‘Georgia On My Mind’ by Kamikaze & Lee Adcock

Resident music and radio guru Paul Ackroyd aka Kamikaze has just kicked off a new series, exploring his peerless record collection – and bits he’ll acquire on the way – by originating region. Here we’ve got the first part – essay and radio show – digging in to the state of Georgia, co-hosted by Dandelion radio’s Lee Adcock . If you’re in front of your computer with some time to spare I’d recommend scrolling to the bottom to start the radio show to play as you read, though each part stands on it’s own equally.

So how do you arrange your records? Alphabetically? By genre? By age? By label? By colour of spine in a rainbow fashion? Or just randomly ordered, or in other piles that only make sense to you? Tried them all, none of them quite fitted. Records always seemed to get lost, or the sections ended up so rammed that it was near impossible to remember what was where. So I started trialling the idea of arranging records by location, ie from where each artist originated. And this regional approach has been paying dividends. Not only can I lay my hands on what I’m looking for much quicker than with any other method, but it has been an amazing learning experience, seeing regional musical patterns form on the shelves in front of me. So step up a new globetrotting series, a load of shows charting the musical history of different countries or regions. First step, Georgia, USA.

So what do we know about Georgia? Covering no fewer than 59,000 square miles, it lies on the East Side of the USA, sitting direcetly above Florida in the South, The Atlantic and South Carolina in the East, Alabama to the West, and by North Carolina, Tennessee, and the Apalachian Mountains in the North. It is the eighth most populus of the American states, with Atlanta the state capital.

Atlanta itself is a strange one. Home to approximately half a million people, the city has one of the most dense tree coverages of any US city, giving the appearance of a town furrowed away in a giant forest. Although deforestation and clearcutting have significantly reduced the amount of trees in the region over the past few decades, Atlanta still boasts one impressive tree canopy,

So how about the music? Well the most offensive musicians from the state of Georgia, to my ears, are Usher, Toni Braxton, REM, Justin Bieber… But don’t let those fool you – the ropey sounds to originate from this state are far outnumbered by the sublime, as this show will hopefully demonstrate.

So what to expect from the show? Well let’s start this early, as there are a fair few choral, folk, gospel, and blues selections in here, from the likes of The Georgia Sea Island Singers, Bessie Smith, Blind Willie McTell, Georgia Washboard Stompers, Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers, Eddie Lee Jones and Family, Ephram Carter and His Fife & Drum Band, The Golden Tones

And let’s not forget about Abner Jay – a one-man band of epic proportions who used dried chicken and cow bones for additonal percussion! When it comes to blues and gospel from Georgia, though, the list is endless. Take a quick scan through the booklet of your Harry Smith Anthology, for example, to see how many times you’ll see ‘GA’ after a town name…

We must consider Dust-To-Digital as well, one of the finest labels on the planet, particularly when it comes to reissuing long, lost music of the 78 era. They have been operating out of Atlanta since 1999, and if you’ve not explored their rich catalogue before, start your journey over here: https://www.dust-digital.com/

There are a couple of selections from Dust-To-Digital collections through the show, but we need to pay particular attention to the sacred harp piece by the Roswell Sacred Harp Singers. For the uninitiated, sacred harp, or shape note, is an a capella singing style developed between 1770-1820, originally in New England, where the whole choir will stand in a square facing each other, with altos, trebles, basses, and tenors each occupying one side of said square. Georgia soon took note and can boast the oldest sacred harp convention on the planet – The Southern Musical Convention, started in Upson County, GA, in 1845. For more on the sacred harp tip, check here: http://originalsacredarp.com

Georgia is home to some of the powerhouses of soul and funk too. I mean James Brown, although born in neighbouring South Carolina, moved to Augustus, GA, at around the age of four or five, and spent the majority of his career in the state. Not that we really need look much further than JB, but if it’s names you want then Otis Redding, Gladys Knight, Ray Charles and Little Richard should wet the appetite.

Whereas the artists and musicians above originated from several different towns and regions in Georgia (Savannah, Augusta, Roswell, Thomson, Fitzgerald, Monroe, Sea Island, Macon, etc etc etc…), latterly we’ve seen more of a tale of two cities scenario when it comes to Georgian music, these towns in question being Atlanta and Athens. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, there are exceptions, of course there are. And I’m no expert, this is more of an observation based on the music I have heard that has been made in Georgia over the past three or four decades.

Athens, a university town by tradition, has, since the late 1970s, provided an endless barrage of guitar music for the world. Lee Adcock, of Dandelion Radio amongst other places, kindly agreed to team up with me for this program, and you can hear five segments within the show of Lee’s selections. And three of these segments are Athens-centric. Look no further than Pylon, The B-52s, and The Method Actors for the first section, all artists springing into the collective consciousness c. 1979. Lee’s other Athens sections look at some of the current crop Elephant 6 artists, plus some lesser-known modern-day artists currently breaking through.

