Displaying items by tag: west Kentucky

West Kentucky Wild: Deer Hunter Support Sought for Charitable Food-Based Ministry

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (8/5/13)—Wanted: West Kentucky deer hunters’ support for the 2013-2014 "Want Not Waste Not" charitable food campaign.

With the 2013-2014 deer season rapidly approaching (archery season kicks it off on September 7th), local deer hunters’ attentions will be turning to preparation for the upcoming season. The excitement begins to build as the days get shorter, nights get a little cooler, and the leaves begin their changing process. Thoughts of harvesting that trophy buck dominate our dreams. Though the 2013 Kentucky Statewide deer tag allows a hunter to take two deer—one antlered and one antlerless—seldom is that second tag ever used. However, the “Want Not Waste Not" ministry hopes to change that.

Having heard somewhat about the program, I wanted to find out more. So this past Saturday, August 3rd, between weeding flower gardens and the PBS 7pm showing of "Elvis from Hawaii,” my better half and I headed to the Ballard Convention Center in Madisonville, KY for a sportsman's bash.

We browsed the many different vendors displaying their wares and services. I enjoyed eating a bagged taco from the Hope2All concession stand. I have to say, those ladies are really good salespeople.

We eventually cornered Chad Browning, founder of "Want Not Waste Not.” Chad was more than happy to talk about this program.

He explained how he and his wife, Tonita, were driving down one of the Peabody coal roads during the opening weekend of the 2011 season and came upon three abandoned camp sites that contained a total of seven complete deer carcasses. As an ethical hunter, this was very disturbing to Chad. To make matters worse, Hope2All community food bank was asking for people to donate any processed deer at the time. This was the birth of the "Want Not Waste Not" ministry God called upon the Brownings to create.

During the 2012 season alone, a total of 61 deer were donated. However, Chad anticipates collecting 150 or more this year.


“By partnering with Hope2All to distribute the processed deer, we can concentrate on collection and raising funds as it takes $60 for each deer processed,” said Chad. “The final product is ground venison mixed with beef fat in two pound bags.”

Want to donate a deer to this worthwhile cause? If so, read up on the following guidelines:

1. Your deer must be field dressed. If the current temperature is 50+ degrees, add a couple of bags of ice to the chest cavity if possible.

2. You must use your tag. Call the tele-check line at 1-800-245-4263 and get your confirmation number before you call.

3. Call Chad Browning at (270) 635-0544. Be prepared to give your name, phone number, area/location, and your confirmation number. Leave a message if necessary.

4. The WNWN ministry also offers deer donation pick up services that cover both Hopkins and Muhlenberg County. They also accept deer from other counties when possible. Call them at the number listed above and they can direct you to where to take it.

“We are currently working with three processors: Livingston Meats in Hopkinsville, KY; Barnes Processing in Beaver Dam, KY; and Yoder’s Custom Meats in Sebree, KY,” says Chad. “They will accept the deer without any issue. Just tell them it’s a donation for the ‘Want Not Waste Not’ program.”

Not a hunter, but still want to show your support of this charitable minsitry? Tax deductible donations are also accepted. In fact, a gift of $60.00 takes the deer from the forest to the dinner table of a local family in need.

Make all checks payable to the following address:

Hope2All
200 North Main Street
Nortonville, KY 42442

If you would like to volunteer your time or donate a deer, please call (270) 635-0544.

To learn more about the WNWN ministry or Hope2ALL, please visit this link: http://www.hope2all.com/. You can also find the WNWN ministry on Facebook by clicking here: https://www.facebook.com/WantNotWasteNot.

Additional photos from the outdoors festival held at the Ballard Convention Center in Madisonville, KY this past weekend are attached below.

________________________________________

A former Kentucky State BASS Federation Champ and longtime outdoorsman, Nick Short has spent over five decades learning the ins and outs of the hunting and fishing world. From coon-hunting as a youth, to hanging with fishing pros as an adult, Nick knows a thing or two about how it’s done outdoors. Want to know his secrets? Check out his latest installment of “West Kentucky Wild.”

To read other “West Kentucky Wild” installments, visit Nick’s Sugg Street Post blog page by clicking here: http://www.suggstreetpost.com/index.php/outdoors-west-kentucky-wild

Sugg Street Post
Written by Nick Short
Photos by Nick Short/Want Not Waste Not

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  • Published in Music

MAD Flavor Fest - Through the Eyes of the Artists

MADISONVILLE, KY (5/28/13)—Madisonville’s first premier music, arts, and film festival, the Mad Flavor Fest, is coming up on Saturday, June 15th, 2013 at the Ballard Convention Center—and it’s no surprise that the inaugural event is garnering attention from communities across the tri-state region and beyond. With an ever-growing lineup of entertainment that currently includes performances by 13 local and out-of-state bands, over 15 art-based vendor booths, 11 US and internationally-produced independent films, a variety of family-friendly activities, food, refreshments such as beer and wine, and more, the festival is poised to be one of the tri-state area’s most entertaining summer events.

But what originally prompted a festival of this scale?

In the late spring of 2012, a powerful concept materialized before former Madisonville resident and The Late Circuit DJ, Mat Pentecost: to organize Madisonville’s first large-scale, collaboration-based arts and music festival that would showcase the wide swath of talent our region holds, while also supporting a positive cause (which, in this case, would become the Mid-West Kentucky Chapter of the Red Cross).

As Pentecost explains, the idea came to him after revisiting music he had created with friends in Hopkins County. From there, he pondered upon the relatively unrecognized talent he was surrounded by throughout his youth, and he came to a realization that this underlying, albeit powerful, sense of synergy deserved a place in the public spotlight.

Soon after, Pentecost created a Facebook page that would help to gauge interest in such an event while also serving as a platform for regional collaboration among artists, musicians, filmmakers, and volunteers. The response was immediate and notable, leading Pentecost to take the first steps onto what would become a year-long path of planning, mediation, and overall event organization.

Today, just over a year later, Pentecost’s original vision is mere weeks away from becoming a tangible reality thanks to the support of the Mid-West Kentucky Chapter of the Red Cross, a variety of volunteers and supporters, local artists, musicians, filmmakers, and many more helping hands.

And while the recently launched Mad Flavor Fest website—www.madflavorfest.com—contains information on performers, artists, ticket prices, vendor participation, films, and much more, the Sugg Street Post has reached out to many of the people involved with the festival over the past few weeks to get their take on why the upcoming event is so important to our community, as well as why they got involved. Their respective responses are as follows. 

The Organizers
QUESTIONS:
1.) Why did you decide to get involved with the festival as a volunteer?
2.) Why is a festival like this so important to our region?

Mat Pentecost
I incidentally started this thing because I was listening to a lot of old cassette tape recordings of StereoPop. I just wanted to goof off and hang out with my friends again. I was certain that I wasn't alone in that feeling. I feel that the festival is important because I don't want greater Hopkins County to lose the talent and forward-thinking visionaries that I know this region produces due to boredom and lack of positive stimuli. This happened with most of my generation. Most of us moved away. Why? What happened? Or more importantly, what didn't happen?

Seth Owen 
I decided to volunteer so I could help play a part in promoting the local art scene and businesses in the community where I grew up. Having multiple public outlets available throughout the year where artists can perform and display their talents are important, as is providing local businesses more opportunities to succeed. Growing up playing drums in a few different indie bands in Hopkins County and performing at different events was something I am grateful for having done—especially after living in a few different large metropolitan areas, I see how big of a role the arts have in our daily lives.

Whitney Drewe Wardrip 
I got involved because it is an honor that the festival benefits the Red Cross. We are thrilled to be a part of such an awesome event that is so desperately needed in our community!







Christopher Mcdonald

From as far back as I can remember, I've had a love for, and have felt a deep connection with, music and the arts. Living in this town, I've had the honor to grow up with and form friendships with some intensely talented artists and musicians. Unfortunately, as has been discussed, there are few venues and platforms in the area for these amazing minds to display their gifts. So when Mat shot this idea out, I jumped at the opportunity to help in anyway he needed me. The fact that this thing evolved into a charity event to benefit the Red Cross was the icing on the cake. I knew how huge this could be for the community both artistically and economically. I knew I didn't have nearly as much to offer as the majority of the group, and was humbled to be asked to be a part of what I see becoming the single greatest gathering of local talent seen here to date. This thing is like a dream come true.

Jessica Dockrey 
I got involved with the festival because I love collaboration on a massive scale. It's truly amazing to see what I would consider a piece of collage art, the festival, come to life. People need to appreciate the people that surround them. Being able to share your talents with your community is important to each individual as well as the area as a whole. Love where you live. It's easy if you involve yourself in what's going on around you and make yourself aware of all the reasons to appreciate all that deserves to be appreciated. Acknowledge the people that actively contribute in your life experience.


The Musicians

QUESTIONS:
1.) Where do you call home and who all is a part of your band?
2.) Why did you decide to get involved with this festival?
3.) Why is music and art important to both smaller communities and society at large?

Philosopher’s Stone
(http://pstonemusic.com/)
 
We create music in the hills of Boone County, KY. The four of us live in northern Kentucky just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. The music makers in Philosopher’s Stone are Chris Laile (bass), John Carrico (drums), Jon '8k' Divita (keys/synthesis) and me, Brad Denham (guitar/vox).

We were invited to perform at the inaugural MAD Flavor Fest via Mat Pentencost, who we have played music with in Cincinnati. Matty P has performed at many of our shows over the years and usually ends up on stage with us for live jams.

Music is an integral part of society…it is essential to completeness. Music and song are basic human functions, like the beating heart or breathing. Like birds and crickets, we all have a song. A quick search of the internet yields an interesting fact: "there is no international law that requires a country to adopt an anthem, yet currently every country has realized that this is something that is needed as part of a national identity. An anthem is used to musically express what a country—or any other group of people—stand for and what unites them.” (www.nationalanthems.info) Music allows us to express our fears, our pain, our wants and desires; it enlightens, elates, and transcends. Above all else, it can express our deepest love. A song can speak for the things that are not easily said. Like a needle in the groove, music imprints itself on the human heart and brain capturing the experience and moment in time, and, upon listening again, those memories and feelings are triggered and can be relived again and again. There is nothing like a great song that can magically take you back to relive your childhood.

If I had to choose between losing my sight or losing my hearing, I would choose sight. The first thing you do when you hear something beautiful or when you experience pleasure is shut your eyes.

Pat Ballard
(http://www.reverbnation.com/patballard)

My home is Hopkins County. The guys I’ll be playing with at the festival are Jon Gilbert (guitar), Gary Madison (bass), Clint Combs (drums), and maybe Johnny Keyz (keyboard).

When I found out about Mat and what he was putting together, and his passion and drive to showcase the talent here and regionally, I just wanted to help in any way I could. Mat has worked really hard to bring so many people together for a great cause, which is not only a benefit for the Red Cross, but also a benefit to all of us by getting so many musicians from this area at one festival.

It’s hard to articulate an answer to the last one. The benefits of the arts to all communities are just so intangible. It really gives us artsy types a little more room to breathe.

Falter
(https://www.facebook.com/FalterMusic)

Home for Falter is right here in Hopkins County. With the exception of our drummer Bryan Thomas who resides in Hopkinsville, KY, all other members (Kevin Offutt, John Pierce, Brad Wilson, Adam O’Rear) were raised right here in Hopkins County.

We in Falter are big believers in giving back to our community, charities, and to society in general. Each year we set aside time and promotions for events such as the Mad Flavor Fest. We have done quite a few this year. Most recently, we played the Thumbs Up For What’s Wright Benefit in Nashville at the Tin Roof. We have had very much support from our fans, especially the fans right here in Hopkins County, so we were thrilled at the chance of being a part of this event for our hometown community and for the American Red Cross. It’s been some time now since we’ve been able to play a show right here at home due to scheduling issues, so being a part of this event is very exciting because allows a way to raise money for the American Red Cross while also bringing awareness to this community, which is a plentiful melting pot of talent. Whether it be musicianship or the arts, Hopkins County is rich with both.

There are so many points that I could address on the matter of music and art’s importance and role in raising of a cultured and great society. Music was a huge part of my life personally, and at no matter what point of my life, I have always acknowledged there has been an overwhelming yearning and calling in my life for music. I am following the calling now on a larger scale, but even if I wasn’t, music will always be a large part of me. To us, the biggest importance to a community and society is self expression and our rights and freedom. So many times I have heard stories of schools cutting the arts programs, and this saddens me because these programs give kids the avenue to find their true passions as artists.

JT Oglesby
(www.facebook.com/jtoglesby)

I am a gypsy-spirited vagabond that embarked on a spiritual journey exploring the musical and creative aspects of the world during my teens, which continues to this day. My band consists of rounders, misfits, and other miscreants I have encountered over the years that embrace a noncompliant societal and creative view. These roustabouts frequently change, making my band an ever-shifting work-in-progress. Each unique version explores a different path unknown to the incarnations before it.

I wanted to get involved with this festival because I am proud to be a Kentuckian and I am proud to be from this area. My family has lived and died in this area for so long that there is more of my DNA in this soil than dirt. I want to do whatever I can to help promote and preserve our heritage and culture. A lot of people say it, but few truly mean it: LLKM! Long Live Kentucky Music!

Hollywood Gutterats
(www.facebook.com/HollywoodGutterats)

Home is where the rock is! The Hollywood Gutterats are Slush (lead vox and guitar), Yngwie Springsteen (guitar), Micheal Anthony Hall (bass), and Tommy Lee Greenwood (drums).

Why did we get involved? Because Slush and Mat Pentacost both like Taco Bell Chalupas!

Music and art is important because it touches everyone in one way or another. And who doesn’t like to be touched?

Technology Versus Horse
(www.reverbnation.com/technologyvshorse)

Technology Versus Horse as a band is from Bowling Green, KY. We all met while/shortly after attending WKU. We are composed of Mike Farmer (vocals), myself (Rafe Heltsley–guitar), Matt Bitner (bass), David Prater (keys), and Josh Hines (drums).

I grew up in White Plains, KY and went to high school in Madisonville (Hopkins County Central High School). When Mat Pentecost was thinking about throwing the festival, he mentioned it to me. I thought it sounded like a great idea and wanted my band to play to show our support.

Music and art are very important outlets of expression. They also help gather people together, bonding over a shared favorite band or artist or meeting up at local shows.

The Fair-Weather Kings
(www.facebook.com/thefairweatherkings)

The Fair-Weather Kings started in Bowling Green KY and all of us still live here. Our members our Wesley Stone, Zach Barton, Jason Williams, Craig Brown, and Marcus Long

Zach and I (Wesley) grew up in Madisonville. Marcus is also from Hopkins County. So we have "roots" there, so to speak. Zach and Marcus' parents still live in Hopkins County. So, for us, getting involved with the festival was about the opportunity to be involved in an event that not only benefits the American Red Cross, but also brings art, in various forms, to a town that a few of us have called home.

Art and music are important because they are "tools" that have many uses; free to anyone that desires them.

The Artists and Vendors
QUESTIONS:
1.) What's your personal info (name, age, hometown, business name and overview, etc.)?
2.) Why is your art form or craft important to you personally?
3.) Why did you decide to get involved with the MadFlavor Fest? OR Why is the festival important to our community?

MCC Humanities Division
(www.madisonville.kctcs.edu/)

Myself (Brooke Archila) and perhaps a few others will be setting up a booth to represent the Humanities Division at Madisonville Community College. The Humanities Division is an eclectic group of instructors who teach classes in the fields of English, history, communications, foreign languages, music, reading, art, and women's studies. We support and promote anything related to these areas on campus and in the community. The study of humanities in various forms is essential to understanding ourselves and the world around us. Through these areas of study, we express our creativity and share in the creativity of others. In our representation of our department at the festival, we want to share the many cool things we have going on in the fall and encourage involvement and support!

Bad Apple Paintwerks
(www.facebook.com/BadApplePaintwerks)
My name is Patrick Harvey and I'm the owner of Bad Apple Paintwerks. I'm 38 and my hometown is Hopkins County. I create art directed towards the musically inclined.

Why is what I do important to me personally? A favorite quote of mine might sum that up: "Paint chips make me thirsty."

I decided to get involved with this festival because I live here and I want to help promote the arts in our community when I have the chance. 

HoldFast WoodCO.
(www.facebook.com/HoldfastWoodCo)
 
My name is Cody McDowell. I’m 24 years old and live in Madisonville, KY. I’m the owner of HoldFast WoodCO. I create simple custom furniture and home decor.

Woodworking is important to me because it’s becoming a lost art, yet it’s one of the basic trades that defines us as a country and as a civilization in general. I think that using reclaimed materials and old tools to do my work is also an important part of what I do because anyone can go to Lowe’s and buy a new 2x4, but if you go to a barn and pull off a 2x4, it has character, it’s had purpose, and it’s been reliable for years and years. Taking something like that and making it into a coffee table for someone means they have a piece of history that will outlive them; it’s something that they can pass to their kids. The Mad Flavor Fest is important to the Hopkins County region, as well as all the local artists and crafts people, because maybe for that one day that we are set up, someone will buy a CD from a band that actually needs the money, and instead of getting something out of a box at Wal-Mart, they will buy something handmade and invest just a little money back into their local economy.

