Angela signing her book Trading Fours at Jennifer's Coffee Connection
B I O G R A P H Y
A writer of music, novels, and memoir, Angela Carole Brown has made her primary living as a musician and recording artist for the better part of three decades, writing books the entire time, but only “coming out” as a novelist eight years ago with her debut, Trading Fours. When it comes to books, then, it seems only fitting that Angela's first literary release would be a tale of music, as it sets itself on a single day in the life of four Los Angeles musicians.
Trading Fours was published in 2006, and has been called "a Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for musicians." It has been featured on KPFK's Arts in Review and KUCI's Blacklisted; given honorable mention in Music Connection Magazine; and featured in an Ejazznews.com article entitled Jazz Encounters of the Literary Kind, by the UK columnist John Stevenson, who wrote: "Trading Fours is in few respects, a triumphant meeting ground of art and sociology."
Recently featured on American Vernacular, Angela's second novel, The Assassination of Gabriel Champion, released on May 20, 2013, on Haiku House, and is a post-modern, existential fable of violence and redemption.
Angela is also a memoirist, whose first published effort in this genre is The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver, which recounts her experience being a kidney donor.
Angela is also a playwright, whose one-woman show The Purple Sleep Cafe debuted at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in 1990, and went on to run at the Complex in Hollywood and Primary Stages' 45th Street Theatre in New York, prompting radio host Clayton Riley on WLIB-NY to say of it: "In her one-woman show, Angela Carole Brown gives us some extraordinary lessons in what it’s like growing up as an artist, that if you grow up as a person who must rely upon, perhaps live within, the confines of the imagination, you grow up in a very particular kind of way, scary, sometimes. There is a moment in the play where Angela addresses the Muse, and it’s a gorgeous, gorgeous moment of theatre.”
Shorter works have been featured on Kidney.Org, the Highlight Network, World of Poetry Press, and Angela's own blog, BINDI GIRL CHRONICLES.
Angela is a recipient of the Heritage/SoulWord Magazine Award in Poetry.
Lastly, she is a composer and songwriter, with original musical works appearing on several album recordings, including Resting on the Rock, The Slow Club, Expressionism, Music for the Weeping Woman, Winter, and Air Surreal, and is presently a contributing writer and performer in the new spoken word chamber ensemble The Outcats.
Though she still makes music for her living, today, thanks to finally being in full pursuit of her career as a writer, Angela Carole Brown now also speaks to us as a new voice in American letters.
Check her out!
A L I T T L E T A S T E
to wet your whistle,
with atmospheric guitars by Ken Rosser,
C O M P L E T E W R I T I N G C R E D I T S
C O M P L E T E C O M P O S I N G C R E D I T S
Featured songwriter, internet series Venice
Guest composer, Hollywood Master Chorale's, L.A. Composers Concert, with her á capella piece for women's voices, Wild Orchids, which also aired on L.A. City View Television's Classic Arts Showcase, 2007
Guest composer, Hollywood Master Chorale's LA Composers Concert, with her contrapuntal chant piece, Pavements, 2009
Exclusive lyricist & composer of Music for the Weeping Woman, Rue de la Harpe Records
Exclusive lyricist & composer of The Slow Club, Rue de la Harpe Records
Exclusive lyricist & composer of Resting on the Rock, Rue de la Harpe Records
Exclusive writer & contributing composer of Global Yoga, Rue de la Harpe Records
Contributing lyricist & composer on Winter, Rue de la Harpe Records
Contributing lyricist & composer on The Slow Club Quartet's Expressionism, Rue de la Harpe Records
Contributing lyricist on The Orchestre Surréal's It's Alive!, Allegro Non Troppo Records
Contributing lyricist & composer on The Orchestre Surréal's Air Surréal, Allegro Non Troppo Records
Contributing lyricist on Misha Segal's Connected to the Unexpected, JVC Records
Book and music to the one-woman show The Purple Sleep Café, Primary Stages at the 45th Street Theatre, New York
Co-songwriter with Jim Vukovich of the Stars So Bright, You Gotta Wear Shades jingle for the Phillips Pro-Celebrity Charity Classic, recorded and performed by Billy Davis Jr.
