From: "evan meagher" <;emeagh~sn.com>;
Date: Sun, 3 Aug 97 20:36:40 UT
Subject: FW: Satan & Adam Gig Review
This appeared in the latest issue of AHN. I delayed posting it per request of
Phil Lloyd, editor of that fine journal.
The Press Room in Portsmouth, NH is probably the area's best blues venue. A
small club with large-club talent, it provides a cozy listening atmosphere for
all varieties of live music, leaning towards blues and folk. On Saturday,
August 7, blues duo Satan & Adam played the Press Room to a sold-out upstairs
Due to traveling delays, Satan & Adam did not go on until 10:30, well over an
hour later than expected. To fill the gap, acoustic blues singer/guitarist
Charlie Archer played an impressive setlist of prewar country blues. Blind
Lemon Jefferson is obviously an influence on Archer, evidenced by his soulful
fingerpicking and deep, throaty vocals.
S&A opened with an instrumental jam. As Adam Gussow's wild,
overblow-encrusted licks blasted through his Premier Dual-8, I was transfixed.
Having spoken with Gussow just before the gig, I told him this was my first
time seeing them live. With a wink of an eye, he promised "I'll play hard,"
and indeed he did.
Adam's harp playing can only be described as otherworldly. His ability to
incorporate overblows into classic Chicago blues demonstrates the combination
of technical mastery and innovative brilliance that comes along but once in a
generation of harpists. The name Walter Jacobs comes to mind, but unlike so
many ridiculously talented LW imitators, Gussow sounds like Gussow, every
riff, every song.
Accompanying Adam on vocals, drums, and guitar, as always, was Sterling "Mr.
Satan" Magee. White dreadlocks flowing, crash cymbals strapped to his knees,
Satan looked so imposing as to draw cries of "Hail, Satan" from some of the
more bizarre members of the audience. It is difficult to pull off this
"one-man band" rig without looking like a fool, but Magee looked nothing short
The duo ripped into covers of Watermelon Man and Since I Lost My Baby. The
third-position solo on Pick up the Pieces of My Life has always been a
personal favorite of mine, and Gussow ripped through it with impressive
fluidity. The first set closed on an upnote with Pretty Girl.
At this point, it was about midnight, and the dating crowd began to filter
out. Unencumbered by any such liason, I had S&A's blues to keep me company.
Noticing a vacated seat right in front of the stage, I snuck up close. Adam
recognised me as the harp nut he had spoken with earlier, and came on over and
had a drink and discussed with me all things harpwise.
To begin with, I learned the specifics of Mr. Gussow's rig. He splits the
signal between a Premier Dual 8 and a late 50s Fender amp, a Super Chorus, if
I remember properly. On the Dual 8, he uses a Boss DD3 delay pedal, with a
Kendrick reverb tank on the Fender. This setup, he says, takes a little bit
of edge off of the Premier, while adding a necessary bit to the Fender.
Surprisingly, Adam uses not a bullet mic, but rather, is able to produce a
multitude of tones from a Shure PE-5H high-impedance instrument mic. This
truly impressed me, as his tone tends to be sweet, even mellow, for long
solos, before suddenly ripping into the harshest, nastiest blues rasp this
side of Little Walter. From time to time, Adam switched over to a PA mic,
The second set, played in a barroom empty except for myself and the
aforementioned bizarre rowdies in the corner, was something to behold.
Playing obviously tired at 1:00 AM, Adam delivered line after line of seamless
riffs that most of us cannot conceive in the daytime. A particular treat was
a song that extolled Satan's affinity for liquor, concluding in a warning to
the corner crowd not to combine it with driving.
All things told, Satan & Adam's performance was breathtaking. Mr. Satan's
gutsy guitar accompaniement and raspy vocals combined with Adam's sparkling
harmonica solos is a tandem that should be heard and not read about. Their
third and latest album, Living on the River, is available from Rounder
Records, and is, in my opinion, their best effort yet.
- -Ev "Night Train" Meagher
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