We invite you to come out for a discussion of the devil, the most charismatic and important figure in the blues tradition, and some live music!
The devil is not just the music's namesake ("the devil's music"), but a shadowy presence who haunts an imagined Mississippi crossroads where, it is claimed, Delta bluesman Robert Johnson traded away his soul in exchange for extraordinary prowess on the guitar. Yet, as scholar and musician Adam Gussow argues, there is much more to the story of the devil and the blues than these clichéd understandings.
In his groundbreaking study, Gussow takes the full measure of the devil's presence. Working from original transcriptions of more than 125 recordings released during the past ninety years, Gussow explores the varied uses to which black southern blues people have put this trouble-sowing, love-wrecking, but also empowering figure. The book culminates with a bold reinterpretation of Johnson's music and a provocative investigation of the way in which the citizens of Clarksdale, Mississippi, managed to rebrand a commercial hub as "the crossroads" in 1999, claiming Johnson and the devil as their own.
Gussow's partner in The Blues Doctors, Alan Gross, will join him for some live blues.
Adam Gussow is associate professor of English and southern studies at the University of Mississippi and author of Mister Satan's Apprentice: A Blues Memoir; Journeyman’s Road: Modern Blues Lives; and Seems Like Murder Here: Southern Violence and the Blues Tradition. Adam Gussow and Alan Gross, a.k.a. the Blues Doctors, are Mississippi-based blues veterans who play a mix of down-home Delta standards and urban grooves from the Texas-to-Chicago axis with some New Orleans funk thrown in. They're a two-man band with a full-on sound: Gussow on harmonica and drumset, Gross on guitar, with both men sharing vocal duties.