If You Are an Author, You Can Go Home Again – and It’s Really Nice

Appropriately, I chose my former hometown of Bridgeton, New Jersey to hold my first event for my new book Come Together: How the Baby Boomers, the Beatles, and a Youth Counterculture Combined to Create the Music of the Woodstock Generation

I spent four hours at the Bridgeton Library last Saturday selling and signing books. And here is the great news – I arrived in Bridgeton with 65 books and returned to DC with 0 books. Even better, however, was the fact that I got to catch up with so many friends, former bandmates, ex-students, and family members.

At some points, the signing line was long.
Here I talk to someone before signing a book for my high school classmate Karen Dunfee.
One of my oldest friends, Tom Hayes, was the first person to greet me at the library one-half hour before the event was scheduled to start.
Here is Rock Fooks, the lead vocalist in both my high school band The Sixth Chapter and my 1970s touring band Frog Ocean Road. A ton of memories in this photo.
Four of my many former students who stopped by — Neil Oberlin, Josh Williams (who is also an author) Brandi Grey, and Zane Grey.

Dave Price to Tour To Promote His Classic Rock Book Come Together

If you consider 1965’s “Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones as the first two great classic rock singles and the Beatles’ Rubber Soul as the initial classic rock album (which most musicologists do), then that makes the genre 55 years old next year. 

But as 2019’s evidence shows, you can rightfully claim classic rock is barely showing its age for a type of music that, if it were a person, would be eligible for membership in AARP in 2020.

Times for older classic rock artists continue to be productive. For example, three of the top five grossing concert acts this year – Elton John, Metallica, and Fleetwood Mac – perform classic rock. Bruce Springsteen offered 236 solo shows over two years on Broadway, with ticket prices averaging $500 a seat from the box office and more than $1,000 from re-sale. Aerosmith, John Fogerty, Santana, Sting, Rod Stewart, Def Leopard, and Journey all played sold-out residency shows at Las Vegas’ top casinos. The Rolling Stones wrapped up their three-leg, three-year No Filter tour, a series of stadium concerts that attracted 2,290,871 fans and grossed $415.6 million for the band. And the Beatles’ re-release of Abbey Road climbed to #1 on the charts, exactly 50 years after the album first accomplished that feat 50 years ago.

These eye-opening facts evoke two big questions – how did the rock music now deemed classic, which evolved from 1950s rock & roll, become so popular with the Woodstock Generation and why does it continue to thrive despite the fact that most of its first listeners are now in their 50s, 60s, or 70s? 

In a three-book series he jokingly refers to as his Rock of Agers trilogy, Washington DC author and former journalist, educator, and classic rock keyboard player Dave Price explores the history of the music of the generation who came of age in the turbulent 1960s and ‘70s and attempts to explain the music’s popularity then and now.

The first book in the series, Come Together: How the Baby Boomers, the Beatles, and a Young Counterculture Combined to Create the Music of the Woodstock Generation was released in November. 

Come Together begins with the dropping of the first atomic bomb in 1945 and ends with the final notes Jimi Hendrix played on the last day of the historic Woodstock Festival in 1969. The saga is told in six chronological chapters. In the first, you’ll see how a connected series of innovations, influences, and influencers in the late 1940s and early 1950s paved the way for the rise of rock & roll. The second introduces you to some of the most important early performers of this new music. The third allows you to see how the Beatles reshaped rock & roll both on stage and in the studio. The fourth places you in San Francisco in the summer of 1967, where a new youth “hippie” counterculture was being formed around revolutionary ideas about the role of drugs, sex, and rock & roll in American society. The fifth demonstrates how two of the most significant artists of the late 60s – Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones – crafted some additional touches to the type of music that would be encountered at Woodstock. In the 6th chapter, we’ll end our musical journey and join a crowd of 400,000 to vicariously experience the most-noted music festival of all-time at the historic upper New York state farmland where rock & roll emerged as something which now would soon be known simply as rock.

The second volume in the series, What’s That Sound?  80+ Artists Who Defined the Music of the Woodstock Generation, will pick up with Hendrix’s fading final notes and conclude 50 years later at the 50th anniversary commemoration of that 1969 festival, held at the original site. It is scheduled to be published in late 2020.

