Creation doesn't happen in a vacuum, and in Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968, author (and Hallelujah The Hills frontman) Ryan Walsh explores every weird, fantastical nook and cranny of Boston that surrounded and seeped into Van Morrison's soul-bending masterpiece. We're sitting down with Walsh to discuss how he brought this story to life, the eternal value of having your mind blown, and a history of his hometown that has remained largely untold…until now.
Nothing. It's a book. A damn GOOD book at that.
Why You Should Care:
Born out of curiosity and fascination with one of the greatest albums of all time, Hallelujah The Hills frontman Ryan H. Walsh has crafted a modern classic of rock and roll biography in Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968. All but abandoning the usual behind-the-scenes insights we've come to expect from your standard music bio, Walsh's profile plunges the reader into a deeply weird, and awesomely psychedelic, exploration of the late-sixties Boston outside legendary singer/poet Van Morrison that ultimately seeped into the creation of his undisputed masterpiece.
Melding equal parts Hunter S. Thompson with the exacting, humanistic eye of Ken Burns, Walsh, through his at times unbelievable cast of "characters," events, and general far-outness achieves that rare feat of bringing history to Technicolor life by putting the reader in the room with the weirdos, heavies, and music legends that drift through this true story's landscape.
You can get lost in the slipstream yourself THIS FRIDAY when Walsh kicks off his book tour for Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968 right here in Washington, DC Right Proper Brewery in Brookland (920 Girard St NE, Washington, DC, 2001) from 7pm-9pm. The event is free (you can RSVP HERE) and will be Co-Hosted by David Malitz, of the Washington Post.
Whether you're a fan of Van the man, weird history, or just like great beer, this isn't an event you're going to want to miss.
Boston’s Hallelujah the Hills released their fifth album, A Band is Something to Figure Out, back in April, and more recently released a 7” EP of six one-minute songs, Movement Scorekeepers. On them, songwriter and frontman Ryan Walsh continues his trend toward balancing the literate (but don’t call them literary!) and the fun aspects in their music that makes them unique. Though the modern realities of making indie rock (such as, you know, having to have “real” jobs outside of music) have gotten in the way of much touring (something to figure out, indeed!), the band finally managed to do a small run of east coast dates in support of the records recently, including a stop in DC at the Black Cat backstage.
Boston's Hallelujah the Hills are celebrating their tenth year as a band, an anniversary that they marked this month with the recording their upcoming fifth album, Deluxer Mandatory followed by two shows, one in their hometown and one at Bowery Electric in New York City. The band, known for their literate take on indie rock, released their first two albums on Misra Records before going completely indepentent, part of the new breed of artists relying on Bandcamp distribute their music. They've gone through a number line-up changes over the years (including an almost Spinal Tap-like rotation through drummers, one even quitting on stage mid-show), but seems to have settled in now, remaining static for the second album in a row. We caught them at their New York City show, where fans gathered on a Saturday night to catch an all-too-rare outside-of-Boston set.