Displaying items by tag: community

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Community Collage: Sugg Goes to Forecastle

"credit" Jessi SmithHOPKINS COUNTY, KY (7/24/13) - I got the news that I'd be covering the Forecastle Festival in Louisville, KY a week before the three-day event via email from festival "first mate" Holly Weyler. I was barely awake and still had one eye closed, so I didn't fully believe that I was reading it correctly. It had been a long-time goal of mine to cover a major music event and the Forecastle Festival happened to be headlined by one of my favorite bands, The Black Keys. The annual music fest also featured many more bands that I desperately wanted to see. Ranging from talented up and comers to a legendary frontman, Forecastle was expected to draw an estimated 75,000 fans over a three-day weekend.

A visit to the official Forecastle Festival website tells you all about the history of the event:

Founded in 2002 by Louisville native JK McKnight, Forecastle has grown from a community event to one of the country’s most anticipated summer festivals, which now draws tens of thousands of fans from across the world to Louisville’s scenic 85-acre Waterfront Park. In addition to featuring a who’s who of musical acts such as The Black Keys, Widespread Panic, My Morning Jacket, Bassnectar, the Flaming Lips, Band of Horses, Sleater-Kinney, and The Avett Brothers, Forecastle has consistently promoted local artists as well as focusing on environmental activism and outdoor recreation. Past Forecastles have featured prominent organizations, industry leaders, and distinguished speakers, such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (Riverkeepers), Rob Caughlan (Surfrider Foundation) and Christopher Childs (Greenpeace International). Forecastle is co-produced by Knoxville-based AC Entertainment, one of the country’s premiere independent concert promoters, putting on more than 750 concerts throughout the Southeast as well as producing major events such as Bonnaroo, Gentlemen of the Road and Mountain Oasis.

The big day arrived. With my media bracelet on my wrist, the gates opened and an incredibly entertaining weekend commenced. I'm not a music critic or a writer, I don't have the gift of being able to tell you why I love a performance or what makes a song good, and, honestly, I went to the festival to document it with my camera. That being said, here you'll find in no particular order, my top memories of the weekend, as well as a few photos of the sights and sounds of Forecastle 2013.

"credit" Jessi SmithRobert Plant:
Before he started the first song, Plant promised a day of 1970's nostalgia, he waved puffs of incense over the crowd, and entertained us with witty banter between songs. With a set that included old Zeppelin favorites, as well as his new material with the Sensational Space Shifters, he proved that the pipes were still strong and the Golden God could still let loose. In putting the mic to the crowd to help sing “Black Dog,” Plant also showed he could engage a crowd as good as ever. However, what really made it memorable was when ominous clouds began to roll in and in his English accent he apologized for bringing the "naughty, naughty, clouds" and began a powerful version of “What Is and What Should Never Be.” Not far into the song, the rain began. What was at first a sprinkle, turned quickly into a full-blown downpour and rained onto us like a magic potion turning us into a crowd worthy of Woodstock. All while Plant sang fitting lyrics:

Catch the wind, see us spin, sail away, leave today, way up high in the sky. 
But the wind won't blow, you really shouldn't go, it only goes to show 
That you will be mine, by takin' our time.

With the rain in his face and thunder booming in the background like an extra member of the band, it felt surreal; it's how I imagine being a fan felt back in the day. Security ran around worriedly telling each other, "We gotta get him off the stage!" With coverings breaking loose and flapping in the wind, the crowd went crazy until Plant finished his set (sadly, earlier than planned) and we, soaking wet and muddy, were told to take cover under the overpass for the duration of the storm. It truly was as if Plant somehow conjured us up a 1970's experience.

"credit" Jessi SmithThe Black Keys (and crowd):
If you take a band that can fill an arena and stick them on a river bank, you can expect a bit of a crowd. As the headliners, I knew I'd see the biggest crowd at the Keys’ show, but I didn't fully realize how big until I was in that massive hoard. Forecastle tweeted an aerial shot of the crowd and it speaks for itself.
"credit" ForecastleThe guys from Akron gave an energetic set for their last stop of the 129-show-long El Camino tour. I was lucky enough to attend the opener in Cincinnati as well, and comparing the two shows, it was clear The Black Keys didn't lose any enthusiasm during their grueling schedule. Keeping the setlist mostly the same, minus the popular disco ball-lit performance of “Everlasting Light,” they finished strong with the classic “I Got Mine” that only reinforced for me that my favorite Black Keys performances only have two people on the stage.
"credit" Jessi SmithThe People:
Seriously, all of them—the crowd, the staff, security, photographers, media…everyone. I don't know whether I should chalk it up to southern hospitality or the general lighthearted vibe of Forecastle, but I loved everyone I met: the lady who held my spot in the crowd while I was in the photo pit; the guy who shared his water with me after we'd been standing in a crowd for hours and hours; the fellow photog who helped me sneak into a pit I wasn't supposed to be in; the roadie who came out of nowhere and gave me a setlist; the media guy that took me under his wing when I first arrived, fighting a serious case of nerves and feeling out of place; the seasoned photographer who helped me get a tough shot of Jim James and gave me pointers on my camera settings; the security guards that chatted with me while I waited for the shows to start; and even the festival “bigwigs” that treated all the media people the same and answered every question so equally that I still don't know which one of the guys was the one from Rolling Stone magazine.

"credit" Jessi SmithThe Art:
You could see the passion and pride the vendors had for their art in every booth. Artisans peddled jewelry, clothing, hammocks, delicious foods, and t-shirts. The poster alley held the works of many of the best in the gig poster world, most of whom had clients that were performing as you browsed. In the center of the venue, being overlooked by a lifeguard, a solid white boat sat like a blank canvas, which was exactly the intention. A group of artists gathered around to spend the weekend making the "S.S. Freebird" into something amazing. There was also the wall, where graffiti artists spent the duration of the festival tagging and creating a beautiful mural that, at festival close, they cut into pieces that you could buy for $10 a square foot. In fact, the festival itself was a work of art. It isn't easy to blend nautical and Kentucky roots themes successfully, but they did it. The bourbon lounge was a tent where you relaxed on burlap-covered hay bales surrounded by barrels while sampling Kentucky's finest bourbons. Step outside the lounge and you see "waves" that doubled as chairs, which were rarely unoccupied. The motto of Forecastle was, "Music. Art. Activism," and that's exactly what they provided.

"credit" Jessi SmithEverything:
Ok, this is a cop-out, but I mean it. I loved everything. I had to spend two of the three days of the festival without my friends there and I was worried about being bored, but that never happened. Everywhere I looked there was a stage, canvas, booth, or person whose purpose seemed to be to entertain me. People tossed footballs around and hula hooped. There were cornhole tournaments and games of giant Connect Four. The lesser known performers mingled with the crowds, and had such a lack of pretension that the only way you could tell they were going to be on stage was the pale wristband embroidered with 'ARTIST' and the occasional super-fan getting their picture made with them. Everyone shared an enthusiasm for being there, and during nearly every set you could see one of the other bands in the wings watching with as much excitement as the crowd. In most of my pictures of Old Crow Medicine Show, you can see the members of Houndmouth grinning widely behind them. It was a weekend made for laid back, free-spirited fun.

"credit" Jessi SmithWell, there they are, the top things that pop into my head when someone asks, "So how was it?" I'm sure critics and the like have completely different moments to recount, but that's the beauty of music festivals. You get to customize your experience. They take a broad range of musical talents and combine them to expose people to old favorites and new discoveries. You take from it what you want and have as much fun as you let yourself.

Now I'll leave you with the last photo I took at Forecastle. As I walked to the exit with the sound of The Avett Brothers' excellent set finale filling the air, this guy stopped to tell me I’d dropped something, and when he found out I was taking pictures for Sugg Street Post in western Kentucky, he asked me to take his picture because his mom lives in Princeton and might see it. So here you go cute guy on the hay bales, I hope she does.

"credit" Jessi SmithScroll below to see more photos taken at Forecastle Festival 2013.
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Written by Jessi Smith
Photos by Jessi Smith

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Glema Center Unveils Impressive 2013-14 Lineup, Tickets Available Online

MADISONVILLE, KY (6/24/13) - The Madisonville Community College Glema Mahr Center for the Arts announces its 2013-14 Season: “Arts on Fire!” From the figurative “Ring of Fire” to the Kenya Safari Acrobats literally jumping through flame, this season promises to be sizzling! Headliners this season include the Time Jumpers (featuring Vince Gill, Dawn Sears, Kenny Sears, & Ranger Doug), Gloria Gaynor, and Rick Springfield.

The other “HOT” news is that the Glema now has online ticketing! Patrons can purchase tickets from the comfort of home, by phone, or in person. Tickets go on sale to current package buyers July 8, new package buyers July 22, and single tickets go on sale July 29. The Everything Ticket is only $350 for 20 performances and saves $115 off of the single ticket cost. Please call (270) 821-2787 or visit http://www.glemacenter.org for more information on the Center’s offerings.

There is still one more show left in the 2012-13 Season! The Glema Center’s community theatre production of Rodgers’ & Hammerstein’s The King & I runs July 19-21!


Glema Mahr Center for the Arts 2013-14 Season: “Arts on Fire!”


