2019: Some ideas for history books are sitting right in front of our noses, waiting for a smart writer to recognize opportunity and put the puzzle pieces together. That’s kind of how I imagine Jason Prufer’s new book, Small Town, Big Music: The Outsized Influence of Kent, Ohio, on the History of Rock and Roll, came into existence.
The book captures a lot of great musical moments that occurred in the college town that is home to Kent State University and threads them together in a compelling narrative. It should make a generation of rock ‘n’ roll critics around the world hunker down and do the same for their communities. Prufer, an experienced music journalist and blogger, grew up in Kent hearing stories of exceptional moments from its past, including:
• The formation of future Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh’s campus band, The Measles;
• The creation of DEVO in the school’s art department;
• That time Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band paid their own way to Ohio from the Jersey Shore to open for – and blow away – Black Oak Arkansas;
• And post-concert college parties featuring legendary surprise musical guests.
Small Town, Big Music combines Prufer’s original reporting with archive concert reviews, interviews and photos from the Daily Kent Stater college newspaper to make for a compelling read that will entertain music fans who couldn’t even find Kent on a map before now.
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