Saffire, Uppity Blues Women Since 1984, a group called Saffire has used boogie-woogie rhythms, saucy lyrics and quick-fire wit to bring back the long tradition of women in the blues. Saffire — The Uppity Blues Women perform at NPR's Washington studios.
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Saffire, Uppity Blues Women

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Saffire, Uppity Blues Women

Saffire, Uppity Blues Women

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This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

(Soundbite of audience applause and cheers)

Fifteen years ago, Ann Rabson teamed up with her then guitar student Gaye Adegbagola--I knew I'd get it wrong--Adegbalola and made playing the blues a full-time career. Since the release of their first self-titled album in 1990, they, along with another musician, Andra Faye, have followed the tradition of female blues singers of the 1920s and '30s, artists like Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. The trio is called Saffire, The Uppity Blues Women, and they're with us here in studio 4A. Nice to have you on the program tonight.

Ms. GAYE ADEGBALOLA (Musician): Thank you.

Ms. ANDRA FAYE (Musician): It's nice to be here.

Ms. ANN RABSON (Musician): Yes.

CONAN: If you have questions for members of the group or about the tradition of blues music or women in the blues, our number in Washington is 800-989-8255. That's 800-989-TALK. E-mail us,

Later in the program, a Republican senator says the only solution for FEMA is to blow it up and start all over again; and we'll talk with the voice of Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird who receives a Lifetime Achievement Emmy tomorrow. But first, let's hear some music from Saffire, the Uppity Blues Women.

(Soundbite of blues music)

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: Yeah, this is a freedom song.

(Soundbite of Ms. Adegbalola riffing)

Ms. ANN RABSON: (Singing) Well, I was lookin' round and checkin' out my very best friends. Seems that they'd all taken up with young, young men. Seems that when you reach around middle age, you don't want a final chapter, you want to write another page. I need a young man…

SAFFIRE: (Singing) To drive away my middle-aged blues.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: (Singing) Well, seems that men my age are all married, boring or tired. You got to find a young man if you want to be desired. Now, some of my friends is worried 'bout what people may say. I say age ain't nothin' but a number. The good lord made it that way. A young man…

SAFFIRE: (Singing) To drive away my middle-aged blues.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: (Singing) I say that he can get it up, you know that he can get on down. He'll help you do the dishes, take you out on the town. He'll let you navigate 'cause he ain't worried 'bout seniority. And you can tell him where to put it, keeping you happy is his priority. I need a young, young man.

SAFFIRE: Yeah, I need a young, young man, ah-ah. I need a young, young man to drive away my middle-aged blues. Tell 'em, Andra.

(Soundbite of mandolin solo)

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: Go get 'em, girl. Go get 'em.

Tell 'em, Ann.

(Soundbite of piano solo)

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: (Singing) Well, I'll forget about my arthritis, my backache, my lumbago. Yeah, yeah, my young man does the (unintelligible). I'm cleaning out my closet. I'm no longer sentimental. Forget about experience. Lord knows I want potential. A young thing…

SAFFIRE: (Singing) To drive away my middle-aged blues.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: (Singing) Well, I don't need no reefer. I don't need no cocaine. All I need is a young man to drive me insane. I'm throwing away my dust mop, got a brand-new vacuum cleaner. You ought to hear me when I holler, eureka, eureka. A young thing…

SAFFIRE: (Singing) To drive away my middle-aged blues.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: (Singing) I said…

SAFFIRE: (Singing) Open the door, yeah, an old woman don't tell. An old woman don't swell, and she's grateful as hell. I need a young, young man. Yeah, I need a young, young man, ah-ah. I need young, young man to drive away my middle-aged blues.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: (Singing) Easy now. I said age ain't nothin' but a number. You know that age ain't nothin' but a number, y'all. I say that age ain't nothin' but a number. You know that age ain't nothin', ha, but a number, and like a rare wine, you don't get older, you just get better. Give me a young, young man.