The third and final “Rock of Agers” book is tentatively titled Long Live Rock: Why Do the Classic Sounds of the Woodstock Generation Continue to Resonate So Loudly Today. It will delineate two connected stories – the various ways the sounds of classic rock are being preserved and passed on to new listeners and how you can experience the entire history of classic rock by sailing on four Woodstock-like music themed cruises. Long Live Rock is planned for a late 2021 released.

Price will begin a four-month tour to promote his new book with an appearance in his former hometown of Bridgeton, New Jersey, where he lived for 59 years. On Saturday, Dec. 7th, he will stage a meet and greet and a book signing at the Bridgeton Free Public Library from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. He will be donating $1 from the sale of each book to the library.

“The Bridgeton Library is a very special place to me so it’s fitting that I begin there,” Price says. “Libraries in general, and the Bridgton Library in particular, have always served as my secular cathedrals. They truly are amazing places. You can learn just about anything you need to know if you take advantage of all the resources a local library offers”. 

“I’m sure I wouldn’t have been in position to write any book without the enjoyment, elucidation, and enlightenment that I found in all the libraries I have visited over the years,” Price added. “To me, my library card is just as important as my credit card or my driver’s license. I never leave home without it.” 

My First Book Published Today

For my first 64 years on the planet, I never gave any serious thought to writing a book. But in 2017, I discovered the main thing you need for a book – a good idea. Sailing on our first-ever rock cruise, which featured Gregg Allman, I discovered 2,700 rock fans paying at least $2,000 each to hear music that was supposed to be just a passing teenage fad in the mid-1950s. I wondered how exactly did this come to pass.

And now today, 3 years later, my first book — Come Together: How the Baby Boomers, the Beatles, and a Youth Counterculture Combined to Create the Music of the Woodstock Generation — has been published and released.

For now, it is available exclusively at the Politics and Prose book store in Washington, DC. It can also be ordered from the Politics and Prose website. However, the book will be rolling out in other places and as an e-book soon.

Here is the cover.

Nouns, Verbs and Me: A Personal History

Good writers write with verbs, but they write about nouns.

Nouns, as you might recall from Mrs. Slabbersmith’s 4th grade class (or Sister Slabbersmith, if you went to Catholic school), are any person, place, thing, or idea in a sentence.

Well, speaking of nouns and we just were, here is an organized recounting of some of the important people, places, things, and ideas in my life, a personal inventory that I hope may give you added insight into me and my writings. Or even better, convince you to hire me to write a story or 2.

A word of warning, however. My Dad was born in Texas and claimed the status of a Texan for all the 65 years of his life, even though he eventually lived in 2 other states. As a Texan, he could tell a long tale that, while invariably entertaining, didn’t always adhere to a strict standard of 100 percent accuracy.

It’s a trait that was genetically and experientially passed on to me. But in this recounting, as I do with all my writing, I promise to always tell the truth. Except when I embellish, exaggerate, prevaricate, or outright lie for the sake of a better story.

For as Dick Beecroft, the 70+-year-old reporter who sat at the desk behind me at my 1st newspaper job used to say “A good newsman writes from facts, but a great writer never lets the facts get in the way of a good story”.

So, without further fanfare,  here is my self-composed accounting of some of the high points of me, my work, and my life.

