Satan and Adam tour is off — for now

Satan and Adam, aka Sterling “Mr. Satan” Magee, center, and Adam Gussow, right, at Preservation Pub in Knoxville, Tenn.

Satan and Adam, aka Sterling “Mr. Satan” Magee, center, and Adam Gussow, right, at Preservation Pub in Knoxville, Tenn.

I’ve been anticipating the return of hometown heroes Satan and Adam — the blues duo comprising an authentic Southern bluesman, Sterling Magee, and Adam Gussow, a younger native of Rockland County, NY.

The duo, who got together in 1986, share a gritty and spirited vision of the blues. They made their name busking on the streets, with Mister Satan on guitar and kickboard percussion and Adam on blues harmonica. In their heyday, they found time for touring and made three studio albums together. (A fourth album, Word on the Street, is a compilation of the duo’s early street recordings that was released last year.) They got their 15 minutes of fame when the members of U2 encountered them during the making of their movie Rattle and Hum, and included a few seconds of Satan and Adam in the film.

They had seven dates lined up for this month — the first of them today at Kiawah Island, S.C., with plans to perform at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia on Wednesday, B.B. King’s in NYC on Thursday, and The Turning Point in Piermont, N.Y., near where Adam grew up, on Friday.

Satan and Adam

Satan and Adam

Mister Satan, as Magee is known, who had a nervous breakdown that robbed him of his ability to play guitar a decade ago, has been living in a Medicare-funded retirement home in Boca Ciega, Fla. He’s been on the mend, has slowly regained his guitar-playing ability, and even performed a few shows last year.  The playing seemed to help Mister Satan’s overall well-being, so Adam worked hard to set up this short tour, because he was eager to get back on the road with his partner for a real tour.

It looked like things were all set, until they encountered a last-minute bureaucratic snafu at Mister Satan’s retirement home that dashed their hopes — for now.

I got word of the tour cancellation just as I was preparing to write up the great interview I had with Adam a few weeks ago. While they won’t be on the road this month, Adam says he hopes to reschedule for mid-August. I’ll post the interview in the weeks before the rescheduled dates.

Click through to the jump to read Adam’s explanation of exactly what went wrong, posted to his web site on Friday:


A couple of hours I got word from Kevin Moore, our official “roadie,” that the Satan and Adam tour is a no-go.

Sterling lives in a medicare facility. He’s allowed 16 nights a year away from it. The year runs July 1 through June 30. He only has two unused nights left before July 1.

The previous administration said: No problem! Book the tour.

The new administration told us TODAY that they are sticking to the rule-book. He only has two nights left.

This means: No Satan and Adam tour.

We will be playing the gig on Kiawah Island, SC this Sunday. Then we’ll be turning around and driving home.

I have begun to contact clubs. I am trying to reschedule things for mid-August. I will let you know if that works. World Cafe Live in Philly has already tentatively offered August 13th, a Thursday.

Welcome to the blues life.

I can’t apologize, because I’ve done nothing wrong. But I, we, have still wreaked havoc, or are about to, with this last-minute plug-pull, and it saddens and pisses me off, and also embarrasses me. To say that I’ve put a lot of work into this tour is putting it mildly. Hopefully we’ll be able to reschedule.

Please send all your negative thoughts hurtling towards the Boca Ciega Center’s “new administration,” whomever they may be. They were implacable, unrepentant. “Maybe you should confine’s Sterling’s activities to places a little closer to home,” they said.

In a followup post, Adam added:

Sterling lives in a Medicare-sponsored retirement home. His family couldn’t support him; he was unable to hold a job after his nervous breakdown. He is somewhat better now, but still unable to hold a job, and he’s 73, with no means of support. His family felt that they had no option but committing him to this facility. Everything–food, clothing, shelter, medicine–is paid for by the government. That’s not a bad deal.

In exchange, he is allowed to leave home for 16 nights every year, July 1 through June 30. That’s the deal. I didn’t make the deal; I’m just working with it. Obviously it puts a severe crimp on Satan and Adam touring. Still, it’s the hand I and we were dealt.

The previous administration was quite willing to bend the rules. I booked the tour–and worked on it for six months–on the basis of a clear representation of this willingness, made by the administration to Kevin Moore, our contact there, and his communicating of the represtation to me. The old administration knew the Satan and Adam story. They felt, quite rightly, that the little bit of touring we were doing was actually contributing to Sterling’s improvement in a medical way. A few days over the government-sanctioned limit didn’t strike them as a big deal. It’s not a big deal.

The new administration is not willing to bend the rules. They waited until the last possible minute to tell us this. We had no inkling of possible trouble until two weeks ago. Kevin immediately contacted them, but they gave him no word until yesterday.

Those are the stark facts.

Last Edited on 13-Jun-2009 3:41 AM


2 responses to “Satan and Adam tour is off — for now

  1. Thanks for spreading the news! I’m a little embarrassed to see my own (understandable) anger of the moment in living print. Truth is, the folks at the Boca Ciega Center simply have no idea who Sterling is. They’re just trying to do a good job, as they see it, and for them that means going by the book. We’re going to reeducate them. We’re quite sure that they’ll loosen up once we’ve Satan-and-Adam-ized them.

    I’ve had a great response from EVERY venue on the tour; I’m extremely hopeful that we’ll have the tour rescheduled over the next few days and I’ll let you know when I do.


    • That’s great news, Adam. Even when you were angriest, you held out hope that things would eventually work out. Everyone knows that it took a lot of work to put the tour together in the first place, so it was terribly disappointing to see it fall apart. I’m looking forward to seeing you guy as soon as you can pull the new dates together.

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