(Soundbite of applause)

CONAN: Saffire, the Uppity Blues Women with us here in studio 4A on TALK OF THE NATION. Let me introduce the members of the band. They are Ann Rabson on piano and vocals, Gaye Adegbalola on guitar and vocals, and Andra Faye on a mandolin on that particular song. I also see a bass behind her and a guitar so that's, I suspect, within her repertoire as well.

And if you'd like to join our conversation, give us a call, 800-989-8255, 800-989-TALK. E-mail us, And, Ann, let me begin by asking you, middle-aged blues is supposed to be a music of authenticity and experience. How could you possibly come up with a song like that?

Ms. RABSON: Well, I didn't come up with it. Actually, Gaye wrote that. She won a Handy Award for that song.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Ms. RABSON: And so, you know, my point of view might be a little different.

CONAN: Might be a little different. So, Gaye…

(Soundbite of laughter)


CONAN: Middle-aged blues.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: Yeah, yeah.

CONAN: Surely, you're just projecting your experience in the future.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: Actually, I wrote that 25 years ago.

CONAN: Ah-ha.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: And I actually wrote it for two of my friends at home in Fredericksburg, Virginia. They were about 35. They were dating men about 25. Everybody was single, but Fredericksburg being a small town, people were talking about 'em real bad.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: So I thought I'd give 'em a little encouragement.

CONAN: And those days you thought 35 was middle-aged.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: Yeah, well. For them, you know, I was coming from my own place, but actually, it's just really a song about freedom and the freedom to choose who you want to love.

CONAN: Well, congratulations on the award. It's a nice tune.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: Thank you.

CONAN: Let me ask you, how did the group get together? Ann, why don't you fill us in there.

Ms. RABSON: Oh, it's really kind of a long story, but to make it short, I met Gaye. I was playing solo, as I'd be playing for years, and Gaye was--came and wanted guitar lessons, so I gave her guitar lessons, and she learned real quick, and we started doing stuff together; and then we met Andra Faye at a blues camp in Elkins, West Virginia, and we stole her, and here we are.

CONAN: Huh, and when you started to play--started to perform as a group, was it in and around that part of Virginia, or…?

Ms. RABSON: It was. It was in and around the Fredericksburg area, and we, you know, we thought it was big-time to go to Virginia Beach or…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. RABSON: Yeah, let alone Washington, D.C., so now we're all over the world.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. And blues festivals, I assume, are a big part of this.

Unidentified Woman: Yes.

Ms. RABSON: Oh, we'd like 'em to be bigger, but, yeah, we do…

Ms. GAYE ADEGBALOLA (Member, Saffire -- The Uppity Blues Women): We're playing at Chicago Blues Fest next month, as a matter of fact.

Conan: Mm hmm. Now, when you guys started out in the '90s, blues music was dominated by male artists and, I think…


CONAN: …was probably true a lot of the…

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: …just backing up a little bit. The group started in '84.

Conan: Eighty-four?

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: And we went full-time in '88.

Conan: Okay, well, beyond my date, I think blues music was dominated by male artists in 1984, too.

Ms. RABSON: Yes.

CONAN: And, I'm wondering, did you have trouble selling yourselves as a…?

Ms. RABSON: But not 1924.

CONAN: Not 1924.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. RABSON: Not that I was there then. I don't know if we--in a way I think it was easier for us because we were different. I think we--people paid attention to us because we were unusual. Then we had to keep their attention by being, you know, being able to handle it. But I think it really helped, don't you, Gaye?

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: Yeah, I think we were a novelty act at first, but you can't be a novelty act forever.

Conan: No.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: That won't get you there.

CONAN: No, your second song gets to be in trouble, there. Yeah, let's just get some listeners involved in the conversation. And this is Michelle(ph). Michelle calling us from Livermore, California.


MICHELLE (Caller): That's right. Hi, I just want to say I'm a big fan. I went to Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg and graduated in '85--‘89.


MICHELLE: And so I saw a lot of your early concerts. And what I was wondering if you could talk about--I know some bands like you all and Dave Matthews Band and some other folks, kind of started out in college towns. And I wondered if you could talk about the influence of--you know, if that helps, how it's different from maybe starting out other ways?

