Charleston's Free Time
Charleston, SC
August 14, 1996
by Brian Lindgren

John Cusatis
Peopl'a Call Me Bubba

Recorded by Steve Green at Island Sounds

John Cusatis is among a growing number of performers to have relocated to the Low Country in recent years. A native of Pennsylvania, Cusatis moved to Charleston a few years ago, and his unique style is certainly well suited to the almost constant tourism our city has. I case anyone doesn't know, Cusatis' audiences are part of his show -- literally.. Cusatis, who bills his act as "Barroom Rock 'N' Roll," distributes an array of percussion instruments to the audience and encourages participation in the songs, some of which are originals, some of which are covers. Because the "official" act is a one man band, Cusatis can play almost anywhere in town -- as he does.

This 4-song CD features all originals, and Cusatis sought and received the help of many of the finest Low Country musicians for this project: Rob Posey, Debbie Pasek, and Tommy Nolen from Cotton Blue; Hawk Morffi from Big Stoner Creek; Graham Finch of the Tropicools, and an array of other percussionists and backing vocalists, including Zydeco Joe Roberts and Washboard Fwed on rub board and washboard, respectively.

The first of the cuts, "Stickman," starts off with a simple concept: "Ain't nothin' but a stickman/ a 2-dimensional guy/ staring off a piece of paper/ into a little girl's eye." Cusatis then gets philosophical as he gets into the stickman's psyche: "I used to say if you can't embrace me/ why don't you just erase me/ but I'd rather be a stickman/ than no man at all." This song features a great mandolin part by Hawk Morffi, intertwined with great blues harp from Rob Posey.

The second cut, and the one whence the title of this CD sprang, "Reggae Bubba" examines the culture shock felt by a Jamaican who has relocated to the Lowcountry. Aside from listening to Bob Marley in his pickup truck and tucking his dread locks under a baseball cap, the protagonist notes, "Back in Jamaica I'd smoke one or two/ now I gotta learn to spit and chew."

The third song, "Couldn't Love You," is an anti-love song, in which Cusatis declares, "Let me slam a dozen/ cause I love you when I';m buzzin'/ I couldn't love you as much as I do/ If I didn't love drinkin' more."

As if this weren't enough to cause anxiety for AA and MADD, the disc's final track, "Old Grand Dad," is an ode to the world-famous scotch whiskey. 'He sits behind the bar somewhat aloof/ He's about a hundred, and that's proof."

Although this disc is a wonderfully rowdy, raucous one, featuring some of of the finest musicians in our area, it is proof positive that getting out to see John Cusatis in person is the more intoxicating choice. Do it!

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