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Arts + Culture

John Corbett

Mar 22, 2019 - Mar 22, 2019 | 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
City of Asylum
40 W. North Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

Unless you lived through the 1970s, it seems impossible to understand it at all. Drug delirium, groovy fashion, religious cults, mega corporations, glitzy glam, hard rock, global unrest—from our 2018 perspective, the seventies are often remembered as a bizarre blur of bohemianism and disco. With Pick Up the Pieces, John Corbett transports us back in time to this thrillingly tumultuous era through a playful exploration of its music. Song by song, album by album, he draws our imaginations back into one of the wildest decades in history.

Rock. Disco. Pop. Soul. Jazz. Folk. Funk. The music scene of the 1970s was as varied as it was exhilarating, but the decade’s diversity of sound has never been captured in one book before now. Pick Up the Pieces gives a panoramic view of the era’s music and culture through seventy-eight essays that allow readers to dip in and out of the decade at random or immerse themselves completely in Corbett’s chronological journey.

An inviting mix of skilled music criticism and cultural observation, Pick Up the Pieces is also a coming-of-age story, tracking the author’s absorption in music as he grows from age seven to seventeen. Along with entertaining personal observations and stories, Corbett includes little-known insights into musicians from Pink Floyd, Joni Mitchell, James Brown, and Fleetwood Mac to the Residents, Devo, Gal Costa, and Julius Hemphill.

A master DJ on the page, Corbett takes us through the curated playlist that is Pick Up the Pieces with captivating melody of language and powerful enthusiasm for the era. This funny, energetic book will have readers longing nostalgically for a decade long past.

Featured Writer:

John Corbett is a writer, curator, and producer based in Chicago.  He is co-owner of Corbett vs. Dempsey, an art gallery. Corbett is the author of several books, including Extended Play: Sounding Off from John Cage to Dr. Funkenstein (Duke U. Press, 1994), Microgroove: Forays into Other Music (Duke, 2015), A Listener’s Guide to Free Improvisation (University of Chicago Press, 2016), Vinyl Freak: Love Letters to a Dying Medium (Duke, 2017), and Pick Up the Pieces: Excursions in Seventies Music (University of Chicago, 2019).  As an essayist and reviewer, Corbett has written for numerous academic and commercial publications, including DownBeatThe WireThe Chicago ReaderThe Chicago TribuneNKABombLitHub, and Lapham’s Quarterly.  Corbett has edited or co-edited many books, including several on the musicians Sun Ra and Peter Brötzmann, as well as the 125 books and catalogs that his gallery, Corbett vs. Dempsey, has produced.

Moderator:

Through sculpture, writing, performance, and film, Josiah McElheny investigates the history of twentieth-century modernism in hopes of expanding on the dominant historical narratives of art, aesthetics, music, design, and architecture, and the criticality of our relationship to them. Recognized for his conceptually rigorous approach, and a physical mastery of materials, such as glass, McElheny explores vastly-ranging topics from astronomical cosmology and the infinite, to under-recognized artists or oeuvres, including the visionary abstraction of Hilma af Klint, Blinky Palermo’s wall paintings, and Robert Smithson’s crystalline sculptures. His practice mines the past to lay the groundwork for a path forward, giving a glimpse into not only what could have been, but visions for what might be.  Working together with John Corbett and Jim Dempsey, McElheny organized “Space Is a Diamond:  Dusty Groove II,” a room at the Carnegie International, 57th Edition, 2018.

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