Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 3 No. 3 Fall 1981

WE’RE BEING WATCHED. D E L E V A N S LIGHT MEALS WITH JAZZ 6:00 to 12:00 NIGHTLY 1425 NW GLISAN 224-5597 By thousands of contemporary art lovers in Portland. And by dozens of other art galleries and m useum s across the country, hoping to em ulate our success. Come watch for yourself at 117 NW 5th. PORTLAND CENTER FOR THE VISUAL ARTS 2 Clinton St. Quarterly

Papa Haydn Fine European Pastries 5829 S.E. Milwaukie Tues-Thurs 11:30am to 11pm Fri-Sat 11:30am to 12 mid Closed Sunday & Monday CLINTON ST. QUARTERLY Vol. 3, No. 2 Fall 1981 CONTENTS I Call On Lynda Barry, Jim Blashfield......................................... 4 Tom McFarland: Travailin’ with the Blues, Lynn Darroch. .1 0 The Black Comedian, John Valentine........... ....................... 16 Kids Against Cops in Britain, Simon Frith.............................. 20 Re-arming America, Earl Klee................................................. 30 The Big Apple, Rick Mitchell...................................................34 D’Anse Combeau, Dr. Joseph Uris and Penny Allen.............. 42 STAFF Co-Editors: Jim Blashfield, Lenny Dee, Peggy Lindquist, David Milholland Design and Production: Jim Blashfield Proofreader: David Milholland Ad Production: Peggy Lindquist Production Assistant: Dana Hoyle Ad Sales: Denny Chericone, Lenny Dee, Pat Sumich Aide-de-camp: Randy Shutt Typesetting: Cathy Siegner, Publisher’s Friend, Thanks— Archetype Camerawork: Jeff Jacobs, Publisher’s Friend Contributing Photographers: Jim Blashfield, Michael Moran Contributing Artists: Lynda Barry, Dana Hoyle, Stephan Leflar, Steve Sandstrom, Issac Shamsud-Din Cover: Anton Kimball; Insert: Steve Sandstrom The Clinton Street Quarterly is published free to the public by the Clinton Street Theatre, 2522 SE Clinton, Portland, OR 97202. © 1981, Clinton Street Quarterly NOW SERVING LUNCH AND DINNER Clinton St. Quarterly 3

/ sit there and then the title. Then When Lynda Barry’s comic strips “Two Sisters” and Ernie Pook” first appeared in Fresh Weekly overayearago, i was, like a lot of people, immediately hooked. Barry’s work has gained her a small legion of admirers — in Seattle, where her comics have appeared in The Sun, the University of Washington Daily, and currently in The Rocket — and in Chicago, where they are a regular feature of the Chicago Reader. Her recent show of paintings at Seattle’s Rosco Louie Gallery, The Ten Commandments, sold out the first day. Her new book, Boys + Girls, due in October, is sure to create a host of new Barry-fans. There was something in Lynda Barry’s comics that I hadn’t seen anywhere else, and I found myself wanting to meet her, to talk with her and find out who she was. Thus I found myself on the train to Seattle. The following conversation took place at the Bell Town Cafe over dinner. Dinner CSQ: Well, tell me about the “Two Sisters. ” Lynda: Gross! CSQ: You don’t have any sisters. Lynda: No. “Two Sisters.’’ Let’s see. Oh, I was doing a comic strip for the Seattle Sun called “Spinal Comics." It was about cactuses, (laughs) Stupid?.... Anyway, I ran out of jokes about cactuses, so I had to come up with a new comic strip and I thought that doing one about little girls would be good. CSQ: Well, what happened to the “Two Sisters”? Lynda: When I make a comic strip I draw the border of the first frameON I CALL 4 Clinton St. Quarterly Photos by Jim Blashfield

■you! Returned to the earth ... for a year. It's stupid to try to make the thing live longer than its natural lifespan. That’s why comic strips are so boring. In the time I’ve been ANITA! 5 ,^ 0 THERE L '" THAT FCIR 45 HfHUTE^ FINISH YOUR - SANDW! CH 'J RlCKEY YOU HAVE MOVING ME AL $0 ' SUDDENLY ’ &£ CR-YTOO ' SALAMI SANDWICH WITHOUT / GUN BUTCHI Y ^ PUTT ING I N SANDWICH 7 BIG JERK AND KILLING J and sort of hear it. I never plan out a comic strip. With them, I would draw them and I would just hear them. And one day it just stopped. That freaked me out, because I was starting to get attention for it and people were looking forward to it. So I kept drawing them anyway for about a month after I stopped hearing them in my head. The strips were terrible, just the worst. So then the strip became about their mother, Mrs. Fitz, who was a divorced woman with a lot of problems. She sent her kids to New York City where their father lived, to be with him. And that was the last anyone saw of them 'til the very end. That was two years ago. CSQ: Do you have copies of the “Two Sisters”? Lynda: No, I don't.... Yeah, I do. I don’t take them out, though. CSQ: Because they’re so old? Is that why you don’t take them out? Lynda: Yeah, sort of. They were too successful. I got locked into it. “Mrs. Fitz and Judy’’ was a great strip though, all about housewives, especially divorced ones, and single women. But then they all died 'cause I couldn't hear them anymore at all, so I killed them. They were in a car crash or something. So when I decided to start again there was this big to-do. Do you remember how “Two Sisters" looked and how it was drawn—they had dresses with little patterns on them? Everybody loved that. God, they loved that. So I decided my next strip couldn’t have any of that in it at all, because it was way too soon—too much of a thing, you know. I tried to think of a way I could draw that was more real, not cute. I tried to remember how