Search Results for "McComb"

Voting in McComb

A Divide on Voting Rights in a Town Where Blood Spilled” in The New York Times addresses the current questions of the Voting Rights Act through the lens of my hometown. I have blogged several times about McComb. In particular, this one documents a profile of violence and reconciliation in McComb in the 1960s, and this later one was on the Statement of Principles.

Some finer points of the coverage aroused my interest. It points to an editorial that ran in the local newspaper, the Enterprise-Journal, “Jim Hood doesn’t trust us.” In the 1960s, the newspaper was a force, although a slow one, for justice, and it drew the ire of the more bigoted people in the area. As blogged before, Wayne Dowdy, interviewed as county attorney and former congressman who supported renewal of the Voting Rights Act, lost to Trent Lott, blogged one other time, in 1988 when they vied for one of Mississippi’s senate seats. The section on neighboring Amite County profiles older white men sitting in the Liberty Drug Store. That coffee club has met for a long time, probably decades.

Redistricting is crooked all over. Mississippi and neighboring states are more pronounced examples of a widespread problem. Oversight of voting ought to be broader than it is.

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Michael M. on March 3rd 2013 in General

McComb blues

Searching for other information, I found in this post that hometown favorite Bobby Lounge will play SXSW this year. According to his own site, he will play March 17, and he is scheduled for Jazz Fest April 29. I am happy to see that he will continue performing. It had looked like his performing career might be not only late, but short. I wish he would play a show closer to me.

The same search that turned up Bobby Lounge’s SXSW lead me to this podcast of Little Freddie King. Little Freddie King is a bluesman born in McComb. His musical career seems to have centered around New Orleans. The music, however, recalls older acoustic blues similar to the Delta style. I had not heard of him before, but I hope to hear a little more of his music.

All three of us were born in the same town, Bobby Lounge about 10 years after King and me about 25 years after Lounge. I want to know where Harvey Hull was born. I also found lyrics of his that mentioned the hometown. I was looking for information about the Kate/Katy Adams/Allen/Allan, a riverboat mentioned in several old songs. In a page of old lyrics, I found “Can you tell me how long: Jackson to McComb” in Papa Harvey Hull’s “Don’t You Leave Me Here.” More searching revealed that Nathan Salsburg of recently blogged Root Hog or Die had played Harvey Hull’s “France Blues” recently on his radio show. I wrote him, and he told me that Little Harvey Hull and Papa Harvey Hull are one and the same. Very little is known of him, and only six recorded songs of his exist. Never Let the Same Bee Sting You Twice appears to have all of them along with some other great old material. I need to get my ears on it.

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Michael M. on February 15th 2007 in Live, Music, Recorded

MCB and NOLA

H and I made a springtime trip down to my hometown. On the way down, we snooped around Ste. Genevieve. It still has evidence of its origins as a French colonial town, and I am glad I finally saw it. I would like to spend more time. By lunch time, we had made it to Sikeston. We stopped at Lambert’s Cafe. The food was good, but their aim was off. In H’s attempt to get a throwed roll, the man sitting behind her got hit in the face twice. We also stopped at the New Madrid Historical Museum in New Madrid, Missouri. It was a little harder to reach this time because some streets in town were closed to make way for big hoses to pump water back out of the town. There were two spots along I-55 in the Bootheel where tractors had their engines connected to pumps to keep the river from completely overtaking the highway.

On the first day home, we ate at the Dinner Bell. It is well known regionally for its big lazy susans. As a native of the town, I have eaten there only two times, this time and when I was about 5 and my grandmother visited. I had excellent fried chicken. We looked around town and visited the blogged McComb Railroad Museum. The visiting exhibit is gone, but there still are some neat displays in the permanent collection.

H and I spent several hours on the nature trail at Percy Quin State Park. She really wanted to see an alligator, but we did not find any. Last time I had gone was soon after Katrina, and the trail was still in disrepair. It is passable now, but I do not think it will be completely rebuit any time soon. Having it a little wild adds to the appeal in some respects.

We had a leisurely drive down to New Orleans. I like how Hammond’s downtown has survived so well, so we drove through. I also wanted to show H how common drive through daiquiri stands are in Louisiana. Driving along the railroad tracks downtown, we spotted the Keith Davis’ Violin Shop. It is a largely one man artisan operation. We played an old fiddle or two.

We reached New Orleans in time for lunch at the Camellia Grill. I had a taste for an afternoon snowcone. We wandered for a while before finding Plum Street Snoball because the next block of Plum was closed for street construction. Being late May, a sequence of classes of small children were visiting on fun end of the year field trips. By that time, we encountered many a New Orleans visitors’ bane, the paucity of public restrooms. We ducked into PJ’s Coffee. Then we walked around the French Quarter and French Market. We stayed at the Hotel St. Marie. It was a good place recommended to me by my sister, and it was right in the heart of the Quarter. It is within a block of Bourbon Street, which is even nastier than I had recalled. Having drinks in the courtyard at Pat O’Briens was fun although the sun was blistering. We also walked down to Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral.

