For the past several years, Netflix subscribers have been raving about Satan & Adam (2018), an award-winning documentary that tracks the unlikely, decades-long partnership between Sterling “Mr. Satan” Magee, a Mississippi-born bluesman and prophet, and Adam Gussow, a younger white harmonica ace. Joining forces on the streets of Harlem in the 1980s, riding out the racial turmoil of that era—murders in Howard Beach and Bensonhurst, Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing–Gussow and Magee end up becoming a national touring act and Living Blues cover story. The duo falls apart after Magee’s 1998 breakdown, then reunites in a late-life comeback story that leaves viewers profoundly moved.
Magee’s nephew Rod Patterson, aka “Sir Rod,” was one of those viewers. An Atlanta-area singer, dancer, and motivational speaker, he contacted Gussow in December 2019 with a proposition: Why don’t we team up and keep my uncle’s music—and your music, the Satan & Adam songbook—alive? (Magee, it turned out, had lived with Patterson’s family down in Florida only a couple of years before Gussow hooked up with him in Harlem; the two younger men had both been mentored into the blues by the same master musician.)
The result of that conversation was a debut album, an exciting new act, and an explosion of creativity and brotherhood that can’t be denied.
Featuring Patterson up front, Gussow on amplified harmonica and drums, and Alan Gross on electric guitar, Sir Rod & The Blues Doctors offer a powerful mix of down-home blues, old-school soul, and uptown funk. Come Together, recorded in Mississippi and released in the summer of 2020, highlights Satan & Adam favorites, including “I Want You,” “Sanctified Blues,” and “Seventh Avenue,” stirred together with “What’d I Say,” “I Feel Good,” “Little Red Rooster,” plus the catchy jam-band single, “Come Together,” a Gussow-Patterson original that speaks prophetically to the COVID-19 crisis and the virus of racism.
Come Together also features a remake of “Freedom For My People,” the powerful anthem that was excerpted on U2’s multi-platinum album Rattle & Hum (1988). A composition of Magee’s that preaches hope and yearns for justice, it’s a showcase for Sir Rod’s soulful vocals. “So Mean,” another Patterson original, is an aching slow blues–just the singer and his keyboard, crying out to the woman he loves, with Gussow seconding the feeling on acoustic harp.
Sterling Magee died on September 6, 2020 at age 84, a victim of COVID-19. Sir Rod & The Blues Doctors are dedicating their 2021 “Come Together” tour to him—and to our American nation, which needs healing and entertainment.
Patterson, an award-winning dancer specializing in the fancy footwork of James Brown and Michael Jackson, brings his one-of-a-kind talents to the blues stage. Based in Oxford, Mississippi for the past two decades, Gussow, whom WXPN blues DJ Jonny Meister has called “one of the world’s finest blues harmonica players,” is acknowledged by his peers as a contemporary master; his one-man-band version of “Crossroads Blues” has drawn raves (and almost 4 million views) on YouTube. Anchoring the rhythm section, guitarist Alan Gross is known for his tasty playing and homemade cigar-box guitars.