Book Blog Tour for The Noise Beneath the Apple Including a Giveaway and Author Interview

**Foreword’s 2013 Book of the Year Award Finalist**

About The Book
Written by Heather Jacks and accompanied by an eleven-track vinyl record featuring the original music of a select number of participants, this 200-page art-style coffee table book measures 12’’ x 12’’ and weighs in at a whopping 8lbs. Putting the spotlight on the age-old profession of busking, Jacks also seeks to stem the tide of regulation intended to suffocate creative expression and take performers off the streets.

A limited-edition coffee table book, The Noise Beneath the Apple®, is a unique and vibrant study of the culture of street performance, its legitimacy in modern times and above all, an intimate look at thirty-five buskers throughout New York City. Released with an eleven-track vinyl record that was mastered by Grammy and Academy Award winning mastering engineer Reuben Cohen, this book is a singular achievement and a one-of-a-kind tribute to the chaotic, beautiful and spirited world of busking.

Heather Jacks was raised on an Indian reservation in southeastern Oregon, until age fifteen. Jacks was the first ‘experimental exchange student’ to Australia with an organization called YFU, Youth for Understanding, where she spent 10.5 months in 1982. Once she returned, she received her B.A. from USF and followed that with two years of study at UC Davis.  She has worked in the music industry in various capacities, since the eighties; radio, production, A&R, booking and most recently as a music journalist.  She was recently named a finalist in the Book of the Year Award in the Performing Art & Music category, for her multi-media project, The Noise Beneath the Apple®, which was inspired by her love for street music, busking and the people who make it.  Heather can be contacted at:

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Enter the Giveaway
  1. Was there a specific moment or idea that inspired writing this book?
I became who I am today in 1976.

Jimmy Carter was president. Vietnam was granted admission to the United Nations. The US of A was celebrating her 200th birthday, and Chief Don Sconchian had finished his time on this planet; (which is our fancy way of saying; he died), and I discovered Jack Kerouac in the Outhouse. These seemingly unrelated things are the exact pieces of my youth that cemented an early love affair with street performance.

Once Chief died—(btw: everyone is called Chief or Cousin on Indian Land), I was promptly shipped off to white school with my Outhouse edition of On The Road. The experiment was deemed unsuccessful by all involved, so I was sent to the Outback in Australia, as an ‘experimental’ exchange student. This was in 1982 and I was 15. It is safe to say, that the nomadic lifestyle was instilled in me at an early age. The tradition of busking also finds its roots in this type of nomadic lifestyle. Time honored Indian dance, Aboriginal ceremonies and Pow-Wow’s were all things I grew up with—and one can find close parallels between these things and busking—(performing on street corners for money.)

I arrived in New York City in December of 2009. At Grand Central Terminal, I met Luke Ryan, a perfect incarnation of jester, prankster and musician, who I eventually dubbed The Queen’s Cowboy. “About 10, it gets weird,” he said, glancing at me sitting on a subway bench. He looked into the garbage bin located next to him. “The first Starbucks cups make their appearance. Then the Starbucks cups get bigger; and when the biggest Starbucks cup makes its appearance, the day is pretty well done. When I see all the Wall Street Journals piled in the garbage pail next to me: We’re screwed. I know that’s it.” He began to pack up his guitar, collect his tips and move on. It would be Luke who would ultimately be the inspiration for a project three years in the future; The Noise Beneath the Apple®.

When The Noise Beneath the Apple®, began to crystallize in my mind, I was a freelance writer, submitting to various culture and online ezines. As I wandered the streets and subways of NYC, I discovered some great street musicians and thought it would make for some good stories and fun reading. For me, that was about it. But, as I got to know some of the musicians and see how the street culture was manifesting, I realized I could do something more; something socially relevant: capture a piece of history and help legitimize the profession of busking. I went back and to find Luke, who is a 40 + year veteran of busking. He was my first.

      2. Do you have a favorite story about busking or the streets of NYC in general? 

Although not necessarily a
‘busking’ story per se, it is a moment that catapulted me from observer to participant in the world of street. I arrived in New York City in the wake of Barack Obama’s election. Needing to earn a living, I chose to sell novelty political condoms on the streets. I got all my licenses, forms and inventory and set up station in Union Square, where I was promptly handcuffed, arrested and taken to jail. Some months later, my case was dismissed with the wave of a hand and the flick of a stamp. I went back to the streets, dismissal document in hand. Twenty minutes later, I was approached by the police, who gave a cursory glance at my paperwork and dismissal and then instructed me to put my hands behind my back. Handcuffed for a second time, I demanded an explanation. I was told—(and I quote) “Just because it was dismissed, doesn’t make it legal.” In the end, it was the Obama Condoms that gave me the much needed‘cred’—and prompted street performers to open up and talk to me. The Obama Condom Lady was legit. ;-)