The abundance of bicycles impressed me. It is a change from previous visits, but a fitting one. New Orleans is flat, and the pace is slow. Unlike some well known cycling cities filled with slick road bikes and hip single-speed models, nearly everybody seemed to be on junky bicycles, but they do just fine. The apparent aversion to fancier equipment probably speaks both to the casual and criminal threads of the city’s fabric.

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art has great events as Ogden After Hours. We saw that a Cajun band, the Vermilionaires, would play and decided to go. The band combines members of the Lost Bayou Ramblers and Les Freres Michot. They were great. Although old-time fiddling and Cajun fiddling are quite different, several tunes included melodies I play. In one interesting turn, a French Canadian asked them in French about the connections between Acadia and Acadiana. It reminded me about hearing  Nadine Landry talk about her time in Acadiana. The museum also had a Birney Imes photography exhibition. I have known about him since high school. My friend Brad Rhines reviewed it for the NOLA Defender.

We tried Mulates for supper. I was disappointed that time. It was fun, though, to see a class of junior high students dancing to the Cajun band. Inspired by having finished the first season of Treme, we headed to Frenchmen Street for more music. We caught a great set of traditional jazz from the New Orleans Moonshiners at the Spotted Cat. We capped the night with beignets in the wee hours, the tastiest time for them, at Cafe du Monde.

The next day, we pursued more fun. We took the Algiers ferry and spent a little while walking the levee. I never realized that it was free. We walked through Jax Brewery. It had thriving shops when I last went a couple of decades ago. It is growing desolate now. We managed to take streetcars along the Riverfront, on Canal and on St. Charles, making the Jazzy Pass worth it. We decided for lunch at Slice. Unfortunately, the location closer to us was closed. We walked a little more and had a fine lunch at the other one. A friend living in New Orleans got in touch, and we ended the day visiting with him and his wife, another old friend, at Molly’s.

On the trip back, H finally got to see an alligator somewhere around the Bonnet Carré Spillway. We stopped in Hammond for supper. I have been to Murphy’s quite a few times. I decided we should try Don’s Seafood. It was great. It allowed us to see another alligator, a taxidermy monster.

The next day, we rode over to Tylertown for Bluegrass on the Creek at the Southwest Events Center. The Southwest Events Center is mostly a rodeo arena, but it served the purpose. We were hoping to find some jammers. A few fellows practicing under a shade tree turned out to be Magnolia Drive rehearsing before their show. We started our own little jam and attracted only one fellow. By chance, he had bought his fiddle from Keith Davis. We heard that the night time would bring out more jammers, but we headed home for supper. We went just over the border into Louisiana to Skinney’s, once a haven for drinking and gambling in Mississippi’s stricter days.

Too soon, it was time to head back. I did get to catch up with an old friend at Broad Street Bakery for brunch on the trip. It was a long trip back, but we made it.

Overall, it was a great trip. I caught up with family and friends, some I had not seen in quite a while. I visited many old favorite spots and shared them with H for the first time. The vacation did not come a moment too soon, but its end did.

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Michael M. on June 18th 2011 in General, Live, Music

MCB and Oxpatch

As previously posted, I rode the train home last week. After deboarding, I visited the McComb Railroad Museum. I happened on the special exhibit Journey Stories, put on in conjunction with the Smithsonian, by my good luck. The local Enterprise-Journal had this article about the project. The next day, we headed for Oxford.

This post on Highway 61 Radio alerted me to the most recent edition of Thacker Mountain Radio. It featured three times blogged William Ferris discussing his new book, Give My Poor Hear Ease. I heard about it earlier in this interview on NPR‘s All Things Considered. Off Square Books, which hosts the show, was overflowing. I had to stand on the sidewalk for a while where I ran into the proprietor of blog NMissCommentor.

While I had Ferris sign my book, I said that I had seen him years ago in McComb at a senior apartment complex. I think I was home from college at the time. I probably was the youngest person there by half. Ferris brought up blogged Bo Diddley, and I happily recollected his visit to my chorus class in seventh grade. I look forward to leafing through my copy.

Ferris previously used Give My Poor Heart Ease as the title of this documentary movie from the 1970s. It is available on FolkStreams. This story covered the FolkStreams project on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday a few years ago. I twice blogged about other Ferris documentaries.

Thacker Mountain also featured musical performances. A young fellow from North Carolina played “Talking World War III Blues” and “Ballad of a Thin Man.” Bill Ellison and Temperance Babcock played bluegrass. Jim Jimbo Mathus played his music.

Ellison has hosted Grassroots, a bluegrass show on Mississippi Public Broadcasting, for many years. It comes on just before Highway 61, whose blog started this post. Ferris used to host Highway 61. I spent quite a few Saturdays listening to the two shows.

