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From the Gulf Coast to the Delta up to Tupelo and back down, Mississippi is home to enough natural beauty to keep anybody who is paying attention captivated for a lifetime. And if you live in the Piney Woods, you are fortunate enough to find yourself planted in a vibrant garden where nature and community combine to sprout the blooms of a culture that is coveted worldwide. It is such a shame that it all goes unappreciated so often. Hattiesburg and the surrounding area has an abundance of walking trails, parks, rivers, creeks, lakes, ponds, fields and woods that are all full of life. From wild turkeys to wild jasmine you can catch a glimpse of nature doing its thing almost anywhere. But that doesn’t mean you have to plan a long weekend or even a day trip to enjoy the outdoors. All it takes is simply stepping outside.
words by Slim R. Earl; photo by Christy Dyess
A stroll down almost any street in town will inevitably lead you under a magnificent Live Oak, past a cultivated garden or at least some wild shrubbery that can, given a little consideration, spark the imagination and reignite that child-like wonder that gets diluted through all our years of education and experience. So the next time you find yourself aimlessly surfing the channels or internet and muttering “there’s nothing to do in this town,” stop. Stand up and step out. If you can’t bear to unplug completely, then take the laptop out with you. Sit in the sun or under the starry sky and just be there. Discover how much you can enjoy simply walking the streets and getting to know the yards in your own neighborhood. It might, in turn, put you a step closer to getting to know more of your neighbors. Surely, someone near you has some horticultural endeavors that have escaped your appreciation. Maybe there’s an azalea in your own yard that will catch your eye under a new light. After all, beautiful landscaping doesn’t just enrich a lawn. It is a gift to the community, and a little admiration is always welcome. You might become inspired enough to buy a hibiscus and water can and see what happens. Or, you can always just sit in the grass and watch a line of ants toil away at the chores of their own community. Once you begin to admire the natural beauties in your own community you may become inspired to venture a little further away, to find yourself taking that elusive canoe trip or camping getaway. It might sound ridiculously obvious, but our natural world is the most amazing thing on this planet. And, it is the one thing that offers every person equal access. So find something outdoors. It is there right now and will still be waiting for you tomorrow. www.inthepinesonline.com
It’s about 40 miles from Hattiesburg to Prentiss as the northwesterly crow flies. As the equestrian, bicyclist, runner, walker, or rollerblader goes, it’s just about the same. The Longleaf Trace, a paved thoroughfare for all things non-motorized, cuts a not-so-rambling swath along an old railway through 40 miles of real-life Mississippi: bisecting towns, crossing over highways, skirting rural countryside, and passing through dense forest. In a not-so-distant pre-Trace era, anyone looking for some good old-fashioned non-motorized travel between Hattiesburg and Prentiss would have to take to the highways and roads where the gas-powered roam – hardly the place for bicyclists, much less spandex-clad rollerbladers with their elbow pads and Styrofoam helmets.
words and photo by Brian von Schulz
Thanks, however, to some vision and creativity on the part of a handful of dedicated local leaders, politicians, businessmen, and citizens, the Longleaf Trace now serves as a sanctuary where all varieties of the self-propelled can safely venture as far as they like through the sheltered and lush enclaves of the once abandoned railroad track now turned trail. And there’s more on the way! The city of Hattiesburg has recently made public their plans to expand the Longleaf Trace to further the vision that began nearly two decades ago. Thanks to House Bill 1701, which included bond money for state building improvements and economic development, $700,000 were allocated to Hattiesburg for improvements to the Trace. The expansion of the trail will take place in several phases. The first phase, hopefully beginning in the fall of 2010, will extend the Trace from North Main Street to the Train Depot downtown. This phase will also include a connecting path from the intersection of Hutchinson and 4th Street to the Zoo. An additional phase, scheduled to break ground in the Spring of 2011, will connect the Trace from the University of Southern Mississippi to North Main Street. Beyond simply adding distance to the Trace, the trail extension will also add to the quality of life of six different neighborhoods and improve the access to the city for pedestrians and cyclists.
By the end of 2011, the Longleaf Trace should be fully connected and span the entire length of Hattiesburg, and it’s not stopping there. With enough foresight and ambition, this kind of project could help secure a more sustainable future for both Hattiesburg and Mississippi. I recently sat down with District 102 State Representative Toby Barker (R-Hattiesburg) to talk about the Trace. Continuing in the tradition of the Longleaf’s founders, Barker, along with many others, is working toward a trail that reaches well past its current 40-some miles. “We need to think big on this,” Barker explained, “the Longleaf Trace is a major recreational trail that people will come from all over the country to enjoy. With them they’ll bring tourism and tax dollars that they’ll leave with us.” As we talked, Barker shared ambitions that one day the Longleaf Trace would run from Natchez to the Alabama state border. “A trail this substantial would benefit every town in every county along the way. As rural communities are trying to reinvent themselves, having a trail of this size could only serve as a boost.” This potentially major source of revenue could stimulate otherwise slow economies by bringing not just cyclists but patrons to the trail. People in need of food, shopping, and lodging would become regular visitors. With this long-term vision in mind, significant steps have already been taken by moving forward with the Hattiesburg expansions. Barker was quick to point out that, “the reason we got this far already is the same cooperation that it would take to make the bigger vision possible.” From obtaining cost estimates to pushing influence, countless people took part in bringing the Trace as far as it has come. “Everyone worked together to plan out these phases and figure out how much money we needed. Our entire legislative delegation, especially Representative Percy Watson (D-Hattiesburg), played a huge role in securing this $700,000. The progress that we’ve made demonstrates that when local leaders work together, we really can get things done.”
words and photo by Sam Miller The idea was simple: sit local musician Cary Hudson down with Ernest Herndon, the man who literally wrote the book on canoeing Mississippi. Both are musicians, and both have a fascination with canoes. Cary, who lives by the Bouie River and whose song “Blue Canoe” first appeared on Blue Mountain’s debut album, Dog Days, can often be found on the river if he’s not on the road touring. Ernest Herndon is a staff writer and outdoors editor of the Enterprise-Journal in McComb and has written several books on canoeing, including Canoeing Mississippi and Paddling the Pascagoula. Cary and I caught up with Ernest near his home in a park in McComb. The two canoeing enthusiasts sat down at a picnic table, Cary with his guitar and Ernest with his banjo. Between conversations on canoeing Mississippi waters, the two proceeded to do a little pickin’ and grinnin’. (They play “Blue Canoe”) 8
Sam Miller: Why are both of you so intrigued by the canoe? Ernest Herndon: Paddling a canoe and playing the banjo activate the same part of my brain; it's a liberating, flowing experience. If you look at a canoe paddle and you look at a banjo, they even look similar. But our southern lazy-rivers are like old timey banjo--as opposed to bluegrass, which would be the equivalent to white water I guess, too fast! (laughter) Get on our slow southern rivers and you are set free. The same goes for old timey banjo. Cary Hudson: I've found that as I get older, I just really like simple technologies. And I love the fact that I do not have to worry about being a decent mechanic, work on my motor, and have the noise of an engine. The canoe takes me places where I can just relax and feel like I'm a part of nature instead of zooming past it.
