David A. Ensminger

Out of the Basement: From Cheap Trick to DIY Punk in Rockford, Illinois, 1973-2005

Published by Microcosm Publishing

Feb 16, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

With Out of the Basement, author and former Rockford, IL resident David A. Ensminger contributes to Microcosm Publishing's "Scene History" series of pocket-sized paperbacks, this one dealing with his hometown. Rockford, IL is most famous for being the birthplace of Cheap Trick, and Ensminger acknowledges this fact. But Out of the Basement is no history of Cheap Trick's rise. Rather, it is part Rockford music history lesson and part autobiography. The problem with this is that, other than Cheap Trick, few outside of Rockford and the surrounding areas will be familiar with the bands detailed herein. Ensminger's narrative nicely connects the history of decaying rust belt city with the emergence and sustained presence of DIY punk rock. But there's little for those outside of Rockford to digest. A couple interesting anecdotes are included-one including a pre-fame and poorly behaved Green Day, and a more recent one about the 2000s' Jerry Only-led Misfits-but much of Out of the Basement is idiosyncratic. Often, it finds itself straddling the fine line between niche and relatable small town tale. Sometimes it is successful, allowing the reader to identify with his or her own small town through the eyes and ears of Rockford youth. But at times it bogs down for the reader who may not be familiar with the bands discussed. Ultimately, however, the book sheds light on the history of a town through the history of its young people, those who themselves walked a fine line, the fine line of adolescence, between conformity and rebellion. (www.microcosmpublishing.com)

Author rating: 6/10

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