Personal Life & Family History 

  1. I was born in Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania on March 26, 1952, the only child of Alvin Owen and Mary Louise Ivins Price.
  2. I was raised and lived for the 1st 59 years of my life in Upper Deerfield Township, a rural/suburban community adjacent to Bridgeton, NJ and the home of the once-thriving frozen food empire of C. F. Seabrook.
  3. In my childhood, Bridgeton was a bustling, one-factory town of 20,000. But when the Owens-Illinois glass plant,  once the largest glass manufacturing site in the world, closed in the 70s, the city began an economic downslide from which it has never really recovered.
  4. Even though no one who meets me ever believes it, I really did attend Bridgeton Christian School from Kindergarten until 6th grade.
  5. I went to Seabrook School for 7th and 8th grade. This is where I met Judy Lynn Snyder, whom I will be mentioning later. I also lived for a time on 4th Street in Seabrook Village, where my family was the only family on our block that spoke English, for the true melting pot community was home to many Japanese Americans who had been forced in west coast relocation camps during World War II, as well as war-displaced European families from such places as Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Poland, and Communist Russia.
  6. Because my father and mother operated a large dry cleaning plant in nearby Salem, I spent most of my Saturdays and Summers in that predominantly black city, where I honed my meager skills in baseball, basketball, and playground football. While I never became the great athlete I hoped to be as a youngster, I did help establish the career of Lydell Mitchell, an All-American running back from Penn State University who went on to star for the Baltimore Colts in the NFL. If Lydell were to tell the tale honestly, he developed much of his ability by running around, over, and sometimes even under me in the constant pickup football games we played in the Fall. Lydell also hit a baseball off me in the Summer of 1962 that NASA scientists are still tracking as it makes its way across the Universe.
  7. In 1969, I graduated with 679 other seniors from Bridgeton High School where I still hold 2 records: (1) most times sent to the principal’s office for violating my school newspaper pass without being suspended and (2) the only sports editor of the Echo, the school student newspaper, ever threatened not once, but twice with long-term suspension for actions undertaken as part of my journalistic duties (A) Writing the headline “Girls Lust After Upper Berths” for a tennis story and (B) improperly touching my short-skirt wearing girlfriend of the time under a long table at the local radio station while both of us were participating in an on-air radio news show.
  8. In the Fall of that year, I started Villanova University, where I would be a graduate in the Wildcat Class of ’73. I entered college intending to become a lawyer, but left instead with a BA in English, a life-long mentor in English Department Chairman Dr. Robert Wilkinson, and memories that I wouldn’t trade for a seat on the Supreme Court.
  9. In January of 1973, I married the aforementioned Judy Lynn Snyder at my Mother’s church on a dark, rainy winter night, which was brightened considerably by the candles at our service and the smiles of our family and friends. And what a service it was: Some of my friends spent time in the bathroom smoking illegal substances; others were passing around bottles of Boone’s Farm in brown paper bags; and still others were lasciviously eyeing Judy’s attractive Trenton State roommates, their love ardor fueled not by the Holy Spirit of the Methodist faith, but by spirits of a much more worldly nature.
  10. Judy and I survived that raucous night, and 6 months later, our only child Michael Keith Price was born. It was, quite simply, the best product our union, which is now in its 44th year, ever produced
  11. After years as a perpetual student, Michael obtained a PhD in Economics from the University of Maryland. He married Shannon Sullivan from Boston, a Duke graduate and Maryland Master’s of Economics recipient. That union eventually produced the 2 greatest gifts Judy and I have ever received – our granddaughter Audrey and her 17-month-younger brother, Owen, who is named after my father. 
  12. After stays at the University of Nevada Reno (where Audrey was born) and the University of Tennessee in Knoxville (where Owen entered the world), Michael and Shannon moved to Atlanta, where Michael taught he Fall Semester at the Andrew Young Policy Center at Georgia State University and the Spring Semester at the University of Chicago. In March of 2017, Michael was named a full professor at the University of Alabama (Roll Tide) where he continues to split his time between that campus and the University of Chicago.

