The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce

Until I picked up The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce, I had been spending a lot of my reading time with suspenseful, gripping psychological thrillers -you know, all the “girl,” “wife,” or “woman” books-The Girl on The Train, The Wife Between Us, The Woman in Cabin Ten.  But this charming novel set in 1980s suburban London was a welcome change of pace-like a cool breeze after an intense thunderstorm.

The character-driven story kept me interested and intrigued, yet at the same time, soothed my soul. In addition to the music shop and its quirky inhabitants, there are the other shops on the street and their quirky owners.  At the center of the story is the music shop’s owner, Frank, a lonely middle-aged man who only wants to sell vinyl,despite the growing pressure to sell CDs. Frank has a gift for “hearing” what ails his customers and knowing what records they need to heal them, often prescribing them specific tracks and artists. There is also Father Anthony, a former priest who sells religious trinkets, Maud the tattooist who is in love with Frank, and the mildly peculiar twin brothers who run the local funeral parlor. And there is a pub of course, where they all gather.

Joyce fleshes out her characters fully enough that I really cared for each of them and their rag-tag community that fights the good fight against 1980s commercialism and gentrification.

Reading this hopeful and human story made me feel as though Joyce invited me in to her parlor for a cup of tea while she told me love stories: stories of new love, of long-lost love; stories of unrequited, unpursued, and unspoken love.

The Music Shop is not only a love story about two lonely musicphiles, it is also a love story about music. Throughout the tales of her likeable and misfit characters, Joyce weaves tidbits about musicians: their loves, their lives; their triumphs and their tragedies.  I learned a lot about music- from Beethoven and Berlioz, to the early days of punk rock and the Sex Pistols. For me, this was the icing on an already yummy cake.

If you are in need of a light but engaging escape filled with hope and humanity, The Music Shop may be just what the doctor ordered.

Classical Guitarist Peter Fletcher Visiting Central Library!

The Chesapeake Public Library has a wonderfully diverse and comprehensive music collection. You can find everything from Estonian indie-rock to a selection of German drinking songs to Japanese heavy metal. If you want to listen to it, you can find it here at the Library.

Along with housing an impressive music collection, we have presented a variety of musical programs over the years. From local school choirs to renowned cello band Rasputina, the Library has played host to multiple musical acts.

This year, we are pleased to welcome nationally-recognized classical guitarist Peter Fletcher. A critically-acclaimed musician, Fletcher has performed to a sold out house at Carnegie Hall, as well as being broadcast on NPR and several other radio and television programs. With a repertoire of various eras of classical music expertly played on the guitar, Fletcher enthralls and entertains audiences all across the country. To learn more about Peter Fletcher, please visit his website here.

Please join us on Wednesday, January 31st from 6:30 – 7:30 at the Central Library as Peter Fletcher brings the sounds of classical guitar to Chesapeake.

Kwanzaa Celebration at Indian River Library


Chesapeake Public Library is committed to educating and enriching people of all ages by providing free access to information, materials, technology and cultural opportunities, as our Mission Statement reads.  And now that the holiday season is already upon us,  Indian River Library is proud to be presenting a program rich with cultural and educational significance : the Fourth Annual Kwanzaa Celebration at Indian River Library, which will take place on December 27, 2016 in the large Meeting Room.  There will be something for everyone of all ages: an arts and crafts portion for families and children, which starts at 3:00 P.M and continues until 4:30 P.M.  Then, after a short break and an opportunity for fellowship, there will be an exciting and instructional musical performance by Atumpan and the Talking Drums, running from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM.

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Cranked Up Really High!


The year 1975 was a watershed year in music. Glam rock – which had so dominated both sides of the Atlantic in the early 70’s with the likes of David Bowie, Lou Reed, T Rex, Iggy & the Stooges, the Sweet, Slade, Bay City Rollers, Suzi Quatro, the New York Dolls, and countless others – began losing its grip and sliding from view, only to be replaced by something much more feral and ferocious still lurking in the primordial pool. On the American side, the Ramones had been around for a few months, but in England this was the year the Sex Pistols formed and started gigging. That may be considered punk’s flashpoint, but something was afoot in other parts of Britain, too. To the north, in Manchester, two other bands were taking shape. One was Buzzcocks, a legend in their own right and a story for another time. The other was a group of rock ‘n roll hooligans known as Slaughter & the Dogs. Continue reading “Cranked Up Really High!”

Contractual Obligation

Musical artists and their record labels have a long history of contention. Countless musicians have found themselves creatively and economically squeezed, anaconda-style, by the shackles placed on them by bad record deals and the boundless greed of the music industry. Of course the industry has always had the upper hand in these proceedings, holding artists hostage to their legally-bound recording contracts. This phenomenon has resulted in a plethora of albums created to break record deals or fulfill contractual obligations, allowing artists to put the mess behind them and move on to greener, more creatively-free pastures. These albums have ranged from the strange to the downright terrible. Who could forget Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music, for example, with its layers upon layers of feedback and distortion that were about as calming as fingernails on a chalkboard, or Van Morrison recording an album with songs about ringworm and eating sandwiches. And then there was Marvin Gaye, who famously gave the finger to both his record company and his ex by fulfilling his contract with an album, Here, My Dear, that gave a blow-by-blow description of his marriage’s disintegration. Just as we instinctively stare at car wrecks on the interstate with morbid curiosity, the lure of these albums, with all of their blood and guts strung out for public display, is strong. Continue reading “Contractual Obligation”