But, you have different kinds of people. You have your mountain people, you have your beach people, and I've discovered that I'm a river person. CH: Ernest, one of my favorite parts of Paddling the Pascagoula, is the interaction between you and Scott Williams, and one of the reoccurring themes is canoe vs. kayak. Did you guys ever agree on this? What was the conclusion? EH: The conclusion was that clearly the canoe is far superior to the kayak! (laughter) Scott is my long time paddling buddy and co-author of Paddling the Pascagoula and he is a sea-kayaker among many other things. But we had a long standing debate on canoe vs. kayak, more specifically a sea kayak. One time we did float Black Creek in sea kayaks, from Brooklyn to Round Island, so I did subject myself to a sea kayak. A sea kayak on something like Black Creek is just outrageous, but we got off shore after paddling for a week. Every time you come to a bend you have to horse the thing around because it’s made to go straight. Getting in and out and packing all of your stuff is a pain too. But when we finally got down to the coast a day early, Scott suggested that we paddle out to Round Island [in the Gulf Mexico].
there are some techniques that primitive people have that we need to know. They were useful a thousand years ago and they’ll be useful in a thousand years. What did he think about Black Creek? EH: He said that by far, Mississippi was his favorite state across the whole United States, and Black Creek was the best place that he visited across the whole nation. But Mississippi is the closest to New Guinea, as far as forests and jungle. Black Creek and De Soto National Forrest is a jungle. So he felt at home. CH: I lived in Los Angeles for a year and I think the thing I missed the most was the green and the creeks and rivers. Many times in L.A., you’ll drive across a bed where a river used to be. And the thing that struck me when I came home was just how lush the area is. You know, Mississippi is just a great place to come home to. It would be nice if more people could see it through fresh eyes like your friend from New Guinea. One question I had was when you wrote your book Canoeing Mississippi, which is a guide to every navigable stream in the state, did you get on every body of water? EH: I did.
CH: I read one of Scott's books about his extended voyages. For me, that’s enough physical exertion and danger that it gets outside of the realm of what I call fun. But, I’ve got so much respect for him. Scott and I were in college together and I was supposed to be a doctor and he was supposed to be an electrical engineer. I wound up being a guitar player; he literally became an adventurer and writer. (They Play “Shall We Gather At The River?”) SM: Are there a lot of places in Mississippi that you know of just by the rivers that run by them? EH: That’s how I know geography! Rivers are mapped in my head. If someone in Mississippi or Louisiana, because I did a canoe guide to Louisiana, too, says they’re from a town, I’ll ask what river it’s by, and I’ll instantly know where it’s at. That’s how I see the land. CH: That’s probably more how the Indians saw it. EH: I have actually had an experience comparable to that. I’ve been to Papua, New Guinea a few times and I’ve made friends with one of the Sepik River tribesmen. Well, a missionary brought him to see the United States. They arrived in California and drove cross-country to Florida. And I was a friend to the missionary so they came to see me, and we floated Black Creek in a four day trip. So I was with him in a canoe and that revolutionized my paddling. They start paddling at age two, and it’s funny because he was such a master. I started in the back of the canoe, and I eventually put him in the back. When we needed to pick up speed, it was like turning on a 25 Evinrude. We just flew. He showed me his stroke and how to cook fish without any utensils. We caught some bass, built a fire, gutted and scaled the fish, and he took a stick through the gills and laid it on the coals. In five minutes he flipped it, and then in another five minutes, he pulled it out of the coals, and the skin pulls back like a crust and you have a steaming fillet. He also said the eyeballs were good, and they were! CH: I’ve come to learn that whether it’s running or canoeing,
CH: Did you canoe them all from each navigable point? EH: No, but I’ve done most of them completely. There’re some stretches that I didn’t get to. Like the Pearl; it’s a 400 mile long river. For example, with the Big Black River, it’s not a very good canoeing river, and it’s worth having a segment, but it’s a real muddy river. I would call people who had floated certain sections and get information much like a newspaper reporter. CH: I’m not a very adventurous traveler, because my travel is in music so it takes a lot of my energy. But, I don’t know how many times I’ve canoed the Bouie because I live a mile from it, and I love the description in your book of the confluence of the Bouie and the Okatoma as being one of the prettiest places, and I have to agree. EH: Well there are three rivers that 99% of the people float in Mississippi. Okatoma is number one, the Bogue Chitto is close, and Black Creek is a distant third. And some will float the Wolf River on the coast, but that still leaves dozens that are never touched. The upper Leaf River for example; it’s just incredibly beautiful. (They play “I’ll Fly Away”) SM: Ernest, as far as the water systems in Mississippi, which one do you think is the best hidden secret? EH: The jewel of Mississippi is Black Creek in my opinion. But Black Creek isn’t unknown. One that comes to mind that is totally unknown is called Lake Galliard, and it’s in the St. Catherine Creek National Wildlife Refuge, south of Natchez. At certain times of the year, you can’t even get to it; it’s in the Mississippi River floodplain. But when you can, it’s a fantastic cypress, swamp lake. It’s the kind of place where you stop in the shade, and here comes a family of otters. It’s just a wide, beautiful, secluded, piece of wilderness.
words and photos by Daniel Krebs Paddling under the I-10 bridge as the sun sets in Gautier, I knew that I only had another forty-five minutes worth of paddling before I reached my grandparents house. My body was completely broken and dehydrated, and all I could think about was a glass of ice water and a shower. Over the past three days, I had traveled roughly 140 miles down the Leaf and Pascagoula Rivers alone in my kayak. I finally reached the end of my journey. The idea, to paddle from Hattiesburg to Gautier, came over a year earlier. I presented the idea to a few of my friends. The responses were varied. A few thought it was nuts. Most thought it was really nuts. After doing some research, reading Ernest Herndonâ€™s book Paddling the Pascagoula, and spending what felt like all the money that I had saved in my 19 years of life on a seventeen foot kayak, I was finally ready last August.
DAY 1 Everything I thought I would need for three to four days filled the kayak: dry bags stuffed with dehydrated food, a lightweight tent, a small camping stove, water, and plenty of sunscreen and water. After setting off, I glided across the water for hours without seeing anyone. The temperature seemed to rise with each stroke of my paddle. I began to question why I thought it was a good idea to paddle down this river during the hottest part of the year in south Mississippi. I made my first stop for lunch in New Augusta. It was as if the spot was prepared for me. A tree provided shade over a small sand bar and a folding chair had been left behind. I sat in it as I ate my peanut butter crackers and sipped my slowly warming water. With my GPS I traced back how far I had already gone. It seemed minuscule compared to the distance ahead of me. I continued to make my way down the river, seeing more people as I went. I was often greeted with, “Where ya comin' from?” When I would tell them, most would respond with an obscenity. It also appears that few people in south Mississippi know what a kayak is. My “skinny yellow canoe” seemed to confuse people. After nine hours of paddling I stopped for the night on a small bend on the south side of a bridge in Beaumont. There was cold water running out of the clay wall across from the sand bar and I refilled my water bags and bottles.
DAY 2 I felt a little uneasy about the fact that I was unsure how long it was going to take me to get all the way down the river, but I figured at the rate I was going that I could make it to Gautier in another two full days of paddling. I started at seven the next morning and pushed myself to get to the bend where the Leaf merges with the Chickasawhay River by lunch. After this defining moment, I was truly headed south. I spent the afternoon passing sand bars, boathouses, and the occasional boater along the now much wider river. I was jealous of the speed with which they could maneuver up and down the river. But, when I thought about it, I was getting to see the river in a way that few had since the invention of the motorboat. My pace might have been slower, but my experience was much richer. I was nearing the time to stop for the day so I kept my eyes open for a good sand bar. As I paddled down the length of a long one, I noticed two large eyes in the fallen trees near the bank. Immediately startled, I watched the eyes slide across the water, coming towards me. It was a gator. I made two hard pulls with my paddle, as if I could out swim the thing. It changed directions, and I took a deep breath. In my infinite wisdom, I decided to camp nearby.
DAY 3 I knew that today was going to be the longest and most intense of the trip. I was up at five and on the water by six. I knew I was getting close to my Aunt and Uncle’s camp on the river. I hadn’t been out there in years and wasn’t even sure if they knew I was coming. To my surprise, they were working in the yard when I arrived. They welcomed me with ice water and a bowl of gumbo. It was heaven-sent. Without time to waste, I got back in my boat and began the last leg of my trip. I was putting some serious miles behind me. As the sun started to set I found myself in familiar territory, having paddled some of the river before. I was going to make it before dark! From that point on, I took my time in paddling to my grandparent’s house. The bright orange colors of the sun dipping below the trees felt like a reward for my hard work. I paddled along, soaking in the beauty of it all. I thought about how long I had prepared and planned for this adventure and how it was finally over. Looking back, there have been few experiences in my short life as humbling and beautiful as my trip down the Pascagoula River. I feel a connection with that river that few will ever have. It is difficult for us to slow this fast paced world down, but I learned I can put myself in situations where the only thing I can do is to slow down, to think, and to paddle.
