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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Monday, March 28, 2011


I'm in an airport hotel in Atlanta Georgia en route between the gigs I've done in Alabama & downtown Atlanta and those to come in Statesboro & Athens Georgia and then up on the east coast.

Last night they kept interrupting the TV programmes to give out tornado warnings for a patch about 18 miles southwest of here, and severe storm warnings all over. The weather stations were also reporting record-breaking hailstones, allegedly up to 4 inches across (bigger than your usual golfballs), that had fallen somewhere else, and showing pictures of I-85 South, not far from the patch I'd been driving on the day before, with the hail lying so deep it looked like several inches of snow.

I flew out here on Tuesday, and on Wednesday drove the 205 miles southwest to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to sit in on a Thursday morning World Music class, have a lunchtime chat & sandwiches with some interested students, and give a Bob Dylan & the Poetry of the Blues talk at the end of the afternoon. The academic who had been so keen to arrange my visit was away with a bad back, so I couldn't complain to him about his complete failure to read the info I'd sent him about it. He put me in a room with two walls filled with windows and no way to darken it, at a brilliantly sunlit time of day, so the film footage he might have noticed I'd be showing was near-invisible. The room also had the worst sound system I've ever been given anywhere. Which is saying something. It wasn't the fault of the poor woman who had to look after me all day in his place, nor of the students, who were terrific.

On Thursday I drove back to Atlanta, found my way to a very interesting arty/bohemian enclave very close to downtown, just off Highland Avenue (one of the places Blind Willie McTell had once lived), where in the old Stove Works on Krog Steet I was the second half of an evening about McTell, the first being Mark Miller's gospel trio performing some of Willie's gospel material, plus a live 'Statesboro Blues'. Fine guitar-work and a brilliant harmonica player.

Back on the road tomorrow, heading for Thomson GA and then Statesboro. Weather permitting.


Anonymous Kieran said...

Well, you'll get them Statesboro Blues if the weather is brutal, and there's no finer blues in the repertoire!

6:05 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you/publisher any plans to make the encyclopedia available on Kindle?

7:34 pm  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

Hi Kieran. I've just reached Statesboro. Weather settled down to just dullsville now.

Good question. I think they think it's too big, i.e. er, too hard to handle. I know that you can't just take the CD-Rom and transmute it onto Kindle, and that e-publishing generally requires extreme simplicity of fonts, layouts etc., but it's something I want to ask about when I get home. Anyone else have a clearer idea of the technicalities than me (which wouldn't be difficult)?

12:35 am  
Anonymous Kieran said...

Just Dullsville, eh? That's good...I think!

I was never in such places, and I adore that Blind Willie McTell song, Statesboro Blues. When you travel through blues territory like that, can you sense where the music emanates from, or has the true blues long departed and modernity washed its traces away?

7:25 am  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

I don't know about "the true blues", Kieran, but the world of the blues has not been washed away. It's there as soon as you turn your back on the mall and leave the interstate. As I'm about to write on my Hand Me My Travelin' Shoes blog, I walked the official McTell Trail for the first time this afternoon, and part of the time it felt new and meaningless, but in part it runs right alongside the train tracks Willie travelled: the train tracks where he lived as a child, and you feel you could meet him at the corner of that old depot building, or hear his guitar echo across the ditch or through the dogwoods.

Read my book: it draws on the vivid presence of the past all the time (as it were).

9:15 pm  
Anonymous Kieran said...

Thanks Michael; I will...

10:42 pm  

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