Several other events, including the game, rounded out the weekend. The night after, I ate with my family and H and Taylor Grocery. We went out to Rowan Oak. I tried to go to Thacker Mountain with H. The land was posted, and we were not up for trespassing at the time. We then visited the University of Mississippi Museum. The Millington-Barnard Collection of scientific demonstrations and instruments and the David M. Robinson Memorial Collection of Greek and Roman antiquities were my favorites. I had intended to visit for years, and my parents had intended to go for years before me. I am happy to have finally made it. On the way back, H and I visited the National Civil Rights Museum and Lambert’s Cafe. We returned to Saint Louis full and tired.

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Michael M. on November 10th 2009 in General, Live, Movies, Music

78

This post on Highway 61 led me to “They’ve Got Those Old, Hard-to-Find Blues” in The New York Times by Amanda Petrusich. It is a look into the world of 78 rpm record collectors. I posted a while back about Eden and John’s East River String Band, the band of collector John Heneghan. While I love the music, I am not a collector of records or anything. I appreciate what they do, though, in keeping great music available. Of note, the article mentions King Solomon Hill. He was from McComb, Mississippi, my hometown.

The article neglects to mention the biggest figure in the field, Joe Bussard. By chance, I watched Desperate Man Blues, a documentary about him, within the last few months. His passion for the old music is a pleasure to observe. Every record is a story for him. Dust-to-Digital put out another shorter feature on him, Joe Bussard: King of Record Collectors. Watch the trailer on YouTube.  I also found this story about him from NPR‘s All Things Considered. I will write Petrusich to see why she left him out of her article.

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Michael M. on July 29th 2009 in General, Movies, Music, Recorded

C. C. Bryant

On New Year’s Day, I kept the radio tuned to KWMU from the morning through most of the afternoon. The first hour of NPR‘s Talk of the Nation was dedicated to remembering people who died in 2007. It is available streaming from this site, and this mp3 is for the whole program. Also see the blog entry. One caller, Bob from Hollywood, Florida, championed C. C. Bryant. His call begins at 34:50 (35:05 in the mp3). Bryant started voter registration in Pike County and the surrounding area.

Who was this Bob from Hollywood, Florida? He was Robert Moses, leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He was active in SNCC and was a founding member of COFO. More recently, he has worked as founder and president of the Algebra Project. He seemed familiar with host Neal Conan, addressing him by name in a friendly way. Indeed, Moses has been a guest at least once that I found. Nobody pointed out the backstory, though.

The Enterprise-Journal had coverage of Bryant’s death. In addition to his obituary, the paper ran a news story about his death and another about his memorial service. The comments following the stories show both how much he did and how much is yet to be done. Moses told how Bryant’s street had been renamed for him. The McComb City Board of Selectmen and the Pike County Board of Supervisors named this coming January 15 as C. C. Bryant Day.

I never knew Bryant, but we knew people in common. Some of this Clarion-Ledger story comes from David Bickham. His younger brother and I were friends in school, and I met him at least once that I remember. The E-J obituary cites him as a “special son” of Bryant. It is good to see the memory of a pioneering local leader honored.

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Michael M. on January 1st 2008 in General

Eighth grade English

I revisited eighth grade literature Saturday afternoon. We studied To Kill a Mockingbird together as a class that year. It was the first novel in the curriculum. We had read the novella The Red Pony the year before. It had been included in our reader, but for Mockingbird, each student bought a copy of the novel. Our teacher ordered them in bulk, and they all arrived together. We went through the novel over several weeks in the spring. Now many years later, something will bring it rushing back to mind. I blogged about it two times.

It rushed back yesterday. On my drive back to Saint Louis Saturday afternoon, I was as bored as I could be, so I started pressing seek on the radio. It stopped on someone reading Mockingbird, and I stayed tuned in as I passed through northeast Arkansas and into the Bootheel. It must have been the Classics or Southern Authors program on WYPL, the radio reading service of the Memphis Public Library. Add another item to the lists of reasons Memphis is a great place and reasons libraries are wonderful public institutions. I caught a piece toward the end of the trial. I think the reader announced chapter 18 at some point while I was listening. Although time is closing in on a score of years since my only reading of the book and I had missed 16 or 17 chapters, I was immediately into it. I enjoyed it for as long as it lasted, but my travels took me out of radio range.

Then I decided to listen to This American Life on my iPod. As I have written previously, stocking it with episodes has provided great relief from the tedium of long drives. When I hit the skip button, it randomly jumped to This American’s Life’s Holiday Gift-Giving Guide. Being utterly appropriate for the second day after Thanksgiving, I let it play. The second act was blogged Truman Capote reading “A Christmas Memory.” I think we also read it in eighth grade although I may be off by a year. It was a nice turn. Dill, the Mockingbird character inspired by Capote, played a prominent role in the courtroom scene. As with Mockingbird, hearing it largely reminded me of how much I had forgotten and how much I had never even absorbed. In the story, Buddy’s friend Sook talks about seeing the Lord long before ones death. The meaning seemed so obvious hearing it this time, but the words must have been wasted on our eighth grade eyes. Capote also wrote about Buddy drunk on whiskey at Christmas, a story not dissimilar from one from my south Alabama family. I cannot remember reading in in junior high. Maybe it was redacted from our reader. One more time through the story was a gift.

