The Road: Aaron’s Perspective

inUncategorizedon January 28, 2014

TimandDavid_LowRes-1Tim and David Bryant

Tim, B and I traveled just under 2,000 miles throughout the South from January 13th – 17th, visiting Drink Small, David Bryant, Little Freddie King, Alabama Slim, Guitar Slim, Jr., Guitar Lightnin’ Lee, Willie James and Leyla McCalla.

Seeing eight artists in five days was thrilling. I work in varying capacities with each of these artists with rare opportunities to see them in person. I communicate with them mostly by phone and letter, whenever we need to talk about gigs, album production, setting up a webpage or sending emergency relief.

Even without seeing them in person very often, I feel a strong connection to all of the artists that I work with. That said, there is nothing like visiting our partner artists in their home communities. A thousand times more can be conveyed in one minute of in-person time as can be conveyed in a complete phone conversation. In-person visits also give us a wonderful opportunity to record and document artists we work with, who sometimes may not be able to travel to the Music Maker studio.


We recorded David Bryant playing wonderful renditions of his grandfather’s and mother’s songs – the beginnings of an album – and made videos of him showing off his artwork and giving us a tour of his house. As we travelled on, setting up and recording became routine. The results are safely logged into our audio, video and photo archive and will be used to not only document these artists work for future generation, but also to help promote their work and book their gigs. We are already beginning to edit video footage to share with you and cutting audio tracks for David Bryant’s first album.


In addition, Tim and I took our tintype gear on the road. Each artist we met with, we set aside time to make tintypes, an 1800’s photographic process that is said to be the most stable and archival photographic format in existence. During the time we shoot there are many opportunities to really speak in-depth with our artists, which is so important to us, and a major reason we go on the road.


Our session with Little Freddie King (LFK), Guitar Lightnin’ Lee and Alabama Slim gave time for Little Freddie to regale us with the story of his meeting Lightnin’ Hopkins. Willie James’ photo shoot brought together his whole extended family and neighbors with music, storytelling and merriment.


Seeing artists in their homes and sharing a little time with them helps us to get to know each of them better and better understand their concerns and needs. With that knowledge we can make a plan and set to work on helping them improves their lives, help them continue to be creative and bring our traditions forward.

— Aaron

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