In particular I am thinking of the different ways I personally have been affected. Although young I saw desegregation and through friendships built afterwards I was introduced to the music of a black friend’s father from Bessie Smith to Howling Wolf. Some of my white friends were amazed and a little disbelieving when I said Killing Ground, by Hendrix was a Howling Wolf song; as was Smokestack Lightning covered by the Yardbirds, Little Red Rooster the Rolling Stone, or I Ain’t Superstitious by Jeff Beck
Or Muddy Waters first performed:
Rolling Stone'(1950) Duane Allman, Paul Rodgers, Stack Waddy. The Rolling Stones took their name from his song, or ‘Mannish Boy'(1955) covered by Groundhogs, Jimi Hendrix, Rolling Stones
If you really are interested google Willie Dixon, one of the most influential of all.
And anyone who wonders why I gravitated toward rock instead of country has never seen Judy Allen raise a piano from the floor during revival at The Cedar Hill Church of God or heard the Bales Family, all of whom could sing carry the church in harmony. Don’t discount those country roots though. Twice a day every day for two hours the milk barn carried the sound of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, George Jones, and Dolly Parton to name just a few. Dad said the cows gave more milk to country than to anything else, even gospel.
Yet among all those rock vibrations are the Old Time sounds my own Father listened to and my Grandfather sang as a choir director.
Varied Culture was all around. Take Mother’s family, mountaineers, so far back in the woods the children left home in the winter to attend school. I got my love of reading from them, my Grandfather wrote a book on the trees of the Southern Highlands although having only a third grade education and I have distinct memories of my Grandmother canning vegetables while she recited the poetry of Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott interrupted at times by the singing of Blue Bells of Scotland. One of the ancestors on that side of the family was named Voltaire Hamilton. The French influence a bit of a mystery unless you read about the Jacobite’s in Scotland. Perhaps that is where I get my rebellious soul.
And if you are wandering why I am a storyteller you have never heard the preaching of a fundamental Baptist minister on homecoming Sunday, or sat in the yard of my other Grandfather on a Sunday afternoon, if he was sitting in the yard anyone passing by was welcome to stop as the stories flowed.
These are just a few of the influences that have made me who I am today. They as well as many other influences make up the south today. It’s not the flag I wave, the creed I speak, the God I pray to or the state I live in. It is all these things and many more that make me who I am and us who we are. Over the next few months we will celebrate those things and as our motto here at River City Sessions says, “honor them”.