April 1, 2017
An ensemble sets off on a dark comedy of errors and uncertain conclusions, featuring original music throughout the story.
Theo and Judah, two childhood friends, are trying desperately to find an audience for their hard-edged, “grunge” music as they move past their twenties and feel the need to establish careers. Together, they enroll in an unusual college, called The University of Jazz and Music Technology.
Attracted at first by the means within the school to professionally record their own original music, the two friends embark on what could be a lifelong journey. But the endeavor has an alternate effect, as Theo begins to question his musical efforts with Judah.
Entanglements with co-eds quickly complicate matters. Theo and Judah hit as many rough spots as any amateur band may find along the way, including a disastrous mini-tour of the northwest during spring break. Little do they know, the misfortunes have just begun…
Theo and Judah are long time friends and musicians. Together, they decided to go to a new and specialized University of Jazz and Music Technology. They are studying different tracks, but still find time to come together to make the music that they like. With the typical college distractions thrown in- girls, drink, drugs, part time jobs and finding their way in the music industry, Theo and Judah still find time to form a band and go on a small tour. However, nothing seems to go quite right for the group and the misfortunes seem to take their toll.
This book provided a unique reading experience. With any book that includes music or songs, I have always wished that I knew what they were supposed to sound like. With Misfortunes of T-Funk, you get exactly that. Reading the electronic version, the links are right in the book that you simply click to take you to the Soundcloud page where you can listen to the band's song. Even if you are reading the paper version, you can still go to the Soundcloud page to check out the songs. This was a really awesome addition that let me know exactly what kind of music Theo and Judah were producing. The content of the book focuses on a different aspect of a musician's life, the intelligence, creativity, motivation, knowledge of audio production and of course, all the crap that can go wrong. This is a really good look at the backstage portion of a musician's life. As the wife of an audio engineer, it seemed about right to me. Some of the college stuff got a little tedious for me, but did help to round out the characters a little more. I perhaps didn't need to know about every single escapade unless it helped to carry the story along. Overall, a different story about the not so glamorous side of the music industry.
This book was received for free in return for an honest review.
Barnaby Hazen is an author, editor and musician. Driven strongly by collaboration, it seems natural his first venture into writing began with a friend. Seven Eleven Stories periodical took shape in 2014 and just one year later, Seven Eleven Forgotten and Other Stories debuted with a full-length collection featuring nine strange tales on convenience store fiction.
In 2017, Misfortunes of T-Funk, the first in a series, pulls directly from Hazen’s own life in music. Having been a lifelong, dedicated listener, teacher and performer, his latest novel incorporates his self-recorded and produced musical tracks directly into the chapters of his new novel. Hazen’s music illuminates his main characters and further elaborates on the story, creating a unique and personal soundtrack for readers of the book.
Having spent years as an educator, Barnaby’s time as an elementary school music teacher particularly inspired him to become involved with The Bud Hawthorne Revue. He writes and edits the publication, along with Mr. Hawthorne himself, and is eager to continue offering contributions to literary culture given his unique perspective on writing.
Hazen lives in Taos, New Mexico with his wife Sarah and their adorably troublesome pets.
Stay current on all of his upcoming fiction at SevenElevenStories.com.
sevenelevenshortstories Author Barnaby HazenBarnaby Hazen Barnaby Hazen
Misfortunes of T-Funk really is all about the music. What inspired the story?
My past, really. I knew this story was brewing in me for years now. The different jobs I’ve worked and stories I’ve lived through in the name of keeping music my priority has been just outrageous, so it seemed natural to craft these stories about fictional characters informed by my own “misfortunes” and frustrations in what almost seems like a former life to me now.
There has to be a little of your own real life peppered in, right?
Yes. I made up these characters and put them through some stories that are made up, and
some that I have actually experienced, though I will keep those details close to my chest. My favorite part of having a ‘work of fiction’ disclaimer is that I can borrow them from my own life with no intention of ever returning to them. I like to say that maybe I’ll even forget those parts of the stories really happened. I’m getting older… it could happen.
I love the idea of incorporating music directly into your story, especially with your background. It’s such a unique idea! How did you come up with it?
I started thinking about where Theo, my main character, was headed musically right away -
meaning back around the year 2000, though I didn’t have a name for him then - but, I didn’t have much in mind for the vehicle to get him there.
I felt like I needed a different plan of some sort. I don’t really remember the moment I thought to use recordings, but it seemed an unnecessarily difficult task to describe Theo’s experience with nothing but words. It was when I decided to use these recordings that my second character, Judah, materialized. He sings each track from my own songwriting past throughout the book.
Which genres and artists from your own life influence the music in Misfortunes of T-Funk?
I grew up listening to Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, along with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Who and other classic rock. I also went through a punk phase, along with another stretch where I was listening to rap and writing hooks for some of those rappers in a studio in Northern California. Jazz was a favorite later on in life, which explains why I eventually obtained an MA in Jazz Composition. I think all of these various influences will be pretty apparent to readers/listeners of the book, though I’m sure some are more obvious than others.
And what can readers/listeners expect of the embedded music in each of the Misfortune books?
I’m hoping for 12-15 tracks incorporated across the entire series - which is suspiciously the length of a CD or full-length playlist. It’s something that’s ever-developing with the story itself, so I’m looking forward to seeing just how the entire thing plays out.
Being a musician yourself, what fascinates you most about the craft?
The strangest thing is how it’s changed for me. When I first started listening to music at the age of 12, someone gave me a tape of “The Wall” by Pink Floyd and I honestly thought there was a puzzle in it that would lead me to other things. I listened over and over and finally started buying other records, spending any money I came across on vinyl. The fascination developed into studying music, singing and writing my own songs. It was all music, all the time - nothing else mattered.
Now, I play professionally in town (though only part time) and hardly listen to music except for on the radio, because they have local DJs playing all kinds of music that seems new to me. What’s changed now is the role of music in my life. I make some money on it, and I find my spots where I have just as much fun as ever I did, but it’s no longer front and center. That is a little sad to me, but things happen. There are kids in my life, younger and older, and I don’t have the burning desire to challenge the way people hear music that I did when I was in college. Now, I’ll stay creative as it suits me; listen to weird radio shows that suit me; maybe turn myself on to something new every once in awhile and leave it at that. It’s definitely a happier way to live, rather than out on the edge of the world, desperate to put my work in front of anyone.