Mobile Bay THE LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE FOR MOBILE AND BALDWIN COUNTIES
THE ARTS ISSUE
MUSIC RISING MOBILEâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S GOLDEN AGE OF MUSIC IS RIGHT NOW!
Q&A WITH POP ARTIST KATHRYN ANDREWS
A PEEK INSIDE Favorite Spaces of Notable Mobilians
DINNER WITH THE BAND pg. 24
Singer with Soul
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FEATURES SEPTEMBER 2017
VOLUME XXXIII / ISSUE 9
A Closer Look With bold shapes and tonguein-cheek social commentary, this Mobile-born artist is making waves on the West Coast and around the world.
Port City Crescendo
Meet the next crop of talented local troubadours and entertainers poised to leave their marks through song.
View To a Room
MOBILE MUSICIAN JOHNNY HAYES. PHOTO BY MATTHEW COUGHLIN
Get an intimate look at the favorite personal spaces of these well-known Mobilians, learning a little more about their lives and personalities in the process.
ON OUR COVER
Musician and trombone player Yo Jonesy, whose first solo album is coming out this fall, is lighting up the world with her hearty, jazzy tunes and vibrant personality. PHOTO BY MATTHEW COUGHLIN
Have you ever wanted a peek into the world of a famous author, like Mobile’s own Winston Groom? Turn to page 52 to get a glimpse of the award-winning writer’s beloved work space, as well as a few other notable Mobilians’. september 2017 | mobilebaymag.com 7
DEPARTMENTS SEPTEMBER 2017
VOLUME XXXIII / ISSUE 9
LEFT Late-summer produce gets the sophisticated treatment from singer Beverly Jo Scott, inspired by her years living in Belgium. PHOTO BY ELIZABETH GELINEAU RIGHT A fine art exhibition is so much more than pictures and frames. MB snagged a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the process. PHOTO BY ELISE POCHÉ
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Editor’s Note On the Web Reaction Odds & Ends Elemental Hurricane Season As a Mobilian, you may think you know everything about the monster storms. Guess again.
18 Gumbo The Home Advantage
House concerts are popular with musicians, fans and hosts.
22 Tastings Kazoola Eatery & Entertainment A jazz and soul food haunt on Lower Dauphin Street
24 Bay Tables Making Mudcakes This soulful musician took more than Southern tunes to Europe: she took some good, hearty Mobile cuisine, as well.
30 The Dish 32 Gumbo The Exhibitionists
Take a peek behind the curtain to learn how a fine art exhibition goes from idea to reality.
69 History Harlem Hellfighter
The Mobile man who brought jazz to France led the way for the Harlem Renaissance in New York.
82 History Boom! Boom! Goes the Lincolnite! Author John Sledge shares an excerpt from his new book on the Civil War.
84 Ask McGehee Did Mobile have a cotton mill? The growing cotton economy made Mobile a hot spot for mills.
86 In Living Color Empire Theatre, 1940 Mobile movies on Lower Dauphin
OUT & ABOUT 74 Highlights 76 On Stage & Exhibits 78 October Highlights
Before his untimely death in 1919, Mobile-born jazz musician James Reese Europe was poised to be one of the greats, among the likes of Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. Retrace the musical journey that was cut short on page 69.
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Mobile Bay VOLUME XXXIII
PUBLISHER T. J. Potts Stephen Potts Judy Culbreth EXECUTIVE EDITOR Maggie Lacey MANAGING EDITOR/WEB Abby Parrott SENIOR WRITER Breck Pappas COPY EDITOR Chelsea Adams PRODUCTION DIRECTOR Marie Katz ART DIRECTOR Laurie Kilpatrick EDITORIAL INTERN Hallie King EDITORIAL INTERN Cat Reynolds
Joseph A. Hyland
Adelaide Smith McAleer
ADMINISTRATION CIRCULATION Anita Miller ACCOUNTING Jody Acreman
Mallory Boykin, Colleen Terrell Comer, Susan McCready, Tom McGehee, Lynn Oldshue, John S. Sledge, Steven Trout CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS
Matthew Coughlin, Elizabeth Gelineau, Elise Poché, Stephen Savage ADVERTISING AND EDITORIAL OFFICES
3729 Cottage Hill Road, Suite H Mobile, AL 36609-6500 251-473-6269 Subscription rate is $21.95 per year. Subscription inquiries and all remittances should be sent to: Mobile Bay P.O. Box 923773 Norcross, GA 30010-3773 1-855-357-3137 MOVING? Please note: U.S. Postal Service will not forward magazines mailed through their bulk mail unit. Please send old label along with your new address four to six weeks prior to moving. Mobile Bay is published 12 times per year for the Gulf Coast area. All contents © 2017 by PMT Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use of the contents without written permission is prohibited. Comments written in this magazine are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the ownership or the management of Mobile Bay. This magazine accepts no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts, photography or artwork. All submissions will be edited for length, clarity and style. PUBLISHED BY PMT PUBLISHING INC .
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s we send the 2017 Arts Issue of Mobile Bay Magazine to the printer, I find myself in awe of the talent contained within these pages. This month, we were fortunate to interview and photograph acclaimed authors, inspiring sculptors, songbirds just finding their voices and troubadours putting their poems to music. It seems like everywhere we looked, there was inspiration bubbling up — overflowing even! The common denominator is that all of this genius originated right here in the Port City. As each of these individuals taught us, it takes more than just natural ability to go from arts enthusiast to bona fide phenom. You also need endless energy and passion, dedication to your craft and a mega dose of za-zoom. We saw it happening
with our cover girl, Yo Jonesy. As Bob Marley rang out on the Bluetooth speaker during our photoshoot at the Staples-Pake building in downtown Mobile, Yo Jonesy got in a groove that captivated the camera. Despite the fact that our shoot location had no AC in the middle of a south Alabama summer, her energy (and her gold glitter!) never waned. Our hope is that through this issue you find your own artistic energy, discover a new favorite song, go hear a local band, be inspired by a painting that makes a bold statement, or appreciate the effort and passion that goes into sharing artistic vision with the world. If you, too, perhaps have a creative spark somewhere deep inside, this is your call to action. Get out there and make some ART!
Maggie Lacey EXECUTIVE EDITOR
BELOW LEFT Yo Jonesy dances to the beat while photographer Matthew Coughlin snaps away. An active construction site might not be the first logical choice for a photoshoot, but the backdrop was equal parts gritty and fabulous. BELOW MIDDLE Matthew Coughlin gets in the weeds with Bruce Larsen’s shot at the artist’s home on Fish River. This location was one of our favorites for obvious reasons. Turn to page 52 to see the results. BELOW RIGHT Summer interns play a huge role in making Mobile Bay Magazine tick! Hallie King, a Mobile native and senior at Samford University, made her mark helping on features, research and photoshoots this summer. Don’t worry — we made sure she was 21 before helping with the cocktails at Kazoola!
Get even more local coverage this month on mobilebaymag.com. Here’s what’s new!
PHOTO BY TODD DOUGLAS
Whether you’re rooting for the Tide, Tigers or your hometown Jags, our blog features some amazingly delicious recipes perfect for your football-watching parties.
Sing along with the talented musicians featured on page 44! Follow our “Music of Mobile Bay” playlist on Spotify to listen to these up-and-coming stars and more local favorites.
We are now accepting nominations for the 2017 class of 40 Under 40. Submit a nomination online today! Deadline is September 15.
Share your event! Just fill out the Party Pics registration form on our website and submit your event photos to be featured in a gallery on the Web.
Say “I Do” to MBB
Recently married? Go online for more information on how you can have your fairy tale wedding featured in the pages of Mobile Bay Bride 2018.
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ILLUSTRATION BY COLLEEN COMER
MORE MISCHIEF On July’s “Springhellions” My brother Richard Gaynor was a prime example of the barefoot boys. He set a record his last year (1944) at Mary B. Austin: He went the whole year without ever wearing shoes to school. When two of the boys pictured in the fourth grade class photo, Francis Walter and Louis Tonsmeire, reached the seventh grade, they felt challenged to match that record. This was during World War II. Norwegian liners were being converted into troop carriers in Mobile under the supervision of a Norwegian Navy Captain Fogelberger whose daughter, Anna Maria, was in the class. When she reported to her parents about the shoeless boys in the class, Mrs. Fogelberger came to the principal (and seventh grade teacher) Catherine Lining and said that she would be happy to buy shoes for those “poor” boys. Miss Lining assured her that the parents of at least one of the boys could buy shoes for the whole school. - Chan Gaynor West My dad Jim Lamey and his brother Pat were two of those boys. Johnny Wilson was one of my dad’s best friends. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was present when Johnny shot out the traffic light, egging him on! My dad was one tough kid but said Johnny was the toughest. I’ve heard all the stories and more and had tears in my eyes as I read the article. Gene Reimer, childhood friend of my mom’s, told me Johnny Wilson used to sit in his attic and shoot his BB gun through an opening at them. He also owned a goat and would terrorize them with it. - Toni Lamey Cohn
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My God, how amazing this article is! I grew up during the 1950s in Spring Hill at 16 York Place. Tom and Ben Wilson, the Pearce brothers (David, Peter, Reg and Mack) were my running buddies. Barefooted and dirty, I had high English tea and crumpets with their grandmother in her beautiful home. I hid my shoes in a storm sewer in the Cedars on the way to school. We built forts in the “gully” and fought rock wars with other Hill neighborhoods. Wow, what a great place to grow up. All that is gone now. The gully and the makeshift ball grounds behind Delchamps drug store are now clusters of 1/4 lots with mansions on them. How sad! - Anonymous
LITTLE HOUSE ON THE HILL On July’s Ask McGehee about the Chinaberry House George Pfau used this house as a summer home. His daughter, Emma Pfau, was my great-grandmother. The house was sold to Augustus Staub, a professor at Spring Hill College, who later married Emma Pfau. I found this out while researching the house deeds. There were some interesting notes that when the house was sold, there were winemaking materials that went with the house. They used to grow grapes there. - Katherine Hughes LeBlanc As a college student at USA in the 1970s, I wondered about the little place with the wonderful colors. Thanks for the long-pending answer. - Uno Khan
SHIPWRECKED On July’s “Shipwrecks of Mobile Bay” When I was a kid in the early 1960s, we would fish in Mobile Bay somewhere south of where I-10 now crosses. I remember the mast of a sailing ship sticking up from the water because we used to fish that wreck all the time. No idea what ship it was, but it was a big one. - Joe Pevey
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text by CAT REYNOLDS
BY THE NUMBERS
10 28 78
atomic bombs are equivalent to the amount of energy a large hurricane releases every single second.
Have you ever experienced that moment of delighted serendipity when your favorite song comes on the radio? A 2011 study by Valorie Salimpoor et al in the journal Nature Neuroscience found that when listening to music, humans experience a 9 percent increase in dopamine levels, the chemical in our brain associated with happiness, at a song’s peak emotional moment. So listen to some feel-good songs next time you need a pick-me-up!
named storms formed in the Atlantic in 2005, spawning 15 hurricanes and making it the most active hurricane season to date. names have been officially retired by the World Meteorological Organization since 1955.
With a couple months still left of hurricane season, brush up on the facts and history of these fearsome storms. Turn to Elemental, page 16, for a whirlwind of a read.