       3. Do you have a favorite instrument or song that just makes you smile before you can even see the busker responsible?

Life is a voyage of discovery, and throughout this project, I have discovered so many cool instruments and styles of music; the Theremin, the Kora, glass cowbells, and the Nyckelharpa—to name a few. I love Latin music and flamenco guitar; heavy metal and electric violin. It was absolutely wondrous to bring all these sights and sounds together in a unique version—(and vision) of the song New York State of Mind—which I talk about in #7. After listening to our version of the song, no less than 1,000 times, I’m sure; I still LOVE it; the collective sounds of passions merging and artists shaking loose.

4. What was your favorite part of creating this book?

My favorite part of creating this book changes, based on where I am standing in relation to the project as a whole. Now that the project has been produced, I look back at the hardest parts—(which for me, was production; ie: paper type, bleed lines, InDesign, measurements, slipcase, etc…) or actually pressing a vinyl record! Not only putting the music together, but those records start out like hockey pucks. And I think, ‘WOW! I did that! I learned a LOT! There’s real validation in learning and completion, which ultimately leads to further learning and moving forward.

It goes without saying that I LOVED doing the interviews, hearing people’s stories, writing the profiles, capturing and honoring who they are and their contributions to the society and culture, of which they are an integral part. I guess in end, that remains my favorite part of the project; the human connection. I am standing here four years later—and am a better person; because of the musicians I met on the streets; and the newfound friends I made. I hope they took something of value from me as I did from them.

5. I know a few people that have spent significant time busking, have you noticed any common characteristics beyond talent and just being awesome people?

There are many misconceptions about busking; “They can’t get a real venue.” “They have no talent.” “They are homeless.” My experiences have shown these to be exactly that; misconceptions. What I have witnessed, is that buskers choose to perform on the streets, the rawest, most authentic stage there is; to share their craft outside of a financial context for everyone to enjoy and participate in. I think the operative term here is ‘choose’…very simply, buskers/street musicians choose to be there.

To quote Shedrick Williams of The Jason Adamo band, “A lot of people do this for the perks or the money, but a lot more choose to do it for the love of the music.” Then there is the fantastic violinist, Jim Graseck, who is a Julliard graduate and has chosen to make his career as a busker for the past 40+ years, even though he currently plays in the most amazing venues in New York City and appeared on The Johnny Carson Show, back in the day. There is freedom in artistic expressions that survive and manifest with no financial context. It might be called an esoteric level of experience, for both performer and audience.

Know that audience participation is a huge component. If you dig what you hear or see; then dig a little deeper and drop them a buck, for the song, the experience, the story, the photo, the YouTube video. This small exchange of daily experience is a currency, which is not exchangeable for articles of consumption—in other words, ‘You can’t buy it at Walmart.’

6. What do you do when you are not writing?

I live in and LOVE my City by the Bay, San Francisco. That being said, I spend an inordinate amount of time eating and drinking throughout all the funky and fabulous neighborhoods here. I also make (and sell) unique, one of a kind, retro shoulder bags, from reclaimed records. The front cover is on one side and the actual vinyl record—(not a pressed blank) on the other side. It gives me a great excuse to haunt all the vintage shops and record stores in the City. I’m a HUGE Baseball fan. I bleed Orange & Black and watch most of the games—(that takes a lot of time, considering there are about 162 games in a season!) I also read TONS and post little reviews everywhere. Whew! I’m tired just thinking about it!

7. Do you have any plans for what you would like to do next?

Last year, I ran a successful crowdfunding campaign, via Rockethub. We had so many wonderful and amazing supporters. From their generous contributions, we took 30 participants from the book—(NYC buskers/street musicians), to Grand Street Recording in Brooklyn, New York and recorded the hit song by Billy Joel, New York State of Mind. The uber talented recording and touring artist, Keaton Simons, flew in from Los Angeles to arrange, produce and mix the tune. The music is incredible! We have a Beat Rhymer, musical saw, violins, Cello, tons of vocalists…it is amazing. So far, only our Rockethub funders have heard the song, but we will be doing a media-launch in about May. From that day, we also created a 12 minute short documentary film. It was such an inspiring time and we are all very proud with the way everything turned out.

My hope is to replicate this project in other cities such as Boston, New Orleans, Chicago, Nashville, etc… Link to Trailer #1 for Short Documentary

       8. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?

Thank you for giving me the gift of time, to pursue, create and manifest my passion.
Thank you.

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