Act Three was Secret Santa. Very Secret Santa. Caitlin Shetterly told the story of a reclusive Christmas tree farmer in her rural Maine hometown. She compared him to Boo Radley. This American Life is so subtle and wonderful. I was thrilled to hear the little thread emerge from the tapestry once more.

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Michael M. on November 25th 2007 in General

Rhinestone

The McComb Enterprise-Journal published this article about the Rhinestone Cowboy. It covers the museum exhibition I blogged last spring.

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Michael M. on November 18th 2007 in General

Cahokia 2007

This weekend was good for music. The Folk School Saturday jam session moved from its usual location to the Kirkwood Farmers’ Market. I had a good time fiddling with other schoolers. Sunday was the bigger day. Last summer, I blogged about the Cahokia Old Time Music Fete at the Cahokia Courthouse. Tom Thach‘s Taum Sauk again took the stage, opening the show this year. We had a good time. I mostly played guitar and sang a little harmony, but for “Cripple Creek,” I fiddled and largely held it together. Other musical groups were O’Fallon Folk, Country Folk, Mile 16 and the Lodge Brothers. I hope I did not forget any musicians. There was also jamming under the trees.

The Thunder and Lightning Cloggers put on a good show. I still remember my first exposure to clogging. I think it was first grade, but maybe second. My school district held an annual art fair. For my first few years of school, it was wonderful. The whole school system stopped classes for a few days to experience visual art, music and dancing from both local and touring artists. It was pared down to nothing special within a few years, and then it disappeared altogether. My class watched cloggers in a tent set up on the school grounds, and they were a smash with us. A few months ago, I watched the movie Talking Feet via Folkstreams. It documents the solo dancing traditions of the Southern Appalachians. Clogging grew out of those traditions and borrows heavily from them even though it usually is choreographed for teams dancing to recorded music. Clogging music is often too heavily produced and too silly. With music and dance, though, the start of the tune pushes those concerns aside in favor of a good time.

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Michael M. on July 29th 2007 in General, Live, Music

Hometown Visions

I record Rare Visions and Roadside Revelations, a television show about outsider and visionary art, and watch it from time to time. Earlier this week, KETC aired Bumbling through the Bayou, the episode featuring my hometown and other Mississippi sites. It was included on the Southern Flavor DVD.

The show began in Ocean Springs where they visited the Walter Anderson Museum of Art. It is an impressive place I should revisit. I read his Horn Island Logs in college. NPR‘s Weekend Edition Sunday featured him several years ago when his work was exhibited at the Smithsonian as Everything I See Is New and Strange. Walter Inglis Anderson was not a folk artist, however, but a trained artist from a family of artists. He was, however, certainly a visionary.

In McComb, they visited the Gingerbread House of Bette Mott. I do not know her or the house although I have been past it many times. The same street passes by Dub Brock’s house, and I have mentioned it. Her house is full of pillows and plush decorations. Included was a shot of the hospital where I, Britney Spears and Brandy Norwood were born because Mott was there at the time and had to conduct her tour via telephone.

They also mentioned the Rhinestone Cowboy, Loy Allen Bowlin, to be featured in another episode. The Takin’ It to the Lakes DVD has that show, but I have not seen it yet. Raw Vision has this overview of the Rhinestone Cowboy. His house was moved from a small street between the old highway and the railroad tracks on the southern edge of town to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. The museum has this feature on its site. The Kohler Foundation has this page. This post from just over a year ago at the Athanasius Kircher Society. The photograph of him was taken by Harrod Blank. I corresponded with him not too long ago and blogged about it and his documentary Wild Wheels that included Bowlin’s Cadillac decorated with rhinestones.

Everybody around town knew the Rhinestone Cowboy, and as a child, I was happy when we happened to see him. Most children liked him, and we talked about him favorably. He was hard to miss because he hung around outside stores hoping that people would pay attention to him. Tired of his marginal place in life and troubled by mental illness, he reinvented himself as a character. I think most adults just tolerated him as a harmless eccentric. I remember seeing him often at Sunshine Square and on the bench in the small lobby of Rose’s discount store in a strip mall. Sunshine Square was a failed downtown revival attempt that had replaced a block of Main Street with pebbled concrete for pedestrians. I loved the fountain with boulders in it, and I would beg my mother to let me see whether it was running when she would take me downtown. I never was allowed to tarry long enough to catch his full act. He carried a plastic cassette player to accompany his dancing and singing, and he would try to sell photographs of himself to anyone who stopped. I certainly was not allowed to waste my parents’ good money on one of his pictures, and I never wasted my own. He was a fun part of the local life, though. I hope to catch the episode with him in it.