Elite Tattoo Lounge
(www.facebook.com/EliteTattooLounge)

My name is Aaron “Chappy” Chapman. I’m originally from Denver, CO and I own and operate Elite Tattoo Lounge (530 E. Center St., Madisonville KY 42431). We are a full service tattoo and body mod studio, specializing in all styles of tattooing from black and grey, to new school, to photorealism.

The art of tattooing is important to me for many reasons. First, it’s how I make my living, and I make a very good living doing it. It’s really about doing something that you love, but when you can make a living doing it, it is priceless. This is not my job, it is my career and my work. It is what people will know of me when I die.

I decided to get involved with the Mad Flavor Fest because I believe in Madisonville. For so long there has been a lack of focus in this area toward the arts and culture, and people here have lacked a focal point to channel their artistic talents. This town is so full of talented people it is going to burst. That is what the Mad Flavor Fest is to me: the Madisonville arts community no longer being content to stay at home, no longer being contained!

Travis Shanks
(www.facebook.com/tshanks7720?fref=ts)
 
I’m Travis Shanks, 21, and my hometown is Slaughters, KY

Painting and drawing is important to me because it's a great way to express myself. At one point in my life, it helped me escape some hard times. Art gives a way for us to bring beauty into a world where beauty is rapidly thinning.

I decided to get involved with the Mad Flavor Fest so I could share my art with more people. And, hopefully, to become known in some way as a reputable artist in the community. The Mad Flavor Fest is most definitely important to our community and what we, as artists, are trying to achieve. Hopefully, this festival will open the eyes of the community to the true value of art, which is so often forgotten in modern times. Also, it's going to be a great place to meet all the people in the local area that share your passions. I cannot wait!

Poppy & Clover (Gina Boyd & Riley Jo Dever)
(www.facebook.com/poppyandclover?fref=ts)

We are a mother/daughter team that loves to craft. We specialize in antiques, soy candles, soaps, pillows, and many other delightful offerings. We are hoping to actually open a store by summertime so that we may invite you down for a cup of tea and to browse around—or just to stop in and say hello.

We have always enjoyed art and crafting around with each other. We decided a couple of years ago to team up and begin to create things that appeal to us and hopefully to others. I love to decorate and it is fulfilling to adorn my home with things that I have created.

We decided to get involved with the Mad Flavor Fest so that we could offer some of our goods for the public to come by and see. As we work on opening our store, we are selling things out of our home. We have been asked my many people to see our things in-person, so here is an opportunity to do that. We hope many people come out and enjoy a day of music and art that is offered by local community members.

Big Biting Pig Productions
(www.bigbitingpigproductions.com/)

Steve Hudgins: I’m originally from Chicago, IL, but I currently live in Dawson Springs, KY.

Big Biting Pig Productions specializes in feature-length thrillers and horror films. I love telling stories, acting, directing others to get the most out of themselves and watching everything come together, so being a filmmaker is kind of a natural thing for my tastes.

I think it's great to have a festival that focuses on Madisonville and helps those in the community see what is out there that they may not be aware of.

PJ Woodside: I'm PJ Woodside, living in Madisonville, originally from Charleston, SC, married to Jude Roy of Louisiana Cajun heritage. I mostly collaborate with Steve Hudgins of Big Biting Pig Productions on movie projects, such as my latest movie which will be premiering this summer, Lucid. We also make book trailers, commercials, and music videos through PJ's Productions.

I've come to appreciate horror movies much more since we started making them several years ago. They help people release their everyday fears in a nonthreatening way. The one we're showing at the festival, Spirit Stalkers, is a combination of ghost hunter’s show and a classic haunted house movie. It will have you on the edge of your seat and jumping many times, but the characters are also interesting and believable. It's important to me to tell stories that matter to people and have some emotional resonance.

I got involved, well, because you asked me! But also, there are a lot of Madisonville locations and people in our movies, so we like to share them with the local community when possible! It's always good to see what is being made right here, right under our noses!

The Learn’d Housewife
(www.facebook.com/thelearndhousewife)

I’m Cassie Pendergraff from the wonderful metropolis of Madvegas. I’m a 2002 MNHHS graduate and owner of The Learn’d Housewife. I enjoy crafting and trying new things. I’ve always loved fabric; I come from a long generation of quilters, so finding new ways to work with fabric is always an adventure. I decided to start making fabric button earrings. For me, it’s a fun way to keep memories. I can take scraps from pretty much anything—a baby quilt, a dress I’ve worn, my daughter’s coming home outfits—and make a pair of earrings or a necklace.

I decided to get involved with the MadFlavor Fest because I love supporting local artisans. It’s a great opportunity to see what’s out there in the community and get connected with other people who have similar interests. There are so many unique and creative people hiding in our hometown and it is events like the Mad Flavor Fest that gives them a chance to crawl out of the woodwork.

* * * * * * *

For more on the Mad Flavor Fest, including directions to the Ballard Convention Center (605 E. Arch St., Madisonville), ticket sales, admission information, vendor sign-up sheets, a full list of current performers, artists, vendors, filmmakers, and much more, visit the recently launched Mad Flavor Arts & Music Festival website at the following address: www.MadFlavorFest.com.

You can also find the Mad Flavor Festival’s official Facebook page by clicking here.

To read another Sugg Street Post article about the Mad Flavor Fest, which was written by Jessica Dockrey, click here. To learn more about the CINEMADIC Film Festival, click here.

All ticket sales and additional proceeds raised via the Mad Flavor Arts & Music Festival will go to support the efforts of the Mid-West Kentucky Chapter of the Red CrossTo learn more about the Mid-West Kentucky Chapter of the Red Cross, click here.

The Mad Flavor Arts & Music Festival is sponsored by the Mid-West Kentucky Chapter of the Red Cross, the Sugg Street Post, and Art Interactions

Sugg Street Post
Written by Luke Short
Photos courtesy of Jessi Smith, Jeff Harp, and Respective Mad Flavor Festival Participants

 

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  • Published in Art

MAD Flavor Fest - Through the Eyes of the Artists

MADISONVILLE, KY (5/28/13)—Madisonville’s first premier music, arts, and film festival, the Mad Flavor Fest, is coming up on Saturday, June 15th, 2013 at the Ballard Convention Center—and it’s no surprise that the inaugural event is garnering attention from communities across the tri-state region and beyond. With an ever-growing lineup of entertainment that currently includes performances by 13 local and out-of-state bands, over 15 art-based vendor booths, 11 US and internationally-produced independent films, a variety of family-friendly activities, food, refreshments such as beer and wine, and more, the festival is poised to be one of the tri-state area’s most entertaining summer events.

But what originally prompted a festival of this scale?

In the late spring of 2012, a powerful concept materialized before former Madisonville resident and The Late Circuit DJ, Mat Pentecost: to organize Madisonville’s first large-scale, collaboration-based arts and music festival that would showcase the wide swath of talent our region holds, while also supporting a positive cause (which, in this case, would become the Mid-West Kentucky Chapter of the Red Cross).

As Pentecost explains, the idea came to him after revisiting music he had created with friends in Hopkins County. From there, he pondered upon the relatively unrecognized talent he was surrounded by throughout his youth, and he came to a realization that this underlying, albeit powerful, sense of synergy deserved a place in the public spotlight.

Soon after, Pentecost created a Facebook page that would help to gauge interest in such an event while also serving as a platform for regional collaboration among artists, musicians, filmmakers, and volunteers. The response was immediate and notable, leading Pentecost to take the first steps onto what would become a year-long path of planning, mediation, and overall event organization.

Today, just over a year later, Pentecost’s original vision is mere weeks away from becoming a tangible reality thanks to the support of the Mid-West Kentucky Chapter of the Red Cross, a variety of volunteers and supporters, local artists, musicians, filmmakers, and many more helping hands.

And while the recently launched Mad Flavor Fest website—www.madflavorfest.com—contains information on performers, artists, ticket prices, vendor participation, films, and much more, the Sugg Street Post has reached out to many of the people involved with the festival over the past few weeks to get their take on why the upcoming event is so important to our community, as well as why they got involved. Their respective responses are as follows. 

The Organizers
QUESTIONS:
1.) Why did you decide to get involved with the festival as a volunteer?
2.) Why is a festival like this so important to our region?

Mat Pentecost
I incidentally started this thing because I was listening to a lot of old cassette tape recordings of StereoPop. I just wanted to goof off and hang out with my friends again. I was certain that I wasn't alone in that feeling. I feel that the festival is important because I don't want greater Hopkins County to lose the talent and forward-thinking visionaries that I know this region produces due to boredom and lack of positive stimuli. This happened with most of my generation. Most of us moved away. Why? What happened? Or more importantly, what didn't happen?

Seth Owen 
I decided to volunteer so I could help play a part in promoting the local art scene and businesses in the community where I grew up. Having multiple public outlets available throughout the year where artists can perform and display their talents are important, as is providing local businesses more opportunities to succeed. Growing up playing drums in a few different indie bands in Hopkins County and performing at different events was something I am grateful for having done—especially after living in a few different large metropolitan areas, I see how big of a role the arts have in our daily lives.

Whitney Drewe Wardrip 
I got involved because it is an honor that the festival benefits the Red Cross. We are thrilled to be a part of such an awesome event that is so desperately needed in our community!







Christopher Mcdonald

From as far back as I can remember, I've had a love for, and have felt a deep connection with, music and the arts. Living in this town, I've had the honor to grow up with and form friendships with some intensely talented artists and musicians. Unfortunately, as has been discussed, there are few venues and platforms in the area for these amazing minds to display their gifts. So when Mat shot this idea out, I jumped at the opportunity to help in anyway he needed me. The fact that this thing evolved into a charity event to benefit the Red Cross was the icing on the cake. I knew how huge this could be for the community both artistically and economically. I knew I didn't have nearly as much to offer as the majority of the group, and was humbled to be asked to be a part of what I see becoming the single greatest gathering of local talent seen here to date. This thing is like a dream come true.

Jessica Dockrey 
I got involved with the festival because I love collaboration on a massive scale. It's truly amazing to see what I would consider a piece of collage art, the festival, come to life. People need to appreciate the people that surround them. Being able to share your talents with your community is important to each individual as well as the area as a whole. Love where you live. It's easy if you involve yourself in what's going on around you and make yourself aware of all the reasons to appreciate all that deserves to be appreciated. Acknowledge the people that actively contribute in your life experience.


The Musicians

QUESTIONS:
1.) Where do you call home and who all is a part of your band?
2.) Why did you decide to get involved with this festival?
3.) Why is music and art important to both smaller communities and society at large?

Philosopher’s Stone
(http://pstonemusic.com/)
 
We create music in the hills of Boone County, KY. The four of us live in northern Kentucky just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. The music makers in Philosopher’s Stone are Chris Laile (bass), John Carrico (drums), Jon '8k' Divita (keys/synthesis) and me, Brad Denham (guitar/vox).

We were invited to perform at the inaugural MAD Flavor Fest via Mat Pentencost, who we have played music with in Cincinnati. Matty P has performed at many of our shows over the years and usually ends up on stage with us for live jams.

Music is an integral part of society…it is essential to completeness. Music and song are basic human functions, like the beating heart or breathing. Like birds and crickets, we all have a song. A quick search of the internet yields an interesting fact: "there is no international law that requires a country to adopt an anthem, yet currently every country has realized that this is something that is needed as part of a national identity. An anthem is used to musically express what a country—or any other group of people—stand for and what unites them.” (www.nationalanthems.info) Music allows us to express our fears, our pain, our wants and desires; it enlightens, elates, and transcends. Above all else, it can express our deepest love. A song can speak for the things that are not easily said. Like a needle in the groove, music imprints itself on the human heart and brain capturing the experience and moment in time, and, upon listening again, those memories and feelings are triggered and can be relived again and again. There is nothing like a great song that can magically take you back to relive your childhood.

If I had to choose between losing my sight or losing my hearing, I would choose sight. The first thing you do when you hear something beautiful or when you experience pleasure is shut your eyes.

Pat Ballard
(http://www.reverbnation.com/patballard)

My home is Hopkins County. The guys I’ll be playing with at the festival are Jon Gilbert (guitar), Gary Madison (bass), Clint Combs (drums), and maybe Johnny Keyz (keyboard).

When I found out about Mat and what he was putting together, and his passion and drive to showcase the talent here and regionally, I just wanted to help in any way I could. Mat has worked really hard to bring so many people together for a great cause, which is not only a benefit for the Red Cross, but also a benefit to all of us by getting so many musicians from this area at one festival.

It’s hard to articulate an answer to the last one. The benefits of the arts to all communities are just so intangible. It really gives us artsy types a little more room to breathe.

Falter
(https://www.facebook.com/FalterMusic)

Home for Falter is right here in Hopkins County. With the exception of our drummer Bryan Thomas who resides in Hopkinsville, KY, all other members (Kevin Offutt, John Pierce, Brad Wilson, Adam O’Rear) were raised right here in Hopkins County.

We in Falter are big believers in giving back to our community, charities, and to society in general. Each year we set aside time and promotions for events such as the Mad Flavor Fest. We have done quite a few this year. Most recently, we played the Thumbs Up For What’s Wright Benefit in Nashville at the Tin Roof. We have had very much support from our fans, especially the fans right here in Hopkins County, so we were thrilled at the chance of being a part of this event for our hometown community and for the American Red Cross. It’s been some time now since we’ve been able to play a show right here at home due to scheduling issues, so being a part of this event is very exciting because allows a way to raise money for the American Red Cross while also bringing awareness to this community, which is a plentiful melting pot of talent. Whether it be musicianship or the arts, Hopkins County is rich with both.

There are so many points that I could address on the matter of music and art’s importance and role in raising of a cultured and great society. Music was a huge part of my life personally, and at no matter what point of my life, I have always acknowledged there has been an overwhelming yearning and calling in my life for music. I am following the calling now on a larger scale, but even if I wasn’t, music will always be a large part of me. To us, the biggest importance to a community and society is self expression and our rights and freedom. So many times I have heard stories of schools cutting the arts programs, and this saddens me because these programs give kids the avenue to find their true passions as artists.

JT Oglesby
(www.facebook.com/jtoglesby)

I am a gypsy-spirited vagabond that embarked on a spiritual journey exploring the musical and creative aspects of the world during my teens, which continues to this day. My band consists of rounders, misfits, and other miscreants I have encountered over the years that embrace a noncompliant societal and creative view. These roustabouts frequently change, making my band an ever-shifting work-in-progress. Each unique version explores a different path unknown to the incarnations before it.

I wanted to get involved with this festival because I am proud to be a Kentuckian and I am proud to be from this area. My family has lived and died in this area for so long that there is more of my DNA in this soil than dirt. I want to do whatever I can to help promote and preserve our heritage and culture. A lot of people say it, but few truly mean it: LLKM! Long Live Kentucky Music!

Hollywood Gutterats
(www.facebook.com/HollywoodGutterats)

Home is where the rock is! The Hollywood Gutterats are Slush (lead vox and guitar), Yngwie Springsteen (guitar), Micheal Anthony Hall (bass), and Tommy Lee Greenwood (drums).

Why did we get involved? Because Slush and Mat Pentacost both like Taco Bell Chalupas!

Music and art is important because it touches everyone in one way or another. And who doesn’t like to be touched?

Technology Versus Horse
(www.reverbnation.com/technologyvshorse)

Technology Versus Horse as a band is from Bowling Green, KY. We all met while/shortly after attending WKU. We are composed of Mike Farmer (vocals), myself (Rafe Heltsley–guitar), Matt Bitner (bass), David Prater (keys), and Josh Hines (drums).

I grew up in White Plains, KY and went to high school in Madisonville (Hopkins County Central High School). When Mat Pentecost was thinking about throwing the festival, he mentioned it to me. I thought it sounded like a great idea and wanted my band to play to show our support.

Music and art are very important outlets of expression. They also help gather people together, bonding over a shared favorite band or artist or meeting up at local shows.

The Fair-Weather Kings
(www.facebook.com/thefairweatherkings)

The Fair-Weather Kings started in Bowling Green KY and all of us still live here. Our members our Wesley Stone, Zach Barton, Jason Williams, Craig Brown, and Marcus Long

Zach and I (Wesley) grew up in Madisonville. Marcus is also from Hopkins County. So we have "roots" there, so to speak. Zach and Marcus' parents still live in Hopkins County. So, for us, getting involved with the festival was about the opportunity to be involved in an event that not only benefits the American Red Cross, but also brings art, in various forms, to a town that a few of us have called home.

Art and music are important because they are "tools" that have many uses; free to anyone that desires them.

The Artists and Vendors
QUESTIONS:
1.) What's your personal info (name, age, hometown, business name and overview, etc.)?
2.) Why is your art form or craft important to you personally?
3.) Why did you decide to get involved with the MadFlavor Fest? OR Why is the festival important to our community?

