I had so much fun bumming around the Word of [South] festival on Saturday that I couldn’t wait to return on Sunday. Pre-festival I stopped in at one of my favorite eateries, the Crepevine for breakfast and then once at Cascades Park I was immediately handed a free mimosa. Life was good!
Part of me was a little nervous that Sunday wouldn’t be able to compete with Saturday, but that free mimosa totally erased my doubts. I’m uncomplicated that way.
My first stop was to the stage where an act billed as The Sonnet Man was already in progress. http://www.thesonnetmannyc.com
This young man has set Shakespeare’s sonnets and soliloquies to music, creating “Hip-Hop Shakespeare Fusion.” He was incredibly fun. I loved watching the kids in the audience head bobbing to Sonnet 130.
Next up on the same stage was musician Jim White, whose debut album, The Mysterious Tale of How I Shouted “Wrong-Eyed Jesus” was the inspiration behind the 2003 doucumentary “Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus.”
I became an instant fan of Jim White who bills himself on his website as “songer/songwriter, author, fine art photographer, crackpot philosopher, folk artist, record producer, film maker, dad.” He’s quirky, immensely talented, and might be a little addictive.
Jim’s set made me thirsty. There might’ve been alcohol involved, but I had decisions to make. Did I want to listen to Grant Peeples and Tom Franklin or Chatham County Line? Ultimately I flipped a coin and ended up at Grant Peeple’s gig.
Pictured below is Grant. He’s the bald guy. I didn’t catch his guitarist’s name. A self-described “’vegetarian that watches NASCAR, and tree-hugger with a gun below the seat,’Grant Peeples is known for his axe-sharp socio-political tunes, raucous humor and heart-gigging ballads.”
Watching the crowd as Grant performed, it occurred to me that many in attendance weren’t quite grasping that his lyrics were hitting close to home. He poked pointed fun at the GOP, racists, homophobes, etc., and they loved him.
Trading off with Grant was author Tom Franklin, who read aloud excerpts from his novel, Smonk. https://g.co/kgs/uCw4M
I didn’t get to the book tent in time to purchase his book, but it quickly was added to my wish list on Amazon. He writes the south as he sees it, and he sees it clearly.
Next on my impromptu itinerary was author Adam Johnson. Adam is an FSU graduate with some serious writing credentials. According to Wikipedia “Adam Johnson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist and short story writer.
“He won the Pulitzer for his 2012 novel, The Orphan Master’s Son. He is also a professor of English at Stanford University with a focus on creative writing.”
Adam read his short story, Nirvana, and had the audience in the palm of his hand. Check out this man’s work. He is amazing. https://g.co/kgs/ZdTev
You’d think I could’ve gone home happy after all I’d experienced, but like a glutton I stayed for one more author, renowned columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. Having read Mr. Pitts’s column in the Miami Herald for years I could scarcely believe I was sitting just a few feet from him as he read excerpts from his latest novel, Grant Park.
I was in awe, and pray that I didn’t sit there on the front row with my jaw hanging open like a beached fish during his talk. He also offered his keen insights on the current political climate in the U.S. and accepted questions from the audience.
As soon as the applause died down at the end of the presentation I sprinted to the book sellers’ tent and bought a copy of Grant Park.
Best of all, I made him laugh when he signed my book. Leonard Pitts, Jr. has a great laugh. Here’s the link to his website:
What an awesome day. I cannot wait to dig into the books I purchased, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s festival.
Peace, and happy reading, people.