An unexpected treat at Saturday’s End of Summer Festival at Gravel Springs was the appearance of Memphis blues great Ruby Wilson. Her performance got the most applause of the night, although her show was briefly interrupted by a visit from a snake! Nearby fans killed it, and the show went on.
At any blues event, the arrival of Sharde Thomas and the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band holds the crowd’s attention, and nowhere is this more true than at events at the Otha Turner homestead at Garvel Springs. The fife and drum band marches onto the grounds and through the crowd, drawing a trail of enthusiastic second-liners behind it.
I had never heard of Leo Welch before yesterday, but when the elderly man got on stage, he announced that he had been born in 1932, which he said was a “panic year.” Little Joe Ayers told me that Welch is from Ruth, Mississippi, which he said is out toward Water Valley. I was amazed at Welch’s fine strong voice and competent guitar technique, and even more amazed that nobody has recorded him yet. Someone should certainly do so soon.
I had not heard of the D J Fitzgerald Band until yesterday at SHarde Thomas’ End of Summer Party at Otha’s Place in Senatobia, but they are a good indie rock band from Senatobia, and some of their songs have a faint blues influence.
Otha Turner’s granddaughter Sharde Thomas sponsored an End of Summer Festival yesterday at Otha’s Place on O. B. McClinton Road at Gravel Springs, which is just out from Senatobia and Como. The event featured barbecued pork and goat, and live music from the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band, Dr. David Evans, the D.J. Fitzgerald Band, Ruby Wilson, Leo Welch and others. The weather was perfect, and everyone had a good time.
Memphis drummer Michael Mosby returned to Memphis after a stint in Atlanta, and has since put together one of the city’s best bands, the Hard Hitters. Last night, at the Zodiac Restaurant and Lounge in Hickory Hill, the Hard Hitters and their vocalists, Brittany Shelby and Cameron Bethany provided the entertainment for a birthday party/event called the Princeton Experience, ably abetted by other rappers and singers, including a great singer named Angela Holmes that I had not heard before. By the end of the evening, the venue was standing room only.
On Sunday, July 21st, I was driving back from Atlanta to Memphis, and while I stopped at O’Henry’s Coffee in Homewood, Alabama for a latte, I saw on my phone that blues great Duwayne Burnside would be playing at Foxfire Ranch,a large outdoor venue at Waterford, Mississippi in Marshall County. So I called my homeboy Mike Suggs, who lives in Marshall County and asked him if he wanted to meet me there and he said he would. Actually, the Foxfire Ranch has blues every Sunday night during the summer months, and I was surprised at the extent of the crowd. And although this was very much Duwayne’s show, everyone who is anyone in Hill County blues just about showed up, including Shannon McNally, Kenny and Sarah Brown (organizers of the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic), Little Joe Ayers and Kinny Kimbrough. It was a night of great music and great fun.
Does the formation of municipal schools in Shelby County violate Federal court orders pertaining to the rights of Black children to attend integrated schools? It certainly seems to, based on this quote from the Supreme Court’s holding in Cooper vs. Aaron (1958): In short, the constitutional rights of children not to be discriminated against in school admission on grounds of race or color declared by this Court in the Brown case can neither be nullified openly and directly by state legislators or state executive or judicial officers nor nullified indirectly by them through evasive schemes for segregation whether attempted “ingeniously or ingenuously.” Smith v. Texas, 311 U. S. 128, 311 U. S. 132.
Now it is obvious that the formation of municipal school districts is not a DIRECT attempt at nullifying Brown vs. Board of Education. But it is the second phrase that is more concerning- “nor nullified INDIRECTLY by them through evasive schemes for segregation whether attempted “ingeniously or ingenuously.” In other words, in the light of Cooper vs. Aaron, actions that would ordinarily be perfectly lawful and constitutional are not if they result in school segregation. And the courts in my opinion cannot merely look at how diverse the new municipal districts would be. By that standard, Millington, Bartlett and Germantown would likely pass constitutional muster, although I still am not sure how many of those communities’ current Black students actually reside in those towns. Arlington, Lakeland and Collierville will likely run into problems on the diversity issue within their own districts.
But courts in the past have also looked at the effect the new districts would have on the district that is being left behind, namely the Shelby County Schools. And nobody has denied that the net effect of the new districts will be to leave SCS almost entirely Black and Hispanic, which is a clear violation of those children’s rights under Brown vs. Board and related cases, including Northcross vs. Memphis Board of Education. The municipal district supporters claim their motives have nothing to do with race, and if that indeed is the case, they should be prepared to prove it in court, not only by agreeing to allow all students who currently attend suburban schools to continue to do so, but also by agreeing to allow a certain number of inner city Memphis children into the new districts. Both would greatly increase the likelihood of Federal court approval for the municipal districts. But I doubt that suburban residents will support either, particularly when a certain Arlington municipal booster is making threats to limit enrollment to Arlington residents only unless their district is given the school buildings for free.
I was not at all thrilled when I heard last November that Atlanta’s Cafe Intermezzo would be moving from its long-time location in upper Midtown on Peachtree to a location in a hotel closer to downtown. Ostensibly, the move had something to do with lack of parking at the traditional location, but I imagined that parking would be even more cramped (or expensive) in the area near Peachtree and 10th they were moving to. After visiting the new location last weekend, I have to be honest and admit that there are some things I like about the new spot. They validate parking, so parking is free for the first two hours (but it is $20 afterwards, so beware!). The new location doesn’t seem quite as cramped, and while there is no back patio, there is plenty of outdoor seating in true European coffeehouse style. The dessert case seems smaller at the new location, and there seem to be fewer dessert choices, but the drink menu hasn’t changed a bit, and while the new location seems more crowded (the popular Vanquish nightclub is across the street from it), the atmosphere is pretty much the Intermezzo I’ve always known. So while I will always miss the original, I’m not as disappointed with the new location as I expected to be. As always, Intermezzo is a must-visit when in Atlanta, and is open until 3 AM on weekends.