Ms. RABSON: It helps a lot, because when Gaye and I first started playing music together, I was just learning to play the piano. And we used to sneak into Mary Washington College and use their pianos in their practice rooms.

MICHELLE: Oh, wow.

Ms. RABSON: That was a good thing for me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Did the presence of the college also provide venues for you guys to play at?

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: Yeah, our first rally big gig was a show at the college and we opened for B.B. King, and we thought we'd died and gone to heaven.

MICHELLE: That was awesome.


CONAN: You were there?

MICHELLE: Yeah, I was, I was laughing my butt off when you played the Middle-Aged Blues. I mean, even for a--you know 17,18-year-old it was hilarious.

CONAN: Well, Michelle, thanks. You still following the blues music out there in California?

MICHELLE: You know, I'm afraid I haven't been. I've got two small children, so some of that stuff's not really appropriate for…

Ms. RABSON: Oh, what could be more appropriate when you've got small children?

(Soundbite of laughter)

MICHELLE: You know, yeah, I do still listen to it some.

CONAN: Yeah, I was thinking blues cap for women, what do they do, give you two small children?

(Soundbite of laughter)

MICHELLE: Well, that will give you the blues, I guess.

CONAN: There you go, at least for a while. There are moments; they have their good points.

MICHELLE: Exactly.

CONAN: I'll try to remember them. Michelle, thanks very much for the call, appreciate it.

MICHELLE: Well, Thank you. Thank you all. Bye.

Ms. RABSON: Thank you.


Ms. FAYE: Thanks.

CONAN: We're going to take a short break. If you'd like to join us in our conversation with Saffire, The Uppity Blues Women, give us a call: 800-989-8255, that's 800-989-TALK. The e-mail address is I'm Neal Conan. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington.

(Soundbite of audience applause)

CONAN: We have a live performance here in the Studio 4A today. Our guests are Saffire, The Uppity Blues Women; Ann Rabson on piano and vocals; Gaye Adegbalola on guitar and vocals; and Andrea Faye, bass, mandolin, guitar, and vocals. Of course, you're invited to join the conversation. If you have questions for the members of Saffire, about the group or about the blues, give us call: 800-989-9255, 800-989-TALK. The e-mail address is

And you were talking earlier about some of the predecessors, that certainly women were extremely important in the blues business back in the '20s and '30s, people like Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Memphis Minnie, one of my particular favorites.

Unidentified Woman: Mm-hmm.


CONAN: There's--and I--you guys have a little bit more like Memphis Minnie, the Joe Lewis strut kind of a deal.

Ms. FAYE: Thank you.

CONAN: Rather than…

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: Well, Bessie Smith, that's hard. She's pretty great. But I was wondering, when you started out, was this something you consciously had in mind that you were working in this tradition, Gaye?

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: For sure, we were working in that tradition. I don't think we set out to be--you know, by, for, about women; but as Ann says, you know, the blues, a lot of time, you're singing about that which gives you trouble, and for women, oft times, that's men. So our music grew out of that same spirit of the 1920s, yes, indeed. And a lot of--we could do a whole show of nothing but 1920s songs.



CONAN: Here's an e-mail we got from Heather(ph) in Scottsdale, Arizona: “I saw this group years ago in Virginia's Bluemont Concert Series in Warrenton, Virginia."


CONAN: "We sat out on the town green with a picnic and a bottle of local wine while the ladies belted it out from the back of a flatbed truck on the street below. I've watched your travels ever since. Keep it up. Hearing you now is taking me back to that lazy, summer night."

Ms. FAYE: Aw.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: Wow, oh that's mighty nice.

Ms. FAYE: Was that the time you got food poisoning, right before the show, Gaye?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: I think it was.

Ms. RABSON: That was Winchester--Winchester.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: No, It was Warrenton.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: So a little bit of authenticity there when you were…

Ms. FAYE: Oh, yeah.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: One thing about this job, there is no sick leave.

