Richard Doron Johnson

April 12, 2007

Awake America Awake!

Filed under: Uncategorized — rjjazz @ 1:44 am

This two week blues tour has been an eye opening experiance for me. I have heard and played more blues then I ever have in this two week period and none of it has been boring. This tour has really been a growing experiance for all of us and we have just two days left. The band is one of the best groups I have performed with in a long time. The group includes Lisa Henry, Antonio Hart, Reginald Veal, Otis Brown and Alvin Hart. If you want to talk about versitility this is the band. We go from funk, to Gospel to Jazz etc. and all of it is authentic.

Being down here in Cleveland,Mississippi or the deep south gives one a completely different experiance of what it meant for a person of color to work in the fields back 200 hunderend years ago. We have driven for hours to get here and there is nothing to see. No hospital, gas station, homes, or schools can be insite for a good hour in any direction you go. Many of the same cotton factory’s, machines, land marks, and decendents are still here too in the exact sopt they were when slavery was thriving for this country. Hearing about this type of life style is one thing but actually seeing it first hand is amazing.

Today we performed at a high school that had an old church for the auditorium and the hired help for the school was inmates from the local prison. Talk about a shock! Seeing someone chained up in a prison is one thing but to see them working day to day chained up in a high school is completely foriegn to all of us in the band. We were talking about what type of hope does this give the young people in schools down here which are 98% people of color and the teachers are 2% color. You think the United States would have compeletly forgotten about this area of country except for the inclusion of the Super Walmart in the center of town. It is scary but the people here seem to continue on with the life they have within their local towns radius. Many of the locals have never been out of the town let alone of out the state so you often get these stares from people because they don’t know how to react to someone from the Northeast. Well I can go on and on about what I have seen over these past two weeks but to sum it all up I can only say ” Awake America Awake!”

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1 Comment »

  1. Richard:

    Thank you for your insights on Mississippi.

    You’re right, the cultural isolation in both Mississippi and the Delta is staggering…75% of Mississippians are native to the state, which is by far the highest percentage of any state in the union.

    However, in the past, our many weaknesses sometimes have also been a source of strength. For many years, we had to entertain ourselves in the silence of Mississippi nights, and we did that by telling stories, writing them down, or making our own music. The rest is American cultural history.

    I hope you won’t turn your back on Mississippi, like so many other Americans have. I hope you see an opportunity here where others have only seen failure. Those kids in Rosedale and Ruleville deserve the same opportunities as the kids in the cities do. I’m glad you helped to provide a glimpse outside of the fishbowl.

    If you haven’t all ready, tune in to some Memphis Slim or Missisppi John Hurt. These Delta Blues ghosts are calling out to you, howlin’ out your name. They want y’all to take their repertoire, and reinterpret it as jazz…or at least that is what the ghost of Sam Phillips told me.

    We hope that you’ll come back. An if you don’t make it back, ….well, at least you’ve been to Rosedale…Eric Clapton hasn’t done that, and he made a lot of money off of singing about it. Rosedale is still waiting on its royalties check.

    Thanks Again!

    Comment by Deep Blues — April 17, 2007 @ 1:55 am


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