Contact: Adam Gussow
Modern Blues Harmonica Presents Busker's Holiday
Modern Blues Harmonica is pleased to announce the publication of Busker’s Holiday, a taut, sexy first novel about the summer busking scene in Europe and a pair of wild-hearted young men who make a pitch for fame and glory, finding a girl or two along the way.
Adam Gussow, the author, is an associate professor of English and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi. Gussow has published three previous books on the blues, including Mister Satan’s Apprentice (1998), an award-winning memoir about his years as a Harlem street musician.
Set in the late 1980s, Busker’s Holiday is the story of McKay Chernoff, a Columbia University grad student with a harmonica in his pocket and a blues band in his background. Desolate and despairing after a disastrous romantic breakup, McKay decides to fly off to Paris and reinvent himself as a street performer.
What follows is an epic summer voyage into the busking life, propelled by the mad exploits of Billy Lee Grant, a fearless young guitar shredder whose Memphis-to-Mississippi pedigree and Dylanesque surrealism make him, when he explodes into view, precisely the partner McKay has been yearning for.
Burning like a latter-day Dean Moriarty, Bill goads McKay into a sun-drenched, all-night bender, stoked by wine, women, mushrooms, and trains, that careens down out of Avignon and across the French Riviera. What happens next—in Florence, Solingen, Amsterdam, Paris—is a story of purgatory, redemption, and love regained. Hope, in a word, as a modern troubadour returns from his wanderings, reborn.
For more information on Busker’s Holiday and a photo of the author as a reckless young street performer, visit the website:
# # #
About the author:
Adam Gussow, born in New York City and raised twenty-five miles upriver, has been living in Oxford, Mississippi since 2002, where he teaches at Ole Miss and performs with his current duo, The Blues Doctors. He is best-known musically for his longtime partnership with guitarist Sterling “Mr. Satan” Magee as the duo Satan and Adam. He has contributed more than 500 blues harmonica teaching and performance videos to YouTube—his debut music video, “Crossroads Blues,” has 700,000 views—and his website, ModernBluesHarmonica.com, is popular with beginners and pros alike.
Gussow has published three previous books on the blues: Mister Satan’s Apprentice: A Blues Memoir (1998); Seems Like Murder Here: Southern Violence and the Blues Tradition (2002); and Journeyman’s Road: Modern Blues Lives From Faulkner’s Mississippi to Post-9/11 New York (2007). He has just completed a scholarly monograph entitled Beyond the Crossroads: The Devil and the Blues Tradition.
# # #
Praise for Busker’s Holiday
“In Gussow’s…lively road novel, an American grad student spends a wild few weeks as a street musician in Europe….a five-week odyssey, a wild, jazzy tale that includes rollicking musical performances, running from the cops, drunken debauchery, and a diverse array of colorful characters…. Gussow’s tale is a fast-paced, enjoyable one, with the harmonica blues angle putting a unique spin on the European trip narrative. It is a nostalgic story but thankfully unsentimental, as rigorous detail and descriptions bring the story to life in explosive ways. McKay on the street in Paris drinking Heineken while playing “Sweet Home Chicago” is certainly cool, yet Gussow outdoes himself with the novel’s revolving cast of unique characters, whose crazy times and back stories are endlessly entertaining. The novel is about the trip of a lifetime, going to Europe to forget everything, but it’s also a story of friendship, helped tremendously by Gussow’s ear for music and dialogue. A strongly written, cool novel about being young, bluesy, and free on a vagabond adventure in Europe.” –Kirkus Reviews
“Why would anyone be surprised that Adam Gussow had such a fantastic novel in him? For decades, his impeccable harp-playing has demonstrated the depth of his soul. His scholarly writing offers keen insight into all manner of American aesthetics. That he has rounded up such a roguish cast of characters and unleashed them abroad for shenanigans of the best kind only confirms the range of his talents.”--Tom Williams, author of Among the Wild Mulattos & Other Tales and Don’t Start Me Talkin’
"Busker's Holiday is strung between espressos and bluesy harmonica poetry, a linguistic tour-de-force dancing like rain drops on the Paris streets."-- Paul Maher, Jr., author of Kerouac: The Definitive Biography and Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac's On the Road
“Adam Gussow writes like he plays the harmonica: with great precision and fluidity, and with a flawless ear for melody. With Busker’s Holiday, he takes the reader with on an emotional and musical journey from the Ivory Tower of US academia to the dirty, sexy and no-holds-barred streets of late 1980s Europe. It’s an exciting and fast-paced novel that not only keeps you enthralled, but (speaking as a professional musician and former busker myself) really rings true. Gussow gets it right. He evokes the transformative power of the blues in a way few are able to do. Sex, drugs, rock and roll, Dante, Kerouac, Hemingway, Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters all in one short novel. Remarkable!”—Ron Sunshine, New York bandleader
“A rocking guttersnipe’s lament across Europe, one that stings and swings. A lively coming-of-age tale, inspired by Kerouac and Magic Dick.”—R. J. Smith, author of The One: The Life and Music of James Brown
Publisher: Modern Blues Harmonica / BookBaby
Print: ISBN 978-0996712408, $14.95, 216 pages, 5.5” x 8.5”, trade paperback
eBook: ISBN 978-0996712415, $5.99
Pub date: October 15, 2015
Print version vailable at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powell’s Books.
E-book available at iBooks, Amazon (Kindle), B&N (Nook), Kobo, and more