February 2012 Letters

JOHNNY AND SCOTT

I first came across OffBeat back in the 1990s. I had discovered this new singer, Johnny Adams, and was attempting to find out as much as I could. I heard this LP from Rounder (it took months for the CD to appear), Room with a View of the Blues. I was some upset that as a major blues fan and self-proclaimed expert on the West Coast of Canada, I had seen them all—Fats, Little Richard, Willie Dixon, James Brown, Albert Collins, etc., plus all the British and USA bands, Doors, Moody Blues, Stones, etc. and I had not heard from the best—Johnny Adams. Hell, I even saw Sarah Vaughan and Duke Ellington with his full band. As Johnny Adams said to me when we met in 1996, if I had seen the Duke, the rest didn’t matter. I saw Johnny twice and trust me, the rest don’t matter.

Like most kids my age (born 1952) I thought the Beatles were it. Imagine my chagrin when I first heard Little Richard do “Long Tall Sally.” There was no going back. Imagine my chagrin when I found that most of Little Richard’s hits were recorded in New Orleans.

I wrote a young producer by the name of Scott Billington and we corresponded about Johnny and over time about Irma. Scott was extremely patient answering my many questions. When John became ill and Scott and others arranged a benefit at Tip’s, I flew down to see it. Without missing a beat, Scott took me under his wing, introduced me to all who were there and the highlight, besides seeing Johnny again was to kiss Irma Thomas’ hand. A triumph! I met so many neat people and was introduced to your magazine.

I am really pleased that Scott is the recipient of your Lifetime Achievement award—a very good fellow, great producer and protector of Canadian travelers to Tip’s, the Maple Leaf and other such noteworthy palaces of entertainment.

—Chris Main, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

SCOTT BILLINGTON

Great choice! For over 30 years, Billington’s work with artists such as Gatemouth Brown and Johnny Adams not only left these musicians with a legacy of fine recordings, but also helped to jump start their careers. Shortly after Gate’s virgin Rounder session, Scott shared his production philosophy with me, which was basically that he saw himself as not getting in the way of the artist, but to create an environment conducive to the artist’s creativity and “fine-tune” the setting. I thought about that simple philosophy a lot over the years when working with producers who were so ego- driven that their intent was to brand their sound on the artist, and unfortunately, they usually did.

But more important is the legacy Billington leaves the listener: A hundred-plus quality sessions he produced in New Orleans and Louisiana from deserving artists who may never have seen the inside of a studio if not for him and Rounder. While his volume of work is not the size of a John or Alan Lomax, his work documenting Louisiana artists is every bit as important.

—Joe Sunseri, New Orleans, LA

PUNK

Thanks to OffBeat for the advertisement that was taken out for the New Orleans Punk Rock/New Wave reunion scene from the late ’70s and early ’80s at Southport Hall. We had a fantastic crowd with about 500-plus people. It pays to advertise for a musical event with the best music magazine in Louisiana—OffBeat. Thanks for a successful night.

—Jimmy Anselmo, Jefferson, LA

KEEP YOUR PAWS OFF

I have not received my issue of OffBeat. I know they have been mailed because my friends received their copy, and they said, “Keep your paws off.”

—David Keith Hunt, Elmer, LA

We apologize to our subscribers who do not receive the magazine in a timely manner. Unlike other magazines, OffBeat mails the magazine at a much higher First Class rate, which guarantees delivery in three business days. This rate is nearly three times greater than the Standard Class rate. Most magazines mail at the Standard Class rate, which takes a bit longer. Unfortunately the Postal employees see a magazine and make the assumption that it is being mailed at the cheaper Standard Class rate. We continue to work with the Post Office to try and resolve these problems.—Ed.