Archive for December, 2009

Still + Sound 1: Blind Willie McTell at the Robert Fulton Hotel

December 10, 2009

I’d like to begin a series where I pair a single photograph with an archival sound recording.  For this first one, I focus on a photograph of bluesman Blind Willie McTell that was taken by Ruby Lomax on November 5, 1940 in a room of the Robert Fulton Hotel (which was located at the corner of Luckie and Cone Streets in downtown Atlanta).  Ruby was the wife of John Lomax, who at the time was the Curator of the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress.   The Lomaxes travelled extensively throughout the South in the late 30s and early 40s, collecting extensive field recordings of vernacular music.  In this recording excerpt, John introduces McTell and then the musician delivers a monologue about the various forms of blues.  I particularly like how McTell describes the blues of the 1920s as developing an “alley lope.”  Michael Gray recently released an excellent book about McTell, and several pages of this book focus on the Lomaxes’ recording of McTell at the Robert Fulton Hotel in 1940.


A Short History of Atlanta’s Video Music Channel

December 5, 2009

The Video Music Channel was added to Atlanta’s cable system on July 4, 1982.  The VMC studio was located in the basement of the Center Stage Theater, which was exclusively a venue for plays back then.    The VMC operated on a shoestring budget and its production value was often raw, but its producers and VJ’s were clever music lovers who seized the opportunity and created some really amazing television.  The channel developed a loyal following—including me and my two brothers—but its weak ad revenue could hardly keep the station in the black.  When the VMC was offered the chance to shift to broadcast channel 69 in 1984, they happily agreed.  Despite gaining a broader potential audience and a more high-tech studio, the ratings for the VMC at channel 69 weren’t great and management began to phase out music video programming in 1985.

Tom Roche arrived at the VMC in 1983 and served as its Production Manager until 1985.  In this segment he shares some of his memories of working at the channel.  Big thanks to Tom for providing some great archival footage for this segment.