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Sunday, October 15, 2017. Bronx, New York
Berenice Abbott's iconic George Washington Bridge shot makes for great icing on her North & South visual essay. My vertigo made for a most interesting approach as I creeped around and caught some great voyeuristic moments.
I found the perfect spot in the Bronx that bordered on a crossroad of cultures - Irish, singer-songwriter and hip hop.
Saturday, October 14, 2017. Laurenceville, NJ
The Man That Travelled Route 1 Alone. Heather the Waitress. Michael's Lounge.
Friday, October 13, 2017. Sprout's West Chester, Pennsylvania. Sixteen Jackies
Philly Comes to Me.
When it took an extra two hours for my data backups to finish, I started feeling a little superstitious. I wasn’t feeling the local bands that were occupying the clubs around Philly on this particular night. They are out there – they just didn’t cross the radar.
The girl that sold me my hair goop suggested that I might have some luck just north of where I was staying in Glen Mills. I remember West Chester from back in the day for its college radio station when I was distributing music for the Well Babys, a band I used to manage.
There are two main live music venues, The Social Club and Sprout. A band that was not on the original Sprout poster had since been added to the bill and it was a band that actually peaked my interest but was releasing their new EP the following weekend in Philadelphia long after I’d be gone. Named after a Warhol piece, Sixteen Jackies, touted desirable influences - Velvet Underground and David Bowie. The wife loves Friday the 13ths. Things were looking up.
Ka-ching. Great club. Great band. Great songs. Great stage presence. Great people.
Last but not least, I got some great video.
Thursday, October 12, 2017. Down Time
Regroup in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania
Wednesday, October 11, 2017. Library of Congress
Dreams Come True. Folklife Specialist Todd Harvey took me down the rabbit hole to the vaults in the basement of the Library of Congress. Alan Lomax's films, manuscripts, maps, photographs, letters from Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger film.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017. Washington, D.C.
I saw the Well Babys transform into a band through a series of open mics at Green Street Station in Jamaica Plain in the late 80s. Whiskeytown honed their craft at open mics in Raleigh, North Carolina in the early 90s. We found Dave Gagne at an open mic in Portland, Maine a couple of years ago. Last night I hit my first open mic - Emilio's in Richmond, Virginia.
Tonight it's off to another Open Mic. Washington D.C.
Monday, October 9, 2017. Richmond, Virginia
IF I WAS IN RICHMOND
I really thought that the GWARbar Facebook page was a joke but it is real. Three years ago they opened a restaurant/bar in Richmond smack dab in the middle of the neighborhood they called home during the early years when Sleezy P Martini hatched the heinous plot to take over the world. I have pictures and video of when they invaded Jamaica Plain in the late 80s at Green Street Station. That makes for a priority to digitize when I settle back home at the Norwood Space Center. Today's goal was to have my cheeseburger delivered to my table by GwarWoman.
I spent Saturday afternoon back at Artspace-Raleigh interviewing Caitlin Cary about the genesis of Whiskeytown, the early days with Ryan Adams and the take on her music and art. She was cordial, funny and articulate.
It was so freekin' humid in Raleigh when I awoke. All my papers were damp to the touch. I packed up and headed North. Destination: Richmond, Virginia.
A funny thing happened on the way to Richmond.
At a stop sign toward the Virginia border, I began fumbling around for my cigarettes. A name popped up on my GPS that I had somehow missed during my virtual mapping - Soul City. Soul City, North Carolina.
Now Sundays are slow for live music down South and I had already begun romanticizing about discovering the lost town of Soul City. I stopped and asked a couple of people if there was an actual downtown Soul City. You know, a Soul City general store? Soul City Visitors Center? A museum? Nightclub?
Nope. But a fascinating tale about an altruistic run at the creation of an independent African-American community run amok. The closest thing to music was that Lucinda Williams is the minister's name at the Soul City Baptist Church. A gracious lady from the local vineyard looked at me quite matter of factly and spoke, "There ain't no music in Soul City." Lots of great photo ops nonetheless.
Do you know those elaborate Santa shows people put on their front lawns around Christmas time? Well, I came across one of those Halloween style passing through Vance County. It snapped my neck and I spun the van wheel back toward the South.
VANCE COUNTY FAIR
One of Berenice Abbott's most iconic shots from North & South series is the Ferris wheel on Daytona Beach. I had to stop at the Vance County Fair.
Friday, October 6, 2017. Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh's First Friday. Art Walk. Pour House. The Dig. Kolars. IAMDYNAMITE.
Thursday, October 5, 2017. Columbia, South Carolina - Raleigh, North Carolina: God Country
Checked out from the Delta Motel. The $35 a night villa would the last drop of depravity until I reached the North Carolina border. For the most part, each little town along Route 1 consisted of a local cafe, a Dollar General, a gas station and smattering of houses of worship be it a front porch, an actual convention church and a steeple or a little something tucked away inconpicuously in a strip mall. The long rung runs between each community were not short on signs pointing the way to the lord. This is God's country.