Paddling provides the best outdoor activity in the Piney Woods, hands down. Whether you have your own canoe or not, living here requires that you get on a creek or river as often as possible. Numerous outfitters make it easy, but buying a canoe may be the best investment you can make for your mental health, if not your physical health, too. Most all the water around here that does not soak into the dirt flows south to the Gulf of Mexico by the Pascagoula River, thanks especially to one of its two main tributaries, the Leaf River. The Pascagoula River watershed drains the largest area of any river without dams or channels in the United States. It is without a doubt our greatest local natural resource, thanks to over 600,000 protected acres along its length. The creeks and rivers that feed its waters offer us hundreds of miles of recreational paddling. Several creeks perpetually remain the most paddled, especially the Okatoma and the Black Creek (Mississippi's only nationally recognized Scenic River). Both creeks have a couple of outfitters each, all of which offer several trips. If you're renting, you can do anything you want for about $40, unless you go overnight. All in all, there's no way to beat the convenience of the drop off and pick up offered by a rental outfitter. A pretty nice used canoe can be bought for around $500, with really good new canoes setting you back about $1500. The investment is worth it. The trick is mastering how you get to the launch and how you leave the landing. It's straightforward but almost never simple. Going alone is absurd. A few canoes makes the most sense. For a nice, long day, pack a lot of water and beverages (alcohol may get you in trouble on the Okatoma), simple nonperishable foods in a dry bag, a life preserver, sunscreen (don't forget your thighs and feet!), baby wipes, and a towel or three. You'll be pretty much set. Topo maps can be fun. Why not bring a trash bag to see how much litter you can collect? Understand the distances and times involved to determine your own pace. Sandbars will beckon. Swimming holes will entice. Hurrying is a waste of time. Experiment with paddle strokes. The paddle can become an extension of your body, known well by your mind. Two people coordinating control of the boat through complicated sections will really make you appreciate people, but cut your mate some slack even if yâ€™all slam the logjam. It's a good idea to know how to flip a boat back over after it tumps, and two people definitely make it easier. Look, flatwater canoeing should become one of your hobbies if it's not already. It's what we do around here for fun when the weather's right. It mostly brings the best out of folks. Be careful; exercise caution. But, relax and enjoy yourself. The water will show you how to flow.
BLACK CREEK Black Creek Canoe Rental 20 Old Highway 49 E, Brooklyn (601) 582-8817 Red Wolf Wilderness Adventures 1651 Highway 29, Brooklyn (601) 598-2745
by Scott Rousell Dozens of books and hundreds of articles are available on the subject of choosing a canoe appropriate to your needs as a paddler. Most quickly point out that no single “perfect, goes everywhere, does everything” solution exists, before plunging you into a specialized world of boating concepts and jargon. With careful reading, one discovers that “rocker” is the capacity of the boat to do exactly that, and that “tumblehome” isn't so much a suggestion for your next group outing as it is a requirement of building with weak materials. Here is an attempt to distill the glut of information into a quick general guide targeted for the types of water you will most likely encounter in our area.
OKATOMA CREEK Okatoma Canoe Rental 550 Walter Lott Road, Seminary (601) 722-4297 Seminary Canoe Rental 152 SCR Ln., Seminary (601) 722-4301 Learn more about paddling in Mississippi: www.seminarycanoerental.com/ mississippi-canoe-rentals.html
South Mississippi has two categories of water suitable for canoeing: small to mid-sized lakes with light winds, and rivers of almost every type save whitewater. Most area rivers have frequent shallows and submerged debris, but there are few areas where you would be forced to carry your canoe more than 150 feet. With these conditions in mind, purchasing a canoe with the following characteristics will allow you to experience all of the regional canoeing locales in style: -Tandem over solo canoe: You are not the wilderness pro that you think you are and should not be alone out there. Why carry two boats? -Asymmetrical hull over symmetrical hull: This boat tapers more in back than in front, allowing for greater maneuverability at all speeds. -Low rocker over high rocker: The bottom of a “low rocker” boat does not curve much from front to back, providing more stability and larger cargo area. -Keel-less over keeled: Keeled boats are a throwback to a time when canoes could not be built without them. A keel on a modern canoe makes the boat handle like a tank. -Woven seats over plastic molded seats: That molded seat seems like a nice idea, but it wasn't molded from your backside and makes it difficult for wet pants to ever dry out. -Royalex® over all other materials: Though heavy, Royalex® is just the best stuff out there for cost and durability. Following these guidelines leads the Southern Mississippi recreational canoeist to a [tandem river touring canoe], which should meet the demands of any of our beautiful lakes and rivers.
photo by Daniel Krebs
For more in-depth discussions choosing the perfect canoe, I recommend two online sources: www.nessmucking.com and www.gorp.com, each of which have an article titled simply “How To Pick a Canoe.” www.inthepinesonline.com
words by Sydney Tyson; photo by Brandy Moorman Having seen a spry lady peppering downtown with half-sheet fliers advertising a “community garden,” I sauntered up to the first meeting of prospective gardeners a couple of months ago. The group, standing in a circle beside the recently tilled plot on the edge of the Oseola McCarty Park, was varied. There was a young couple with horticultural experience, some middle-aged women who’d tried gardens at home, and local college kids better versed in the local food movement than in organic ways to balance acidic soil. Regina, the lady with the fliers and the dream, not to mention permission to use city property and water, immediately had us all agree that this garden would be used for culinary purposes only. City land would be poor breeding ground for more medicinal plants, she intimated. Having agreed upon the purpose, she asked that we name our garden. I was initially disappointed to hear that the only suggestion was to keep the name of “community garden,” ingrained as I have been from birth with the tendency to brand everything. The following is a chronicle of how I’ve learned that community garden in its lowercase humble way is after all the best name for this haphazard beginning in East Hattiesburg, which is nourishing us before anything ripens on the vine. In order to understand our garden, it is imperative that you understand a few things about Regina Hoye, the founder of community garden. Regina is a straightforward woman who believes strongly in taking care of land as a way to heal a community, but she prefers to “show by example, not to preach.” She used to grow potted plants when she didn’t have space for a garden so that she’d have something to take to people when she heard they were ill. When asked why she decided to start a public garden, she began to speak more quickly, with a little more fervor in her voice. First, she rushed to thank the Parks and Recreation Department. With their blessing, she picked this particular park because of the sound of the creek and the ready water supply. Also, Osceola McCarty Park is named after a charitable black woman from the area with an amazing story. It just made sense. 14
“People own everything now,” she said, “and it is important that we have something that everyone can use. We need something that no one possesses. When people possess things, some people have and some have not. When I do what I do, it’s a way of sharing.” Regina, it seems, has no interest in branding her idea, or in starting a movement with name recognition. She just wants a little land to grow vegetables, maybe a pond for fishing that isn’t bordered with “no trespassing” signs. She wants that for all the members of our community, and considering that she is in the company of both Woody Guthrie and Jesus Christ, I’d say it’s not such an outlandish hope. In the past two months, I have been learning from the people involved but especially the garden itself. I am trying not to tap my foot impatiently when watering the seedlings, to dwell on progress and picture the leisurely staked tomato stalk. It feels a little like the beginning of wisdom. Five days after planting seeds, I began to doubt that they’d ever germinate. Between a double shift at Crescent City Grill one afternoon, I took my mama out to community garden, expecting to show her only smooth beautifully hoed rows of rich, cake-like soil. She, the hopeful horticulturist, began walking the trenches and gently brushing the cracked dirt where seedlings were trying to emerge. “Oh, look, Sydney, there are some peas, and see here,” she moved the soil lightly with her fingertips, “the squash has germinated.” In a nearby row she wondered, “do you think that is the beginning of the Brandywines tomatoes” My heart leapt, surprised and grateful. I laughed at my own lack of trust. The plants just kept right on growing, far sturdier than my own wavering faith. The community garden is a rare place where discipline and hope meet tangibly, where strangers stake one another’s tomato plants and where we collectively anticipate a harvest. It is a place that resists ownership and that pokes fun at the notion of wellorganized projects.
