B is off to Atlanta this week visiting more artists, but while she’s away we wanted to share with you her thoughts about her first days as part of the Music Maker team! See the video she shot on the trip below.
When I came down to North Carolina at the beginning of this year essentially the first thing I did as a Music Maker team member was embark on a road trip with Tim Duffy and Aaron Greenhood. It was an experience I hadn’t had before. The first day we went to South Carolina to visit Drink Small; the only other time I’d been to South Carolina was to visit Charleston with my family. I had my first experience with homemade soul food at a hole in the wall off the highway that first day – it was amazing! Afterwards we headed over to Drink’s to do a photo shoot; when we arrived he was sitting slouched way back in his couch. He had recently gone blind, so he seemed a bit disoriented, and a little down. Tim started joking around with him, and soon Drink was smiling. Tim also started talking with Drink about his recent blindness, and asked him if he remembered what he (Tim) looked like. Drink said yes, and then Tim went on to say how it must be strange to hear your friend’s voice and not be able to see him anymore. It made me so sad to hear about Drink’s blindness, but I knew that we would be able to cheer him up. Soon, he was playing and singing with Tim.
After visiting Drink Small we drove down to Georgia to visit David Bryant, Cora Mae Bryant’s son. David lives in his mother’s house, and everything in the home seems to still be exactly the way Cora left it. Family photos, newspaper cutouts, stuffed animals, and Cora’s dress still hanging on a hanger covered with dust in the dining room. There were chickens in the back, and a dog lounging around in the front. Real and fake flowers decorate the yard, along with stone cherubs, and broken pieces of a headstone. The headstone, he said, is for his mother. It’s a used headstone that someone gave him that he wants to sand down and have Cora’s name inscribed on it.
While Tim and Aaron were setting up the view camera, I went around his home trying to capture all the unique pieces of decor. I sensed there was deep, deep family history in that house. I also sensed a deep spiritual presence that I hadn’t quite felt before. David lives very simply with very little, and he doesn’t seem to mind. He was so welcoming and excited we were there. He was thrilled about showing off his art and playing his guitar for us. It was a pretty remarkable visit to say the least.
Our next stop was Willie James down in Mississippi. We arrived mid-evening and Tim wanted to give him a call to see if he was around to visit. When we called we learned that earlier in the day Willie’s pipes burst, and he’d spent the day trying to fix them. Willie James lives in a trailer down a long dirt road, so hard to find that he had to lead us there in his car from the nearest dirt road. I introduced myself and, after a short visit, we left and came back the next morning. The most memorable part of visiting Willie James was Tim writing out a check for him to help cover the costs to fix his burst pipes. I was so thrilled I was able to capture this moment on video.
After leaving Willie we were off to New Orleans to visit with Little Freddie King, Alabama Slim, Guitar Slim, and Guitar Lightnin’ Lee. We were all packed into Little Freddie King’s living room getting ready to do a tin type session. It was hot and cluttered, but the guys were complete pros about it. They just waited patiently, dressed to the nines in their performance suits. Aaron and Tim took pictures of them well into the evening. All of us were pooped by the end of that session, but it was certainly worth it!
I will never forget the kindness and generosity we were shown from all the artists, and the people of the south during that trip. Tim took care of Aaron and I, and I felt like I was a part of something I’ve wanted to be a part of for a long time now. I hope to help Tim and Denise Duffy carry on the message of Music Maker, and to be of service to all the Music Maker artists helping them meet whatever needs they have, in turn making them more able to perform.