Ms. RABSON: That's right, yeah.

CONAN: Let's talk now with Heather(ph), and Heather is calling us from Anchorage, in Alaska.

Ms. FAYE: All right.


HEATHER (Caller): And I'm a 63-year-old widow, and your song gives me hope.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: All right.

Ms. FAYE: All right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HEATHER: Thank you so much for what you're doing.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: Well, we appreciate that, thank you.

CONAN: Thanks very much for the call, Heather. Let's go to Steve(ph). Steve calling us from Liverpool, New York.

STEVE (Caller): Hello.

CONAN: Hi, Steve, you're on the air.

STEVE: Good afternoon, and good afternoon, ladies.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: Good afternoon.

Ms. RABSON: Hey.

Ms. FAYE: Hey.

STEVE: I have a 17-year-old and--son, 'cause all I got are boys. This kid picked up a guitar about four years ago and just took off, and sort of made his three older brothers go, what the heck? Mine is less about trying to encourage a kid to play the guitar because he'll do it, he does it very well, and actually, about a couple of months ago, I sent him to a B.B. King concert over in Utica, New York, and it sort of changed the kind of music he plays.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: All right.

Ms FAYE: Yep.

STEVE: And so now he's a believer in the blues. My problem is, as much as I want to encourage him, how do I find the balance with trying to enlighten him that you might want to hold down another job or plan for another job along the way?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. FAYE: Might not have to. I mean, you know?

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEVE: Everybody hopes for that and…

Ms. RABSON: Well, you never know what life is…

STEVE: I'm struggling with that balance.

Ms. RABSON: You never know what life is going to dish out, so I would tell him to go for it, but that's, you know, that's just my opinion. I don't know.

CONAN: But he might want to back up something like a degree in poetry or maybe philosophy.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. FAYE: There you go, in liberal arts.

STEVE: That's marketable, I don't know if you start there. But, you know, and again, he is actually very gifted, and, of course, I'm the father, and I'm sure my opinion is being perceived as biased, but he actually is.

Ms. FAYE: Well, Dad, you need to believe in him a little more.

(Soundbite of laughter)

STEVE: (unintelligible)

Ms. FAYE: Well, I'm a nurse, also. This is Andrea, in the middle, and I'm always glad to have that little insurance policy in my back pocket, 'cause I like to eat. So all of us have had different careers, so there's no reason not to have something else, you know, to fall back on. Although a good friend of mine said, you know, the thing about having something to fall back on means you might fall back on it. So there's, you know, there's both ways to look at it.

CONAN: Well, Ann, you used to have a day job.

Ms. RABSON: Yeah.

CONAN: When did you know you were going to be a musician and were going to leave that as soon as you could?

Ms. RABSON: Well, I went into it knowing I was going to leave it. I'd been a musician first.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Ms. RABSON: Then my daughter decided she wanted to go to college and I realized I weren't going to make that kind of money as a musician. So I took a day job for a while, got her through school. And then--there's a country son that describes what I said after that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. RABSON: A Johnny Paycheck song. But yeah--so I'm really not a good example because my family said go for it. My family are musicians. It's our business, and I was totally encouraged, and I just--the day job was what they said, well, you might not want to do that for very long.

CONAN: Gaye, when did you decide you were going to be a musician?

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: Well, I didn't really start playing in public until I was 35, so I hope that's inspirational to some folks out there who are listening. And I started playing around town and when Ann said I'm going to go for it, do you want to go? Well, I was like, well okay. My son was getting ready to go into college and I had money enough saved for one year. I was a schoolteacher, a science teacher, and I knew I could get another job if I had to.

CONAN: Mm-hmm. What about you, Andra?

Ms. FAYE: Well, I always played since I was a little girl, but it was always--it seemed a faraway dream to be able to do it from my living.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Ms. FAYE: So, you know, I just kind of knew that it would be something I loved, and I did it for love of it for a long, long time. And then I was able to work part-time as a nurse, part-time as a musician. And then--now I met up with these gals and that dream came true and it seemed a lot more realizable, you know, to be able to tell people, other people, they could do it, too. Like why didn't I do that when I was 18, you know?

