The “Premiere Issue” of Acoustic Guitar magazine arrived in my mailbox in July of 1990.
With a black & white photo of classical guitarist Sharon Isbin on the cover, the feature article was called “My First Guitar” and subtitled “Tales of Childhood Passion.” In the article, author and editor Jeffrey Pepper Rogers presented stories gathered from master guitarists Doc Watson, Ms. Isbin, Michael Hedges, Ferron, Norman Blake and others about their “life-changing moments of passion, pain and magic with their first instruments.”
In the twenty-one years since then, I have been a loyal subscriber and avid reader of Acoustic Guitar. From the pages of that magazine, I have learned much about the music, history, construction, recordings and players of my favorite instrument. I have discovered “new” artists such as Guy Clark and Gillian Welch and made many trips to the music store in search of a CD recommended by a reviewer or author writing in those happily-received monthly issues.
The September 2010 issue was a good example of this.
The cover proclaimed this issue as being the “Blues Guitar Special!” and the featured artist was “Nashville’s Roots Guitar Genius” Buddy Miller. (If you’ve never heard Buddy Miller, you should definitely check him out. Besides his prodigious talents as a guitarist, singer and songwriter, his version of “With God On Our Side” from the album Universal United House of Prayer is, in my mind, one of the best covers of a Bob Dylan song ever. The 2009 CD Written In Chalk by Buddy and [his wife] Julie Miller is quite amazing as well.)
On page 28, there was an article entitled “The Mississippi Sheiks Rediscovered” by Kenny Berkowitz.
Berkowitz wrote about the ideas behind and the making of the recently released CD Things About Comin’ My Way: A Tribute to the Music of the Mississippi Sheiks. The collection was the brain child of multi-instrumentalist and producer Steve Dawson. Over one and a half years of work, Dawson colaborated with an international array of stellar acoustic musicians. Each artist/group recorded a cover version or interpretation of a favorite number from the large catalogue of songs written and recorded by the Mississippi Sheiks, the highly-influential 1930’s string band.
Being a fan of the Sheiks, their songs and of several of the musicians who contributed to the album, I was definitely intrigued. I added Things About Comin’ My Way to my mental list of “CDs to find.” And finally, this summer, thanks to a chance visit to the Newbury Comics on Newbury Street in Boston, I found it. (See my post of June 4, 2011: “Summer’s Here… Again” for more about that eventful day.)
(I can hear the questions: “Why not iTunes? Why not Amazon? The internet, the internet…!” Simply, I enjoy the hunt and making the catch.)
The CD is well worth the search. Among the artists I knew before, Bruce Cockburn, Bob Brozman, John Hammond and Kelly Joe Phelps all do themselves proud. The producer, Steve Dawson contributes his outstanding talents on slide guitar to many tracks and, in turn, adds a flow and cohesiveness that compilations of this type often lack.
Among the artists who were new to me, Oh Susanna, aka Suzie Underleider, recorded the song “Bootlegger’s Blues” with arrangement help from the legendary Van Dyke Parks. This is my favorite cut on the album. Besides introducing me to an exceptional vocalist, I’d never heard this great song before either. The lyric: “you’ve got to make it to the woods, if you can” has been ringing in and out of my head all summer.
Discovering new music, however old it may be, is for me, one of the great joys of life.
Thanks to Acoustic Guitar magazine, I’ve had many years of making wonderful discoveries. Who knows what’s to come?!
I’ll be checking the mailbox.
P.S.: I wish I could post a link to this recording so that you can listen to it, but my youtube search came up empty.
Throughout the history of this blog, you have brought so many artists to my attention, artists that I’d probably not find on my own. This post is no exception. You have become not only a versatile musician and teacher, you are a veritable encyclopedia of music history, artists and songs. I am truly humbled by the depth and breadth of your knowledge.
I remember many years ago in Harvard Square, the excitement we felt (you, Dan, me) when we found that “bootleg” Beatles album, that eventually was released as Let It Be. I’m happy to see that you still get that feeling when a “hunt” proves fruitful.