I considered myself fortunate last Friday (Sept. 2) to see Nashville “swampadelic” Webb Wilder (hometown Hattiesburg, MS) and Meridian, MS’ own Steve Forbert in concert at the historic Temple Theatre during September’s Sucarnochee Revue. There were a variety of styles performed in the two concerts, with a visit from Jimmie Rodger’s guitar that lives in avault at the Jimmie Rodgers Museum! For more info and pictures, click here.
I’m a little late on looking back at 2010. At first I thought it was not a very eventful year, but upon further study it seems to be quite the opposite, especially for me as a poet–it was my first full year swimming in the world of publishing! I attended many workshops, conferences and concerts. I met a lot of new writers, publishers, editors and musicians! In retrospect, it was a great year!
Top News in 2010 wasn’t always great—the BP Oil Spill, the war and rumors of war, of course, Julian Assange’s publication of U.S. diplomatic cables on WikiLeaks, controversy over “Obamacare,” Ground Zero Mosque, Global Warming–a big topic blamed for most of these disasters: earthquakes in Haiti, Chili and China, Guatemala Sinkhole, Machu Picchu Landslide, East Coast Blizzard, floods in Pakistan and Nashville, fires and floods in Russia, Pakistan and Peru.
Top Ten New Gadgets of 2010 were the iPad, Berkely Bionics eLEGS, Microsoft Knect, Windows Phone 7 on Samsung Focus, Sprint EVO 4G, iPhone 4, MacBook Air (11-13″ notebook), Samsung Galaxy 3 android-based notebook, Canon’s S95, and Kindle 3. Here are the Time/CNN lists for The Top 10 or Everything.
Top Personal Happenings. My youngest son moved out (but still close by) and got engaged. The first female was born into our family since me (yes that is a long time), although my oldest sister and I have granddaughters that came into the family as adopted stepchildren. Our new baby girl is my middle sister’s first grandchild, and what a cutie!
Famous Musicians I met: I had my picture made with Morgan Freeman, Sela Ward, Marty Stuart, Connie Smith, Spooner Oldam, L.C. Ulmer, and singer/songwriters Walt Aldridge, Steve Dean, Don Poythress, Jimbeau Hinson, Marc-Alan, and I shook hands with Tracey Lawrence during a concert. I also became friends with legendary Chris Ethridge, Scott McQuaig, and Jacky Jack White. My song, Many More Birthdays, was performed at Relay for Life in Forest, MS at their opening ceremony.
Sweet Potatoes Come on in Party. I actually wrote a newspaper review for The Meridian Star 360 section on the musicians that performed at this party. I met a lot of great Mississippi singer/songwriters–Scott Albert Johnson, Bob Gates, Johnny Crocker, Cameron Compton, Cody Wynne Cox, Taylor Hildebrand, Jame Weems, Scott Randall Rhodes, and Hunter Gibson. I even met Jill Conner, the original Sweet Potato Queen. Unfortunately, I asked her to sign my three books I bought for $45, but she said she’d do it later. Later never came. Sigh…
My Top Poetry News. I joined the Mississippi Poetry Society as soon as I found out the particulars. I accepted the post of Secretary for the Mississippi Writers Guild. I attended four workshop/conferences in 2010: Southern Christian Writers Conference in Tuscaloosa, AL, Mississippi Writers Guild Conference, Chattahoochee Valley Writers’ Conference in GA, Mississippi Poetry Society Fall Workshop. I had planned to meet Mississippi’s Poet Laureate, Winifred Farrar (who was my best friend’s cousin) but she passed away before I got the chance. I did meet the talented Natasha Trethewey at a book signing/reading in Jackson. She was very impressive and kind.
My 2010 Publications. Last year I had 35 poems accepted by 19 publications with 25 poems published and 10 forthcoming. I won 1st place in Grandmother Earth’s Environmental Poetry Contest, 3rd place in Mississippi Poetry Society’s Poets Anonymous Contest, and I won the Enchanted Conversation’s Daughters of Air Contest. Not fantastic, but not too bad for my first full year of submitting. Add one published in Dec. 2009, one accepted on Jan. 1, 2011 for a grand total of 37 acceptances in print and online journals and magazines plus 3 anthologies. I hope this year will be even more productive! I’ve been a slacker over the holidays, but getting an acceptance on the first day of the year was a real encouragement! Back to work—or is it play? Maybe both.
