From the Alabama music issue.
G-Side is a group that has been on the brink of underground eminence for the bulk of their career, and they’ve been discovered several times. Effortless to enjoy, difficult to compartmentalize, the most logical ways to describe them seem contradictions in terms.
A feature story from the North Carolina Music Issue.
The Wrays had an old-world, Keatsian melancholy. It bloomed in the kitchen of their 6th Street home in Portsmouth, Virginia, where, from about 1951 to ’55, they recorded songs on a one-track, mostly originals written by Vernon. This was back when the music was fun, before it became a business. It’s the sort of thing that’s dashed off and then mislaid and vanishes somewhere. Sherry found the masters in a box of her dad’s stuff that, horrifyingly, was bound for the dump. She rescued them, and named the disc 6th Street Kitchen. The vibe is Elvis doing Dylan’s Great White Wonder: gushy, drunken ballads, some barely a minute long, and rapturous in the way that the smallest beginnings can express enormous feeling.
After breakfast on Saturday, my mama would turn on the WDIA program All Blues Saturday and the blues would growl out of the cream-and-gold GE radio on the kitchen counter, eclipsing my cartoons. Sometimes, she would call to my daddy that one of his songs was on and they would share a low, private chuckle about old times. Grown-up times. Mississippi times.
A Jazz Journey from Alabama to Saturn—and Back.
On October 20, 1952, Herman Poole Blount of Birmingham, Alabama, entered a Chicago courthouse and rid himself of the name he'd never identified with anyway. He was almost forty and had not been Herman for many years—not to those who knew him and certainly not to himself. Blount left Birmingham in 1946, part of the historic wave of blacks from the Deep South, but it's fair to say his migration was of an entirely different magnitude: He would not return to Birmingham for more than three decades, and once he left the South, it was as if he had never been there at all.
An Ode to Displacement
Matthew Houck is thirty-one years old and has a head full of shaggy light-brown hair of which there is increasingly more in the back than the front. He's a musician, known best by the name Phosphorescent, although about ten years ago, he self-released one album as Fillup Shack. It was called Hipolit and maybe you can buy it somewhere online if you try hard enough.