Discover new musicians in Port City Crescendo on page 44, featuring Mobile’s own up-and-coming stars. Who knows? You may even find your next favorite song! POP QUIZ
“Blues is like the roux in a gumbo. People ask me if jazz always has the blues in it. I say, if it sounds good, it does.”
How many international versions of television’s The Voice are there? a. 28
PHOTO FROM TK
Flip the page upside down to test your entertainment expertise. Then flip to Bay Tables, page 24, to find out how a Mobilian ended up with her own team on Belgium’s version of The Voice.
PHOTO BY ELIZABETH GELINEAU
— WYNTON MARSALIS, jazz musician and director of Jazz Lincoln Center in New York City Good food and soulful music go hand in hand. Head over to Tastings, page 22, to get a little of both with Kazoola on Dauphin Street. Afterward, discover how bandleader James Reese Europe pioneered early jazz music before his untimely death in 1919 on page 69.
THIS MONTH IN HISTORY
SEPTEMBER 20 - 21, 1819 A month following the framing of Alabama’s Constitution of 1819, the first general election was held in Alabama. Over a period of two days, eligible voters filled out ballots for their choices for US Congress members, legislators, court clerks, sheriffs and the governor. William Wyatt Bibb received 8,342 votes, about 1,200 more votes than his opponent Marmaduke Williams, becoming the very first governor of the state. Bibb would die in July of the following year after suffering a fall from his horse. Learn about another important moment in Alabama history in an excerpt from MB contributor John Sledge’s newest book, “These Rugged Days,” about Civil War Alabama, on page 82.
D - There are 58 versions of “The Voice” on six different continents. Some versions combine multiple countries, creating a grand total of 151 countries!
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Hurricane Season text by BRECK PAPPAS
very so often, Mother Nature likes to throw a buzz saw up the Gulf of Mexico — a sort of not-so-friendly reminder of who’s really in charge. In preparation, windows are boarded up, bathtubs filled with water and generators
checked and double-checked. Oh, it must be hurricane season. The big names, we all remember: Camille, Frederic, Ivan, Katrina — storms that brought destruction in the form of powerful winds, driving rain, unstoppable storm surge and
even tornadoes. (In 2004, Hurricane Ivan spawned a record 127 twisters.) Like it or not, the hurricane is a fact of life on the Gulf Coast, so it’s a weather phenomenon worth understanding. Think you already know everything about tropical cyclones? Think again.
THE RAINS DOWN IN AFRICA Hurricanes have been described as heat machines, taking thermal energy from the ocean and converting it into mechanical energy in the form of winds. But most storms form over land; according to researchers, 85 percent of hurricanes begin as disturbances in the atmosphere over West Africa.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION Hurricanes, along with typhoons and cyclones, fall under a category of meteorological events known as tropical cyclones. The three storm types differ only in location: hurricanes occur in the Atlantic Ocean and northeastern Pacific, typhoons in the northwestern Pacific, and cyclones in the south Pacific and Indian Ocean.
TURN THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN Tropical cyclones in the northern hemisphere spin counterclockwise, while those in the southern hemisphere spin clockwise. This phenomenon, which occurs because of the earth’s rotation, is called the Coriolis effect.
ON A SCALE OF 1 TO 5... A hurricane’s strength can be measured by its maximum sustained wind speed or its lowest barometric pressure. The Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale classifies storms into five categories based on the intensity of their sustained winds. It is said that development of the scale, in 1971, was inspired by the extensive damage of Hurricane Camille in 1969.
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EYE DO DECLARE! When a band of air starts rotating faster than others in a hurricane, an updraft is created from the ocean’s surface to the top of the storm, and a storm eye is formed. Usually about 30 miles in diameter, the eye is a space of mostly calm weather, although the most severe weather conditions are found along its perimeter.
A STORMY HISTORY ◗ Spanish explorers of the 16th century adopted the word “hurakán,” meaning “god of evil” or “god of storm,” from a native group in the Caribbean called the Arawak. This group likely adopted the word from the Mayans, whose creator god Hurakan was responsible for storms and floods. ◗ Following a Mobile hurricane on July 5, 1906, a writer for the Mobile Register downplayed the national hysteria: “Newspapers have been known to print in red ink and largest letters ‘Mobile Is Wiped off the Map!’ but it has never happened, and if we judge by what has been experienced in the past, it will never happen. Mobile is the most comfortable place we know of in which to have an attack of hurricane.” ◗ In 1953, the United States began naming hurricanes in order to reduce confusion. Only female names were used for Atlantic hurricanes until 1979, making Hurricane Frederic one of the first male-named hurricanes to strike the U.S. If a hurricane is particularly costly or deadly, its name is retired from further use. ◗ According to the Encyclopedia of Alabama, hurricanes hit Alabama approximately once every 7.5 years and make landfall on the Alabama coast once every 16 years. Tropical cyclone season extends from May to October. Historically, September 10 is a peak day for hurricane activity. ◗ Hurricane Ivan made landfall at Gulf Shores in 2004 with an official wind speed of 120 mph. In 1979, Hurricane Frederic officially clocked 132 mph, but an unofficial wind speed of 145 mph was reported on the Dauphin Island Bridge. MB
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The Home Advantage Inexpensive admissions, attentive audiences and friendly vibes are making house concerts popular with music fans, guest artists and the sponsoring hosts. text by BRECK PAPPAS • photos by STEPHEN SAVAGE
few years back, while visiting family in Birmingham and exploring a quaint neighborhood, Fairhopian Skip Jones stumbled upon what looked like a party. Skip then noticed lights strung across the backyard, a sandwich bar on the front porch and a small stage arranged for a musical performer. “I realized it was a house concert,” Skip says. Though hesitant at first, he decided to join the party. “If it was my house
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concert, I’d love for somebody to just come in,” Skip explains. “Well, I went in and was kind of the star because I had come all the way from Fairhope, Alabama!” Skip was no stranger to this new form of get-together. In fact, the Bay area builder had hosted a few back in Fairhope. And although the events are typically invitation-only, Skip’s story illustrates the whimsical fun and laid-back atmosphere of an in-home
concert, where music lovers experience a show in a casual and personal setting with old and — perhaps by the end of the night — new friends. The Bay area is fertile territory for such a trend with its temperate weather (good for outdoor performances), tight-knit communities and plentiful music lovers. And as with any growing craze, a pioneer group leads the way. In his previous home on Mobile Bay, Skip hosted a handful of concerts
featuring artists such as New Orleans singer-songwriter Andrew Duhon and blues extraordinaire Lisa Mills (who, at press time, is touring Europe). Skip admits his new home is less suited for house concerts, so his most recent private concert experiences have all been as an invited — or, sometimes, uninvited — guest. About four times a year, Skip receives an email requesting his attendance at the home of MB Editorial Consultant Judy Culbreth and husband Walter Kirkland. Walter, a passionate Irish fiddler, is known for organizing a balanced mix of contemporary singersongwriters and traditional Celtic artists to perform for friends at the foot of his Weeks Bay pier. He’s forged relationships with high-caliber musicians over the years at songwriters’ festivals and Celtic music camps, and he draws from those resources to bring top-notch talent to a medium-sized, friendly audience. The logistics of a house concert are pretty straightforward. In an email to those on his ever-expanding contact list, Walter writes, “As usual, this is a concert performed by friends, for friends. Weather permitting, we will have the concert outdoors facing Weeks Bay. Please bring a pot-luck dish, something to drink if you wish, a lawn chair and $15 per person, every dollar of which goes to the artist.” Walter and Judy like to begin the evening with a social hour, during which old acquaintances greet one another beneath the property’s live oaks and meet the newest additions to the party/show. Finger foods and desserts are shared and praised, and anticipation builds for the upcoming performance. As the first hour comes to a close, the eager guests (usually a crowd of around 80) begin settling into their lawn chairs for the focal point of the evening: the music. “When the music starts, it’s a concert,” Walter says. “The audience stops talking and mingling. The artists are not playing background music.” That being said, Walter’s concerts are far from rigid and stuffy, thanks in large OPPOSITE A cozy living room might just be the perfect place to see your favorite band. This show at Judy and Walter’s home featured, from left to right, bluegrass artists Kate Lee O’Connor, Jim Shirey and Forrest O’Connor.
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part to the musicians. “They are all very actively engaged with the audience,” Walter explains. One such artist is Steve Poltz, an “old-fashioned troubadour” who travels from Nashville to the Kirkland Weeks Bay home. “He tells these great stories between songs. And the last time he was here, he sang a song about Judy and me — he just made it up! “Everybody loves this guy. He’s played at our house twice, and everyone is excited for him to come back,” Walter says. Other musicians starring under the moonlight on the Bay include Forrest O’Connor and Kate Lee O’Connor of the Grammy Award-winning O’Connor Band, Logan Brill (rising country and Americana star), Jack Pearson (blues and rock), brothers Cillian and Niall Vallely (world-famous uilleann pipes player and concertina, respectively), and Tom Morley, the area’s very own fiddle and violin legend. This month, Walter has scheduled Kevin Crawford and Colin Farrell of Lunasa, “the hottest Irish trad band on the planet right now,” he boasts. The true beauty of a house concert is that it’s a beneficial experience for the audience and the artist. “I enjoy it because you’re really up close,” Skip says. “Usually, you get to talk to the artists, so as an attendee, it’s fun. And people are quiet and listen. It’s not like in a bar where everybody’s talking over one other. “And if a house concert draws a reasonable attendance,” Skip continues, “it might provide double the amount of money someone would get from a gig at a bar.” In addition, the musicians appreciate an attentive and respectful audience. It’s a comfortable place to try out new material and an opportunity to expand the fanbase.” Skip adds, “I think both Walter and I would say that it’s gratifying to be able to showcase somebody that you think is good and to share that person’s talent with your friends.” MB CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT Steve Poltz excites a Weeks Bay crowd. Judy Culbreth and Walter Kirkland host regular house concerts, alongside their dog Angus. The Leavin’ Brothers perform at the home of Skip Jones. A respectful audience is a hallmark of home concerts. The Vallely Brothers, with Cillian, left, playing the uilleann pipes. Nashville singer-songwriter Logan Brill charms and entertains in a beautiful outdoor setting. september 2017 | mobilebaymag.com 21
KAZOOLA EATERY & ENTERTAINMENT
text by MAGGIE LACEY • photos by ELIZABETH GELINEAU
ometimes you have to go out into the world to realize you want to be back where you started. You have to pursue one dream to realize you were destined for another. At least, that’s what happened to Marc Jackson. Jackson grew up in the Plateau community of north Mobile, also known as Africatown, and attended McGillToolen High School. He eventually moved away from Mobile, began a successful banking career and married a surgeon. On paper, his life seemed to be going exactly as planned. Privately, Marc found little fulfillment in his career in finance. He decided to move home and, shortly thereafter, opened Kazoola Eatery and Entertainment, the only jazz club in downtown Mobile. Notably, it’s also the only African American-owned and operated property on Lower Dauphin Street. Today, Jackson provides good food and great music in an establishment where Mobilians from all walks of life can come together and have a good time. Opening a run-of-the-mill restaurant wouldn’t suit Jackson. He wanted to use this business venture to honor his neighborhood and the great legacy it holds. The name Kazoola was the African name of Cudjo Lewis, the last living man from the Clotilde, which was the last slave ship brought to the United States. His story is amazing and heartwrenching and one that should be told; Jackson tells it well. The walls of his LODA restaurant are covered with framed archival photos of Cudjo Lewis, the Clotilde manifest and other landmarks around Africatown. The place is thick with history, but don’t let that fool you; the food and drink are fresh and exciting. The American menu offers soul-food-inspired sides and brunch choices on Saturdays and Sundays. Jackson hired a chef he knew from his neighborhood, and the two have created stick-to-yourribs comfort food that has already won many loyal fans since Kazoola opened last year. By day, the restaurant is the perfect place to dip out of the hot Mobile sun for a hearty lunch. But at night, Jackson shares, “It’s a grown-up spot where you can sit back and really enjoy some high-quality music.” The native Mobilian saw a need for true jazz, blues and Motown on the Mobile music scene, and he took inspiration from BB King’s Blues Club and other music venues. Kazoola is open late for those interested in a big night out, and the creative concoctions coming across the bar won’t disappoint, either.
