Letters for January 1, 2004

Keep on pumpin'

 Pompano Beach splash: I want to thank Bob Norman for his December 18 column, "Don't Drink the Water, Seriously." It was really on the nose -- another gem for us to use to clean up Pompano Beach.

Joe Ryan

Pompano Beach

Norman feeds the masses: It appears obvious from Bob Norman's stories that he and his editor understand that journalists have a responsibility to expose questionable conduct on the part of powerful people. My father is visiting from Florida and wanted me to see your work. I can see why he enjoys it.

Up here (in Pennsylvania), the local press looks for reasons not to expose such misdeeds, to the detriment of our citizens. Our residents are starved for the coverage you folks give your readers. Good work!

Frank Rich

Via the Internet

Snap out of your trance, Stratton: My, Jeff Stratton seems to have more bones to pick than a starving wolverine. What's up with that? In the December 18 Bandwidth ("Seeing Red over the Blues"), he argues against himself, denouncing South Florida Blues Society President Bob Weinberg for being focused on "electric" blues rather than "rootsy" blues, but then goes on to insist that harmonicas will need MIDI interfaces before he can accept them as relevant. Go listen to some more trance music, punk, and leave the blues alone. He obviously doesn't appreciate the genre, so why spout off about it?

And I beg, oh so humbly, to differ. Bob "Scribe" Weinberg has done a fine job in his column, and as a proud SFBS member, I applaud his efforts. But Stratton's assertion that no one has done more for the local blues scene is patently absurd and just goes to show how little he knows about the subject.

Try to learn something about the subjects you cover in your column, Mr. Stratton. You'll look like much less of an ill-informed harpy, screeching incessantly about things you don't understand.

"Nucklehead" Ed Blount

Sunrise

Bo Diddley and Buddy Guy ain't no second tier: I read Jeff Stratton's December 18 column, and I am more than a bit shocked at the personal attacks. It might be true that "Bluesbobby"'s letter to City Link Bob Weinberg, who is also a long-time friend of mine, was a bit over the top, but Bobby came up with the idea that a group of blues lovers could make a difference in a town where blues was struggling. He was not able to work anymore due to a stroke, but he needed to do things to keep himself motivated to get better. For years, people have not been willing to step up to the plate and get a blues society going -- one that connects to the national Blues Foundation in Memphis. While maybe not perfect, Bobby got it done and did so with record numbers of people joining in a very short time. In fact, the Blues Foundation was amazed as well and has written about it on its website many times.

As a member of the former Fort Lauderdale Blues Festival Entertainment Committee, with a long history with blues people going back more than 30 years, I am fairly well-connected to people in the industry. And, yes, as we age, it has become a struggle. But this music is so important to the history of all modern music, and it really is us who need to keep it alive. Remember that it links us all to our past and to the struggles of people black and white. It is a music that cries out about pain and joy in the same sentence -- about making you laugh at yourself and releasing anxiety.

I would also like to address a comment Stratton made about the entertainment at the blues festivals in the past. I'm sure that if you ask the columnist Bob Weinberg, who generally likes only the roots type of blues, he still could not deny the level of talent that we booked year after year. We were also under budget constraints and were not always able to book the most expensive acts. We booked those that people told us they wanted to see from surveys that we took at the festivals and from phone calls, letters, and e-mails we received during the year. I am going to give you some names of acts that have been at the festivals since I began with them in 1995. These are hardly second-tier acts: Buddy Guy, Bo Diddley, Keb Mo, Susan Tedeschi, North Mississippi Allstars, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Lonnie Brooks, Ike Turner, Pine Top Perkins, Luther Allison, Solomon Burke, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, Delbert McClinton, Bernard Allison, Son Seals, Koko Taylor, Shemekia Copeland, Walter Trout, Coco Montoya, John Mayall, Rod Piazza, Bobby Rush, Colin James, Carl Weathersby, Dick Waterman, Billy Branch, Little Charlie, and the list could go on.

The level of personal attacks made at Bluesbobby was really uncalled-for. Although his letter was a bit much, it didn't warrant this kind of behavior. The live music world is in jeopardy here as well, as many disc jockeys take over the clubs. Your column only serves to break down what we need to embrace -- live music -- all of it, and that includes blues and the society that has helped to bring it back.

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