Center Stage Series

The Time Jumpers (featuring Vince Gill, Dawn Sears, Kenny Sears, & Ranger Doug)
Friday, September 13, 2013 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $45/$40

What began as a group of studio musicians getting together just for fun quickly evolved into The Time Jumpers becoming Nashville legends! The group earned a loyal following for their lively take on classic Western swing and old-school country music.
Sponsored by Old National Bank

Ring of Fire: The Life & Music of Johnny Cash
Friday, September 27, 2013 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $26/$21
Touching on the life and times of one of the world’s most legendary musical artists, Johnny Cash, the musical revue “Ring of Fire” is considered one of the best “jukebox musicals” of our time. Although Cash himself is never impersonated, Ring of Fire features a company of performers that will guide you on a journey through Cash’s storied life and celebrated music. With smashing medleys and bounce in its guitar-driven energy, this show will have you stompin’ your feet and asking for more! (Sponsored by Hudson Automotive)

Sarah Council Dance Projects-Featuring music performed by Carla Gover & Anna Gevalt-Roberts
Saturday, November 16, 2013 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 general admission
Sarah Council Dance Projects is a project-based dance company founded in 2007 by choreographer Sarah Council as a platform to create emotionally and physically honest dance performance works. These dances explore and reflect life’s poignant moments, from the beautiful to the tragic, and the curious to the absurd. (Sponsored by Juanita Badgett Performing Arts Endowment; Residency Support by the Estates of Ruth and Sue Anne Salmon. This performance and residency activities are funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Kentucky Arts Council)

Gloria Gaynor-Christmas with the Queen of Disco
Friday, December 13, 2013 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $40/$35

“I Will Survive” climbed to the top of Billboard’s Pop Charts in 1979, claiming the #1 position on two different occasions. Little did Gloria Gaynor know at the time, the song would eventually become a rallying cry for social survival and remain as relevant today as it was three decades ago. The inspiring single is just the tip of the iceberg where this talented performer’s repertoire is concerned. (Sponsored by Hopkins County Tourist & Convention Commission; Additional Support Provided by the Enduring Legacy of Mrs. Glema Mahr)

H.M.S. Pinafore Presented by New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players, Albert Bergeret, Artistic Director
Thursday, March 27, 2014 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $28/$24 (Children 12 & under half-price)

Now. Sea. Here. Ride a wave of music and laughter as romantic sailors, sisters, cousins, and aunts sing and dance their way across the deck of the fanciful British naval vessel with the improbable name. If you liked NYGASP’s productions of “The Mikado” and “Pirates of Penzance”, you’ll love the humor and beautiful music of Gilbert & Sullivan’s first masterpiece! (Sponsored by Anne P. Baker Endowment for Sustained Excellence in the Arts)

Rick Springfield
Friday, April 11, 2014 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $50/$45

For all of his accomplishments as an actor, best-selling author and documentary subject, Rick Springfield has always insisted his first love is music. With 25 million albums sold and 17 Top 40 hits, including the 1981 #1 hit “Jessie’s Girl”, (which earned him a Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal), it is evident music is indeed his great love. (Sponsored by Baptist Health Madisonville)

US Bank Family Specials

A Children’s Nutcracker Presented by Children’s Center for Dance Education
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 ∙ 7 p.m.
Tickets: $16/$12 (Children 12 & under half-price)

Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet is performed by children for children. Children’s Center for Dance Education and local dancers celebrate this timeless classic. Auditions for local children will be held Sunday, September 29, 2013 at 2 p.m.

Kenya Safari Acrobats
Friday, April 25, 2014 ∙ 7 p.m.
Tickets: $18/$14 (Children 12 & under half-price)

The Kenya Safari Acrobats offer a truly unique cultural experience. They perform a non-stop ride of gravity-defying human pyramids, balancing, tumbling, limbo dancing, hurling through hoops and breathtaking contortions, all while clapping to a joyful Benga beat. Combining artistry with humor and playfulness, these gymnasts are a huge crowd pleaser!

Glema Mahr Chamber Music Series

Sonya Baker-Soprano
Thursday, October 3, 2013 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 (general admission)

Sonya Gabrielle Baker, noted for her performances of American classical vocal music, has been heard in concert both nationally and internationally, from appearances in Carnegie Hall to the Kremlin.

Sarah E. Geller-Violin
Saturday, November 23, 2013 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 (general admission)

Described as “a consummate artist performing with convincing vigor and passion,” violinist Sarah E. Geller has performed to critical acclaim coast to coast.

Sara Sant’Ambrogio-Cello
Thursday, February 27, 2014 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 (general admission)

Grammy Award-winning cellist Sara Sant’Ambrogio has performed throughout the world at major music centers and festivals and is a founding member of the Eroica Trio.

Pavel Kolesnikov-Piano, 2012 Honens Prize Laureate
Thursday, April 3, 2014 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 (general admission)

The Telegraph (London) describes 2012 Honens Prize Laureate pianist Pavel Kolesnikov’s playing as having “brilliance, but also a caressing, almost sly intimacy.”

Hancock Bank & Trust Coffeehouse Series

Robin & Linda Williams-Americana
Tuesday, October 15, 2013 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 (general admission)

For more than three decades now, These “Prairie Home Companion” regulars have made it their mission to perform the music that they love, “a robust blend of bluegrass, folk, old-time and acoustic country that combines wryly observant lyrics with a wide-ranging melodicism.”

Jane L. Powell-Goddess of Soul
Friday, November 8, 2013 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 (general admission)

“A certain talent comes along every 20 years or so, and Jane is it.” Tony Bennett
Ms. Powell quickly captivates any audience with her musical flexibility, open and playful personality, and spicy, spontaneous sense of humor.

Tiempo Libre-Latin Jazz
Saturday, February 1, 2014 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 (general admission)

This three-time Grammy-nominated Cuban music group is one of the hottest young bands today. This performance and residency activities are funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Kentucky Arts Council.

Ben Sollee-Genre-bending Cello & Vocals
Saturday, March 22, 2014 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 (general admission)

Known for his thrilling cello playing that incorporates new techniques to create a unique mix of folk, bluegrass, jazz and R&B, Ben Sollee possesses rough, smooth, smoky vocal stylings and a knack for intricate arrangements.

First United Bank and Trust Proud Partnerships

Hairspray! presented by Hopkins County Central High School Fine Arts Department
Friday, Oct. 25, 2013 ∙ 7 p.m. ∙ Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 ∙ 2 & 7 p.m.
Tickets: $12 (All students half-price)
Book by Mark O’Donnell & Thomas Meehan, Music & Lyrics by Marc Shaiman, Lyrics by Scott Wittman
Can a larger-than-life adolescent manage to vanquish the local TV dance program’s reigning princess, integrate the television show, and find true love (singing and dancing all the while, of course!) without mussing her hair? Produced by arrangement with Music Theatre International.

Willy Wonka presented by Madisonville North Hopkins High School Music Department
Friday, March 14, 2014 ∙ 7 p.m. ∙ Saturday, March 15, 2014 ∙ 2 & 7 p.m.
Tickets: $12 (All students half-price)
Music and Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley, Adapted for the Stage by Timothy Allen McDonald & Leslie Bricusse
Roald Dahl’s timeless story of the world-famous candy man and his quest to find an heir comes to life in this stage adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which features the songs from the classic family film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Produced by arrangement with Music Theatre International.

Community Theatre
(Permanent support for Community Theatre provided by J.B. & Kiel Moore Community Programs Endowment)

I’m Not Rappaport by Herb Gardner-Dinner Theatre
February 20-22, 2014 ∙ 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: (includes dinner) $22

This Tony award-winning play takes a humorous, yet poignant look at dreams and the realities of aging through the eyes of two octogenarians. Produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc. (Sponsored by Dick & Phyllis Frymire and Ralph & Sue Mitchell)

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
July 18 & 19, 2014 ∙ 7 p.m. ∙ July 20, 2014 ∙ 2 p.m.
Tickets: $16 (general admission)

Music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by Hugh Wheeler
A rare instance of a musical thriller, the Glema proudly presents Stephen Sondheim’s chilling, suspenseful, heart-pounding masterpiece of murderous “barberism” and culinary crime. The sophisticated and breath-taking music mixes with visceral drama and deliciously funny moments of dark humor. You’ll find yourself laughing hysterically before gasping in surprise. Produced by arrangement with Music Theatre International. Recommended for ages 14 and up due to violence and mature themes. (Sponsored by Don & Mary Susan Fishman)

Special Events

Back 2 School Bash
Saturday, August 17, 2013 ∙ 4–10 p.m.
Free Admission (Bring your lawn chairs)

Join us for this annual celebration of local talent featuring Guitar Center’s 2012 Battle of the Blues winner, Boscoe France, as this year’s Headliner.
(Sponsored by the Miner Family Arts Endowment)

A Community Christmas-MCC Singers & Local Ensembles
Friday, December 6, 2013 ∙ 7 p.m.
Free Admission

Join us for this annual tradition as local choral groups team up with community-based instrumental ensembles to ring in the Season.
(Sponsored by United Southern Bank Additional support provided by Mrs. Betty Trover, Allen & Pam Rudd, Barry & Gail Eveland, Dr. & Mrs. J.L. Hamman, & Dr. Judith L. Rhoads)

Kristen Iverson-Author of Full Body Burden
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 ∙ 7 p.m.
Free Admission

Kristen Iversen is the author of Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats, a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence. Ms. Iverson holds a Ph.D from the University of Denver and is an associate professor at the University of Memphis, where she directs the MFA program in creative writing. Full Body Burden has been chosen as MCC’s “Common Reader” for the 2013-14 academic year.

The Anne P. Baker Gallery

August 17-October 4, 2013
Glema Center Juried Art Exhibit & Glema Center Juried Photography Exhibit
Reception & Awards, Saturday, August 17, 2013 ∙ 2 p.m.

Permanent support for gallery exhibits provided by the Robbie P. Ruby Memorial Endowment.

Information about exhibits throughout the year, as well as any of the events mentioned above, are available at www.glemacenter.org

Sugg Street Post
Information/lineup provided by the Glema Mahr Center for the Arts via Brad Downall

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  • Published in Art

Glema Center Unveils Impressive 2013-14 Lineup, Tickets Available Online

MADISONVILLE, KY (6/24/13) - The Madisonville Community College Glema Mahr Center for the Arts announces its 2013-14 Season: “Arts on Fire!” From the figurative “Ring of Fire” to the Kenya Safari Acrobats literally jumping through flame, this season promises to be sizzling! Headliners this season include the Time Jumpers (featuring Vince Gill, Dawn Sears, Kenny Sears, & Ranger Doug), Gloria Gaynor, and Rick Springfield.

