Fans and members of the local music scene are probably pretty familiar with Rob Azevedo. The Manchester resident does quite a bit – he hosts the Granite State of Mind radio show on WKXL, as well as the Listening Room Music Series at NEC Concord. He has also written music-themed columns for papers such as the Monitor, and he’s written six short films, including Muddy, winner of the Best of the Festival award at the 2011 SNOB Film Festival in Concord.
Now, you can add published author to the list of accomplishments for Azevedo, who will be releasing his debut book, Notes From the Last Breath Farm: A Music Junkie’s Quest to be Heard, at NEC Concord on Saturday.
The book release event won’t be like any you’ve attended before. Rather than having some author nobody knows sit on a stool and read pages from a book for hours, this one will have live music woven into it. Since the book deals heavily with the various types of music that influenced Azevedo’s life over the years, he will read a passage from the book that mentions a particular song, artist or genre, and a local musician will follow up the passage reading by playing a tune that goes along with the passage.
You might recognize the names of the performers, too: Dusty Gray, Eric Ober, Dean Harlem, Will Hatch and Derek Astles. These musicians are all seasoned veterans of the Concord-area music scene, so it’s fitting that they’ll be on hand for this event.
The Insider has known Azevedo for years – he and Dusty Gray even interviewed yours truly on the radio during Market Days a few years back. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago, though, that we learned of this book endeavor, the first-ever book written by Azevedo.
“I had been thinking about it since I first started writing at Plymouth State College (now known as Plymouth State University) for the college paper nearly 30 years ago,” he said of his desire to write this book, which is part memoir, part travelogue.
He always knew he liked to write, but he didn’t have a good idea of what exactly he wanted to write. But then something came up, and it got the wheels in his head turning.
“I just didn’t have enough in the tank, I think, to really pull off a book, really until I started writing that column specifically for the Concord Monitor,” he said. “Had I not written for the Monitor and gotten that opportunity, this book never would’ve happened.”
The column was called Sound Check, and it was a space for Azevedo to talk about music – mostly the local music scene. It was a column he was given virtually full control over, with nobody feeding him ideas of what to write. It was that experience that let Azevedo know that writing was something he could get into for real.
“I’d get feedback from readers who liked it, and that gave me the confidence to reach out to George Geers with Plaidswede Publishing where I could pitch him a book idea,” he said, referencing a Concord-based publishing company. “I didn’t know originally that I’d write a book about music. Through writing that column and having a radio show, it all just came into fruition, where it gave me the perfect subject to write about, by meeting all the artists throughout the state, finding out that their quest to be heard wasn’t that much different from my quest to be heard.”
The book opens with a vivid scene from Azevedo’s childhood, the memory of his mother telling him that he was nobody and that he would never amount to anything. He used that as fuel to make sure that he did amount to something, and all of that is in the book.
“It made me want to be something, anything, other than just a nobody,” he said. “That kind of led me on a path to my first column I ever wrote when I was in a typing class when I was 13 years old. That was the first time I ever got feedback on the talent I never knew I had from my fellow students.”
To hear more of Azevedo’s story, as well as live music to go along with it, check out the event at NEC Concord on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. (doors at 5). It’s a free show, but copies of the book will be available for $19.95. Azevedo will also be available to answer questions and sign books.