The records are significant. Drop the needle and the first six songs spin. Universally they evoke resonant sentiments for the listeners. Blessed are the songwriters, who wear their heart in their sleeve, also the poets, the artists, and any who sacrifice their own vulnerability for honest artistry. It was Ernest Hemingway who said, “there is nothing to writing, all you do is sit down to a typewriter and bleed.” As a writer, I admit, the writing does at times come with ease and other times with difficulty, but it is the life lived prior to the writing that determines whether the works written will mean anything. Sifting through life experiences, tattered pages and journaled data, we often question, “how could or will this mean anything to anyone else?” then we proceed to think, ” perhaps, I’ll keep these things for personal posterity. After all they might only ever mean something to my family.” And from fingertips, the writer bleeds. He delves into memory, and chisels out key words on paper. On the road, at a restaurant and in the flea market parking lot notes are written on pocket-sized sheets of paper. They may or may not add up to anything. Some take shape instantly while others are circled o’er the years until heartstrings shape a melody. Some recordings find appreciation publicly.
The needle stops, Flip the record and play the B side. That’s where most great work hide in plain sight. When the record was announced, I pre-ordered my copy. Online my social media newsfeed was filled with record reviews prior to the works physically release. In this modern age, digital releases precede the actual albums availability. Technological advancements assist artists with greater marketability, but for me, I cannot yet with clear conscious surrender my music appreciating sensibilities to the glowing screen. Tradition is everything. Without it, what will be our history?
Do you remember where you purchased your first record? Do you remember the liner notes, and stopping to listen to an album in its entirety? These days, it seems, for most, music has become the background for multi-tasking.
Music is art, as literature is art, as a painting is art. To purchase a book, I visit a bookshop. Making an occasion of it, I pour over titles, and select the one that I’ve searched for. Often others find me, so I claim them also. Part the pages, new or old, the aroma of the ink, the paper…the book has more than one story to be told. To truly see art, we go to where the works are exhibited. We usually make a day of it. Even the schools, devote a complete day to it, called fieldtrips. To experience the work, we approach it from across the gallery, contemplate its meaning, the artist’s thoughts and its composition as a whole. Art is deserving of our undivided, uncompromised attention. Music is art.
On album release day, I compel you to support your record store. Make a day of it. Purchase the album, take it home, and for a moment pause to appreciate the songwriters art. From album sleeve to liner notes, the letter of recognition, and cover art, all of this was given great thought. Encapsulated on Sides A and B, will spin pages pulled directly from the artist’s life and memories. Some songs bespoke of heartache, some of longings, convictions, and spiritual things and others of life’s happiness and difficulties. The greatest of these are written by those who truly do bleed.. They are human, and have felt life’s strength and fragility just like you and me. Most musicians, artists and authors become our living hero’s because they abandon the elements of vanity, and paint with imagery and words the things we feel and see. I count myself fortunate and immensely blessed to call some of my own, also mentors, friends and family.
On Friday, May 12th, I shall have the esteemed privilege of curating a debut exhibition honoring the songwriter of my dear friend , Jim Avett. This premiere exhibition will be the first ever of its kind exhibiting the Original Writings of Jim Avett, on this special occasion, the day of his latest albums release. The milestone event is hosted by The Sarah West Gallery of Fine Art, in collaboration the gallery’s 3rd Annual Cultural Arts Enrichment Initiative Event. The community is invited to join us in Smiths Station, Al., for An Evening With Jim Avett, Friday, May 12th, The Exhibition Opening with Jim Avett will be hosted by The Sarah West Gallery of Fine Art at 5’oclock pm est. The Evening of Storytelling & Song with Jim Avett will be held at the Historic Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Smiths Station at 6:30 pm est. Doors will open at 6 o’clock pm est. These events are free, family friendly and are The Sarah West Gallery of Fine Art’s gift to the community.
Jim Avett’s new record, “For His Children and Ours” a Ramseur Record featuring multi-Grammy nominated Avett Brothers along with Bonnie Avett Rini, is now available online and in stores May 12th.
— Art is Life Expressed— Sarah West