The other “HOT” news is that the Glema now has online ticketing! Patrons can purchase tickets from the comfort of home, by phone, or in person. Tickets go on sale to current package buyers July 8, new package buyers July 22, and single tickets go on sale July 29. The Everything Ticket is only $350 for 20 performances and saves $115 off of the single ticket cost. Please call (270) 821-2787 or visit http://www.glemacenter.org for more information on the Center’s offerings.

There is still one more show left in the 2012-13 Season! The Glema Center’s community theatre production of Rodgers’ & Hammerstein’s The King & I runs July 19-21!


Glema Mahr Center for the Arts 2013-14 Season: “Arts on Fire!”


Center Stage Series

The Time Jumpers (featuring Vince Gill, Dawn Sears, Kenny Sears, & Ranger Doug)
Friday, September 13, 2013 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $45/$40

What began as a group of studio musicians getting together just for fun quickly evolved into The Time Jumpers becoming Nashville legends! The group earned a loyal following for their lively take on classic Western swing and old-school country music.
Sponsored by Old National Bank

Ring of Fire: The Life & Music of Johnny Cash
Friday, September 27, 2013 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $26/$21
Touching on the life and times of one of the world’s most legendary musical artists, Johnny Cash, the musical revue “Ring of Fire” is considered one of the best “jukebox musicals” of our time. Although Cash himself is never impersonated, Ring of Fire features a company of performers that will guide you on a journey through Cash’s storied life and celebrated music. With smashing medleys and bounce in its guitar-driven energy, this show will have you stompin’ your feet and asking for more! (Sponsored by Hudson Automotive)

Sarah Council Dance Projects-Featuring music performed by Carla Gover & Anna Gevalt-Roberts
Saturday, November 16, 2013 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 general admission
Sarah Council Dance Projects is a project-based dance company founded in 2007 by choreographer Sarah Council as a platform to create emotionally and physically honest dance performance works. These dances explore and reflect life’s poignant moments, from the beautiful to the tragic, and the curious to the absurd. (Sponsored by Juanita Badgett Performing Arts Endowment; Residency Support by the Estates of Ruth and Sue Anne Salmon. This performance and residency activities are funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Kentucky Arts Council)

Gloria Gaynor-Christmas with the Queen of Disco
Friday, December 13, 2013 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $40/$35

“I Will Survive” climbed to the top of Billboard’s Pop Charts in 1979, claiming the #1 position on two different occasions. Little did Gloria Gaynor know at the time, the song would eventually become a rallying cry for social survival and remain as relevant today as it was three decades ago. The inspiring single is just the tip of the iceberg where this talented performer’s repertoire is concerned. (Sponsored by Hopkins County Tourist & Convention Commission; Additional Support Provided by the Enduring Legacy of Mrs. Glema Mahr)

H.M.S. Pinafore Presented by New York Gilbert & Sullivan Players, Albert Bergeret, Artistic Director
Thursday, March 27, 2014 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $28/$24 (Children 12 & under half-price)

Now. Sea. Here. Ride a wave of music and laughter as romantic sailors, sisters, cousins, and aunts sing and dance their way across the deck of the fanciful British naval vessel with the improbable name. If you liked NYGASP’s productions of “The Mikado” and “Pirates of Penzance”, you’ll love the humor and beautiful music of Gilbert & Sullivan’s first masterpiece! (Sponsored by Anne P. Baker Endowment for Sustained Excellence in the Arts)

Rick Springfield
Friday, April 11, 2014 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $50/$45

For all of his accomplishments as an actor, best-selling author and documentary subject, Rick Springfield has always insisted his first love is music. With 25 million albums sold and 17 Top 40 hits, including the 1981 #1 hit “Jessie’s Girl”, (which earned him a Grammy for Best Male Rock Vocal), it is evident music is indeed his great love. (Sponsored by Baptist Health Madisonville)

US Bank Family Specials

A Children’s Nutcracker Presented by Children’s Center for Dance Education
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 ∙ 7 p.m.
Tickets: $16/$12 (Children 12 & under half-price)

Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet is performed by children for children. Children’s Center for Dance Education and local dancers celebrate this timeless classic. Auditions for local children will be held Sunday, September 29, 2013 at 2 p.m.

Kenya Safari Acrobats
Friday, April 25, 2014 ∙ 7 p.m.
Tickets: $18/$14 (Children 12 & under half-price)

The Kenya Safari Acrobats offer a truly unique cultural experience. They perform a non-stop ride of gravity-defying human pyramids, balancing, tumbling, limbo dancing, hurling through hoops and breathtaking contortions, all while clapping to a joyful Benga beat. Combining artistry with humor and playfulness, these gymnasts are a huge crowd pleaser!

Glema Mahr Chamber Music Series

Sonya Baker-Soprano
Thursday, October 3, 2013 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 (general admission)

Sonya Gabrielle Baker, noted for her performances of American classical vocal music, has been heard in concert both nationally and internationally, from appearances in Carnegie Hall to the Kremlin.

Sarah E. Geller-Violin
Saturday, November 23, 2013 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 (general admission)

Described as “a consummate artist performing with convincing vigor and passion,” violinist Sarah E. Geller has performed to critical acclaim coast to coast.

Sara Sant’Ambrogio-Cello
Thursday, February 27, 2014 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 (general admission)

Grammy Award-winning cellist Sara Sant’Ambrogio has performed throughout the world at major music centers and festivals and is a founding member of the Eroica Trio.

Pavel Kolesnikov-Piano, 2012 Honens Prize Laureate
Thursday, April 3, 2014 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 (general admission)

The Telegraph (London) describes 2012 Honens Prize Laureate pianist Pavel Kolesnikov’s playing as having “brilliance, but also a caressing, almost sly intimacy.”

Hancock Bank & Trust Coffeehouse Series

Robin & Linda Williams-Americana
Tuesday, October 15, 2013 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 (general admission)

For more than three decades now, These “Prairie Home Companion” regulars have made it their mission to perform the music that they love, “a robust blend of bluegrass, folk, old-time and acoustic country that combines wryly observant lyrics with a wide-ranging melodicism.”

Jane L. Powell-Goddess of Soul
Friday, November 8, 2013 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 (general admission)

“A certain talent comes along every 20 years or so, and Jane is it.” Tony Bennett
Ms. Powell quickly captivates any audience with her musical flexibility, open and playful personality, and spicy, spontaneous sense of humor.

Tiempo Libre-Latin Jazz
Saturday, February 1, 2014 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 (general admission)

This three-time Grammy-nominated Cuban music group is one of the hottest young bands today. This performance and residency activities are funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Kentucky Arts Council.

Ben Sollee-Genre-bending Cello & Vocals
Saturday, March 22, 2014 ∙ 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 (general admission)

Known for his thrilling cello playing that incorporates new techniques to create a unique mix of folk, bluegrass, jazz and R&B, Ben Sollee possesses rough, smooth, smoky vocal stylings and a knack for intricate arrangements.

First United Bank and Trust Proud Partnerships

Hairspray! presented by Hopkins County Central High School Fine Arts Department
Friday, Oct. 25, 2013 ∙ 7 p.m. ∙ Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013 ∙ 2 & 7 p.m.
Tickets: $12 (All students half-price)
Book by Mark O’Donnell & Thomas Meehan, Music & Lyrics by Marc Shaiman, Lyrics by Scott Wittman
Can a larger-than-life adolescent manage to vanquish the local TV dance program’s reigning princess, integrate the television show, and find true love (singing and dancing all the while, of course!) without mussing her hair? Produced by arrangement with Music Theatre International.

Willy Wonka presented by Madisonville North Hopkins High School Music Department
Friday, March 14, 2014 ∙ 7 p.m. ∙ Saturday, March 15, 2014 ∙ 2 & 7 p.m.
Tickets: $12 (All students half-price)
Music and Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley, Adapted for the Stage by Timothy Allen McDonald & Leslie Bricusse
Roald Dahl’s timeless story of the world-famous candy man and his quest to find an heir comes to life in this stage adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which features the songs from the classic family film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Produced by arrangement with Music Theatre International.

Community Theatre
(Permanent support for Community Theatre provided by J.B. & Kiel Moore Community Programs Endowment)

I’m Not Rappaport by Herb Gardner-Dinner Theatre
February 20-22, 2014 ∙ 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: (includes dinner) $22

This Tony award-winning play takes a humorous, yet poignant look at dreams and the realities of aging through the eyes of two octogenarians. Produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc. (Sponsored by Dick & Phyllis Frymire and Ralph & Sue Mitchell)

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
July 18 & 19, 2014 ∙ 7 p.m. ∙ July 20, 2014 ∙ 2 p.m.
Tickets: $16 (general admission)

Music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Book by Hugh Wheeler
A rare instance of a musical thriller, the Glema proudly presents Stephen Sondheim’s chilling, suspenseful, heart-pounding masterpiece of murderous “barberism” and culinary crime. The sophisticated and breath-taking music mixes with visceral drama and deliciously funny moments of dark humor. You’ll find yourself laughing hysterically before gasping in surprise. Produced by arrangement with Music Theatre International. Recommended for ages 14 and up due to violence and mature themes. (Sponsored by Don & Mary Susan Fishman)

Special Events

Back 2 School Bash
Saturday, August 17, 2013 ∙ 4–10 p.m.
Free Admission (Bring your lawn chairs)

Join us for this annual celebration of local talent featuring Guitar Center’s 2012 Battle of the Blues winner, Boscoe France, as this year’s Headliner.
(Sponsored by the Miner Family Arts Endowment)

A Community Christmas-MCC Singers & Local Ensembles
Friday, December 6, 2013 ∙ 7 p.m.
Free Admission

Join us for this annual tradition as local choral groups team up with community-based instrumental ensembles to ring in the Season.
(Sponsored by United Southern Bank Additional support provided by Mrs. Betty Trover, Allen & Pam Rudd, Barry & Gail Eveland, Dr. & Mrs. J.L. Hamman, & Dr. Judith L. Rhoads)

Kristen Iverson-Author of Full Body Burden
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 ∙ 7 p.m.
Free Admission

Kristen Iversen is the author of Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats, a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award and the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence. Ms. Iverson holds a Ph.D from the University of Denver and is an associate professor at the University of Memphis, where she directs the MFA program in creative writing. Full Body Burden has been chosen as MCC’s “Common Reader” for the 2013-14 academic year.