ABOVE Business is personal for Kazoola owner Marc Jackson, a Mobile native who moved back home hoping to change our community one jazz session at a time. His restaurant and entertainment venue on Dauphin Street downtown currently offers lunch, dinner and live music, and Jackson has big plans for future expansion.
Jackson is an ideas man, and he’s got the energy and followthrough to bring his visions to fruition. He has big plans for the buildings and courtyards surrounding Kazoola; a taproom, a cigar bar and a roof deck with an impressive view of the city skyline are all in the works. Keep your eye on this spot — we hope it becomes a downtown Mobile mainstay. MB
Kazoola • 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. M - Th, 11 a.m. - 2 a.m. F - Su • 558 Dauphin Street • 308-2261 • Average entrée price: $10 22 mobilebaymag.com | september 2017
ON THE MENU WINGS Crispy with a slow heat, these wings are one of the most popular menu items. Try it with a Lucky Buddha beer, an Asian-style lager that is described as “enlightened!”
GRILLED GULF SHRIMP These sweet extra jumbos are peeled and deveined, but the heads and tails are left on. They’re grilled to perfection with nothing but olive oil, salt and pepper, then served with buttery grits and sautéed hash.
NY SOUR COCKTAIL A creative spin on the traditional whiskey sour, the drink combines single barrel rye whiskey with lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white layered with a red wine floater. It’s surprisingly refreshing and pairs well with hearty fare.
RED BEANS AND RICE The perfect soul food side, these creamy red beans are flavored with fall-offthe-bone-tender smoked turkey necks. It’s delightful with equally flavorful fried pork chops.
WINGS SERVED WITH TUSCALOOSA-MADE MONK ON THE RADIO BEER AND A LUCK Y BUDDHA BEER FROM CHINA
A super-thick patty is seasoned with Worcestershire and topped with smoky grilled onions, two kinds of cheese and applewood smoked bacon. The bun is butter-grilled just right.
Making Mudcakes A Southern singer leaves the dirt roads behind to make sweet music — and damn good food — for fans and friends on both sides of the Atlantic. text and styling by MAGGIE LACEY • photos by ELIZABETH GELINEAU
ow do you reconcile a life spent with one foot in the backwoods of south Alabama and the other on European TV? Beverly Jo Scott answers that question with a big bowl of gumbo. She calls gumbo “Southern history in a pot” but loves reinterpreting the age-old recipe when she visits new places and breaks bread with new friends. BJ starts with a traditional roux, singing as she stirs, but then adds whatever seafood, meat and veggies are found in the local cuisine. She once made gumbo for 140 people in Brussels, Belgium, before getting on stage and performing. This Renaissance woman — singer, cook, judge on The Voice Belgique and larger-than-life character — has energy and love to go around. Born in Washington County, BJ spent her formative years outside of Bay Minette. She saw her fair share of dusty back roads as a child and trained her voice at the Shiloh Baptist Church as part of a musical (if slightly dysfunctional) family. She saved S&H Green Stamps to buy her first guitar and tambourine. Before long, she quit high school and was living on the streets, but she adds, “As long as I had my guitar (pronounced GIT-ar) I had a job.” She followed a friend to Europe, where she marveled at the architecture, food and culture. It was a writer’s dream, and she sang her poems on street corners and in pubs until a career blossomed. BJ no doubt won over the European audience with her combination of raucous country fun and tender familiarity, giving you the feeling she was your aunt or maybe your mama’s best friend. Contestants on The Voice Belgique just call her “Mama Soul.” If the
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Midtown Mule MAKES 1 SERVING
BJ pours this take on the Moscow Mule on hot afternoons entertaining and playing music with friends in Midtown Mobile. She replaces the alcohol with crushed raspberries or fresh raspberry syrup for the perfect mocktail. The strong ginger flavor is a nice change from often overly sweet mocktails. 1/4 cup vodka (BJ prefers Titos) 2 tablespoons Chambord Liqueur 1/2 cup pineapple juice 2 basil leaves 1 bottle Reed’s Extra Strong Ginger Beer dash of Angostura Bitters lime slice for garnish
1. Fill a Copper Mule Mug or tumbler with ice. Add the vodka, Chambord and pineapple juice. Crush the basil leaves between your fingers to release the aromas and add to the glass. Top with ginger beer. Give the drink a quick stir and finish with a few drops of bitters and a lime slice.
show is lagging, she says, they give her a shot or two of whiskey and turn her loose. “I’m not afraid to cuss, stir things up and tell the contestants what I really think.” Even so, Mama Soul offers comfort and wisdom wherever she goes, and food is one way she does that. She even cued up a song from her 1995 album Mudcake with a recording of a transcontinental phone conversation between herself and her grandmother. Her grandmother explains what’s on the menu that Sunday and describes how she makes her chicken and dumplings before breaking into a little song. It’s a fitting reminder that music runs deep in BJ’s family tree. Food does, too. “Daddy taught me how to make a three-course meal out of a boot string,” she laughs, adding, “He was a mostly absent father, but when he was around, it was ‘100 ways to cook with spam and a boiled egg,’ and he made it fun!” Her grandmother filled in the rest of the recipe cards with traditional country cooking in a house where everyone was welcome and the dinner table radiated Southern warmth. On a recent trip home to visit her stateside grandkids, BJ pulled some musician buddies together for drinks and a casual family-style meal. The owners of Veet’s, a music venue on Royal Street, let BJ take over their kitchen while guests passed half a dozen guitars from hand to hand on the porch steps. The rustic menu mixed local, late-summer produce with modern flavors and techniques. The food was the perfect metaphor for how BJ has lived her entire life — solid country roots with a touch of European flair. MB
ABOVE Singer-songwriter and TV personality Beverly Jo Scott, or BJ to her friends, jams with a few local musicians. Pictured clockwise from bottom left are Ben Jernigan, Lynn Oldshue, BJ, Sherry Neese, the homeowner Gina Jo Previto and her father Doug Previto, owner of Veet’s. OPPOSITE BJ shows off the bacon-wrapped pork loin that she served with a drizzle of rich chocolate coffee sauce.
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Chili Margarita Watermelon Salad SERVES 6
BJ says this salad is a showstopper. Your guests will finish every bite and then drink the juice at the bottom of the bowl! Non-drinkers can replace the alcohol with fresh brewed green tea and a bit of fresh squeezed orange juice with some orange zest. 1 medium seedless watermelon 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro 1 tablespoon chopped green or red onion 3/4 cup good quality tequila 3/4 cup agave syrup juice from 3 limes 1/4 cup triple sec 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar 1 teaspoon sea salt 1 teaspoon chopped fresh red chili, or to taste
1. Cut the watermelon into bite-sized cubes and put in a large mixing bowl. Add the cilantro and onion and toss gently. Set aside. 2. Combine remaining ingredients in a blender or cocktail shaker. Adjust seasonings if necessary. 3. Toss the melon with the sauce and place in the fridge to chill before serving.
Bacon-Crusted Pork Loin with Choco-Café Sauce SERVES 6 - 8
The crispy brown latticework of bacon makes a beautiful presentation at the table, and it keeps the loin extra moist during cooking. The rich sauce is to die for! 1 pork loin (5 - 6 pounds) 8 slices thick-cut bacon
1. Remove the pork from the refrigerator and allow it to come safely to a cool room temperature. 2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 3. Place roast in a pan with a roasting rack. Wrap the bacon slices evenly over the top of the roast, tucking in the edges. Roast in the preheated oven for 1 hour, basting with pan juices halfway through the cooking process to keep it moist and flavorful. 4. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Transfer to a warm platter, baste again with cooking juices and serve with the Choco-Café sauce on the side (see below).
Choco-Café Sauce MAKES 1 1/2 CUPS
This sauce is rich and delicious, with only a subtle chocolate flavor. 1 1/2 cups very strong hot coffee (best quality) 6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 6 tablespoons water 4 tablespoons agave syrup 6 tablespoons high quality dark cocoa powder 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt pinch of cayenne pepper
1. Bring the coffee, balsamic vinegar and water to a low simmer over medium heat, but do not boil. Add the agave syrup and stir until dissolved. Gently whisk in the cocoa powder one spoonful at a time. Add sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste. 2. Simmer, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it thickens. Run your finger through the sauce on the back of the spoon. If the trace stays, it’s ready. It should be glossy and smooth. 3. Pour into a gravy bowl and serve tableside. It is perfect with slices of hot roast and your favorite vegetables. 26 mobilebaymag.com | september 2017
Salade Mathilde SERVES 6
This recipe comes from one of BJ’s best friends, a Belgian winemaker who passed away. “She loved this salad, and I make it in her honor,” BJ says. 4 small yellow squash 2 small zucchini squash 3 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley 2 tablespoons robust extra virgin olive oil sea salt, to taste 3 tablespoons sesame seeds 4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled 2 teaspoons whole pink peppercorns or freshly ground mixed pepper
1. Using a mandoline or a vegetable peeler, cut the squashes into thin ribbons. Place in a large bowl with the parsley. Add olive oil and conservatively salt to taste (the goat cheese will add extra saltiness). Toss the salad with your hands, separating the ribbons. Lay the salad out on a long platter. 2. In a small, dry nonstick pan, roast the sesame seeds over medium heat until golden and fragrant, just a few seconds. (Careful, they burn easily!) Remove from heat. 3. Top the salad with goat cheese, pink peppercorns or a few turns of the pepper mill and sesame seeds. 4. Serve lightly chilled. Finish with the toasted sesame seeds.
Butternut Sweet Potato Mash SERVES 6
This rustic mash is full of healthy carotenes and has a creamy, rich texture. The slight sweetness of the vegetables is perfect with pork or chicken. 1 small butternut squash, peeled, cored and cut into cubes 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes 1 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons butter 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt (or any finishing salt) freshly ground pepper
1. Add vegetables to a large pot and cover with water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil and cook until soft. Drain water and add butter. Loosely mash vegetables. 2. Place in a warmed serving dish and finish with a sprinkle of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve warm.
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Caramelized Fresh Fig Trifle SERVES 8
BJ loves this fast and easy dessert that is light but still decadent. It is the perfect fusion of her Southern roots and the cuisine of her adopted country Belgium, home of the Biscoff cookie. 4 tablespoons butter 2 pints fresh figs, washed and sliced in half 5 tablespoons local raw honey 32 ounces plain Greek yogurt 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened 6 tablespoons agave syrup 1 package plain Biscoff cookies, broken into uneven crumbs toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
1. Melt butter in a skillet over mediumhigh heat. Add figs and saute for 2 minutes to render some liquid. Add honey and saute a few minutes more until honey is thickened and the fruit lightly caramelized (like fig preserves). Remove from heat and set aside. 2. In a bowl, combine yogurt, cream cheese and agave syrup. Set aside. 3. In individual glasses or a clear trifle bowl, layer cookie crumbs, then yogurt mixture and then figs. Repeat until all the ingredients are used and the cups are full, ending with a layer of cream and some cookie crumbs to garnish. 4. Refrigerate until fully chilled, 1 hour or more. Top with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds just before serving. september 2017 | mobilebaymag.com 29
THE DISH interviews by CHELSEA ADAMS • photo by ELISE POCHÉ
Comfort Zone MB’s contributing food fanatics share the local dishes that made them hungry for more this month.
