Jesse Sublett, SXSW, Grave Digger Blues, Noir, Surrealistic Detective Novel

Plugging Grave Digger Blues at SXSW

Chester Arthur “Howlin’ Wolf” Burnett, born June 10, 1910, died January 10, 1976. Not just the greatest of the blues singers and performers, he was one of the greatest of all American artists, period. He not only helped bring what we call “blues” into the mainstream, he helped invent rock ‘n roll. He laid down the standards for rock n’ roll excitement and professionalism. If you watch videos of the Wolf in performance at his peak, you are seeing the roots of punk rock, metal, funk… everything.

"Howlin Wolf" "Chester Burnett" "Jesse Sublett"


"Howlin Wolf" "Chester Burnett" "Jesse Sublett"


"Howlin Wolf" "Chester Burnett" "Jesse Sublett"


"Howlin Wolf" "Chester Burnett" "Jesse Sublett"


I started hosting an annual birthday tribute to the Wolf in 2009. Here is the series of posters, each one of them with the names of a good many of Austin’s best and brightest musicians who were all happy to pay tribute to the great man, and all these were designed by the fabulous artist / photographer / creative provocateur, Ricardo Acevedo.

The shows were at the Continental Club here in Austin. I didn’t feel like doing one this year. Basically I’ve been too busy with other projects. And last year was a great show, but it came in the middle of a stressful time and I decided that this year I’d just coast a little, recharge my batteries, do some painting, work on my books and other projects.

It’s not like I forgot about the man.

There’s been a lot of commenting on Facebook after someone posted the image below.

howlin wolf

from a 1993 ad campaign featuring iconic figures who were known to wear khakis

It’s from a 1993 ad campaign by The Gap. Sure, you can bitch about it, but what the hell. Some of the other legendary figures whose images were used in the campaign included Pablo Picasso, Jack Kerouac, Hemingway, etc. So they were saying that the Wolf is an icon, an icon of cool. It’s true. There was a lot of handwringing — “Oh, my, and I bet the family isn’t getting any royalties off that, either.” Well, if the Burnett family were ripped off by The Gap, it wouldn’t be the first time an American icon’s image was appropriated by a corporation — or somebody on Tumblr or Facebook or Twitter — where no one seems to give much thought to copyright. And no one seemed to catch the fact that the ad is 20 years old. Well, whatever. I mean, once you’ve heard “Smokestack Lightning” used to sell Viagra, your sense of outrage over such things has already taken a beating.

Now, just for the hell of it, a couple of my recent visual projects.

jesse sublett, crime novelist, blues singer, surrealist


jesse sublett, crime novelist, blues singer, surrealist

Moon Goddess, 16 x 24 print on metallic paper

Commercial notice: We’ll be doing NOIR AT THE BAR on Sunday, June 16, 7 – 9 PM at Opal Divine Penn Field (3601 South Congress Ave). Scott Phillips, Jedidiah Ayers and me, My Terrible Self, are the featured authors. We will read from our books and I will play a few blues and murder ballads. I don’t know Jedidiah but I’ve known Scott Phillips since Jesus was in short pants and he’s a great damned writer. Hosted by BookPeople, see all the details here. Scott is one of the pioneers of Noir at the Bar, so we need to show the guy that Austin gets noir — and more important, that you appreciate it enough to buy books from the guys and gals who are good at it. In this case, I mean real good. Know what I mean? OK. See you there, pals.

Grave Digger Blues, Jesse Sublett, Surrealistic Detective story

The author proofs his work.

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