John Lurie on his new memoir, ‘The History of Bones’

A Cappella Books proudly welcomes the John Lurie in honor of his captivating new memoir, The History of Bones on Monday, September 27 at 8 p.m.

The pioneering artist, actor, musician, and composer will appear in conversation with host of A Cappella’s ongoing virtual music series, Rough Draft digital editor and journalist Chad Radford.

This event is free and open to the public. Capacity is limited. Register here to ensure your spot for this must-see book event.

In the tornado that was downtown New York in the 1980s, John Lurie stood at the vortex. After founding the band The Lounge Lizards with his brother, Evan, in 1979, Lurie quickly became a centrifugal figure in the world of outsider artists, cutting-edge filmmakers, and cultural rebels. Now Lurie vibrantly brings to life the whole wash of 1980s New York as he developed his artistic soul over the course of the decade and came into orbit with all the prominent artists of that time and place, including Andy Warhol, Debbie Harry, Boris Policeband, and, especially, Jean-Michel Basquiat, the enigmatic prodigy who spent a year sleeping on the floor of Lurie’s East Third Street apartment.

It may feel like Disney World now, but in The History of Bones, the East Village, through Lurie’s clear-eyed reminiscence, comes to teeming, gritty life. The book is full of grime and frank humor—Lurie holds nothing back in this journey to one of the most significant moments in our cultural history, one whose reverberations are still strongly felt today.

History may repeat itself, but the way downtown New York happened in the 1980s will never happen again. Luckily, through this beautiful memoir, we all have a front-row seat.

John Lurie. Photo by Eric Mockus

About the Author
John Lurie is a musician, painter, actor, director, and producer. He co-founded The Lounge Lizards in 1979. In the decades since, he has released albums (including those by his alter ego Marvin Pontiac), acted in films, composed and performed music for television and film, exhibited his paintings throughout the world, and produced, directed, and starred in the “Fishing with John” television series. His most recent series, “Painting with John,” debuted on HBO in 2021.

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Don’t Sleep unveils first glimpse of debut LP with ‘Refine Me’

There’s an energetic wisdom possessing every word of “Refine Me,” a new single and video from Harrisburg, Penn./Washington D.C. post-hardcore quintet Don’t Sleep. When the group’s frontman Dave Smalley sings, “You can wound but you can never kill me/You want me in a prison/Of your misconception/But I’ll keep breaking free/From your deception,” self-empowerment becomes the message and the means to rise above.

“Refine Me” is more a personal mantra than it is a political rant—part-Sun Tzu, part-Black Flag in its ruminations on gaining strength through facing adversity in life head on. Or as Smalley states: “It is important to be forged and refined by the flames of adversity. Let your enemies make you stronger.”

Smalley’s anthemic whooaaas and guttural voice project a lifetime of experience in hardcore—he sang with the brawny “Boston Crew” outfit DYS, in Washington D.C. He did a stint leading guitarist Brian Baker’s post-Minor Threat group Dag Nasty, and in Los Angeles he fronted the post-Descendents outfit ALL. He also sings with the recently rekindled L.A. hardcore staple Down By Law. Smalley’s presence alone embodies American hardcore’s melodic DNA. In “Refine Me,” his words are imbued with everlasting depth, resilience, and an openness that allows anyone within earshot to connect the dots and find their own meaning.

“One of the label guys suggested these words are important in today’s environment of folks struggling to ensure every person is treated with dignity and respect,” Smalley says. “I wrote the lyrics last year, and it’s really about personal struggle and overcoming that terrible feeling of betrayal, and coming out stronger on the other side. But if it applies to today, and can give someone hope to come through this current moment looking to be stronger and forged by today’s heat, I’m all for it,” he adds. “The best lyrics are the timeless ones, where the words impact the listener as a human being, but also can be applied to our human family as a whole, and apply to the world. Hopefully this song counts.”

In 2017, Don’t Sleep came out of the gate strong with the arrival of a self-titled EP (Unity Worldwide), followed a year later by the Bring The Light 7-inch (Reaper Records). The group hit the ground running with a string of Warped Tour dates, sharing stages with legacy harcore acts such as Sick Of It All, Madball, and Hare Krishna juggernaut Shelter. But after piquing so many ears the group has remained somewhat in the shadows. Of course, in 2018 Smalley was busy putting together Down By Law’s latest album All In (Kung Fu Records). He also released Join The Outsiders (Little Rocket), the debut album from a new group he fronts with Spanish and Argentinian musicians dubbed Dave Smalley & the Bandoleros.

For Don’t Sleep, however, the downtime has been anything but idle. “Refine Me” heralds the September 4 arrival of the group’s debut full-length, Turn The Tide (Mission Two Entertainment). Smalley, alongside bass player Garrett Rothman, drummer Jim Bedorf, and guitarists Tom McGrath and Tony Bavaria have crafted a sound that expands beyond the tropes of classic hardcore with a balance of muscular riffs and angular rhythms over Smalley’s lyrical ruminations.

It’s a fresh take for a group that’s well aware of its hardcore roots, but isn’t willing to stay in one place for too long, or dwell on the past—literally and figuratively speaking. When the group hits its stride here, the music takes shape amid a powerful yet understated blend of visceral hooks and sophisticated instincts—the sound of five players going all in. 

A laundry list of producers and engineers contributed to the album including Carson Slovak and Grant McFarland (August Burns Red), Walter Schreifels (Gorilla Biscuits, Quicksand, Youth of Today), Matt Holmes, and Battery singer Brian McTernan. The result is a sound that Smalley says was “a catharsis and a challenge” fleshing out.  “It’s one I hope will have the same kind of impact for people that classic albums had for me when I was coming up.”

“Refine Me” offers just a glimpse at this new melodic identity the group has honed with Turn The Tide, promising a purgative and empowering blast of songs that are hellbent on a brighter future.

Turn The Tide is out September 4 via Mission Two Entertainment.

Don’t Sleep: Turn The Tide (Mission Two Entertainment)

Turn The Tide tracklist
1. “Don’t Sleep”
2. “No Other Way”
3. “Reflection”
4. “True North”
5. “Abandoned Us”
6. “Prisoners”
7. “We Remain”
8. “Walking In Sinai”
9. “Refine Me”
10. “Foundation”
11. “The Wreckage”
12. “December”