Complete musical book to Candi Milo's Life's Too Short...and So Am I, Studio One Backlot, Los Angeles (produced by Marlee Matlin)
Resident composer for the Synthaxis Theatre Company, Los Angeles, from 1984-1990, with complete musical book credits for Maria and the Comet, The Emergence of Mel, and Aristophanes' Plutus.
O F I L E S
& I N T
E R V I E W
"The Assassination of
Gabriel Champion is magic, madness, and raw emotion.
P R O F I L E S & I N T E R V I E W S
"The Assassination of
Gabriel Champion is magic, madness, and raw emotion.
––– Sandra Booker
It may seem like a natural fit, a musician writing about musicians, but the idea didn't actually come to author and musician Angela Carole Brown until four manuscripts later.
"For years in this endeavor I've persevered through trying to write books that examined themes of people in search of their souls. Finally I thought to myself, hmmm, what about that thing you do for a living? It was just so right under my nose."
TRADING FOURS does indeed continue Brown's internal compulsion, spinning a day in the life of four people who must each face a crossroads in their lives. And yet it's also probably her most lighthearted effort.
"There's just a buoyancy to musicians," she offers fondly. "You simply can't keep them weighted down in pathos for too long." Which means that while it may indeed show its propensity for combing the depths, TRADING FOURS is, according to Brown, still designed to be a fun read.
"When I first announced to friends that I was writing this book I asked for anecdotes. Crazy things that might've happened to them on gigs, or just within the course of living this life. And stories came out of the woodwork. Some I was able to use, others not. But it told me, most profoundly, that musicians are hungry to have their story told. In the layman's mind, you're either Sting or you're the bad lounge act often parodied in sketch comedies. The vast vista of reality that lives in between those two extremes is largely unknown to most people."
She certainly has the vantage point of experience, having been a fixture on the L.A. music scene for two decades, recording jingles, voice-overs, and CDs for herself and others, authoring and starring Off-Broadway in her own one-woman show, working clubs and concert halls in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. And, more to the undeniable point, being a veteran of the wedding and bar mitzvah circuit.
"And there's the punch line, folks. No matter how fabulous you start to feel, singing for David Foster or touring the Far East, you're always guaranteed to be humbled by having to announce, 'and now ladies and gentlemen, the bouquet toss!' That's what TRADING FOURS is about. It can be a very schizophrenic life."
Bouquet tosses aside, and only reinforcing that musicians are indeed a persevering breed, today, thanks to TRADING FOURS, Angela Carole Brown now also speaks to us as a new voice in American letters.
Q. How autobiographical is this story of working L.A. musicians?
A. One of the characters is a "chick singer" that people will automatically assume is me. But I'm really lurking in all the characters, perhaps in ways not so obvious to people who know me. Likewise, the singer character is many women I know. The dynamic she has with her partner, for example, was very directly inspired by a girlfriend of mine. But people will assume. Every one of these characters is a composite of many.
Q. Do you think friends of yours will look for themselves in the book?
A. I asked friends for anecdotes when I was writing this, because there are hilarious antics that exist in a kind of musician Hall of Fame, and I wanted stories that I could weave into my premise. So, this one friend of mine kept giving me great stuff, but he’d repeatedly say, “you’re gonna change my name, right?” It took everything in me to try to explain to him that I wasn’t writing an exposé, that this was FICTION. I still don’t think he quite got it, bless his heart.
Q. What kind of writer would you say you are?
A. I like character studies, and I like feeling things very deeply. So my books all have sort of the same running theme, which is the search for one's soul. Except that soul has always been such a troublesome word for me. It's murky. Some attach it to religion, others simply to sentimentality. The best I can figure is that it's this unquantifiable something that has to do with our fundamental identity, our sense of right, our clarity. And because these things are of concern to every man and woman, it is the one word embraced by religious zealots and atheists alike. Frankly, I'm just on a mission to self-discover.
Q. Is that what writing is for you?
Q. When did you start writing?
A. I started my first novel at 20. It took eight years to complete a first draft. And for the past twenty-something years I've been at it, till I've got four novels in my pocket, to date.