words by Brian von Schulz
For a long time I yearned to start making my own compost, but there was always something standing in the way. There was the lack of immediate gratification, the choice between designs: one bin, two bin, three bin, rack and tumbler systems. Once I’d bought or built my bin, I’d need to “turn” all that compost. Turning sounded easy enough, save for the rake breakdown I had while gathering leaves. Needless to say, the whole business of composting seemed a little daunting, and if it weren’t for forces unseen, I might have missed out on the good life altogether. Luckily nature had a plan of its own. Here are the basic steps I took to inadvertently start my own compost. They’ll probably work for you, too: - Go outside and look for a good place to build your compost bin. -Realize there are a lot of good places then get indecisive -Toss the leaves, grass clippings, and a handful of rotten lettuce that you were going to put in the bin into a pile until you settle on the right spot later. - Get distracted, do something unrelated, and forget you ever wanted to compost. - After about a month, remember that you wanted to start composting and go reassess the situation. - Find that nature somehow already started to compost – all without nailing anything together! Composting is so easy, it can happen by accident. As you grow in the art, however, you might want to refine your operation a little. Stirring, or “turning,” the heap every few days keeps the aerobic bacteria happy, healthy, and hot (composter’s lingo for more intense decomposition). Kitchen waste (veggies, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc.) is usually high in nitrogen; plants love nitrogen, so don’t be shy with it. Keep it vegetarian; no meat, bones, or plastic. If you start adding a lot of kitchen scraps from friends and family, you will want to remember to add leaves or sawdust to keep the carbon to nitrogen balance right. But, do not add chemically treated wood or diseased plants. With a little time and a manageable amount of work, you’ll have dark, rich compost crawling with earthworms and creatures of every variety waiting to decompose your waste and tend to your garden. www.inthepinesonline.com
Heritage Day FestivalSouth Sat. June 19
official press release
official press release / www.festivalsouth.org.
The First Annual Heritage Day in Hattiesburg will set a scene from the past, at the Historic Hattiesburg Depot, Sat. June 19, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. The scene will include seminars, farmers market, music, crafts and food, all cast in an air of returning to the heritage of the land and the roots of American life.
With a combination of free and ticketed musical events, FestivalSouth brings morning musicals to local coffee shops, bookstores, and The Hattiesburg Public Library; musical luncheons to locally owned eateries; afternoon recitals to worship facilities; and evening concerts and late-night events to signature downtown venues.
“Heritage Day 2010 promises to be a one-of-kind wholesome family-friendly experience guaranteed to take visitors on a reminiscent journey to our good old-fashioned Southern roots, “Kristie Fairely, Deputy Director of Visit Hattiesburg, said. When the scene opens on Heritage Day 2010, the area surrounding the Depot will be transformed into a festive atmosphere featuring over 35 booths, demonstrations, exhibits, food, crafts, educational demonstrations, all presented against a background of music befitting the theme of the festival. Mississippi artists and craftsmen will be making and selling their wares, including quilts, handcrafted pottery, wood-turned items, and metal works. Visitors will enjoy hands-on activities as well as interesting demonstrations. Local and regional farmers will have their products and locally-grown produce for sale. The Festival stage will feature Mississippi musicians, performing bluegrass, blues, and, gospel music to compliment the occasion.
Set amid the historic backdrop of downtown Hattiesburg, this festival features more than 30 acclaimed artists, 53 events and a variety of musical performances ranging from classical piano, vocal and chamber music recitals, tango, blues, Broadway and bluegrass music. “From the beginning, I wanted this festival to be representative of the entire world of music,” Jay Dean, the festival’s Artistic Direcor, said. “People enjoy music of all types and FestivalSouth offers Hattiesburg residents as well as visitors to our city the opportunity to experience just that – a world of music.” Families are also invited to partake in the festivities. Middle and high school students can enroll in an array of summer camps, such as The Southern Experience Show Choir and Choral Camp, Summer Drummin’, FestivalSouth String Chamber Music Workshop, and the Southern Miss Double Reed Camp.
In addition to events outside, ten 30-35 minute seminars will be held in the Community Room of the Depot. The seminars will be a flash-back to American roots in the area of sustainable living, including food preparation. There is no charge for the seminars and reservations are not required. The seminars will be conducted by Homestead Heritage Farms of Waco, Texas.
Highlights of Week 1 of FestivalSouth 2010 include:
Seminar topics will include: Homesteading- A Sustainable Alternative, Sustainable Gardening, Chickens and Other Poultry, Bee Keeping, Grass-Fed Meat and Milk, Preserving Foods, Cheesemaking, Breadmaking, Crafts – A Necessity for Agriculture – A Cottage Business.
Pirates of Penzance, June 10 & 12. Gilbert and Sullivan at their swashbuckling best... Great fun, sidesplitting laughs, and bombastic vocal performances have made this show a family favorite for over 125 years!
“At the end of the day, visitors will have experienced the quality, authenticity and richness of a 'hand-made' life, of a time when South Mississippians were known for the products they grew on their land or made by hand,” Rick Taylor, Executive Director of visitHattiesburg, said.
Broadway Showstoppers and The Showstoppers Ball, June 5. During this event of favorites from the “Great White Way,” catch the energy of The Meistersingers with guest soloists and dancers. before the Showstoppers Ball with the Capital City Stage Band.
Tango Passion Concert and Milonga, June 11. The Tango Rendezvous Ensemble fuses the power of tango music with dancing in six professionally choreographed selections. Afterwards, join Milonga and dance the tango. Highlights of Week 2 of FestivalSouth 2010 include:
Artists, craftsmen, food vendors, and all participants should register well in advance. Some exhibitions, vendors, crafts, and artist wares require a juried review. For information about this, contact Betsy Rowell, rowell@megagat e.com, 601-583-4329
The Virtuoso Piano, June 15. Internationally acclaimed Polish pianist Adam Wodnicki brings his signature expressivity, sensitivity and virtuosity to this delightful evening of romantic music.
For vendor and general information about the Heritage Day contact: visitHattiesburg at: visithattie.com or on the web at:
Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa, June 18. Wayne Taylor and Appaloosa offer a family-friendly event in this innovative performance of traditional Bluegrass music.
The event is presented by visitHattiesburg, The Historic Downtown Association, the City of Hattiesburg, and Mississippi Humanities Council. Collaborating partners for are, Mississippi Craftsman Guild, Roots Reunion, Pine Belt Quilters, Hattiesburg Public Library, and Texas Homestead Heritage.
Cirque De La Symphonie, June 19. A night full of spectacular orchestral music and breathtaking feats by world record-holding contortionists, dancers, jugglers, balancers, and strongmen – fun for the whole family!