MCC Humanities Division
(www.madisonville.kctcs.edu/)

Myself (Brooke Archila) and perhaps a few others will be setting up a booth to represent the Humanities Division at Madisonville Community College. The Humanities Division is an eclectic group of instructors who teach classes in the fields of English, history, communications, foreign languages, music, reading, art, and women's studies. We support and promote anything related to these areas on campus and in the community. The study of humanities in various forms is essential to understanding ourselves and the world around us. Through these areas of study, we express our creativity and share in the creativity of others. In our representation of our department at the festival, we want to share the many cool things we have going on in the fall and encourage involvement and support!

Bad Apple Paintwerks
(www.facebook.com/BadApplePaintwerks)
My name is Patrick Harvey and I'm the owner of Bad Apple Paintwerks. I'm 38 and my hometown is Hopkins County. I create art directed towards the musically inclined.

Why is what I do important to me personally? A favorite quote of mine might sum that up: "Paint chips make me thirsty."

I decided to get involved with this festival because I live here and I want to help promote the arts in our community when I have the chance. 

HoldFast WoodCO.
(www.facebook.com/HoldfastWoodCo)
 
My name is Cody McDowell. I’m 24 years old and live in Madisonville, KY. I’m the owner of HoldFast WoodCO. I create simple custom furniture and home decor.

Woodworking is important to me because it’s becoming a lost art, yet it’s one of the basic trades that defines us as a country and as a civilization in general. I think that using reclaimed materials and old tools to do my work is also an important part of what I do because anyone can go to Lowe’s and buy a new 2x4, but if you go to a barn and pull off a 2x4, it has character, it’s had purpose, and it’s been reliable for years and years. Taking something like that and making it into a coffee table for someone means they have a piece of history that will outlive them; it’s something that they can pass to their kids. The Mad Flavor Fest is important to the Hopkins County region, as well as all the local artists and crafts people, because maybe for that one day that we are set up, someone will buy a CD from a band that actually needs the money, and instead of getting something out of a box at Wal-Mart, they will buy something handmade and invest just a little money back into their local economy.

Elite Tattoo Lounge
(www.facebook.com/EliteTattooLounge)

My name is Aaron “Chappy” Chapman. I’m originally from Denver, CO and I own and operate Elite Tattoo Lounge (530 E. Center St., Madisonville KY 42431). We are a full service tattoo and body mod studio, specializing in all styles of tattooing from black and grey, to new school, to photorealism.

The art of tattooing is important to me for many reasons. First, it’s how I make my living, and I make a very good living doing it. It’s really about doing something that you love, but when you can make a living doing it, it is priceless. This is not my job, it is my career and my work. It is what people will know of me when I die.

I decided to get involved with the Mad Flavor Fest because I believe in Madisonville. For so long there has been a lack of focus in this area toward the arts and culture, and people here have lacked a focal point to channel their artistic talents. This town is so full of talented people it is going to burst. That is what the Mad Flavor Fest is to me: the Madisonville arts community no longer being content to stay at home, no longer being contained!

Travis Shanks
(www.facebook.com/tshanks7720?fref=ts)
 
I’m Travis Shanks, 21, and my hometown is Slaughters, KY

Painting and drawing is important to me because it's a great way to express myself. At one point in my life, it helped me escape some hard times. Art gives a way for us to bring beauty into a world where beauty is rapidly thinning.

I decided to get involved with the Mad Flavor Fest so I could share my art with more people. And, hopefully, to become known in some way as a reputable artist in the community. The Mad Flavor Fest is most definitely important to our community and what we, as artists, are trying to achieve. Hopefully, this festival will open the eyes of the community to the true value of art, which is so often forgotten in modern times. Also, it's going to be a great place to meet all the people in the local area that share your passions. I cannot wait!

Poppy & Clover (Gina Boyd & Riley Jo Dever)
(www.facebook.com/poppyandclover?fref=ts)

We are a mother/daughter team that loves to craft. We specialize in antiques, soy candles, soaps, pillows, and many other delightful offerings. We are hoping to actually open a store by summertime so that we may invite you down for a cup of tea and to browse around—or just to stop in and say hello.

We have always enjoyed art and crafting around with each other. We decided a couple of years ago to team up and begin to create things that appeal to us and hopefully to others. I love to decorate and it is fulfilling to adorn my home with things that I have created.

We decided to get involved with the Mad Flavor Fest so that we could offer some of our goods for the public to come by and see. As we work on opening our store, we are selling things out of our home. We have been asked my many people to see our things in-person, so here is an opportunity to do that. We hope many people come out and enjoy a day of music and art that is offered by local community members.

Big Biting Pig Productions
(www.bigbitingpigproductions.com/)

Steve Hudgins: I’m originally from Chicago, IL, but I currently live in Dawson Springs, KY.

Big Biting Pig Productions specializes in feature-length thrillers and horror films. I love telling stories, acting, directing others to get the most out of themselves and watching everything come together, so being a filmmaker is kind of a natural thing for my tastes.

I think it's great to have a festival that focuses on Madisonville and helps those in the community see what is out there that they may not be aware of.

PJ Woodside: I'm PJ Woodside, living in Madisonville, originally from Charleston, SC, married to Jude Roy of Louisiana Cajun heritage. I mostly collaborate with Steve Hudgins of Big Biting Pig Productions on movie projects, such as my latest movie which will be premiering this summer, Lucid. We also make book trailers, commercials, and music videos through PJ's Productions.

I've come to appreciate horror movies much more since we started making them several years ago. They help people release their everyday fears in a nonthreatening way. The one we're showing at the festival, Spirit Stalkers, is a combination of ghost hunter’s show and a classic haunted house movie. It will have you on the edge of your seat and jumping many times, but the characters are also interesting and believable. It's important to me to tell stories that matter to people and have some emotional resonance.

I got involved, well, because you asked me! But also, there are a lot of Madisonville locations and people in our movies, so we like to share them with the local community when possible! It's always good to see what is being made right here, right under our noses!

The Learn’d Housewife
(www.facebook.com/thelearndhousewife)

I’m Cassie Pendergraff from the wonderful metropolis of Madvegas. I’m a 2002 MNHHS graduate and owner of The Learn’d Housewife. I enjoy crafting and trying new things. I’ve always loved fabric; I come from a long generation of quilters, so finding new ways to work with fabric is always an adventure. I decided to start making fabric button earrings. For me, it’s a fun way to keep memories. I can take scraps from pretty much anything—a baby quilt, a dress I’ve worn, my daughter’s coming home outfits—and make a pair of earrings or a necklace.

I decided to get involved with the MadFlavor Fest because I love supporting local artisans. It’s a great opportunity to see what’s out there in the community and get connected with other people who have similar interests. There are so many unique and creative people hiding in our hometown and it is events like the Mad Flavor Fest that gives them a chance to crawl out of the woodwork.

* * * * * * *

For more on the Mad Flavor Fest, including directions to the Ballard Convention Center (605 E. Arch St., Madisonville), ticket sales, admission information, vendor sign-up sheets, a full list of current performers, artists, vendors, filmmakers, and much more, visit the recently launched Mad Flavor Arts & Music Festival website at the following address: www.MadFlavorFest.com.

You can also find the Mad Flavor Festival’s official Facebook page by clicking here.

To read another Sugg Street Post article about the Mad Flavor Fest, which was written by Jessica Dockrey, click here. To learn more about the CINEMADIC Film Festival, click here.

All ticket sales and additional proceeds raised via the Mad Flavor Arts & Music Festival will go to support the efforts of the Mid-West Kentucky Chapter of the Red CrossTo learn more about the Mid-West Kentucky Chapter of the Red Cross, click here.

The Mad Flavor Arts & Music Festival is sponsored by the Mid-West Kentucky Chapter of the Red Cross, the Sugg Street Post, and Art Interactions

Sugg Street Post
Written by Luke Short
Photos courtesy of Jessi Smith, Jeff Harp, and Respective Mad Flavor Festival Participants

 

Read more...

MAD Flavor Fest - Through the Eyes of the Artists

MADISONVILLE, KY (5/28/13)—Madisonville’s first premier music, arts, and film festival, the Mad Flavor Fest, is coming up on Saturday, June 15th, 2013 at the Ballard Convention Center—and it’s no surprise that the inaugural event is garnering attention from communities across the tri-state region and beyond. With an ever-growing lineup of entertainment that currently includes performances by 13 local and out-of-state bands, over 15 art-based vendor booths, 11 US and internationally-produced independent films, a variety of family-friendly activities, food, refreshments such as beer and wine, and more, the festival is poised to be one of the tri-state area’s most entertaining summer events.

But what originally prompted a festival of this scale?

In the late spring of 2012, a powerful concept materialized before former Madisonville resident and The Late Circuit DJ, Mat Pentecost: to organize Madisonville’s first large-scale, collaboration-based arts and music festival that would showcase the wide swath of talent our region holds, while also supporting a positive cause (which, in this case, would become the Mid-West Kentucky Chapter of the Red Cross).

As Pentecost explains, the idea came to him after revisiting music he had created with friends in Hopkins County. From there, he pondered upon the relatively unrecognized talent he was surrounded by throughout his youth, and he came to a realization that this underlying, albeit powerful, sense of synergy deserved a place in the public spotlight.

Soon after, Pentecost created a Facebook page that would help to gauge interest in such an event while also serving as a platform for regional collaboration among artists, musicians, filmmakers, and volunteers. The response was immediate and notable, leading Pentecost to take the first steps onto what would become a year-long path of planning, mediation, and overall event organization.

Today, just over a year later, Pentecost’s original vision is mere weeks away from becoming a tangible reality thanks to the support of the Mid-West Kentucky Chapter of the Red Cross, a variety of volunteers and supporters, local artists, musicians, filmmakers, and many more helping hands.

And while the recently launched Mad Flavor Fest website—www.madflavorfest.com—contains information on performers, artists, ticket prices, vendor participation, films, and much more, the Sugg Street Post has reached out to many of the people involved with the festival over the past few weeks to get their take on why the upcoming event is so important to our community, as well as why they got involved. Their respective responses are as follows. 

The Organizers
QUESTIONS:
1.) Why did you decide to get involved with the festival as a volunteer?
2.) Why is a festival like this so important to our region?

Mat Pentecost
I incidentally started this thing because I was listening to a lot of old cassette tape recordings of StereoPop. I just wanted to goof off and hang out with my friends again. I was certain that I wasn't alone in that feeling. I feel that the festival is important because I don't want greater Hopkins County to lose the talent and forward-thinking visionaries that I know this region produces due to boredom and lack of positive stimuli. This happened with most of my generation. Most of us moved away. Why? What happened? Or more importantly, what didn't happen?

Seth Owen 
I decided to volunteer so I could help play a part in promoting the local art scene and businesses in the community where I grew up. Having multiple public outlets available throughout the year where artists can perform and display their talents are important, as is providing local businesses more opportunities to succeed. Growing up playing drums in a few different indie bands in Hopkins County and performing at different events was something I am grateful for having done—especially after living in a few different large metropolitan areas, I see how big of a role the arts have in our daily lives.

Whitney Drewe Wardrip 
I got involved because it is an honor that the festival benefits the Red Cross. We are thrilled to be a part of such an awesome event that is so desperately needed in our community!







Christopher Mcdonald

From as far back as I can remember, I've had a love for, and have felt a deep connection with, music and the arts. Living in this town, I've had the honor to grow up with and form friendships with some intensely talented artists and musicians. Unfortunately, as has been discussed, there are few venues and platforms in the area for these amazing minds to display their gifts. So when Mat shot this idea out, I jumped at the opportunity to help in anyway he needed me. The fact that this thing evolved into a charity event to benefit the Red Cross was the icing on the cake. I knew how huge this could be for the community both artistically and economically. I knew I didn't have nearly as much to offer as the majority of the group, and was humbled to be asked to be a part of what I see becoming the single greatest gathering of local talent seen here to date. This thing is like a dream come true.

Jessica Dockrey 
I got involved with the festival because I love collaboration on a massive scale. It's truly amazing to see what I would consider a piece of collage art, the festival, come to life. People need to appreciate the people that surround them. Being able to share your talents with your community is important to each individual as well as the area as a whole. Love where you live. It's easy if you involve yourself in what's going on around you and make yourself aware of all the reasons to appreciate all that deserves to be appreciated. Acknowledge the people that actively contribute in your life experience.


The Musicians

QUESTIONS:
1.) Where do you call home and who all is a part of your band?
2.) Why did you decide to get involved with this festival?
3.) Why is music and art important to both smaller communities and society at large?

Philosopher’s Stone
(http://pstonemusic.com/)
 
We create music in the hills of Boone County, KY. The four of us live in northern Kentucky just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. The music makers in Philosopher’s Stone are Chris Laile (bass), John Carrico (drums), Jon '8k' Divita (keys/synthesis) and me, Brad Denham (guitar/vox).

We were invited to perform at the inaugural MAD Flavor Fest via Mat Pentencost, who we have played music with in Cincinnati. Matty P has performed at many of our shows over the years and usually ends up on stage with us for live jams.

Music is an integral part of society…it is essential to completeness. Music and song are basic human functions, like the beating heart or breathing. Like birds and crickets, we all have a song. A quick search of the internet yields an interesting fact: "there is no international law that requires a country to adopt an anthem, yet currently every country has realized that this is something that is needed as part of a national identity. An anthem is used to musically express what a country—or any other group of people—stand for and what unites them.” (www.nationalanthems.info) Music allows us to express our fears, our pain, our wants and desires; it enlightens, elates, and transcends. Above all else, it can express our deepest love. A song can speak for the things that are not easily said. Like a needle in the groove, music imprints itself on the human heart and brain capturing the experience and moment in time, and, upon listening again, those memories and feelings are triggered and can be relived again and again. There is nothing like a great song that can magically take you back to relive your childhood.

If I had to choose between losing my sight or losing my hearing, I would choose sight. The first thing you do when you hear something beautiful or when you experience pleasure is shut your eyes.

Pat Ballard
(http://www.reverbnation.com/patballard)

My home is Hopkins County. The guys I’ll be playing with at the festival are Jon Gilbert (guitar), Gary Madison (bass), Clint Combs (drums), and maybe Johnny Keyz (keyboard).

When I found out about Mat and what he was putting together, and his passion and drive to showcase the talent here and regionally, I just wanted to help in any way I could. Mat has worked really hard to bring so many people together for a great cause, which is not only a benefit for the Red Cross, but also a benefit to all of us by getting so many musicians from this area at one festival.

It’s hard to articulate an answer to the last one. The benefits of the arts to all communities are just so intangible. It really gives us artsy types a little more room to breathe.

Falter
(https://www.facebook.com/FalterMusic)

Home for Falter is right here in Hopkins County. With the exception of our drummer Bryan Thomas who resides in Hopkinsville, KY, all other members (Kevin Offutt, John Pierce, Brad Wilson, Adam O’Rear) were raised right here in Hopkins County.

We in Falter are big believers in giving back to our community, charities, and to society in general. Each year we set aside time and promotions for events such as the Mad Flavor Fest. We have done quite a few this year. Most recently, we played the Thumbs Up For What’s Wright Benefit in Nashville at the Tin Roof. We have had very much support from our fans, especially the fans right here in Hopkins County, so we were thrilled at the chance of being a part of this event for our hometown community and for the American Red Cross. It’s been some time now since we’ve been able to play a show right here at home due to scheduling issues, so being a part of this event is very exciting because allows a way to raise money for the American Red Cross while also bringing awareness to this community, which is a plentiful melting pot of talent. Whether it be musicianship or the arts, Hopkins County is rich with both.

There are so many points that I could address on the matter of music and art’s importance and role in raising of a cultured and great society. Music was a huge part of my life personally, and at no matter what point of my life, I have always acknowledged there has been an overwhelming yearning and calling in my life for music. I am following the calling now on a larger scale, but even if I wasn’t, music will always be a large part of me. To us, the biggest importance to a community and society is self expression and our rights and freedom. So many times I have heard stories of schools cutting the arts programs, and this saddens me because these programs give kids the avenue to find their true passions as artists.

JT Oglesby
(www.facebook.com/jtoglesby)

I am a gypsy-spirited vagabond that embarked on a spiritual journey exploring the musical and creative aspects of the world during my teens, which continues to this day. My band consists of rounders, misfits, and other miscreants I have encountered over the years that embrace a noncompliant societal and creative view. These roustabouts frequently change, making my band an ever-shifting work-in-progress. Each unique version explores a different path unknown to the incarnations before it.

I wanted to get involved with this festival because I am proud to be a Kentuckian and I am proud to be from this area. My family has lived and died in this area for so long that there is more of my DNA in this soil than dirt. I want to do whatever I can to help promote and preserve our heritage and culture. A lot of people say it, but few truly mean it: LLKM! Long Live Kentucky Music!

