Last time Bob Margolin went for a stroll naked, he got plenty of attention, and not just for his pulchritude. With just his voice and guitar, Margolin’s 2019 release, This Guitar and Tonight, took home a Blues Music Award for Best Acoustic Album. He continues to display his stripped-down approach for his latest, Star of Stage and Screens, a six-song EP on his own Vizztone label.
The former Muddy Waters sideman addresses the current shutdown with “March 2020 in Stop Time,” a pandemic chronicle expressing his frustration at the politics around the virus that affects all of us.
At the head of the video Margolin introduces his guitar, Pinetop, a homage to blues piano legend Pinetop Perkins, who accompanied Muddy for 12 years and guested with Margolin’s band regularly for years afterward.
“Can we ever survive / Won’t ever be the same,” Margolin intones mournfully as pastoral scenes of his rural headquarters drift by, accompanied by his canine companion Calvin. “No matter what we call it, plague is what it is,” the singer-songwriter proclaims over a bigfoot backporch stomp. Margolin pulls no punches, marching boldly into the belly of the beast, assessing blame to the head guy he describes as “a malignant narcissist with blood on his hands.”
He lightens things up a bit with the title cut, a tongue-in-cheek self-appraisal of his truncated career due to the virus: “Steady rollin’ no more, a falling star of stage and screens.”
“For My Teachers” is a healing tutorial about reaching inside for lessons learned from friends and family to help survive life in general.
Margolin perks things up a bit on “Let It Go.” Propelled by a rollin’ and tumblin’ second line overlaid with some nice, fat, greasy slide, the singer urges restraint in these troubled times when lashing out seems to be the policy decreed by the guy in charge. “Before u throw a punch/ take a breath an let it go,” he advises. Even if you’ve just lost your job, had your car repossessed, and “your wife moans in her sleep and calls the name of a movie star,” take a breath and chill, he advises.
He’s no Dr. Fauci, but Margolin does provide an anecdote for anxiety, getting stuff off his chest and helping you breathe a bit easier as well knowing somebody else is going through the same stuff and is offering a prescription for survival.