by William Matthew McCarter
The late morning sun felt like it was bashing in the sky and a darker, hotter, purer form of light was leaking through the clouds. Jake and I knew that it was too hot to do much of anything except go swimming and that’s why we were down at the swimming hole that all of the locals called Round Hole. Somewhere, not far from Round Hole, there was a spring that fed into a creek that fed into the creek that helped make Round Hole and somewhere on the other side, there was a creek that fed into Scott’s Creek that eventually emptied into the Piankashaw River. Gram showed us Round Hole years ago. She told us that she used to walk down to Round Hole and pick blackberries from the bushes scattered along the road that led up the rocky hill where the railroad passed through Piankashaw County. This was the first year that Gram would let us go down to Round Hole by ourselves. Jake and I weren’t entirely sure if it was because we had taken the swimming classes at the pool the previous summer or if it was because Gram and Big Daddy
Today is jazz great Louis Armstrong's birthday. He would have been 110 years old. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Armstrong is remembered, and revered, for his gravelly voice, ability to break down racial barriers and timeless songs like "What aWonderful World" and "When the Saints Go Marching In." Each August, New Orleans celebrates the life of its native trumpeter with the Satchmo Summerfest. "Satchmo" was a popular nickname for Armstrong, and the festival kicks off on his birthday and lasts through the weekend. Music featured includes traditional jazz, brass and more, and special events include a club strut, jazz breakfast and Mass, and birthday celebration and trumpet tribute. Seminars on Armstrong and his music are also held during the festival.
In honor of Armstrong and his birthday, intern Jake Cole has written a review of a new book about Armstrong, "What a Wonderful World," by Ricky Riccardi, who will be showing rare video footage of Armstrong at a Satchmo Fest seminar tomorrow. Jake has also compiled a list of the 5 essential albums and 10 essential recordings any Armstrong fan or emerging fan should have.
So, Happy Birthday Louie. It truly is a wonderful world with your music in it!
by Jake Cole
5 Essential Albums
Building a solid Louis Armstrong collection necessitates digging through endless singles collections. Such is the nature of music made before the fifties and even beyond. The lack of truly definitive box sets for Armstrong's material, or at least official or in-print box sets, makes the task all the more difficult. (This, however, is finally being rectified with the upcoming release of a 10-CD monolith titled Satchmo: Louis Armstrong, The Ambassador of Jazz, due out August 8 in Europe and hopefully making its way across the Pond shortly thereafter.) There are a handful of truly solid albums out there that fans should own in addition to the various compilations. These five a affordable packages are musts for those seeking to introduce themselves to Satchmo.
1. Hot Fives & Sevens
Bypass Columbia's shoddily produced (and slightly more expensive) box set for JSP's more-than-affordable four-disc set that not only stands as the document of Armstrong's early years, but the definitive statement of jazz as an emerging art form. With these recordings, Armstrong rapidly evolves jazz from a staccato, folk-inspired group sound to a spotlight for elegant solo improvisation. Armstrong strains on some notes, but that is the price for innovation, and
Last Saturday, the Malco Theater in Madison, Mississippi, held an advance public screening of the movie, and all the stars turned out to celebrate. ("The Help" was filmed mostly in Greenwood, but unfortunately the town doesn't have a theater.) Tweets coming from inside the theater involved moviegoers running into Emma Stone, who plays main character Skeeter, in the bathroom and seeing Octavia Spencer, Viola Davis and Allison Janney on the red carpet outside. Director Tate Taylor, producer Brunson Green and author Kathryn Stockett, all natives of Jackson, were also there, along with producer Chris Columbus.
The movie played on three screens, and we hear the stars visited each one to welcome the audience and talk about the beneficiary of the event, Baptist Town Community Development in Greenwood. We haven't heard a bad review of the movie yet, and y'all know if must be good if the locals are impressed. There are also plenty of recognizable landmarks in the film, from the State Capitol, Mayflower Cafe, Fondren District and Brent's Drugs in Jackson to the Baptist Church and Elks Lodge in Greenwood.
Only a week to go until "The Help" opens nationwide, so make plans to be at your local theater on August
Some of you may remember our travels through North Georgia earlier this year. The trip included a stop at Wildwater Ltd. for a canopy tour on the Chattooga Ridge. Canopy tour is code for ziplining for those of you who haven't tried it yet, and Wildwater's course is actually located in Long Creek, South Carolina, on the border of Georgia. We ziplined through the trees across 10 sections, four bridges and four lakes on 20 acres. The guides made it so safe and easy that we even had a few grandmothers in our group giving it a try. The best part was toward the end of the course when the zipline crosses Academy Lake. Flying over the water was breathtaking, and in the summertime, you'd be tempted to let go and drop right in for a dip.
