American Jukebox

American Jukebox

A Photographic Journey
Christopher Felver, foreword by David Amram and Lee Ranaldo
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 05/23/2014
Format: Hardback 240 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-01402-3
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2014 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Awards finalist

American Jukebox profiles the spirit and heartbeat of our American musical heritage. Christopher Felver has collected over 240 photographs from tours and encounters with musicians over the past 25 years. From Doc Watson to John Cage and Mavis Staples to Sonny Rollins, this collection celebrates the tapestry and diversity of musical styles that make up the American sonic landscape. Caught in action on the stage or posed, Felver captures these musicians and composers in their musical element, revealing the face behind the rhythms, beats, and melodies that have punctuated American musical culture. Scattered throughout are playlists, autographed lyrics, record sleeves, and contributions by musicians sharing their memorable experiences of the era.

Author Bio

Christopher Felver, filmmaker and photographer, has published seven books of photography, most recently Beat. Contributing to the visual archives of American culture, he has been a part of the American photography and videography scene for over 20 years. Felver's work has been featured in numerous international exhibits, including the New York Public Library, the Fahey/Klein Gallery of LA, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. He recently directed and produced the documentary Ferlinghetti: A Rebirth of Wonder.

Lee Ranaldo, founder of Sonic Youth, is a celebrated singer-songwriter, guitarist, and visual artist.

David Amram is an American composer, conductor, and performer.


“Chris Felver's portraits aren't just accounts of their subjects—they are conversations. When Felver locks eyes with someone, whether that someone is a legendarily formidable musician or a halfway-unknown poet, chemistry occurs. The subject lowers the mask and drops the pose, Felver trips the shutter, and a human moment is caught. You can bask in the warmth of those moments, as you look deep into eyes that normally might be as guarded as bank vaults.”
 — Luc Sante, New York Review of Books contributor

“What an extensive line-up of American musicians is presented here for our viewing pleasure. Just about every sinner and saint from Charlie Louvin to Ornette Coleman is caught for a moment in the web of Chris Felver's thoughtful camera.”
 — Billy Collins, United States Poet Laureate (2001–03)

“This book is important work, you can feel the music in it...”
 — Merle Haggard, Country Music Hall of Fame song writer, singer, guitarist, fiddler, and instrumentalist

“Plug into this jukebox and see the faces and figures behind the greatest American music!”
 — Lawrence Ferlinghetti

“A profile of the spirit and heartbeat of our American musical heritage, this photographic collection celebrates the tapestry and diversity of musical styles, revealing the face behind the rhythms, beats, and melodies that have punctuated American musical culture.”

“Felver's compendia is itself a mega- (or if you would meta-) portrait, of a time and a place and an art form. His portraits of artists...capture the extent of their vitality and the degree of their intensity. American Jukebox is remarkable for its ecumenical embrace of (nearly) all forms of music-making in America, as represented by the leading interpreters, and innovators, in those forms. These images radiate a sense of moment, even occasion, no matter how candid.”
 — Peter Frank, Art critic for The Huffington Post and associate editor for Fabrik Magazine

“American Jukebox is Felver's own personal photographic playlist, with more than 200 black-and-white shots of an eclectic range of musical icons. Like a friendly paparazzo, he roamed the classic festivals (Farm Aid, Monterey Jazz Festival, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass) to catch the stars at their candid best. . . .American Jukebox is a warm tribute to those who created this nation's modern musical legacy. . . .A cornucopia of musical legends of the late 20th century, captured in moments of natural ease.”
 — Shelf Awareness

“This reviewer can think of no other book in which one can find such vivid photos of such a wide range of subjects, including Cyndi Lauper, Philip Glass, John Cage, Keb' Mo', Marian McPartland, Aaron Neville, Odetta, Lou Harrison, Laurie Anderson, Willie Nelson, Doc Watson, and Ozzy Osbourne...Visually stimulating, eclectic, and illuminating, this is an essential coffee-table book for music fans.”
 — Library Journal (Starred Review)

“Not every book opens with a page featuring a scrawled handwritten blurb from Lawrence Ferlinghetti. A collection of 240 photographs taken by Felver over the past 25 years, the black and white images catch musicians and composers both on the stage and posed in their musical element, revealing the faces behind the rhythms, beats, and melodies of American musical history.”
 — Publishers Weekly BEA Show Daily

“American Jukebox is a fine addition to any music-lover's library.”
 — San Jose Mercury News

“. . . A new picture book as efficient as a three-minute single.”
 — Sam Whiting, San Francisco Chronicle

“Felver possesses a unique skill, presenting the artists in moments that suggest a personal connection and unveiling of celebrity, while maintaining a firm grounding in the act of musical creation. Occasional recollections and ephemera from the featured artists further bolster the collection. Sure to please music aficionados and casual fans alike, the range and intimacy of this collection work together, drawing out nostalgia for the recent past. The artists feel present, whether it's Sonny Rollins with cheeks puffed as he glances over his shoulder, or Hazel Dickens's genuine smile. Felver's sincere appreciation of that presence is enough to make you turn on a record player.”
 — Publishers Weekly

“In addition to photos, American Jukebox contains a fascinating sprinkling of writings by musicians. . . . But it is the photos that command our attention. They are united, above all, by their simplicity: Felver doesn't go in for elaborate lighting or sets. His subjects look directly into the camera or are captured in performance. However anarchic or tormented their music, the artists radiate a confident serenity. Most of the musicians are smiling, reflecting the evident pleasure they took in the photo session and the pleasure Felver had in capturing these images—a pleasure readers will share, too. ”
 — Bloom Magazine

“[Felver's] latest book brings together over 240 photographic portraits capturing many of the key figures he met in the new American music over the past quarter-century. Both candid and posed, the best photographs here and from brief encounters backstage and elsewhere with the likes of Emmylou Harris, Patti Smith, Elvis Costello, Randy Newman, Harry Dean Stanton and Thurston Moore. There are also extensive collections of great names from country, blues and jazz that, taken as a whole, reveal the musical landscape he experienced.”
 — R2/Rock'n'Reel

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Table of Contents

Forewords by David Amram and Lee Ranaldo
My American Songbook: An Introduction
Contributions by:
*John Cage
*Ralph Gibson
*Ed Sanders
*Joy Harjo
*David Amram
*Ramblin' Jack Elliott
*Billy Cobham
*Lorin Rowan

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