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Third World War
Terry Stamp
Jim Avery
Bootlace Johnnie & the 99s
Howling for the Highway Home

Cognac Blues Festival

Tears in my Cognac

I was listening to the guy singing his heart out on a sunny summer morning. The voice sounded familiar, and the place was familiar too. Cognac, the small French town people who only know alcoholic geography have heard, dreamed and drunk about. In the same place, in the year 2001, I had seen Gary Broker singing "A whiter shade of pale" and I had thought, this was not the way I pictured the future (or a blues festival).

2007 is even more the future than 2001, but again, the singing in the headphones was bringing me back in time, to a wilder shade of pain: "So I kicked on my mule, and he obeyed me everyone else, laughed and betrayed me..." The whole instant looked like a trick from my memory, it was the same voice, it was the same song although it was played in a more crude manner with just a saturated tremolo guitar sound. "And you won't, no you won't, no you won't get that load... up stardom road"...

That those words had been intended as a self-fulfilling prophecy is what history seemed to prove, for I had seldom heard about the guy since he had stopped giving us "factory canteen news". But there he was, out of the blue like a dirty red, in front of a crowd that didn't know him, delivering his subtle lyrics with the same uncompromised energy he had put in a Bo Diddley cover, just a minute before. It should not have been a surprise, because I had come there to see him. But I guess his voice was suddenly removing 35 years of patiently accumulated cracks from my old vinyl Third World War record, and leaving me face to face with the bare emotion, just like the first time. I smiled (but I could as well have cried) and thought none of us had made the trip in vain. On the programme, he was listed as Terry Stamp, England.

Marc Oriel, 2007