Letís start by saying I do some writing for this magazine, and itís not the norm for the contributors to lay praise on one another. But I had to write and tell you how great Leland Ruckerís tribute to Doug Sahm was. Of the many Iíve read here in Texas, it may be the most succinctly drawn and heartfelt, especially to this reader, who bought those Mercury and Phillips LPs when they came out. They were a primer, and I grew up loving Sahmís kaleidoscopic take on Texas music traditions (and soul!), all the while living a thousand miles away in a Florida beachfront community.
Dougís impact on everyone who loves Texas music can never be overlooked Watching over and nurturing the scene here like a benign Buddha, Doug influenced all of us listeners in ways most will never realize. From his introduction of conjunto styles to the masses, to his involvement in the college music scene in Austin or the shepherding of many of the "new country" artists here in Dallas, he was a man who not only ignored musical barriers but reveled in synthesizing musical diversity.
And, as a blues man, he had few peers. One of my fondest memories is the "Last Texas Blues Band" gigging here a few years back, careening through a set list that included T-Bone Walker, Little Milton, Howliní Wolf and Ray Charles, all gloriously played. Midway through the second set Doug brought up Roy Head to do his hits. Roy had driven over from Louisiana at Dougís request, and his performance elevated an already levitating audience that had been on the dance floor from the get-go.
As Leland said, you never knew what to expect from Doug, but you always knew youíd walk away satisfied with a treasured musical memory, and Royís surprise appearance that night etched this one. Doug will be missed more here in Texas than probably anywhere, but his impact was felt nationwide, and the void left by his passing will be hard to fill.
Tom Ellis III
What motivates me to type this was the Irma Thomas interview. Itís been exactly never that I have been moved like this from an interview. This woman comes across just about how I might have expected ó only more. I first met her in Davenport, Iowa, and in speaking with her after her performance I was really impressed with what a gracious woman she is ó I became envious of her husband! This is really a divine woman in every way. After this personal contact, I found myself able to appreciate her soulful music in a deeper, more personal way than before I met her. Now, in the recent BA interview, it comes through with depth and power. This is a magnificent human being.
The Wrong Voice
Thank you for the great article about acoustic blues in Chicago in the Spring 2000 issue of your magazine. It was a very good and informative article. I want to point out another thing: I always welcome critics to express opinions on my recorded material, whether bad or good. A lot of people canít stand my vocals, and a lot of people love my style. Someone on your editorial staff did a review of my latest CD. Please make sure that your reviewers read the liner notes. Five of the songs on this CD were not sung by me. These songs were sung by Mark Hoekstra. Track 8 is a misprint, so I can understand a mix-up in thinking that was me on vocals. Thank you for all your support. Your magazine is great.
A Good Thought
Somebody many years ago had a good thought in sending me a free issue of BLUES ACCESS. Back then it was black and white on newsprint stapled together. I have watched you grow, and it has been great. Please extend my subscription. I live in the high desert region of southern California, and BLUES ACCESS is my access. Keep it up.
Thank you for an excellent magazine. I am particularly amazed at the number of album reviews available in every issue. For someone like me, loving the blues but craving more of it and looking to expand my horizons beyond the mainstream blues artists, your magazine is just what I need. I am also very impressed with the comprehensive listings of various blues festivals you offer, and I am looking forward to the next edition as my friends and I in Sweden will use it to plan an annual blues crusade to a blues festival somewhere in the world.
Presumptuous, Distasteful and Mean
I am disappointed with Adam Gussowís article "Making Your Big Move" (BA41). While I understand it was tongue-in-cheek, I took issue with the mudslinging at Living Blues magazine. Living Blues is one of the best-written, most thoroughly researched magazines of any kind. Certainly, a man of Mr. Gussowís self-championed education would have to agree. Calling the Living Blues staff "self-haters" was presumptuous, distasteful and mean. Blues lovers comprise a small percentage of our population, and we donít need to be divided into even smaller factions by this kind of unproductive journalism. There is room enough for both BA and LB on my coffee table, and Iím sure most of my blues friends out there would say the same. I am a fan of Mr. Gussowís music and of his writing. I just expect better of him and of BA. Also, has he forgotten that he was once on the cover of that magazine "out of Oxford, Mississippi"? I believe that is what is called "biting the hand that feeds you."
Adam Gussow responds:
My Spring "Journeymanís Road" column was what the French refer to as a jeu díesprit ó i.e., a playful joke. It should have come with a disclaimer. The devilís voice I channeled was NOT my own. I donít know what came over me ó premillennial anxiety, perhaps ó but it wonít happen again.
Mr. Frank Lives
I just wanted to give you a bit of good news. In your Rooster Pickinís, you talk about Frank Edwards in the past tense. However, as unbelievable as it may be, Mr. Frank, as we all respectfully know him, can be found every night sitting at the corner stool of Blind Willieís in Atlanta. He just celebrated his 91st birthday. As far as I know he only plays occasionally, and he just made a rare appearance at the Chicago Blues Festival.
Big Shout from a Little Diva
This is a big shout from a little diva to say a thousand thanks for the riotous rockiní review yíall gave my Earwig CD, Ready to Cheat, in your Spring 2000 issue. Iím glad somebody appreciates my sense of humor! And please, should I be passiní thru your town, please be sure & come on down & weíll burn the place to the ground! Thank you most sincerely from the rioting redhead,
Liz Mandville Greeson
Hawaiian Blues Evangelist
I canít thank you enough for turning me on to "Just Memories" by Luther Allison. Is it possible to wear out a track on a CD?
One other thing Iíd like to pass on to you: Iíve lived here in Honolulu for the past 28 years and went for 23 of them without hearing a single live blues group. About five years ago, a man named Les Hirshhorn, from the village of Volcano on the Big Island (Hawaii) started bringing in groups from the mainland. He has introduced many, many people in these islands to the blues for the first time and he has created a blues festival (The Hawaiian Islands Rhythm & Blues Melee) now in its fourth year. On May 19th we heard and saw Clarence "Gatemouth" (what does he smoke in that pipe, anyway?) Brown, Big Bill Morganfield, Bob Margolin, and Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers.
Itís nothing like the big festivals on the mainland, but for us blues lovers in the middle of the ocean itís a godsend. I know that he has not made a lot of money doing this (it costs a lot to bring people across the ocean), and I would like to see this man somehow get his just desserts.
David C. Rohner