Elmore Magazine publisher Suzanne Cadgene has been publishing her magazine for about a year and half now. Although Elmore has its offices in New York City, New England readers have been finding copies of Elmore Magazine at festivals and music stores like Newbury Comics because it is distributed nationally. Elmore Magazine, Cadgene said, serves the fans of and musicians who play American Roots Rock.
"Our mission is to preserve and protect those American roots that we perceive are worthwhile. Most American music started with the blues. It’s got elements of blues and jazz in just about everything that we cover," she said.
With blues serving as a blueprint for the kinds of music Elmore covers, Cadgene will surgically remove from consideration genres that lack history and roots.
"We do not cover hip-hop. We do not cover rap. We do not cover disco," she exclaimed. "But we cover rock and roll and jazz, country, bluegrass---which is to me a subsection of country. We’re attempting to keep that kind of music alive as opposed to what we perceive as manufactured music, things that come from studio executives as opposed to from musicians; things that are more synthetic and less enduring, perhaps, than some of the great music that has come from the past and is coming out now but based in something solid."
When asked about the argument that hip-hop and rap have got history because they’ve been around for 25 years, Cadgene said she’s not buying into it. "It’s poetry set to a beat," she said, before adding, "We tend to shy away from heavy metal."
When Cadgene and Elmore’s executive director Arnie Goodman started Elmore Magazine, they knew they had to cast a wide net for music, albeit music in the category of American Roots music, realizing that there is a lot of crossover music. Their August issue had an old-fashioned black and white picture of Hank Williams on the cover.
"If you ask blues men, ‘who were your big influences?’ about 70 percent of them are going to mention Hank Williams Sr.," Cadgene said. "He learned from a blues guy. And “˜Move It On Over” is clearly a blues song. He influenced a whole generation of blues men and rock and rollers from Dion - who mentions that was the first record he ever bought and probably one of his biggest influences. He heard Hank Sr. and he went ‘˜Wow! I love this music.’ And he decided he wanted to be a musician himself."
"There’s a tattered edge to the net and as you go further and further out it gets more and more tattered. But basically we’re talking blues that turned into rock and roll and turned into country and jazz also," she said.
When putting the magazine together, Cadgene and Goodman felt that Americans were losing their sense of history as far as what this music is and where it’s coming from.
"If you listen to the radio, there’s a fair amount of music which does not fall into what we would call good enduring music," Cadgene said. "It may be pleasant to listen to one or two times. But it doesn’t hang tough. In the whole girl group-boy group, where if you’re too old, you’re out of the band, and they substitute a younger band member. That’s not what we’re about. We’re about music, not salesmanship."
As part of Elmore Magazine’s support mission, Cadgene and Goodman released a compilation disc that got distributed with their August issue. The 15 tracks on the disc run the gamut from John Lee Hooker to Hot Tuna to George Thorogood.
"They were selected by Arnie Goodman, and basically it’s some things that he liked. I can’t disagree with any of them. I think it’s a good CD," she said.
Tracks by John Lee Hooker, Roy Orbison, John Mayall, and George Thorogood adorn this disc, and each is rooted in the history of blues and rock and roll.
"John Lee Hooker is blues; he’s indisputable," Cadgene exclaimed. "Roy Orbison, you talk about him as being a crossover country, crossover pop, crossover rock and roll - and some of the songs are reasonably bluesy. They’re certainly rootsie material. He was one of the best vocalists on the planet."
Cadgene also noted that Orbison was one of the original artists who started out at Sun Records in 1950s Memphis and eventually went on to play with Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and George Harrison in the Traveling Wilburys.
"I don’t care whether this music was recorded yesterday or a hundred years ago," Cadgene said. "It’s the type of music and the quality of the music that we’re talking about. There are some great new artists coming out. I heard a guy called David Jacob Strain and he’s 23 years old, and he’s phenomenal. He is absolutely phenomenal. He’s singing blues. He’s playing acoustic guitar. He’s playing Dobro - and the guy’s out of this world. I don’t care if he’s 12 or if he made up his music 10 minutes ago and recorded it five minutes ago. It is good."
"For us, good music is music that comes from the heart, from someone who cares about it that has some talent. I love music and I have the heart. I don’t have the ability to put it out. I sing in the shower, period. But there are people who bring all the elements together and those are the people we want to follow, whether they’re from yesterday or tomorrow."
When asked about the inclusion of English recording artists John Mayall and the Blues Breakers on a record of American blues, Cadgene said that American blues was the kind of music that the Englishmen were performing and recording.
"American blues was dead in the U.S. for quite some time, or pretty darn close to death, and it was rockers who picked it up," the publisher explained. "It was the Eric Claptons. It was The Rolling Stones. It was The Yardbirds who picked up that music and ran with it. Our next issue will have a cover story on John Mayall, and the triumphs and tragedies of his guitar players."
Cadgene noted that although Mayall never reached the level of stardom of bands like Cream and The Rolling Stones his guitarists went on to form or join those bands.
"His guitar players were Mick Taylor who was in the Stones and Eric Clapton who needs no introduction," she said, noting that Clapton was honing his skills while young Americans were playing records by the British Invasion bands.
New readers will find some familiar bylines in Elmore Magazine. Many of its reporters have been writing for national publications for several years. Chet Flippo writes for Elmore and Gene Knapp is its managing editor.
"Some of them are nationally recognized people," Cadgene said. "Chet Flippo certainly is. He’s a CMT (Country Music Television) guy. He writes for Rolling Stone. He’s been around for a while, and he’s probably one of the most highly respected country authorities in the U.S."
Elmore’s staff also includes a retired psychologist named Scott Peavler who turned in an in depth article about the last 50 years of country music’s major artists. "Scott Peavler is a very bright guy and has been writing for us for some time but has written about psychology for most of his life," Cadgene said. "He’s a PhD psychologist and a music lover. He plays pedal steel guitar. He plays piano. He’s been following country music since he was a boy. He grew up in the south. We were lucky enough to discover him and have him write for us on a regular basis. I think he did a bang-up job on that country cover story. He wasn’t a nationally known country writer beforehand, but I think he is now."
For now, Cadgene is happy with Elmore’s success. Her circulation is 20,000 after being in business fewer than two years.
"I’m pleased with where we are. We thought of this idea literally two years ago this month. (September). We’ve been publishing for about a year and a half. I think we’re doing phenomenally," she said.