Jazz musician Russell Thomas fell in love with the electric guitar as a boy growing up in the Kimberly projects in Winston-Salem, and listening to local bands like Ghetto Soul. When he was 13, he passed an electric in a pawn shop window and was drawn to it enough to ask his mom to buy it. She and Russell’s uncle pooled together the funds to purchase the instrument, and three years later Russell was performing with local Rhythm & Blues bands of his own. A move to Detroit introduced him to jazz music, a small combo, nightclub gigs on electric guitar, and eventually a life altering encounter with a then 20-something acoustic guitarist superstar by the name of Earl Klugh. Russell switched to acoustic the next day and has never looked back. His new CD is titled Morning Train. David Ford spoke with him in his home in Winston-Salem.
In researching his new book North Carolina Civil War Monuments: An Illustrated History, author, photographer, Douglas Butler uncovered lots of competing interests immediately following the war as different groups sought to advance their own version of what the war had been about and what it had accomplished. There were numerous cost concerns, Northern and African American interests, but even among those who wanted to commemorate the Confederate dead and veterans, there was a lot of controversy over where to put the monuments. Doug says that initially they were placed in the middle of busy intersections as favored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
Does the name William Sydney Porter ring a bell? He was born in Greensboro on September 11, 1862, and there’s a periodical in the Triad that bears his name. It’s called… O. Henry Magazine. Last year, on this the 150th anniversary of O. Henry’s birth, O. Henry Magazine celebrated its first anniversary. The Greensboro-based arts and culture magazine has an outstanding stable of award-winning writers who know great story-telling just as well as they know their roots. The readership is expanding; O. Henry Magazine is thriving; and the organization supports the educational programs of the Greensboro Historical Museum like local productions of O. Henry plays, and the revival of the O. Henry short story award. Decades ago, O Henry Magazine founding editor and Greensboro native James Dodson won that award. Since then he’s gone on to pen several best-selling books, and his work has appeared in more than 50 magazines and newspapers worldwide. Jim spoke with David Ford about his magazine’s namesake.