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Second Opinion

Bryan Powellís weak review of the recent Pinetop Perkins/Hubert Sumlin collaboration, Legends, deserves a response. These two "reputable sidemen" bring credibility to any project they involve themselves with, and the standards included which Powell refers to as "several of the tiredest of the blues pantheon" are done in a fashion and with a feeling distinctive of both artists.

Legends is an enjoyable and extraordinary recording which should have been reviewed by someone who can appreciate an album of work for what it is, rather than criticize it for what he thinks it isnít.

Bob Hagemier
Salinas, CA

The Levy List

I want to thank you all for the excellent article Karl Bremer did in BA#37 about my music. However, the Top 10 list included in the article was in fact Bremerís list, not mine.

When he asked me about it, I declined to make a list because there were so many wonderful projects Iíve had the honor to participate in, I didnít want to slight anyone by leaving them out. It was also too difficult for me to narrow it down to ten out of 150-plus projects.

That said, hereís my list, for whatever itís worth.

1. All My Life, Charles Brown
2. Blue Texas Soul, Tutu Jones
3. Sooner or Later, Larry Davis
4. Hold On, Lowell Fulson & Jimmy McCracklin
5. Glazed, Earl King & Roomful of Blues
6. Smoke and Fire, Smokey Wilson
7. Live at Cook County Jail, B.B. King
8. Blues Across America, Johnnie Bassett, Alberta Adams, the Butler Twins
9. Grooviní High, Pucho and his Latin Soul Brothers
10. GreaZe is Whatís Good, Ron Levyís Wild Kingdom

Honorable mentions: Otis Clay, Ann Peebles, ReBirth Brass Band, Bo Dollis, Melvin Sparks, Preston Shannon, Reuben Wilson, James "Thunderbird" Davis, Charles Earland and Champion Jack Dupree.

Ron Levy
Newburyport, Massachusetts

An Othar world

Catfish, youíve done it again. Another wonderful article. This one about Othar Turner (BA#36). I would like to tell you and all your readers about my "Othar" experience.

It was on a hot, steamy Clarksdale, Mississippi, afternoon in August 1998 at the Clarksdale Sunflower Blues & Gospel Festival. Hundreds of blues folks from all walks of life, from all corners of our globe were enjoying the music outside of the Delta Blues Museum.

Several blues performers had played to a very appreciative crowd that hot sunny afternoon. We all listened and marveled at this wondrous music. We clapped and stomped our feet in appreciation as each journeyman performed.

Then came Othar, a precious gnome of a man in farmerís overalls, a trainmanís cap, starched, pressed blue shirt and cowboy boots. He wasnít any taller then a nickel, but his face was filled with life and love lines, his eyes clear, sharp and full of fun. He introduced his son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter and other members of his family and extended family ó they all were playing rat-a-tat drums and sticks.

But the master had his fife. It looked like Othar had whittled it from an old hickory tree branch that morning. He played and jigged, the crowd jigged right along with him, coming more alive in that Delta heat. I watched as the grins on the faces in the audience widened in appreciation of this magical man and his music.

An antique truck festooned with huge sunflowers and corn stalks came rolling up the street ó a wonderful sight to see. Othar and his family didnít skip a beat. They continued playing and strutted to that beautiful old pick-up. A pied piper of the blues! All the young people in his family climbed aboard, still playing, mind you. Othar was the last to be lifted aboard. He was so damned proud he was beaming. And they never missed a beat.

Then the most remarkable thing took place. Hundreds of people, black, white, all became one. The sunflower truck began to ever sooo slowly roll, Otharís music becoming even more joyous. He stomped and jigged on the back of that old truck, playing his music for all the spirits in the Delta that afternoon. As I looked at the faces of the dancing crowd, I saw such joy and peace in our world and tears of happiness on many cheeks. A precious memory that will live in my minds eye for a lifetime.

Thank you, Othar, for showing us on that hot summer Delta afternoon that we are really one family.

New Jersey

We think heís kidding

I thought I was a good writer until I read the excerpt ("Do the Right Thing") from Adam Gussowís book, Mister Satanís Apprentice in BLUES ACCESS #36.

I immediately threw my word processor out the window, hitting my wife on her empty head. She is now bleeding all over my newly paved driveway.

A great piece (the excerpt, not my wife). Iím going out right now to buy the book. Maybe I can back the car over my missus.

Steve Lafanto
Brooklyn, New York

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