BLUES BEFORE SUNRISE: The Radio Interviews Steve Cushing University of Illinois Press (2010)
Cushing has been doing his radio show for some thirty years out of Chicago – first on the local NPR station, now nationally distributed. One of the additives to his three hours of music have been interviews with folks in the business, mainly musicians. This book collects a dozen of same: Yank Rachell, Jesse Thomas, Alberta Hunter, “Grey Ghost”, John & Grace Brim, Jody Williams, Rev. Johnny Williams, Little Hudson, Tommy Brown, producers Ralph Bass, and Cadillac Baby, DJ Richard Stamz. Now, you may not have heard of all these folks, and most are worth hearing from. Cushing leaves most of his questions in the package… a good thing, in my estimation. Some are more interesting than others, some wander from the topics, but all are interesting. Steve does have a few lacunae in his knowledge, though. In his interview with singer Tommy Brown (mainly from Atlanta), there are transcription errors by someone unfamiliar with that city’s past. The famous “Diggin’ the Discs” show of Zenas Sears was on station WGST, not WEST or WTES; it’s the Poinciana Club, not The Point Sienna Club; trumpeter Roy Mayes sister is singer Zilla Mays, not Villa. But he knows Chicago! These are small details, though, in a satisfactory book – there are photos of each interview subject in the text. Give it a go.
PETER B. LOWRY
pub: THE BLUES TIMES; No. 212/Nov 2010: p. 10.