The Anne P. Baker Gallery

August 17-October 4, 2013
Glema Center Juried Art Exhibit & Glema Center Juried Photography Exhibit
Reception & Awards, Saturday, August 17, 2013 ∙ 2 p.m.

Permanent support for gallery exhibits provided by the Robbie P. Ruby Memorial Endowment.

Information about exhibits throughout the year, as well as any of the events mentioned above, are available at www.glemacenter.org

Sugg Street Post
Information/lineup provided by the Glema Mahr Center for the Arts via Brad Downall

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  • Published in Art

‘Empressing’ the World with the Written Word

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (6/4/13)—The process of writing literary-style fiction is oftentimes a deeply personal affair. From the underlying subtext to the attributes of the characters, the details a writer presents on the page—no matter how minute they may seem—are oftentimes pulled from deeply personal experiences, observations, or beliefs. A death of a friend, unrequited love, a cathartic epiphany, a joyous miracle that took place in the creator’s life—all are fair game for a wordsmith’s inspiration. And while many an author will pour hours, weeks, months, or even years into editing and self-directed criticism, it’s not too uncommon for an author to cower before the thought of actual publication. Bluntly put, the thought of giving someone else control of a personal creation can be daunting and anxiety-inducing for most anyone. 

Thankfully, however, there are several independently owned publishing companies out there today making the thought of handing over a prized manuscript to complete strangers a tad bit easier to swallow. Among them is a relatively new company hailing from Virginia Beach known as Empress World Publishing.

So why are we at the Sugg Street Post, which is based out of western Kentucky, writing anything about a publishing company based in Virginia? The main reason is relatively simple: Empress World Publishing’s chief editor, Ben Adams, is a former west Kentucky resident and a central Kentucky native. Moreover, what Ben and EWP’s founder, Sirrico Whitfield, are providing for up-and-coming writers is noteworthy, as are their all-inclusive end goals.

As I was fortunate enough to work with Ben during my employment as a lead reporter in Hopkins County, I was able to recently contact him, as well as Sirrico, to find out more on the burgeoning, creativity-based endeavor they are both undertaking. The result of our correspondences are as follows.

Ben Adams

Tell me a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Lebanon in central Kentucky as the youngest of five children. My parents own and operate two businesses there and we kids grew up around the family businesses. We learned how to treat people, how to communicate effectively, how to run a successful business and, perhaps most importantly, we became very close to one another because we had to work together on one common goal.

In my spare time, I enjoy being a father and a tennis instructor. With the help of several contributors, I also publish HorsesandHoops.com, a website which promotes Kentucky’s sports and entertainment events.

When did you move to Virginia and why?

My wife is a physician and we moved our young family to Hampton Roads in southeastern Virginia because she started an OB/GYN medical residency at a local hospital here. Aside from being a plane ride or an 11-hour car ride away from family and friends in My Old Kentucky Home, we are extremely happy with the move. Hampton Roads is a large metropolitan area and provides us a nice, safe environment to live and raise children. Having our pick of many nearby beaches is definitely a plus!

You recently began working with a publishing company based out of Virginia Beach called Empress World Publishing. How did that situation come about?

We moved here in June and it took a little while for me to find work. Although this is a big area with many job opportunities, my search was made more difficult because there were so many more applicants for each position. Admittedly, I was also looking for that “perfect” job opportunity.

I had previously worked at a growing eNewspaper in western Kentucky and I had also worked as an editor for a large law firm and international legal organization in Cincinnati so I really must give those two opportunities the most credit for me being able to land the job with Empress World Publishing.

The writing skills I learned under the eNewspaper's editor and the editing skills I honed under Multilaw’s Willis Gregory have really helped me become a better writer, editor and worker. After the initial interview with EWP staff, I knew this was definitely the right place of employment for me.

As you mentioned, you’re the editor with Empress. Is writing/editing something you’ve always enjoyed or was it something that you recently became interested in?

I’ve always enjoyed the written word. However, during my school years, I found writing to be a very challenging endeavor. The ability to convey accurate, factual information, research and opinions can be extremely tedious. With the help of my parents, I was taught to always “say what I mean and mean what I say.”

I always asked questions when I was a kid. When I was younger, I can remember my father would try to temper this habit by throwing words at me and telling me to say them, spell them, define them and then use them in sentences. I would then go research them and return to him with my work. The words progressed to bigger, more meaningful words and I loved it. These exercises were very helpful and they also showed me that he took a personal interest in my learning process. I will soon use this method for my own children.

What’s the gist of the latest book you’re working on, Luna Morba?

Luna Morba is a novel intended for a young adult audience. A young man, en route to beginning his life after college, encounters situations which require big life decisions. As the book progresses, the young man is pushed further into an unknown world where he learns many things about himself and his purpose in life.

Ultimately, what about Empress makes it different from other publishing companies?

I believe EWP is a genuine company looking to help others accomplish their goals. In a world of faceless, corporate publishing companies where the average writer is simply a collection of pages, EWP is a welcomed bright spot where someone can take his or her talents and be treated as an individual.

Sirrico Whitfield is a very gracious and caring man and his dream of providing an outlet to all writers, including those who might otherwise not be published, serves a valuable purpose in this industry. The entire EWP staff is very professional and compassionate and is on the side of the writer. In this industry, the differences make the difference.

Sirrico Whitfield

Tell me a little bit about yourself. 

I am a poet, songwriter and author. I was born and lived in Panama for the first few years of my life while my father was stationed there with the military. My family eventually moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia where my five siblings and I would be raised. I still call Virginia my home; it's where I live with my wife Sandye and our two children. My son and daughter inspire and encourage my writing. I have always had a passion for writing. However, I spent many years pouring effort into my dream of playing in the NFL. I was a 5’6” wide receiver in high school and college where I surprised people with my speed and fearlessness. I have been grateful to go through the trials that have helped me become who I am today, including two battles with cancer. I try to live every day by my motto - “Start every day with a dream in your heart…” - and my ultimate goal is to reach the hearts of children and adults all over the world, encouraging them to start each day with a dream in their heart because anything you can dream, you can achieve.

You are the owner and founder of Empress World Publishing. What was your inspiration for starting such a company, and when did you first establish the business?

I have desired for a long time to step out and create a business that could make a difference in the world. I spent about 10 years writing poems and starting stories, and I made a promise to myself that I would one day get them published. When it came down to finally making that step, I made the decision to self-publish. The biggest reason was that most publishing companies these days take what you have written and change it to fit their standards, and I couldn’t stand the thought of losing control over this story I created. When I decided to self-publish “My Elephant Did It” in 2012 is when I started Empress World Publishing and I named the company after my first born, my daughter, Empress.

What is Empress all about from your perspective?

Empress World Publishing (EWP) is not just about my dreams of being an author and selling books. It’s about encouraging, dreaming, and believing in the impossible and spreading that frame of mind all over the world. Beginning at a young age, society puts limits on what we will achieve in our lifetime. Our ultimate goal at EWP is to reach the hearts of children and adults all over the world and encourage them to set high goals for themselves and never give up on them even when you hear “No” a million times or when you don’t have any support from friends and family. It’s also about giving those authors, no matter the age, an opportunity to publish their works! We want to give them opportunities to share their writing and, nowadays, that can be a very daunting task!

Is writing/reading something that you’ve always enjoyed?

I remember as a child loving to tell stories to anyone who would listen. I can remember going to family reunions and standing in front of my family members telling them stories from pure imagination. As I grew up, I became very dedicated to football, but I also had notebooks full of stories that I would write and share with my friends and family, all of who seemed to love my stories.

What is your ultimate goal with the business? Where do you want Empress to be 10 years from now?

My ultimate goal with the business, aside from what I have already shared about reaching the world and encouraging people to believe in themselves, is for EWP to be a household name. My goal is to have Empress World Publishing right up there with the big-name publishing companies, but have it stand out as a company that gives average people like me a real opportunity to call themselves published authors.

What sets Empress apart from the so-called pack?

I believe what sets EWP apart from the so-called pack is the type of group that has been put in place to run the company. We have built our foundation with honest and hard-working people who truly want to see dreams come true. We believe in our company, in our dream, and we set goals knowing they may be difficult to achieve, but we work together to accomplish them. We love the fact that we are a group of co-workers that work together very professionally, but we are also a family. We care about the happiness and well-being of our customers and audience, but also the people who work hours and hours behind the scenes, and this can make all the difference in the success of a company!

What kind of involvement do you have with your community?

Being active in the community is huge for me. We have done numerous events at local elementary schools and after-school programs in the community where the themes of my assemblies are: “If you can dream it, you can do it,” which is a quote by Walt Disney. My company is full of hearts wanting to serve the community and those who are less fortunate than us. We are connected to our local Samaritan house and do events with the children. During Christmas, we also do something that we call “Bless a Family” where we collect donations from people within the company and people we know in order to purchase things that the family needs, as well as fun things like toys or games for the children. This has been a very rewarding experience for our company.

In essence, what you’re doing is very much a part of the US’s recent “entrepreneurial resurgence.” What was it about starting and running your own business that caught your interest?

Aside from being my own boss, I loved the idea of building something from the ground up. I knew that in order to make my company different it couldn’t be about the money; it needed to be much more than that. I knew there would be very, very hard and long days, but I also knew that there would be a rewarding day for each of those hard days.

With Empress, is there a certain genre that you focus on or are you open to a variety of literature?

There is not one certain genre that we focus on at Empress World Publishing. I currently have published two children’s books, one a compilation of poems and the other a fiction story. I will also be releasing my first young adult novel, which is a supernatural fantasy thriller. I have other books I have started that range from romantic to comedy to children’s, and even musicals. We are open to a whole variety of literature.

