Title: Grand Slam Jams
Author: Dean R. Hegerty
Release Date: Available Now
Reviewer: Maura Sullivan
In Grand Slam Jams, author Dean Hegerty presents a compilation of rock concerts in Milwaukee from 1964 to 1980. He focuses his efforts on the more attention-grabbing and historic events by only including concerts with nationally-known, headliner bands. Hegerty notes the book’s time period as beginning with the nascent popularity of the Beatles and ending with John Lennon’s death. In all, Hegerty examines 202 concerts, ranging from The Rolling Stones to The Grateful Dead to David Bowie, organized by the year. He adds some anecdotes in between the concert descriptions.
Hegerty’s concert reports methodically note the concert name, date, venue’s address and any opening bands. Along with including ticket prices, crowd estimates and the ages of band members, the author incorporates some background details when possible.
Hegerty relies heavily on concert reviews from the Milwaukee Journal and Milwaukee Sentinel, the major newspapers of the day. The reviews provide quite a few details about each event. The author adds bits of trivia and other information to each concert’s description, sometimes briefly noting how bands changed and developed over time and the fates of band members.
The book contains a plethora of facts and numerous quotations from concert reviews. It undoubtedly took quite a bit of time to research. However, the work reads more like a very long list rather than an interesting narrative about rock concerts in Milwaukee. Nothing really binds these fragments of facts together. There is no overarching theme that can be traced through the events. A reader may wonder how these nationally known bands fit into the context of the Milwaukee’s music scene. Were these well-known bands the substance of Milwaukee’s rock concerts or did they supplement an active live local music culture? Did they have any kind of a lasting impact on the city?
Although his devotion to his cause is clear, by simply listing the factual details of several hundred rock concerts that occurred years ago, Hegerty does not add much to the discussion of rock music in Milwaukee. The audience for this work surely is very limited. With the addition of photographs, however, this may make a nice coffee table book for a classic rock fan residing in Milwaukee.