I used to draw when I was a kid, and came up with a style that makes people say I can't draw. I like that kind of drawing a lot. I’ve really acquired a taste for it. But when it first came out, God, I used to get letters, real hate letters. “Where are ‘Two Sisters’? They were so nice, and now you make these terrible comic strips about people fighting. ” CSQ: What if a major syndicate offered you a lot of money to do the “Two Sisters” strip for 5 years? Lynda: I’d never do it. I had my chart done, and my astrologer said “Never do anything for money. You don't need to, you’ll always be okay. " I would never do it, because I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t even do it MY FAVORITE BUTCH 'E" I AM So HAPPY NOW ' I AM CRYING NoW AM DIZZY7 ANO You So MUCH CSQ: What evolved next? Lynda: Well, I had had this other comic strip which was my first comic strip—“Ernie Pook’s Comics." I started that in college. One of my friends kind of encouraged me and then the editor of The University of Washington Daily saw it, and he put it in the paper. So I ran a bunch of those, which were sort of random comic strips, until I could think of a new strip. But then, somebody wrote in to the paper about how awful my comic strips were. And I was sitting having breakfast with my mom, when I read it, she read it too, and I got so embarrassed I quit. CSQ: For how long? Lynda: For 6 months. CSQ: Do you mean you quit making comic strips, or you quit drawing altogether? Lynda: Quit making comic strips. I never mix them up. I've always thought that my real work was my portraits, and that comic strips were sort of a good thing, but more of a way to support myself so I could do doing comic strips and being published—four years—I’ve had seven comic strips. CSQ: Seven different strips? Lynda: Yeah. They live about eight months or so. And if I try to make them last any longer they get really dumb and awful. There are some people who get away with it, who have enough characters and enough presence of mind that they could just do them forever. Like “Peanuts," even though I don’t think it’s the best comic strip I’ve ever seen, the characters are for real! “Brenda Starr" is a terrific one. “Moose Miller," that’s a great one. And “ Tweetie." That’s the weirdest strip. I can't even believe that guy got syndicated! It’s one panel, always very good. CSQ: Do you think that your comic strips require something from the observer different from, say, “Beetle Bailey”? Lynda: Uh huh. I think some comic strips have some sort of protective quality about them. There are things that you know you're not going to read about in most comic strips. And the subjects, the topics in my comic strips aren't very often found in comic strips, period. Especially my more serious ones, which aren’t even comic. There are some topics that you can just count on seeing in comic strips, and you don't ever have to worry about seeing anything else in there: making fun of your wife, puns.... I like to make comic strips about real problems that people have. Lately I've been really interested in relationships, I guess because of mine, real curious about how people go about them and what they let happen, what they tolerate. I used to like to do comic strips that were more some of the stuff you see in The New Yorker—a little more spacey or kind of twisted. But then I got more interested in real dialog and stuff, real stuff that happens between people. CSQ: How did that happen? Lynda: It was when I started doing “Girls and Boys. ” I had done “Two Sisters," which was sort of about how people talk, but it was more idyllic, two little girls, you know. I had an idea one day about kids, about childhood, about how that stuff that happens in the family gets passed on through a kid to another kid in the play field, and then the other kid brings it home and can to to sit in drawing everybody in the world basically. SPINAL COMIC 5 * 9ARR-X ANITA ANITA if You W r STOP THIS NONSENSE I'LL CALL YOU^ FATHER.' 7 ITO BRI NO A HAMMER. portraits. I've never been able make a living doing portraits. CSQ: Are you commissioned do portraits? Lynda: I’ll draw anybody who’ll for me. I’m just interested A thing of the past ... Clinton St. Quarterly 5

pass it on to their brothers and sisters. And I thought, God, I know how to illustrate that. So I made the first “Girls and Boys" comics about just that thing, about how violence between family members that aren’t getting along gets passed on to the kids. Have you ever heard a four-year-old say, “What on earth are you trying to do to me?" You know what I mean? So, that’s how that started. Now the hardest thing I have to do is keeping my personal life out of the comic strips. Really hard to do, because sometimes I'll have a specific problem in my head that I'll want to write about, that’ll have to do with me and my boyfriend, or there have been times when I've had people I was angry at and I wanted to make a comic strip about them. CSQ: You have to restrain yourself from that? Lynda: Sometimes I do it but I don't print them, I fust put them away. ‘T i TRANSPORT, WONDER IF 7 //> I CODLt? T RANSPORT o O o 4/ 6 © O o 1 11 Dead in an unfortunate crash. It’s stupid to try to make a thing live longer than its lifespan. That’s why comic strips are so boring. CSQ: You said that you thought your comic strips were “eighties. ” Why do you say that? Lynda: You know, some