Books and the Blues: UTP Authors on the Road

sterlingadamPhoto: Adam Gussow (far right) and Sterling “Mr. Satan” MaGee (center) at Preservation Pub in Knoxville, TN.

Satan & Adam duo Sterling “Mr. Satan” Magee and Adam Gussow packed the house recently at Preservation Pub in Knoxville, TN. In addition to providing great entertainment, the duo promoted Gussow’s book, JOURNEYMAN’S ROAD: Modern Blues Lives from Faulkner’s Mississippi to Post 9/11 New York.

Journeyman’s Road offers a bold new vision of where the blues have been in the course of the twentieth century and what they have become at the dawn of the new millennium: a world music rippling with postmodern contradictions. Author Adam Gussow brings a unique perspective to this exploration. Not just an award-winning scholar and memoirist, he is an accomplished blues harmonica player, a Handy award nominee and veteran of the international club and festival circuit. With this unusual depth of experience, Gussow skillfully places blues literature in dialogue with the music that provokes it, vibrantly articulating a vital American tradition.

At the heart of Gussow’s story is his own unlikely yet remarkable streetside partnership with Harlem bluesman Sterling “Mr. Satan” Magee, a musical collaboration marked not just by a series of polarities-black and white, Mississippi and Princeton, hard-won mastery and youthful apprenticeship-but by creative energies that pushed beyond apparent differences to forge new dialogues and new sounds.

“Adam Gussow has lived the Blues life. By some miracle he has also lived to write about it. Whether his subject is a novel by Faulkner or the romance of buying an amp, his prose is as dynamic as a guitar solo by Stevie Ray Vaughan.” —Krin Gabbard, Author of Black Magic: White Hollywood and African American Culture

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jp-_gzero.jpgPhoto: Jean-Philippe Cypres (left) on stage at Ground Zero in Clarksdale, MS.

Randall Norris and Jean-Philippe Cypres kicked off a tour in the Mississippi Delta on May 12 to promote their book, Highway 61: Heart of the Delta. Stops included TURNROW BOOKS in Greenwood; Delta Center for Culture and Learning at DELTA STATE UNIVERSITY in Cleveland; LEMURIA BOOKS in Jackson, SQUARE BOOKS in Oxford; GROUND ZERO BLUES CLUB in Clarksdale; LORELEI BOOKS in Vicksburg; and MCCORMICK BOOK INN in Greenville.

Highway 61: Heart of the Delta celebrates the Mississippi Delta in words and pictures. Edited by Randall Norris with photographs by award-winning photographer Jean-Philippe Cyprés, this volume brings to life this storied region of the South. Actor Morgan Freeman provides a Foreword in which he recounts his personal history as a child in the Delta and discusses why he was pulled back to his ancestral home, despite its challenges.

This book brings together essays by noted Delta writers and scholars, interviews with Delta residents from all walks of life, and vivid photographs that document the region, as well as an original poem by famed poet Nikki Giovanni. The essay writers touch on a variety of themes from cultural landmarks to racial issues to the struggle for Civil Rights, providing the reader with a guide to important themes of the area’s history and culture.

“For the expatriate, Highway 61 pulls you irresistibly back to the storied
places, dark history and budding hope that lie waiting in the long, flat
richness of the Delta. For the newcomer, its contrasting tales of
individual witness and its evocative pictures capture both the complexities
and the stark realities of black and white in a region whose history no
longer defines its future.” —Hodding Carter III

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