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"If someone calls in and wants some help, it's immediate," says Timothy Duffy about the Music Maker Relief Foundation's unique approach to meeting the needs of traditional blues artists. "If we have it, it's a phone call, bang, the check's out." Music Maker has bought new instruments for musicians, helped secure performance opportunities, provided legal advocacy, and printed t-shirts for artists to sell at shows. Above all, the foundation has put a priority on helping its indigent and elderly beneficiaries with more basic needs: food, heat, health care, and transportation. "We realized it takes more than a guitar to create art," Duffy says. "If you're just worried about surviving, you're not worried about playing music."
- David Nelson, Living Blues #137 Jan/Feb 1998


"Not the same old blues crap," proclaims the savvy new marketing slogan of Fat Possum Records, the Mississippi label whose 29-year-old owner, Matthew Johnson, has put a priority on bashing the blues establishment. In a lengthy article in the May '97 issue of Spin, Johnson took a verbal poke at Alligator Records' Bruce Iglauer for putting out "shit"; on Fat Possum's website, he boasts that "there are only two kinds of blues records made today: Fat Possum Records, which don't suck, and all the others." Johnson's sophomoric posturing may qualify him as the "Beavis" of the blues world, and his label has been criticized for sensationalizing-even exploiting-the images of its artists in order to market them to a younger audience. But there's no denying that Fat Possum, which was co-founded in 1991 by Johnson and former Living Blues editor Peter Lee, has issued some of the most critically acclaimed and challenging blues records of the '90s and has succeeded in exposing traditional bluesmen like R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough to the alternative rock scene, bringing expanded financial opportunities to the artists and a taste of the blues to a new group of fans.
- David Nelson, Living Blues #137 Jan/Feb 1998

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"I took a lot of abusing off of people in this life," says Cootie Stark, sitting in the passenger seat of a station wagon that is taking him back to the Woodland Homes public housing projects in Greenville, South Carolina.
- Peter Cooper, The Oxford American, May 1998

Music Maker Relief Foundation, Inc., 4052 Summer Lane , Hillsborough, NC 27278
Email: Tel:919 643 2456 Fax:919 643 2597

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