Happy Thanksgiving: The First Post

So, I’m going to give this blog thing a shot.

If you’re reading this very fist post, there’s a good chance we know each other. If so, you can skip the next paragraph. If not:

I live in Birmingham, Alabama, and teach high school English. I host a radio show, The Lost Child, an hour of downhome roots music, broadly defined—classic country, rhythm and blues, old-time string bands, southern soul, gospel, rockabilly, bluegrass and more—airing weekly on Birmingham Mountain Radio and on Radio Free Nashville. I write, mostly about music: my book Doc (2012) tells the story of an Alabama jazz hero, Frank “Doc” Adams, and my current book-in-progress is a larger history of Birmingham jazz. I’ve also produced a number of little homemade publications as the creator of Lady Muleskinner Press. There’s more about me and these projects and more on the “About” page.

I decided, a little suddenly, to start this blog: partly to bring together my creative projects in a single place, partly to let myself write a little less formally about things I want to write about, to exercise some different writing muscles than my current book allows.

One purpose of this blog is to share, behind the scenes, some pieces of the process of writing that book. For too long now I realize I’ve been working in total isolation: I’ve occasionally asked a friend for feedback and gotten it, but mostly I’ve been massaging draft after draft after draft of this thing, all on my own, sinking more hours than I can possibly count into a project I sometimes worry no one will see. With the blog I get to go a little more public with the project: to update readers on the process as it unfolds; to share interesting discoveries and asides from my research and writing; to explain why I think this story’s so valuable, why I consider it worth all the time and effort I’ve been giving it.

Just as much as all that, though, the blog will give me (I hope) a little happy distance from the book, freeing me up to write down words without the pressure of publication or relevance hanging over my head, letting me dip in and out of topics and interests I might not usually find a place to pursue. Most of the public writing I’ve done since college has been about music and history; I worry sometimes that I’ve forgotten how to write about other things — including myself. So one purpose of the blog is to help me remember how to write all the time, to write from experience and from feeling, to write for the pleasure of writing itself, and to shake off the restrictions and confinements I’ve slowly built up around my writing. The unknown territory of all that is scary to me. I don’t like to be that vulnerable or public and, though I host a radio show every week and want my words to be read by friends and by strangers, I sincerely don’t like to ask for attention.

But here goes.

You can expect here also lots of quick updates on what I’m working on—radio, drawing, teaching, etc.—and what I’m reading and thinking about.

And this, too: like a lot of people, I am sick, sad, and terrified over much of what I see in our country right now. I’m struggling to make sense of just what this moment means and asks of us, struggling to determine how I might act, to understand what these last few weeks demand of me, in the immediate present and for the rest of my life. All that takes some processing, and I imagine some small part of that will go on on this page, too. Two of my first posts, coming soon, are responses I’ve written to the last couple of weeks, trying to make sense of our moment.

In short, I expect this blog to cover a lot of territory, to focus on writing and radio but to jump around too. I hope you’ll come back often for updates. You can even click the “Follow” button on the sidebar on the right, if you’d like to get email updates. I won’t flood your inbox.

I’m writing this on Thanksgiving morning in Kentucky, so let me wish a happy Thanksgiving to you. May you be thankful for all the good in your life—the obvious goods and the goods sometimes overlooked—and may you find ways to share your bounty, today and every day.

Thanks for reading.


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