Dead Kenny G's Sat June 19 Boom Boom Room
The last time the Dead Kenny G's visited Hattiesburg, your faithful live music correspondents here at The Pines were sure to send them an overly long and wordy, kind of nerdy, interview that we never got back, despite some indications we might expect otherwise at some point. Obviously, they forgot. But, we understand. We asked them if Kenny G finally ponied up and did his part to restore his good name and fund the DKG's new record, Bewildered Herd, which really kicks behind. But, is it possible to do anything to restore his good name? We were most curious about the derivation of the album's name. We hoped they would discuss memorable moments of Coast to Coast with Art Bell while on tour, if there were any. Have they ever seen Kenny G perform live? We hear he is a really excellent jazz improviser on the soprano saxophone. Obviously, we had some questions about Deep Ellum, about Dallas and Seattle, about Critters Buggin. How come they don't tour much? Maybe cause the drummer Matt Chamberlain is too busy being one of the most in demand musicians in the business. Yea, loaded question. We looked forward to a rattled off list of various projects they involved themselves in when not assailing the name of Kenny G. Needless to say, it would be longer than this.
w/ Romany Rye and David Vandervelde Sunday, July 11, 8 PM Thirsty Hippo
From the minute I first heard Delta Spirit I couldn't stop listening to them. The band formed in San Diego, CA back in 2005. Their latest album, History From Below, is set to come out June 8. The new album is a very open and defenseless 50 minutes (give or take) full of storytelling and soul searching. They possess a sound familiar enough to cling to from the start but that remains original and interesting no doubt. The Romany Rye features songs by Luke Macmaster, an old friend of Delta Spirit from Southern California. Joined by a group of Arkansas musicians with sauntering guitar, lilting keys, and at least two songs about Tennessee, they sound like ex-gypsies from the Deep South, which is fitting considering their name. David Vandervelde visited the Hippo in March during Spring Break. Not afraid of any classic rock and roll, he pulls carefully from every direction with a lot of reverb to craft great psychedelic songs that always remain his. Living now in Nashville, Vandervelde knows the road well, too. - Sumner Baggett
words by Troy Coll; photos by Christy Dyess
There can be no doubt that Leatha's Bar-B-Que Inn is authentic. Situated as it is, behind an RV dealership on the outskirts of the city, one instantly identifies the building with common depictions of traditional Southern barbecue joints. Parking in the gravel lot; opening the door into the large, open dining area; feeling the pull of window unit A/C's as you choose from the hodgepodge of seating options; wiping your sauce-coated hands on the thick white washcloths: great stuff, to be sure. But, is the wonderful atmosphere what makes Leatha's better than any other barbecue in town? Is satisfying some arbitrary notion of authenticity more important than satisfying one's palate? Leatha's renders that question moot, as it's their food that earns their well-deserved reputation as one of the top barbecue restaurants in the South. Leatha's menu is focused and traditional: there's meat, sides, bread, and barbecue sauce, with pecan pie for dessert and tea or soda to wash it down. If you think you need more options, feel free to look elsewhere, but if barbecue is what you want, Leatha's has everything you need. Chicken (1/4 or 1/2 bird), pulled pork, pork ribs, and boneless beef ribs issue from Leatha's attached smokehouse, and each entree is served with two sides and a roll. Portions are appropriately huge, and half-and-half (two meats) and jumbo (three meats) plates are also available. The roll is the first hint that Leatha's exceeds expectations. This is not the pre-formed "dinner roll" that most Hattiesburg BBQ spots serve - it's a real piece of bread, that smells like bread and tastes less like the inside of a freezer and more like... bread. I prefer to save it for mopping up sauce and meat bits at the end, but with its crispy top and flaky interior, it's utterly worthy of consumption on its own. I'm of the opinion that any good barbecue restaurant can be judged solely on their pork ribs. Full of cartilage and connective tissue, ribs are
a difficult piece of meat to cook, and efforts to disguise poor technique with a secret spice rub or fancy sauce only exacerbate any deficiencies. There are several spots in the Hub City that serve good-to-very good pork ribs, but Leatha's simply embarrasses all of them. One assumes that ribs should be eaten with the hands, and I'd agree, but attempting to lift Leatha's ribs by the bone will be an instant disaster, as your makeshift handle slides cleanly out of the meat. Beneath the barbecue sauce and charred crust, the rib meat features the bright pink "smoke ring" present in a properly smoked rack of ribs. Any hint of grit or gristle has been melted into the meat, which is what gives barbecued pork its amazing flavor and texture. Leatha's tomato-based sauce is tangy and slightly spicy, perfectly balancing the unctuousness of the meat. The spice crust brings diversity of texture and flavor - cumin and black pepper are definitely present, and I picked up an interesting fruitiness that can only be described as cherry Kool-Aid. I won't deign to guess what's actually in the rub or the sauce, but it's obvious that those ingredients have evolved together to perfectly support the pork ribs. Leatha's dishes out many of the sides one might find at a neighborhood cookout. Fried potato wedges come just lightly salted, crispy and ready to be slathered in barbecue sauce (or ketchup, if you must). The mustardbased potato salad is packed with redskin potatoes and boiled eggs, and accented by dill, paprika, and sweet relish. I've never had a potato salad of this style that I actually enjoy, but Leatha's is utterly delicious. Much like the ribs, the proper balancing of a few simple ingredients results in a dish that is deeply flavorful while still playing the proper role on the plate. When I set out to write this month's Hub Grub, I intended to feature several items from different barbecue spots all over the city. I tried some really great food from some quality establishments, but, for my money, Leatha's is a cut above the rest. It's not that each item on the menu is superlative (though a few of them are); like a veteran sports team, Leatha's foodstuffs work together to offer a comprehensive Southern barbecue experience. And you know the atmosphere is authentic as can be.
by Cathy Hopkins Pinot Noir seemed like the best wine to start the warmer months with a wine tasting. The tasters gathered at Ahimsa Yoga to quaff and swirl five different Pinots. It can take on many different forms and ranges, but typically Pinots are known for their fruitiness, featuring aromas of currant, blackberry and black cherry. It’s mercifully also light in tannins so one is less likely to wake up with that awful “red wine headache” the next morning after enjoying a glass too many. In America, Pinot Noir grapes grow heavily in Oregon throughout the Willamette Valley and California around Napa Valley, the Russian River Valley area, and, of course, in San Luis Obispo County. Here we rank the five we tried, from good to best.
Clois Du Bois Pinot Noir North Coast 2007 $24
Bright fruit beginning with a dark cherry finish. Tannins seem to be present in this wine, described as a little bitter, dry. Earthy aroma is present.
Red Tree Pinot Noir 2009 $8
Light hue, a nice summer-sipping wine, strong notes of apples in palette, aromas consist of raspberry, currant not too strong. Goes nicely with a nice cheese, white meats, strawberries w/ chocolate, melons. Had a very nice finish, fruity, no strong aftertaste. Good value at $8.
Leese-Fitch Pinot Noir 2008 $15
Very woodsy, smoky tasting on first sip. A darker hued wine, great with pepper jack cheese, good in a red sauced recipe, stronger bodied for more substantial meals. Soft earth nose with smoked bacon as well
Edna Valley Pinot Noir 2007 $20
Pungent blackberry smell. A hint the oak barrel is present in the taste. Pomegranate and soy sweet tastes are also abundant in this wine. This is a fuller bodied wine as well with a strong finish of a peppery aftertaste that stuck around after the first sip.
Roessler’s Blue Jay Pinot Noir 2006 $37
One participant said, “I just want to pour this straight into my mouth from the bottle”. Medium bodied, ruby hue, peppery but not too spicy. Perfect blend of fruit and spice. Smooth finish, taste of cassis and soft oak.
by Troy Coll
Anchor Steam Anchor Brewing, San Francisco CA Style: California Common ABV: 4.9% Available in Mississippi
Hair of the Dog Adam Hair of the Dog Brewing, Portland OR Style: Old Ale ABV: 10% Not available in Mississippi
The flagship beer from Fritz Maytag's Anchor Brewing, Steam is an indigenous California style which was invented during the 1800's. Without ice or refrigeration, brewers were forced to innovate, and the result was a hybrid beer fermented in large, shallow vessels called koelschips with lager yeast at (higher) ale temperatures. Maytag purchased Anchor Brewery in the mid60's, and resurrected steam beer on the way to becoming one of the earliest domestic craft breweries of the modern era. Anchor has since copyrighted the name "Steam", leaving nerds like me to scramble for a replacement name for the beer style: "California common" is the style's official name today.
