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Catfish got Rolling Stoned

As a recent subscriber to BLUES ACCESS, I look forward to each issue and the reviews in particular. One particular review, though, really got to me. Leland Ruckerís review of Paint It Blue: Songs of the Rolling Stones (BA#32) starts out with a virtual panning of the group. With all due respect, Mr. Rucker, a band of this stature comes out with new material every two-three years and then goes out on tour to support the new release. Sure, they play the fossils, but what contemporary or older blues/rock act doesnít? Is John Lee Hooker a nostalgia act when he sings "Boogie Chillun" or "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer"? Are these songs not etched in stone? Would you classify B.B. King a nostalgia act, too? After all, what significant thing has he done in the last say, five years that isnít a remake of a standard that is etched in stone?

Donít get me wrong here, I buy these artistís new releases, but I donít classify them as nostalgia acts. For the past two years, Iíve done four blues radio shows on a local college station (WUSB, Stony Brook, N.Y. 90.1 FM). During each one I play something in the blues vein by the Rolling Stones. Had it not been for my love of their music, I wouldnít have pursued the blues. I am forever in their debt because I had to go to England to discover music native to my own country! By the way, this nostalgia act has in the past and present featured blues artists on the bill of their pay-per-view shows (Taj Mahal, John Lee Hooker and Bo Diddley, to mention a few).

I have no problem with the rest of the review. I have the CD, and I agree with most of what you say. I especially like Junior Wellsí "Satisfaction." May he rest in peace. I for one listen to the Stones a lot and do pay attention to their lyrics. To me, they are as fresh today as they were 30 years ago. Nostalgia act indeed! The Beach Boys are a nostalgia act, and perhaps even Chuck Berry is a nostalgia act, but the Stones? Come on, Leland, get a grip!

Ted Pappacena

Booty Call

Now let me see if I have this straight: Bob Margolin writes a letter (exercising his First Amendment rights) to BLUES ACCESS to complain that BLUES ACCESS #31 published (an exercise of its First Amendment rights) an unfavorable blurb about his latest CD. Iím sure the irony of this is lost on Mr. Margolin.

But a couple of other points. Perhaps Mr. Margolin, while castigating BLUES ACCESS by saying "the magazines you compete with at least try to travel on a higher road," ought to disclose that he is a contributor to one of those magazines. And perhaps, as a result, his view of what constitutes the high road is somewhat skewed.

And secondly, in the full review of Up & In which appears in BLUES ACCESS #32, the following lyric is reprinted from "Alienís Blues":

The earthís so full of natural beauty

But all they want to do is kick each otherís booty

Looks like Red Rooster was right: The lyrics are "flat out silly." So quit cryiní, Bob. Maybe your friends at that competing mag will do better by you.

Marc Wieman

Say That Again

I just read Bob Margolinís response (BA #32) to the Roosterís review of his record (BA #31). I listened to Up & In, read Bryan Powellís review (BA #32) and formed my own conclusion.

I have been a blues fan for 40 years, and I am well aware of Bob Margolinís contributions to the blues world. He is a fine musician, but letís face it, his singing is mediocre at best, and I donít care for the CD.

Regarding Muddy Waters, I think the Rooster was truthful rather than sarcastic.

Mike Casello
Gualala, California

On the Other Hand

I just finished reading the letter by Bob Margolin in BA#32. I couldnít agree with him more. Several times over the past year or so I have been bewildered by the tone and lack of respect to blues artists by your record reviewers. I mean, how can you disrespect a musician chosen by Muddy Waters? The fact that Muddy thought he was good enough speaks volumes. If your reviewer doesnít like a particular genre of the blues doesnít give him the right to personally slam someone. Your job should be to help publicize and promote all forms of blues, not just the particular type that the reviewer likes. As a hard-core fan of Johnny Winter, the music made by Kebí Moí doesnít quite interest me. However, I could never say anything so personally negative about him. I want to see all blues musicians be successful.

Another example is the review of Jimmy Roberts and the Triple Crown Blues Bandís Voodoo Blues. Your reviewer said, "Didnít Johnny Winter do this 30 years ago?" Is this bad? Apparently so, yet to me this is a compliment. That comparison is enough for me to seek out this new band and see what theyíre all about.

Your magazine does a fine job of promoting the various types of blues musicians, from the blues purists to modern blues. Your record reviewers should do the same.

J. Douglas Brown
Harrodsburg, Kentucky

Journeymanís Side Road

One of my favorite columns in your magazine is Adam Gussowís Journeymanís Road. As a fairly young (27-year-old) harp player and fan of Satan and Adam, I find Adamís stories about his influences and blues discoveries fascinating. Adamís column is usually the first thing I read when I get my new BLUES ACCESS in the mail.

I particularly liked the columns on Nat Riddles. Adam, it must have been enlightening to have a mentor like Nat. Iíve never heard any of his music, but for some reason he reminds me of DCís own Charlie Sayles ó perhaps because Charlie also plays on the street and has taught many local harp players. Has Nat ever recorded anything commercially? He sounds like someone I would love to hear.

Keep up the good work!

Steve Levine
College Park, Maryland

(Adam Gussow replies: An import disc, Johnson! Where Did You Get That Sound? (L&R, 1982) is a good place to begin. Nat also appears on the rare LPs on the Spivey label; numbers 1026, 1034 and 1039 contain his best playing. I have four 90-minute cassettes of Nat and Charlie Hibbert working the streets of New York in the summer of 1989, recorded on a Walkman Professional, and would welcome inquiries from anybody interested in reissuing them as "modern field recordings" of an underappreciated master of the blues harmonica. For the full story of my fortunate apprenticeship with Nat Riddles (and Mr. Satan), please stay tuned for Blues Lessons, a memoir due out from Pantheon in late 1998.)

Ebony and Ivory

Nadine Cohodasí statement that the blues has a larger white audience than black may not be quite accurate, at least based on record sales.

Malaco Records probably sells more blues records produced for a black audience than all of Alligatorís record sales. Certainly Denise LaSalle outsells Koko Taylor.

If white fans of blues/rock are considered part of the contemporary blues audience, then why arenít black fans of soul/blues accorded the same status?

Burnham Ware
Owenton, Kentucky

Comparing retrospectives

Just a note to thank you for your thoughtful comments on the Harry Smith Anthology (Catfish Whiteyís Pond, BLUES ACCESS #32). Santa was kind enough to give me the boxed set, and the Old Boy also included both the Cantwell and Marcus books. It might be interesting some time to compare the Smith anthology with the Roots Ní Blues Retrospective 1925Ė1950 anthology. The Retrospective is dedicated to Smith; a nice nod of respect I think. Once again, thanks for a thoughtful review.

James Ronda

Spread the Butter

I have been reading your five-part biography of Paul Butterfield and itís marvelous. This man was a genius, and the bio hit dead on like one of his harp solos. I saw him only once ó 1969, Atlantic City (N.J.) Rock Festival, held at the race track ó and his set was the best thing (for me) in those three days, which included sets by the Byrds, Procol Harum, B.B. King, Frank Zappa, Creedence, Santana (Iím not making this up, ask anyone who was there), Chicago, Joni Mitchell, Dr. John, etc.

But Butter killed them all. His sound of that time is best reflected on The Paul Butterfield Blues Band ó Live (thatís only on vinyl, bro). Funky does not begin to describe that band. Thanks for a great mag.

James Emert
Chatham, New Jersey

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