people have said they were “fifties. ” I try to keep them about stuff that I hear on the bus, or what my friends are going through or that I'm going through. The drawing style is real contemporary, even though some people think it's preschool, and the topics are pretty contemporary. CSQ: Many people who see both your comic strips and your portraits would be surprised that they came from the same person. Lynda: I’ve thought about that several times myself. I really have a strong feeling that it’s important to learn how to do something that will last forever—not forever, but for long periods of time, like 50 years, 100 years. Knowing how to actually render is important to me. My goal in life, ever since high school, was to be able to draw like da Vinci—to be a real master of drawing, and to be able to draw people the way they look in 1980, so that when you look at it 50 years from now it’s a document. And my comic strips just don’t fulfill that for me. But the comic strips do another thing that the portraits could never do—they talk and they're temporal and they’re weekly. I have two things that I want to do, and so I have to have two different kinds of work. My astrologer said I have Gemini in the eighth house, and that means I have to have two kinds of work or I’d go crazy. Not that I believe in astrology. The way I approach both of them is exactly the same, though. It’s almost like meditating. As I said, in doing the strip I draw the border, spend a lot of time drawing the title I’ve always thought that my real work was my portraits, and that comic strips were more of a way to support myself. My goal in life, ever since high school was to be able to draw like da Vinci, to be a real master of drawing. of the comic strip. And you know how my stuff has a lot of pattern in it? I like pattern now, but it used to be there just to keep me drawing while I was waiting to hear the thing. When I do portraits, I do this whole thing of preparing the paper and the easel and putting this one color down and doing a light sketch. It’s sort of hypnotic. I'm using the same place mentally, when I make a comic strip as when I make a portrait—exactly the same place—trying not to have myself at all in it. It’s just that the comic strips come from my head and the portraits come from the other guy's face. The worst comic strips are ones when that thing won’t happen, that feeling, that state won't occur, so I have to make up the comic strip. And I’m not real funny when it comes to making up comic strips—I mean, from here. Sometimes they come out and they’re just great. I mean, I start laughing when I hear the thing. Like doing that qne about finding your perfect love mate was a blast. I was just dying when I was doing that. The one that’s in The Rocket right now I had to make up, because it wouldn’t come and I was under a deadline. It’s really rare that it doesn't come. CSQ: You mentioned the criticism you have received for the way you draw the comic strips. Lynda: The funny thing is that I get criticism about the way the comic strips look from normal people, but then doing colored pencil portraits in the art world is about the corniest thing you can do, too. The artists tend to like my comic strips, and other people tend to like my portraits. CSQ: When you say that people criticize your drawing, do you hear that through the grapevine? Lynda: I read it in the newspaper. Listen to this, (she reads from a Seattle review) “Her comics generally inspire either strong admiration or criticism coupled with the comment that she cannot draw. ” No one ever tells me to my face that they don't like my work, except I hear that people can argue for hours about why they don't like it, giving Portrait by Lynda Barry 6 Clinton St. Quarterly

examples. I'd love to eavesdrop. In fact I did one time. I was in a cafe once, and I heard these people sitting next to me talking about my comic strip and how I had gone downhill since “ Two Sisters. ’’ CSQ: Comic strips have a history of being very clearly accessible to everyone as a popular art form. Sometimes you'll hear people say, “ Well, I don’t get it." What do you think’s going on with those folks? Lynda: They don’t get it. I've thought a lot about what “getting something’’ is, and why it is that when you get something you laugh, like with a punch line, for instance. I’m really into schematics, or how something works—I figured out that you're introduced to a bunch of parts, and then all of a sudden at the end, one of the last parts gives you information about how they’re all connected. Some clue is given that makes you shoot back through all the stuff that you’ve just heard, sort of like a retrospective patterning, and understand how they connect. The sensation of getting it is delightful, and it makes you laugh. % M l : ! may vn t 'M* * war r//1W i/ 'W fa I IL WHAT7 IM NOT TR7IN6 TO 6ET TOO IN IM TIDING To TEAC-H A&OUT HERE'TR7 IT/ Lately I’ve been real interested in relationships, how people go about them, what they let happen, what they tolerate. Humor makes you laugh, too, but the sensation of getting something is fantastic. And sometimes that final clue, for some people, just doesn’t connect it, because of their experiences or whatever. If your chemistry isn’t such that that last one gives you the information, you’ll never get it, and you just don’t and that’s a fact. It's like another language. Get