Hair of the Dog's beers are truly artisanal. While many respectable craft breweries have computer-controlled, stainlesssteel setups, HotD owner/brewer/sole full-time employee Alan Sprints operates a rig that started its life as dairy processing equipment. His brewery's distribution is limited to just a handful of states, and Sprints has no plans for expansion. Three out of the four beers he regularly produces are above 10%ABV, and none of them cater to the "lawnmower beer" crowd. Of course, none of that ephemera would be relevant if Hair of the Dog didn't brew some of the most unique and coveted beers in the world, but they've done just that since turning out their first batch in 1993.
Steam pours a clear, glowing amber with a billowy white head. Clean and quiet in the nose, the yeast throws off apple, pear, and apricot aromas, with some caramel and cereal notes from the malt. Bready, sweet malt flavors take the spotlight, with the unique esters of stressed lager yeast giving the beer extraordinary depth: pear, melon and banana, with a styleappropriate hint of sulfur throughout. The hops balance the scales with a little perfume and herbal bitterness. Mouthfeel is more lager than ale: low viscosity, fine carbonation. A fantastically versatile beer that pairs well with sandwiches, pizza, burgers, and bolder seafood preparations, it's also flavorful enough to underwrite an afternoon of nice weather and good company. Anchor's commitment to brewing this style with traditional ingredients and processes leads to a beer with more historicity, uniqueness, and terroir than many of our locallyavailable brews.
photo by Whitney Miller Coll
Adam, HotD's first production beer, is a recreation of an historic style brewed in Dortmunder, Germany. It pours like motor oil and lets as much light through your glass as a pint of 10W-30. Visible carbonation is very low, but a skim of bubbles settles on top. Coffee, peat smoke, and chocolate dominate the nose, with heftier roast and fig aromas coming out as the beer warms. The flavor is intensely smoky - where lesser smoked beers may draw comparisons to summer sausage, Adam is closer to Lagavulin or other peaty single malts. Charcoal and ash flavors are enhanced by some oaky dryness, and cherry and raisin notes bring balancing sweetness, with some vanilla and caramel in the background. The finish is sticky at the edges and dry in the middle - this, along with the aforementioned affinity to smoke and a light alcohol burn, makes Adam a fantastic cigar beer. The beer's syrupy appearance is a bit deceiving, as it is considerably lighter on the tongue and not cloying in the least. Adam has the heft, sweetness, and balancing bitterness to pair with any robust
photo by Whitney Miller Coll www.inthepinesonline.com
Author: Elizabeth Strout Book: Olive Kitteridge Year: 2008 LC: PS3569.T736 O5 2008 This month’s What Book Club selection is unusual in its format. It is a collection of 13 stories all held together by a formidable axle in that of Olive Kitteridge, which is also the title of this book by Elizabeth Strout. We get to see the main character through the eyes an interesting variety of inhabitants of small town Crosby, Maine. Olive has somehow touched or affected the townspeople in these threads in her own unique way. She is a force of nature, sometimes extremely kind, other times she is forcefully blunt and harsh. Through ex-students, friends, family, and even from Olive herself we get a slice of the human experience in all its miseries and joys. This is a nice format too, because we get a break from Olive being the storyteller. As we find out, she can be a little too much to take and thus the individual stories are a nice respite. There is a middle-aged lounge singer, an anorexic teenager, a depressed ex-student burdened with the weight of life contemplating suicide. These unmarried people are all interesting and vibrant, adding an interesting facet to the story of Olive Kitteridge. However, it is the secrets of married people in the spokes of the wheel that drives this story and speaks its truest voice. Olive finds her own husband’s loyalty equally a reward and a punishment. Henry, Olive’s husband, is in love with his pharmacy assistant early in the story, but he is too wedded to the sanctity of his marriage to act on this adulation. He also realizes that Olive too may be love with somebody else, when he notes her mourning over a death of a fellow teacher. Each spouse is aware of the other’s affection for another person, though this awareness is not a cause for action somehow. Neither Olive nor Henry act on their crushes and thus the marriage continues; life is lived. We also meet Harmon a hardware owner, who is in the later part of his life having an affair with a widow named Daisy. His wife has given up their marital bed and so Harmon has found solace in his new friend. There is the older couple Bob and Jane that is dealing with Bob’s infidelities even after all these years. It’s these secrets and the fallout from the secrets that make the story so interesting and compelling. The characters are so fully fleshed out that one wonders if this is really a biography of sorts. Many times throughout the book, especially when the reader gets privy to Olive’s thoughts, there is the wonderment of the veracity of the expressions, the amazement that the author knows our inner most thoughts, that one might wonder is she psychic? Elizabeth Strout’s third novel is a must read. The North Carolina bred writer has given us an excellent tale of love, life, happiness and tragedy and presented it within the bold personage of a remarkable lady, one Olive Kitteridge. You must meet this impressive lady. - Cathy Hopkins
he'll never ever be any good/but he's not a rebel, oh no no no, to me" stands as one of the most indelible hooks and perfect pop statements of all time. The background musicians, known as the Wrecking Crew, were among some of the most amazing and often-used musicians of all time. Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys valued their special touch so highly that he hired them for the recordings that became Pet Sounds. In the end, "He's A Rebel" should not be missed by anyone who has any kind of affection for girl groups. It is one of the handful of perfect pop songs that makes songwriters such as myself wonder why I should even try to continue to write at all. The Ronettes began their career as The Darling Sisters, even winning the Amateur Night contest at the world famous Apollo Theatre in 1959. That success led to their appearance as backup singers with one of my favorite rock n’ roll artists, Del Shannon. However, their big break came at Joey Dee's Peppermint Lounge where their rapturous reception from audiences landed them a deal with Colpix Records. In 1963, they met Phil Spector who wanted to make them "the bad girls of rock n' roll," complete with towering beehive hairdos, tight skirts, and the darkest and heaviest eyeliner known to womankind. The rest, as they say, is rock n' roll history.
by Will Poynor Recently, a friend from Memphis who is designing costumes for a presentation of the play "Hairspray", asked me for some advice on girl groups, namely which ones to check out for costume ideas. That was the impetus for the burning question. I love girl groups so much that to narrow the list down to just one is totally impossible. After much thought and debate, I arrived at my two favorites: The Crystals and The Ronettes. Reverb! Tambourines! Heavenly harmonies! These girls make me want to get up and sing. I must confess that I have actually sung karaoke to both groups several times. Both groups were the darlings of Philles Records, the home of the famous "Wall of Sound" of producer/writer Phil Spector. It appears that the Crystals were his first love, and then he met Veronica “Ronnie” Bennett and her group The Ronettes. The history of women in rock begins with these sassy, sophisticated ladies. Not only do followers like Diana Ross, Debbie Harry, and Beyonce owe these fantastic females - so do all of the men in rock n’ roll as well. The Crystals began rehearsing while still in high school under the organizational hand of Benny Wells. While auditioning at the famous Brill Building in 1961, Phil Spector overheard them and those faint strains changed pop music forever. What follows is a strange and complicated history. After that audition, Spector purchased the name of the group which allowed him to choose whatever singer he wanted on their records.
The thought of the Ronettes immediately brings to mind "Be My Baby". As a child of the 80's, when I hear that track the movie "Dirty Dancing" cannot help but sweep across my brain. While that song is an extremely difficult one to top, the Ronettes sang so many other wonderful tunes that I would be remiss if I omitted my true favorite, "Do I Love You?" My first reaction to this song is pure elation. Something within these grooves affects me like no other record. As the horns and bass line begin, it just makes you instantly dance and smile wildly at the same time. Then the drums, hand claps, and rhythm guitar figure enter at the perfect moment hitting you right in the sweet spot. Over this uncontrollable groove, when Ronnie chimes in "do I want you for my baby/do I want you by my side/do I wanna run and kiss your lips and say you're my lovin' guy"-I am done for. The final nail in the coffin is when she sings “do I always feel so warm each time I look in your eyes of blue.” At the time of these Spector productions, the musicians were playing some of the most inventive arrangements ever created, taking Spector's "Wall of Sound" production style to towering heights. The incredible music bouncing off of this wall went on to influence some of my favorite bands, most notably The Beach Boys and The Ramones. I discovered both of these miraculous Crystals and Ronettes 45's in the 45 bin at Milkspiller a couple of years ago to my complete and utter shock. I never thought I would find these locally, and when I revisit these entrancing grooves, I realize that hearing them on vinyl is truly a beautiful and thrilling experience. So who would win if we luckily got these women on stage to have an all out musical cat-fight? I would have to say the audience, because we get to sit back, dance, and listen to these women fight it out while making some of the most glorious pop music ever.
