________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 3 . . . . October 1, 2004


For Those About to Rock: A Road Map to Being in a Band.

Dave Bidini.
Toronto, ON: Tundra Books, 2004.
144 pp., pbk., $12.99.
ISBN 0-88776-653-6.

Subject Headings:
Rock music-Vocational guidance-Canada-Juvenile literature.
Music trade-Canada-Juvenile literature.

Grades 7-12 / Ages 12-17.

Review by Ann Ketcheson.



In a life that knocks you around as easily as it draws you close, rock and roll is a cry above the crowd that tells people you're alive. It announces to peers, family, girlfriends, boyfriends, and an ocean of those you'll never know - but who'll know you - that yours is a voice to be heard, no matter the price. Out of tune, rhymed wrong, slope-rhythmed, or chainsaw warm - it doesn't matter. Your voice and your instrument is both a weapon and a tool. What you do with it is who you are.


Who doesn't dream of "being discovered," of finding himself on stage as the star of a popular rock band? (Admit it - you've been there....or somewhere that's equivalent!) But where does the dream end and the reality begin? How does an aspiring musician make the transition? These are the questions that Dave Bidini attempts to answer in For Those About to Rock: A Road Map to Being in a Band, his second book dealing with rock music in Canada. (On a Cold Road, 1988, was the first.)

     This book truly is a sort of road map which answers many frequently asked questions. How do you choose your first instrument? What's it like being on the road and getting along with other band members under tough conditions? What should you name the band? What should you wear on stage? What's involved in recording in a studio?

     Far from being some dry "how to" manual, Bidini's book attempts to give serious answers to these concerns yet always in a witty and humorous way. The book is peppered with real-life anecdotes which actually happened to Bidini (as rhythm guitarist with the Rheostatics) or to friends of his in the music business. Readers feel the excitement and "high" of a particularly good concert. A page or two later, Bidini is describing "the next forty minutes of misery. It was the worst gig of our lives." This is a "how to" book with a difference, with attitude - a style to which teens can relate.

     The text has occasional "Rock Talk" boxes which explain some of the technical terms used. For instance, on page 81, Bidini writes:

The recording studio is a world of its own, and it has its own language. A side musician is a player who isn't officially in the band. He or she supplements the music in the studio without actually writing or touring a record. An overdub is a performance that's layered on top of the basic, or bed, tracks; tracks being all instruments, voices or sound effects within a song that combine like the strands of a rainbow to make a single thick stripe. On the sound board or mixing console, the engineer can separate these tracks and listen to them either individually or collectively, all the better to mix.

     At the end of the book is an in-depth index of music and musicians.

     In an off-beat and entertaining way, Bidini offers some honest advice from someone who's "been there." Near the end of the book, he discusses the new and growing problem of downloading music for free from the Internet. Bidini outlines both the pros and cons of life as a rock star, but the overriding sense after reading the book is that Bidini loves what he does and is one of those fortunate people who is lucky enough to live his dream.

Highly Recommended.

Ann Ketcheson, a former teacher of high school English and French, is currently the teacher-librarian at Peterborough Collegiate in Peterborough, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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