More Miles Than Money

Inspired by Mark Twain, Jack Kerouac and American music the journey starts in San Francisco and heads for the frontier.  Travelling far beyond the typical McUSA and lookalike shopping malls this is a search for the wild, untamed America, encountering outlaw poets, Navajo beauties, Chicago soul men, Tex-Mex icons and the last Mississippi blues singers.

Who in their right mind wanders into black ghettos and Mexican barrios? Enduring eighteen chafing hours on a Greyhound bus just to go to Nashville? The red-eye exhaustion from driving for days on end solely to party in a honky-tonk?  But how else to capture the essence of American music that is in this book? Part musical adventure, part travelogue and part spotlight on parts of society that are largely ignored.

Including Alejandro Escovedo, Robert Johnson, Curtis Mayfield, Fat Possum Records, Lydia Mendoza, Billy Joe Shaver, Mississippi Delta Blues, The Dells, and much, much more.

Photo of Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions

If you’re looking to find the muscial underbelly of American music, away from the commercial packaging, and tracing its lineage to the blues, soul and Latin roots and all the characters who make up this tapestry then More Miles Than Money is the book to read.

Check out some of the interviews with artists like Alejandro Escovedo, Billy Joe Shaver, Radmilla Cody, Link Wray, and Jimmy Castor on this site, and more information on the book is available from the publishers Serpents Tail at http://www.serpentstail.co.uk/book?id=10921

Reviews for More Miles Than Money:

“In his first book, Princes Amongst Men, Cartwright proved that he had a writer’s eye for detail and a musician’s dedication to late-night adventures, the combination of which made for a compelling read. This second offering, into the heart of American roots music, doesn’t disappoint. Cartwright is good at documenting the road-trip element of his story, but he’s also interested in the people he meets along the way. Travelling on Greyhound buses, far into the land of blues, country, folk and soul music in the depths of Monument Valley or into the mud of the Mississippi, he gets to the heart of an often obscured side of America. He writes with spirit about meetings with bluesmen in Mississippi juke joints, rock-and-roll veterans in shabby Memphis bars, travelling with a Navajo beauty who was jailed for her part in a south-western drugs gang, and spending evenings with the last of America’s outlaw poets.”

Clover Stroud, Daily Telegraph (UK)

“…it is when he is in the barrio or seedy clubs, hanging out with a taciturn Howe Gelb, the enlightening Mabel John, and shining a light on East LA and the Hispanic music (from cantina pop to gangsta rap) which comes from it that this journey becomes gripping. And real.

From the Navajo rez to Clarksdale in Mississippi, Cartwright rolls in (seemingly fearless although there are hints of unease throughout) and looks up the lost names and great musicians of American regional music. He brings poetry, history, contemporary culture and race into the mix also.

More Miles Than Money is, incidentally, a users guide to some of these artists and styles and because he is so assured in his opinion you will be highlighting album titles and artists and heading to the internet to track many of them down. Who knew that Sam the Sham (of Woolly Bully and Little Red Riding Hood fame in the Sixties) had such an interesting career? Cartwright actually.

In Cartwright’s hands the blues and Mexican music — or even doo-wop — are never boring. He brings groups like the largely forgotten Dells into the spotlight and makes their story thrilling.

For many, Cartwright’s freewheeling, heavily referencing style (music lyrics, Kerouac, punctuating one-liners) will be an irritant — but the bigger story is also here and is told in the wide sweep and the details alike.

And say what you will, he got out of the office and onto the road.

This is music writing like it used to be. Opinionated, passionate, informed, real, and about the music makers and the stories behind them.

Not a PR person in sight.”

Graham Reid, Elsewhere.co.nz

“When Garth told me his next topic was going to be American music, my heart sank. What can be added to all the many books written on the subject?  Ignoring such discouragement, Garth forged ahead anyway, bloody-minded soul that he is, and I’m very glad he did.

This book confounds all expectations and is a terrifically enjoyable read. It doesn’t matter whether you have heard of any of the targets he searches for in his marathon journey from California via Texas to Tennessee. Although those musicians are the reason he is there, they are not the only reason to read the book, as Garth reports from dangerous back streets and scary interstates.

But if you see this in a bookshop, pick it up and open it anywhere. I guarantee it will have you hooked in seconds.

This man is a true writer who can make a Greyhound waiting room seem interesting, and that is a difficult trick to pull off.

The best music book since Nik Cohn’s Tricksta.”

Charlie Gillett, legendary British broadcaster.