it? CSQ: Yeah. I get it. You said earlier that you thought that it was important to draw. Lynda: I was saying that I have a commitment to making art. Even though that sounds corny, that's true. Because...especially with my comic strips and also with my portraits...I try as much as possible to make it about people, real stories. Not necessarily real stories that have happened to people, but try to use the real language. The work starts to have a kind of a value or a good about it that good artwork does have, where it can relate to different people’s lives. It can be therapeutic. Did you ever, this is corny, but, did you ever read the book Seth Speaks? He thought that good paintings or good artworks contained information, instructions for healing. I believe that you can get fixed from good art if you’re depressed or if there’s something wrong—that there’s information in it to help you. EIMLH TINA.1 A TEACHER TOLD ME THAT IF you POKE A BAE^ WITH A SAFETY BEFORE TH^AGE OF 5 THE LINN. y o w t miN6T0 6EV fAE IN TROUBLE SCIENCE ! OHHVH D O ------— you HAVE THE PIN 7) ] STOP'* , .i in ■■ —ii w-------rr-ra?—n 0? li — 1*» T T O A ’ POKE WITH ® SAFETWW LYNDA BARRY I Clinton St. Quarterly 7


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TOM MCFARLAND TRAVELUN1 WITH THE BLUES by Lynn Darroch 10 Clinton St. Quarterly t i lA fh e n I was W fifteen years old, I was in a music store and heard somebody playing the guitar. I went back to the booth, but there was nobody there. I could still hear it, though, and I realized it was in my head.... It was me playing the guitar when I matured.... So I’ve always aimed for that sound, I’ve dreamed my guitar playing. And I’ve reached it, but only once in a while, on some nights.... I’ll be playing someplace, the music will be just right, the audience just right, the band just right, and everything comes together: there’s no past, no future, everything’s just right now. That feeling of complete oneness with your instrument and your band and the audience is a moment to live for. But you can’t call on it, can’t say, “I’d like to feel that way right now.” So if the only way I can get it is by going out and playing night clubs all the time, then I’ll keep on doing it.” On a recent August afternoon, Tom and I sat over his kitchen table, drinking Budweiser, smoking Pail Malls, and talking about our hopes and dreams, both past and present. He and his family have just moved back to the Portland area after five years in the Richmond, California ghetto, where the living Conditions and opportunities for his kids had become too limited, and where he had established a reputation and gained enough national exposure to allow him to

return to the familiarity of Portland again. Although his prospects are good, the life of a bluesman is wearing, and a sense of constant struggle is always with him. “Sometimes I think it'd almost be a relief if Susie couldn't work anymore and I had to get a straight job; it’d be an easy way to get out of playing the blues, to escape that one responsibility.... ” Tom McFarland is a blues musician, a calling he has pursued with single-minded devotion and increasing excellence for nearly twenty years. People define the blues in many ways, but most would agree that expressing emotion is its chief characteristic. A blues performer can become a spokesman for his audience, focusing the experience we share with an intensity of feeling that helps us to understand it. The rocking dance beats and slow grinds of the blues evoke our sexuality, while the lyrics sing parables of loss. The blues can be gritty and sweet, raw and country or citywise and polished.... Tom's blues are in the West Coast style, iazz-inflected and smooth, with fluid guitar lines that glide over the long neck of his Gibson, running from chords to chromatic single-note passages. His expressive improvisational facility demonstrates not only the technical mastery that results from years of method work, but a sense of timing and phrasing that testifies to original musical ideas. His up-tempo numbers really rock, as chords vamp and break into hot triplets, while his ballads lilt and mourn with conviction. Tom’s voice surges and declines, augmenting the tension created by his slightly behind-the- beat guitar attack.... The tension of emotion, the release that accompanies its expression, make the blues an affirmation of life.... For Tom McFarland, the blues is a way of life. /first met Tom in Portland in 1966, when he was rehearsing a band called the Portland Zoo eight hours a day for gigs at the Charix and the Pythian, and for the past fifteen years, Tom has been my main man in the blues. I've watched him develop into a powerful, persuasive singer and a clean, masterful guitarist whose music has the force, originality and maturity to really offer something of value.... A bluesman, a strange career for a boy from Grants Pass, Oregon, who pursued that sound he first heard in his head up and down the Coast and across the country, in widening circles that always bring him back to Portland again. Tom was born in 1945. Naturally short and stocky, with hands smaller than you’d expect, his frowns have become heavier over the years, but his wit and smile still rise easily. Black curls tumble over his forehead and perspiration streams past his tightly closed eyes when he's on the stand, where he says he feels the