CONAN: We're going to get a question. Oh, I thought we had a question here in the audience, here in 4A, go ahead.

MAX(ph) (Audience Member): My name is Max and I'm from Washington, D.C. Did you guys ever play music when you were younger? Did you…?


Ms. ADEGBALOLA: Good question.

CONAN: Yeah, very good.

Ms. FAYE: I think we all did.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: We all did. We all did. But I was in high school band. I played flute and piccolo, and I loved it.

Ms. FAYE: Yep. I was in orchestra. I learned to play violin. Well, Magnus chord organ. A little…

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. FAYE: …I think was my first instrument. But, yes, school was definitely a big part of music for me.

Ms. RABSON: Well, I just started playing when I was in high school, professionally.

CONAN: Mm-hmm.

Ms. RABSON: So I never joined the band; I never joined the orchestra or the chorus or anything. I just went out on my own.

CONAN: Let me ask you, do you play music?

MAX: Yes.

CONAN: And what do you play?

MAX: I play the flute, also.

Ms. FAYE: All right.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: All right.

CONAN: In the orchestra?

MAX: I play it at my school. It's music is like something that you have to do so…

Ms. FAYE: Ooh!

CONAN: Aw, it gets better. It does get better.

MAX: I mean, it's fun. It's fun.

CONAN: All right, thanks very much. Why don't we hear another tune.

Ms. FAYE: Okay.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: All right, good.

CONAN: This is Saffire, The Uppity Blues Women with us here live in NPR's Studio 4A.

(Soundbite of song, "Elevator Man")

Ms. RABSON: (singing) When I'm feeling sad and lonely, you know how to bring me 'round. And when I'm feeling sunny, well, you always bring me down. You're my elevator man, drive me up, down, and out of my mind. Well, you treat me mean and rotten, treat me so sweet and kind.

Well, now one day when you see me, you be lovin' and so sweet. Next day you won't know me when you see me on the street. You're my elevator man, drive me up, down, and out of my mind. Well, you treat me mean and rotten, treat me so sweet and kind.

Well, you come on up to see me, at last we are alone. Spend the night talkin' to your other girlfriend on my telephone. You're my elevator man, drive me up, down, and out of my mind. Well, you treat me mean and rotten, treat me so sweet and kind.

(Soundbite of guitar solo playing)

Ms. RABSON: Sometimes I wanna get away, I wanna run away from you. But I love to ride that elevator; what's a girl to do? You're my elevator man, drive me up, down and out of my mind. Well, you treat me mean and rotten, treat me so sweet and kind.

Well, I believe I've got the answer, I know just what to do. I'm going to make you ride on that ole' elevator, too. I'll be your elevator woman, drive you up, down, and out of my mind. I'm going to treat you mean and rotten, treat you so sweet and kind.

(Soundbite of applause)

CONAN: Saffire, The Uppity Blues Women, and let's see if we can get another caller on the line. This is Jim, and Jim's calling us from Kansas City.

JIM: Yes, hi, Saffire. What a great treat for me.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: Hey, hey, Jim.

JIM: Enjoy your shows and your records very much. My six and a half year old daughter's going to be quite disappointed. We have a pretty active community radio station, so we listen to it every morning, which is very blues-oriented, so we do get to hear quite a bit of you guys. So she's pretty impressed with the piano aspect. Bang her head on the keys.

(Soundbite of laughter)


JIM: But I wanted you, if you would take a moment, and speak to that community radio aspect, how that is probably what's contributing to your popularity across the country. We're lucky enough here in Kansas City to have a station that I won't name the numbers...

(Soundbite of laughter)

JIM: ...because that's not what I'm listening to, but you probably know which one it is. And how it's probably not as popular around in the different cities, but it certainly is contributing to groups like you, and, you know, quite a few that there are still out there on the trail.

And I'll take my...your answers off the air. Thanks so much for your music.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: Thank you.