As for Atlanta, it’s been more about rap, hip hop, and crunk over the same time period. I’ll reiterate, there are exceptions, and many of them, but the bulk of what I’ve experienced from Atlanta has been so much more about spittin’ lyrics than fuzzy guitars.

Outkast are arguably the most successful of these, but before and since have come a long line of killer MCs. We kick the show off with one from the early days of hip hop – MC Shy D. Armed with little more than a microphone, a drum machine, and a hook from the Pink Panther theme tune, MC Shy D helped bring the Bronx sound down to Atlanta. Other examples through the show focus on the early 1990s, with tracks from Y’all So Stupid and Arrested Development; the early 2000s with tunes from Dungeon Family and The Southern Crime Family, and more recently with Social Studies, Murk Daddy Flex, and Chrismis.

Some curveballs in there too, with Prefuse 73 and Boom Box 2000 providing equally worthy but polar opposites of the experimental hip hop trend. This does throw up another observation I’ve made though – besides a handful of the Elephant 6 players, as a state Georgia seems short on experimental music. And I struggled to find any house or techno from the state, though that may perhaps have more to do with the anonymous culture of dance 12″s than anything.

Back to Boom Box 2000 though, and I can’t guarantee they’re even Georgia-based, though I have always suspected they are. And they are on Orange Twin, a label curated by Jeff Mangum, based outta Athens. There’s precious little information about Boom Box 2000 that I can find on the web, though there is a review on Pitchfork of the album. As I mention in the show, it’s perhaps one of the most scathing reviews I’ve ever read. Based on nothing but apparent prejudice, the reviewer’s primary gripe seems to be that it was a hip hop album that did not fit the standard conventions of the genre, and that it was released on an ‘indie’ label. But this did pose the question for me about musical crossover in Georgia, as the majority of what I know musically from the state adheres quite strongly to whichever genre it sits within.

But then I’ve never been to Georgia, or indeed anywhere in the US, so forgive me if I’m spouting bollocks here. I can, however, say with a real conviction that it’s been a lot of fun travelling musically through Georgia over the past couple of weeks whilst planning this show, and I’ve been thoroughly impressed by what a rich musical history the state has enjoyed. Stay tuned for more shows in the globetrot series…

Should you wish to get involved with the series, please contact me on twitter @radiokamikaze or via the Awkward Movements contact details at the top of the page.

MC Shy D – We Don’t Play
Prefuse 73 – Point to B [Warp]
Outkast – The Way You Move
Little Richard – Long Tall Sally
Ray Charles – What’d I Say
James Brown – The Payback
The B52s – Planet Claire [Island]
Pylon – M-Train [DB]
The Method Actors – Dancing Underneath [DB]
Abner Jay – I Am Georgia Bound [Mississippi]
Blind Willie McTell – Atlanta Strut
Eddie Lee Jones and Family – I’m Talkin’ Bout You [Mississippi/Change]
Ephram Carter and His Fife & Drum Band – Sorrow Come Pass Me Around [Parlortone]
Golden Tones of Savannah, GA – I Will Answer When The Roll Is Called [Mississippi]
Gid Tanner & His Skillet Lickers – Ya Gotta Quit Kickin’ My Dog Aroun’ [Dust To Digital]
The Allman Brothers Band – Whipping Post [Atco]
Manchester Orchestra – I Was A Lid [Favorite Gentlemen]
Kenny Rogers & The First Edition – Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)
The Coathangers – Love Em and Leave Em
Servotron – I Sing The Body Cybernetic
Georgia Washboard Stompers – I Can’t Dance (I Got Ants In My Pants) [Ace]
Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys – Mule Skinner Blues [Trikont]
Georgia Sea Island Singers – Sign Of Judgement [Mississippi]
Tunabunny – Form A Line [genious fatigue lp [HHBTM]
Eureka California – This Ain’t No A-Side [HHBTM]
Casper & The Cookies – Learn How To Disappear [HHBTM]
Arrested Development – People Everyday
Y’all So Stupid – Van Full Of Pakistans
Social Studies – Proxemics 02 [Daddy Tank]
Bessie Jones – Daniel In The Lion’s Den [Mississippi]
John Davis, Henry Morrison & The Georgia Sea Island Singers – Hop Along, Let’s Get Her [Mississippi]
The Middle Georgia Singing Convention No 1 – This Song Of Love [Doxy]
Roswell Sacred Harp Singers – Jubilee 144 [Dust To Digital]
The New Sound Of Numbers – Patterns In A Test Tube [Cloud]
Mind Brains – Body Horror [Orange Twin]
El Hollin – I Wish/The Magic Eye [Bandcamp]
Gerbils – Penny Waits [Earworm]
Boom Box 2000 – Drunk and High [Orange Twin]
Murk Daddy Flex – Snake Charmer [Bandcamp]
Chrismis – I Got You [Self-released]
Algiers – Black Eunich [Matador]
The Southern Crime Family – U See Me
Dungeon Family – Crooked Booty
Abra – U Kno [Awful]
Cat Power – American Flag [Matador]