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Michael M. on March 31st 2007 in General

Eyes on my hometown

I watched the last installment in the first block of the Eyes on the Prize airing on the PBS series American Experience. The series is fantastic, and I enjoyed seeing it again. This time, I recorded it. The $375 DVD set being out of my budget, my personal DVD set will do well.

“Mississippi: Is This America?” was the first of the last pair. It covered the events of the 1964 summer, Freedom Summer. While really not that long before my birth, I grew up in the same place and a different world. I still find it fascinating that my home was a place of such injustice, tumult and heroism.

Several things grabbed me. One was “Green Onions” recorded in 1962 by integrated soul group Booker T. & the M.G.’s. A fife and drum piece also stood out. I cannot find credits for the music, however. I wrote asking for more information about it.

The interview with Hodding Carter III also got me thinking. Hodding Carter II wrote So the Heffners Left McComb, a short book about how a middle class white family was forced out of my hometown because they befriended civil rights workers. I blogged about the book and the Statement of Principles published not long after.

McComb was heading for disaster. The Klan was bombing African-American homes and churches. The society was headed toward dissolution. The white leadership came up with a few statements decrying the violence. My favorite part is

There is only one responsible stance we can take: and that is for equal treatment under the law for all citizens regardless of race, creed, position or wealth; for making our protests within the framework of the law; and for obeying the laws of the land regardless of our personal feelings. Certain of these laws may be contrary to our traditions, customs or beliefs, but as God-fearing men and women, and as citizens of the United States, we see no other honorable course to follow.

When I learn about the civil rights era, the recalcitrance of whites frustrates me. They should have figured out that changes were happening whether or not they wanted them, and they should have found ways to minimize the suffering. Instead, they fought and destroyed. In battling to preserve the bad elements of the culture, they harmed good ones. The class divisions within white society added to the problem. Financially comfortable whites engaged in violence far less than the poor. At the same time, they held power to curtail the mayhem, yet they did not.

Here in the Statement of Principles, I see that at least one white community did realize the best way through the transition, and it was in my hometown. The realization took them far longer than it should have, and the implementation took more time. McComb schools were not integrated for about six more years. Its existence, however, helps me make more sense of my childhood. White flight from the schools was the exception in McComb when I started school although that thoughtful approach to education has since faded there.

As planned, I did go to the library, and I found the Statement of Principles in the November 17, 1964 edition of the Enterprise-Journal. I had thought about scanning it and posting it here without ever doing it. Then I found McComb Legacies, a site produced by the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at Ole Miss. The institute has outreach programs for several other towns as well.

McComb Legacies has the Statement of Principles. There are interviews with several McComb civil rights leaders and figures of the era. It brings a facet to light that was largely hidden by the time I came along. Along with the statement, the site has this PDF of the signers. They include parents and grandparents of childhood friends, neighbors, the doctor who delivered me, endower of a WashU professorship in cardiothoracic surgery and Bobby Lounge‘s parents.

On the other side, I do not want to let the white experience take an unfair share of attention. Black folks made the movement happen. They had help, but the biggest help came from themselves. McComb Legacies includes several interviews with local leaders. Along with the big leaders, my town had some African-American leaders of its own, as did many little towns. I am happy to learn more about them.

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Michael M. on October 17th 2006 in General

Guitar journey

I have spent a lot of time over the past few months guitar shopping. My dive into fingerstyle folk guitar aggravated an old itch for a new guitar. I got a Takamine Jasmine S-60 for my fifteenth birthday. This relatively inexpensive guitar has served me well over the years. It stays in tune. It plays well. It does not sound or look too bad. I started wanting something different, though. I wanted a smaller body guitar with more widely spaced strings.

On my way to visit home last month, I visited several music stores. The first was Shivelbine Music in Cape Girardeau. It is a nice shop, and it even had a few fine dreadnaughts. The stretch between Saint Louis and Memphis has no cities and only a few large towns, though. It was mostly drive and drive.

In Memphis, I started out visiting two shops on Madison, Taylor’s Music and Strings and Things. Taylor’s had some interesting vintage gear, but nothing good for fingerstyle. I stopped at Bob Fisher’s Music Town. It had very little in stock. I think I talked to Bob Fisher himself who told me that he sells most of his better instruments online through Saintfishy’s Trading Post. I also visited Lane Music out in the suburbs. It had a nice selection of Martin guitars including a few very high end ones. Overall, it was a strange experience. Memphis is a traditional center for fingerstyle blues. Times have changed, though, to the point that few stores sell the gear.

While visiting McComb, I stopped at the two local music stores, Jeromy Spiers‘ Spiers Music Center and McComb Music. Spiers Music Center had a good mix of electric guitars. The acoustic selection, however, was limited to basic beginner instruments. I got my first guitar, a Fender Stratocaster Squier II, at McComb Music. The store is much smaller than it used to be, and selection was small. I did have a great visit with my first guitar teacher who runs it.