The result is my favorite Crystals record "He's a Rebel,” featuring none of the original Crystals on lead. Instead, the track features the amazing vocal prowess of Darlene Love. Despite this radical change, "He's a Rebel" is one of the most punishing, radiant and buoyant love songs of all time. The chorus "He's a rebel and www.inthepinesonline.com
by Harry Crumpler III
What could be more American than the Drum Set? It’s up there with Apple Pie and Baseball. This amazing culmination and combination of percussion instruments emerged from our proud land. Before 1909, if you were throwing a party or having a war, you’d have to have a bass drummer, a snare drummer, and cymbal smasher, at the very least, to get things going.
mechanism closes and brings two cymbals together. Over the next few years, the “low boy” would grow a little taller. First it grew into the “sock cymbal” which stood twenty inches tall, and eventually into the hi-hat allowing swing drummers like Chick Webb and Gene Krupa to play it with their hands or sticks.
Put a stand underneath the snare and cymbals, then a foot pedal on the bass drum and BAM! You can take all those drummers and trade them in for one. A sole supplier of rhythm is a lot easier to pay and feed than three or more. Logic won, and so did we.
The only thing lacking to solidify the early American drum set was the snare drum stand. It’s hard to say when this hit the scene. Most drummers improvised by using a chair or small table to place it upon until metal snare drum stands became readily available for purchase.
The end of the War Between the States left some musicians out of work. There was no longer a need to soundtrack the march into battle. Many of these horn blowers and drummers stuck together after the war and formed brass bands. This got drums indoors more. Typically there was a snare and a bass drum due to volume level, small rooms and even smaller orchestra pits. This downsizing began to force the invention of necessity.
The changes the drum set has seen since its conception have all been dictated by the people and music it was beating for. Early brass band days had the snare and bass drum at the forefront. That’s really all you needed for a good parade. As jazz crept into the picture between the nineteen twenties and thirties most drummers kept those swingin’ eighth notes on their high hat while accenting the soloist with the snare drum.
The Red, White, and Blue brought so many different cultures under one flag even our drums have had to undergo modifications to accommodate the on-going melding of multi-cultural rhythms. I’m not sure if the drum set is the icing on the cake or the whole cake itself. Obviously, our music would be tolerable without it, but let’s not find out, shall we.
Around 1940, bebop began. This was a unique shift in popular music because it was designed not for dancing, but for listening. Before Bebop, the focal point of keeping time for most drummers was the hi-hat and bass drum. Now it was the ride cymbal. Bebop drummers’ role shifted from keeping standard time to helping color and texture the more sophisticated harmonies and rhythm.
It took some time for drum set history to dawn upon me. I never questioned it. It seems to be such a perfect instrument. I imagined it was always there, like beer. You would have to go back to prehistoric humans, and, even then, they probably had some semblance of it. Sure, drums have an amazing history on every continent among all peoples, but, you really got to admit, the American drum-set wins hands down. Imagine The Beatles without Ringo, Led Zeppelin without John Bonham, The Meters without Zigaboo, John Coltrane without Elvin Jones, This Orange Four without Brad, even Rush without Neil Peart! I know I named off a few Brits and Canucks, but they too profited greatly from our country’s great rhythmic contraption. In 1909 Williams F. Ludwig Sr. produced and marketed the first ever metal bass drum pedal to the masses. Though Ludwig is often credited as the inventor, New Orleans drummer Edward “Dee Dee”Chandler was photographed using a home-made bass drum pedal in 1896. There are even earlier written accounts of them dating back to 1850.
Our good friend rock n’ roll is responsible for the next great transformation of the drum kit. It needed to be louder. It had to be louder. It got louder. The progression of rock from the fifties through the seventies had one major effect on the drum set: Reenforcement. Heavier hitting made for cracked cymbals, busted drum heads, and a whole lotta mess. One great aid came to drummers in 1957 with the synthetic drum head. Before that, you only had calf-skin heads which didn’t hold up as well to the weather or intense beatings. Soon to follow were thicker and heavier cymbals, as well as plies of wooden support added to the drum shells of toms and snares to help them cope with heavier hardware, louder players, and tougher conditions all around. There are countless other innovations that have and will continue to shape the drum set. Even sampled and looped drum sets have been at the heart of hip-hop and electronic music. I, for one, salute you, O drum set, and know the great Bald Eagle flies a little higher to your beat.
The Roaring Twenties ushered in the “low boy”. Aptly named, it stood twelve inches tall. When pressed down with the foot, this www.inthepinesonline.com
Artist: Tony Allen Album: Secret Agent Label: World Circuit Year: 2009
Artist: White Stripes Album: Under Great White Northern Lights Label: Warner Year: 2010
Within the terse polyrhythms of Afrobeat, you can hear the history of the African continent. The insistent "overbeat" illuminates the music to listeners, while its dark "underbeat" serves as a reminder of the turmoil and strife that resulted in this music. These dense patterns of rhythms have always extended from the arms, legs and mind of one individual: Tony Allen.
Earlier this Spring, a few dozen of Hattiesburg’s finest citizens piled into T-Bone’s Records and Coffee for the premiere of the new White Stripes documentary of the same name. The film portrays the sights and sounds of the Stripes’ 2007 Canadian tour and represents their first film foray since 2004’s Under Blackpool Lights. The Stripes released the film simultaneously with a live album of the same name.
While Fela Kuti will always be remembered as the inventor of Afrobeat, the impact might have been blunted without the fierce beats of Allen. Beneath the chanting of Africa 70 and Egypt 80, Allen restlessly combined all of the known African drum traditions and even the jazz/funk styles of American artists like James Brown and Max Roach. However, none of this knowledge is necessary to dive into Tony Allen's brilliant return to form with the new release "Secret Agent."
Eschewing the straightforward concert film format of Blackpool, Under Great White Northern Lights the film is a beautifully shot and well-paced telling of the Canadian tour. Opening with the infamous “One-Note Show” and following the Stripes on- and off-stage, Northern Lights is alternately whimsical and poignant. We are treated to a number of the “secret shows” Jack and Meg performed during the tour, in town squares (“Black Jack Davey”), on boats (“Catfish Blues”), and on buses (What else but “The Wheels on the Bus”?).
With a near whispered "From the East, from the West, from the South, from the North", Allen quickly points his music in all directions with the opening title track. The sinuous groove is unstoppable from here. Syncopated piano chords pound in and are quickly complemented by staccato figures. Holding these paradoxical patterns together, a fluid mix of horns and a chorus allows the song to build layer by layer until it envelopes you. Once Allen has established his musical language, he no longer needs to sing in English or at all for that matter. "Ijo" (or "Dance") is led by a group of female vocalists before Allen releases the beat with a chorus break that would rock in the hands of Rage Against The Machine. As he turns on a dime from the lilting verses to a synthy chorus, "Ijo" stands as a testament to how deft this 70-year old musician has become. The remainder of the album radiates positivity ("Celebrate your life/Celebrate your everyday life" in "Celebrate"), optimism ("No matter if things are bad, it will get better" in "Atuwaba") and action ("Shout, protest, make some noise" in "Pariwo") before Allen returns to wax political chanting ("Too Many Prisoners") over the benedictory "Elewon Po." Over the course of these tracks, you get the impression that he is nursing along his musicians in the same manner that Fela did to him. The most valuable player is Cameroonian guitarist Claude Dibongue whose subdued funk guitar work manages to simultaneously mimic and complement Allen. As Afrobeat moves away from its broken language to communicate more freely, Allen proves he is beating heart that keeps the original spirit alive.
