Music News

Blues Traveler

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In the meantime, Stevens plans to maintain his one-man campaign to keep the more obscure forms of the blues alive. His ex-squad-car wheels are helping in the war. "I was going 89 miles per hour through Montana the other day," he recalls, "and this cop coming from the other way just waves at me. And I tell you, road rage? It's a thing of the past for me. People drive up on my tail and see that cage, and they drop right back. And I'm getting 21 miles to the gallon in this thing, and it's got a Corvette engine. It's awesome, man, the best road car I've ever had."

"I'm looking forward to the new record and these great gigs I have this year," he says, "and reaching more and more people. People have told me, 'You play blues, but it feels so good.' And they tap their feet and they smile, and that's a good thing. We need more of that in this world." Stevens recently spent time between sets talking with a man in Montana who told him he hadn't spoken to a human for six months. He'd been grieving the death of his daughter by hiding away in the woods, and the sound of Stevens's blues drifting out from the bar led the man in for a beer and human conversation. In Nederland, Stevens says, a Midwesterner in search of earthy music told him, "I haven't heard good slide playing like yours for a while. Your music brought me home."

"Sometimes," Stevens concludes, "I feel like I'm a pioneer in the old West. I'm out here in my car with a bunch of antique instruments, driving all over the country, playing songs. I feel like I'm in this secret society, because I'm really doing it -- making a living playing this kind of music. And I can drive to Bozeman and fill a bar and get the people screaming and dancing and having a great time with just a guitar and sweat on my face. That's a successful night for me: I play some songs, sell a few CDs, make some friends."

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Marty Jones