Paradise of Bachelors is set to re-release a limited-edition, vinyl-only album by a fascinating but relatively unknown group outside vinyl-hunting circles: Plant and See. The group was atypical for 1969. Fronted by Willie French Lowery, a member of North Carolina’s Lumbee Tribe, the band also consisted of Carol Fitzgerald, a Scots-Irish backup singer, Forris Fulford, a black drummer, and Ron Seiger, a Latino bassist, all hailing from North Carolina’s Robeson County, the geographically largest, poorest, swampiest, and most ethnically diverse in the state. The group managed to get signed with L.A.’s White Whale label (The Turtles, The Rockets, The Clique) for this self-titled debut record; unfortunately, the label fell apart just as the record was released, and the funds that would have been allocated for marketing and distribution suddenly dried up.
The band recorded for a second time with new members under a different monicker, had some success in East Coast markets, and even toured with The Allman Brothers in the early 1970s. But this reissue is more of a celebration of Lowery than an attempt to expose a forgotten rock relic. Lowery, who died in May, penned hundreds of songs throughout his forty-year career. He was quite the anomaly—a soulful Native-American singer and guitarist who blended black and white musical traditions to articulate his own peoples' cultural identity. His career spanned forays into psychedelic rock (one of his albums, Overdose, contained a novelty board game in the sleeve in which players selled marijuana and eventually graduated to acid), to tribal musicals and children's music. His focus shifted from the counter-culture lifestyle to his community later in the 1970s, when he became heavily involved in tribal youth development, painting, writing, and performing. Plant and See is a fitting tribute to a man who served as a cultural ambassador for his community for decades and wholly embodied the melting pot that is the South.