Q. Four in twenty-something years doesn't seem like a lot, does it?
A. You're absolutely right. In the commercial world, it isn't a lot. An agent wants to hear that you're able to churn out one every ten months. Every ten months! That's the figure I actually heard at the seminar of this high-powered agent once. And if you're writing a genre book, something with a very specific formula and template, then every ten months is certainly doable. It's like connecting dots, you just assemble the pieces. But for better or for worse, I just don't want to write those kinds of books. I'm trying my damnedest to reinvent genre with every effort. I think that's what makes a great novel. And that's what I'm always trying to do. And that takes time.
Q. If there are other novels before this one, why is this one your first published?
A. Well, first of all, it’s not my first published work, just my first published novel. But why this novel before the others is because I'm publishing this book independently. I've had agents. None has been successful at getting me a book deal, though each has been in my corner in extraordinary ways. Finally I decided not to wait around any longer for someone else to tell me that I matter. And at the time of that decision, this was the freshest one out of the typewriter. Plus, because the subject matter is actually what I do for a living, I figured I'd have an easy built-in audience just among my comrades.
Q. If you had such a hard time getting a deal, did you ever think that maybe your writing just wasn’t good enough?
A. Well, at some point, maybe even MANY points in my life, my writing was NOT good enough. I've been through a lot of workshops, received a lot of feedback from some every sage minds, have been turned down by publishers who absolutely should have turned me down, and have learned a great deal about this extraordinary art form. Today I believe I am good enough. And at a certain point, you also realize that there will always be more you can learn, therefore don't let that unquantifiable everything, that you will, frankly, never reach, become a self-sabotaging crutch. You can fine-tune a thing to death, all just out of the fear of putting it out there for public scrutiny.
Q. Also, don't you think that the way the publishing industry has shifted has to have something to do with the difficulty that perfectly gifted writers are facing?
A. God, yes! A great novel used to matter to a publisher, and that’s just not so true today. Yet there’s still this stigma attached to “self-published,” as if to infer that the writing must not be good enough if no one will take it on. Well, that stigma may have once had legitimacy, back in the days when publishers actually cared about great books, and took pride in discovering and nurturing the next Virginia Woolf or Kurt Vonnegut. If you look at many of the books on store shelves today, you know without a doubt that standards have been lowered, and criteria shifted. It's all about revenue. It's no longer about, "let's give this book a chance because it's worthy, and we'll give the public no choice but to deal with quality." No one seems to be brave anymore. So the traditional book route has, in my mind, lost much of its credibility. And yet the stigma remains, and unfortunately that'll be the anvil on my back. All I can do is let the book speak for itself.
Q. So we'll see your other novels soon?
Q. The play Sideman, which was running last year, is also about musicians. How would your book compare with it?
A. I first heard about that play when I was writing mine, and all I could think was, "damn it!" But, in fact, that story comes from a very different angle than mine. And it's a play. A living, moving organism, which means that music, itself, is a part of the experience. I had a very different set of challenges ahead of me, because in many ways it's odd writing a book about music. The actual listening-to-music is not a part of the experience. Or so one might think. In truth, words are a stunningly powerful medium, and can absolutely bring alive a music in one's ears, or a vibrantly hued painting to one's eyes, or a savory taste to one's palate. That was my challenge.
Q. What's your favorite novel?
A. Without a doubt, Crime and Punishment.
Q. Talk about a character study. Would you consider that one of your early influences?
A. It is, single handedly, what made me decide to write. The whole idea of being able to get inside this character, who is a pretty despicable guy, and really getting him, understanding what makes him tick, even empathizing with him. Some people are quite afraid, or abhorred to the idea, of empathizing with a bad guy, because they put all their beliefs in the comfortable, if simpleminded, archetypes of good-and-evil. The whole grey area is quite uncomfortable for them. But it is what makes me excited about a story. Also, a handful of contemporary novels lately have really influenced me and made me come back to them more than once. See, that's what I've never understood from people who say that they don't amass a library of books, because they don't keep their books once they've read them. To me, it's no different from a movie. Wouldn't you want to revisit that experience again, if it was a remarkable one?
Q. Well, some people can't watch a movie more than once either. They consider the experience redundant, and are about living in the present. What do you say to that?