Hollywood Gutterats
(www.facebook.com/HollywoodGutterats)

Home is where the rock is! The Hollywood Gutterats are Slush (lead vox and guitar), Yngwie Springsteen (guitar), Micheal Anthony Hall (bass), and Tommy Lee Greenwood (drums).

Why did we get involved? Because Slush and Mat Pentacost both like Taco Bell Chalupas!

Music and art is important because it touches everyone in one way or another. And who doesn’t like to be touched?

Technology Versus Horse
(www.reverbnation.com/technologyvshorse)

Technology Versus Horse as a band is from Bowling Green, KY. We all met while/shortly after attending WKU. We are composed of Mike Farmer (vocals), myself (Rafe Heltsley–guitar), Matt Bitner (bass), David Prater (keys), and Josh Hines (drums).

I grew up in White Plains, KY and went to high school in Madisonville (Hopkins County Central High School). When Mat Pentecost was thinking about throwing the festival, he mentioned it to me. I thought it sounded like a great idea and wanted my band to play to show our support.

Music and art are very important outlets of expression. They also help gather people together, bonding over a shared favorite band or artist or meeting up at local shows.

The Fair-Weather Kings
(www.facebook.com/thefairweatherkings)

The Fair-Weather Kings started in Bowling Green KY and all of us still live here. Our members our Wesley Stone, Zach Barton, Jason Williams, Craig Brown, and Marcus Long

Zach and I (Wesley) grew up in Madisonville. Marcus is also from Hopkins County. So we have "roots" there, so to speak. Zach and Marcus' parents still live in Hopkins County. So, for us, getting involved with the festival was about the opportunity to be involved in an event that not only benefits the American Red Cross, but also brings art, in various forms, to a town that a few of us have called home.

Art and music are important because they are "tools" that have many uses; free to anyone that desires them.

The Artists and Vendors
QUESTIONS:
1.) What's your personal info (name, age, hometown, business name and overview, etc.)?
2.) Why is your art form or craft important to you personally?
3.) Why did you decide to get involved with the MadFlavor Fest? OR Why is the festival important to our community?

MCC Humanities Division
(www.madisonville.kctcs.edu/)

Myself (Brooke Archila) and perhaps a few others will be setting up a booth to represent the Humanities Division at Madisonville Community College. The Humanities Division is an eclectic group of instructors who teach classes in the fields of English, history, communications, foreign languages, music, reading, art, and women's studies. We support and promote anything related to these areas on campus and in the community. The study of humanities in various forms is essential to understanding ourselves and the world around us. Through these areas of study, we express our creativity and share in the creativity of others. In our representation of our department at the festival, we want to share the many cool things we have going on in the fall and encourage involvement and support!

Bad Apple Paintwerks
(www.facebook.com/BadApplePaintwerks)
My name is Patrick Harvey and I'm the owner of Bad Apple Paintwerks. I'm 38 and my hometown is Hopkins County. I create art directed towards the musically inclined.

Why is what I do important to me personally? A favorite quote of mine might sum that up: "Paint chips make me thirsty."

I decided to get involved with this festival because I live here and I want to help promote the arts in our community when I have the chance. 

HoldFast WoodCO.
(www.facebook.com/HoldfastWoodCo)
 
My name is Cody McDowell. I’m 24 years old and live in Madisonville, KY. I’m the owner of HoldFast WoodCO. I create simple custom furniture and home decor.

Woodworking is important to me because it’s becoming a lost art, yet it’s one of the basic trades that defines us as a country and as a civilization in general. I think that using reclaimed materials and old tools to do my work is also an important part of what I do because anyone can go to Lowe’s and buy a new 2x4, but if you go to a barn and pull off a 2x4, it has character, it’s had purpose, and it’s been reliable for years and years. Taking something like that and making it into a coffee table for someone means they have a piece of history that will outlive them; it’s something that they can pass to their kids. The Mad Flavor Fest is important to the Hopkins County region, as well as all the local artists and crafts people, because maybe for that one day that we are set up, someone will buy a CD from a band that actually needs the money, and instead of getting something out of a box at Wal-Mart, they will buy something handmade and invest just a little money back into their local economy.

Elite Tattoo Lounge
(www.facebook.com/EliteTattooLounge)

My name is Aaron “Chappy” Chapman. I’m originally from Denver, CO and I own and operate Elite Tattoo Lounge (530 E. Center St., Madisonville KY 42431). We are a full service tattoo and body mod studio, specializing in all styles of tattooing from black and grey, to new school, to photorealism.

The art of tattooing is important to me for many reasons. First, it’s how I make my living, and I make a very good living doing it. It’s really about doing something that you love, but when you can make a living doing it, it is priceless. This is not my job, it is my career and my work. It is what people will know of me when I die.

I decided to get involved with the Mad Flavor Fest because I believe in Madisonville. For so long there has been a lack of focus in this area toward the arts and culture, and people here have lacked a focal point to channel their artistic talents. This town is so full of talented people it is going to burst. That is what the Mad Flavor Fest is to me: the Madisonville arts community no longer being content to stay at home, no longer being contained!

Travis Shanks
(www.facebook.com/tshanks7720?fref=ts)
 
I’m Travis Shanks, 21, and my hometown is Slaughters, KY

Painting and drawing is important to me because it's a great way to express myself. At one point in my life, it helped me escape some hard times. Art gives a way for us to bring beauty into a world where beauty is rapidly thinning.

I decided to get involved with the Mad Flavor Fest so I could share my art with more people. And, hopefully, to become known in some way as a reputable artist in the community. The Mad Flavor Fest is most definitely important to our community and what we, as artists, are trying to achieve. Hopefully, this festival will open the eyes of the community to the true value of art, which is so often forgotten in modern times. Also, it's going to be a great place to meet all the people in the local area that share your passions. I cannot wait!

Poppy & Clover (Gina Boyd & Riley Jo Dever)
(www.facebook.com/poppyandclover?fref=ts)

We are a mother/daughter team that loves to craft. We specialize in antiques, soy candles, soaps, pillows, and many other delightful offerings. We are hoping to actually open a store by summertime so that we may invite you down for a cup of tea and to browse around—or just to stop in and say hello.

We have always enjoyed art and crafting around with each other. We decided a couple of years ago to team up and begin to create things that appeal to us and hopefully to others. I love to decorate and it is fulfilling to adorn my home with things that I have created.

We decided to get involved with the Mad Flavor Fest so that we could offer some of our goods for the public to come by and see. As we work on opening our store, we are selling things out of our home. We have been asked my many people to see our things in-person, so here is an opportunity to do that. We hope many people come out and enjoy a day of music and art that is offered by local community members.

Big Biting Pig Productions
(www.bigbitingpigproductions.com/)

Steve Hudgins: I’m originally from Chicago, IL, but I currently live in Dawson Springs, KY.

Big Biting Pig Productions specializes in feature-length thrillers and horror films. I love telling stories, acting, directing others to get the most out of themselves and watching everything come together, so being a filmmaker is kind of a natural thing for my tastes.

I think it's great to have a festival that focuses on Madisonville and helps those in the community see what is out there that they may not be aware of.

PJ Woodside: I'm PJ Woodside, living in Madisonville, originally from Charleston, SC, married to Jude Roy of Louisiana Cajun heritage. I mostly collaborate with Steve Hudgins of Big Biting Pig Productions on movie projects, such as my latest movie which will be premiering this summer, Lucid. We also make book trailers, commercials, and music videos through PJ's Productions.

I've come to appreciate horror movies much more since we started making them several years ago. They help people release their everyday fears in a nonthreatening way. The one we're showing at the festival, Spirit Stalkers, is a combination of ghost hunter’s show and a classic haunted house movie. It will have you on the edge of your seat and jumping many times, but the characters are also interesting and believable. It's important to me to tell stories that matter to people and have some emotional resonance.

I got involved, well, because you asked me! But also, there are a lot of Madisonville locations and people in our movies, so we like to share them with the local community when possible! It's always good to see what is being made right here, right under our noses!

The Learn’d Housewife
(www.facebook.com/thelearndhousewife)

I’m Cassie Pendergraff from the wonderful metropolis of Madvegas. I’m a 2002 MNHHS graduate and owner of The Learn’d Housewife. I enjoy crafting and trying new things. I’ve always loved fabric; I come from a long generation of quilters, so finding new ways to work with fabric is always an adventure. I decided to start making fabric button earrings. For me, it’s a fun way to keep memories. I can take scraps from pretty much anything—a baby quilt, a dress I’ve worn, my daughter’s coming home outfits—and make a pair of earrings or a necklace.

I decided to get involved with the MadFlavor Fest because I love supporting local artisans. It’s a great opportunity to see what’s out there in the community and get connected with other people who have similar interests. There are so many unique and creative people hiding in our hometown and it is events like the Mad Flavor Fest that gives them a chance to crawl out of the woodwork.

* * * * * * *

For more on the Mad Flavor Fest, including directions to the Ballard Convention Center (605 E. Arch St., Madisonville), ticket sales, admission information, vendor sign-up sheets, a full list of current performers, artists, vendors, filmmakers, and much more, visit the recently launched Mad Flavor Arts & Music Festival website at the following address: www.MadFlavorFest.com.

You can also find the Mad Flavor Festival’s official Facebook page by clicking here.

To read another Sugg Street Post article about the Mad Flavor Fest, which was written by Jessica Dockrey, click here. To learn more about the CINEMADIC Film Festival, click here.

All ticket sales and additional proceeds raised via the Mad Flavor Arts & Music Festival will go to support the efforts of the Mid-West Kentucky Chapter of the Red CrossTo learn more about the Mid-West Kentucky Chapter of the Red Cross, click here.

The Mad Flavor Arts & Music Festival is sponsored by the Mid-West Kentucky Chapter of the Red Cross, the Sugg Street Post, and Art Interactions

Sugg Street Post
Written by Luke Short
Photos courtesy of Jessi Smith, Jeff Harp, and Respective Mad Flavor Festival Participants

 

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Gear Guide: Last Ride of a Legend

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (4/1/13)—It was born in Kalamazoo during the peak of the “golden age”; it’s survived countless state-hopping road trips and a fully involved house fire; it’s graced the hands of highly skilled artists known all over the world for their remarkable talents; it’s seen the Smithsonian and the Grand Ole Opry; it’s recently garnered the attention of area newspapers, the Hopkins County Genealogical and Historical Societies, and Western Kentucky University’s Folk Studies Department, just to name a few; and it stands as one of only several intact instruments that helped to bring a purely western Kentucky style of music to full fruition. But, odds are, it—a 1959 Gibson ES-225TD—would have been just another collectible guitar without the pivotal touch of its late owner, Mose Rager.

A native of Muhlenberg County, Mose Rager placed a vital stamp on the enduring style and sound of western Kentucky thumbpicking in the early to mid-20th Century. Putting this prowess in perspective, it was Rager that taught globally acclaimed country musician and Kentucky native, Merle Travis, how to thumbpick during the ‘30s and ‘40s. Though the style is coined by many as “Travis Picking” today, Travis never shied away from letting the public know that Mose was one of his most important early mentors.

And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

While Rager never really gained any widespread “spotlight” notoriety for his fervent and innovative approach to the intricate, dual-toned thumb style, his rich musical legacy continues to inspire and directly influence many of the region’s most notable contemporary artists.

Among this group of Rager-inspired artists is Nortonville, KY resident, award-winning thumbpicker, and “all-terrain” musician, J.T. Oglesby (pictured above).

A longtime friend of the Rager family, Oglesby has spent years listening to and studying Rager’s storied, but relatively rare catalogue of music, the hand-me-down stories of his lengthy life, and the historic mystique that has come to envelope the region-specific style he helped to propagate.

In turn, Oglesby recently got the “dream-like” chance to take Mose’s well-seasoned 1959 Gibson ES-225TD electric guitar on what he says could easily be its “last ride” in Kentucky—a ride that is still underway as of this writing.

In addition to recording a slew of both traditional and modern tracks with the guitar thanks to the help of local musician, Patrick “Patson” Richardson, Oglesby has also been in talks with the Western Kentucky University Folks Studies Department regarding a documentary style piece focused on the instrument and recently played/showcased the instrument at a Paducah-based concert filmed by KET that is to be televised in May.

In honoring this momentous, seemingly once-in-a-lifetime occasion, while also drawing attention to the upcoming celebration of Rager’s life and music—Mose Rager Day—which will be held at the Drakesboro, KY Community Center (fire station) on April 13th from 10am to close, the Sugg Street Post would like present our readers with a look at the life of Mose Rager and the influence he had on the thumbpicking style, some in-depth research conducted on his beloved 53-year-old Gibson, and the backstory that led Oglesby to the instrument.

* Mose Rager was born on April 2nd, 1911 in Drakesboro, KY (Muhlenberg County) and passed away in Greenville on May 14th, 1986 at the age of 75.

* Mose was a family man that primarily worked as a barber. Among other things, he was also employed by several coal mines throughout his life. Interestingly, he served out a short stint with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in Paducah, KY.

* Described by many area musicians as the “father” of thumbpicking, Mose—by all historic accounts—taught legendary country musician and Muhlenberg County native, Merle Travis, how to play the innovative style for which he is now popularly known (“Travis Picking”). In paying homage to his roots, however, Travis never shied away from giving full credit to Mose for teaching him the style. Along with his lengthy, hit-making recording history and live performance prowess, Merle Travis also starred in several western movies and TV shows. In turn, his music was also featured on nationally released films and national syndications. For example, Travis performed alongside Frank Sinatra in one of his original songs, “Reenlistment Blues,” which would be used in the classic 1953 film, From Here to Eternity.

Mose Rager  and his Gibson ES-225TD pose with Don and Phil Everly of The Everly Brothers.

PHOTO: Mose Rager  and his Gibson ES-225TD pose with Don and Phil Everly of The Everly Brothers. 

* Inspired by the African-American-based and parlor-style guitar playing of his mother, Alice DeArmond Jones, as well as the increasing popularity of bluesy guitar “rags” prevalent during the early half of the 20th Century, regional native Kennedy Jones is credited with actually creating what came to be known as thumbpicking or “thumb style.” While Jones is noted as the originator of the style—and is also known for using a “Hawaiian” style steel guitar thumbpick for the very first time, which are still used today—his relatively nascent approach was taken to new, innovative heights by the likes of Mose, Ike Everly, and fellow “thumbpicking originator” Arnold Schultz. It was this group of artists that, as many accounts attest, truly produced what’s now known as Western Kentucky Thumbpicking.

* For several years, Mose spent time on the road as a professional touring musician and played alongside Grandpa Jones, Curly Fox, Texas Ruby, and other WSM Barn Dance/Grand Ole Opry stars of the day. However, after being involved in a bus crash, Mose immediately stopped touring. (EDITOR’S NOTE: The radio tag WSM, which was fashioned in 1925 by the station’s originators, The National Life and Accident Insurance Company, stood for “We Shield Millions.” WSM’s Barn Dance program and live music venue would eventually be renamed The Grand Ole Opry in 1927)

* Mose performed a striking rendition of “Black Mountain Rag” at the Grand Ole Opry. The guitar he used that particular night was the Gibson ES-225TD seen in the attached photos.

* Throughout his life, records and firsthand accounts indicate that Mose rarely played the same guitar more than once or twice. As these same accounts evidence, he often borrowed and traded guitars with other local musicians. As mentioned in a previously-released post found on the Ohio Fingerstyle Guitar Club’s official website:

Like many struggling non-famous guitarists, it was told that if Mose ever got a guitar—he didn't have it for long. Sometimes he didn't even have one. Merle Travis joked on the album, Travis Atkins Traveling Show, that Mose “would sometimes borrow a guitar from one person, play it for a while, and then give it back and borrow a guitar from somebody else.”

However, both his Gibson ES-125 (now on display at the Merle Travis Center in Central City, KY; see photo below) and the ES-225TD were among some his most beloved instruments and remained with him throughout much of his life.

* While Mose played alongside a plethora of talented musicians during his life, including country music star, Chet Atkins, Central City sensations, The Everly Brothers, jazz master, Lenny Breau, country music star, Merle Travis (of course), and many others, Mose was apprehensive when it came to recording his works. In fact, many described Mose as being “studio shy.” Interestingly enough, one of his sessions, which may or may not still exist on record, was captured through a little bit of sly maneuvering on the part of fellow musicians and engineers. As the story goes, when he paid a visit to a recording studio in Central City, the recording “light” had to be unscrewed. The reason: as soon as the light would come on signaling that recording was underway, Mose would simply freeze up.

* Today, acclaimed area musician, entertainer, and the unequivocal “king” of the thumbpicking style, Eddie Pennington, as well as other acclaimed performers (Alonzo Pennington, J.T. Oglesby, Steve Rector, Paul Mosely, and more) give credit to Mose for inspiring their deep affinity for the west Kentucky style.

