early 1980s with the albums This Time, Breakin’ Away (with its monster hit “We’re In This Love Together”) and Jarreau. His career was “made” at that point, but there were considerable ups and downs in the career of this extraordinary musician and person, right up until his death in 2017.
I’m trying to tackle all of that. Already I have had the wonderful cooperation of, especially (and very specially), Al’s older sister Rose Marie Freeman. Rose Marie, along with Al’s brothers Alphaeus (who just died recently) and Marshall, have been most generous with their memories and insights. Rose Marie has become a dear friend, who shares not only her knowledge, but her wisdom as well, during our frequent phone calls. Up to this point I have also spoken with a number of family friends, musical colleagues and business (and personal) associates. It is a fascinating, rich story that I am trying to track down as best as I can. Joe Gordon is being a wonderful facilitator.
From time to time, I will post some of what is going on with my research and writing on this site. This project is really great fun – as well as serious work.
Related to this, but looking back at Wisconsin Riffs as well, I will be giving an online presentation next week. My talk for the Wisconsin Historical Society Press’s “Book Bites” series is supposed to be about the book I’ve already written. But believe me, I’m going to be making some noise about the Jarreau project. (The Wisconsin Historical Society Press may or may not publish the Jarreau book.) This event will be streamed live at 7pm on Wednesday, March 3 on the WHSP Facebook page. If you can’t catch it live, or if you’re one of the “Philistines” who is still not on Facebook (I am one of those), you can watch a recording of it later at the WHSP site (or YouTube).
Here’s the announcement page for the event: https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Records/Event/EV8004
The Historical Society Press’s Facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/whspress/
Finally, for those of you who know me personally, or my family, I invite you to check out this story. I am pleased and humbled to be a part of this story of philanthropy.
Very best wishes to all of you. Stay safe and healthy!
TO SEE EVENTS CONNECTED WITH WISCONSIN RIFFS, GO TO THE COMING EVENTS (SEE ABOVE) PAGE OF THIS SITE.
TO SEE RECENT POSTS, INCLUDING THOSE ABOUT LYLE MAYS, RON KEEZER, STEVE SVEUM, BEVERLY DAHLKE, KAREN JOHNSON, FRANK DEMILES, HARVEY HALPAUS, JOAN WILDMAN, DAVE KIEPERT, CLIFF GRIBBLE AND FRED STURM, GO TO THE KURT DIETRICH PAGE.
Released in the spring of 2018, Wisconsin Riffs is now available. You can order it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or, if you want to more directly support the enterprise, the Wisconsin Historical Society Press.
The WHSP did a great job with it. Well over 500 pages, with over 100 photos, it’s a really nice book.
This site is primarily for my professional work. It is especially dedicated (currently) to the new book, Wisconsin Riffs, and the events surrounding its release. To see the discography for Wisconsin Riffs, or to see upcoming events, or to contact me, click on the menu or one of the links at the top of this page.