Talking Music by Holger PetersenJust in time for the music fans on your Christmas list is Talking Music: Blues Radio and Roots Music, a book of interviews of famous musicians by Edmonton’s Holger Peterson founder of Stony Plain Records. Holger Petersen is a veteran Canadian broadcaster and is known to legions of fans nationally through his weekly Saturday Night Blues on CBC Radio which just celebrated its 25th anniversary on the network. Talking Music is a collection of 19 in-depth interviews with artists ranging from guitarist Ry Cooder, Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman, Fleetwood Mac’s Mick Fleetwood, gospel star Mavis Staples, Sun Records’ founder Sam Phillips and singers Lucinda Williams, Maria Muldaur and Bonnie Raitt. Talking Music is receiving a warm reception across Canada and beyond.

Reviews posted on Amazon.com

I know of no other Canadian who is such an enthusiastic authority on blues than Holger Petersen… For him to put some of his past chats into book form is a must for all music fans to read.—RANDY BACHMAN
Holger asks the right questions, listens hard to the answers, then thinks up even better questions. Often, he gets answers a civilian might not have been given. His first book is a treasure-chest bursting with swag, a priceless opportunity to be a fly on the wall for some of the most authoritative, revelatory, and purely entertaining discussions of the nature and history of music that have ever occurred.—SPIDER ROBINSON, author of Very Hard Choices.

On December 3, Mike Regenstreif wrote this about the book on his blog:

Holger Petersen’s primary gig for the past 35 years has been running Edmonton-based Stony Plain Records, which he’s built into one of the world’s premiere roots music labels. He is also a veteran and much-respected host of two weekly blues radio programs, Natch’l Blues on the Alberta-wide public station CKUA (for more than 40 years), and Saturday Night Blues on CBC (for 25).

Holger’s an excellent interviewer – I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to how many he’s done in his combined 65 years of weekly broadcasts – and he’s taken transcriptions from 19 of what must be the among the best and turned them into a page-turner for anyone who’s fascinated with great blues and roots artists, producers and musicologists.

As it happens, I’m familiar with the work of all of Holger’s subjects in Talking Music: Blues Radio and Roots Music. I know a couple of them, have met a few others, and have interviewed some of them myself. Despite that familiarity, I was drawn into these interviews and could hear the voices – and Holger’s – in my head as I read their words.

There are lots of fascinating stories here: David “Honeyboy” Edwards on the death of Robert Johnson; legendary musicologist Alan Lomax talking about the discover of Lead Belly and decrying the state of contemporary blues; Jay McShann on his early days in Kansas City and having a kid sax player named Charlie Parker in his band; Ian Tyson on both his early folk days and the renaissance of cowboy culture; Chris Barber talking about the first British blues tours he organized for legends like Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee; Jeff Healey on his love for traditional jazz; Lucinda Williams on her early Folkways records; Sam Phillips on recording artists like B.B. King and Elvis Presley early in their careers; Eric Bibb and his dad, Leon Bibb, talking about their relationships with Paul Robeson; and, so many, many more.

All the people in this book – famous or not – are important figures in the history of music and the insights in these interviews serves to enhance appreciation for them and their work. Mike Regenstreif is an editor, writer and broadcaster now based in Ottawa who has written about folk and roots music since the 1970s for Sing Out! Magazine and the Montreal Gazette and many other Canadian newspapers. My radio show, Folk Roots/Folk Branches was heard on CKUT in Montreal from 1994-2007 and I’ve since occasionally guest-hosted shows there. Back in the 1970s and ‘80s I ran a folk club, the Golem, and produced most of Montreal’s folk-oriented concerts. I also booked tours for such artists as Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Priscilla Herdman, Rosalie Sorrels, Bill Staines, Guy Van Duser & Billy Novick and Dakota Dave Hull & Sean Blackburn.

 

Mike Regenstreif is an editor, writer and broadcaster now based in Ottawa who has written about folk and roots music since the 1970s for Sing Out! Magazine and the Montreal Gazette and many other Canadian newspapers. My radio show, Folk Roots/Folk Branches was heard on CKUT in Montreal from 1994-2007 and I’ve since occasionally guest-hosted shows there. Back in the 1970s and ‘80s I ran a folk club, the Golem, and produced most of Montreal’s folk-oriented concerts. I also booked tours for such artists as Kate & Anna McGarrigle, Priscilla Herdman, Rosalie Sorrels, Bill Staines, Guy Van Duser & Billy Novick and Dakota Dave Hull & Sean Blackburn.

Andy Frank and David Newland review Talking Music on their blog at Roots Music Canada by videotaping his interviews with Holger Petersen about some of the interviews in the book such as Sam Phillips, Bill Wyman, Jeff Healey, Ian Tyson and the Edmonton Folk Music Festival.