The further away from Columbia I drove, the more thrift shops began appearing. They were the bewitching songs of sirens calling me their shores. I went straight for the vinyl and among the Barbra Steisand and Barry Manilow LPs, there they were - the treasure trove of local gospel. Stretched out over several miles and several stops, the hits just kept on coming.
My biggest jackpot was in Cheraw, South Carolina, one of the final destinations before the North Carolina border. It was owned and operated by wonderful gentleman who had continously promised me that he would take care of me. The more I wanted to spend, the more he would be sure I saved. I chuckled at the Patch The Pirate record and how the Florida Boys had done such a great job keeping up with times. He laughed to and pointed out to a more modern album cover and said in a drwal, "Yup, I looks like they are really reaching out there."
I went back for one last comb through and returned with a handmade leather guitar strap that was crudely decorated with mushrooms and pies and lightning bolts and moons. He waved it off and thanked me doing business with him. Then he looked at me a srious look and told me that Patch the Pirate was a ministry and he had visited his daughters school a few months back and that it was a really creative way to reach the kids with the message.
"A pirate minister. Makes sense sense. I can see that could work," I replied.
We shook hands and a grabbed my treasures and headed to the van. Though the nights are getting cold, the Carolina weather is still t-shirt and shorts weather. I fiddled with the AC and strapped myself in when all of a sudden my passenger door came open. He said, "If you don't see how that could work maybe you should give this booklet a little read."
Landed in Raleigh late afternoon. Google alert that the Red Sox were losing in the fifth inning spoke into my trusty smartphone. "Closest Sports Bar." I spoke slowly and clearly so she would understand me. Time was of the essennce.
Wednesday, October 4, 2017. Columbia, South Carolina: The Big Sleep
Webcam. Freddy K. Marcia Mello. Ani DiFranco. Charlie Leger. Billy Hough.
Tuesday, October 3, 2017. Waycross, Georgia: Gram Parsons Tour
"Gram Parsons is like the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. He's like Van Gogh, Or Edgar Allen Poe. They're gonna be talking about him a hundred years from now." - Billy Ray Herrin
Just woke up in Columbia, South Carolina. I left Waycross, Georgia just before midnight after spending the evening at the home of The Gram Parsons Guitar Pull co-founder Uncle Dave Griffin. Dave, Sean Clark, Corey Bradley and Charlie Thornton and their significant others gathered for a toast in honor of Tom Petty and passed around the guitar ala Heartworn Highways. A true lesson in Swampology 101. I got it all on tape. I was honored to be welcome into his home and Dave seemed truly touched when I presented him with the Music Drives Us plaque.
I ran into Sean and Corey at LL Creek, a local Waycross bar, as I tried to connect with bartender Laurie Hayshaker at the advice of Billy Ray Herrin. She and her husband's band Ryder finished their GPGP set on Saturday while I was talking with Abby Owens and her Mom and they slipped away before I could introduce myself so I figured I give it one last try. Laurie wasn’t working but I got to talk with Sean and Corey and they invited me to tag along.
I had spent the tail end of the afternoon and early evening driving around Waycross with Billy Ray as he guided me through a tour of Gram Parson's childhood. He is the world's leading authority on Gram Parsons (he was author Ben Fong-Torres' go-to-guy), former owner of the legendary 1970s Waycross record store Sin City and current proprietor of Hickory Wind Music Store. His son Jesse is the bassist for The Pine Box Dwellers (whose performance was one of the highlights of the GPGP fest) and he also runs the Hickory Wind Recording Studios. Billy Ray's grandson, Jesse's son, Ashton represents the future of Waycross.
Yesterday I stood outside Gram's bedroom and the church where The Reverend Dr. William Grace - immortalized in Gram’s "$1000 Wedding" - held court. Saw the tall pines and the oak tree where he used to play. Saw where Gram's dad oversaw the manufacturing of boxes that held the key to Florida's citrus industry. Saw where Gram saw the Elvis show in 1958 which changed his life. Got it all on tape.
I am finally not on any deadlines. I hope to get all my social media, websites and digital assets in synch ASAP.
Arrived at 7:00 AM. Slept 'til noon.
Conference calls to the Space Center about October 21, 2017.
Sunday, October 1, 2017. Waycross, Georgia: The Morning After
In Grams honor, I broke out the Jack Daniels late last evening. I shared it with a character who was camped out next to me in the audience and a couple of passersby. Wasn't really trashed but I didn't need to meet Georgia's finest so I decided to break in the air mattress the good folks at the Norwood Space Center bequeathed me. (Thank you Dave Depree!) It gets cold at night in the swamp. Headed back to the Quality Inn when the sun was just coming up. Min objective of the day was to pull photos and other assets together and try to make sense of what just happened to me over the last week. While I was telling the tales of the weekend to my daughter Peyton (huge Gram fan) I told her about the Emmys and the Grammys restrooms. After I hung up the phone I realized that I had missed a great photo op and headed back to the fairgrounds.