After having my car serviced, I stopped at Brookhaven Music. I liked the shop. It did not have the higher end guitars I had set my heart on, but it did have a selection of beginner and intermediate guitars. It had instruments of many kinds, including hammered dulcimers and a few others made by a man in Monticello. The clerk at the front desk gave me his number. I called him hoping that he made fiddles, too, but I was out of luck.

My visit to Hattiesburg shops was fun. Allpro Music was the first stop. I enjoyed playing a cheap mandolin, but that was about it. Mississippi Music had a few nice guitars. Wolfe Gang Music was the most interesting shop. It is located in an strip mall with an unremarkable façade. The store extended way back. Its guitar selection was not good, but it had a variety of keyboard instruments and the biggest selection of sheet music that I have seen in years. C & M Music was the best shop in Hattiesburg. It carries a fine selection of Taylors.

On my way back to Saint Louis, I made a few more stops. In the Jackson location of Mississippi Music, I played a Martin 000-28EC. It was a fine instrument. I also stopped at Morrison Brothers Music and played a Larrivee OM-03R. It was a great guitar, especially for the price. The Blues King was mighty fine, too. I also played mandolins, banjos and electric guitars. While I was faking away on a mandolin, a man cleaning up the shop asked about how much I played or how long I had played. I said that I played guitar and fiddle and that although I did not really play mandolin, it was just a cross between the two. The experience was an undeserved confidence boost.

I stopped at the Gibson Beale Street Showcase in Memphis. I arrived too late for the tours, but I got to hang around the showroom. I played another Blues King, also quite nice, and some Les Pauls. Nothing quite caught my fancy, though.

Finally, I returned to Saint Louis and bought a Martin OM-28V at Eddie’s Guitars in Maplewood. I had played another one at Music Folk, but the price was very high there. Eddie’s is a haggling shop. I do not like haggling. After going in a few times, following the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum, reading reviews on Harmony Central and getting a quote from popular online seller Elderly Instruments, I picked a price I was comfortable paying, and I got it.

A while after bringing it home, I noticed a rattle in the headstock. I took it back to Eddie’s who referred me to authorized warranty service shop J. Gravity Strings. It took a few trips because the noise was small and inconsistent, but eventually the repairman found a washer that needed to be tapped down. It is pretty. It plays wonderfully. It sounds great. I have been playing and playing and playing for the last few weeks.

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Michael M. on October 9th 2006 in General, Music

Groving

The New York Times published this article about the tailgating spectacle that is the Grove on Ole Miss football weekends. I have always been more interested in the football than that scene, even when the team is not good, but it is familiar to me.

“Plus you start thinking of the political influence here. Homecoming of last year, Senators Lott and Cochran were both here, and Governor Barbour. It’s pretty powerful.”

I remember meeting Trent Lott in the Grove back in 1988 during his first Senate campaign. We shook hands, and I got a bumper sticker. He won over McCombite Wayne Dowdy. Back then, Dowdy supporters cut up Trent Lott bumper stickers and stuck the pieces back together to read “Not Lott.” Lott won anyway. He used to sit just a little down and over from us at the games. I saw him last year in Square Books with John McCain, who was signing books.

My favorite memory from when they used to let cars in the Grove is Monkey Business. At least, I think that was its name. I remember seeing an art car at one game that was a big Sedan DeVille, or maybe a Fleetwood Brougham, with dayglo paintings of monkeys, trees and bananas all over it along with a few bunches of bananas on strings hanging from it. I remember being excited when I saw the same car again at the end of a PBS show on art cars. Through the magic of the intarwebs, I found that the movie must have been Wild Wheels. I wrote filmmaker Harrod Blank asking about the car.

I believe that the article is misleading on one point. The rioting in 1962 centered around the Lyceum, the oldest building at Ole Miss. It faces the Circle, but not the Grove. Considering that thousands of people converged on campus, however, I am sure that the Grove was involved. I heard that in one of the worst battles, somebody climbed up on the Confederate monument at the entrance to the Circle and acted as general directing the rioters. From one account (PDF HTML) I read, I figured out that it must have been Edwin Walker, who seems to have been quite an unusual person who also played a big role in the Central High riots on the other side.

Update October 1: Harrod Blank wrote me back. The car was called monkeyshines. It was repainted several years ago. He remembered it well because it was made by his mother and her girlfriend. I found this article about it. The photograph, disappointingly, is black and white.

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Michael M. on September 30th 2006 in General

Chickasaw Mudd Puppies

My iPod played me some Chickasaw Mudd Puppies the other day. I had forgotten how good they were. I got 8 Track Stomp way back in high school.