JOHN PEEBLES, Principal Partner, NAI-Mobile
AVOCADO FRIES AT THE HABERDASHER “The only thing better than a superbly crafted cocktail is a superbly crafted cocktail accompanied by an incredibly inventive small plate! Like a side of avocado fries. Let that sink in for a moment: French-fried slices of buttery avocado. These things are crisp as Mickey-D fries, but with a rich, melt-in-your-mouth interior. Oh yeah. You want these...” THE HABERDASHER • 113 DAUPHIN ST. • 436-0989 FACEBOOK.COM/THEHABMOBILE
CARLISHA HARTZOG, Principal, Hartzog Consulting
RAINBOW TROUT AT BONEFISH GRILL “One dish that’s sure to please is Bonefish Grill’s Pecan Parmesan Crusted Rainbow Trout paired with garlic whipped potatoes and sauteed spinach. Bonefish might be a national chain, but I am always impressed with their seafood selection! The chefs have perfected the crusted layer of the trout; it is flavorful, consistent and doesn’t take away from the flavor of the fish. Plus, the lemon butter potatoes are a wonderful, savory side that truly complement the main dish.”
GINNA INGE, Owner, The Steeple on St. Francis
BUDDHA BOWL AT THE WAREHOUSE “I have been spending a little more time on the Eastern Shore, and my favorite lunch place is the Warehouse in Fairhope. Not only is there a great vibe with live music on occasion, but the food is amazing! My go-to lunch is The Original Buddha Bowl with steamed vegetables, lots of chicken, sweet ginger soy sauce and spicy mayo. Top it off with one of their delicious baked goods, and it is the perfect summer splurge!” WAREHOUSE BAKERY & DONUTS
BONEFISH GRILL • 6955 AIRPORT BLVD.
759 NICHOLS AVE., FAIRHOPE • 928-7223
633-7196 • BONEFISHGRILL.COM
Share your favorite dishes around the Bay on our Facebook page. 30 mobilebaymag.com | september 2017
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The Exhibitionists MB explores the complex ins and outs of installing a fine art exhibition at the Mobile Museum of Art with the people who make it run like clockwork. text by CHELSEA ADAMS • photos by ELISE POCHÉ
t’s exhibition opening time at the Mobile Museum of Art. Paintings, photos and tapestries quietly await the curious and eager gaze of the public. Galleries with low mood lighting create ambience, the calm evoking a sense of quiet revery. In this space, one would be forgiven for forgetting that these works of art don’t simply appear on the walls by magic. Once exhibitions are planned and artwork is selected, someone has to put it all together. Meet the preparators. Pronounced pre-PAR-a-tor, the job title, probably unfamiliar to most, warrants a deeper look. It’s museum lingo for exhibit technician, the hands-on worker who deals with just about every aspect of the exhibition prep. To most, an art exhibition begins on opening night. For the preparators and their team, though, it’s the final reward for years — yes, years — of work.
In The Beginning Kurtis Thomas, manager of curatorial affairs, alongside PR manager Glenn Robertson greet me in the glass-walled lobby. Next thing I know, I’m whisked downstairs through the maze of hallways in the basement to see how it all comes together. The process, while long, is fairly streamlined. Contracts are often signed up to three years in advance for shows
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ABOVE From left to right, Robertson, Thomas and Donan Klooz, curator of exhibits, stand around the scale-sized model of the gallery. In these three-dimensional models built to scale, one inch equals one foot. Here, the team behind the exhibits can arrange the art and cut down on extraneous moving of the artworks, which are potential sources of damage. Here, they are discussing an upcoming exhibit, “Posing Beauty in African American Culture.”
coming from other museums or art lending institutions. If the museum wants to put together an exhibition from their own collection, they sift through the museum’s inventory of more than 10,000 works and put together a capital-L List of possible items. “Should I tell her the saying?”
Thomas says, turning to Robertson, who gives him a reluctant look; Thomas takes no heed. “Oh, I’ll tell her: We live by the List, and we die by the List.” And he’s not exaggerating. Everyone has a copy of the ubiquitous List, and they refer to it often. It’s their road map to the exhibit that, at this point, exists only in their minds.
After the works (from the museum’s collection or on loan) are chosen, photos of the artwork are shrunk to scale and printed out to populate a mini three-dimensional gallery. Built from raw, unsanded wood, the model sits in the registrar’s office. It’s precisely to scale — one inch equals one foot — and gives them the chance to act by what they call best practices. “The less we move the art, the better,” Thomas explains, standing over the micro museum. “When you move something, that’s when danger can happen. A lot of problems get solved here before I ever open the crate with the art.”
Special Considerations Once art is delivered to the museum (via special couriers called fine arts shippers who are insured and trained to ship this precious cargo), the finish line is in sight. Galleries are cleaned up from previous exhibitions; tasks such as spackling nail holes, tearing down old vinyl lettering and repainting walls are all a part of the preparator’s duties between shows. Then, based on the 3D model in the basement, the art is brought in and arranged with minor changes made as needed. The very last step? Adjusting the lights. Even that’s not nearly as easy as it sounds. “Light can damage works of art on paper over time,” Thomas shares. “These are halogen lights. Some of them have screens on them, and we also control the wattage.” Contracts with lending institutions often stipulate light usage for a particular piece. Robertson explains, “Some lenders will only let you even keep the art for a certain period of time because they’ll put them back in storage between shows to limit their light exposure, to protect the art.” So next time you’re hanging around the galleries at quitting time, don’t be surprised if you begin to notice the lights turning off one by one. As Kurt explains, “If we close at 5 o’clock, we’re turning off the lights at 5:01. It’s all to help protect the art.”
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“The public thinks we just hang pictures and people stand around to look at them... It’s the nature of the arts to present the end result as though it were effortless. That’s the whole idea: for people to have a sense of pleasure and calm and an escape to another world.”
TOP ROW, LEFT TO RIGHT Klooz cuts out the vinyl letters, a process called “weeding,” to prepare them for application to the wall. Keeping track of the temperature and humidity, particularly in Mobile, is important to protecting the art; Reinsmith checks on the hygrothermograph, a machine that shows temperature and humidity in each gallery. BOTTOM ROW Reinsmith adjusts the lighting on another wall hanging in the Native American exhibit, which is nearly complete. Thomas carefully hangs the vinyl (with the weeded letters) that will go directly on the wall next to a Native American wall hanging.
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The Heart Of The Art As I tour the usually off-limits portion of the museum, every so often I see a person pass by, focused and on a mission. These are the preparators. Jeff Reinsmith is one of them, and just a few of the jobs I witnessed him perform during my visit include adjusting the lights in the gallery, cutting placards for the displays, checking humidity and temperature and finishing up a pedestal display in the carpentry shop. And, as he bashfully opens up about his own artistic pursuits (intricate origami), Thomas mentions that most people working in the museum are some kind of artist. They have all been drawn to work at the museum because of a shared passion. On my tour, I’m lucky enough to meet the museum director, Deborah Velders. While chatting with us congenially, she makes a comment that perfectly illustrates the whole process I’ve learned about today. “Something about art makes people feel like we’re just decorating,” she says. “The public thinks we just hang pictures and people stand around to look at them. That’s how all the arts are, really. Ballerinas have bleeding toes, but on stage they look ethereal. It’s the nature of the arts to present the end result as though it were effortless. That’s the whole idea: for people to have a sense of pleasure and calm and an escape to another world.” Sure, the museum displays artwork, and people come to appreciate it. But perhaps the biggest, most encompassing art within the museum are the exhibitions themselves, the actual physical arrangement and the process by which they come together. Painstakingly researched and arranged, caringly written about and assembled, then excitedly shared with the world: sounds like art to me. MB The Native American Art: From the Col-
lection, Posing Beauty in African American Culture, and 5 Mobile Artists exhibits officially open on October 6. For more information, visit mobilemuseumofart.com
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Colleen Comer asks Mobile native and Los Angeles-based Kathryn Andrews to demystify the contemporary art world, from one artist to another. text and interview by COLLEEN TERRELL COMER
o everywhere! See as much art as you can!” I heard this call to action in a small Parisian courtyard in the summer of 2012 while participating in a painting intensive through Columbia University. Gregory Amenoff, the school’s visual arts chair, told us we weren’t going to do much painting that summer. We were to attend lectures, read art theory and — even more importantly — see all the art we could. An obvious lesson lay under all that frantic observation: to learn about art, you have to look at art. Lots of it. Following that lesson, my mission to see as much art as possible led me to the dramatic and intelligent work of Mobile native and St. Paul’s grad Kathryn Andrews. While perhaps not a household name in her hometown, Andrews’ pieces are collected and shown around the world. She has had recent solo shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles; and on The High Line, New York City. Andrews’ dramatic installations incorporate highly finished manufactured pieces and found objects. They’re often associated with Pop Art, a movement made familiar by Andy Warhol in the 1950s. Andrews borrows visual images from the entertainment industry and advertising to comment on popular culture and consumerism. Her 2016 exhibit “Run for President” featured oversized photo murals of celebrities posing with political figures, brightly colored campaign posters promoting Bozo the Clown for president and, in the midst of it all, a human-sized mirrored cylinder that, when viewed on one side, reflected the viewer into a large backdrop of the Oval Office. The show forced viewers to consider the ways in which celebrity blends with politics and, through the repetition of reflective surfaces, highlighted the role all of us play in this crazy system.
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Q. What was the most formative experience in your schooling? In 2000, I moved to Los Angeles to study at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena. At that time, few American graduate art programs offered crossdisciplinary study, and I had become interested in several mediums. Art Center prided itself on having a glut of artists, curators and writers passing through as visiting faculty and everyone met with everyone. Painters would teach students interested in becoming video artists. Poets would meet with sculptors, and so on. It was more about thinking and less about craft. I met one-on-one with many remarkable people, including the influential sculptor Mike Kelley. When and how did you discover you wanted to pursue art beyond typical childhood crafts? I wasn’t very artistic as a child. In high school, I was failing a physics class, and I was able to switch out of it to take an arts elective in photography. I wanted to become a politician, but everything changed when I was exposed to the darkroom. Mobile and the South in general are home to more traditional visual arts. At what point did you become aware of what was happening in the wider art world? My family moved a lot, so after high school I continued that pattern, living in many places, finally settling in New York. There I began to regularly see photography and contemporary art exhibitions in museums and galleries.
