Friday, August 22, 2008

A Little Bit Famous

Walter Trout
(considered by some to be
among the best blues guitarists ever).

My sister lives in Indiana, not far from Indianapolis. Her son (my nephew) plays in a band there. Last week, we were comparing the local music scenes of the Twin Cities and Indianapolis. She mentioned that Duke Tumatoe is still playing bars in and around Indianapolis. Wow, I said, that guy’s getting kind of old. I remember Duke Tumatoe and the All-Star Frogs from 30 years ago, when I lived in Champaign, IL and he had frequent gigs there.

I compared him to Walter Trout as a “second tier” artist – someone very very good but who never quite hit the big time. Walter Trout is bigger in Europe than in his native USA.

Yesterday, I picked up a Shannon Curfman CD at the library. She made a big splash a few years ago (her “Loud Guitars, Big Suspicions” CD was recorded in Minneapolis in 1999) and then disappeared – at least from my limited radar. She’s good – mean blues guitar, pretty good songwriter, very good singer. So how come she’s not a star? She’s still doing lots of gigs – summer blues festivals in the Midwest, some bar shows, the national anthem at an upcoming Vikings game – but she doesn’t draw like Cheryl Crow or even Lucy Kaplanski.

Is music a meritocracy (George Will is fond of saying that baseball is almost a pure meritocracy)?

Check out Ms. Curfman or Walter Trout or Duke Tumatoe and see if you can figure out why they aren’t on the radio every day.

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