We'll let the photos and video below convince y'all, though. To find out more about Wildwater, visit www.wildwaterrafting.com/ or call 1-866-319-8870. They also offer whitewater rafting, jeep tours, ropes courses, kayaking and more on the Chattooga River, Ocoee and Pigeon Rivers in Tennessee and Nantahala River in North Carolina. Zipline rates are $79 a person or $69 a person for a group. Photos from top are
by Glenda Barrett
Now, if you’ll bait your hook with one of these worms and spit on it, you might get a bite.
Mamaw advised, as we sat side by side on the muddy creek bank in North Georgia getting our lines ready to cast into the dark, green water.
When Mamaw’s arthritic hands became tired, she’d prop her crooked cane pole up in front of her on a forked stick. Next, she’d open her cotton, drawstring bag, take out her Dental Sweet Snuff and put a pinch in her mouth. Then, with a look of pure contentment, she’d lean back and watch for a nibble. Once she offered me a taste, but it didn’t take me long to see that I could turn it down forever.
Usually we dug our own worms, but sometimes we’d go to the bait shop. Once, when I was around nine years old, we found a lot of worms while gardening, but we didn’t have a can to put them in. Mamaw asked me to carry them home in my hands. We had started along the road to her house, when the worms began crawling around. It didn’t take long, until that became so unbearable I threw them
by Elaine Rosenberg Miller
The sea was green. An hour or so earlier, it had been steel gray. Now, like some animated blanket, the verdant water cover spread towards their eighteen-foot motorboat.
She had never been on the sea before, having been born and raised in a large, noisy city.
The silence and empty space of the horizon were unsettling.
The boat was made of fiberglass. Discarded beer cans rolled on its bottom. The vinyl seats were worn and cracked, the plastic windshield dull …
They had borrowed the boat for the day.
She held her fishing pole lamely in her hand, reluctant to reel in the line, lest she discover that she had no bait and would have to reach into the bucket and pinion a squirrelly, tomato seed-eyed shrimp.
The boat had no radio, no flares and no water.
Feelings of restlessness swelled her body.
“What am I doing here?” she thought.
She would have liked to have stayed back in the apartment and work the crossword puzzle in the out of town newspaper. The local paper published announcements of picnics, bible meetings and the county fair.
“I can’t live in a place that has no sidewalks,” she had cried.
But he asked her to stay. It was his hometown.
The magic of Louis Armstrong's last years by Ricky Riccardi.
Only 6 days are left in our Snowball Photo Contest, and we want to tell you about a great exhibit related to the icy treat. Our contest ends July 31, as does the Southern Food & Beverage Museum's "Summer Sno-Balls in New Orleans" exhibit. With rotating exhibits about Southern foods and drinks, we can't think of anything better for the museum to focus on during the summertime than snowballs.
From the museum's website: "Snoballs are the classic symbol of the New Orleans summer. Sweet, brightly colored, and impossibly delicious, this icy treat has been helping Southerners cool off since the snoball machine was invented. The snoball is unique in the flavored ice world for the lightness and quality of the shaved ice as well as the enormous selection of flavors found at almost every snoball stand. With a stand or a shop on nearly every corner of New Orleans, the snoball takes an important place in the culinary scene of the city."
On view are machines and artifacts from Hansen's Snow-Blitz and Southern Snow Company. Hansen's founder Ernest Hansen claims to have invented the first ice shaving machine in 1939, and his wife, Mary, created her own flavored syrups. Today, Hansen's still
by Natalie Cochran
Prop open that skullcap and let me peer down into the prurient and the crazy.
We’re stretched out on southern grounds and rooftops,
wrapped up in makeshift blankets,
sky enveloped around us like a flipped over deep dish.
Your camera lens blinks like an eye,
claps with applause as it cements sights,
storing melee as memory:
brew house brouhahas, bacchic pontifications.
Memories amalgamate sleepy city-scene postcards.
Remember your tumble-down dodge that died when it hit puddles?
Or what about lying with the seats leaned back,
reclining on restricted runways,
exchanging powdered sugar smiles?
Soundtrack a swarm of jet engines buzzing like a beehive.
Who-knows-who vanishing into God-knows-where.
I didn’t care, as long as you were there to swallow me up.
Growing up in a military family, Natalie Cochran moved frequently, often landing in Southern territory of Louisiana, Alabama and Florida. Although her roots are stretched across the United States and Europe, she holds fast to her Southern heritage. She currently lives in Mobile and attends the University of South Alabama.