Just back from a trip to Alabama .. Livingston, Eutaw, Demopolis, Birmingham and Bessemer to be specific! Have been down South researching a distant relative Miss Ruby Pickens Tartt, nationally renowned painter, writer and folklorist who collaborated with the WPA Federal Writers’ Project and John Lomax during the Depression. Miss Ruby was a real wonder and has occupied a corner in my mind for some time now; so I thought I better head South to check it out. You can Google her to learn more about her recordings, writings and paintings.. she was ahead of her time and a real inspiration to many while she was alive and even now.
She would have been pleased that I took some pals from Birmingham to Bessemer on Saturday night to a bona fide juke joint, Gip’s Place where I managed to meet Mr. Gipson (88 years cool – grave digger by day, bluesman by night) in his back yard singing and playing in his tin roofed shack. Music was blaring, bourbon was flowing, fish were frying and dancing was going on! Even good buddy and writer, Diane McWhorter made the scene as she was home in ‘Bama working on her next book. You can find Gip on line.. he even has a MySpace page! PPH