JIM: Bye.

CONAN: Thanks a lot, Jim, and that was an unpaid announcement.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. RABSON: Yeah, radio has meant a lot to me, because when I was 4 years old back in 1949, I heard Big Bill Brunsey(ph) live on the radio and on a community radio station. This was before NPR, and it made--it changed my life. I mean, I'd heard a lot of different kinds of music, but that spoke to me. So, I love the radio.

CONAN: Here's an email question we got from Steve: "I'm a big fan of Alberta Hunter. Had the privilege of seeing her perform at the Newport Jazz Festival with Yubey(ph) Blake back in the mid-70s. The opening number you played sounds like something she might have sung. It reminded me of Handy Man, for example. I wondered if the group was influenced by her, and if they could comment on her work. Gaye?"

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: That's who I'm going to be when I grow up.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: I absolutely, absolutely love Alberta Hunter, and in my music room, I have two big pictures of her on the wall. She looks at me everyday, and she goes, Gaye, you better get it right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: She talks to me. She's my she-ro. Thank you.

Ms. RABSON: And not to mention, Alberta was a nurse in her later years, so I have an affection for her beyond her music. But when she was 70 years old, she worked as a nurse and nobody knew how old she was.

CONAN: We're talking today with Saffire, and listening to the music of The Uppity Blues Women. Where does the name come from, by the way?

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: All right, that's another long one. I'm going to try to make this as quick as possible.

CONAN: Good, because we want to hear another tune after this.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: Yeah, when we first went out there, there was a top 40 Latina woman who was named Sa-fire. S-A, hyphen, F-I-R-E. We had had the name longer, but she had a top 40s hit.

CONAN: Right.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: Her lawyers got in touch with our lawyers, and the only way we could keep the name was to append it. So a lot of people called us uppity blues women..

CONAN: Can't imagine how they got that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: And so, now we have to use that long mouthful, but we avoided litigation. And we don't know where she is now.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CONAN: She may be listening to TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Ms. RABSON: Yeah, that's right. Let us know. Yeah.


CONAN: Let's see if we can get that...well, we've got four minutes left. See if we can get another tune in before we have to let you go.

Ms. RABSON: Sure.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: Thank you so much.

All right. This is a song that was written by E.T. Kay(ph), right?

Ms. RABSON: The Georgia songbird.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: The Georgia songbird. Get Gaye a harmonica.

Ms. RABSON: This one is for all you mighty good men out there. We know there's a few. And for anybody looking for one like Sister Beth in Charlotte.

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: All right.

(Soundbite of song)

Ms. RABSON: (Singing) Listen up, girls, to my advice. When some young thing's got you looking twice, it takes a mighty good man to be better than no man at all. When he whispers sweet nothings in your ear, don't you forget what I'm saying here. It takes a mighty good man to be better than no man at all.

He'll want to kiss you and hold you, rock you and roll you, but it won't be long before you know you're Romeo is out somewhere doing you wrong.

One day, you'll learn just what I'm talking about. Sometimes you're better off doing without. It takes a mighty good man to be better than no man at all.

Tell me, Gaye.

All right, Ann.

All right. He'll want to kiss you and hold you, rock you and roll you. But it won't be long before you know your sweet Romeo is out somewhere doing you wrong.

One day, you'll know just what I'm talking about. Sometimes you're better off doing without. It takes a mighty good man to be better than no man at all. Hear me talking. It takes a mighty good man to be better than no man at all.

(Soundbite of applause)

Ms. RABSON: To all you mighty good men.

CONAN: Saffire, The Uppity Blues Women. They are Ann Rabson on piano and vocals, Gaye Adegbalola on guitar and vocals, Andra Faye: bass, guitar, mandolin, and vocals. Thank you all so much for being with us.

Ms. RABSON: Thank you, Neal

Ms. ADEGBALOLA: Thank you very much.

We're going to take a short break, and when we come back, we're going to be talking about the future of FEMA, if it has one. And also talking with the voice of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.

I'm Neal Conan. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

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