* The following excerpt taken from David K. Bradford’s, “The Unstrung History of the American Guitar: The Guitar and Early 19th Century American Music,” provides an insightful historical look at Mose’s influence and the thumbpicking style:

In western Kentucky, most specifically in Muhlenberg County, a style of fingerpicking emerged, typically called “thumbpicking” or “thumb style,” which, like the Piedmont style, uses the fingers to play a syncopated melodic line on the treble strings while the thumb plucks a bass line on the beat. Also like the Piedmont style, flashy guitar rags were often the showpieces for Kentucky thumbpickers, with “Cannon Ball Rag” the piece that still defines the accomplished guitarist. This style would become enormously influential in country music as “Travis picking,” named for country guitar great, Merle Travis (1917-1983), a Muhlenberg County native.

Travis was influenced by white Muhlenberg guitarists Mose Rager and Ike Everly (father of Don and Phil, the Everly Brothers), who in turn had learned from Kennedy Jones (1900-1990). Jones, according to journalist and author Bobby Anderson, was “the one man who brought it all together. … More than anyone else, ‘Jonesy’ was responsible for the sound that later became known as the ‘Merle Travis Guitar Style.’” Jones credited his style to his mother, Alice DeArmond Jones (1863-1945), but it is nearly certain that origins of Travis picking lie in a black guitar tradition that had existed in the region for many years. Jones’ greatest contribution seems to have been the fusion of a fingerpicking style that he had learned from his mother with the African-American ragtime style he heard from black players, especially the remarkable guitarist and fiddler Arnold Shultz (1886-1931).

Schultz was a favorite at white square dances, where he played with both black and white groups. “The first time ... I ever seen Arnold Shultz ... this square dance was at Rosine, Kentucky,” recalled Bill Monroe, who grew up in Rosine. “Arnold and two more colored fellows come up there and played for the dance. He was powerful with it.” Schulz never recorded, but it is clear he was an innovator, combining the syncopated country dance music style of the region with harmonic innovations he picked up performing on steamships traveling the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

At the core of Schultz’s style, by all indications, was country ragtime music with roots firmly set in the nineteenth century. Schultz was not the only black practitioner of this style of guitar playing in Western Kentucky. Other African-American guitarists – undoubtedly some of the generation prior to Schultz – also contributed to the birth of “Travis Picking.” “Colored fellers way back yonder played the thumb pick just as far as I can remember,” according to Mose Rager. Tommy Flint, another well-known Muhlenberg guitarist, cites Amos Johnson, Jim Mason and Jody Burton – all black guitar-playing coal miners – as important influences on thumbpicking. Amos Johnson’s signature piece was “Amos Johnson Rag,” which was transformed into “Guitar Rag,” a hit for Merle Travis in the 1950s.

The ES (Electric Spanish)-225 was introduced to the Gibson family of guitars in 1955 and was discontinued in the latter half of 1959. This model, like others, was manufactured at Gibson’s storied Kalamazoo, MI factory, which relocated to Nashville in 1984.

Throughout the model’s comparatively short-lived, four-year production run, two main variations were manufactured—the 225T (Thinline) and the 225TD (Thinline/Dual Pickups)—each of which had three finish options (tobacco sunburst, a lighter cherry-style sunburst, and the more expensive “natural” option, which was denoted with an “N” on the model number; ex. ES-225TDN).

While both models sported many of the same features, including a single Florentine-style cutaway, thinline-style hollow-body construction, a maple laminate top with “f” holes, a maple laminate back, mahogany sides, a one-piece mahogany neck, a Brazilian rosewood fretboard, dot-style fretboard markers, 20 frets, a four-ply black/white celluloid pickguard, single-layer binding on both the neck and body, a 24 ¾” scale length, a set neck joint, nitrocellulose lacquer, and similar body dimensions, the original 225T utilized a single P-90 pickup that was situated (oddly enough) at an angle between the neck and bridge. In turn, the inaugural “T” model donned a single volume and single tone control. The 225TD, which was introduced in mid-1956, sported two more conventionally positioned P-90s—one at the neck and one at the bridge—as well as a three-way pickup selector switch (bridge, bridge/neck, and neck), two tone controls, and two volume controls.

Though both models originally used a longer, wrap-around style trapeze tailpiece—much like the first run of early ‘50s “goldtop” Gibson Les Paul models—the 1959 ES-225 models were fitted with both a rosewood bridge/base combo and a shorter non-wrap nickel tailpiece (as seen on the ‘50s and ‘60s era ES-125T, TD, and TDC models). Therefore, when using this seemingly insignificant cosmetic peculiarity as a dating tool, it would seem that Mose’s ES-225TD was produced in one of Gibson’s most desirable “Golden” years: 1959. Though the shorter tailpiece and wooden bridge/base could have been fitted to the guitar at a later date, it’s unlikely as the rest of the guitar is completely original. What’s more, Mose’s ES-225TD sports the darker brown sunburst finish, which is considered to be rarer than the redder, cherry-type sunburst.

While the ES-225TD is more or less considered a forerunner to Gibson’s later, ‘60s era model, the ES-125TD, many guitar aficionados point out that the 225’s neck joint was deeper set and, consequently, stronger than its psychedelic-age heir. Additionally, the ES-225 was manufactured with a block of wood (probably maple or mahogany) attached to the underside of the top below the bridge area, which helps to reduce feedback when the guitar’s signal is pushed hard through a “dimed” amp. Though the block does not extend through the length of the body as in the larger semi-hollow ES-335 model, the later ES-125T, TD, and TDCs are completely hollow inside. One other distinctive difference between the models is the neck profile. Like most of Gibson’s ‘50s era guitars, the ES-225’s neck shape, more commonly known as a “U” profile, is slightly larger and rounder than its later ‘60s era counterparts.

As with most semi-hollow and hollow-body style guitars, the tone Mose’s ES-225TD produces is somewhat warmer and more dynamic than that of the average solid-body guitar (i.e. Les Paul, Telecaster, Stratocaster, SG, etc.). In the case of Mose’s vintage 225TD, this tonal characteristic is further enhanced by a combination of seasoned tonewoods and the thinner, “midrangey” signal produced from Gibson’s single-coil P-90 pickups. Taking into account the simultaneously two-sided sound of the thumbpicking style—both low rhythm and higher melody/lead lines—it’s no wonder that many thumb style practitioners oftentimes prefer a full sounding, big-bodied acoustic or a similar hollow/semi-hollow electric. The reason: the warmer tones of these dual pickup guitars accentuate the rhythm played by the thumb while still retaining enough snap to allow the melody/lead lines to cut through the mix.

Other electric hollow/semi-hollow guitars commonly used by well-known thumbpickers include Gibson’s Super-400, L-5, Byrdland, Super V, and various other ES models (such as the 335, 330, 175, and 125). As mentioned earlier, Mose’s fully hollow ES-125 was among his small group of favorites. Gretsch’s various Chet Atkins signature models, as well as similar hollow/semi-hollow productions like the White/Black Falcon, Country Club, the Eddie Cochran tribute model, the Anniversary line, and the Electromatic G5422 line, are also mainstays of the thumbpicking world. Though these particular instruments are among some of the most commonly used, thumbpicking—like any other genre of music—has been taken to a variety of differing guitar styles over time (both with and without success).

Though I’ve always loved the guitar—my parents have pictures of me in diapers holding guitars at family gatherings, around the house, and everywhere else—but Mose died before I seriously started playing.

I was first exposed to thumb style guitar playing when I was in my teens. I heard [Kennedy Jones’ “thumbpicker anthem” and Merle Travis’ hit single] “Cannonball Rag” on KET’s, Kentucky Afield. I liked it even though I was really into punk and metal at the time. I had no idea of what all was going on during that song. I thought it was two guitars playing with one doing lead and the other playing rhythm. A few months later, I ran into my cousin [award-winning thumbpicker] Eddie Pennington and saw him play both parts at the same time. I was blown away, man. I had no clue you could back yourself up with rhythm while playing lead. I had already wanted to learn classical-style guitar; the main reason was that I loved the idea of using my fingers to pick. It just seemed to me, at least at the time, that if I could pick out a melody, I could pick out five melodies if I used five picks—my fingers in this case. [laughs] Eddie started teaching me how to thumbpick not long after. I learned really quickly, but I was also playing 12-plus hours a day. I wore holes in all my jeans from resting the guitar on my leg; I had callouses on my forearms from resting them on the body of the guitar; and I wore all the finish off the neck of my guitar in a single year. Seriously, that is all I did, and it didn’t stop for years.

I had just turned 17-years-old and Eddie introduced me to all the thumbpickers. He took me around to the contests and get-togethers, too. It was at a contest that I met Mose Rager’s family. Mose’s wife, Mrs. Laverda, was a sweet and pleasant lady. I remember meeting her and his daughter, Marilyn, who goes by the nickname, “Frizz.” The nickname was given to her by Merle Travis as a kid because of her really curly blonde hair. Mrs. Laverda, Frizz, and I hit it off really well.

One day, I got a phone call from a mutual friend, Joanna Fox, who was living in Drakesboro, KY at the time. Many know her from her time as a teacher in Muhlenberg County. Basically, Joanna always used to call me out of the blue whenever she had something she knew I would like. She is related to [musician] John Prine, and when John was awarded his Kentucky Colonel certificate, she called and asked me to give it to him because she knew I was a fan. That’s just how she was. Joanna was a really nice and interesting person that always has something interesting going on. Well, one day, she called and asked me, “Would you want to play Mose’s guitar?” Within a few weeks of starting to learn from Eddie, he introduced me to recordings of Mose. I was immediately drawn to Mose’s music and personality on the recordings. So, when Joanna asked me if I wanted to play his guitar, I was beyond excited. I agreed to meet them at the fire station in Drakesboro and when I showed up, Mrs. Laverda, Frizz, Mose’s grandson, Anthony, and Joanna were there. They had two Gibson guitars and an amp with them. One was the guitar I am currently borrowing—the ES-225TD—and the other was a Gibson acoustic that was finished with an orange sunburst, but I’m not sure of the model. The amp was Mose’s personal amp, but, for some reason, I really don’t remember anything about it even though I ended up playing through it for several years. Well, that night was the start of a very long friendship that continues to this day.

Frizz showed me her home, which was right across the road from the fire station at the time, and gave me a standing invitation to visit at any time. I more than took her up on it. Every chance I got, I was there over the years. I would pick Mose’s guitars, look at family photos, have her tell me stories about him, and would listen to every recording she could dig up. It was not uncommon for me to show up around 6pm and stay until sun-up.

Around this time, I got to traveling as a musician quite a bit. [Slaughters, KY native and acclaimed musician] Chris Knight and I had standing gigs in Nashville and had started talking to labels, publishers, and the like. I would head to Nashville and stay as long as needed, then I would come home and run to Drakesboro to hang out with Frizz and learn more about Mose. I remember being in Seattle at one point and encountering my first recordings of Django Reinhardt. He is another “top hero” of mine now, but I had never heard of him at the time. I don’t even know if I stopped by the house when I returned from the airport after that. I headed straight to Drakesboro to play his recordings for Frizz. [laughs]

Frizz and her husband, Larry, had a house fire several years ago. They lost Mose’s amp and acoustic guitar in the fire, but they saved the electric—the ES-225TD—that I’m borrowing and recording with right now. Merle Travis used to draw cartoons for them when they were kids, too. Luckily, they managed to save the cartoons that Merle drew, but lost a ton of recordings of Mose. They no longer live in Drakesboro. Mrs. Laverda lived in Drakesboro until she passed away. Frizz and Larry bought Mose’s old house when he and Mrs. Laverda bought their new place right behind what is now known as “The Four Legends Fountain” in Drakesboro. The last house Mose lived in is still there, but his old house is gone.

I was with Mrs. Laverda the last time that Chet Atkins came to visit her. Chet’s health was failing and he died not too long after that. Chet spoke so highly of Mose, and he thanked Mrs. Laverda for always being hospitable and kind to the throngs of musicians, including himself, that would come to pay homage to Mose. I knew that day, as my friend drove off to take Chet back to Nashville, that it was going to be last time I saw him. You could just tell that his time was short, and he passed not long afterward. Mrs. Laverda made sure I was with her when Chet came that day. She was getting frail herself and I helped her stable herself so she could walk over and see him. It was all pretty emotional, because I knew I was witnessing the end of an era. In a way, that is how it is for me now. It is an honor to have the guitar of a personal hero, but, at the same time, I also know I am watching the end of an era once again.

Over the years, the Ragers have become a part of my family. I love them all, and they have shaped my life in ways they will never fully understand. It started out years ago, as a kid trying to discover all he could about his hero. Now, it is ending as a man that is trying his hardest to preserve the memory of a family that he has grown to love. It goes way deeper for me than just honoring a hero; I was fortunate to have the opportunity and recognized it. If I hadn’t recognized it, I would not have acted on it. If I hadn’t acted on it, my life would be totally different today. My past would be totally different. My attitude would be as if it belonged to another person. The whole family shaped my outlook, music, and various other aspects of my life.

Mose was an innovative, unique, and wonderful person. His influence on music and musicians goes far beyond the notes he hit on his guitar. 40-year-old me and 20-year-old me have many things in common: we both still love Mose’s music, we both still love to hear his stories on tape, and we both have a profound admiration for the man that gave this area its own singular style of playing, which has influenced the world. But, we also have differences. Among them is a better understanding of why Merle Travis, Chet Atkins, and countless other musicians’ lives carried with them such an impact from Mose. It was his spirit in general. He was the wise man on the mountain that not only played music is such an amazing way that it blew your mind, but also had a deep insight into people, happiness, and life so much so that that it made you examine yourself and discover things you may not have ever noticed otherwise. There was something about Mose that made you want to be good. Not just musically good, but good as a person. He made you feel like he cared, because he did. The shoddy recording methods of the time period he lived in could not squash the inner spirit of this man. He was a happy soul, and that carried across through his music, stories, and that massive laugh of his that he was not shy about unleashing. I can hear his laugh in my mind clear as I can hear the melodies of his songs.

I came to borrow Mose’s guitar just as a whim actually. I thought it would be cool if I played it on the show we filmed for KET in Paducah on March 1st. When I asked Frizz, she told me that she had no problem with it, but she had given it to Cameron, who is her grandson, and that he would have to give his okay or else she wouldn't feel right. The next day, I messaged Cameron's dad and asked if he could ask Cameron about me borrowing it. The next day, Frizz called and told me to come pick it up.

I sent out a few emails letting a few people know that I had the guitar and then went and picked it up. One of the people I emailed was Dr.Erika Brady, who is the head of WKU's Folk Studies Department. I was already planning on recording some with the guitar while I had it, too. I had contacted Patrick “Patson” Richardson about doing a recording and documentary-style project with me as well. Patson has been filming video of me in the studio while I’m recording tracks so we would have both audio and video of the guitar. Erika contacted me a day or two later and said she had a student, Mike Rivera, that had just been asking her about the whole music history of Muhlenberg county. She asked if I wanted to have them get involved. I told her it would be an honor, and that is how the idea of doing a full-fledged documentary got off to a start. Erika and I have met and talked about plans, but we were both really sick the first go around, so the meeting was short and sweet. [laughs] There is both a short-term and long-term project that we are working on. The short-term project is "What can we get recorded and documented before I return the guitar?" The long-term idea is still to be discussed more in-depth.

To hear a rare recording of Mose Rager in the studio, click here. Additional recordings can be found by searching "Mose Rager" on YouTube. 

If you would like to participate in celebrating the life and longstanding legacy of Mose Rager, please visit the Drakesboro, KY Community Center (fire station) on April 13th from 10am to close for Mose Rager Day.

To learn more about Mose Rager and the thumbpicking style, click the video player attached below this article. 

For additional “Gear Guide” articles, click here.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Luke Short
Photos of J.T. Oglesby and Mose Rager’s ES-225TD/ES-125 by Jeff Harp
Historic photos provided courtesy of J.T. Oglesby

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  • Published in Music

Gear Guide: Last Ride of a Legend

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (4/1/13)—It was born in Kalamazoo during the peak of the “golden age”; it’s survived countless state-hopping road trips and a fully involved house fire; it’s graced the hands of highly skilled artists known all over the world for their remarkable talents; it’s seen the Smithsonian and the Grand Ole Opry; it’s recently garnered the attention of area newspapers, the Hopkins County Genealogical and Historical Societies, and Western Kentucky University’s Folk Studies Department, just to name a few; and it stands as one of only several intact instruments that helped to bring a purely western Kentucky style of music to full fruition. But, odds are, it—a 1959 Gibson ES-225TD—would have been just another collectible guitar without the pivotal touch of its late owner, Mose Rager.

A native of Muhlenberg County, Mose Rager placed a vital stamp on the enduring style and sound of western Kentucky thumbpicking in the early to mid-20th Century. Putting this prowess in perspective, it was Rager that taught globally acclaimed country musician and Kentucky native, Merle Travis, how to thumbpick during the ‘30s and ‘40s. Though the style is coined by many as “Travis Picking” today, Travis never shied away from letting the public know that Mose was one of his most important early mentors.

And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

While Rager never really gained any widespread “spotlight” notoriety for his fervent and innovative approach to the intricate, dual-toned thumb style, his rich musical legacy continues to inspire and directly influence many of the region’s most notable contemporary artists.

