Monday, July 29, 2013

Hitless Wonder: A Life in Minor League Rock and Roll by Joe Oestreich

When it comes to rock memoirs, I usually like those by less famous people more than those by superstars. That's one reason I've put off reading Keith Richards' book even though my dad asks me all the time if I've read it yet (besides, in spite of the hundreds of books I've read and reviewed here, thick books—the hardcover is 576 pages—still intimidate me). Hitless Wonder is about Oestreich's long and barely known career in a band from Columbus, OH named Watershed. Apparently they had a minor regional hit back in the 1990s, but I had never heard nor even heard of them before I read this book.*

I love the structure of this book. It follows a two-week tour with a chapter for each concert, but each chapter is full of flashbacks that recount the history of the band. Oestreich gives great insight into the record industry (at least as it was 15-20 years ago), the recording process, and the interpersonal dynamics involved in keeping a struggling band together for more than two decades. As a non-fan, I was surprised how engrossing this story is.

* They're not bad, about what you'd expect from 1990s Midwestern rock. I didn't order their albums, but I wouldn't change the radio station if anyone played them. You can hear samples at

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