Saturday, September 30, 2017. Waycross, Georgia: Gram Parsons Guitar Pull: Day 1
Abby Owens. Kentucky Headhunters. Hickory Wind. Marlin Brackett. Ryder.
Friday, September 29, 2017. Beluthahatchee: Jacksonville, Florida.
Waycross, Georgia: Gram Parsons Guitar Pull: Day 1
(Miccosukee, "Dark Water")
"Beluthahatchee" as defined by noted author Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) is a mythical "Florida Shangri-la, where all unpleasantness is forgiven and forgotten." When Florida author/activist Stetson Kennedy (b.1915) moved here, the site was named and set aside as a wildlife sanctuary. After WWII, he infiltrated and exposed the KKK and other domestic terrorist groups. Kennedy's books include Palmetto Country (1942) Southern Exposure (1946), Jim Crow Guide (1956), and The Klan Unmasked (1957). The latter two were translated around the world. This site served as headquarters for his pioneering 1950 "total equality" write-in bid for the U.S. Senate. His book, After Appomattox, was completed here in 1995, with the help of his wife Joyce Ann. That year he won the Gustavus Meyer Award for doing the most to combat bigotry in the USA. In April 2005 Kennedy was inducted into the Florida Artist's Hall of Fame. Beluthahatchee also served as a Florida hangout for America's legendary folk balladeer, Woody Guthrie. Here Guthrie completed his autobiographical book, Seeds of Man, and over 80 Florida songs including "Beluthahathee Bill." This site was designated a Literary Landmark by Friends of Library-USA in 2003.
Pine Box Dwellers. Firefall. Sundowner Motel. Michalan Boney.
Thursday, September 28, 2017. South Beach to Daytona Beach
Mac's Dueces Club. Berenice Abbott's North & South Exhibit at the Wolfsonian.
NORTH AND SOUTH
Berenice Abbott's U.S. Route
In June 1954, photographer Berenice Abbott set off from New York with two companions to drive the length of Rout 1. They first headed south to Florida, then turned around and followed the road to Maine before finally returning to New York four months later. Although Abbott never published her planned book about the trip, the more than twenty-four hundred negatives she made along U.S. 1 represent the largest body of worked devoted to the subject in her long career.
Wednesday, September 28, 2017. Escape from Key West
Lights On, Nobody's Home. DashCam of the Destruction. Coconut Grove. Playhouse. The Taurus. Chasing the Ghost of Fred Neil.
John V from the Green Parrot is zigging when I'm zagging. Lots of folks are just returning I have to be in Waycross, Georgia by 5:00 on Friday to make it to Waycross. Met with Luther, a close friend from my Key West days. I taught him the fundamentals of the guitar and I used to drag him up to play when I played solo gigs when I was Tyvek Velvette. I planted the seed for him to write a song for me that I can use for the Route 1 Project Soundtrack.
Tony Roberts/Green Parrot
People are coming and going. BarTab Larry left for Detroit. Tony Roberts headed out to Boston.
1st Transmission: Tuesday, September 26, 2017: Key West, Florida
I blew the last of the Norwood Space Center dirt out of my nose in Homestead, Florida two mornings ago. Curfews prevented me from entering the Keys the previous evening. In the early morning light, the 100 plus miles of the beginning of Route 1 were walled with personal belongings as if these inanimate objects were lining up and waiting for a parade to arrive. It featured the greatest collection of mattresses, baby carriages, refrigerators and freshly cut tree limbs. That was the status quo from Key Largo to Marathon. When I crossed the Seven Mile Bridge and dropped into Summerland Key, I entered Ground Zero. It was the beginning of where Irma made her direct impact. Downtown Beirut. Tornado Alley. Hiroshima Mon Amor. I actually cried.
Photo: Willie T's, Duval Street, Key West, Florida: 9/25/2017
Flipped boats, tipped campers, crushed cars, roofs gone. How do you rebuild from here?
The curfew was lifted just as I arrived in Key West as rehabilitators, linemen and returnees all scrambled for what hotel rooms were available since most were not ready to reopen. Rates jumped twenty dollars in ten minutes. Most of the wind damage in Key West was primarily trees. It's the water that's the problem. It's so hot, mold will come soon. I paid 200 for a tiny space where I couldn't even set up a place to work.
The gods worked a miracle for me yesterday afternoon and I was the first one in to the Marlin at the Southernmost where I got me a spacious suite on the second floor for $99. I have established HQ where I will be for the next 24 hours when then I will finally embark on this journey of a lifetime.
Still no cable. Internet is intermittent.