Among this group of Rager-inspired artists is Nortonville, KY resident, award-winning thumbpicker, and “all-terrain” musician, J.T. Oglesby (pictured above).

A longtime friend of the Rager family, Oglesby has spent years listening to and studying Rager’s storied, but relatively rare catalogue of music, the hand-me-down stories of his lengthy life, and the historic mystique that has come to envelope the region-specific style he helped to propagate.

In turn, Oglesby recently got the “dream-like” chance to take Mose’s well-seasoned 1959 Gibson ES-225TD electric guitar on what he says could easily be its “last ride” in Kentucky—a ride that is still underway as of this writing.

In addition to recording a slew of both traditional and modern tracks with the guitar thanks to the help of local musician, Patrick “Patson” Richardson, Oglesby has also been in talks with the Western Kentucky University Folks Studies Department regarding a documentary style piece focused on the instrument and recently played/showcased the instrument at a Paducah-based concert filmed by KET that is to be televised in May.

In honoring this momentous, seemingly once-in-a-lifetime occasion, while also drawing attention to the upcoming celebration of Rager’s life and music—Mose Rager Day—which will be held at the Drakesboro, KY Community Center (fire station) on April 13th from 10am to close, the Sugg Street Post would like present our readers with a look at the life of Mose Rager and the influence he had on the thumbpicking style, some in-depth research conducted on his beloved 53-year-old Gibson, and the backstory that led Oglesby to the instrument.

* Mose Rager was born on April 2nd, 1911 in Drakesboro, KY (Muhlenberg County) and passed away in Greenville on May 14th, 1986 at the age of 75.

* Mose was a family man that primarily worked as a barber. Among other things, he was also employed by several coal mines throughout his life. Interestingly, he served out a short stint with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in Paducah, KY.

* Described by many area musicians as the “father” of thumbpicking, Mose—by all historic accounts—taught legendary country musician and Muhlenberg County native, Merle Travis, how to play the innovative style for which he is now popularly known (“Travis Picking”). In paying homage to his roots, however, Travis never shied away from giving full credit to Mose for teaching him the style. Along with his lengthy, hit-making recording history and live performance prowess, Merle Travis also starred in several western movies and TV shows. In turn, his music was also featured on nationally released films and national syndications. For example, Travis performed alongside Frank Sinatra in one of his original songs, “Reenlistment Blues,” which would be used in the classic 1953 film, From Here to Eternity.

Mose Rager  and his Gibson ES-225TD pose with Don and Phil Everly of The Everly Brothers.

PHOTO: Mose Rager  and his Gibson ES-225TD pose with Don and Phil Everly of The Everly Brothers. 

* Inspired by the African-American-based and parlor-style guitar playing of his mother, Alice DeArmond Jones, as well as the increasing popularity of bluesy guitar “rags” prevalent during the early half of the 20th Century, regional native Kennedy Jones is credited with actually creating what came to be known as thumbpicking or “thumb style.” While Jones is noted as the originator of the style—and is also known for using a “Hawaiian” style steel guitar thumbpick for the very first time, which are still used today—his relatively nascent approach was taken to new, innovative heights by the likes of Mose, Ike Everly, and fellow “thumbpicking originator” Arnold Schultz. It was this group of artists that, as many accounts attest, truly produced what’s now known as Western Kentucky Thumbpicking.

* For several years, Mose spent time on the road as a professional touring musician and played alongside Grandpa Jones, Curly Fox, Texas Ruby, and other WSM Barn Dance/Grand Ole Opry stars of the day. However, after being involved in a bus crash, Mose immediately stopped touring. (EDITOR’S NOTE: The radio tag WSM, which was fashioned in 1925 by the station’s originators, The National Life and Accident Insurance Company, stood for “We Shield Millions.” WSM’s Barn Dance program and live music venue would eventually be renamed The Grand Ole Opry in 1927)

* Mose performed a striking rendition of “Black Mountain Rag” at the Grand Ole Opry. The guitar he used that particular night was the Gibson ES-225TD seen in the attached photos.

* Throughout his life, records and firsthand accounts indicate that Mose rarely played the same guitar more than once or twice. As these same accounts evidence, he often borrowed and traded guitars with other local musicians. As mentioned in a previously-released post found on the Ohio Fingerstyle Guitar Club’s official website:

Like many struggling non-famous guitarists, it was told that if Mose ever got a guitar—he didn't have it for long. Sometimes he didn't even have one. Merle Travis joked on the album, Travis Atkins Traveling Show, that Mose “would sometimes borrow a guitar from one person, play it for a while, and then give it back and borrow a guitar from somebody else.”

However, both his Gibson ES-125 (now on display at the Merle Travis Center in Central City, KY; see photo below) and the ES-225TD were among some his most beloved instruments and remained with him throughout much of his life.

* While Mose played alongside a plethora of talented musicians during his life, including country music star, Chet Atkins, Central City sensations, The Everly Brothers, jazz master, Lenny Breau, country music star, Merle Travis (of course), and many others, Mose was apprehensive when it came to recording his works. In fact, many described Mose as being “studio shy.” Interestingly enough, one of his sessions, which may or may not still exist on record, was captured through a little bit of sly maneuvering on the part of fellow musicians and engineers. As the story goes, when he paid a visit to a recording studio in Central City, the recording “light” had to be unscrewed. The reason: as soon as the light would come on signaling that recording was underway, Mose would simply freeze up.

* Today, acclaimed area musician, entertainer, and the unequivocal “king” of the thumbpicking style, Eddie Pennington, as well as other acclaimed performers (Alonzo Pennington, J.T. Oglesby, Steve Rector, Paul Mosely, and more) give credit to Mose for inspiring their deep affinity for the west Kentucky style.

* The following excerpt taken from David K. Bradford’s, “The Unstrung History of the American Guitar: The Guitar and Early 19th Century American Music,” provides an insightful historical look at Mose’s influence and the thumbpicking style:

In western Kentucky, most specifically in Muhlenberg County, a style of fingerpicking emerged, typically called “thumbpicking” or “thumb style,” which, like the Piedmont style, uses the fingers to play a syncopated melodic line on the treble strings while the thumb plucks a bass line on the beat. Also like the Piedmont style, flashy guitar rags were often the showpieces for Kentucky thumbpickers, with “Cannon Ball Rag” the piece that still defines the accomplished guitarist. This style would become enormously influential in country music as “Travis picking,” named for country guitar great, Merle Travis (1917-1983), a Muhlenberg County native.

Travis was influenced by white Muhlenberg guitarists Mose Rager and Ike Everly (father of Don and Phil, the Everly Brothers), who in turn had learned from Kennedy Jones (1900-1990). Jones, according to journalist and author Bobby Anderson, was “the one man who brought it all together. … More than anyone else, ‘Jonesy’ was responsible for the sound that later became known as the ‘Merle Travis Guitar Style.’” Jones credited his style to his mother, Alice DeArmond Jones (1863-1945), but it is nearly certain that origins of Travis picking lie in a black guitar tradition that had existed in the region for many years. Jones’ greatest contribution seems to have been the fusion of a fingerpicking style that he had learned from his mother with the African-American ragtime style he heard from black players, especially the remarkable guitarist and fiddler Arnold Shultz (1886-1931).

Schultz was a favorite at white square dances, where he played with both black and white groups. “The first time ... I ever seen Arnold Shultz ... this square dance was at Rosine, Kentucky,” recalled Bill Monroe, who grew up in Rosine. “Arnold and two more colored fellows come up there and played for the dance. He was powerful with it.” Schulz never recorded, but it is clear he was an innovator, combining the syncopated country dance music style of the region with harmonic innovations he picked up performing on steamships traveling the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

At the core of Schultz’s style, by all indications, was country ragtime music with roots firmly set in the nineteenth century. Schultz was not the only black practitioner of this style of guitar playing in Western Kentucky. Other African-American guitarists – undoubtedly some of the generation prior to Schultz – also contributed to the birth of “Travis Picking.” “Colored fellers way back yonder played the thumb pick just as far as I can remember,” according to Mose Rager. Tommy Flint, another well-known Muhlenberg guitarist, cites Amos Johnson, Jim Mason and Jody Burton – all black guitar-playing coal miners – as important influences on thumbpicking. Amos Johnson’s signature piece was “Amos Johnson Rag,” which was transformed into “Guitar Rag,” a hit for Merle Travis in the 1950s.

The ES (Electric Spanish)-225 was introduced to the Gibson family of guitars in 1955 and was discontinued in the latter half of 1959. This model, like others, was manufactured at Gibson’s storied Kalamazoo, MI factory, which relocated to Nashville in 1984.

Throughout the model’s comparatively short-lived, four-year production run, two main variations were manufactured—the 225T (Thinline) and the 225TD (Thinline/Dual Pickups)—each of which had three finish options (tobacco sunburst, a lighter cherry-style sunburst, and the more expensive “natural” option, which was denoted with an “N” on the model number; ex. ES-225TDN).

While both models sported many of the same features, including a single Florentine-style cutaway, thinline-style hollow-body construction, a maple laminate top with “f” holes, a maple laminate back, mahogany sides, a one-piece mahogany neck, a Brazilian rosewood fretboard, dot-style fretboard markers, 20 frets, a four-ply black/white celluloid pickguard, single-layer binding on both the neck and body, a 24 ¾” scale length, a set neck joint, nitrocellulose lacquer, and similar body dimensions, the original 225T utilized a single P-90 pickup that was situated (oddly enough) at an angle between the neck and bridge. In turn, the inaugural “T” model donned a single volume and single tone control. The 225TD, which was introduced in mid-1956, sported two more conventionally positioned P-90s—one at the neck and one at the bridge—as well as a three-way pickup selector switch (bridge, bridge/neck, and neck), two tone controls, and two volume controls.

Though both models originally used a longer, wrap-around style trapeze tailpiece—much like the first run of early ‘50s “goldtop” Gibson Les Paul models—the 1959 ES-225 models were fitted with both a rosewood bridge/base combo and a shorter non-wrap nickel tailpiece (as seen on the ‘50s and ‘60s era ES-125T, TD, and TDC models). Therefore, when using this seemingly insignificant cosmetic peculiarity as a dating tool, it would seem that Mose’s ES-225TD was produced in one of Gibson’s most desirable “Golden” years: 1959. Though the shorter tailpiece and wooden bridge/base could have been fitted to the guitar at a later date, it’s unlikely as the rest of the guitar is completely original. What’s more, Mose’s ES-225TD sports the darker brown sunburst finish, which is considered to be rarer than the redder, cherry-type sunburst.

While the ES-225TD is more or less considered a forerunner to Gibson’s later, ‘60s era model, the ES-125TD, many guitar aficionados point out that the 225’s neck joint was deeper set and, consequently, stronger than its psychedelic-age heir. Additionally, the ES-225 was manufactured with a block of wood (probably maple or mahogany) attached to the underside of the top below the bridge area, which helps to reduce feedback when the guitar’s signal is pushed hard through a “dimed” amp. Though the block does not extend through the length of the body as in the larger semi-hollow ES-335 model, the later ES-125T, TD, and TDCs are completely hollow inside. One other distinctive difference between the models is the neck profile. Like most of Gibson’s ‘50s era guitars, the ES-225’s neck shape, more commonly known as a “U” profile, is slightly larger and rounder than its later ‘60s era counterparts.

As with most semi-hollow and hollow-body style guitars, the tone Mose’s ES-225TD produces is somewhat warmer and more dynamic than that of the average solid-body guitar (i.e. Les Paul, Telecaster, Stratocaster, SG, etc.). In the case of Mose’s vintage 225TD, this tonal characteristic is further enhanced by a combination of seasoned tonewoods and the thinner, “midrangey” signal produced from Gibson’s single-coil P-90 pickups. Taking into account the simultaneously two-sided sound of the thumbpicking style—both low rhythm and higher melody/lead lines—it’s no wonder that many thumb style practitioners oftentimes prefer a full sounding, big-bodied acoustic or a similar hollow/semi-hollow electric. The reason: the warmer tones of these dual pickup guitars accentuate the rhythm played by the thumb while still retaining enough snap to allow the melody/lead lines to cut through the mix.

Other electric hollow/semi-hollow guitars commonly used by well-known thumbpickers include Gibson’s Super-400, L-5, Byrdland, Super V, and various other ES models (such as the 335, 330, 175, and 125). As mentioned earlier, Mose’s fully hollow ES-125 was among his small group of favorites. Gretsch’s various Chet Atkins signature models, as well as similar hollow/semi-hollow productions like the White/Black Falcon, Country Club, the Eddie Cochran tribute model, the Anniversary line, and the Electromatic G5422 line, are also mainstays of the thumbpicking world. Though these particular instruments are among some of the most commonly used, thumbpicking—like any other genre of music—has been taken to a variety of differing guitar styles over time (both with and without success).

Though I’ve always loved the guitar—my parents have pictures of me in diapers holding guitars at family gatherings, around the house, and everywhere else—but Mose died before I seriously started playing.

I was first exposed to thumb style guitar playing when I was in my teens. I heard [Kennedy Jones’ “thumbpicker anthem” and Merle Travis’ hit single] “Cannonball Rag” on KET’s, Kentucky Afield. I liked it even though I was really into punk and metal at the time. I had no idea of what all was going on during that song. I thought it was two guitars playing with one doing lead and the other playing rhythm. A few months later, I ran into my cousin [award-winning thumbpicker] Eddie Pennington and saw him play both parts at the same time. I was blown away, man. I had no clue you could back yourself up with rhythm while playing lead. I had already wanted to learn classical-style guitar; the main reason was that I loved the idea of using my fingers to pick. It just seemed to me, at least at the time, that if I could pick out a melody, I could pick out five melodies if I used five picks—my fingers in this case. [laughs] Eddie started teaching me how to thumbpick not long after. I learned really quickly, but I was also playing 12-plus hours a day. I wore holes in all my jeans from resting the guitar on my leg; I had callouses on my forearms from resting them on the body of the guitar; and I wore all the finish off the neck of my guitar in a single year. Seriously, that is all I did, and it didn’t stop for years.

I had just turned 17-years-old and Eddie introduced me to all the thumbpickers. He took me around to the contests and get-togethers, too. It was at a contest that I met Mose Rager’s family. Mose’s wife, Mrs. Laverda, was a sweet and pleasant lady. I remember meeting her and his daughter, Marilyn, who goes by the nickname, “Frizz.” The nickname was given to her by Merle Travis as a kid because of her really curly blonde hair. Mrs. Laverda, Frizz, and I hit it off really well.

One day, I got a phone call from a mutual friend, Joanna Fox, who was living in Drakesboro, KY at the time. Many know her from her time as a teacher in Muhlenberg County. Basically, Joanna always used to call me out of the blue whenever she had something she knew I would like. She is related to [musician] John Prine, and when John was awarded his Kentucky Colonel certificate, she called and asked me to give it to him because she knew I was a fan. That’s just how she was. Joanna was a really nice and interesting person that always has something interesting going on. Well, one day, she called and asked me, “Would you want to play Mose’s guitar?” Within a few weeks of starting to learn from Eddie, he introduced me to recordings of Mose. I was immediately drawn to Mose’s music and personality on the recordings. So, when Joanna asked me if I wanted to play his guitar, I was beyond excited. I agreed to meet them at the fire station in Drakesboro and when I showed up, Mrs. Laverda, Frizz, Mose’s grandson, Anthony, and Joanna were there. They had two Gibson guitars and an amp with them. One was the guitar I am currently borrowing—the ES-225TD—and the other was a Gibson acoustic that was finished with an orange sunburst, but I’m not sure of the model. The amp was Mose’s personal amp, but, for some reason, I really don’t remember anything about it even though I ended up playing through it for several years. Well, that night was the start of a very long friendship that continues to this day.

Frizz showed me her home, which was right across the road from the fire station at the time, and gave me a standing invitation to visit at any time. I more than took her up on it. Every chance I got, I was there over the years. I would pick Mose’s guitars, look at family photos, have her tell me stories about him, and would listen to every recording she could dig up. It was not uncommon for me to show up around 6pm and stay until sun-up.

Around this time, I got to traveling as a musician quite a bit. [Slaughters, KY native and acclaimed musician] Chris Knight and I had standing gigs in Nashville and had started talking to labels, publishers, and the like. I would head to Nashville and stay as long as needed, then I would come home and run to Drakesboro to hang out with Frizz and learn more about Mose. I remember being in Seattle at one point and encountering my first recordings of Django Reinhardt. He is another “top hero” of mine now, but I had never heard of him at the time. I don’t even know if I stopped by the house when I returned from the airport after that. I headed straight to Drakesboro to play his recordings for Frizz. [laughs]

Frizz and her husband, Larry, had a house fire several years ago. They lost Mose’s amp and acoustic guitar in the fire, but they saved the electric—the ES-225TD—that I’m borrowing and recording with right now. Merle Travis used to draw cartoons for them when they were kids, too. Luckily, they managed to save the cartoons that Merle drew, but lost a ton of recordings of Mose. They no longer live in Drakesboro. Mrs. Laverda lived in Drakesboro until she passed away. Frizz and Larry bought Mose’s old house when he and Mrs. Laverda bought their new place right behind what is now known as “The Four Legends Fountain” in Drakesboro. The last house Mose lived in is still there, but his old house is gone.