safest and most alone.... He played his first professional job in 1961, and since then has had both feet firmly planted on bandstands from Germany to Oakland. After the Army and a stint as a guitar teacher in San Francisco, he came to live in Portland for the first time in late 1965, then bounced back and forth for several years before settling into the blues scene here around 1970. For two years he performed steadily at the White Eagle tavern to large and enthusiastic crowds, for a while appearing under the name Sonny Black (“...that was more or less a publicity gimmick...and it worked.’’) There was a strong feeling of community when he performed the, and if it hadn’t been for the since- altered cabaret laws, he probably wouldn’t have moved on to Seattle in early 1973. He stayed on Puget Sound until 1976, appearing in a number of clubs and festivals but sustained primarily by a steady gig at the Boulder Cafe on Second Avenue, a seaman’s bar with B-girls, pull-tabs and an orange wall just ten feet in front of the bandstand, giving him no choice but to burrow deeper into the music. Feeling that the Bay area offered more opportunities for a blues musician, Tom and his family moved to Richmond, where he stayed for the longest stretch of his career. Thanks to job offers from an enthusiastic club owner and the support of music critic Tom Mazzolini, he soon established himself as one of the regular working blues musicians in the area, with steady club work and occasional tours. He was a featured performer at the San Francisco Blues Festival, toured the West Coast with Otis Rush and the Midwest with Charlie Musselwhite, and appeared with and backed up some of the greatest blues performers of our time: Lightnin' Hopkins, Albert Collins, John Lee Hooker, Lowell Folsom and Fenton Robinson. In 1978, Arhoolie Records issued his first album, “Travellin' With The Blues,’’ and a San Francisco Chronicle review called him “the most exciting young blues performer to emerge on the local scene for years." Black curls tumble over his forehead and perspiration streams past his tightly closed eyes when he’s on the stand, where he says he feels the safest and most alone.... Seeing Tom here in Portland again reminded me of a visit I paid him back in 1977, when he was working at the famous Coffee Gallery in North Beach, where our heroes Jack Kerouac and Neal Cassady had drunk their holy beers and screamed “Go! Go!" to the strains of be-bop.... When Tom was seventeen, he left home for San Francisco, following the dream of wild excitement and spiritual enlightenment that Kerouac said could be found in “that great American night, that Negro night...." Our generation got there too late to join the beatniks, but we did finally arrive on the hallowed ground where America's artistic life was transformed. That spirit had reached us years earlier in our small Oregon towns, inciting with the same rhythm of adventure we heard in music we knew then only as rock 'n' roll. That night when Tom played the Coffee Gallery, even though there were only a few scruffy patrons scattered around the once- famous room, we had become the artists ourselves, our own heroes, and I shouted “Go! Go!” to Tom’s blues for our time. It would be great if Jesus would ride down on a white horse and say, “Come on, Tom, let’s go to heaven!” What could be better? But instead, what grabbed me was B.B. King saying, “Come on, Tom, let’s play the blues!” BLUES GOT ME... Icome from a musical family, but like most little kids I didn’t become aware of what music is supposed to sound like until I started listening to my mother’s old 78s all the time, real funky western and some swing. When I was around twelve I heard some Elvis, and the type of music and the sound of the electric guitar really knocked me out. Then a cousin of mine from LA. came up to visit. He put on Chuck Berry’s “School Days” and said, “This is the way we do it in LA.” So I started getting hip to the black roots in the music I’d been listening to. In the rock and roll and country-western I was hearing while I grew up, there’d often be a certain thing on the guitar that I liked.... I guess it was the bending of the strings, or those weird chords. Anyway, that particular sound really got to me. One day in 1962,1was in Berg’s Market in Grants Pass, where they had a rack of 99c records. I don’t know why, but there was a B.B. King album. I’d never heard of him, but I took it home because it was a guy playing the guitar, and he had a Gretsch, like Chet Atkins and Duane Eddy, who I was really into at the time. My friend Gary Beck recently reminded me of what happened next.... I called him on the phone and told him he had to get over to my place immediately. But it was clear across town and he was babysitting and couldn’t come. So in fifteen minutes here I come up to his place in this taxL waving the record and shouting, “This is it! This is it!” B.b.’s guitar and the straightahead blues arrangements were the culmination of everything I’d heard and thought about before. He turned me on to the actual fact of blues, and since then I’ve seldom played any other kind of music: my goal has always been to get as good as I can at the blues. / So it was the guitar sound that originally got me into it. One of the reasons I was more into the instrumental aspect at first was because, when I sang in those days, people would make real rude