Friday, June 25, 2010

Fattening Frogs for Snakes

The blues line is a long line but it reached magnificent acme in the work of artistssuch as Tommy Johnson, Robert Johnson, Chester Burnett, John Lee Hooker, McKinley Morganfield, Roosevelt Sykes and others among an initiate group that grew up (in very many cases) in Mississippi in the early 20th Century and in many other cases survived to venture north to Chicago and Detroit and be recorded. Their work ultimately influenced culture, art and music, including 1950s' and 1960s' rock n roll and rock.

These blues poets forged art under conditions of poverty and repression as well as amidst frantic social and technological upheaval, and their music reflected a syncopated and prophetic world that still obtains.

In "Fattening Frogs for Snakes - Delta Sound Suite," poet John Sinclair takes the meager history that has built up around the above mentioned and other essential blues artists, applies a precisely descriptive and musical poetical form, and magically and quite sympathetically brings to life the blues line in the service of telling the blues story. As you would expect, the presentation is lyrical.

If you like beat and related poetic forms I would bet you would like the book. If you like blues as well you will cherish this tome.

Inside "Fattening Frogs for Snakes" you will find evocative presentations on the blues view of life: Roosevelt Sykes explaining the bluesman's actual distance from the phenomenon of blues itself; the lonesome tale of Tommy Johnson's alcohol-drenched scavenger melancholy; a chilling portrayal of the final fatal poisoning of Robert Johnson, undoubtedly the greatest of the Mississippi guitar playing blues poets; and very much more.

Sinclair's understandings come from first hand acquaintance with may blues legends, and a sympathetic emersion in the available literature.
The world lived and described here and the words of that world are sometimes quite tough. But what arises out of" Fattening Frogs for Snakes" [ a title derived from a Sonny Boy Williamson parable piece that considers mistakes one can make in ceding - due to surreptitious entanglements, careless involvement, or what have you - the fruits of one's labors to exploitive others] is one in which the interpretative power of the artist ultimately invests a magic in the act and experience of blues and music.

If you are transfixed and-or a little bewildered by the blues as it has come to us from Howlin Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson or Muddy Waters, you will find "Fattening Frogs for Snakes" a must read that uncovers many blues dreams and demons but keeps the core mystery inviolate, intact, and enchanting.

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