Sunday, May 14, 2006

Dick Lourie Brings The Blues to the “News”

Somerville poet, publisher and Blues musician Dick Lourie, is a man who is never without a project. Currently he is working on a collection of poetry: “Overdue At The Crossroad,” that deals with the vibrant Blues community in Clarksdale, Mississippi, that Lourie visits frequently. Lourie talked to the “News” staff at our regular contributors meeting. Although Lourie has been a Somerville resident since 1981, he feels equally at home in Clarksdale. Clarksdale, although much smaller than Somerville, is similar, in that it has a large and vibrant population of musicians. Deep in the south, Clarksdale has an unusual degree of sophistication because according to Lourie, “Many international visitors pass through for the Blues Festival and the plethora of blues clubs.” Lourie said he has an “obsession,” with the town, and has become friends with many of the accomplished musicians and singers who reside in this burg. He hopes to have the poetry book out next year, and is currently soliciting a number of University presses.

Meanwhile Lourie remains active in a Doo-Wop group, and performs regularly with “Weeping Willy”, a Blues musician in the Boston area. Currently, Lourie and his wife Abbey Friedman (a documentary filmmaker) are working on a film documenting a Boston-based Afro-American singing group the “G-Clefs.” This group has been performing together for well-over 40 years, in such venues as the “Apollo Theatre,” in Harlem, to name one.

Lourie, who considers himself a poet first, and a musician a close second, told the “News” reporters that he continues to be intimately involved with the “Hanging Loose Press” that is based in Brooklyn, NY, with former Somerville resident Mark Pawlak and others. Lourie has several poetry books to his credit, most recently: “Ghost Radio Blues” that brags an accompanying CD.

Lourie, who played his 60 year old sax at the end of the meeting, said that his poems are often related to the 12 bar Blues form. Lourie said that poetry and music have always been related. Their separation has only been a relatively recent development in modern cultural history. Lourie, ever the iconoclast, ended the meeting with an unexpected remark: “I realized I was never going to make a living in music, so I went into poetry.” Spoken like a true artist!

Doug Holder

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