This gold record was given to Jimbeau Hinson by the Oak Ridge Brothers for 2,000,000 airplays of “Settin’ Fancy Free,” which was written by Jimbeau. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RI1-7u6wi9I
Marty Stuart’s traveling memorabilia collection,”Sparkle and Twang,” containing about 20,000 items was on display at the MSU Riley Center July 10-Sept. 18, 2010. It is the largest country music couture collection of performance costumes, accessories, personal letters and instruments collected by country music artist Marty Stuart including Elvis Presley’s sweater, an outfit of Patsy Cline’s along with the last pair of boots that she wore, suits which belonged to Hank Williams Sr., George Jones, Johnny Cash, Hank Snow, Hank Thompson, David Allan Coe, Mel Tillis, The Maddox Brothers and clothes from Rose Maddox. The exhibit features handwritten lyrics such as “Cold, Cold Heart” and “Your Cheatin’ Heart” by Hank Williams Sr. and “Folsom Prison Blues” and “Man in Black” by Johnny Cash. This is also an interactive exhibit which tells the story of Stuart’s personal experiences with some of the most famous stars of American roots music.
When Marty was 13, he began saving money for his performance costume. He was in California to play some shows with Lester Flatt. He went to Nudie’s (a premier Western-wear shop in North Hollywood, recently closed) with $250. It was only a fraction of what an outfit cost. Manuel was working as a designer there at that time. He told him to come back one day and he’d make him a suit, and he gave him a shirt. Marty indeed came back to Manuel.
Missisisppi actress Sela Ward was present at the festivities and I was fortunate enough to get some pictures with her and the other celebrities!
Sela Ward and Wynne
Wynne and Marty Stuart
Wynne and Manuel, who makes Marty Stuart’s elaborate suits
A Celebration of Mississippi’s Musical Heritage was presented by the Jimmie Rodgers Foundation and the Mississippi State University Riley Center for Education and Performing Arts in partnership with the Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Division on August 20 and 21 at the MSU Riley Arts Center in Meridian, MS. Marty Stuart’s traveling Sparkle and Twang exhibit was also on display and will be there until September 18, 2010.
The event began Friday night with the Songwriters In the Round concert by Meridian native Don Poythress, Steve Dean from Little Rock, Arkansas (now in Nashville) and Walt Aldridge from the musically famous Muscle Shoals, Alabama. All three are amazing songwriters, as well as very talented musicians. They played many of their hit songs, but here are a few of my favorites. Don Poythress’ “You Remain” recorded in 2002 by Willie Nelson and Cheryl Crow (what poetry! I absolutely love this), “Wash Away,” and the soon to be released cowboy/Christian song “That’s Where Jesus Is.” Of course, “A Little More Country than That,” Easton Corbin, brought the house down. Steve Dean’s songs included “Southern Star,” Alabama, “Round About Way,” George Strait, and a song even children know, “Watching You,” Rodney Atkins. For more of Steve’s songs, visit his myspace page. Walt Aldridge contributed greatly to the concert with an awesome collection of his hit songs including “I Loved her First,” (which made me cry), Heartland, “Holding Her and Loving You,” Earl Thomas Conley, “Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde,” Travis Tritt, and “There’s No Gettin’ Over Me,” Ronnie Milsaps. Walt also interjected humor during his songs and stories about songwriting. I loved every minute and every song. What a treat!
Saturday’s Symposium featured discussions with a panel composed of Barry Mazor, author of Meeting Jimmie Rodgers, Scott Barretta, host of Highway 61 Blues Show on Mississippi Public Radio who also teaches at Ole Miss, Elliott Thomas from MDA and Doctor Edgar Smith who is a member of the Blues Commission. There was an explanation of the Mississippi Blues Trail, how they tried to spread it across the state and how they couldn’t put a marker for every name because there are so many artists and only so much funding. The Mississippi Country Music Trail has already been launched with the first marker in Meridian for Jimmie Rodgers. Scott Barretta interviewed Chris Ethridge, bass and songwriter legend. Someone stated that there wasn’t anyone in the music business that Chris hadn’t played with, wrote with or personally knew. People are always trying to get him to write a book because he has a lot of stories about them, but he doesn’t want to disrespect their privacy. Chris admitted it really wasn’t him that brought the country sound to The Flying Burrito Brothers; he was always more of a rock fan, but he likes all music.