If someone is interested in working with Empress, what should they do? How do they submit their work?

Being that we opened our doors officially in April of 2012, we have not yet had the opportunity to publish an author other than myself. Our goal in 2013 is to change that! Anyone interested in working with Empress World Publishing can e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.sirricowhitfield.com

Tell me a little about your upcoming release, Luna Morba.

Luna Morba is the title of my very first young adult novel. It is a supernatural fantasy thriller that I am very excited to release! My goal is that it is a book that draws the reader into the characters world and makes them never want to leave. I also have filmed a movie-style book trailer for Luna Morba, which actually sparked a love for film and directing that I cannot wait to explore further in the future. Luna Morba is scheduled to release in July of 2013.

To learn more about Empress World Publishing, or take request submission information/guidelines, please visit their official Facebook page at the following link: https://www.facebook.com/EmpressWorldPublishingLlc. You may also visit http://sirricowhitfield.com/ for information on the works of Sirrico Whitfield.

You may also watch the trailer for Luna Morba by visiting the official Empress World Publishing YouTube page or by clicking the video attached below this article.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Luke Short
Photos provided by Ben Adams

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Community Collage: Breathe Youth Arts Spring Showcase

"credit" Jessi SmithHOPKINS COUNTY, KY (5/15/13) - Art is an escape. Art is beauty. Art is vivid. Art is alive. Art is freeing and exhilarating. So just breathe it in and allow it to cleanse you every once in awhile.

Art was alive and well in Madisonville this past Tuesday, May 14th at the Madisonville City Park. Breathe, a community based youth development program, celebrated their first year of operation by offering up a free Spring showcase for park-goers as the sun was setting brilliantly against the backdrop. The weather was perfect and a responsive crowd gave the atmosphere an electric spark.

Breathe, a program established by Light of Chance, Inc., provides after-school arts sessions, which are free of charge, for grades 5-12. The program foster artistic expression, leadership, and social skills through arts such as visual, music, dance, creative writing, and poetry.

The official Light of Chance website lists the program's goals as follows:

• To offer programming that: focuses on self-expression, artistic engagement, teamwork skills, and concern for others.

• Give youth a constructive outlet for their creative energies, encourage cooperation and teamwork, teach artistic and social skills.

• To engage young people in unique opportunities to explore the arts while developing supportive relationships and connecting with their community.

• Help program participants to establish and achieve personal goals.

• To teach and help youth discover different ways to critically think and solve problems.

• To increase youth’s self-esteem.

A photo recap of this year's Spring Showcase can be viewed below.

If you are interested in learning more about the Breathe program call (270) 875-4332 or visit http://www.lightofchance.org/. The program operates every Tuesday from 3:30-6:00 at the Rosenwald-Smith Multi-Cultural Center at 208 N. Kentucky Ave.

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"credit" Jessi SmithSugg Street Post
Written by Jessica Dockrey
Photos by Jessi Smith

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  • Published in Art

Community Collage: 2013 Spring Gallery Hop

MADISONVILLE, KY (5/2/13)—Since the inaugural event back in October 2011, Madisonville’s biannual downtown Gallery Hop has developed into something very special for our close-knit community. It offers the public a chance to physically interact with the astonishing amount of creative talent our region produces and calls home; it provides a platform for artists and local business owners to merge in a very unique, mutually beneficial manner; and, above all, it provides a great evening of fun and entertainment for everyone involved.

Though this year’s spring Gallery Hop, which was held on Saturday, April 27th, faced a potential downturn in attendance due to rainy weather, a surprising number of patrons from our area took to the historic district’s sidewalks to peruse and purchase a variety of pieces created by approximately 30 different artists.

Moreover, those in attendance also had the relatively rare opportunity to witness several spontaneous street performances courtesy of talented local musicians, to taste some delicious food, desserts, and fine wine produced by locally owned-and-operated businesses, and to speak directly with the artists whose work was on display.

While the collaborative event won’t take place again until October, we at the Sugg Street Post would like to recap a few of the spring Gallery Hop’s highlights through images and words. Please take note of the artists, businesses, and organizations displayed and mentioned in the following captions and photos, because they deserve our support and appreciation.

Area resident Amy Harvey pays a visit to Madisonville's decades-old train depot during last Saturday's downtown Gallery Hop. Known as "The Center" today, the historic structure serves as the Hopkins County Art League's official headquarters and gallery space. The HDR photo work Harvey is analyzing was created by longtime city employee and HCAL member, Gina Munger. Munger's work was part of an exhibit on Saturday that included more than 200 pieces made by over 10 other Art League members. 

While primarily known for his talents on piano, bass guitar, and vocals, local musician Johnny Keyz put a rough-edged, albeit original, twist on a bygone style by way of a performance on a '30s-era accordion. The performance took place in front of the soon-to-be Sugg Street Post, ARTcycle Inc., and Big City Coffee Shop location. Passersby braved light, intermittent sprinkles to capture this unique moment both in memory and in photos. As this was the first year musicians were invited to "busk" during the Gallery Hop, other talented performers, which included Pat Ballard, Mike Cartwright, and Ray Ligon, performed on the sidewalk in front of the location. Other photos, as well as a video, of these performances can be found via the official Sugg Street Post Facebook page.

The singular, environment-friendly, and abstract sculpture work of Indiana artist Bob Zasadny eternalizes fluidity and motion in various physical forms. In the photo, Bob and I discuss his fiberglass and recycling-based approach, which he first adopted as his main medium in the early 1960s. Since his humble, yet capable, beginnings, Zasadny has garnered acclaim from noted colleagues in the art world, area media outlets, and a variety of respected institutions. Zasadny's exhibit was one of several on display at the Madisonville-Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce's headquarters at 15 East Center Street. 

The concept of cyclical time and repetition, which is represented in much of Tim Corum's metal sculpture work, gains added depth with a piece created from a range of discarded bicycle parts. Based out of Earlington, KY, Corum's art is on display for the public on a daily basis in Madisonville via his various, brightly-colored "ARTcan" creations, each of which are peppered throughout the downtown district. The piece displayed above was one of several works of art on display at 25 Sugg Street during the Gallery Hop. 


Steeped in faith and spirituality, the multi-sided artwork of Madisonville-based artist and gallery owner Barbie Hunt, which includes pottery, customized silks, collages, and water-based media (as seen in the above photo), has prompted attention from a wide range of audiences over the years. Not only does her ever-growing catalog of work continue to inspire local audiences, but it has helped to put downtown Madisonville in a national, art-tinged spotlight. 

Defining Carl Berges' colorful, large-scale oil paintings is a tricky pony. While the pieces may at first seem abstract, upon closer inspection one realizes that a vivid and seemingly motion-filled shot of life has materialized. Further examples of Berges' vibrant works can been seen enlivening the background of other photos found in the this "community collage." 

Producing fine wine is, itself, a painstaking, centuries-old artform worthy of praise and appreciation - especially when done correctly. Medicine Man Wines of Eddy Gove Winery, LLC (Princeton, KY), were onsite at the Madisonville-Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce during the "hop" showing patrons how this historic skill could manifest locally. From selling samples to full bottles, co-owners Jenny Franke and David Hall were happy to share the award-winning fruits of their labor with the general public. 

A talented country musician with over 40 years of playing experience under his belt, Ray Ligon is a staple of our local music community and has helped to support a variety of benevolent civic organizations. His notable mantra, "It's all about touching people with the music," has remained a fixture in both his approach to fans and his unique songwriting style over the years. 25 Sugg Street, which will be the eventual home of the Sugg Street Post, ARTcycle Inc., and Big City Coffee Shop, was privileged to have Ray perform among a bevy of eye-catching art pieces during the Gallery Hop. 

Woodworking practices date back to the dawn of human civilizations both in China and Egypt. Yet, it's a relatively safe bet that those practicing the art form in its infancy would have never imagined how the trade would evolve, let alone that the skill would even practiced some 6,000 years later. Fortunately, talented craftsmen like Charles Beal, whose original woodturnings were up for sale at the Chamber of Commerce office, are keeping this rich tradition alive and well. 

 The varied artwork of the Sugg Street Post's own Jessica Dockrey adds a bright artistic backdrop to a conversation between Hopkins County Art League members and painters Pat Harvey (left) and Rik Woosley (right), as well as myself. The lower, labyrinth-like level of the HCAL's HQ at "The Center" was host to several other artists' work, including the oftentimes bejeweled pieces produced by fellow league member Faye Dennison. 

The brainchild of local textile artist Maria Lee, the Black Dog Fiber Studio at 11 North Main St. in downtown Madisonville offers art-lovers a contemporary touch on a well-established tradition. The weaving loom pictured above showcases one of many intricate skills required to fashion Lee's various, cloth-based works. In addition to Lee's pieces, the studio was also host to several handmade soaps courtesy of  Bicycle Botanicals' Kim Hardesty.

Proud supporters of the area arts and music scene, Henderson, KY's Ruby Moon Vineyard & Winery owners Jamie Like and Anita Frazer offered Gallery Hop attendants a variety of exquisite, locally-grown flavors, as well as full bottles, from the 25 Sugg Street location. In addition to luscious dessert wines and flavorful blushes, Ruby Moon also offers drier reds that compliment meats wonderfully. Particularly, the Sugg Street Post crew was a big fan of the winery's "Chambourcin" flavor, which is pictured above. 

As 6-year-old Emma Rea Gibson will attest, artwork isn't just for the adults. Her 11" X 14" untitled finger painting piece is direct evidence. Though her mother, Jenny Gibson - who is also the founder of the Downtown Turnaround Project, ARTcycle Inc., and Big City Coffee Shop, as well as a member of the Sugg Street Post - was happy to have Emma's artwork adorning the wall at 25 Sugg Street, she knows a good piece when she see's it. In turn, rather than trying to put a number on the work, both Jenny and Emma agreed on a more apt cost: priceless. 