PREVIOUS PAGE Kathryn Andrews, “Coming to America (Filet-O-Fish)” (detail), 2013, stainless steel, paint, found object and certified film props. Photography: Fredrik Nilsen OPPOSITE TOP LEFT “HOBO (Assassination),” 2014, ink on paper and plexiglas, aluminum, paint, mixed media.Photography: Fredrik Nilsen TOP RIGHT “WEE MAN FOR PRESIDENT aka Historical Campaign Poster Painting No.3 (The Bird to Bet On),” 2015, aluminum, ink, paint, plexiglas, certified film costume. Photography: Fredrik Nilsen BOTTOM “Run for President,” 2015 - 2016, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, installation view. Photography: Nathan Keay 38 mobilebaymag.com | september 2017
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A stumbling block for general consumption of contemporary art is the idea that the art world is an insulated insider club. Does it enter into your calculations that those experiencing your work (particularly when you show in public venues) may not recognize the hallmarks of modernism or “get” the work? Art education is not valued in the U.S. as it is in many countries, and so the idea that art is hard to “get” is rather pervasive here. In my experience, most untrained viewers have highly intelligent ways of looking at and making great sense out of things when left to their own devices. Further, most Americans have a shared heritage through consumer culture, the Internet and Hollywood. These cultures impact art and vice versa. So no, I do not worry about that sort of stuff too much. I also frequently work with objects and images that are fairly commonplace. I love the sense of humor and vibrant use of color in your work. You use props and images in a witty, kind of sly way, but present them in simplified forms with a touch of minimalism and modernism. How much do you think about the presentation and look of your work? I think a lot about presentation. I am interested in creating environments that are spectacular upon first glance and that invite an immediate perceptual experience. But I also try to make works that reveal more the longer you look at them. I’m a fan of beauty, but I’m also a fan of rupture. Your art has been described as being influenced by Pop Art, conceptualism and Finish Fetish OPPOSITE TOP LEFT Kathryn Andrews, “BLACK BARS,” (detail) 2016, David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, installation view. Photography: Fredrik Nilsen. TOP RIGHT ”BLACK BARS: DÉJEUNER NO. 11 (GIRL WITHSUNFLOWERS, LILIES, AND DICE),” 2017, aluminum, plexiglas, ink, paint. BOTTOM “BLACK BARS,” 2016, David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles, CA, installation view. Photography: Fredrik Nilsen.
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movement. Do you embrace or resist categorizing your work as part of those movements? I don’t think my work neatly fits in any of those boxes, but it certainly draws from the aesthetics and logics of each. I am more interested in how we experience images differently than how we experience materiality. If Pop Art traded in imagery and minimalism in simpler abstract forms with a certain physical presence, I am interested in what happens when those histories collide. How does the brain navigate seeing image and then stuff back to back? Some of your exhibitions could be interpreted as providing critiques of consumer and celebrity/political culture. Do you see yourself as an activist or political artist? Sometimes my work is overtly political; sometimes not. I do see being an artist as a political act, particularly in the U.S. where the arts are not widely supported. I see the work of all artists who are not normative as political. For example, the work of women is still largely undervalued in the market compared to the work of men. My work is always understood in relation to my being a woman, so I don’t see how it can be considered apolitical until that becomes normalized. Sometimes it seems as though you are actually thumbing your nose at the idea of “High Art.” For a piece at the Institute of Contemporary Art, you hired street performers to wheel a chain link fence in front of the other artists’ works and pose there for several hours, leaving the fence behind when they left. How did the other artists react to that unexpected addition? That show was about artists who make work in relation to other artists’ works, so everyone was pretty open to the idea. Any words of wisdom for artists trying to build a career in the art world? See as much art in person as you can! MB september 2017 | mobilebaymag.com 43
PORT CITY CRESCENDO As the quality of Bay area music reaches exciting new heights, these native sons and daughters are perched on the cusp of something big. text by LYNN OLDSHUE • photos by MATTHEW COUGHLIN location THE STAPLES -PAKE BUILDING
our years ago, I interviewed Lawrence Specker when he covered entertainment for the Mobile Press-Register. At that time, he said we were in the golden age of music in Mobile — and that was before the opening of Dauphin Street Sound, Skate Mountain Records, The Steeple, The Listening Room, Kazoola and The Merry Widow. It was before Callaghan’s was named the best bar in the South, before the Saenger started bringing in acts like Bob Dylan, and before SouthSounds blossomed into a major showcase for undiscovered Southern bands, including some of Mobile’s own. Music is an invisible force of revitalization in Mobile, bringing us together, giving us an identity and making us proud of who we are. The resurrection of downtown began at Monsoon’s and the Alabama Music Box. Before we had The Mulligan Brothers, Jimmy Lumpkin and the Revival or Willie Sugarcapps, there were The Ugli Stick, Slow Moses and El Cantador. There will always be Jimmy Buffett, Wet Willie, Catt Sirten, Jabo Starks and 92Zew, and the music of today grows from the echoes of notes that were played before. New music keeps rising from Mobile in the form of Kate Kelly, Red Clay Strays, Yo Jonesy, Johnny and the Loveseats, and Abe Partridge — artists who are finding their own voices through lyrics and melodies and who got their start in local churches, theater classes and venues. Lawrence was wrong — 2017 is the golden year of Mobile music. But the way our sound is growing, in a few years, I could be wrong, too.
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KATE KELLY Kate Kelly has a voice reminiscent of Norah Jones and Sara Bareilles with a heart like Joni Mitchell, but it is a sound and a feeling she has grown into. She spent her childhood singing in the church choir and summers leading music at Camp Beckwith. She headed to Nashville as soon as she could in search of inspiration and training and graduated with a music degree from Belmont University not long after. When she isn’t singing these days, she works part-time for a psychiatric hospital, teaching music therapy. All this while developing her own music career. “My day job is very meaningful, and I love that it incorporates music,” Kelly says. “We write songs, play instruments and music games. It gives them a distraction that provides a way to focus on a present moment. “Those groups also inspire my songwriting and help me stay focused, too.” As she studied music, her voice opened and changed, and writing songs made her more vulnerable. “Growing with your voice is a spiritual process,” she says. “My intention for performing is to connect through music and make us honest with ourselves. I love to tell stories about my songs and challenge myself and be open. What we do is soul work and heart work.” september 2017 | mobilebaymag.com 45
THE RED CLAY STRAYS
The Red Clay Strays are Brandon Coleman, lead vocals / rhythm / piano; Zach Rishel, lead guitar; Andrew Bishop, bass; John W. Hall, drums; and Drew Nix, guitar / backup vocals. The Red Clay Strays, or “the Strays” as they call themselves, started playing together only six months ago but get along like brothers who have been together forever. “Red clay” represents their Alabama roots, and they claim to have all been strays. They are signed to Skate Mountain Records and are developing a sound that is part Southern rock, blues and “always something else.” They are already touring beyond the Gulf Coast and went to Los Angeles in August to start recording songs for their first album. The band is now operating full-time, giving the Strays the flexibility to quit construction and pizza delivery jobs and an excuse to focus less on studying for the college degrees they may never use. Nix writes most of the songs, and the band takes it from there. “There is no closed-mindedness in this band,” drummer Hall says. “We are open to trying different things until we get it right, and the songs usually change as we play them on the road.” “Anything Brandon sings is soulful,” he says. “We are Southern roots and can flip the switch and play a rock song then a soft acoustic song or country song. We knew things were changing
when we started getting requests for originals or people started cheering when we said we were going to play the song ‘Mobile.’ That’s a great feeling, and we feed off the crowd. Even if only a few people pay attention, we will treat it like it’s 1,000.” They also feed off one another, especially with “shenanigans” on the road. “We once sang our way out of a ticket. Andrew was doing 75 in a 45 zone on our way to a gig,” Coleman says. “The officer walked up to the window with sunglasses on and didn’t look happy. He asked who the lead singer was and then told me to sing a song. As soon as I started with ‘The night time is the right time,’ there was ‘night and day’ coming from John and Drew in the backseat. We sang as hard as we could. The cop never broke a smile and still looked like he was going to tase us. He said, ‘Slow it down,’ and walked away.” The Strays just bought a house together so they can spend more time on their music. “We have already made so many memories and are proud of the music we are making, but we are just getting started,” Coleman says.
PHOTO BY JEREMY WOLFF
PHOTO BY ANNELISE LOUGHEAD
PHOTO BY KIM KELLY
Kate released her first EP, New Heartbeat, in 2016, and is writing songs for a new album she will record in the next year. “The new songs are much more pointed in their message and have more of a jazzy feel,” she says. “This is going to be a big year for me.” In her music, she connects with people, but she also feels a connection with Mobile itself. “My family lives on Dog River, and when I go home, I feel lucky to return to such a beautiful place where I can get back to myself and away from a city that is oversaturated with musicians. It also reminds me of writing those first songs in my bedroom and gives me a chance to see just how far I have come.” She says being by the water helps her get back to her roots and what means the most to her, saying, “That washes me inside and out every damn time.”
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PHOTO BY ALEXIS WILSON
Throughout her life, Jonesy experienced all kinds of music around Mobile. Her dad played a variety of instruments, and she sang in a gospel band with him on the weekends. She prayed she’d inherit her mother’s voice but received the raspiness of her dad’s and learned to accept it. After a job working for TSA security at the Mobile Airport, she was an emcee and DJ at hip-hop clubs. “Being an emcee teaches you how to feed off the audience,” she says. “I was in the club life, up all night, sleeping until 3 p.m. the next day. I was also teaching dance — tap is my thing. I was singing, too, and ended up losing my voice because of throat nodules. I had to go into training to learn how to use my voice.” She recovered and sang in a show band and later a rock-and-blues ensemble, Fortunate Few, before starting her own project, Crowned Jewelz. “I was the only black girl playing with 40-something-year-old white guys in Fortunate Few,” Jonesy says. “It taught me a lot about people and it showed unity and where we have come as a city. I wrote my current single, ‘Superwoman Blues,’ with them.” Her first album, Jonesy 316, comes out in the fall. “It is uplifting and many styles of music. I want to say positive things that impact people and teach kids to live in peace through music,” she says. “Words are powerful, and I want to spread the message of ‘LIP: Living In Peace.’” She wants to play music festivals and eventually open a performing arts school in Alabama that focuses on theater, art and dance to help gifted kids go to college. “I am walking in my purpose,” Jonesy says. “Everything I do is on purpose.”
