I want to thank all the people who have helped and supported me over the last eight years including Esa Kuloniemi, Pete and Sami at Blues News, Ville Haatanen, Jussi Raulamo, all the people at Storyville, Henry's Pub, Jukka Makinen at Down Home Kivi in Tampere, 45 Special in Oulu, Corners Pub in Kokkola, O'Robins Pub in Kerava, Blues-Finland.com and everyone else my tired and frazzled brain is forgetting!

That said, I must confess to mixed feelings about the last eight years of my Finland/Scandinavia experience. The lack of respect by some people in the blues music world here has been appalling considering that I'm certainly one of the leading, if not the number 1 overall blues person based in Scandinavia with my combination of experinces, credentials and talent.

In case some of the readers are not aware of it I've done ca. 10.000 gigs in my career with many international blues artists including six years with Big Jack Johnson from 1994 to 2000. Jack and I recorded three cds together, which got a total of five W.C. Handy Nominations, played The Chicago Blues Festival in 2000, played in 22 countries all over North America (45 US states and 4 Canadian provinces), Europe and even Israel.

I've done hundreds of major festivals and been written about or pictured either by myself or with my band in Musician Magazine, Bass Player Magazine, Living Blues, Blues Revue, Blues Access, National Geographic, CNN and who knows how many other blues society newsletters and yet have to beat my brains out to the point of exhaustion (believe me when I tell you that I'd end up in the hospital or worse if I tried to push myself past this year)just to survive! I was ignored by Puistoblues, Pori Jazz and many others throughout Finland and Scandinavia and have more than a little bit of anger as you can sense towards the blues/music establishment!

Take the Hooter Challenge

As you may know, I've been talked about behind my back by many here (most ofwhom have never even met me) because of my aggressive take-no-shit (i.e US) style and the pissed off look on my face (mostly attributable to exhaustion, though there is much at times to be pissed off about in this idiot business).

I tell people to take The Hooter Challenge: Move 4000 miles across an ocean to a region where your native language is not the first one spoken, deal with all the cultural barriers (also can't tell you the number of times people have asked/questioned/criticizedwhy I work so hard since they can get money from the government if push comes to shove which I can not) and dealing with this business 24/7 and then tell me I'm this or that! I would love to see some of them try to cut it in the US - they wouldn't last a month!

Lastly, people here need to respect guys like me, the people who I've brought here and all the other people who areThe Real Deal (i.e., again from the US... the country where blues comes from, not to mention pay us much better), what often passes for blues here and elsewhere is blues-rock at best.

There are a lot of talented musicians in Finland and Scandinavia and I know some of them have played with US guys here and elsewhere but they can ever only be talented (sometimes very talented)copyistsand never be totally authentic as there'smore to learning any genre of music besides just playing the right notes!You have to be part of or grown up inthe culture to be 100% genuine (especially if you've never even been to the US or hadlimited time there) no matter how many cds and dvds you've listened to! Imaginehow authentic I'd be playing Finnishmusic, only living in the US and never having even been to Finland!

I don't want to sound like sour grapes but want to be honest about my feelings and experience here and welcome any dialogue and feedback that the readers of Blues-Finland.com would like to have with me: they may be surprised to find I'm easier to talk with than about!

MAURY SASLAFF

You can respond to Hooter:
hootsbluz (at) hotmail.com. Please write in English.

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Hooter: My Scandinavian Experience

8 January 2009

Maury "Hooter" Saslaff quit active touring in 2008. After being based in Scandinavia for eight years, Hooter talks to Blues-Finland.com about his feelings about the blues and music establishment.
Hooter's Blues (Saslaff, right) on stage with Travis Haddix in Kaavi, eastern Finland.
Photo: Ville Haatanen