Swansea, South Carolina, USA
September 01
Retired academic as well as a Renassiance woman constantly reinventing herself . I have been fortunate to taste many of life's delights as a health care professional, radio producer/on air talent, foreign policy analyst, now in twilight of my life organic gardner and exhibitor of pure bred dogs keep me busy.


SEPTEMBER 28, 2009 2:58PM

Blues, Summer, Sweat and Juneteenth Blues Festival

Rate: 5 Flag

When I found myself plummeted down in the middle of this roiling milieu of musicians, artists, writers ....and then me producing and directing two  radio programs, it never occurred to me to feel lost. I knew what Juneteenth meant in Texas, tho not many outside the state did. The did not know that  slaves in Texas were not emancipated for two years fater the Emancipation Proclamation was signed until a US Navy boat pulled into Galveston Harbor and the captain read it from the deck.  I knew I was involved in something special but I didn't know that it would be 11 of the most intense years of my life.  It did not seem unusual that I"d be hosting get togethers for blues musicians filling out various bills around Houston: Pharoah Sanders, John Lee Hooker, Milt Larkin and his lovely wife Kathy and that, often, I"d be recording them. Jazz man Lannie Steele who was offered a music position at Texas Southern University came 'souf' and....stayed building up the SumArts orgnaization with grit and determination as well as tapping into a cultural trait Texans of all stripes seem to have: Sure..why the hell not? Sounds like fun!How much money you need, Bubba?

I recall the following conversation in differing guises as I was growing up:

Wahl....think I kin do that?

Dunno--how far can you see?

'bout as far as where the horizon meets.

Wahhl then give it a shot and when you git to that place, then check it out again.

I'm not sure I'm the one to tell this story and it certainly wouldn't be the 'Authoritative History of the Juneteenth Blues Festival at Miller Theater'

but I think I can tell a piece of the history and those pieces contain the history of many who are no longer with us and others who won't be long and their stories are not being told.   So from time to time I'll offer up a written piece, photos I run across, articles I know about to let you get to know the wonderful people of my life during this time. Buckle your safety belt.  Meanwhile enjoy an article in the Houston Press by John Lomax

Juneteenth Revisited

Two arts organizations attempt a new spin on an old event

by John Nova Lomax

Houston Press

Published on June 10, 2008 at 2:18pm

 If any of you have any old poster bills etc, do scan them and share them with us. To read the Houston Press articles about Juneteenth and Lanny Steele, consult links to the left of this page. Embedding them this morning doesn't seem to be working.



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An opening story: My production company, Adriana Productions, often bid and got the subcontract to record the differing venues/events that SumArts put together. One of Lannie Steele's dreams was to get Sippie Wallace on as the lead focus of the Festival one year. Ms Wallace, you see, was born and lived in Houston 50 years before...before when her family felt they would have to leave to have any voice. This would be, Ms Wallace's, first time back in 50 years.
Recording contracts are always replete with funny and odd requests, demands etc. Ms Wallace didn't want to sing from her wheelchair and wouldn't sing longer than 20 minutes. They eased her out of her wheelchair where it couldn't be seen and escorted her to the stage where another barstool kind of chair stood. You could, tho, see her white orthopedic oxfords peeking out from under the hem of her skirt. A tiny woman, looking much smaller than her younger photos, Ms Wallace adjusted her sequined beret on her head, nodded to her left where a curtain opened and a good portion of the Chicago Symphony had been flown down as 'her band'. Dressed in tuxes on this hot summer night in the amphitheater, Ms Wallace began singing and went on for 45 minutes...surprising even herself, I believe. Later at a reception at Lannie's home, I went over to Ms Wallace where she was sitting in her wheelchair and squated down and told her how much we appreciated her performance and for making the trip.
Then I'll be damned! She snifted, turned her head away from me and said: Ah doan talk to no white girls. Ohhhhhkeeehhhh
Me: I still appreciate your singing Ms Wallace and you have a great time,heah?
I'm shaking my head and chuckling when my partner asks what's up. When I told him, he visibly blanched because I'm not known for keeping too many opinions to myself and said: and you said what?
I told him and then grinned: 50 years later she can feel any damned way she pleases.
There's a Juneteenth festival in my town every summer. Unfortunately, the gay pride event happens the same weekend. I keep hoping the two communities will coordinate with each other, so we don't have to make choices. I think we all need to celebrate.
Your informal history is a great idea, Patie, and I love the story in your comment. Many thanks!

One note: the link to the news story doesn't work.
Having a father and a brother from Texas....

Lovely story about Sippie. A sequined beret...gotta love her.

Yep, the link doesn't work. (But I still can't make one :)
Hi Pilgrim and Buffy and thanks for the kind words. Also for the heads up about the link. I cannot seem to make it work so I guess the Houston Press is not going to let me link to the article. All of the citation stats are there tho for those who want to read it. I'll sleep on it and see how tomorrow goes with it.
Being from Texas, I am well aware of Junteenth. Back in my youth this date was celebrated much more than it is today. Back then I had a good friend who was black and he always invited me over to his house for some of the best barbeque and potato salad in the world. We would then sit around and listen to our own "blues festival" as the grownups would break out the guitars and banjos and sing. It was a great time and provided me with a certain insight other white boys my age did not get to experience.

this should be very popular!
Thanks, Wally and Kathy! I hope people enjoy it...but they have to read it to do that!:)