noises. So my singing came about a lot more gradually.... People tend to forget that the blues is primarily a vocal art, and even though I was only sixteen, the lyrics really grabbed me too. The things that B.B. was saying expressed how I felt. The first time I saw B.B. King was in 1963, and one of the things that hit me about why people love him so much was that he was saying, in words and through his playing, just what the audience would if they had been standing up there. He hit a nerve. And that’s what it means to really “get across.” You want the people to know what you’re talking about, to realize that you’re not spewing forth some alien kind of bullshit that’s just original with you, but that you’re talking about experiences that are personal but which you have in common with everybody else. On a performance level, I give an audience my singing and playing, then they give back a response, and I try to feel what’s happening and go with them. So we’re giving back and forth to each other, and the more an audience responds, the more I can give. It’s the same thing on a sociological level. Through the blues I’m sharing my experience—all of us who listen to the blues have a whole lot in common, so my personal experiences are tied into everybody else’s. In a way it’s like looking in a mirror: what I’m giving is what I get. If somebody asked me what my religion is, I’d say blues. People would think I was crazy or putting them on if I made very much of that, but I feel real strongly about the mystical aspects of it. Like when you went to Blues is life. All the things you have to do in life are the ingredients, and the blues is the cake. Even if I had to quit playing to take care of the family, then that would be the blues too. Sunday School and they said someday Jesus is going to come back and we’ll all be saved. I just can’t swallow that story, but I wish it were true; it would be great if Jesus would ride down on a white horse and say, “Come on, Tom, let’s go to heaven!” What could be better? But instead, what grabbed me was B.B. King saying, “Come on, Tom, let’s play the blues!” Besides B.B., the guys who really influenced me are T. Bone Walker, Clinton St. Quarterly 11

Freddy King, Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, Barney Kessell, Chet Atkins, Merle Travis and Scotty Moore. A lot of them aren’t known as blues players, but any one of them could sit down and play blues.... Nowadays, though, I very seldom listen to records. When I do, I’m often searching for something, but it’s more of a feeling, not a musical idea. When I worked with Otis Rush, I didn’t learn notes or anything—it was the way he uses his voice and guitar to put his point across. What he’s about is that he has so much to say, and he’s able to use his voice and guitar to share it. And what he has to say is real heavy. He’s a guy who can run chills up and down your spine; he’s scary, he’s real intense. From him I learned that the blues is a serious business and not to be taken lightly. Some of the tales he told me about his personal tragedies were heap powerful medicine. He inspires me to go on and he backs up the feeling that I don’t have any choice about it anyway. Be Yourself When I play a standard blues tune now, I feel like I’m making it my own. Although at an early age J realized you can’t “imitate” somebody, for a time I was still an apprentice, trying to live up to the standards of the original, and I knew I’d get into making the tune my own after I became more sure of my footing. If you’ve done the background, and then do something new, it’s got more authority. When I was just beginning, me and my friends in Grants Pass used to talk about getting this “black sound.” What it means is a certain quality of soul that is projected through a certain tone. It’s being able to really get your feelings out, but also having these certain kinds of feelings, which have to do with maturity—and I don’t mean acting “adult.” But I don’t try to “sound black.” I realized early on that I was indeed white; why try to be what I’m not? Increasingly, I have tried to sound more and more like myself. And the more I do that, the deeper I get into these certain kinds of feelings. In the blues, it’s important to be yourself, because it’s the only way to come across not only with original sound, but with anything that’s worthwhile. To be yourself you’ve got to know who you are, and if you don’t know who you are, you can’t tell anybody anything. For example, a lot of blues guys will have a long cord, and they’ll walk out into the audience to interact with the people. Now when I first went to San Francisco, I was trying to develop that: I really liked the other guys who The blues takes everything you’ve been going through and throws it back at you. It has feeling, and if you listen to the blues you have to feel. did it, the audience really liked them doing it, and I’d just worked with Albert Collins, who does it all the time. But it just didn’t feel natural to me. I was faking it, and so I don’t do it anymore. I’m not that outgoing. One thing you can't do in the blues is force it, either the playing or the way you present it. If it’s phoney, people are going to know, and they’re not going to buy it.... So when people say I “sound black,” what they’re hearing is music that has that particular kind of personal expression to it. When someone asked