PHOTO BY MAGIC WINDOW PRODUCTIONS
JOHNNY HAYES Johnny Hayes took chorus as an elective at UMS-Wright and was moved to advanced chorus in 10th grade. His teacher told him he could sing and dance, but he stuck to sports. One night in college, he picked up a guitar and played in public for the first time. The song was David Gray’s “Babylon,” and he just intended to fill time while the singer at the bar took a break. Johnny was hired to play his own gigs after that. “It took me a year to get up my nerve to play in public,” he says. His parents made him go to college and get a degree, so music was a hobby. “I spent all of my young years thinking I was supposed to do something different and trying to figure out what that was instead of developing a sound. Last year, before I went on [the reality TV show] The Voice, I finally figured out the music I was supposed to play, and over the year, it came together.” That discovery began when his band stopped at Stax Records while passing through Memphis. The museum’s introductory video about the music made there moved him. “I was watching the influences of everything I listened to and finding the source of the source of the source,” Hayes says. “I thought Americana was going to be my genre, but Memphis taught me soul is much more than singing. It is the truth. It is naked music, and that awakened my senses. “They are making music right there with their hands and channeling emotions and giving it right to you.” september 2017 | mobilebaymag.com 49
ABE PARTRIDGE Partridge grew up around music. His mom played piano in church, and his dad listened to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. He went to four Bible colleges in four years and became the understudy of a prominent independent Baptist preacher in northwest Georgia. At 25, the born-and-raised Mobilian was called to pastor a church in Kentucky, but the coming years weren’t devoid of hardship. “A lot happened that I wasn’t prepared for,” Partridge says. “It was one of the lowest moments of my life, breaking down everything and making me question who I wanted to be. I was 27 and felt like I was going to have a stroke.” He found the blues in a flea market on an old VHS of blues musician Son House. He bought the tape and started playing a three-finger banjo that he bought at a pawn shop in Chattanooga. “I learned from Son House there was a different way of music and that songs don’t have to make you feel good. The blues led me to Bob Dylan and Townes Van Zandt,” he says. “When I went off the deep end, I started writing songs and that got me through. Putting thoughts on paper makes them easier to compartmentalize and deal with.” Partridge left the church and Kentucky, moving his family in with his mom back in Mobile and getting a minimum wage job. Feeling like he had failed, he joined the Air Force to find a skill and was sent to Iraq to fix airplanes that flew into battle zones. Today, he is an Air Force reserve technician and still wears a uniform to work every day. “The desert in Iraq was another dark time for me,” Partridge says. “I realized I had spent my adult life bringing negativity and violence into the world. I said if I could make it home, I would do something to bring beauty into the world, so I started a record label called Alabama Astronaut and put out records for rock ‘n’ roll bands.” The 2015 Songwriters Shootout in Gulf Shores was the first time he played his own songs in public. “I wasn’t expecting anything, but I was one of
the winners. I recorded my first CD two months later with someone who heard me play that night.” His first show was at The Listening Room in Mobile, and he quickly learned how to perform in front of people who care about lyrics and original music. “I am a different performer because I started with people in a listening environment instead of a noisy bar. It was about connecting with folks.” Music took off from there, and so did he. Partridge plays out of town almost every weekend, including many songwriter festivals in Georgia and Texas. “I get up in the morning, and I am happy to be alive for something else besides my family,” Partridge says. “That is a new feeling, and I am going to find a way to play music full-time. The music I play is a form of communication that moves you — not entertainment. If I am forced to be entertainment, I am terrible. “I try to write songs that are brutally honest and play them in a brutally honest way.” MB
PHOTO BY DAN TEUTON
PHOTO BY JASON MYERS
During this time of self-discovery, he found Meredith, the love of his life, and they got married and moved back home to Mobile. He also began his complicated relationship with The Voice. His first audition was in January 2011, and after several attempts that ended in rejection, he was invited to a private audition for Season 12 in 2017 and went in more focused than before. This time, he made it into the top 24. “I told them I would do The Voice again if I could wear what I wanted to wear and sing what I wanted to sing,” he says. “It was such a long process to get there, and I tried out so many times that it was an awakening when I finally made it on. I was proud of myself that I did something I wanted to do that was my chosen path. After I got off the show, I received more attention than I have ever expected. Being a musician is hard because you try to get people to notice you for doing what you love and you aren’t sure if you are doing the right thing. “The Voice was validation that I am doing what I am supposed to do. I am so grateful.” Through those years Hayes also started playing with his band, the Loveseats, and with musicians from Nashville and Mobile. The first album from Johnny and the Loveseats comes out in November. “It is going to be live because I hear it every time we play,” Hayes says. “I am not signed and don’t really care about that. It is all about the songs. I want people to hear the songs and stories because they are funny and true.”
Lynn Oldshue is the founder of The Southern Rambler, dedicated to sharing stories of Gulf Coast musicians and artists.
Are you feeling inspired yet? There’s more- visit our website for an online-exclusive interview with country singer Walker Hayes, whose catchy single “You Broke Up With Me” is making waves in Nashville. Visit mobilebaymag.com to meet him.
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A VIEW TO A ROOM A room can inspire, comfort, challenge or impress. MB took a peek inside these eight unique spaces, a glimpse into the world of the person who created them.
text by MAGGIE LACEY • photos by MATTHEW COUGHLIN
Artist’s Workshop, Fairhope
Fairhope artist Bruce Larsen says his workshop is in a state of flux. He is trying to move his art, equipment and raw materials up the hill and further away from Fish River, which has been known to breach its banks on many occasions. “Flux” perfectly describes his art, as well, where Larsen takes found objects (anything from hunks of old tractor engines to junkyard bicycle seats) and changes them, combines them and gives them new life. His art is intriguing, exciting and just a little bit macabre. He has had major success as both a sculptor and animator, with films like “The Patriot” to his credit. But in 1997, Larsen landed in the outskirts of Fairhope
while seeking an escape from the frenetic and cutthroat art world. In Baldwin County, he found an out-of-the-way spot where he could quietly raise his family and stay true to his creativity. Though civilization lingers nearby, thick stands of bamboo, lush banana plants and his menagerie of animals give off the feeling that this is indeed a world apart. Larsen toils away at his craft seven days a week in the workshop under his house while kids and dogs amble in and out. Surrounded by welding equipment, compressors, tools and piles and piles of scrap, he carves out his own magical world one piece at a time. september 2017 | mobilebaymag.com 53
The Shack, Citronelle
Fontaine Howard has been on the back of a horse for as long as she can remember, and that probably won’t change anytime soon. “In our family, the girls ride and the boys hunt,” she explains. But after she bought a young horse a few years back (what she calls her “last horse”), she decided to downsize her operation. The big dusty barn that sits on her father’s 2,000-acre estate on Celeste Road proved too demanding for this photographer and frequent traveler, so she passed it down to her two nieces and created what she lovingly calls “The Shack.” Howard bought the portable building on the side 54 mobilebaymag.com | september 2017
of the road and gussied up the interior with loads of glossy white paint and a good AC unit. It’s a little turnkey spot inspired by the tiny house movement where Howard can unwind and enjoy her pursuits. Sleek white furniture, cowhide rugs, a kitchenette and perfectly maintained leather tack fill the bright space. A shedroofed front porch proves the perfect spot for watching the sun go down, and Howard always keeps her camera nearby in case a wild black bear makes an appearance. It may be more chic than shack, but it is perfectly Fontaine.
Writer’s Desk, Point Clear
A gentleman’s study is often paneled in wood with grand, leather furniture. There might be a case full of shotguns and some form of animal skin or mount on the wall. If there isn’t a bar in the room, there is surely one nearby. Books might pile on shelves and framed accolades should adorn the walls. This could be any man’s study based on description alone, but this particular study belongs to Winston Groom. The local novelist and nonfiction writer of “Forrest Gump” fame needs no introduction, but his handsome office at his home in Point Clear deserves a deeper look. This is, in fact, a working office where Groom
writes seven days a week at the desk he describes as “nothing special, some Scandinavian thing” that has been his friend these many long years. It’s functional and to the point, like the man himself. Groom gets the business of being a writer out of the way in the morning — emails, phone calls, letters that undoubtedly arrive in piles — and reserves the afternoon for his craft. He researches his nonfiction works after lunch and then closes the door so as not to be disturbed in his thoughts until dinnertime. Everyone has a different method, he says, and that’s his: equal parts sophistication and good old-fashioned hard work. september 2017 | mobilebaymag.com 55
Ben May Public Library, Downtown Mobile
Mobile City Councilman Fred Richardson’s personal story starts and ends with books, so it’s not surprising that a quiet corner of the public library is where he draws his inspiration. He was educated in a two-room schoolhouse in a town with no library, and he says that the deck was pretty much stacked against him. But the deck had never met his mother. She used a set of 1935 American Educators’ Encyclopedias to improve the education of her 10 children, and, against all odds, almost all of them eventually made it to college.
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Councilman Richardson’s face lights up as he talks about the library, which he calls the seat of all knowledge. Even today, as a grown and well-educated man, he comes back here to read histories and discover how other people solved problems, hoping to learn something applicable for today. Richardson sets his book down to watch kids coming and going from the beautiful two-story Ben May Library, proud of the facility that the city supplies its people. It’s a place where bright futures can be made.
Lakefront Retreat, Bay Minette
As with many professionals these days, radio personalities have to be diversified. As the world moves toward syndicated programming and streaming, a local DJ must also blog, stay active on social media, record podcasts, make public appearances, perform remote broadcasts and make sales calls — all to stay relevant. It’s exhausting just to hear about, but Shelby Mitchell, longtime host of the successful Dan and Shelby show on WKSG, has built a quiet haven with a down-home feel where she and her husband can unplug from all the noise. She starts each day
with coffee and breakfast on her home’s cozy screened-in porch that overlooks a peaceful neighborhood lake while two giant Catahoula mixes (with giant barks to match) are ever at her heels. Named Kona and Banjo in honor of her Hawaiian heritage and south Alabama roots, the dogs snuggle up close but keep one eye on the ducks and geese parading to and from the lake. Surrounded by funky art, candles and comfy pillows, Mitchell enjoys this scene each day before it gets too hot — and before the emails and devices pull her back into her busy life.
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The Rectory, Downtown Mobile
An executive office, at first glance, can feel formal and intimidating. Although the Rev. Beverly Gibson might have the stereotypical large corner office, the tone is set not by the furnishings and appointments but in how she uses them. She spends as little time as possible behind the heavy wooden desk in the rectory at Christ Church Cathedral, preferring instead to sit in one of four armchairs gathered, along with a comfortable sofa, around a coffee table. Decorators would call it a conversation circle, a term which sums
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up so much of the Rev. Gibson’s work. She prefers to be face-toface when she takes meetings and counsels parishioners in an effort to be fully present and open to their exchange. She wanted to remove any barriers between her and her work, the people of Christ Church. The desk is reserved for studying, letter writing, sermon preparing — and the occasional email, too. She describes this corner office as a very personal space, where many important things happen in a lot of people’s lives.
The Line, Midtown Mobile
As customers walk in the door of the Dew Drop Inn, a warm face offers a smile and blue food service gloves wave from behind a shelf full of hot dogs and onion rings. You get just a peek of owner Powell Hanlon standing under the fluorescent lights of the kitchen. He mans the line six days a week, slinging condiments on the restaurant’s “world famous dogs.” One might think there would be another, better spot that Hanlon would call his favorite — where he does his best thinking or where he relaxes to the
fullest. But the truth is, he has spent so much time in the kitchen of the Dew Drop that he can’t imagine choosing anywhere else. Although generations of Mobilians have come to the restaurant on their lunch breaks or before football games, few have ever seen the other side of that kitchen window, where you might say “the magic happens.” They say if you can see the inside of a restaurant kitchen and still want to eat there, that’s a real compliment. Well, we came, we saw and we ordered hot dogs.