The highlight of the day, in my opinion, was 81-year-old L.C. Ulmer who actually met Jimmie Rodgers. L.C. is played blues, country, gospel and square dance. He was also spellbinding with his humorous tales of growing up in Stringer, MS. He had 7 brothers and 7 sisters, and his father “whipped him good” with a razor strap quite often… especially if he lied. But it did him good, he said. He learned to tell the truth and to respect women, and, he says, neither he or any of his siblings wound up in jail. He did have a close call once, though. Some cotton pickers ganged up on him, and everyone told him he had to defend himself. And so he did. The law arrested him, but his white friends that he grew up with came to his defense and he was released. He said there was no black and white in his community, even back then. Just people. He told me that his guitar is a Bible, that there used to be 12 disciples (frets) and then Jesus came along to be number 13 and it went from there. He also called the Bible a “poor box.” While he played, with young Jake Fussell of Oxford sometimes accompanying him on guitar, he had his foot tapping and even got up to dance on one number. The most amazing thing he did, however, was sing and play an entire song with the guitar behind his head. Then he put it back in front and said, in his serious, musical voice, “That’s how I got the ladies when I was in California!” I asked him what was his favorite song to play. He said his daddy told him not to have a favorite because somebody might not like it. Then he said, well you know that song, “Some Glad Morning…” I said, “I’ll Fly Away!” He said, that was my mama’s favorite song. I played it for her every time I’d visit, so I guess I’d say that would be it.
Chris Ethridge Tribute
photo by Wynne Huddleston
Jacky Jack White hosted a tribute to local legend *Chris Ethridge at the Sucarnochee Review on July 2, 2010 in the historic Temple Theatre, Meridian, MS. Chris’ mother attended and Chris’ brothers, Tommy and Joey, also musicians, performed with their groups. I am so glad that this was done. We didn’t know he would soon be leaving us (for more info, see bottom of this post).
Chris Ethridge (1947- 2012) native of Meridian, Mississippi, is an American country rock bass guitarist. He was a member of the International Submarine Band (ISB) and The Flying Burrito Brothers, and co-wrote several songs with Gram Parsons. Ethridge began playing in local bands in the South before moving to California at the age of 17, having been spotted in Biloxi. He played with Joel Scott Hill before joining Gram Parsons in ISB. He played with Parsons after the end of ISB, and again after Parsons left The Byrds, before cofounding the Burrito Brothers with him. He played bass and piano on The Gilded Palace of Sin, but left before Burrito Deluxe. When Parsons left the Burritos, Ethridge played with him again, touring with Byron Berline, Emmylou Harris, Clarence White, Gene Parsons, Sneaky Pete Kleinow, and Roland White. After Parsons’ death, Ethridge played in 1974 with the Docker Hill Boys, an informal group which included Gene Parsons and Joel Scott Hill. These three refounded the Burritos in 1975 with Sneaky Pete and Gib Guilbeau, recording Flying Again. Ethridge left the Burritos again in February 1976, returning to session work. He has been a session musician throughout his career, recording with many leading country-tinged acts, including Judy Collins, Johnny Winter, Ry Cooder, Leon Russell, Randy Newman, Linda Ronstadt, The Byrds and Jackson Browne. He also toured with Willie Nelson’s band for almost eight years, and later played with the Kudzu Kings. Chris also played the character of ‘Easter” in the 1980 movie “Honeysuckle Rose” starring Willie Nelson, Dyan Cannon, Amy Irving and Slim Pickens. [this info from Jim Myrick of WMOX radio station]
The songs performed at the tribute were those recorded by artists with whom Chris had played/recorded, and some were songs that he had written or co-written–songs like “Good time Charlie’s Got the Blues” and “On the Road Again” (Willie Nelson) which Chris played with Willie live at the Grammys, “Break my mind” (Flying Burrita Brothers) and “In My Hour of Darkness” (Gram Parson).