A current resident of southern Indiana, Nick Kredier spends much of his time restoring and repurposing "lost and found" furniture. From adding vintage-inspired touches, to a few dashes of color and text for good measure, Kreider has an obvious knack for turning many men's trash into what most anyone would consider real treasure. 

Another photo of Johnny Keyz "busking"  the sidewalks of Sugg St. on his antique accordion receives a classy monochromatic makeover. 

Though Madisonville's Gallery Hop won't be back until October this year, everyone at the Sugg Street Post is sure it will be another entertaining and successful event. A huge thanks goes out to everyone who makes the occasion such a unique and enjoyable time year after year. See you in the fall!

Sugg Street Post
Written by Luke Short
Photos by Jessi Smith

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Creating Community with Electric Synergy

MADISONVILLE, KY (4/18/13)—Technically, we experience synergy to some degree every day. Yet, every so often, we dig right into the exceptional reality of the term. And it is in these rare instances, when just the right mix of timing, emotion, and situation intermingle, that we truly experience what it means to collectively create something amazing, something that reaches into a shared consciousness both within and beyond our sense of individuality. It’s an electric sensation that reminds us that we’re human, that we were once a civilization rather than a menagerie of disjointed beings basking in the pale blue glow of smartphone screens. It creates an undeniably powerful buzz within us and those in proximity, and it is usually so striking that what was perhaps only a brief moment in time—at least in relativity—may impress upon us a lifelong stamp of consideration for our potential as a single race.

It may at first sound like the ranting of a lunatic, but coin these remembered, hindsight moments as “nostalgia” or “the good ol’ days” and it all begins to make perfect sense.

In the opinion of this writer, modernity and all its intricate, fast-paced trappings are paradoxically stifling and furthering the frequency with which these collectively cathartic moments manifest. Social media and other forms of publicly accessible mass communication are powerful tools for distributing ideas and creativity, but they can also keep us at odds; they can keep us faceless and disconnected, prostrate in mindless entertainment, while ironically connecting us in ways we would have never imagined 20 years ago. Whereas mail once took weeks, or even months, to reach its recipient, we can now send messages to the other side of the globe instantaneously. At the click of a button, we may purchase the latest pair of designer jeans or we can spark a revolution, and therein lays the terror of the modern generation’s responsibility. It’s up to us whether we use what we have at our disposal for the progression of communal thought or for the bliss of ignorance.

Fortunately, there are many who understand this concept and are actively utilizing the technology-bound power we all wield for the betterment of our species. They are creating real events where people can not only interact, but can share and synergize with other like-minded people, and they’re using technology to spread the word.

Yet, no matter how much a person or group may plan an event, the role of those participating—and how much they actually participate—as well the circumstances that are ultimately involved, are always the uncontrollable variables in this equation. They are the anomalous factors no individual or organization can completely gauge beforehand. With this in mind, those who take the time and initiative in hopes of achieving such a collaborative communal effect deserve our applause more so. Why? Because much of their fuel is a mix of blind faith and ambition.

Fortunately, as a writer and general community supporter, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing and being a part of these electrically-charged moments several times over the past few years—and they’ve almost always been sparked by the talents of creative people.

Thankfully, I was able to be a part of this effect once again this past Saturday, April 13th, in Madisonville, KY at Legends Bar thanks to the efforts of local rock band, gypsyLifter, and a handful of other local performers.

With the promise of 100 free beers, a striking lineup of “guest” performers, and the mission of simply having a good time standing as the impetus for participating, over 250 people turned out at the venue throughout the four-and-a-half-hour set with high hopes—and they weren’t disappointed.

As the night rolled on, talented performers like Pat Ballard and Johnny Keyz (aka PB&J), Mollie Garrigan, Vince Bedwell, Chris Branstetter, Cody Melton, and Even Faulk, as well as some new groups formed partially by members of gypsyLifter—Toredown/Brown (Landon Miller, Kyle True, and Matt Parker) and The Dead Sea Squirrels (myself, Jessica Dockrey, Landon Miller, and Randy Stone)—took to the stage alongside one another as friends and collaborators rather than rivals.

And while I’ve been to similar events in the past—ones where everyone hopes to work together effectively—Robert Burns’ quote says it best: “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.” To put it bluntly, sometimes things just click organically and sometimes they don’t, a fact that is especially true with artists and musicians. It’s just the way of fate. Fortunately, this event was that of the former, and the people in attendance became just as much a part of the performances as those under the swirling, iridescent lights of the stage. Friends were there showing support with claps and yelps; strangers applauded from behind raised, ice-clinking glasses; revelers swayed and nodded in time adjacent to the onstage monitors; and a horde of respect was shared by all those involved.

Though I can’t personally speak for everyone there that night, the event will personally go down in my memory banks as one of the best times I’ve ever had creating something beautiful with the help of other, like-minded people.

Pat Ballard, a seasoned musician and supporter of local artists and performers—a man who partially inspired me to get on stage for the first time this past Saturday night—leaned over during the first portion of gypsyLifter’s multi-part set and told me, “When I walked in the door tonight, I felt like I was walking into a community that I truly belonged to.”

And that’s what it’s all about.

Though there were a bevy of talented musicians from our town and region who weren’t able to attend the show, there’s no doubt in my mind that what we shared was just as much a part of their spirit as our own.

As residents of Madisonville and Hopkins County, we should never take what we have right here in our community for granted. It’s not just musicians either. It’s an eclectic group of artists; it’s a variety of non-profit organizations; it’s volunteers; it’s rich history; and it’s unique culture. It’s here at our fingertips, but it’s up to us to energize the beast and bring it to life.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Luke Short
Photos by Jessi Smith

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  • Published in Music

Area Musician Helps to Put Paducah Scene in KET Spotlight

PADUCAH, KY (3/17/13)—Western Kentucky, as well as the surrounding region and state of Kentucky itself, is brimming with talented artists and musicians working in a variety of genres—and it has been this way for decades. Yet, regardless of the raw talent an area may hold, the growth and success of a community’s arts, history, entertainment, and music scene depends largely on the support of appreciative, like-minded individuals. Taking this idea to heart, the downtown arts and entertainment district in Paducah, KY has truly flourished over the last 15 to 20 years thanks to the efforts of dedicated volunteers, fervent patrons, ambitious non-profit organizations, and a bevy of talented artists. Today, the shining example they have set, as well as the close-knit society of creative minds that has pulled together as a result, stands as a beacon to other area’s looking to reinvent and connect their own local cultures.

Knowing this truth from many memorable firsthand experiences over the last decade, acclaimed regional musician and award-winning thumbpicker, J.T. Oglesby (pictured to the left), set out to get Paducah’s thriving, multi-faceted music scene recognized on a broader scale. Specifically, he wanted to see Paducah musicians, their fans, and their inspiring reverence for the roots of Kentucky music featured on Kentucky Educational Television (KET).

So, what did he do? He called KET and told them it was a good idea.

“It was really just a lack of shyness and curiosity just to see if I could do it,” says J.T. candidly. “I called up KET and said, ‘Give me somebody in charge.’ They asked what I meant and I told them, ‘Give me somebody who can make me a TV show.’ [laughs] They connected me with [producer] Brandon Wickey. Once we got to talking, I pitched the idea of promoting some of my friends and the Paducah scene on a TV show...I wanted to promote Paducah because they are advancing music, but still promote indigenous Kentucky music. They are moving forward, but are honoring and respecting the musicians that came before all of us in the process.”

While J.T. felt that the initial reaction he got from Wickey was positive, over two years passed without any further contact. As a result, J.T. assumed that his idea had been brushed off. Avoiding too much heartache over what he thought was a great but forgotten idea, J.T. forged ahead, playing music for regional audiences, promoting Kentucky’s rich musical lineage, and spending time with his family.

Then, several weeks ago, J.T.’s phone rang. It was Wickey, and he was ready to discuss details.

“A few years had passed and then, out of nowhere, Brandon [Wickey] called me up and asked if I still wanted to do the show. I told him I did,” says J.T. of the unexpected call. “He said that he wanted to get [former Bawn in the Mash member] Nathan Blake Lynn, the Solid Rock’it Boosters, and JD Wilkes & The Dirt Daubers on board for the show.”

Having played both with and alongside each of the locally-based groups and musicians Wickey wanted to feature on the show, contacting them and garnering their interest was a relatively easy task for J.T..

From there, Matt Grimm—one of KET’s various contributing producers for their ongoing weekly magazine program, Kentucky Life—was assigned to the project and things really started to move.

In fact, it was no time before KET and J.T., as well as several others, were helping to organize a full-on community-based concert featuring each of the aforementioned artists. What’s more, Paducah’s premiere arts, music, and film venue, The Maiden Alley Cinema, agreed to host the show on March 1st.

It was at this point that the upcoming event looked to be a “perfect storm” for showcasing the talents and culture of Paducah that J.T. sought so diligently to exhibit—there was a non-profit arts and community-based venue, a handful of fine Paducah area musicians, and a respected statewide television network ready to lend their hand in making the show a success. And if that weren’t enough, a mere week or so before the show, J.T. was fortunate enough to access a true piece of west Kentucky music history: Mose Rager’s ‘50s-‘60s era Gibson ES-225T electric guitar.

Revered by many as the forefather of thumbpicking—an intricate style of guitar playing that originated in west Kentucky where the thumb plays rhythm and the forefingers play the melody simultaneously—Mose Rager is truly a musical legend and an inspiration to many area artists. In fact, when searching out information on the talented innovator in a face-to-face context, one may find that Rager’s history carries with it a sense of indefinable colloquial mythos rivaled only by his ability to play. To really put his prowess in perspective, consider this: Rager is oftentimes credited with teaching the thumbpicking style to internationally recognized musician and country legend, Merle Travis.

Deeply inspired by both Mose, the man, and the style he imparted to our region, J.T. decided he would also give a very special nod to our area’s musical roots by playing the storied vintage instrument alongside his longtime friends and band-mates, the Solid Rock’it Boosters, during the Paducah concert.

