Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Art-For-Art’s-Sake Theatre: Gillian Welch

Time once again (if earlier than usual) for our usual midday Wednesday feature.

Cincinnati has long been a border town for the Appalachian Mountain region. The hill people would migrate there for jobs at the Ford plant in Norwood (now long closed down), or for whatever work they could find.

Occasionally I'd be approached at the bus depot downtown by some guy with greased-back hair and worn-out pointed shoes who was down on his luck. It was a formulaic story, and I'd have to hear the whole thing. He came up from Kentucky or West Virginia, looking for a job, or a lost cousin. One thing led to another, and then another, and on and on ad nauseum. He needed just enough bus fare to take the Greyhound back to wherever it was he tried so hard to escape to begin with. I was a bit more gullible then, but not enough to give him any more than a dollar. Usually that was enough to send him on his way.

Washington is a city full of beggars, sometimes as many as three on one city block. I've seen some of the same ones, off and on, for the entire thirty-plus years that I have been here. At least the ones in Cincinnati wanted a job, or at least to go where they wouldn't bother anybody.

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You would never know that Gillian Welch is no more a “hillbilly” than I am, having been born in New York City, and raised in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California. She gets the job done, though, I'll give her that. And if a generation of country music artists who ever stood behind a plough is to be lost forever, we may be consigned to those who have the presence of mind to at least act the part, and pull it off.

Photo montage in first video produced by Wilferd T Knight.

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