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DR. BILL WILLIAMS
Private Parklands, Montrose
A wooded field is not the first spot that comes to mind when you think of a room. But if you are Dr. Bill Williams — meteorologist, Professor Emeritus at the University of South Alabama and founder of the Coastal Weather Research Center — this private growth of forest is his favorite room, without hesitation. From the time he purchased the half acre adjacent to his home in historic Montrose, the woods became his refuge from a crazy house full of kids. He walks the property, picking up limbs that fall in storms and thinking. He maintains the property like a
pristine parkland. He knows each tree, its trunk or its roots, as if it were an old friend. Williams says he gets his best ideas walking underneath the canopy of a giant hickory tree that he calls “the cathedral.” Several large dogs slice across the landscape with the handle of a zipline held tight in their teeth, the only interruption to all the serenity. As he enters his 50th year providing forecasts for the Mobile area, he has a lot to contemplate while walking the land and gathering limbs, but always with a watchful eye on the skies. MB
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THE NEXT STEP Mobile Bayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s focus on higher ed
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Harlem Hellfighter The Story of James Reese Europe He was toasted in Paris and honored in a parade on Fifth Avenue. Here, we recognize the legacy of a World War I hero, jazz great and Mobile native. text by STEVEN TROUT AND SUSAN MCCREADY www.southalabama.edu/warandmemory
n May 13, 1919, thousands of New Yorkers looked on as a funeral procession wound its way through the streets of Harlem. The deceased, 39-year-old James Reese Europe, was a celebrated composer and bandleader who, had he lived, might well have gone on to join Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington as one of the most important jazz innovators of the 20th century. Now the Mobile-born musician was gone, and throngs of people turned out to mourn him at the first public funeral held for an AfricanAmerican in New York City. Just three months earlier, Lt. Europe had led a very different procession, as his regiment of African-American National Guardsmen, the 369th Infantry (the “Harlem Hellfighters”), returned in triumph from the Great War. They marched past cheering crowds all the way from the southern tip of Manhattan to Harlem, the city’s largest African-American neighborhood, which was at the time poised on the verge of the cultural flowering known as the Harlem Renaissance. The 369th had spent more time on the front line and received more commendations than almost any other unit in the American Expeditionary Forces. The regiment also boasted the finest band of any army in World War I and the finest bandleader. Lt. James Reese Europe had not only conducted the band, but also arranged or composed all of the band’s numbers in an infectious style that blended ragtime with a new improvisational type of music rapidly becoming known as “jazz.” New Yorkers, black and white, went wild that day in February of 1919 as Lt. Europe led the Hellfighters Band up Fifth Avenue. It was the musician’s greatest triumph and, sadly, his last. The son of Henry and Lorraine Europe and the fourth of five children, James Reese Europe was born in Mobile on February 22, 1880. A former slave, Henry Europe worked for the Internal Revenue Service during Reconstruction and supported his family on a middle-class income.
ABOVE Lt. James Reese Europe, left, arrives in New York with the 369th Infantry, commonly known as the “Harlem Hellfighters,” following the conclusion of World War I. On that day in 1919, the infantry unit was treated to adoring cheers throughout the streets of Manhattan.
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CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT Lt. Europe leads the 369th Infantry band as it entertains wounded American soldiers at a Paris hospital, 1918. COURTESY LIBRARY OF CONGRESS. Members of the famous 369th arrive in New York City by ship, 1919. A New York crowd eagerly awaits the passing of the famous 369th Infantry. Members of the 369th Infantry march with their unit’s colors, which had been decorated in part by the French Government.
While Henry attended Baptist services in Mobile, freeborn Lorraine became one of the first African-American members of the city’s Episcopal congregation. Both were amateur musicians and respected members of Mobile’s AfricanAmerican community. Beyond these details, little is known of the composer’s early life in the Azalea City, except that he demonstrated innate musical ability at a young age, received lessons on the piano and violin from his parents, and, like the New Orleans-born
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Louis Armstrong, absorbed the musical traditions of the African-American South, which he would later draw upon in his compositions. In 1890, Henry Europe accepted a position with the National Postal Service in Washington D.C., and the family relocated to the nation’s capital, where they lived for a time just a few houses down from another great bandleader, John Philip Sousa. After graduating from high school in 1903, James Reese Europe headed to New York, determined to
pursue a career in music. By the time of the First World War, he was already one of the most important cultural figures in Harlem, and his reputation went well beyond AfricanAmerican circles. Europe led a wellreceived concert titled “A Symphony of Negro Music” for a high-society audience at Carnegie Hall. Defying the color line, he served as the musical director for the British dance duo Vernon and Irene Castle, who would pave the way for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
Following the American Declaration of War, issued on April 6, 1917, Europe agreed to serve as the regimental band leader in the 15th “Colored” New York Infantry (subsequently renamed the 369th Infantry). He did so grudgingly: Europe wanted to fight, not perform music. But once convinced that he could best help his country by serving as its musical ambassador, he recruited Harlem’s finest musicians, as well as a number of extraordinary Puerto Rican players, into a band that would soon take France by storm. As it turned out, he would still see plenty of combat. When not conducting concerts, Lt. Europe led a machine gun company on the treacherous Western Front. But first, Lt. Europe and his comrades had to deal with the racial policies of the U.S. War Department, which forced black soldiers to serve in segregated units as laborers, not combatants. After their arrival in France, the Hellfighters worked as stevedores, performing manual labor loading and unloading cargo from ships. Then, General John J. Pershing, the commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, agreed to loan the black New Yorkers to the French military, which was facing a series of German offensives that threatened to end the war before the United States could fully mobilize. Outfitted with French helmets and rifles and attached to an army commanded by the fierce, one-armed French General Henri Gouraud, the men of the 369th went on to fight with distinction in battle after battle. The regiment was awarded the French Croix de Guerre in 1918. As a gesture of goodwill, the regimental band performed wherever it went, providing entertainment for French townspeople or soldiers at base camps and hospitals. Ultimately, it played in Paris, holding concerts at the Tuileries Garden and the Théâtre des ChampsÉlysées. For the French, it was love at first listen. No one could get enough of Lt. Europe’s compositions or the signature sound of his hand-picked ensemble, which featured a beefed-up rhythm section unlike anything else at the time. It was at this moment in 1918
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that the enduring French love affair with American jazz was born. Thanks to a series of recordings made shortly before Lt. Europe’s death, we can hear this music as it sounded at the time. Some of it falls into the American blues tradition, but with a difference. For example, in the Hellfighters’ rendition of “St. Louis Blues,” a clarinetist suddenly breaks from the melody and launches into a frenetic improvisation, one of the first jazz solos ever recorded. Other songs speak directly to Lt. Europe’s combat experience. In “On Patrol in No-Man’s Land,” vocalist Noble Sissle, who also served in the 369th, describes the dangers of the front line while the band’s percussionists imitate the sounds of machine gun fire and exploding artillery shells. It was one of those percussionists who, in a moment of perhaps shellshock-induced rage, stabbed Lt. Europe in the neck with a penknife during a heated conversation on May 9, 1919. Though the wound seemed superficial, doctors couldn’t stop the bleeding, and the bandleader died hours later. Europe left behind a wife, Willie Angrom Starke; a son, James Reese Europe Jr.; and a host of what-ifs. Where would he have taken his music next? Would his achievements have rivaled that of
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ABOVE Just three months after the bandleader’s triumphant return from World War I, Lt. James Reese Europe’s funeral procession wound through the streets of Harlem on May 13, 1919.
other jazz greats such as Armstrong and Ellington? What this composer and bandleader did achieve, both at home and in France, is impressive enough, a source of pride for New Yorkers and Mobilians alike. His legacy lives on even today. In 2003, Lt. Europe was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. Two different graphic novels about the Hellfighters have brought Lt. Europe and the 369th to the attention of a new generation of readers. And thanks to a grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation, 75 music students from historically black colleges and universities have been selected for a program known as the 369th Experience. These students will learn Lt. Europe’s music and, during the months leading up to the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, retrace the 369th Infantry’s steps, performing in both Paris and New York. A century after its remarkable journey through the Great War, Lt. James Reese Europe’s Harlem Hellfighters Band will play once again. MB
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SEPT./OCT. 2017 ON STAGE & EXHIBITS PG. 76 • OCTOBER HIGHLIGHTS PG. 78
ST. PAUL AND THE BROKEN BONES AT TENSIXTYFIVE. PHOTO BY DAVID MCCLISTER
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
through november 4
september 23 - 24
september 29 - october 1
“Stars Fell on Alabama” Delta Kayak Tour
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Enjoy a day of family fun with live local entertainment, Kids Art in the Park, classic festival food and a large screen TV setup.
The weekend features performances by Cage the Elephant, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Blackberry Smoke, Riley Green, Muscadine Bloodline, Riverbend and more. Admission: free.
Experience the Delta in a new way by taking a two-hour, Delta Safari guided tour at night. Tickets: adults, $49; children under 18, $34. WILDNATIVETOURS.COM • 272-4088
OLD TOWNE DAPHNE • 621-8222 • 928-6387 ESCHAMBER.COM
september 16 - 17
september 24 - 30
september 29 - october 31
Massacre Island’s Pirate Seige
Mobile Fashion Week
9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Celebrate a unique aspect of Dauphin Island’s history and meet the pirates that stormed Mobile Bay. There will be treasure hunts on both days.
See the latest in local fashion on display at various events throughout the week at the Port City’s premier event dedicated to fashion.
