Ah, road trip. The mere mouthing of those magical words increases my blood rate and secretes a jolt of adrenalin into my system. Wondrous, unforetold serendipities await the friends who pile into the chosen vehicle and pull away from the curb early on a fresh morning. Energy abounds, everyone talks at once, good-natured ribbing cranks up, and off you go.
And that’s exactly how it was a few weeks ago when I and three of my fellow photographers and salon members left Nashville bound for that pathos soaked soil of the Mississippi Delta. The lure of good blues music is what drew us there, but that is not all we found. Good music, to be sure, but so much more. On the first night, at Clarksdale’s famed Ground Zero Blues Club, we listened to the real stuff, done by Dave Dunavent and his band. Skipping way ahead in this little vignette, we are now active participants in bringing Big Dave to Nashville to make a 5-song demo with one of Music City’s many fine producers. Now this young, endearing, affable, humble kid can’t believe that 4 perfect strangers are giving him every dream-seized guitar picker’s “break”. But, we had to. We fell in love with him and his music.
Then there were the evening sessions of the FourChair group, when, once checked into the motel and prior to hunting up some grub, we located plastic chairs and an appropriate site near the motel pool, lit up fine cigars, poured ourselves a couple fingers of fine whiskey, and set about solving the proverbial world’s problems. Wisdom and story abounded. Well, probably more of the latter, especially as the sessions lengthened and the glasses emptied, but, strangely enough, it seemed we were actually getting smarter about the same time.
And then, the photos. Crazy, fun stuff shooting each other, yes, but mostly trying to capture the timeless atmosphere that inundates this flat, hot, challenged land. From the movie-like magnolia and spanish moss laden neighborhoods of Greenwood (The Help was filmed there) to the poverty strewn streets of Leland just a few miles west on US 82, to elegant cypress trees soaking in the sloughs of Sumner, we tried to record as much as possible. But, in three days? All we could hope to do was nab just a hint, just a flavor or two, a mere semblance of the mystery that moves over that land like a wisp over a bog. Frustrating and quietly satisfying at the same time. The only just response is to return one day, sooner than later, and try to dig a little deeper.
Would any of this have happened without someone having initially uttered those enticing words midst a group of adventure hounds? Yes, any of us could have made a journey down there alone, but scan back through this remembering and cross out everything that would not have come to be. Wouldn’t be much left. Different memories, and not nearly as rich. Road trips. Love ‘em. But, road trips with the fellows? Now you’re talking. And you ain’t just whistling Dixie.