A. I can completely embrace the idea of living in the present. It's actually everything that my own spiritual practice is about. But are you telling me that those same people never buy a record or a CD? Because, according to that idea, once you've heard Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, why ever listen to it again? I always go back to books that have given me an incredible journey. And I'll almost always, if it's great writing, discover something new with each return.
Q. What are some others you've gone back to?
A. Michael Cunningham's The Hours. His compositional structure was something I learned a lot from. It was his book that made me decide to play around with the idea of placing Trading Fours in third-person-present, as compared with the most common form, third-(or first)-person past. It won't work with every kind of tale, but can, if it does work, give a more intimate immediacy to the story. It can make the reader feel like they're there, going through this life with these characters. Also his way of creating symbiosis between seemingly unrelated scenarios.
Q. You said that Trading Fours wasn't the first work you ever published. What was?
A. Oh goodness! Well, I've actually had some poems published in compilations. But the very first published piece was this angry letter to Rona Barrett's Hollywood Magazine. I was, like, eleven. And I was pissed off at this great review she gave The Bad News Bears, and this terrible review she gave to Bingo Long's Traveling All-stars. I guess it was her baseball movie issue. Anyway, I think I called her a racist. I was eleven, and already this feisty little militant.
Q. Are you really a militant?
A. Me? God, no! I'm status-quo to points of banal. And I was just so ecstatic that they published it that I was theirs forever. Apparently, I'll sell my soul for a byline.
Q. They say that the first book we read and the first music we hear defines the person we become. What was the first record and book you remember buying or reading as a kid?
A. First record was Danny Kaye narrating these folktales from Czechoslovakia. Utterly enchanting. First book, outside of the "see Spot run" books I was obligated to read in school, was this thick little dime store pulp novel, Iceberg Slim's Pimp. I was way too young to be reading it. And I'm not sure I want to know what that says about me.
Q. What was the LAST book and recording you loved?
A. Eastmountainsouth's self-titled CD. Their music is the perfect marriage of rural and European folk. And Toni Morrison's Love.
Q. What do you want to say to readers out there?
A. What I want to say is to non-readers: please pick up a book, any book, and watch it change your life.
O N L I N E R E V I E W S
On The Assassination of Gabriel Champion
"The Assassination of Gabriel Champion is magic, madness, and raw emotion. How wonderful when a writer has the ability to be so raw, so truthful, so intuitive about the human condition.”
––– Sandra Booker, American Vernacular
"This is one of the most meaningful books I have ever read. Literature in the finest sense. One moment you're saying, 'Oh yeah, I know that feeling!' or "Yes, you nailed it", the next, 'No, no, no!' There is so much to agree or disagree with in this book - about so many subjects (art, relationships, forgiveness, travel and more). I felt compelled to really examine how I think about the many real life issues raised. All in a captivating narrative with suspense and surprises, but never seeming contrived. You want know what happens next; you want to know how it ends. And it doesn't disappoint. The characters really stick with you. And not always in a good way. This is not for kids! (PG-35) One happy side effect- It made me go out to the art museum that I hadn't visited in a while."
––– David Stout
"I hate to admit it, but typically reading even the most highly acclaimed/recommended book is the best cure for my mild insomnia. A few sentences in and I am out like a light. Fortunately (or unfortunately for those times I really did need the sleep) Ms. Brown's first few paragraphs are so intriguingly impactful that I just couldn't put it down. That text stayed with me from continent to continent as I traveled abroad with "Gabriel Champion" tucked under my arm at each port of entry. It actually made it into more than one Facebook photo update. Whilst reading, I couldn't help but toss about names in my head of those who HAVE to read this novel! Even with two kids and a husband in tow, I found time to eek out a few pages at every available moment of my insanely hectic and busy life...heart pounding, head reeling at each turn of the page. When I wasn't reading, I was talking about it; how amazed I was over the author's fluidity and her intelligent style; the deep layers of her knowledge and research into the worlds of literature, art, music, travel, relationships, passion, depravity, righteousness. Familiar with some of the chosen settings (MacArthur Park, Erewhon Cafe...what a trip! I shopped there 20 years ago!...Paris, Africa), the colors, scents, sounds and visions painted on the canvas of her manuscript found me lost on a virtual tour, feeling as though I were in the room, at times rejoicing, and others gasping and pleading "No! No! No!"! Had you never left your home, rest assured, Angela Carole Brown will bring you on a whirlwind international adventure in a NY minute! Admittedly it feels like an almost voyeuristic peek into the passionate, creative, oft-exhausting and off-balance lives of those who dare to push the envelope, break the rules, fight for the change and follow their guts alone. I don't entirely agree with the world view and all of the choices of each of the characters, but I certainly do relish the peek into the minds of those who do. This is the first work of Ms. Brown's I have had the pleasure of reading. I certainly hope it's not the last!...Although I hope it comes at a time in which sleep is not the greatest priority, as I am sure, like "Gabriel", it'll be another heart-pounding, fascinating and thoroughly entertaining read. Enjoy!"
