George De Stefano

My Works

Book Reviews
PopMatters review of October: The Story of the Russian Revolution by China Miéville,
The Original Blues: The Emergence of the Blues in African American Vaudeville debunks popular notions about the origins of the blues.
What was unique and liberating about the gay influence on Western culture? Gregory Woods tells only part of the story.
Review essay of historian Enzo Traverso's Fire and Blood
Music Features
Guitarist Gary Lucas and singer Nona Hendryx talk about their (2017) album The World of Captain Beefheart and the man behind the monicker.
Sicilian jazz saxophonist Francesco Cafiso thrills the audience-- and this critiic -- in a 2016 concert at the Italian Cultural Institute in New York
Profile of New Orleans producer, songwriter and performer Carlo Ditta (PopMatters)
A roundup of great New Orleans pianists, from Jelly Roll Morton to Davell Crawford
Howlin' Wolf's Rocking Chair -- a track-by-track appraisal of a blues classic (PopMatters)
An Interview with jazz master Joe Lovano
Professor and poet Michele Messina Reale documents the complex lives and struggles of refugees in Sicily
Interview with filmmaker Antonino D'Ambrosio about his 2017 documentary, "Frank Serpico"
Rabih Alameddine (An Unnecessary Woman, The Hakawati) talks about his sixth novel, The Angel of History, and about the German-Jewish Marxist literary critic Walter Benjamin, the “othering” of Arabs in Western societies, and contemporary gay life.
Commentary on the life and political career of Frank Barbaro, the former Brooklyn dockworker and labor organizer who became a New York State representative and Supreme Court justice.
Interview with Booker Prize winner Marlon James, author of A Brief History of 7 Killings
In this interview before he announced his run against New York mayor Bill de Blasio, veteran advocate Robert Gangi says that policing in New York City is "institutional bullying."
Remembrance of the late Cosimo Matassa, who recorded many of the great R&B and rock 'n roll hits that defined the New Orleans Sound.
Noted author Richard Campanella recounts the turbulent and colorful history of New Orleans' most famous entertainment and tourism district
Veteran New York left-wing politico Frank Barbaro recalls his radical life, from the Brooklyn waterfront to the New York State Supreme Court
Music Reviews
Review of Blue and Lonesome by the Rolling Stones
The older she gets, the better she gets. Review of Lucinda Williams' 2016 double album, The Ghosts of Highway 20
Review essay from Rootsworld (the magazine of the music of the world) about two African music compilations from the Hugh Tracey archives and Tracey's ethnomusicology
Cultural Criticism and Reporting
Italy's biggest folk/world music festival changes direction by returning to its roots for its 19th edition.
"A Finook in the Crew: Vito Spatafore, The Sopranos, and the Queering of the Mafia Genre" (from The Essential Sopranos Reader
Film Criticism
Essay from Mafia Movies: A Reader (University of Toronto)
A personal essay about my first trip to Sicily (from VIA, Voices in Italian Americana)
"Finally, a book that helps to explain America’s enduring fascination with the mythology of the Mafia."

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Addio, Cosimo

Cosimo Matassa, who died September 11, 2014 at 88, was a son of Sicilian immigrants to New Orleans who settled in a working-class, multiethnic French Quarter neighborhood. Matassa became a pivotal figure in American vernacular music through his role in creating “the New Orleans sound” in his recording studios. According to music historian Jeff Hannusch, “Virtually every rhythm and blues record made in New Orleans between the late 1940s and early 1970s was engineered by Cosimo Matassa, and recorded in one of his four studios.”