Spoke is a gorgeous photographic encyclopedia of the D.C. punk scene A-Z. Author Scott Crawford and the various photographers featured here grew up in the scene dodging boots, fists, and head-butts to document the scene with in-depth interviews and gorgeous pictures. Everyone from stalwarts like Bad Brains and Fugazi to anomalies like Nation of Ulysses and Shudder to Think is featured here. Spoke is essential for anyone who cares about the cultural history of Washington, D.C.
“1971 would turn out to be the busiest, most creative, most innovative, most interesting, and longest-resounding year of the rock era.” So begins David Hepworth’s whirlwind, month-by-month breakdown of the astonishing output and ascendancy of rock ‘n’ roll and its practitioners. In that auspicious year The Who released Who’s Next; Joni Mitchell made Blue; Zep toured the clubs in-between stadiums; Carole King put out Tapestry; Lennon killed the Beatles with Plastic Ono Band, while George Harrison put on the Concert for Bangladesh, to name just a few events. What makes this more than a collection of “golly-gee” anecdotes is Hepworth’s ability to place it all in a greater context of where the culture came from and where it was going.
Over the past year, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical, Hamilton, has won a bevy of awards, sold out shows across the country, and dominated pop-culture like no other show in recent memory—or maybe ever. In Hamilton: The Revolution (Grand Central, $45), Miranda and theater critic Jeremy McCarter provide a detailed look into the show’s gestation from a single rap about the founding fathers to a full blown Broadway phenomena. The book includes detailed liner notes, deleted songs, photographs, interviews (including several with President Obama), and a guide to the show’s many hip hop references. The juicy behind the scenes details and anecdotes are sure to be catnip for theater nerds. But the insight into the multi-talented Miranda’s creative process is a fascinating read for both fans and newcomers alike.