––– R. Berdahl
––– Mike Sandler
"Full disclosure - I'm an old friend of the author's. Normally I wouldn't even pick up something like this: if a book doesn't have a picture of a spaceship, or a planet exploding on it's cover, I'm just not interested. I bought this book because I know the author to be one of the most talented people on earth, and I'm certainly glad I did. I've always been interested in the creative process and this book lays that process out and dissects it with a razor sharp literary skill. It challenges us to define art on our own terms and asks us to decide just how much we can forgive those we love. The story is character driven-nothing happens without reason or motivation, and though all the character are extremely flawed human beings, you never question 'why' they do what they do. You may shake your head and whisper 'oh please don't' under your breath, but when they inevitably do what they do, you understand and forgive. This is one of those rare books you wish wouldn't end but when it does the people haunt you and stay with you as memories of real people-friends you used to know and wonder what they're up to. get this book and savor it. You won't be disappointed."
––– David Fulk
"This excellent read takes you into a turbulent world of three passionate artists, which is always intriguing to me from the get go. The first chapter kind of surprised me, however. I didn't really know if I LIKED these people to be honest, and wondered if I would continue. However Ms. Brown's skillful writing very quickly began to reveal the back story to her characters.... tantalizing bits and pieces emerged with each page turn....I followed the breadcrumbs and sure enough, found myself not only caring, but eager to find out what happens next! Very compelling, sexy, complex and surprising! For anyone who wonders what the life of the urban artist could possibly be like, this book will give you a sizzling glimpse into their world and mindset. You'll enjoy this one."
––– O. Robin Swensen
"Just a beautiful book, full of surprises, gorgeous writing. The author is a musician and there is a lyrical quality throughout. The story itself is as original as they get. Just read the first page...it gets even better."
––– Arturo Hernandez, author of Peace In the Streets
On Trading Fours
(Excerpt from the January 2008
Jazz Encounters of the Literary Kind - inclusion of
––– John Stevenson, E Jazz News Magazine
"Trading Fours is a
skillful tribute to a world many of us will never enter. While we may hear
the music at weddings, clubs, and parties, how often do we ever stop and
look--truly seeing--the faces of those performing? In her debut novel,
Angela Carole Brown lifts the curtain, allowing us entrance to this
backstage world of working professional musicians. They may not be famous,
but they're honing their craft, day in, day out. Some have bigger dreams.
Some hunger for the days of glory, long past. Some are content, and some
––– Kergan Edwards-Stout, author of Songs for the New Depression
"Angela Carole Brown offers
the working musician a valentine in Trading Fours, an unabashed
glimpse into a little known (and little valued) world. As Ms. Brown once
explained, most `civilians' characterize musicians as Madonna and Sting,
or simply the kids in the garage. Trading Fours is about those in
––– Linda Taylor
"Blend engaging characters - that you care about from the instant you meet them - with a spirited storyline filled with creative twists and turns that reflect both life and the jazz idiom it represents and you have Trading Fours. I literally couldn't put it down."
––– Brad Vinekow
"I just finished reading Trading Fours and Boy! it hits hard on many levels - not just the accurate depiction of characters with all the tortured thought processes but a really good storyline as well. The scenes with Hayes and Seth are truly dramatic and will touch you all the way down to the core of your deepest sensitivities. You can recognize all four main characters and all sub-characters because Ms Brown has made them familiar to anyone who's been or still is part of this world. The feelings and thoughts behind each situation pass through all our consciousness at one time or other- some more than once. Some are just constant nagging and torture. (that ringing in my ears bothering anyone?) I recommend this read to anyone who doesn't understand this level of the music business - and why some choose it (starting with my mom)."