- Mik Davis
The band encounters a number of backwoods Canadians who apparently have no idea who they are and that they are in fact, to a degree, worldfamous. There are candid moments – Meg apparently smokes a lot, Jack is concerned about the safety of his tube amps – and an emotional, ambiguous ending that has led to speculation by some that The White Stripes may soon be rock ‘n’ roll history. When it comes to the album, sixteen tracks looked good on paper but turned out to be a bit underwhelming upon delivery. A promising track list often falls short in the cruelest of places. Anyone expecting a sprawling, furious “Ball and Biscuit” like the one we loved on Elephant will certainly be disappointed by a brief Robert Johnson medley and single solo section. Likewise, “Fell in Love With a Girl” is chopped to half-speed and while it is an interesting take on the tune, it is also a dead spot on the album. Still, the Stripes deliver the frantic feel that characterizes their concerts, and most of the tracks chosen for the record are good ones. “I’m Slowly Turning Into You” features the audience shouting during breaks in the guitar riff in a manner reminiscent of “Rock and Roll (Pt. 2)” and the closer, “Seven Nation Army”, definitely delivers. Unfortunately, fans who want another full-length concert film will be forced to shell out over two hundred bucks for the limited edition box set. This pricey package contains a DVD of the band’s 10th anniversary show in Nova Scotia (which, for the record, sports thirty-odd songs), which is not available separately. When it comes to the documentary, Under Great White Northern Lights is worth the price of admission, but the album remains a tougher sell.
- Shaw Ingram 26
by Jason Perry
The Men Who Stare at Goats
A Perfect Getaway
The Men Who Stare at Goats is set in the early 80s, when the U.S. government funds a secret unit of the military known as the New Earth Army with the objective to develop psychic powers to use against enemies of the state. Psychic powers like remote viewing (traveling to any location in the world using only your mind) and the ability to kill with nothing but a good, old-fashioned staring contest. The unit practices these powers in a secret lab, sometimes on goats. The shocker here is that this film is based on mostly true events. You only need one look at the cast to know that the acting is great all-around, and there are several laugh-out-loud moments, but the overall tone is a little uneven. If you enjoy zany-but-clever, Coen brothers style humor (and I think you do), The Men Who Stare at Goats is more than worth your while.
A couple on a honeymoon adventure in the Hawaiian wilderness becomes suspicious that another couple they befriend on the trail are actually killers on the run from the law. It’s a very simple premise, but this thriller/mystery shows some promise throughout the first twothirds of the movie. The acting is more than adequate, the cinematography is above average, and tension is sufficiently built. In fact, I was scooting towards the edge of my seat when the third act began. But guess what? A lame, cheap twist was thrown in that punched several holes in the plot. At this point, my butt moved to the back of the couch, and I began to wonder what I’d cook for dinner. Thanks to M. Night Shyamalan, the “shocking” twist has become a Hollywood virus that’s turning perfectly good films into brain celldevouring zombies. Now there’s an idea for a film. . .
John Skillpa leads a private life in the small town of Peacock until the day a train derails into his back yard. In a turn you’ll have to see to believe, this accident reveals his second personality, Emma, to his nosy neighbors. John is forced to humor them in order to keep his dark secret. This task gets much harder for him as Emma becomes more confident and public. While this may sound contrived, Murphy’s performance is so convincing that you won’t need to suspend an ounce of disbelief. If you don’t believe me, please watch this thriller/drama/ dark comedy yourself. Just be warned: every time you think Peacock can’t get any darker or more screwed up, it throws another right hook. To paraphrase an early-80s philosopher by the name of Mellencamp, it stings really well.
Starring: George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey Directed By: Grant Heslov Written By: Peter Straughn, Jon Ronson Year: 2009
Starring: Steve Zahn, Timothy Olyphant, Milla Jovovich, Directed By: David Twohy Written By: David Twohy Year: 2009
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Ellen Page, Susan Sarandon, Josh Lucas, Bill Pullman Directed By: Michael Lander Written By: Michael Lander, Ryan O’Roy Year: 2010
Civilization depends on the appropriate control of waste. In many ways, what happens to trash and excrement defines the success of almost any culture, secondary only to the supply of food and fiber that makes waste possible. In Hattiesburg, for no less than three years, the stench of the lagoons that house our waste makes life here less pleasant in the evenings and nights of warmer months (much of the year), and, yes, I am striving to play nice. There are evenings and nights when it stinks so badly, the smell lingers in our homes for hours in the morning. City leaders have previously blamed the Marshall Durbin chicken rendering plant on James Street, but this accusation never held water. We, of course, heard city leaders blame Hurricane Katrina. Why not? Seems reasonable enough, considering we associated Katrina with every problem under the sun for no less than one year after it swept through our city. Apparently, according to recent news in Hattiesburg American, Bennie Sellers, the city's Public Services director, has known for sure what it was for a few years. More than likely, he also knew there was probably nothing that could be done, simply not been enough money in his budget to handle the problem, which is why he more or less kept the news to himself. Indeed, that's always been the biggest fear. We may just have to live with that infernal aroma if we choose to live in East Hattiesburg. After all, people must flush their toilets and industry must discard its byproducts. From one year to the next, the smell returns, blame shifts, the city attempts another fix, the smell returns, blame shifts, ad nauseum (no pun intended). It's absurd! But, the problem is fairly simple. Hattiesburg depends on a wastewater treatment program known as an aerated lagoon system. The lagoons are man-made and full of sewage, not blue brackish inlets where beautiful wild children frolic. Oxygenation, the activity of air, must occur for all aerobic biological processes to occur. When a lagoon becomes filled with too much solid material, there is simply not enough water to carry the oxygen necessary to promote a stable, continuous biological breakdown of the material in question. Once a lagoon loses oxygen, it begins anaerobic fermentation, and it's just a matter of time before it stinks... Badly. Our lagoons, located near James Street, just east of Duncan Lake, number four. The lagoon the furthest south along the Leaf River seems the primary culprit. It remains filled with too many solids to appropriately break down, despite a lot of mechanical aeration. As the aerators feebly turn this mess, the stench bubbles forth and slides across the city with even the slightest breeze. For whatever reason, that breeze mostly blows right along Bay Street into Downtown Hattiesburg and all surrounding neighborhoods. The solid/liquid imbalance seems to be caused most by the dumping of byproducts from the production of commercial bread yeast at USA Yeast in the Tatum Industrial Park. But, blaming USA Yeast will do no one any good. They make a unique, high quality product coveted by bakers around the country. Yes, our community is fortunate to host them within our city limits. However, the City seems to have remained unable to appropriately process their yeast byproducts since about 2007. Interestingly, USA Yeast entered into multiple operational alliances at this time with other yeast manufacturers around the country. The Pines definitely wonders if their output was ramped up around then, leaving the city unable to keep up with the growing load. It is clear, though, the city has not met its obligations to process this waste. To be completely clear, unless more new information emerges, the City of Hattiesburg should be held responsible. In this day and age, within the borders of the wealthiest country on Earth, problems like this should be solved. The Mayor, City Council, and public service department heads must be held accountable. Constituents, the citizens of East Hattiesburg, subjected to a stench of such magnitude can not continue forever. All talk of progressive development in the affected areas will be stifled by this problem. No one wants to live in a place that smells like its sewer. No one. www.inthepinesonline.com
Clockwise from top left: Murder by Death - Sam Miller; Charles Walker - Sam Miller; Vieux Farka Toure - Christy Dyess; Vieux Farka Toure - Sam Miller 30