Michael Cala

Michael Cala has been writing and photographing professionally for most of his adult life. For the past 10, he has been a writer-producer and photographer for Internet content and multimedia for ad agencies, nonprofits, and a major New York City medical center. He also co-produces traditional music concerts.

He studied American and Latin American literature while in college and speaks fluent Spanish as well as his family's native Sicilian dialect. Mr.Cala has written extensively about the history, music, and popular culture of 19th and 20th century America.

Mr. Cala has been a hospital media director and has freelanced as a health and medical writer for magazines and corporate clients since 1990, specializing in video scripting and multimedia. He has written book, music, and concert reviews for Blues Revue and SING OUT! magazines. He now writes for the new Blues Music Magazine as well as for the traditional music site No Depression.

He has also written about art photography and photographic technique for Camera 35, Photo, and Modern Photography.

Mr. Cala is researching the lives of African American composer Perry Bradford and blues/cabaret singer Mamie Smith for a book on the birth and development of the “race record” industry starting in 1920. In 2013-2014, he and his wife Anne raised funds to buy Mamie Smith a headstone—she lay buried in unmarked ground for 68 years—and to establish a cemetery maintenance fund in her name.

Mr. Cala was recently inducted into the New York Blues Hall of Fame for his work as a blues and traditional music writer.

Book Reviews by Michael Cala

Author(s):
Genre(s):
Reviewed by: 

Without scholars and writers like Albert Murray, Sam Charters, Paul Oliver, John Work, and Alan Lomax—all of whom explored the essence of American blues, jazz, and traditional music—we would be a l

Author(s):
Genre(s):
Reviewed by: 

In 1970, when this book was written, the United States was deeply entrenched in the Vietnam War.

Author(s):
Genre(s):
Reviewed by: 

“. . . a book worthy of any jazz fan’s bookshelf.”

Reviewed by: 

“. . . a joyous little trip to North Mississippi Hill Country.”

Reviewed by: 

“. . . a pleasant surprise [tracing] disparate forms of American music to their roots in Kentucky.”

Reviewed by: 

“. . . When I Left Home [is] well worth reading—especially for blues fans interested in the southern rural and Chicago music scenes of the 1960s to the present.”

Reviewed by: 

“There are at least 50 acts whose work is covered in detail, with scores mentioned in passing.

Reviewed by: 

“How the Beatles Destroyed Rock and Roll is a superbly thoughtful, inclusive, and intellectually challenging look at American popular music and culture from the turn of the 20th ce

Reviewed by: 

“Mr. Malone paints a picture of an earnest, talented, shy, driven, and ethical man who loved nothing better than deconstructing and then playing a great fiddle or banjo tune.

Reviewed by: 

“Before Nashville ‘done got all slicked up,’ country-style guitar, fiddles (which became ‘violins’ in the Nashville Sound), and banjos were the predominating instruments.

Reviewed by: 

“. . . a readable and informative history of the political, cultural, labor and religious undercurrents of life in Utah and, by extension, the U.S. . . .

Author(s):
Genre(s):
Reviewed by: 

“Nicely—even elegantly—written, well edited, and consisting of material not published elsewhere, this is an entertainingly rare gem of a book.

Reviewed by: 

“Blues fans believing they know blues history will be surprised by the fabrications and half-truths associated with the genre, as uncovered by semiotic analysis of the many code words, meta

Reviewed by: 

Through at least the first third of the 20th century, segregation prevented many talented African American performers from working in high-paying white-owned nightclubs and similar lucrative venues