While J.T. had started—and currently still is—working with a number of other outlets to document the historic Gibson, which include the Folk Studies Department at Western Kentucky University (WKU), local musician Patrick “Patson” Richardson, photographer Amy Hourigan, members of the Sugg Street Post, and others, he knew performing with it during the soon-to-be-aired concert would be an invaluable way to get it out there in the public’s eye even more.

With everything in place, J.T. contacted the Sugg Street Post crew and asked us if we’d like to come down and check out the show with him. In addition to KET’s presence, he noted that an accomplished student photographer/videographer from WKU, Mike Rivera, would also be in attendance gathering footage for a documentary on the guitar.

Having missed out on much of Paducah’s musical flavor thus far, we jumped at the chance to check out the concert, as well as a portion of Paducah’s thriving cultural tapestry—and are we ever glad we did.

After arriving in Paducah’s historic, riverside arts and entertainment district about two hours before the show was scheduled to start, photographer Jeff Harp, J.T., and I made our way under an illuminated arch-style Maiden Alley Cinema sign near the main roadway, walked down a widened brick alley, and arrived at the side entrance of the venue.

Once inside the roomy location, we made our rounds with J.T., meeting with several of the musicians that were to perform that night, speaking with producer Matt Grimm, and catching an impromptu, multi-artist jam session that broke out in the hallway adjacent to the quaint auditorium-style stage/theatre area. And it was the latter—listening to the foot stompin’, historic folk and blues-tinged rockabilly sounds coming from the intermingling group of performers in the hall, which included the likes of J.D. and Jessica Wilkes, Josh Coffey, Eddie Coffey, Nathan Blake Lynn, Nathan Brown, and Todd Anderson—that made us realize these performers were part of something special. This unplanned, corridor-bound display of comradery was a microcosm of what their scene was all about: unity, spontaneity, and a love for creativity.

With only minutes to go before the doors were opened to the public, Grimm and other members of KET’s crew made last minute adjustments to their cameras, the sound was checked one final time, and the Maiden Alley Cinema/Paducah Film Society’s Executive Director, Landee W. Bryant, informed us that the show was sold out. It was undoubtedly going to be a memorable night.

And so it ensued. Patrons of all ages flooded into the theatre, filling nearly every seat.

However, before the music began, Landee came before the crowd and explained that the non-profit, community-based theatre, art, and music venue was facing a potentially threatening situation: digital conversion. While the Maiden Alley Cinema currently utilizes 35mm film in their projectors, Landee made note that studios are quickly converting to digital formats exclusively, which leaves longstanding, film-based theatres with two choices: convert to digital projectors at a cost of approximately $50-80,000 or close down. While major theatre franchises will likely have little problem making the sweeping change, the Maiden Alley Cinema is a locally-operated, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. As a result, completing this process will depend largely on the support of regional donations. In expanding upon this concept, members and supporters of the cinema presented a short, comedic film explaining the process and its potential pitfalls before the musicians took to the stage. So, if you love the arts and would like to show your support for Paducah’s Maiden Alley Cinema, please take a moment to check out the “About Us” section on their official website by clicking here.

Following soon after, the lights were dimmed and the music kicked-off with the traditional folk and “sluegrass” sounds of The Wheelhouse Rousters. Composed of Nathan Blake Lynn, Josh Coffey, and Eddie Coffey, the trio performed a variety of historic and original acoustic tunes, and even took the time to illuminate some of Paducah’s more interesting musical history between songs to the delight of the audience. Making for an even more interesting set, each member took on different instruments. From the use of tenor, acoustic, and resophonic guitars, to the sweet, high-end strumming of a mandolin, the low-end thump of an upright bass, and the engaging bite of the fiddle—not to mention the alternation of vocals—their set was well-rounded and charming in an old-world sense. In honesty, sitting back and simply enjoying their roots-based style was much like stepping back in time.

After a hardy round of applause for The Wheelhouse Rousters, the Solid Rock’it Boosters took to the stage with their energetic and raucous blend of celebrated country and rockabilly. On this particular night, the band consisted of Nathan Brown on vocals, rhythm guitar, and kazoo, John Wurth on drums, J.T. Oglesby on lead guitar, Josh Coffey on fiddle, and Todd Anderson on the upright bass. Standout performances from their set included a solid rendition of Merle Travis and Tex Williams’ classic western tune, “Smoke! Smoke! Smoke! (That Cigarette)”—during which J.T. performed on Mose Rager’s legendary Gibson ES-225T—and a stirring version Merle Travis’ “Sixteen Tons” (which was later made even more famous by Tennessee Ernie Ford). And while these may have been some of their more memorable tunes, the intense fiddle playing of Josh Coffey, J.T.’s fast-paced thumbpicking, and Todd’s intricate bass solos were tremendous parts of their overall performance.

And here’s the only bad news of the night…

Due to some unfortunate time constraints, we missed the final performance by swamp-blues and rock-infused Paducah music scene mainstay, J.D. Wilkes & The Dirt Daubers, which is composed of J.D. and Jessica Wilkes, Rod Hamdallah, and Preston Corn. However, several follow-up conversations with those in attendance confirmed that their set rocked the house quite thoroughly.

Luckily, even though we missed out on the final act, KET captured much of the three performances on film for an installment of their aforementioned series, Kentucky Life, which will be airing on May 11th at 7pm (CT) and May 12th at 4pm (CT). In addition, the segment will also be available for viewing on the series’ official website: http://www.ket.org/kentuckylife/. Fans of the show are encouraged to interact with host Dave Shuffett and the producers of Kentucky Life via their Facebook site at facebook.com/kentuckylife.

As Grimm explained to us several days after the concert, “We are producing a segment featuring the Paducah music scene for our weekly magazine program, Kentucky Life. Now in its 18th season, this year the show has had a music emphasis. We are excited about the opportunity to feature the breadth of talent and different styles you can find in Kentucky.”

Regarding the general details and intention of the series, Grimm says that, “Kentucky Life is an award-winning weekly program that aims to document Kentucky’s great diversity. While individual stories focus on local communities, the Kentucky Life crew strives to connect each one to the state at large—to help Kentuckians celebrate their unique regional characters and cultures while bringing them closer together through stories of the rich heritage we all share.”

Other music/history scenes, areas of the state, and performers featured on the acclaimed KET series thus far, include Cumberland River of Harlan County, a “Chitlin’ Circuit” retrospective that focuses on the history of African American musicians (based in Christian County), Tin Can Buddha from Jefferson County, Paul Gilley from Morgan County, Renfro Valley of Rockcastle County, Billy Harlan of Muhlenberg County, a retrospective piece centered on 1950’s hills music via John Cohen’s photography (based in Knott County), and Coralee & the Townies of Fayette County.

While it may at first seem somewhat peculiar that a simple suggestion on J.T.’s behalf helped to spark such a distinctive show and overall experience, as well as KET’s interest, Grimm says it’s really not that uncommon. In fact, many of the show’s story ideas come from faithful viewers of the program.

Overall, however, it was a deeply collaborative effort spawned and made possible by many hands both at KET and in the Paducah community. And, in the end, that’s what the entire night was all about: showcasing a portion of what the Paducah music scene has to offer and the sense of appreciation for creativity the community shares.

Though the growth of a scene like Paducah’s takes a notable amount time and effort to create and successfully maintain, they show that it is not only possible, but that it’s also enjoyable and fun—and the example we witnessed that Friday night was inspiring to say the least. If anything, we should all take note of the possibilities that await our own communities here in Hopkins County. While we, as a whole, have made strides in the realm of promoting arts and entertainment over the last decade, there is still plenty of work to be done.

To check out a live performance from the Solid Rock'it Boosters, which took place during the Maiden Alley Cinema's 2nd Annual Oktoberfest in 2012, click the video player attached below.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Luke Short
Photos by Jeff Harp

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100 Years of Hustle – Remembering the Life of Hustler 'Buck' Egbert

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (12/4/12) – This past Friday, just over a week from his 100th birthday, Hopkins County lost one of its most beloved and eldest residents. 

He was a son; a devoted father and grandfather; a street-smart “comedian” of sorts; a family musician; a traveler; a seasoned miner and the oldest living member of the UMWA’s expansive 12th district; a road worker; a welder on approximately 40 different World War II LST vessels; a wood-worker and the most senior member of our area’s Woodmen of the World organization; a willing volunteer; a construction worker and renovator; a gardener; and, above all, he was a truly inspirational individual to most anyone who had the pleasure of making his acquaintance. 

What he leaves behind him is a life-long legacy of hard work, love, and laughter—traits which live on through his family and those who knew him. His name was Hustler “Buck” Egbert and, like his namesake, he was always on the move. 

But how did we come to know Buck? Photographer Jeff Harp and I were fortunate enough to meet and talk with Buck in 2011 following his 99th birthday and then again on Tuesday, November 27th, 2012. Though Buck was unable to talk when we last met, simply getting to say hello to the kind-hearted and well-traveled 100-year-old was something both Jeff and I are thankful for. And the respect we hold for Buck’s spirit is a widespread sentiment—a fact evidenced by the outpouring of well-wishes from over 150 people, including President Barack Obama, via birthday cards and letters posted along the wall of his former room at Madisonville’s Oakridge Retirement Center. This being said, we are truly appreciative that we got the chance to meet and learn about Buck and his family. 

So, who was Buck, and what’s his story? Though it would be nearly impossible to lay out his century-long life in a single article, what we can offer is a glimpse of his experiences through stories and quotes offered up by Buck and his children, Don Egbert and Marilyn Derington. 

Decades after his grandfather made the arduous trek from North Carolina to western Kentucky on foot, Buck was born near the border of Caldwell and Hopkins County on November 23rd, 1912—a year that saw both the sinking of the fabled Titanic and one of the most notable presidential elections in US history. Named Hustler by his mother because he “came in an awful big hurry,” Buck came to be one of nine siblings living within the same household, one of which was the late Carmen Fugate of Madisonville’s once-bustling Fugate Lumber Company. 

