Thursday, November 20, 2008

Vanity, Thy Name Is Blues

Who knew Vanity Fair was a blues publication? Last month the magazine which bills itself as one of of culture, fashion, and politics, published an extensive article on a purported new photograph of Robert Johnson.

And now this.

When Roger Stolle and Jeff Konkel sat down at Ground Zero blues club to speak with Terry Harmonica Bean for their documentary "M for Mississippi", they weren't concerned with their own vanity. But they are today, after what can truthfully be called a vanity printing featuring the two.

Normally, that's a derogatory term meant to diminish the work of an artist as he or she builds up the ego with blatant and usually undeserved self promotion made at the artist's expense. But this is no slap at the producers of "M for Mississippi". Quite the contrary. While it's more than fair to call this latest interview a vanity printing, it's still nothing but a good thing and definately a tribute to the good work of Cat Head Record's Roger Stolle and Jeff Konkel, owner of Broke and Hungry Records.

Both men sat down for an interview with a writer for Vanity Fair online to discuss their new documentary of Mississippi blues called "M for Mississippi". (see earlier blog mention)

And you know what? They didn't have to pay a single penny for this Vanity printing. Obviously Vanity Fair is loving it some Mississippi blues.

Here's an excerpt:

VF Daily: One of the interesting things about this movie is how well you captured the essence of real-life juke joints. I think many people nowadays think of a juke joint as being House of Blues or B.B. King’s club in Times Square.

Roger Stolle: I think that’s true. I think the term “juke” has just been abused. People started calling a regular old club a juke joint. But if you look at these real joints, these rag-tag places, it’s totally different. You get the crowds that talk back to the acts. You have lighting that’s very dim. There’s a real atmosphere.

Sometimes you see the spotlight behind the artist, shining in the audience’s faces, and sometimes there’s no real stage, just a patch of carpet, and when you look around, you can’t help but think, How is it possible that a fire marshal didn’t get involved here? But I’m grateful for that, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The audience really becomes a part of what’s going on. They are not just the observer; they’re the participants.

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