B.B. King about white people playing the blues, he said, “Man, if you’ve ever been in love, you know what the blues are about.” When people say white people can’t play the blues, they’re wrong. I was the house band for a black club in the Richmond ghetto for eight months, and they were the most consistently satisfying audience I’ve ever had. They had a good time and made me feel like I was accepted, that I was glad I was there, that I was expressing their feelings. Now of course I’ve never had the experiences of a 55-year-old black man, but on the other hand, I’ve had enough experience that I can sing about something and he’ll know that I know what I’m talking about. If people like the blues it doesn’t matter if you’re black or white. On a midwest tour with Charlie Musselwhite, we went to a club on the South Side of Chicago, a place where white people aren’t supposed to hang around. There we were, five white guys in this big red Cadillac that Charlie’s agent loaned us. When we got out of the car, we saw this group of black people coming down the sidewalk towards us, in a hurry, and I thought, “Oh shit.” But they were there to throw their arms around Charlie and welcome him home.... Once you get inside a blues club, there’s no problems at all, because everyone knows why you’re there. Working Blues When I got out of the Army, I went through a period when I wasn’t playing gigs at all, just teaching guitar and making money without anyone to spend it on but myself. At that time, when I was twenty and twenty-one, I really wondered if I was screwing up by being a musician. I thought maybe I should get married and get a straight job and try to make some real money like everyone else. Finally I got disgusted with the way I was living and dropped out, and then everything got more interesting. I enjoyed playing again, and one of things that really did it for me was the fact that Paul Butterfield’s band was making it. When I saw those guys doing it, I felt it was all right to do it myself. I loosened up. And that’s when I jumped into being a real professional musician. Since then it’s been a constant struggle, but I haven’t experienced any more doubts about why I’m doing it or if it’s OK. The best part of being a blues musician for me is this: if you have to be labeled, I feel good that I can say I’m a blues musician and really mean it. The one real drag about being a musician is that you have to do something everyone hates, all the time: look for a job. IVIlirmrflWBnDtMHaHHnHIWBBMi That’s the best part, to know what you are and to be able to be that thing to the best of your abilities. And there’s a lot of tradition behind me. During times when I’m not making enough money, when things go wrong on the job, or when I sit around in complete depression because of my status in life, I can always draw solace from the fact that it’s very traditional for blues musicians, and that it’s happening to my brother down the street too. The one real drag about being a musician is that you have to do something everyone hates, all the time: look for a job. If you really want to stay on top of it, just about every day of your life you’re looking for a job. And the blues is not a popular music. There’s only one person who’s a superstar in blues, and that’s B.B. King. Beneath him there’s a layer of about ten or twelve guys who make a pretty good living, and underneath them everyone else is scuffling. How many millionaire rock stars are there? You see, people who like blues generally don’t have much money themselves, so they can’t go to some fancy place to hear somebody at seven bucks to get in and $2.50 a drink. You've got to play dives because that’s all your audience can afford. When people go to a night club to hear music, one of the things a lot of them want is to forget their daily life, forget their jobs, forget their troubles with their old man or old lady; they want to escape. But with the blues you can’t escape. The blues takes everything you’ve been going through and throws it back at you. It has feeling, and if you listen to the blues you have to feel. If you don’t want to feel, then you don’t want to hear some guy say, “Well I went down to the night club and the boss fired me and now I don’t know what to do.” You’re going to want to hear, “Oh Baby, you got a nice ass so let’s dance.” So I’ve worked a lot of dives, but some nice places too, like the Great American Music Hall, and outside of the fact that the sound was nice and the crowd was big, the benefits you get from working a place like that are 12 Clinton St. Quarterly

superficial compared to the benefits from working the lower-class places. I played for a long time at The Saloon in San Francisco, and it was funky. But the people came to hear me, and they came to hear the blues because they needed it and liked It. And they were there night after night. And the blues and booze do seem to go together. One of the reasons is that most of the people in a blues environment have pressures on them—like poverty—that drive them to drink. And people who play blues don’t seem to feel like they’re under the same type of moral restraints other people might. So among blues players you don’t have the thing that drinking is bad. And like any other kind of music, it’s played in a night club, where people go to drink.... I’ve never been able to get along with a bunch of drunks even when I