Recalling his younger years during our first interview, Buck truly puts the longevity of his life into perspective: 

“I remember when we went to Evansville [Indiana] when I was around four of five-years-old during World War I. The river was frozen up and teams of people were making their way across on the ice in tobacco wagons. I remember seeing them out the windows. There wasn’t a bridge back then. I remember eating my first loaf of bread around that time, too. My daddy went down town and bought it at the bakery.”

During these early years, Buck also spent many an evening playing guitar with other members of his family, who performed on everything from violins and mandolins to upright basses and pianos. 

But it wasn’t long before the relatively carefree and romanticized days of Buck’s youth would transform into long hours in local coal mines. 

After leaving school in 1924 at the ripe age of 12, Buck began his first stint underground. For a meager wage of $24 every two weeks, or two dollars each day, Buck dug coal from the rich, western Kentucky soil by hand, loaded it into mining carts, pushed them to the entrance of the coal seam on foot, and attached them to the harness of a donkey that would pull loads to the mine’s preparation area. Adding to this harsh environment, his daily time spent in the mines often stretched well beyond eight hours and presented a variety of life-threatening situations, including roof collapses and accidental explosions. 

While he remained a worker in the mines for much of his adolescence, and then at several times in his older age—which included employments with the Grapevine Mines, River Queen, Peabody, Pond River, and more—Buck decided he needed a “change of scenery” at the age of 18 and set out on the road to find new work right at the onset of the Great Depression. 

As fate would have it, he had gotten word that a road crew in Water Valley, KY needed workers. So, after packing a razor and a sandwich his mother had prepared into a book satchel, he headed out on his own for the first time in his life, hoping to find solid ground. Fortunately, the adventure that ensued—complete with train hopping, hobos, hard work, and kind-hearted strangers—would change Buck’s life forever. 

The tale of this amazing journey is as follows per Buck’s own words: 

“When I was 18 years-old, I wanted to get out on my own, and I heard about a road construction job in Water Valley, Kentucky. I knew some of the people who had went and worked there and then came back, so I took a notion that I was going to go there, too. So, I got up one morning, packed a razor and a sandwich my mother made me in a book satchel, and I took off toward the Richland and Crabtree area. I then caught a ride on a coal truck to Princeton, but when I got there, I decided I didn’t want to travel on the road anymore. About that time, I saw the smoke from a train and I started heading that way. When I walked up, I looked down the hill and saw a big ‘hobo jungle.’ I went down there and I didn’t know any of them. Then, a black man started making my acquaintance. Come to find out, we delivered milk and butter to this man after my dad died when we were kids. This man had worked with my daddy in the mines, too.

“Well, we got acquainted and the train came in and there were white boys going on one car and black people going in another car. The man asked, ‘You going with the whites or the blacks?’ He said, ‘If you go with the white ones, there ain’t no telling what’ll happen to you, but if you go with us, I guarantee that they’ll have to go through me before they get to you.’ I studied about it, and I said, ‘OK, I’ll go with you.’

“I rode all the way to Paducah with him and he asked me where I was going to stay. I told him I didn’t know. I had forty cents on me at the time and he told me he knew where I could get a room for ten cents. He said, ‘I’ll take you right to it.’ I got the bed, went to sleep, got up the next morning, and he told me how to get out to the job. When I woke up, though, I saw that there were people sleeping all around me and I didn’t even know it. I thought I was the only one there.

“Then I started walking on my route and another man in an old Studebaker without a window or a top, with all his stuff piled in the back, stopped and asked me if I wanted a ride. I told him I did and he asked where I was going. I told him Water Valley and it happened that he was going right through there. Well, when I got there, after all that traveling, I was promised a job carrying water to help mix and pour concrete. Me and my whole crew would get paid one dollar a day for our work.

“Well, it rained for a few days and we got behind on work. I got behind on my room and board, too, so I asked the supervisor if I could work at night to catch up. They told me I could grate the road at night if I wanted, so I did. The blade on the grader hit the high spots and smoothed out the way, and the first night I worked, I put my foot on the blade to knock a clod of dirt off and my foot went under it. A guy that was nearby grabbed me and helped me until I got it out of there, but I was crippled up. I went on in for the night and got in the bed, and the next morning a guy that was sleeping there asked me what was wrong. I pulled my foot out and showed him how swollen up it was. He said, ‘You better go see a doctor about that,’ so I went and was told that I had a bad sprain. He taped it up, and they didn’t have an x-ray machine, so I took his word for it.

“From there, I kind of just stayed around that area until the job was done and some people from my home were coming home. They were coming back from working and piled me in there with them. I went on and did that kind of work all over the country for a long time. Needless to say, I never worked for a dollar again in my life.”

Though Buck’s initial plan had taken several unforeseen turns and twists, he said that the journey reminded him that good people still existed. 

“It was that black man,” said Buck. “He didn’t have to do that at all. Back then, you’d be hard pressed to find a black man that would’ve done something like that for a white boy. I thank him for all that he did.”

And, in a sense, this early experience would come to spawn the core of Buck’s perspective on life. From farm work to continued coal mining in his older age, toiling alongside a surfeit of new people and keeping on the move allowed Buck to gain true street smarts—smarts he may have never have acquired if he hadn’t left school early on.

However, it was amidst international turmoil and our country’s involvement in World War II during the early 1940s, that Buck would come to obtain formal education as a welder on LST (Landing Ship, Tank) vessels in Evansville, IN.

While helping to complete approximately 40 ships during the span of two years—several of which are still used today—Buck was versed in both the welding industry and writing via trade courses that were required for the position. 

“I went there and they put me in school, and the first thing they taught you was how to read fine print” says Buck. “I wound up as a ‘lay-out’ man after schooling. I went through welding, burning, and all that stuff, and I was able to bring that knowledge home with me.”

Yet, with the war coming to a close and the US economy starting to revive itself, Buck soon returned to the dark, sub-terra depths of the western Kentucky coalfield where he worked for several more decades.

And while most would see his eventual retirement from the local Peabody Coal Company in the 1980’s as a much needed break, Buck’s drive and lust for life merely seemed to bloom even further once he was “work free.” 

From repairing homes, gardening, traveling, and creating original wooden art, to reading, volunteering, and spending time with family, Buck remained inspired and invigorated until the final few months of his life.

So, at the end of this historic, fruitful, and well-lived life, what does Buck leave behind? The answer: solid advice, an enduring tale, and a thankful group of family and friends.

When I asked Buck what advice he would give to all us “youngsters” when I first spoke to him after his 99th birthday, he offered me an insightful take on what success actually is.

“I would advise you to go to work to begin with, but get an education, because that helps,” he said. “I picked up everything I know along the way, but you have to be satisfied with what you get, and if it’s not satisfactory, go find something else that you can appreciate. That’s success.”

Buck also joked with me about how he lived so long, explaining that, “I tell everybody that I eat an apple a day. A girl at the drugstore asked me how I've lived so long; I told her to eat an apple every day. I had hurt my hand that day, so I told her that I had forgotten to eat my apple."

The memories and ideals Buck has left behind with his daughter, Marilyn Derington, and son, Don Egbert, are equally inspirational. 

As Marilyn mentioned during our first meeting, “Daddy always worked; I can always remember him working. Even if the mines were down, he would find a way to make money for us. He’d haul coal, make deliveries for people, clean and cut wood—he’d just stay busy and that’s a big part of who he was as a person.”

Adding to this sentiment, Don sat down with myself and Jeff Harp in Buck’s room at Oakridge Retirement Center before Buck’s passing last week and presented us with several, often times comical, but genuine memories of his father’s family values and hardy life. 

“We lived pretty close to the mines in the Grapevine area, and every afternoon they’d blow a steam whistle so everyone would know if they were going to run the next day,” says Don. “I remember back then, when I was about three or four-years-old, dad drove a two-wheeled dump cart that hauled refuse from the coal mines’ prep plant. He’d bring the cart up to the house with a big ol’ mule hitched up to it—it was as big as a house. Then, 18 or 20 years later, I wound up working for East Diamond hauling refuse from a coal plant in a diesel truck. It’s interesting to think that it all changed from horses and mules to diesel and gas vehicles in that short of a time period.”

Of Buck’s “modern” mode of transportation during that time, Don recalls a humorous anecdote tied to the comparatively subpar automobiles of the day. 

“One of his first cars was a [Ford] T-Model. His brother would ride with him, but because he was kind of scared of his driving, he would always make dad let him drive. Well, they were going somewhere one night—I don’t know where—but they didn’t have any headlights, so daddy rode on the fender with a lantern to light the way. But he got the lantern up too high and blinded my uncle. Well, they ran off the road and went sailing over a ditch into a tree [laughs]. They were alright, though.” 

On a more touching note, Don explained to us what his father instilled in him over the years and what legacy he leaves behind for others. 

“One thing I will always remember about him was that he never really whipped me very much other than a couple of times. Instead, he would sit me down and talk to me. I would’ve just as soon had him whip my butt to get it over with, but he’d tell me about what I did wrong and he’d reason with me,” says Don of his late father’s family values and approach to parenting. “One thing that he really instilled in me was that work wouldn’t hurt you and that a job worth doing was worth doing well. He would say, ‘It doesn’t take any longer to do a job well the first time than it does to do it over,’ and I have always tried to remember that. He worked hard his whole life.”

In the end, that sums it up—a hard working, kind-hearted, and interesting man finally rests while his story and the inspiration that arises from it is carried on in the living. 

Though we sorely miss Buck, and wish we could have spoken with him the last time we visited, we truly appreciate his family for welcoming us into their lives. It is a great honor to share at least a snippet of his life with others through writing and a photograph. We will never forget the stories he shared and the openness he offered. 

In closing, we nod our hats to Buck by saying “Thank You” for all that you were able to contribute to our community and we hope that you may rest in peace. Maybe we’ll meet again someday.

Sugg Street Post
Written by Luke Short
Photo by Jeff Harp

 

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