My hometown television station, channel 36 W36AC, broadcast alternative music videos late at night on either Friday or Saturday. I believe that the station was an affiliate of RFD-TV, Rural America’s Most Important Network, at the time. Now it belongs to Trinity Broadcasting Network. The Power Team is entertaining, but not in the way intended. I never understood why a channel dedicated to farming carried a music video show dedicated to college rock, but I enjoyed it. I dubbed a cassette tape of the great music and kept in my car for years. I saw the video for “Been Caught Stealing” and the combined video for “Dig For Fire” and “Allison” back when I had no other access to such things.

The show also played “Do You Remember,” and I got the album based on that one track. That song is different from the others, but I was happy with all of them. They had big backing. Michael Stipe and Willie Dixon stood behind them. One of the reviews claims that the recorded work was not nearly as good as the live shows. I remember that they played at Hal and Mal’s. I really wanted to go, but I was too young at the time to be hanging around bars. Not knowing how to track them, they faded away. They were just too weird to meet with big time success.

This being the information age, I now know that I am not alone in my affection for the group. This post describes a similar rediscovery. A fan posted this video on YouTube, and the duo has a misspelled MySpace page. The post linked above centers on the first EP, White Dirt. I never bought that one although I do remember seeing it in music stores. I should get a copy.

Update September 19: I found this old article about them in The New York Times.

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Michael M. on September 18th 2006 in General, Live, Music, Recorded

Bobby Lounge video

Bobby Lounge, whom I like a lot, has a link to Fifty-Strength Films. It has a video of him playing “I Remember the Night Your Trailer Burned Down” at the Louisiana Music Factory last summer. I also saw that he has some tour dates. He has nothing scheduled up this way, but with a little luck I might make it to the McComb or New Orleans show.

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Michael M. on June 25th 2006 in General, Live, Music, Recorded

Bobby Lounge on NPR tomorrow

I had planned to post again about hometown barrelhouse pianist Bobby Lounge next week. A former art student of his posted about him on her blog. His new CD Ten Foot Woman is coming out, and and he will perform at Jazz Fest. There would have been news. As it stands, I have not received the CD yet, and he will not play until Saturday. Newer news led me to post now. I must be on the Bobby Lounge email list because I received email from his producer John Preble, also proprietor of the UCM Museum, to inform fans that NPR will feature him tomorrow afternoon, Friday, May 5, 2006. I presume that he will be on All Things Considered. Tune in.

Update May 5: I got home, and Ten Foot Woman was in my mailbox. I turned on the radio, and I heard Bobby Lounge. All Things Considered closed with him. The segment is now available. I am listening to the new album, and it is more great stuff. I also found this page promoting a performance earlier this year. Dub Brock is his real name. He teaches art at Southwest Mississippi Community College. Adam Burke should have pronounced “McComb” better. Bobby Lounge killed.

Update May 7: The Times-Picayune published “The Reluctant Star” Saturday. I am looking for reviews of his Jazz Fest performance.

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Michael M. on May 4th 2006 in General, Music, Recorded

Church burnings

Like many people, I was saddened and stunned by the Alabama church burnings. After dissatisfaction with the national coverage, I started looking around al.com. “Officers’ hunches bolstered fire probe” from The Birmingham News has good coverage. Ricky Lecroy, a conservation officer, speculated correctly that the criminals were drunk young poachers from Birmingham.

The rumors of Satanism fascinate me. I find them hard to believe. In 1988, a wild frenzy about Satanism gripped my town. On some particular day, the Satanists were going to invade the schools and take certain children. Satanists reinforcements had been sent it from North Carolina. A list at the high school had the names of the prime targets. The day came, and the day went.

5-1-88 – “Rumor of satanic cult ritual spooks McComb , children kept home”,
by John Maines, Jackson (MI) Clarion-Ledger, neutral to positive 2 pp.

This list includes the story cited above from the Clarion-Ledger. At the time, I was mostly incredulous, but a little scared. Maybe it could be true. Then nothing happened. My parents made me go to school.

Satanists or not, the motivation question remains. Why did they burn those churches? Its being a joke or a prank makes no sense. I like jokes, but I never have wanted to burn down one church and certainly not nine of them.

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Michael M. on March 26th 2006 in General

Bobby Lounge

I have a stated interested in folk music. The Mississippi Delta has received great attention, but my home is further south. I started wondering about my own area. Googling for “McComb blues” turned up a gem. The search led me to this article in the Clarion-Ledger about pianist Bobby Lounge, the stage persona of an artist in my hometown. He is not a folk musician, but it does not matter to me. He garnered considerable praise following his performance at Jazz Fest last year. He also performed several weeks after at the Louisiana Music Factory.

The press likes him. “A Beloved Funk Group Rocks Again, and a Venerable Festival Rolls On” in the The New York Times about the reunion of the Meters has a very favorable paragraph about Bobby Lounge’s performance. “Elusive musician calls Abita home” and “The Bobby Lounge buzz” in The Times-Picayune also sing his praises.