was completely sober.... We played in Chicago at this place called The Wise Fool’s. Behind the stage is a picture window out on the street. We were up there doing a sound check and I had my face to the window. This guy came walking up the street with a wooden chair, and I thought, “Now what’s this fool going to do?” And then he slammed that chair right through the window in front of me. There was glass flying everywhere, I got off the stage, and the doorman—a real tall guy—went running out and grabbed the guy who threw the chair. He had long hair, so the doorman held him off the “What does not serving you have to do with throwing a chair through the window at me?” And he said, “Oh I didn’t mean it personal, you just happened to be standing there.” ground by it till the police came. I went out and while he was dangling there I said, “Hey man, what’s going on?” And the guy explained that they refused to serve him. So I asked, “What does not serving you have to do with throwing a chair through the window at me?” And he said, “Oh I didn’t mean it personal, you just happened to be standing there.” The people who buy records and go to clubs are mostly younger people. Rock and roll is more a younger person’s thing, and there’s always an influx of new younger people.... In the late sixties, the blues became really popular for a while, but that larger audience was composed of people who became not blues fans, but fans of their popularity. There are always people who go to hear the music, but when a kind of music gets popular, there are always more people there to make the scene. They weren’t hooked on blues, they were hooked on what’s popular, which always changes. There’s a tailor shop in North Beach with a sign that says, “ Designer labels removed: $2.00.” I think they’re making a good point. But there’s a certain attractiveness in being a blues musician, because you know that there are some people who are really going to dig that. And it’s fun.... If I never made any money playing the guitar, I couldn’t keep on doing it, though. You have to work, because otherwise you feel like a bum. So I didn’t come here with the idea that all of a sudden I was going to announce to Portland, “Here I am!” and really start doing a bunch of hot shit. It’s more like having a job.... I just want to get a job established and have a place to work. What I’d like is to go into a jazz club and be really accepted, playing the blues. As far as I’m concerned, there’s the blues, and then there’s the branch of jazz and the branch of rock, with R&B right up the middle. I play a lot of songs with more than the standard twelve-bar blue form (“Try A Little Tenderness,” "Since I Fell For You,” “Lover Man”). Although there is a musical form associated with the blues, the basic thing has always been the feeling. But now there’s a particular thing called jazz, and everything else isn’t. I’d like to erase some of those lines. “ really want to play the blues” Sometimes I get real grandiose ideas, like cleaning up my personal act, concentrating on being healthy, on being a more attentive parent, on not spending money on alcohol. And at those times I sit around for hours practicing standards and dreaming about a real plush lounge job where I could quietly play “Moonlight In Vermont” and “Stardust” while the people didn’t pay much attention but it was clean and I was making some good money and relaxing. So I start rehearsing toward that, but before I do anything, either something comes up or I get the urge to start performing, and go out and get a job doing what I know best. Because most of the time, even though I like playing those standards, when I get in front of people I really want to play the blues. It’s like It’s my job—my calling. I feel like I was “hired” to play the blues a long time ago, and I haven’t been fired and I haven’t quit. My job is to get the blues out there, to turn people on to it, and to supply some of it to the people who already know about the blues but need a hit of live stuff. My “path” is to pursue the blues and the guitar. Some people go to India and study with a guru, some become president of General Motors.... My path to overcome the fear of death is by playing the guitar and singing the blues. I hope that by traveling that path, in time I’ll know a thing or two and feel better about life and death. See, to me there’s no difference between my music and my personal life.... The blues has many parts: one of them is sitting here talking, another part is raising the kids, another part is trying to make a living.... Blues is life. All the things you have to do in life are the ingredients, and the blues is the cake. Even if I had to quit playing to take care of the family, then that would be the blues too. Tom McFarland will play at The Sporting House Every weekend from Nov. 15. Have questions about stereo equipment Tired of listening to a sales pitch Want some straight answers Come to Mh® Audio 1710 N.E. 42ND 281-7848 hammered flutes ♦ gui piccolos ♦ books and ♦ recorders >♦ whistles ny varieties folk musics. ARTICHOKE MUSIC 11-6 • monday-saturday • 722 northwest 21st • 248-0356 guitars • amps • drums • sound systems • authorized music man dealer horseshoe music co. 2419 se 39th portland, Oregon (503) 235*7095 16324 sw bryant lake oswego (503) 635*6799 Clinton St. Quarterly 13

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