Spooner Oldam, the surprise guest, a Muscle Shoals musician, played along on keyboard most of the night. He played with Wilson Pickett on ‘Mustang Sally’ and on Percy Sledge’s ‘When a Man Loves a Woman.’ An accomplished organist, he toured with Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and more. He is also a great songwriter with hits like ‘Cry Like a Baby’ by The Box Tops and ‘I’m Your Puppet’ by James and Bobby Purify, and credits for ‘Dark End of the Street,’ originally recorded by James Carr. Inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame last year, Spooner Oldham sang a song he wrote with just Chris E accmp. on bass along with his keyboard.
Additional Songs which Chris Recorded with Others.
“Christine’s Tune” (AKA “Devil in Disguise”) – Flying Burrito Brothers.
“Faithless Love” – (Linda Ronstadt) Both of these tunes were performed on the show by Mississippi Chris Sharp and the Jang-A-Lang String Band. Piper Lauderdale sang the lead vocals on “Faithless love” in a beautiful duet with her father, Mississippi Chris.
“Desperado” – was sung by Al Harris with Spooner Oldham on piano. (Desperado is originally an EAGLES tune, but Linda Ronstadt had a hit on it, with Ethridge on bass on her recording.) “Angel Flying too Close to the Ground” – Willie Nelson, performed by Al Harris.
“Hot Burrito #1”- Written by Gram Parsons and Chris Ethridge, was performed by Kenny Suire.
The official Show Lineup:
1. Jacky Jack White -Still a Rebel” cowritten by Jacky Jack, Chris Ethridge, and Adam Box. From AL, Jacky Jack has co-written a song, “Another Wave Rollin’ In,” with Perry Sanders, Jr. that will be featured in a movie produced by Earth, Wind, and Fire’s singer/guitarist Sheldon Reynolds slated for a Fall release.)
2. Sucarnochee Stage Hands–Justin McCoy and Ivory Robinson–performed “Baby I Need Your Lovin'” (Johnny Rivers) with Jacky Jack White
3. Bo Denton performed “Secret Agent Man” (Johnny Rivers)
4. Mississippi Chris Sharp and the Jang-A-Lang String Band.
5. Track 45, 3 young siblings on strings who sang and played 2 patriotic songs, one with an a capella intro and also performed an original song
6. Scott McQuaig with Britt Gully and the Water Mocassins (pic in link, Chris’ brother is 2nd from right).
7. Jody Tartt White, Jacky Jack’s talented wife sang “She” (co-written by Chris E and Gram Parson), recorded by Nora Jones.
8. Spooner Oldham
9. Bo Denton (another great local talent, singer, keyboardist & guitarist)
10. J. Burton Fuller
11. Kenny Suire (In addition to “Hot Burrito #1” Kenny also sang “Magnolia” by JJ Cale. Chris Ethridge played with JJ Cale)
12. Sucarnochee Stage Hands
13. Al Harris
14. Spooner Oldham
15. Chris Ethridge, Al Harris, Bo Denton, David Zetler, Jacky Jack and John Elmore joined together to play a round of Willie Nelson Tunes.
16. Finale – “Uncloudy Day” was sung by all and led by J. Burton Fuller. Chris was a member of Willie Nelson’s band when Nelson’s cover of this song hit the billboard top ten chart in 1976.
Before the show began, Chris Ethridge was presented with a Peavey 5 string custom bass guitar which had been signed by Hartley Peavey (Meridian native) of Peavey Electronics, along with a brief note of Hartley Peavey’s recognition of Ethridge’s important contributions to American Music. A near-record crowd was in attendance. Many fans of Chris Ethridge and the Flying Burrito Brothers attended the show that had never been to the show before. A couple of the attendees from out of town brought Flying Burrito Brothers vinyl records for Ethridge to autograph. Flying Burrito Brothers formed with former members of the band the Byrds, along with Ethridge and Gram Parsons, and were very infuential and ahead of their time. Their work is still influencing new generations of musicians and performers. (info from Mississippi Chris Sharp)
*I regret to say that Chris Ethridge, a music legend, has passed away. I can’t believe he’s gone, although I only knew him a short time. He was a very talented songwriter and musician, yet he was a quiet, humble man. Prayers to his brothers and sweet mother. He will be missed. Here is his obituary and funeral arrangements.
Flying Burrito Brothers- http://ebni.com/byrds/spfbb1.html