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Talking the Blues

During the International Blues Competition on Beale Street, A. Schwab will host casual conversations and storytelling about the history, culture, and influence of the Blues.  These conversations will take place on Wednesday, January 30 through Friday, February 1 at 11 am.  They will be led by authorities in the field.  Robert Gordon will speak on Wednesday, Andy Cohen will speak on Thursday, and David Evans will speak on Friday.

Robert Gordon is the author of Can’t Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters. He produced and directed, with filmmaker Morgan Neville, a documentary based on the book: Muddy Waters Can’t Be Satisfied. That show aired in June, 2003 on PBS’s American Masters series, and on Channel Four in England. Gordon is the writer and associate producer of “The Road To Memphis, an episode in Martin Scorsese’s 7-part series The Blues. His other film making credits include the 1990 documentary, All Day and All Night, featuring B. B. King and Rufus Thomas (it aired on national PBS and was shown in New York’s Museum of Modern Art), and music videos that have aired on MTV, BET, and CMT. Gordon is also the author of It Came From Memphis, a book about Memphis music and culture. He produced the book’s two companion CDs. His other two books are Elvis: The King on the Road (St. Martin’s), and The Elvis Treasures (Random House). Among his accolades is a Grammy nomination for his liner notes to the Al Green box set, Anthology, which he produced. Gordon lives in Memphis with his wife and two children.

Andy Cohen grew up in a house with a piano and a lot of Dixieland Jazz records, amplified after a while by a cornet that his dad got him. At about fifteen, he got bitten by the Folk Music bug, and soon got to hear records by Big Bill Broonzy and the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, both of which reminded him of the music he grew up to. At sixteen, he saw Rev. Gary Davis, and his course was set. He knew he had it in him to follow, study, perform and promote the music of the southeast quadrant, America¹s great musical fountainhead. Although he’s done other things- a certain amount of writing, and physical labor from dish washing and railroading to archaeology, playing the old tunes is what he does best.

David Evans, Professor (A.B.-Harvard University; M.A., Ph.D.-University of California, Los Angeles), directs the Ethnomusicology/Regional Studies doctoral program of the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music. Dr. Evans is a specialist in American folk and popular music, particularly blues, spirituals, gospel, and African-American folk music. He is the author of Tommy Johnson (London: Studio Vista, 1971), Big Road Blues: Tradition and Creativity in the Folk Blues (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982), The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to the Blues (New York: Perigee, 2005), and has written many articles in academic journals, chapters in books, reviews, and dictionary and encyclopedia entries. Dr. Evans has produced over thirty albums and compact discs of field and studio recordings of music for the University of Memphis’ High Water Records. In 2003 he won a Grammy® award for “Best Album Notes.” He performs blues music and has made many concert appearances as a soloist (with guitar) and accompanist in the United States, Europe, and South America, and in the Mid-South region with the Last Chance Jug Band. He joined the faculty at the University of Memphis in 1978.





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