Pumpkin Patch Express & Scary Night Trains
FORT GAINES, DAUPHIN ISLAND DAUPHINISLAND.ORG
ALABAMA CONTEMPORARY ART CENTER MOBFASHIONWEEK.COM
DOWNTOWN MOBILE • TENSIXTYFIVE.COM
Enjoy a steam train ride, haunted barn, hay rides, bounce house, pumpkin patch, pumpkin decorating and more autumnal activities. Day pass: $15. WALES WEST LIGHT RAILWAY • WALESWEST.COM
To have your event included in the online or print edition of Mobile Bay Magazine, email email@example.com. 74 mobilebaymag.com | september 2017
GO RUN 5K AND 1-MILE FUN RUN
september 16 GO Run 5K and 1-Mile Fun Run 6:30 a.m. Registration. 8 a.m. 5K. 9 a.m. Fun Run. After the race, stick around for live music and fun in the kids zone. Benefits Gynecologic Cancer Research at USA Mitchell Cancer Institute. USA MAIN CAMPUS / MOULTON TOWER USAHEALTHSYSTEM.COM/GORUN
september 23 Greek Fest Charity Gala 6 p.m. - 10 p.m. Attend the event that benefits Penelope House, Prichard Preparatory School and The Diakonia Retreat Center. Then head to the after-party, where Nashville artist Jason Eskridge will entertain. Gala tickets: $300. After-party tickets: $75. Package for both: $350. ANNUNCIATION GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH 50 SOUTH ANN ST. • 433-9888 WWW.GREEKFESTCHARITYGALA.COM
september 30 Delta Dash 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. Held annually on the last Saturday of September, this heartstopping, mud-filled, amazing event challenges anyone who enjoys outdoor experiences. Participants can run as a team or as individuals. Registration fee: $55 - $70. LOWER BRYANT’S LANDING, STOCKTON DELTADASH.ORG
september 29 - october 31 Thriller Nights of Lights 7 p.m. - 10 p.m. Sa - Th. 7 p.m. - midnight F. Take in a night of excitement and spooks from the safety of your car. Admission: $6; children under 3 are free. HANK AARON STADIUM THRILLERNIGHTSOFLIGHTS.COM/MOBILE
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THE BLACK JACKET SYMPHONY PRESENTS THE BEATLES
ON STAGE & EXHIBITS
through september 10 “Annie” 7:30 p.m. F / Sa. 2 p.m. Su. The Joe Jefferson Players present the classic musical about the beloved redheaded orphan. Tickets: $10 - $20. JOE JEFFERSON PLAYHOUSE • 471-1534 JOEJEFFERSONPLAYERS.COM
september 8 The Black Jacket Symphony: The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” 7 p.m. Doors open. 8 p.m. Show starts. The Black Jacket Symphony recreates the Beatles’ masterful album. Tickets: $22 - $32. THE MOBILE SAENGER • MOBILESAENGER.COM BLACKJACKETSYMPHONY.COM
september 20 Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue 6 p.m. Doors open. 7 p.m. Show starts. The New Orleans native brings his unique brand to the Saenger with special guest The Record Company. Admission: $31 - $37. THE MOBILE SAENGER • MOBILESAENGER.COM
september 23 - 24 “Firebird” 7:30 p.m. Sa. 2:30 p.m. Su. Listen to the Mobile Symphony’s celebration of the Russian ballet accompanied by performances by members of The Julliard School and paintings inspired by Ballet Russes from the Mobile Museum of Art. Tickets: $15 - $75. MOBILE SYMPHONY • MOBILESYMPHONY.ORG
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LET’S GET CURIOUS! AT THE GULF COAST EXPLOREUM JASON ISBELL & THE 400 UNIT
september 24 Curious George: Let’s Get Curious! Explore the world of the beloved children’s book and TV series character Curious George. Play around in the apartment building, construction site, city park and more. THE GULF COAST EXPLOREUM • EXPLOREUM.COM
september 25, 30 Mobile Pops 7 p.m. Hear the unique stylings of the city’s symphonic pops band on two different occasions. SEPT. 25: MARY G. MONTGOMERY AUDITORIUM SEPT. 30: COTTAGE HILL MEDAL OF HONOR PARK MOBILEPOPS.COM
september 27 Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit 7 p.m. Doors open. 8 p.m. Show starts. The acclaimed singer-songwriter and his band come back to the Port City. Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls will also perform. Tickets: $31 - $47. THE MOBILE SAENGER • MOBILESAENGER.COM
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october 1 - 31 Fall Bird Migration Watch hundreds of species flock south for the winter from one of Dauphin Island’s many birding spots. DAUPHIN ISLAND • DAUPHINISLAND.ORG
october 4 Poetry by Moonlight 7 p.m. Celebrate the harvest moon with poetry readings by 12 selected poets. Poet Laureate of Alabama Emerita Sue Walker will MC the event. MOBILE BOTANICAL GARDENS MOBILEBOTANICALGARDENS.ORG
october 6 - january 21 Posing Beauty in African American Culture Explore the works of various artists such as Carrie Mae Weems, Leonard Freed and Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe in this exhibit that examines the ways in which African and African-American beauty have been represented in media including photography, film, video, fashion, advertising, music and the Internet. MOBILE MUSEUM OF ART MOBILEMUSEUMOFART.COM
october 11 Needtobreathe 6 p.m. Doors open. 7 p.m. Show starts. The Grammy-nominated rock band from South Carolina takes the stage. Tickets: $33 - $145. THE MOBILE SAENGER • MOBILESAENGER.COM
october 12 - 15 National Shrimp Festival 10 a.m. - 10 p.m. Th - Sa. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Su. Feast on delectable shrimp dishes, stock up on arts and crafts and construct a masterpiece in the sand at this local tradition that has been around for 46 years. Don’t miss the Little Miss Shrimp Pageant, a new event this year. GULF SHORES • MYSHRIMPFEST.COM
october 13 - 15, 20 - 22, 27 - 29 “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee“ 8 p.m. F / Sa. 2:30 p.m. Su. Watch an eccentric group of students compete in a spelling bee in this Tony Award-winning play. Tickets: single admission, $18 - $20; student admission, $12 - $14. THEATRE 98 • THEATRE98.ORG
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october 20 - 22 Plantasia Fall Plant Sale 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. F / Sa. 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Su. Stock up on thousands of plants for your Gulf Coast garden including camellias, azaleas, rare species and more. MOBILE BOTANICAL GARDENS MOBILEBOTANICALGARDENS.ORG
october 20, 22 “Cosi fan tutte” 8 p.m. F. 2:30 p.m. Su. Indulge in Mozart’s classic comedy of misunderstanding and the differences between men and women. The Single Ticket Experience: $45 - $30, regular ticket; $10, student ticket. THE TEMPLE DOWNTOWN • 351 ST. FRANCIS ST. MOBILEOPERA.ORG
october 20 - 22, 27 - 29 “Twelve Angry Jurors” 7:30 p.m. F / Sa. 2 p.m. Su. Witness this classic examination of the justice system. Tickets: $15.75 - $18.75. CHICKASAW CIVIC THEATRE • CCTSHOWS.COM
october 21 Known Deaths and Burials at Mobile Point 5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. Get into the Halloween spirit early with a guided tour of the known deaths and burials at Mobile Point from 1813 to 1910. Bring your own flashlights and dress for the weather. Check Fort Morgan’s Facebook page for cancellations due to weather. Admission: $12 per person. FORT MORGAN • FORT-MORGAN.ORG
october 28 Elberta German Sausage Festival 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Support Elberta’s Volunteer Fire Department by sampling Elberta’s famous German sausage and sauerkraut while enjoying arts and crafts, carnival rides and entertainment. 13052 MAIN ST., ELBERTA • ELBERTAFIRE.COM
october 28 Boo at Bellingrath 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Treat little tricksters to spooky and fun inflatables, local food trucks and live music. Do not forget the adorable costumes. BELLINGRATH GARDENS • BELLINGRATH.ORG
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“Boom! Boom! Goes the Lincolnite!” Civil War Alabama’s First Shots in Anger Local author and MB contributor John S. Sledge shares a sampling from his newest work, a book about Alabama during the Civil War. text by JOHN S. SLEDGE
he war became much more immediate on Dec. 9 , when what were likely Alabama’s first shots in anger rumbled over Mobile Bay. A young Confederate officer named James M.
Williams was stationed at Fort Gaines and described the incident to his wife, Lizzie, in Mobile. “Yesterday one of the enemy’s steamers came up on the west of pelican island and fired eight or ten shells in the direction of our pickets,”
he wrote. The shells landed short, but the garrison at Fort Morgan “fired two or three shots as a challenge for them to come on if they felt like it, and the other blockader fired her guns also, so that for an hour we had quite a lively little cannonading at safe distances.” It reminded Williams of two roosters “all crowing without pitching in to fight it out.” Things heated up on Christmas Eve, when there was another action, brisker and far more exciting than the first. Skies were clear and seas calm when a small Rebel gunboat named the CSS Florida (later rechristened the Selma), sallied out to attack the blockaders. Flags fluttering gaily from stubby masts and her funnel vomiting black smoke, the Florida gamely approached the bar. Hearing his comrades’ excited shouts, Williams “ran up the sand hills and there was the glorious little steamer going out alone to meet the new vessels of the enemy!” A white puff appeared from her deck as she opened fire, and then Williams heard the delayed report. Cicero Price, the Union commander, observed that the little ship was “firing rapidly from two rifled guns and
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YOU’RE INVITED! September 12 An Evening with John Sledge 4 p.m. - 7 p.m. Celebrate the release of John Sledge’s new book “These Rugged Days: Alabama in the Civil War,” which details the turning points of the Civil War that happened within the borders of the state and their lasting effects on Alabama. Enjoy complimentary hors d’oeuvres and live music, and purchase a book to have signed by the author. Parking and admission is free. BRAGG-MITCHELL MANSION 1906 SPRING HILL AVE., 471-6364, BRAGGMITCHELLMANSION.COM
one or two of smoothbore.” Most of the projectiles passed harmlessly over the blockader, while a few “burst all around us, without, however, doing any damage to the hull or crew.” Yankee sailors watched from the rigging and tops of neighboring vessels, and Rebels crowded Forts Morgan and Gaines’s ramparts, cheering their respective sides. “Boom! Boom! goes the Lincolnite,” Williams excitedly wrote to his wife. “Bang! Bang! the Florida replied with her sharp rifled guns, the difference in the sound was so great that without looking at the vessels you could tell which had fired.” After about 45 minutes, the Southern vessel prudently retired behind Mobile Point and the protection of Fort Morgan’s glowering guns. “The most magnificent scene I ever witnessed!” Williams declared, while the Mobile Evening News dubbed the set-to “a nice little affair.” No one was hurt on either side, but one Union officer mused, “The activity of the enemy in these waters seems to call for a more active force here.” Distant and protected as it was from the primary scenes of action, Alabama’s war was clearly going to be a hot one. MB
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ASK MCGEHEE text by TOM MCGEHEE
Did Mobile ever have a cotton mill? Actually, there were two cotton mills in Mobile at one time. In 1899, Alabama ranked ninth among cotton manufacturing states. Anniston had nine mills, Huntsville had seven and Mobile had two nearing completion. In the 1880s, the South had been home to only a few cotton mills. By the 1920s, the region would eclipse New England in terms of cloth and yarn output. According to a September 1899 account in the Mobile Register, Mobile Cotton Mills was under construction on property once known as Camp Coppinger, which had operated as a training camp for soldiers during the Spanish-American War. The site was chosen for its proximity to a railway line operated by the Mobile and Bay Shore Railroad, less than a mile north of Spring Hill Avenue. The article reported that equipment for the manufacture of yarns arrived from Lowell, Massachusetts, and carpenters were busily constructing “20 small tenement houses, each with 3 to 5 rooms to be occupied by mill employees. A store will sell general merchandise and kitchen and household necessities.” A school for the children of millworkers was soon added to the property, which would be known as Cotton Mill Village.
The Second Mill
In March of 1900, the Barker Cotton Mill was incorporated and began operations in an area which would later become Prichard. Named for George G. Barker of Massachusetts, the mill produced cotton fabrics rather
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ABOVE A 1921 postcard view of the Hamilton Carhartt Mill in Prichard. A fire leveled it in 1943. RIGHT Two young workers at the Barker Cotton Mill, 1914. COURTESY LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
than yarns. Like the mill in Mobile, the owners provided worker housing as well as a school for their children. In the early 1920s, the Prichard mill briefly operated as part of Hamilton Carhartt & Co., which had sewing operations stretching from Dallas, Texas, to Liverpool, England, and is still in existence today with headquarters in Michigan. The arrangement did not last long. By 1924, city directories list the firm as Cotton Mills Products Company, which survived until a disastrous fire in 1943. In September of 1944, the 63 mill workers’ houses were advertised for sale at $125 each. The new owner purchased them all for rental property, installing water lines and sidewalks while city
streets were cut through the village. The Mobile County School Board reportedly obtained the rest of the property. Mobile Cotton Mills in Crichton last appears in the 1950 city directory. The Mobile and Bay Shore Railroad had disappeared more than a decade earlier, and the property now adjoined Bay Shore Avenue. A portion of the mill survives today and adjoins Teague Brothers Carpet Cleaning and Sales. Nearby Mill Street is a reminder of the history of this section of Mobile. MB
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IN LIVING COLOR
Empire Theatre, 1940 Original photo from the Julius E. Marx Collection, The Doy Leale McCall Rare Book and Manuscript Library, University of South Alabama • colorization by Dynamichrome Limited
The Beaux-Arts-informed Empire Theatre at 212 Dauphin Street entertained Mobile audiences during the first half of the 20th century. “Located in the heart of Mobile’s theatre district,” says Cart Blackwell of the Historic Development Commission, “the classically attuned building was within spitting distance of The Century, Lyric, Atlantic, etc.” The photograph is from the Julius E. Marx Collection, which features a stash of residential and commercial property images from Marx Realty dating from 1927 to 1985. The Western musical film “Melody Ranch,” released in 1940, was added to the National Film Registry in 2002 for being culturally and historically significant. Today, a small parking lot just west of the Crescent Theater occupies the past location of the old Empire Theatre.
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