––– Larry Williams
"To anyone who has ever said 'Oh, you're a musician. What's your day job?' - READ THIS BOOK! Angela Carole Brown captures, in a 'take no prisoners and pull no punches' style, the true realities of what it is to be a free-lance musician working the casual gig scene on LA. The roller-coaster lifestyle, the compliments, the insults, the loves and heartaches, the sacrifices and rewards, the way musicians are looked at by other people and the way musicians look at other musicians - it's all in Trading Fours. This book should be required reading in every college and university music school under the heading of 'Gig Reality 101.'
––– Tim Wendt
"They live among us, but in
many ways they live in a parallel and opposite universe, like Bizarro
World in Superman. They work all weekend while the rest of us play, but
they get to sleep as late as they want in the morning. Except on Sunday of
course, when they have to get up early to go play their Church gig.
––– Chris Haller
"I've known Angela Carole Brown for many years. I've spent many nights on the bandstand with her. She is one of my favorite vocalists. She has the rare quality of taking a song that maybe you've heard a million times and making it hers...making you feel something you might never have felt as she sings it to you. I never knew she was a writer until this novel. I have to say that she wields the same power as a writer that she wields as a musician/vocalist. She delves into the LA music scene with such thoughtfulness. She leads you through the lives of a few LA musicians, carefully taking you on a journey of their successes, failures, hopes, dreams, and realities. She challenges your ideals and your artistic goals and/or dreams through the lives of her characters. I think this is a must read for anyone making a living in music ...or trying to make a living in music. In my opinion, Angela Carole Brown's words are deep, thought provoking, and as graceful as her voice."
––– Mindi Abair
"A Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance for musicians, Angela Carole Brown's Trading Fours really touched me. My feeling is that musicians will have a love/hate relationship with Angela's book, because it holds up a mirror that for some will deliver a reflection that they hoped they would not have to see. For others, I believe this book will give them a shove 'to become.' Recently I was playing a show with a well-known reed player here in L.A. I mentioned to her that I was reading Angela's book. She asked me what is it about. I told her that it asks the question, 'why do we do this?' Is it only about doing gigs, casuals, etc, or is there a greater reason? It sparked a long response from her about what she wishes to accomplish with her career, recording projects, concerts, etc. I believe that Trading Fours will move many musicians to similar responses."
––– Richard Martinez
"For all of us who respect and admire those musicians who actually had the courage to follow their dreams and make a living as full timers, Trading Fours is a great insight into what that life is really like. Angela knows this world. She's lived in it for a long time, and she's earned the respect of her peers. Maybe Trading Fours is a good argument for not doing music for a living, but, for me, it also provided a unique, unglamorized insight into why some folks choose to do so. And I, for one, am grateful that they do.
––– Mike Pilo
"Excellent book about the ups and downs in the lives of several working musicians. My favorite character in the book was Chloe and I found it hard to put the book down. Very interesting story line."
––– David Brent
"This book really gives the reader a feel for the world of the working musician. Although I generally have a rosier view of my profession (OK, sometimes trade) than many of the characters in this book, I can definitely relate. The author's voice is spot-on as to how we talk. As a male, I particularly enjoyed the parts about the Chloe's identity issues vis a vis her boyfriend. The poignant sections were moving without being cloying. I recommend it to musician and civilian alike."
––– David Stout
"As a career musician, I found Angela Carole Brown's book Trading Fours to be a sensitive and accurate portrayal of the lives of 'gigging' musicians. Much like the play Sideman, the inhabitants of this world were drawn with both bitter and loving strokes. The characters of her story, unique in his or her own ways, were very typical of any number of 'musos' that I have known and associated with over the years. I found myself absorbed into the world her characters occupied, empathizing with their struggles, defeats, and triumphs. Ms. Brown's brilliant use of original and illuminating metaphor and simile added vastly to these portrayals. For me, an excellent and compelling read!