I knew where to look for a little local scoop. Searching around the hometown newspaper, the Enterprise-Journal, I found three articles about him linked here, here and here. The first tells what I already knew. Bobby Lounge comes from an educated musical family, and they love him. His father leads Dr. Jim’s One More Time Band. The second one is about his hometown performance in the wake of Katrina. The last is about his performance last week at the House of Blues. I found a post mentioning it at the blog A Frolic of My Own.

This news is exciting. I never met Bobby Lounge, but I have heard about him my whole life. I probably rode past his house hundreds, maybe thousands, of times in my childhood. I remember it because it stood out so much. He had a high solid fence in the back. It was hard to see much of what was happening in his yard. Judging from the tops of bushes above the fence, he had a jungle. The rumor I recall is that the fence went up as an alternative solution to his neighbors’ complaints about the visibly poor upkeep of his property. He often had big painted sheets and other fun objects hanging from his trees. He had porcelain art in the front. A childhood friend took art lessons from him and liked to talk about how much fun he was. My friend also talked about his lounge act. Some of the articles mention his 20 year absence from performance, and the timing fits. I heard that he had a gold lamé suit and quite a show back then. It seems that the current version is exciting, too. I ordered his CD today, and I am looking forward to listening to it.

For now, I checked out the clips available on his site. I hear mentions of familiar things. Where did Bobby Lounge reemerge after 20 years? The Popeyes Blues Tent. Evidently, Bobby Lounge loves Popeyes like I do. His words tell the same. Listen to the first lyrics in this clip from “I Remember the Night Your Trailer Burned Down.”

And sure enough, he goes hollering and screaming and crying, “I wants me some Popeyes.”

In “I Will” is the line

He won’t take your night shift down at Popeyes Fried Chicken.

Hurry up, postman.

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Michael M. on February 8th 2006 in General, Music, Recorded

Leisure of Labor Day

Labor Day weekend brought some terrific cultural offerings. I visited the Japanese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden Saturday afternoon. The highlight was the sumo demonstration. It featured two wrestlers and several adventurous volunteers from the audience. I missed taiko drumming, said to be the best part, but I will try again another year.

I left the Japanese Festival early to make it to the Big Muddy Blues Festival to hear the recently blogged Bo Diddley. McComb, our shared hometown, garnered two mentions during the performance. Both called for assistance to the area devastated by Hurricane Katrina. I planned to thank him for drawing attention to our little town, but he went back into his bus just when I was the next person in line. I do not blame him. I think he spent more than two solid hours on stage. He is a total show. He discussed his struggles with diabetes, advising the crowd to get checked. He rapped. He sang what must be a new song about gasoline to the Bo Diddley beat. “Who Do You Love?” was the only thing missing.

Sunday, I explored Illinois Caverns with a group of friends. I found tiny white arthropods, probably crustaceans or insect larvae, in pools. Rebecca spotted an orange creature, probably a salamander, but possibly a lizard. If my car had not failed to start when it was time to leave, the trip would have been flawless. This car problem is a thorn, remaining unrepaired after two extended stays in shops. After leaving it for a couple of hours, it started right up, just like it has every time a mechanic has tried. The delay in departure led to exploration of the ominously named, yet very pleasant town of Waterloo.

Along with a couple of parties, catching up on sleep and playing frisbee, these events made for a great Labor Day weekend. Ole Miss squeeked out a win over Memphis (State), too! Every win is a good one, especially with the team undergoing big changes.

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Michael M. on September 6th 2005 in General, Live, Music

Bo Diddley

Rolling Stone has a good article on Bo Diddley. In my hometown connections to famous people, Bo Diddley ranks at the top. He visited my chorus class when I was in seventh grade while he was back in McComb for a homecoming concert. My parents are not Bo Diddley fans. I did not attend the concert. He entertained our questions for a few minutes. His mother was there, too. After reading the article, I have wondered which mother she was. One friend asked him about his role in Trading Places. He told us that he was in it, but that my friend was too young to watch that movie. The same friend was the first person I saw play and sing hambone, mentioned in the article as a source for the Bo Diddley name and beat. Bo Diddley told us that his name came from his boxing career, mentioned as one of the many stories.

The article mentions that Raymond Scott recorded Bo Diddley. Scott was a pioneer of electronic music about whom I wish I knew more. He employed and influenced Robert Moog, mentioned twice here. I heard a good show of Scott’s music on local radio a few years ago on an early fall Friday evening. It is recognizable as cartoon music, but there is more.

In the article, he credits himself and Chuck Berry as inventors of rock and roll. I saw Chuck Berry again last week at Blueberry Hill. I really hoped he would play “Maybellene.” He did not, but he played a good “Johnny B. Goode.” In other songs, Berry forgot a verse and switched keys. A Chuck Berry concert with a few great songs and some goofing is still a good show.

Nobody as cool ever came to your school.

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Michael M. on August 22nd 2005 in General, Music

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.