The N&O’s David Menconi leaves few strings unfretted in this appreciation of MacArthur winner Rhiannon Giddens, but I can’t pass up an excuse to recall Giddens’s poignant acknowledgement of her North Carolina roots:
“I’m a mixed-race person, so I grew up exploring…. I knew there was Indian in the family, so I joined [a drumming group] in high school and explored that side of it.
“And you know, none of it felt quite right. Where I found my identity was when I realized that I’m from North Carolina. It’s not so much that I’m black or I’m white or I’m Indian or whatever. I’m Southern. And furthermore I’m a North Carolinian…. And it kind of eclipses the race stuff. It’s like this is who I am, this is where I come from…. ”
“Meacham called Dolley Madison the most important woman in political life for 25 years, the architect of our political culture. ‘Without her drawing rooms,’ he said. ‘lawmakers would not have talked to lawmakers.’ ”
“Although [‘The Birth of a Nation’] played only in larger cities, by one estimate 90 percent of Southerners had seen the film by 1930….The Charlotte Observer reported that the local theater had received mail and telephone orders from towns as far away as 75 miles….
“These audiences consumed the picture actively….In Asheville, the ‘large crowd experienced successive thrills, several people becoming excited almost to the point of hysteria….’ ”
Looking to go leafing this autumn but cannot decide where to travel? Why not search for locations in the online collection of North Carolina post cards, then seek out some then an now photographs? After all, Governor Roy Cooper has declared October to be “Photography Month!”
“The existence of a successful jazz club in [Thelonious] Monk’s home state in May 1970 was an anomaly. Woodstock (August 1969) marked the era….Jazz clubs were closing in bigger cities across the country while Raleigh, with a population of 120,000, wrestled with integration. But Peter Ingram — a scientist from England recruited to work in the newly formed Research Triangle Park — opened the Frog and Nightgown, a jazz club, in 1968 and his wife Robin managed it. Don Dixon, a house bassist at the club who later gained fame as co-producer of REM’s first album, Murmur, says ‘It took a native Brit like Peter to not know that a jazz club wouldn’t work in 1968.’
“The Frog, as it was known, thrived in a small, red-brick shopping center nestled in a residential neighborhood lined with 19th century oak trees. Surrounded by a barber shop, a laundry mat, a convenience store and a service station, the Frog often attracted large crowds; lines frequently wrapped around the corner. Patrons brown-bagged their alcohol (the Frog sold food, ice and mixers), bought cigarettes from machines, and some smoked joints in the parking lot….Due to its mixed clientele, the club came under threat of the Ku Klux Klan, but Ingram never blinked, and the Frog held on, exceeding all odds….”