––– Robin Swensen
"Trading Fours by Ms. Angela Carole Brown is a novel set in Los Angeles, centering on a handful of musicians most of whom earn their living playing casuals -- weddings, bar mitzvahs, parties; shows where they’re always playing cover tunes and there’s always someone timing their breaks. There is Tristan, a gifted guitarist in his fifties whose son has just signed a record deal; Chloe, a talented singer who has grown increasingly disillusioned with her long-time relationship with Julian, a revered and arrogant guitarist. There is Nick Brandt, an exceptional pianist and near-hopeless alcoholic. And there is Seth, musician and care-taker of the aging legend Hayes DeWitt who received a heart transplant months before, which his body is busily rejecting. When not working on his own musical projects, Seth has organized a benefit for Hayes to help pay his medical bill. Ms. Brown is an extraordinarily talented writer who has an almost preternatural ability to bring music alive on the printed page, writing from the perspective of musician and audience with equal skill and realism.
"She is clearly well versed and educated in the underpinnings of music theory, but never for a moment does she lose her sure grip on the soul of what drives people to make music. The world of casuals that she paints is both interesting and depressing, with a sense of independence among these musicians battling with an undercurrent of the encroaching rot of the ordinary. For any fan of music, Ms. Brown’s insights from the inside of the music scene are riveting and enlightening. Having played guitar, myself, for about twenty-five years and having been a rabid music fan for even longer, I thought I knew a few things about music. Whatever I thought I knew, Ms. Brown's book has added to it considerably. She goes inside the mind and talents of gifted guitarists and prodigious pianists and bears like Masonic secrets the amorphous currents of inspiration and devotion that keep musicians going back to their axes and audiences.
"The storyline involving Hayes DeWitt and his protégé, Seth, is particularly moving. At aged sixty-four -- that magical age made famous in the Beatles song -- he is an L.A. legend who has not only played with most of the jazz greats, but has been covered by some of the greatest musicians ever to play jazz. He is gruff and unwell, his right leg nearly rotting off due to the battery of drugs he is on to prevent his body from rejecting his new heart. The reverence with which the other characters refer to Hayes are the ultimate props one musician could pay another.
"For all of Ms. Brown's expertise in conveying the mystery and intangibility of music, she is equally adept at evoking her characters emotional lives. The people populating the pages of Trading Fours are fully fleshed-out three dimensional human beings, who had lives before the opening of the novel, and whose lives continue after the final page. This is no mystery novel or thrill-ride suspense, but the lives of each character are so vivid and well rendered, and enormously engrossing.
"Trading Fours is an expertly written story about passion, ambition, envy, and each persons struggle and need to make some sort of impact in this world, in this life. Ms. Angela Carole Brown is an amazing writer with a gift for dialogue and engaging the reader on a deep, visceral level. I hope that in between gigs she is working on her second novel. Very highly recommended.
––– Matt St. Amand, author of Randham Acts
you have gone to an event where there is a hired band playing; it could be
a wedding, a bar mitzvah, or a corporate celebration, there's a pretty
good chance that you are being serenaded by casual musicians. 'Casual'
here refers in no way to an approach to music. It simply indicates that
these folks are hired piece-by-piece to form a group to play the standard
repertoire that we all expect at these events. Trading Fours by
Angela Carole Brown takes us into their world as four casual musicians
deal with a benefit performance for an ailing friend. The story alternates
between the four of them, which is only right, since 'trading fours' is a
musician's term for the middle section of a number where each musician has
a solo moment. These are not perfect people. They have their hubris and
their vanities, their pains, fears, and pettiness. They are haunted by
failed loves, failing relationships and addictions. The story is an
engrossing exploration into a special world that many of us do not know
exists after the champagne is popped, the cake is cut, and the bouquet is
thrown. All in all, a very good read."
––– Mark Busch
On The Purple Sleep Cafe
"In her one-woman show, THE PURPLE SLEEP CAFÉ, Angela Carole Brown gives us some extraordinary lessons in what it’s like growing up as an artist, that if you grow up as a person who must rely upon, perhaps live within, the confines of the imagination, you grow up in a very particular kind of way, scary, sometimes. There is a moment in the play where Angela addresses the Muse, and it’s a gorgeous, gorgeous moment of theatre.”
––– Clayton Riley, WLIB, New York
P R E S S P H O T O S
Angela Carole Brown : EPK - ELECTRONIC WRITING PRESS KIT : writer/vocalist/artist