LINKS TO TOM GRAVES AND HIS WORK

Radiolab is one of National Public Radio's (NPR) more successful programs and is heard on most NPR affiliate stations. A couple of years ago a fellow from Radiolab in New York called me and wanted to interview me about bluesman Robert Johnson. I was glad to oblige and I was waiting at the door when they pulled up and shouted out a greeting, "Hey y'all, come on in and have a seat." What I didn't know is that smart guys they were, they already had the tape rolling. So you hear me loud and clear greeting them on the program. For about 15 minutes of the 30 minute program we talk about Robert Johnson and then they go visit Dr. David Evans, who produces a piece of tape he never played for me, but that I knew about. It is where the whole issue of selling one's soul to the devil at the crossroads started. I invite you to check out the very well-done program at this link: 

David Waters, the columnist who writes the weekly Faith Matters column for  The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal interviewed me in June, 2011 and wrote a piece about my photographic documentation of some of the great stained glass in Memphis.  I was particulary intrigued by the modernist design at Berclair Baptist Church.  Although I am not a member of the faith community in Memphis, I found myself in sympathy with the aging parishioners of this marvelously designed church who can no longer afford to air condition their sanctuary.  Today the dwindling members meet in a small chapel.  It's a good story and Waters did a great job in reporting it.  Check out the story at the following link:

Chris Herrington of the Memphis Flyer did two pieces about me.  The first article was about my winning the Keeping the Blues Alive Award in Literature in 201o for my biography of Robert Johnson.  The second piece was about how I obtained the videos of the infamous Buckley-Vidal debates and how I was hosting a screening -- the first in 40 years -- of the videos at the Brooks Museum of Art.



The article about my Robert Johnson bio is at the following link:









The article about the Buckley-Vidal debates is at the following link:

 

SOME OF MY FAVORITE LINKS

TO OTHER FOLKS

Jazz composer Dave Lisik, who is a former colleague of mine from when he was a music professor at LeMoyne-Owen College, now has a dream job in Wellington, New Zealand and is churning out critically-acclaimed jazz CDs.  By my count he now has close to 20 CDs and he's still in his thirties!  And that isn't mentioning the projects he has coming, such as his collaboration with me on The Aesop's Project.  Check out his work and music at the following link:

My novel Pullers owes a great debt to the late Harry Crews.  I was equally inspired by Crews' fiction and nonfiction.  My parents came from the same hellish hardscrabble South that Harry described so unforgettably in his work.  Even though my lifestyle is almost nothing like Harry's -- even to this day I barely touch alcohol and have never been in a barfight and never hope to -- I learned from him immeasurably, both about life and about writing.  I interviewed Harry when I was in my mid-twenties and the resulting article was anthologized in the book Getting Naked With Harry Crews.  I strongly support the website A Large and Startling Figure created by friend Damon Sauve.  If you don't know Harry Crews and his work, well, what are you waiting for?  p.s.  Harry's autobiography A Childhood is the best memoir I have ever read, bar none.  p.p.s.  My photographs of Harry that I took in 1979 are, of course, for sale.  Check 'em out on the web site at the following link:

Ed Ward first came to my attention back in the old days when he was an editor at Rolling Stone magazine.  I brought Ed on board when I was editor of Rock & Roll Disc and a friendship was formed.  Ed is not only a fine music critic, but is a terrific food writer, travel writer, social critic, art critic...you get the idea.  His blog is one of the best I've ever read and never fails to impress for his writerly and wise observations.  Check it out at:

I may never know if the brouhaha that developed between my literary agent and my musician hero, the irascible Ginger Baker, is the best thing or worst thing that ever happened to me.  The story:  I managed to track down Ginger Baker where he was in seclusion in South Africa to talk to him about collaborating on an autobiography.  I had read a short piece he had written for a polo magazine and knew from the little I read that Ginger was a fantastic storyteller and I already knew he had exploits that would make for a great book.  Ginger was keen on the idea and was set to fly me to South Africa to begin the work.  But he and my literary agent got into a huge row over our contracts and the whole thing turned to nitroglycerin.  Ginger didn't give up on the idea of a book, however, and with his daughter's help completed it in DIY mode.  The book was titled Hellraiser and while certainly good, I have a big enough ego to think it could have been, say, 20 times better with my humble help.  But hey, that's me.  Ginger and I have kept in touch.  I still hope to work with him some day, but as difficult as he admits he is, I sometimes wonder if we would have been able to get along.  I tend not to argue with geniuses.  And Ginger is one.



Young whippersnapper Jay Bulger, who is a former model who is a boxer, an excellent writer, and now an award-winning filmmaker, was on the Ginger trail too, although I did not know it at the time.  He wound up in South Africa interviewing Ginger for one of the best Rolling Stone articles I've read in a long time.  Then he managed to get financing for a documentary.  In the first scene an enraged Mr. Baker whacks the filmmaker in the nose with his walking cane, getting the film off to an appropriate start.  I've only seen clips of the film, but the following is the link to the web site.  I can't wait to see it.

Who could we get to read the Aesop's Fables I had rewritten for my Aesop's Project collaboration with jazz composer Dave Lisik?  I didn't want an American reader, I wanted someone with an interesting accent, someone with a hint of the Old World but who had a lively reading style and could convey both drama and humor.  There were any number of Shakespearean actors who could accomplish the task, but couldn't we come up with a better name, something brilliant out of left field?  I was literally driving down the avenue with a favorite CD in the player, Men At Work's first album, when the lightbulb went off and then and there I knew I wanted Colin Hay for the job.  Back home, I did a little digging and just as I knew in my gut, Colin had done acting work and even more importantly voice acting work.  He would be the perfect reader for our spoken word disc.



I contacted him and he immediately saw exactly what we wanted and were after.  And he agreed to do it.  So, at the tail end of one leg of his American tour, a very tired Colin Hay was whisked from the Memphis airport to the recording studio where -- pro that he is -- he absolutely nailed 60 pages of text in four hours.  I could not believe he did it so well.  We had reserved a second day at the studio and all that was needed was a very few redos, some cleaning up, and that was about it.  Job done.  



In retrospect I was able to see just how exhausted Colin was from his tour.  Even so, he was the consummate professional in the studio.  I was able to squire him about Memphis for a couple of hours and we were able to have some great conversation, me doing a great deal of the talking due to nervous excitement and adrenaline.  I was, after all, a HUGE fan of Colin Hay and his music, both old and new.  The only negative?  It was a Sunday and the great bar-b-q joints I wanted to take Colin to were closed.  I was forced to take him to one of the lesser chain bar-b-q joints and Colin was, ah, specifically not so impressed.  Frankly, neither was I.  Bummer.  But I did take him to Soul Fish Cafe and he was able to get some good Southern catfish, which, judging from the clean plate, he enjoyed.  



Colin has a great many terrific solo CDs and a very cool web site, which you should check out.  And, as I knew, Colin is a brilliant storyteller and humorist.  Naturally I hit him up for an autobiography and discovered he is already well into one.  I will be first to buy it.