I was with Mrs. Laverda the last time that Chet Atkins came to visit her. Chet’s health was failing and he died not too long after that. Chet spoke so highly of Mose, and he thanked Mrs. Laverda for always being hospitable and kind to the throngs of musicians, including himself, that would come to pay homage to Mose. I knew that day, as my friend drove off to take Chet back to Nashville, that it was going to be last time I saw him. You could just tell that his time was short, and he passed not long afterward. Mrs. Laverda made sure I was with her when Chet came that day. She was getting frail herself and I helped her stable herself so she could walk over and see him. It was all pretty emotional, because I knew I was witnessing the end of an era. In a way, that is how it is for me now. It is an honor to have the guitar of a personal hero, but, at the same time, I also know I am watching the end of an era once again.

Over the years, the Ragers have become a part of my family. I love them all, and they have shaped my life in ways they will never fully understand. It started out years ago, as a kid trying to discover all he could about his hero. Now, it is ending as a man that is trying his hardest to preserve the memory of a family that he has grown to love. It goes way deeper for me than just honoring a hero; I was fortunate to have the opportunity and recognized it. If I hadn’t recognized it, I would not have acted on it. If I hadn’t acted on it, my life would be totally different today. My past would be totally different. My attitude would be as if it belonged to another person. The whole family shaped my outlook, music, and various other aspects of my life.

Mose was an innovative, unique, and wonderful person. His influence on music and musicians goes far beyond the notes he hit on his guitar. 40-year-old me and 20-year-old me have many things in common: we both still love Mose’s music, we both still love to hear his stories on tape, and we both have a profound admiration for the man that gave this area its own singular style of playing, which has influenced the world. But, we also have differences. Among them is a better understanding of why Merle Travis, Chet Atkins, and countless other musicians’ lives carried with them such an impact from Mose. It was his spirit in general. He was the wise man on the mountain that not only played music is such an amazing way that it blew your mind, but also had a deep insight into people, happiness, and life so much so that that it made you examine yourself and discover things you may not have ever noticed otherwise. There was something about Mose that made you want to be good. Not just musically good, but good as a person. He made you feel like he cared, because he did. The shoddy recording methods of the time period he lived in could not squash the inner spirit of this man. He was a happy soul, and that carried across through his music, stories, and that massive laugh of his that he was not shy about unleashing. I can hear his laugh in my mind clear as I can hear the melodies of his songs.

I came to borrow Mose’s guitar just as a whim actually. I thought it would be cool if I played it on the show we filmed for KET in Paducah on March 1st. When I asked Frizz, she told me that she had no problem with it, but she had given it to Cameron, who is her grandson, and that he would have to give his okay or else she wouldn't feel right. The next day, I messaged Cameron's dad and asked if he could ask Cameron about me borrowing it. The next day, Frizz called and told me to come pick it up.

I sent out a few emails letting a few people know that I had the guitar and then went and picked it up. One of the people I emailed was Dr.Erika Brady, who is the head of WKU's Folk Studies Department. I was already planning on recording some with the guitar while I had it, too. I had contacted Patrick “Patson” Richardson about doing a recording and documentary-style project with me as well. Patson has been filming video of me in the studio while I’m recording tracks so we would have both audio and video of the guitar. Erika contacted me a day or two later and said she had a student, Mike Rivera, that had just been asking her about the whole music history of Muhlenberg county. She asked if I wanted to have them get involved. I told her it would be an honor, and that is how the idea of doing a full-fledged documentary got off to a start. Erika and I have met and talked about plans, but we were both really sick the first go around, so the meeting was short and sweet. [laughs] There is both a short-term and long-term project that we are working on. The short-term project is "What can we get recorded and documented before I return the guitar?" The long-term idea is still to be discussed more in-depth.

To hear a rare recording of Mose Rager in the studio, click here. Additional recordings can be found by searching "Mose Rager" on YouTube. 

If you would like to participate in celebrating the life and longstanding legacy of Mose Rager, please visit the Drakesboro, KY Community Center (fire station) on April 13th from 10am to close for Mose Rager Day.

To learn more about Mose Rager and the thumbpicking style, click the video player attached below this article. 

For additional “Gear Guide” articles, click here.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Luke Short
Photos of J.T. Oglesby and Mose Rager’s ES-225TD/ES-125 by Jeff Harp
Historic photos provided courtesy of J.T. Oglesby

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American Exceptionalism—An Inside Look at Mayor David Jackson

 

MADISONVILLE, KY (2/7/13)—I met David Jackson before he was the mayor of Madisonville. It was a little over two years ago. At the time, and up until recently, I interacted with David as more of a “traditional” news reporter. However, in retrospect—and regardless of how silly it might sound to some reading this—I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to witness and recount several notable events in his life. In essence, I was recording a part of what will become our city’s history, as well as a prominent portion of a man’s life.

I wrote a “candidate profile” about David that focused on his political stances soon after he announced that he would be running against former mayor, Will Cox; I attended and covered several speeches that he gave while campaigning; I photographed and reported on his official swearing-in ceremony at Living Waters Church several months after he won the race; I analyzed his creation of several community-based subcommittees; I hounded him about changes to city policies and ordinances; I hassled him about funding and budget changes; I spoke with him about city events and community projects like Friday Night Live and 4th Fest; I attended City Hall committee meetings and heard him speak; I heard him advocate new economic developments and investments; I was there when he first announced the city’s plans to construct a Veterans Memorial; and I can’t count the times that people asked me what he had planned for the city. And that’s just scratching the surface, believe it or not. Yet, for all the time I spent recording David’s words, thoughts, and decisions, I never really got to know who he was and what his life had been like.

Of course, I knew some basics about his past and present situation, but most of what I learned was filtered through a certain personal distance between us—a direct result of my hunt for the proverbial “scoop,” no doubt. I can say this, though: David always came across like a happy, personable, and thankful person each I talked to him.

But I wanted to know why; I wanted to find out what made David tick. What made him who he is today? And then I wanted to share what I found with the community. Thankfully, I now have the freedom to do that as a writer, and that’s exactly what this piece is all about.

How did this all come about, you ask? Myself, fellow writer, Jessica Dockrey, and photographer, Jeff Harp, got the opportunity to sit down and talk with David in his office last week. While I was expecting to learn a lot about where he came from, his goals, and what his passions are during our interview, I never figured I would live to see a Madisonville Mayor—much less an accomplished accountant and longtime pastor—pull out a guitar, tune it up using an iPhone app, and jam an original song from behind his executive desk. And if that weren’t enough to make an impression, when we were just beginning to leave after an hour-or-so of talking, Dave proceeded to hand me his 60th anniversary, US-made Fender Stratocaster. He wanted to lend it to me. Was this a dream? Nope. I was just finally getting to know who David—the human being—was.

Beyond his love for music, family, and God, though, we also touched on some key city issues during the conversation. He spoke about the city’s relationship with China, his vision for the future of downtown Madisonville, his take on the former Hopkins County Library buildings, his Reagan-inspired approach to the community we live in, and much more—and it was all told through his own eyes.

So who is David? Though I don’t claim to know everything about the guy, the insightful interview we have transcribed below is well worth reading. Plus, I think it’s safe to say that each member of the Sugg Street Post left the interview thinking of David as a real friend.

Want to know a little about who Dave is? Read on. You might just be surprised.

Luke Short: Where are you and your family from originally? Do you know much about your family’s genealogy?

David Jackson: Honestly, I don’t really know much about my family’s history. My grandparents all passed away when I was young. My dad [Kenneth Jackson] was the youngest of 16 kids, so his parents were older, and they were deceased by the time I was born. My mom’s dad had passed away by that point, too. Then my grandmother passed away when I was about five or six-years-old. So, I grew up not really having grandparents, which is kind of interesting; it was a unique way to grow up. But when I married my wife [Leigh Ann Jackson], and both of her grandparents were alive, I got to experience what it was like to have grandparents. That has been a neat experience for me. My mom and dad, Kenneth and Esther Jackson, were originally from Connersville, Indiana. My dad passed away in 2009, but my mom still lives in Sebree, KY. That’s why I say Louisville like ‘Loo-ee-vile’ instead of ‘Loo-uh-vull.’ I say a lot of things differently, because my parents lived in Indiana for most of their lives, so they both spoke like Hoosiers. I actually noticed it again when I was at the annual [Madisonville-Hopkins County] Chamber of Commerce luncheon this year, and I was giving my speech and said ‘Loo-ee-ville.’ Everyone there kind of looked at me funny, so I said, ‘I mean Loo-uh-vull. It’s right beside Loo-ee-ville’ [laughs]. It was kind of funny, because growing up around people in Kentucky I sounded like a Hoosier, but when I’d visit my family in Indiana they’d call me a ‘Briar,’ and tell me that I sounded like a Kentuckian. The way I talked just never fit in; it was like I was in limbo [laughs].

LS: For those who don’t know anything about your background, could you give me a quick overview of your life and how it has led you to where you are today?

David: I was born in Henderson, KY at the Community Methodist Hospital, but I grew up in Sebree. I went to high school here in Madisonville at Life Christian Academy out on Princeton Pike. From there, I went to the University of Kentucky and graduated in three years with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. I worked really hard while I was there. I wanted to get on with my life. Then, I ended up working for Ford Motor Credit right out of college. I would audit dealerships, and one of the dealerships I would audit was Parkway Ford here in Madisonville. At the time, a guy named Danny Renshaw owned the place and he hired me away from Ford. I worked for him for about eight years. Through that, I discovered that I really enjoyed accounting, and I got involved in that aspect of their dealerships. I would travel around to their different dealerships with the vice president of accounting. As a result, I decided to go get enough accounting credits at Murray State University to take the CPA [certified public accountant] exam. Well, I passed the exam and became a CPA. Once I became certified in 1998, I went into public accounting and I’ve been involved with that ever since then. It’s been a very good career for me. Today, I have my own firm. I’ve had my own firm since 2004, and it’s nice. I love the relationship I have with my clients. I feel like it keeps me rooted, or grounded, in both the livelihood of individuals and the business community. Sometimes, I think people get into government and get into this vacuum, and they think, ‘It’s just another tax; it’s not that much,’ but, until you’re out there dealing with people—particularly with their taxes and financial situations—you really don’t see how taxes can affect families. Keeping that in mind, myself, and everyone I work with, have tried to do anything we can to make government more efficient. That’s kind of a quick overview of my life.

LS: Tell me a little bit about your children, Chloe and Jordan, and the story behind how you came together as a family.

David: Leigh Ann and I adopted two children from Guatemala: Jordan, who is 17-years-old, and Chloe, who is 11-years-old. We were able to get both of them when they were eight-months-old, and it was an experience in itself just being in Guatemala. When we adopted Jordan, we were told that we’d be there for ten days, but we got down there and the paperwork wasn’t in order—and the wheels of the government grind really slowly in Central America—so we ended up being there for 30 days. We lived in a Marriott [Hotel] for thirty days, which was fun in its own way, but it was also expensive. Leigh Ann is a diabetic, and she actually got very ill while we were there, so she had to fly home and go directly into the hospital. So, here I was, dealing with my first baby all alone; I’m the only one. I’m ‘Mister Mom’ down in Guatemala for about a week. I actually got a PhD in changing diapers during that period of time [laughs]. It was amazing. We made some really good friends while we were there, I spoke at a few churches down there, and we got to meet the family members of some coffee exporters who have since sent their kids up here to live with us for three or four months at a time so they can learn English. Being that they are successful exporters, their family is very wealthy, and the kids’ dad had been to London through their business to learn English. Well, like I said, he sent his children to Kentucky to learn English. So, when I was talking with him, I explained that those are two totally different languages. Now they know all about pie and biscuits and gravy down in Guatemala [laughs].

Jessica Dockrey: How did you come to the decision that adoption was the way you wanted to go?

David: We really kind of worked it backwards. Most of the time you start with an adoption agency, they work with a country, and they eventually locate a child. Well, the pastor my wife’s family knew in Muhlenberg County, told her family about a missionary in Guatemala who had found out about a young woman who was about to have a baby and planned on giving it up. From there, we found an adoption agency and told them that we had everything set up and kind of laid out, so they worked it from there. It was really kind of neat how it all came together. Today, we still stay in touch with Jordan’s foster family. They are a really wonderful, working-class Christian family down there. They are awesome people. As a matter of fact, they just had a grandson and I got to see photos of him on Facebook yesterday. So it’s really a pretty neat scenario; we kind of have this whole group of people that we’ve created a deep relationship with. They’ve really become a piece of the fabric of our life in a short period of time.

LS: Was there a similar story with your daughter, Chloe?

David: No, getting Chloe took five days [laughs]. We were in and out. It was really great. We actually spent a couple extra days there just because we wanted to visit with everyone. All her paperwork was in order, and that was a result of what we’d learned before—get your paperwork together before you go to Central America. So it was all laid out really well and the adoption agency did a great job. We didn’t get stuck like we did before, which is kind of a scary situation to be in. With Jordan, they told us that we could go back to the US and come back to get him later, but we decided to tough it out. We had already laid our hands on him, so we weren’t going to let go. It was well worth it; it was a great life experience.

LS: Was there anything about Guatemala that really stood out to you?

David: If I could have brought home a plane-load of kids home, I would have. Just seeing the poverty there was striking. You would see children that were eight or nine-years-old on the streets shining shoes for a living. A lot of them didn’t have rags, and their little hands would be jet black from putting polish on them. It was really sad in that sense, but Guatemala is a beautiful country. We’ve gone back to maintain our relationships with our friends, so we’ve been able to see several different parts of the country. Lake Atitlan is an amazing place. It’s a lake that was formed by volcanoes that are situated all around it, some of which are still active. It was almost prehistoric just seeing the mist over the lake and smoke rising out of the volcanoes in the morning time. Interestingly, while Jordan and I were stuck in the hotel the first time we were there, the current Miss Universe came through and we got to meet her, so that was an interesting experience [laughs]. Like I said, it’s all been very life-changing, and I’m so proud of our kids. I thank God for them every day.

LS: What are some of the things Jordan and Chloe like to do?

David: Jordan likes video games, of course. Chloe never has gravitated toward those too much, though. Jordan just started working at the Sonic [Drive-In restaurant] on North Main Street now. I’m really proud of him. He works a couple days a week there. Chloe is one of those girls that love to dress up, but she loves to be out, playing in the dirt, too.

LS: What were some of the things you were into as a kid?

David: I was into a lot. Our family wasn’t very wealthy, so we had to work hard for everything we had. I sold a lot of stuff; I was just into selling things as a kid. I sold newspapers, seeds, greeting cards—just anything I could do to make a little extra money. I also liked to enter contests where you’d have to write a speech or some kind of paper. So, I did that, and I was actually pretty successful. I actually won a trip to Washington, DC when I was a sophomore in high school for writing a paper. It worked out pretty well, but it was always a matter of being creative. If you wanted something, you had to work for it, and you might have to come up with a creative way of making it happen. I think that was good. Most of the time, we want our kids to have it better than the way we had it, but, at the same time, some of those experiences make you stronger and more adaptable to situations that you’ll run into during life.

LS: I know you play a little bit of guitar from time to time, too. Did that start when you were young?

David: I actually started playing guitar when I was 12-years-old. My mom and dad bought a guitar for me, and that’s been a part of my life ever since. I’ve written some songs—nothing that was ever published anywhere—but I keep a guitar here in my office [at City Hall]. I’ve had people come in and play, too. [Local country performer] Ray Ligon came in and brought his guitar one time, and I’ve had a couple others come by with guitars so that we could have had a little jam session. I wrote a song that I sang and me and my wife’s wedding. I’ve worked on this other song forever, which I’ll play for you here in a second. It’s called, “God Bless the Children.” I’ve never written a second verse, though. [Dave walks to a bookshelf in his office, grabs a colorful Esteban brand guitar from a soft case, and begins to tune it behind his desk using a smartphone app. He mentions that he also has a collectible, US-made Fender Stratocaster in the office as well] Playing guitar is something I wanted to get into on my own. We lived out in the country in Sebree, so I would take my guitar outside and play for hours, just writing songs. It really became a part of my life, and I still play at my church, Living Waters, where I’m a pastor. I’ve been there for about 13 years now. Ok, this is the song here [Dave begins to play and sing his heartfelt song, “God Bless the Children,” much to our delight. Applause ensues].

LS: Wow, you’re a great singer and player. You’ve actually played at a couple city-sponsored events, too, haven’t you?

