Book Scene: Road Series by Hugo Race, 2016

Hugo Race’s ‘Road Series’ is an enthralling narrative. Part rock biography, part travelogue, it defies genre and leaves the reader wondering about just how much of life is about choice, and how much is pre-ordained once those initial choices are made.

Immensely readable, Race understates just about everything, to allow anyone partaking in his written word to gently realize the enormity of certain events. Few of us do, would or could lead a musician’s life, but when the words in ‘Road Series’ evoke the stark reality of life on tour, readers can’t help but wonder how anyone could survive it and still cling on to any semblance of ‘normality’.

We all know of musos who have completely lost their groundedness in a world of illicit actions and substances, sleep deprivation, lack of routine, shady interactions with even shadier characters, and their inability to find peace in the mundane. In the public eye these people shed their sanity in full view, are judged by the masses and are usually found wanting. It’s a form of reality, which we can’t understand.

Race makes some poor choices, just because he can, but somehow he manages to hold-on to his marbles. Maybe this is because he engages with other, extremely grounded and talented people, or because he is acutely aware in an intellectual way of what he is doing. He certainly doesn’t skip over the less palatable parts of his life, which embeds the knowledge that what you’re reading isn’t a fairy story.

What Race gives up so that he can pursue his transient, creative lifestyle, sometimes makes him seem callous, but this hardness is balanced by the thought that he gains so much from living as he does. Really some people are always faced by a constant dilemma. Pain or pain? Race gives up a comfortable, predictable life for something different. He doesn’t have to choose the path less travelled but really it seems the right one for him as anything else would be unbearably ordinary and unpalatable.

So, for his sacrifices, Race travels to some of the most dangerous parts of the world to meet those heroic enough to pursue their art in the face of violence, corruption or even death. What he encounters are good people with musical traditions that have added aspects generally unknown to those of us in the west.

Hugo Race, who would give up just about anything for his music, would see that his life’s hardships have lead him to experiences incredible and priceless. Really not so much a choice…he was always programmed to be a different one.

This is not a comfortable read in many ways, but that’s just what makes it a worthwhile one. Finally a biography that touches on aspects of what makes us who we are.

Read our Q&A with Hugo.

Hugo Race will be appearing at:

The Wheeler Centre ~ 31 March – In Conversation with Mark Mordue 

Byron Bay Writers Festival – 5-7 August

Buy Hugo Race’s Road Series here.

About Sharon Brookes 67 Articles
Sharon is a freelance music journalist with 20 years experience writing for street press, web publications and blogs. She specialises in reviewing gigs, books, CD’s, and theatre productions.