A young, long-haired rock guitarist finds the funk on stage with the Godfather of Soul
In this unvarnished account of toiling under one of popular music’s most notorious bosses, Damon Wood details his six years spent playing guitar for James Brown’s Soul Generals.
In a memoir certain to fascinate Mr. Dynamite’s millions of fans, as well as musicians and industry insiders, Wood recalls how a chance encounter with James Brown led him to embrace soul and funk music under the tutelage of its greatest progenitor. Numerous interviews with bandmates provide multiple perspectives on James Brown’s complex character, his leadership of his band, the nature of soul and funk, and insights and sometimes harsh lessons learned along the way.
This is a sideman’s story of the gritty reality of working close to the spotlight but rarely in it. Damon Wood describes life on the road — often on James Brown’s infamous tour bus — with one guitar, a change of clothes, and two dozen comrades-in-arms as they brought the funk to clubs, theaters, and the biggest music festivals on earth. Working for James Brown could be fear-inducing, inspiring, exhilarating, and exasperating — all in the space of a single performance.
Damon Wood played guitar for the Soul Generals from 1998 to 2006, shortly before James Brown’s passing. Wood has led his band, Harmonious Junk, since 2001, performing and recording original music to glowing reviews. He lives in Denver. Phil Carson is a Denver-based journalist. He is the author of Roy Buchanan: American Axe.
“Wood and Carson smoothly explain the intricacies of being a guitarist, detailing but never dwelling on minutiae such as Brown's hand signals or tuning on the fly. Readers will come away with a deep respect for the skill and resilience needed to be a professional touring musician, especially one traveling and playing with a mercurial star.” — PublishersWeekly.com
“An absorbing inside look at the not always glamorous life of working for one of the most famous and unpredictable bosses in popular music.” — Booklist online
“An insider’s account that will delight both Brown fans and those interested in what it's like working for such a dedicated showman. Kudos to Wood for delivering the inside scoop on a demanding performer with exacting standards who brought it, every night.” — Library Journal
“Listen, I’ve read a lot of books about James Brown, but Damon Wood's Working For the Man, Playing in the Band goes right onto the top shelf. Wood’s relaxed, honest, delightful account of signing up for a tour in JB’s world is the most persuasive snapshot of the lived reality of life on the road and on stage — a picture of a band and entourage in constant orbit around a permanent supernova of a human being. Musicians and fans alike will soak up his brilliant descriptions of his own "coming to the funk"; for me, after years of listening to the mysteriously direct and deep grooves of Brown’s bands, I feel I understand them in some ways for the first time. And his portrait of Brown had me laughing constantly with the thrill of true recognition. Bravo.” – Jonathan Lethem, New York Times bestselling author, The Fortress of Solitude, and contributor to The New Yorker.
“Probably the most intimate account ever published of life in James Brown's orbit — particularly in his latter years; an affectionate, gritty and often very funny account of life on the road with a complex music genius and the phenomenal band of musicians who accompanied him. Damon's rare insight into the distinctly un-glamorous reality of the music industry is a must-read for music fans — and especially wannabe musicians — everywhere.” — Charles Thomson, investigative reporter, feature writer, contributor to MOJO
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