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BOOKS & CDS

Click this link for complete information about my books and CDs, and how to order them

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Disappearing Into North Adams takes readers on a journey from the destructive urban renewal program in downtown North Adams, Massachusetts, in the 1960s and 1970s, to the closing of the huge Sprague Electric factory in 1986, to the opening of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in the Sprague complex in 1999. Through the lively, heartwarming, and often funny interviews with residents, old and young; the nostalgic archival photographs; the author’s insightful essays and poetry; and his own impressionistic snapshots, the sad but ultimately uplifting story of the rebirth of North Adams comes to life.

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Steeples is a unique snapshot of North Adams as it begins the transition from a declining mill town to a center for contemporary art. Through a blend of oral histories, photographs and poetry, the author portrays this quiet little city in the Berkshires, as its people remember the good old days and await the opening of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in 27 factory buildings left vacant in 1986 by the Sprague Electric Company. The story of the city and its immigrant people is told through the oral histories, which will remain a valuable document as memories fade with time. The photographs show the city as it was, as it is now, and as it may never be again. The poetry evokes the stillness and nostalgia of a quiet Main Street and the beauty of the geographical setting in the Berkshire Mountains.

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In Gig at the Amtrak, Joe Manning plays words like a jazz musician plays the saxophone - edgy, earthy, blue-noted, a little behind the beat - like Hank Mobley, who inspired the title poem. And especially in the poetry born of his journeys in North Adams, Massachusetts, he paints with the faded colors of Edward Hopper's urban landscape. Haunting, stark, often very funny, his verses are spiced with scraps of overheard conversations in cafes, candid comments from locals, and the author's sympathetic and penetrating observations. But Manning offers us much more than his poems. Always the unconventional writer, he carefully and cleverly weaves in curious and sometimes heartbreaking old newspaper articles and stories he discovered while doing historical research.

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I Love Baseball is fifteen original songs written by Joe Manning and Steve Vozzolo, plus an exciting new arrangement of "Take Me Out To The Ball Game," with the original verses written in 1908. All of the original songs have been accepted as part of the permanent collection of baseball music at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

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All The Colors Of The World is a musical tribute to Norman Rockwell, one of America's greatest and most beloved painters. He is known for his sympathetic portrayals of family relationships, emotions, hopes, dreams and expectations. Joe Manning and singer Steve Vozzolo wrote "Norman Always Knew" a few years ago, and it was recorded by Arlo Guthrie. Since then, Manning and Vozzolo have written close to 20 songs that have been inspired by Rockwell's paintings. Those songs now appear together on Steve Vozzolo's haunting and unique concept album. This beautifully produced collection, written in a timeless Americana style (pop, rock, folk, country, gospel and swing) is destined to become a classic.

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joe@sevensteeples.com

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