David: I played at [Madisonville’s monthly summer festival] Friday Night Live. They couldn’t find anybody else, and I love to do it, so I was happy to help out. I usually perform Christian rock or praise and worship music with a few friends. But again, I love to play and it’s a big part of my life. I usually play a Takamine, which is a little more of a higher-quality, studio-type guitar. Garth Brooks always played Takamines, so that’s part of the reason I got it. I guess it’s as old as Living Waters now. I got it when we opened up and it’s been a great guitar.

LS: Is the Takamine the oldest guitar you have?

David: No, I actually still own my very first guitar. It’s an Epiphone. You just don’t get rid of these things; they’re you’re friends. I’ll lend them out sometimes, and sometimes they come back and sometimes they don’t. I have a Fender acoustic that was like that. I lent it out to my second cousin’s son, and he actually plays now; lending him the guitar actually got him involved. I’ve tried to get my kids involved, but they just haven’t taken to the guitar yet.

LS: When you were 12, was there something specific that made you want to play?

David: We went to church here in Madisonville at Life Temple on Park Avenue, and it was a church that was really involved in music. There was a southern gospel group from Madisonville called The Happy Goodman Family, and they were a nationally touring gospel music band. Mixing that with the church’s involvement with music, I just naturally gravitated toward it—toward playing guitar and music in general. Playing guitar is just a great outlet. Every once in a while, I’ll drag people in here and say, “Let’s sing! Let’s jam!” It really breaks down a lot of barriers, too.

LS: Have you always sang and played simultaneously?

David: I’ve always done both. I don’t do either one very well, but I’ve always really enjoyed it.

LS: Who taught you how to play?

David: A guy that played guitar at our church taught me how to play. He would write out the chords to a song, and as soon as I learned that song, he would give me another song. The way he did it was really good; he figured out how to motivate me. He didn’t just give me a whole bunch of songs and say, “Here, work on these.” He said, “Here’s a song. If you come back and play this for me, I’ll give you another one.” That’s really how I learned.

LS: What kind of music is your favorite? Who do you listen to the most?

David: I kind of have an eclectic taste in music; I like all kinds. If I had to pick out the kind of music I like the most, I’d say jazz. My absolute favorite jazz performer is Diana Krall, hands down. She’s a Canadian artist, and she and Tony Bennett did a “Two For the Road” tour a few years ago that was great. She’s awesome; she’s a piano player. She’s just amazing, and she has an amazing voice. She’s married to Elvis Costello—you may know him. If you ever get a chance to go see her or listen to her music, you’ll see why she’s so great. Then, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra are my other favorites, so that’s the kind of jazz I like. I like some of the newer artists, too, like Michael Bublé. I listen to a lot of contemporary Christian music as well.

LS: Other than playing music and writing for contests, was there anything else you liked as a kid? Any sports?

David: When I was in elementary school, I played basketball. I know it’s hard for you to believe, but I did [laughs, pointing out his height]. I was number “3” on the team, and the “3” would go down into my shorts—it was back when we tucked our jerseys in—so I looked like I was a backwards “C” [laughs]. It was like that was my number. I was one of those guys that got put in the game when were like 50 points ahead and there was a minute left in the game. They were like, “Get in there, Dave. This is your moment!” I was the only kid that gained weight during little league [laughs]. I’d sit there and eat at the concession stand; I basically had a frequent flyer card with the concession stand, so they loved me. I supported little league in that way [laughs]. Needless to say, I never was a great athlete.

LS: Is there anything athletic that you do today?

David: I went through a period of time where I’d swim a mile every day down at the YMCA, and I loved the folks there. I also ride bikes a lot. I have a road bike. I ride it and train on it quite a bit. It’s one of the only exercises that I’ve been able to stay with, because I can do it indoors and at odd hours. I do have a mountain bike, but I’ve never tried going off-road too much. I’d like to try sometime. They say the trails out at Grapevine Lake are pretty awesome. The Pennyrile Area Cyclists group was instrumental in fixing the lake trails up, and I do ride with them. They’re a great group. I used to run a little, but now, at 46, I jog. There’s more I’d like to do, too.

LS: Tell me about how you met your wife, Leigh Ann?

David: We met at church. I was away at the University of Kentucky—it was my freshman year—and my dad of all people calls, and he says, “There’s this brown-eyed girl that just started coming to church. You’ve got to come and meet her.” So, of course, I came home that weekend and met her [laughs], and we’ve been together ever since. We’ve been together now for 26 years. It’s been, and still is, a good marriage. She’s my partner in everything I do. She works with me at the [David W. Jackson] CPA firm and I feel like she does a great job as the First Lady of Madisonville. She helps at the church, too; she’s very involved in the ministry. She’s truly been my partner in everything that we’ve done through life.

LS: At what point did you decide to go into politics? And why?

David: I’ve always been kind of interested in doing something like this and it probably goes back to writing speeches as a child. Some of them were at the level of policy and things like that. Then, the trip I mentioned earlier—the trip to Washington, DC that I won when I was in high school and wrote a paper for the Henderson Union Rural Electric Cooperative—probably had something to do with it. They had a contest where you had to write an essay entitled, “Our Power is Our People.” It was kind of neat for me, because I had written a lot of patriotic pieces before, so it was kind of a synthesis of a lot of things. I won the trip and the first thing we did was meet the governor and lieutenant governor. We actually went and ate lunch at the lieutenant governor’s house. We got to meet our state senators and our state representatives. For a kid in high school, that was a pretty big deal. Then, I got selected out of that group to go and represent Kentucky in Washington, DC. The trip was just full of great experiences. One of the coolest experiences was when we got to tour the White House. While we were there, these guys came in and said, “Hey we’ve got a really special, but unplanned, treat for you. If you will gather on the South Lawn of the White House, the president will be landing in just a few minutes in his helicopter and he’ll great you as he’s going by.” It was President [Ronald] Reagan. It was really neat, because we watched as the helicopter came into view and everything. The secret service said, “From the moment the helicopter comes into view until the moment he’s inside the White House, don’t be silly; don’t make any sudden movements.” As the helicopter came in, and the wind was beating the secret service men’s’ jackets, you could see an Uzi [firearm] under each of their arms. Needless to say, everyone stood really still; we didn’t even breathe I don’t think [laughs]. That was great, and I actually got to meet some of the president’s cabinet. It was just a different era back then in DC. They basically turned us loose in the senate office and the congressional office buildings, and we got autographs and other things like that. I just happened to run into [US Secretary of Transportation] Drew Lewis and some other members of President Reagan’s cabinet, and I just stood there and visited with them. They talked with us. That really piqued my interest. You know, these guys ran the country, but they were willing to talk to a high school student from Kentucky that wrote an essay. That kind of got me going, and I’ve always loved President Reagan. He’s obviously my political hero. I kind of idolize him and I’ve studied a lot about his life.

LS: What are some of the reasons that you like President Reagan, and how do you relate his political philosophies to Madisonville?

David: The thing that I like the most about President Reagan was that he always talked about America as “the shining city on a hill,” which falls under the term of “American Exceptionalism.” As a country, we’d gone through a pretty tough recession at the end of the ‘70s—and he came in during 1980—and we’d gone through the Iran “hostage crisis,” so a lot of people thought that America was past its prime at that point in time. But President Reagan came in and said, “We’re still the shining city on the hill that the rest of the world looks to. We have to provide leadership,” and there’s kind of a correlation with that and Madisonville. Madisonville is an exceptional community. Even the slogan says, “We’re the Best Town on Earth.” We don’t say we’re an “average town,” we say we’re the “best town on Earth.” That shows that same concept of exceptionalism, and I really believe that’s propelled Madisonville forward—not just since I’ve been Mayor, but through all the preceding administrations. We think we can be the best, so we strive toward that. That’s the way I look at Madisonville and what we can be. Amazingly, since I’ve had the opportunity to be the Mayor, we’ve had a lot of regional cities that we’ve reached out to and helped. We had the Mayor of Paducah [Gayle Kaler] and their city commissioners visit Madisonville a week ago to look at our iRecycle program to see how they could get that started in Paducah. We got to present information on the iRecycle program and Madisonville’s GoMadisonville [customer service project] at one of Governor Steve Beshear’s “local issues” conferences last year. So, here’s Madisonville, this relatively small town of about 19,000 people—we’re about the 20th largest city in the state of Kentucky—showing innovation and leading the way on some issues. I think if you consider your community or your country as being exceptional, then you do things to try and realize that dream. I think that has really helped Madisonville. What you guys are doing [with the SuggStreetPost.com] is exceptional, too. To have a news project that kind of goes against the grain is great. Most news is bad news; most news is based around sensationalism; most news organizations try to sell papers by running people down; most news organizations try to sell you costly advertising; but what you guys are doing with the Sugg Street Post is uplifting. That’s pretty neat, and, like I said, it’s exceptional. That’s how I want to view the world. I want to do everything I can to continue that legacy of being the “Best Town on Earth” in Madisonville, of being exceptional.

LS: That relates back to a question I was going to ask you actually. What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind as the Mayor?

David: The thing I’m absolutely the proudest of that I’ve gotten to be a part of as Mayor is the Veterans Memorial [on North Center Street]. When I came into office, I felt like that was something I wanted to accomplish. As you know, we have a very patriotic community, and the community has shown their support for it by donating about 200,000 dollars. Actually, when you throw in the “in-kind” donations, we’ve raised in excess of that amount. It looks great and it’s a point of pride. I was coming into the office on Thanksgiving Day to pick something up and, as I was driving by the memorial, I noticed an elderly gentleman with a walker, and walking right beside him was either a grandson or a great-grandson. I didn’t have a camera with me, but I wish I had. I just thought, “That is why we built this thing,” to transfer that understanding from one generation to another that freedom isn’t free, that the freedoms we enjoy are possible because someone, somewhere, paid the price—or are paying the price—for them, and that we really owe our veterans a huge debt of gratitude. That’s something I’m really happy to have been a part of, and I hope that it is, in some way, a legacy for our administration. Also, some of the day-to-day things we do, such as GoMadisonville.com, help in reaching out to our citizens as customers instead of just taxpayers. We are trying to show that we recognize our obligation to them, and that we are accountable.

LS: Though this is your first of possibly two terms, do you have any plans in mind for your post-Mayor years?

David: No, not at this point in time. I’m planning on running again at the end of this term and I’m having a great time. I love being involved. Even when it’s difficult, through tough decisions and hard times, simply getting to be a part of those tough decisions is a great honor and opportunity. I’m pretty happy. We cut the budget when I first came in by working closely with the Madisonville City Council, which is a great group of people. I love all of them. We were able to cut the city’s budget by about 4 million dollars that first year; we cut about 700,000 dollars out of the general fund. Now, two years later, we’ve paid down 4 million dollars in debt and, as a result, we were able to purchase a lot of new equipment last year. We got some heavy equipment, like the new trucks with snow plows and some other stuff like that, and we just wrote checks for it. We didn’t, and still don’t, have to go out and borrow money for purchases like that. The City of Madisonville is in really, really good condition financially. We have about 80 days of cash on-hand in the general fund, as well as a few million dollars in other funds. So, we really are in good shape. And, again, that shows that exceptionalism I was talking about. When a lot of cities are facing economic trials and difficulties, we are blessed to be where we are, and it’s because of the community we have. Everyone works hard and that supports the services of the city.

LS: I’m sure your background in accounting has figured into that scenario, too.

David: It has. It’s given me a certain comfort level with working on the budgeting process. I didn’t want to do a budget adjustment where you just add or take two percent from last year. We do what’s known as “zero base” budgeting where we have to go through and justify every single line. It takes a lot longer and it’s a lot more grueling, but the end product is good because sometimes you have to increase the lines in some parts of the budget, but, overall, you hope to continue in putting downward pressure to decrease the burden put on taxpayers. So far, we’ve been pretty fortunate to do that. Plus, we keep getting great job announcements for our community, which adds to those tax rolls in the right way—not by increasing taxes, but by increasing jobs and opportunity. With that, I think we will see even brighter days ahead. There are some other great things we’re working on, too.

LS: One of those things is our city’s ongoing relationship with business leaders in China. Tell me a little bit about your recent Sister Cities-based trip to Dongying and what may soon come of it.

David: Our trip to China was awesome. It was probably the most grueling seven days of my life [laughs], especially considering I’d never dealt with a 14-hour time difference and jetlag that was just unbelievable. But it was a great opportunity. Presenting Madisonville on a world stage was incredible. As a result of our ongoing relationship and our recent trip there, several business leaders from the Shendong Equipment Group, as well as representatives from several other manufacturers, are planning on coming to Madisonville toward the end of February or March with the mindset of, “How we can work together?” and “How can we create some manufacturing opportunities?” So there are some really good opportunities here, and I really anticipate that we’ll get something good out of the deal.

LS: What would you tell someone who is unsure of Madisonville dealing with a foreign country like China?

David: You know, people have asked me—and it’s a legitimate question—“Why would we deal with a communist country?” The bottom line of it is that the Chinese, as investors, have made the decision to manufacture in North America. That decision is based on the cost of transportation and the costs of increasing wages in Asia. They are starting to see those wages rise. So, now, the pendulum is swinging back, and it’s actually becoming better for them to manufacture products in North America. With that in mind, the question we have to ask as a community is, “Do we want those jobs here or do we want them to go to Clarksville, or Owensboro, or Henderson, or Hopkinsville, or somewhere like that?” And the way I look at it, is that these jobs—that will hopefully be created—are going to be governed by American labor laws. Plus, the businesses will have to offer competitive wages and benefits to compete in our job markets. That being said, I’d like to have those jobs here for our people. We have to diversify our economy. I love coal and I’m a supporter of the coal industry, but, unfortunately, coal doesn’t get the same support from Washington that we would like to see it get. So, if coal continues to have that pressure put upon it, we really need to diversify our economy. Now, at the same time, I’m all for opening up the export markets, which is part of what we’re doing with China, to keep the coal industry safe and healthy. At the same time, I’m hopeful that administrations realize that there are clean ways to burn coal that don’t harm the environment, and that we should take advantage of such a great natural resource. That’s kind of what we’re working toward. My prayer is that coal remains really strong, and if that happens—and we’ve also managed to add a larger manufacturing base into Madisonville’s economy—then we’re just going to be better off. On that topic, I’d like to diversify in the food market, too. I’d like for us to add more food manufacturing, because that kind of works as an “anti-recessionary” tool. If you go through a recession, food usually stays pretty strong. People are still going to eat even when they have to give up some of the other luxuries in life. I’d also like to see [the local development project] Mid-Town Commons completed. That’s another great opportunity for us. I’d like to see the area north of Mid-Town Commons become a light industrial zone. In fact, I’d love to see it become what’s known as a foreign trade zone; an area where we could attract businesses outside of the US. If we can create the environment for foreign investors and businesses to come in and operate economically, then we can create even more jobs here.

LS: Is there anything you’d like to see change in downtown Madisonville in the future?

David: My real hope for downtown Madisonville is that we can develop it into a restaurant, entertainment, and professional district. I think that’s the real hope for the future. With the potential advent of numerous second-floor living arrangements, I really think specialty shops could be supported in our city’s downtown environment. I’d also love to see the old City Hall building come down. It has several structural issues, so if we could replace it with a permanent stage, we could open up the downtown Madisonville area to more events. When we do Friday Night Live, we have to rent the stage and it takes another day just to get it all prepared. If we could get a permanent stage downtown, similar to what they have in Greenville, KY—Greenville is doing a great job with this by the way—we could tie in a lot of aspects of our city’s commerce with entertainment. I’d like to see us move in that direction. I think there’s a lot of potential there.

LS: What’s your take on the former Hopkins County Library buildings? Should they be saved or destroyed?

David: I’d love to see the former library buildings saved. The reason I’ve been banging the drum and holding public meetings is because I don’t want to see those buildings go to waste if we can prevent it. Of course, though, public safety is my over-arching concern. Fortunately, it’s looking like they can be saved. To hear our city’s building inspector come in and say that the buildings need to be condemned, and that we were probably going to have to bring them down, really made my blood run cold. I agree with the gentleman who came from the Kentucky Historic Trust to assess the buildings. Taking the buildings down would be like “Madisonville getting its front teeth knocked out.” That’s exactly what it would be like. Again though, our main concern is safety as a city. So, if we can get those buildings safe, where they don’t pose a hazard to people or other properties, I’m certainly hopeful that we could restore them and make them usable.

LS: Here’s a quick “favorites” line of questioning to close this out with. What’s your favorite food?

David: Let me see. I just like so much, but my favorite food to cook is biscuits and gravy. My favorite drink is sweat tea. I’m a sweet tea fan. You always know when you’re in the south, because you can get sweet tea. If you go somewhere else and ask for sweet tea, they might look at you kind of funny.

LS: Favorite movie?

David: Well, I don’t watch a lot of movies or TV. I do watch some documentaries. Going back to President Reagan, I’ll say that the two-part documentary, The American Experience: Ronald Reagan, is one of my favorites.

LS: Favorite book?

David: It would have to be the Bible. Being a longtime minister, and a pastor at Living Waters today, the relationship I have with God allows for a lot of great things to flow.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Luke Short
Photo by Jeff Harp

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