Me and the World of Work

  1. My1st job was helping out at my parents’ cleaning plants. I hated it. But I did learn a valuable lesson – my Dad worked way too hard and I decided I never wanted to own my own business. I would always be satisfied to let someone else hand me a paycheck. 
  2. In high school, I discovered what I thought was the greatest way to make money ever invented – playing keyboard in a rock and roll band.
  3. In college, I continued to play in bands. I also came up with a 2nd way to get some extra spending money. I would write short papers for my friends who asked me to. It was my 1st paid job as a writer. After my sophomore year, when I wasn’t attending classes or playing music in East Coast bars or clubs, I substitute taught in my old high school. 
  4. After graduating Villanova in 1973 and then taking 2 extra education classes and a semester-long student teaching experience at what was then Glassboro State College (now Rowan University), I sought English teaching work anywhere in South Jersey. In the spring of 1974, I received a callback for an interview for an English position at Woodstown High School. It’s been more than 4 decades and I’m still waiting for their answer, so I guess I have to assume they are not going to hire me. 
  5. In the summer of ’74, tired of Judy rightfully pointing out every hour on the hour that it was next to impossible to raise a family on the meager money from my part-time liquor store clerking and band playing, I should – no make that must – find a full-time job. Angered, I threw a pillow at her and stormed out of the house, only to realize that Judy had the only car and the only set of keys. Undaunted, I set out on foot to find full-time employment. I don’t remember everywhere I went in the city of Bridgeton that day, but I do remember stopping in a hardware store and a small grocery establishment. Finally, I ended up at the Bridgeton Evening News. Since the paper had by then been printed, the Managing Editor Joe Garwood kindly agreed to grant me a few minutes. He asked me 3 questions: (1) Do you have any experience? (2) Do you have a journalism degree? (3) Can you type. Since my answer was no to all 3, I was immediately given the job. No, of course, I wasn’t. Garwood patiently explained to me that while he liked to hire locally, I really had nothing to offer. I left and headed back home. That night, shortly after 7 p.m, Garwood called and said a reporter had just suffered a stroke and he would hire me on a trial basis for a 2-week probationary period, paying me $80 a week. At the end of that successful trial, I was given a permanent reporting position and a $20-a-week raise.
  6. With that as a beginning, I spent more than 10 years in newspapers. I worked as a police reporter, then an investigative reporter for the Evening News. I was hired by The Press of Atlantic City, where I served at different times as a political reporter, a features writer, and finally Bureau Chief of the Press’ Cumberland County Bureau. I spent a year with The Philadelphia Bulletin covering South Jersey. After Joe Garwood’s successor left the Evening News, I returned as managing editor. At the time of my hiring, I was the youngest managing editor of a daily newspaper in the state of New Jersey.
  7. Now, while at 1st glance, that managing editor post might seem impressive, my family life, after more than a decade of the crazy style and long hours of 70s/80s journalism, was falling apart. Plus, I had years ago developed an addiction to both drugs and alcohol, a condition that while not affecting my rise in journalism, was playing havoc with my role as a husband and father. I resigned my position as managing editor and entered the Seabrook House Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center. After a 34-day stay there, I emerged with no job, but equipped with the skills to keep sober in my recovery. As I type this, I still recall the last day of a drink or smoking, snorting, or swallowing a drug. It was the October Friday prior to Columbus Day. And it was 1984. 
  8. With my contacts in the Bridgeton School system, I relatively quickly obtained a job as a teacher/career counselor for adults in the adult High School program there. After a few months, I interviewed for and obtained a similar position working for high schools in 3 South Jersey counties. During this time, I was again writing, but my focus was on creating proposals and seeking grants for educational programs, including the one that would keep me and my office funded. 
  9. Since every 6 months my job was in funding jeopardy, when offered an English teaching position at my old Bridgeton high school, I took it. For the next 20 years, I taught English to all types of students in all types of programs. I placed my writing skills on hold, but put my proofreading, editing, revising, and, most of all, my writing guidance skills in high overdrive by working with my students and their writing
  10. After 20 years in that role, I was offered and took a position as Language Arts Instructional Coach/Academic Curriculum and Program Designer with the Talent Development Program out of Johns Hopkins University. Since Bridgeton was a model Talent Development High School, I was able to keep my Bridgeton base, but was also able to work with schools in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York City. One of my duties in that position was to create awareness for all that was going, so I resumed my active writing career by creating a series of educational blogs and articles.
  11. After 5 years with Talent Development, I had put in 25 years with the state of New Jersey Education system and was eligible for retirement. In 2011, I retired as an educator and my wife retired as the manager of an art gallery and custom frame shop. We decided to move to Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia, just 3 Metro stops from Washington DC and all that city has to offer. I didn’t expert to work again, but former colleagues of mine from Johns Hopkins who had left the university and formed an educational consulting company of their own, asked me to join them. I declined a full-time position, but did agree to be an independent, part-time consultant. For the next 4 years, I worked in the DC school system, helping teachers, counselors and administrators of highly at-risk students with management, instructional, and curricular issues. For a brief time, I also shuttled back and forth from National Airport to Syracuse, NY, helping the district there set up special programs for their ask-risk students.
  12. In February of 2017, after residing for 14 months in Atlanta, Georgia to spend time with our grandchildren,  we returned to Crystal City. I began establishing a writing/speaking/consulting/tour guiding practice, which I opened in September. So there it is. That’s my personal story, and as they say, I’m sticking to it. And all of it is true. Except, of course, for the parts I made up.