Blair Books in Action (or How I was Reminded of my Love for Music) by Artie Sparrow

Carl Perkins transcendent musical moment on stage in Winston-Salem.

Carl Perkins’ transcendent musical moment on stage in Winston-Salem.

Good fiction takes you to places a million miles from the hassles and annoyances of everyday life.  Blair’s new title Long Gone Daddies is good fiction. It’s a tale of a struggling band with a conflicted leader. It talks about Carl Perkins, and that took me to a place from my past.

The Winston-Salem where I grew up was a different place from the Winston-Salem where I currently live. Back then, the streets were paved with golden tobacco leaves. Well, not quite, but there was a lot of money around. One of the things the money was spent on was a big street festival put on every September by the Arts Council, the Carolina Street Scene. Artists and craftsmen from all over would come to sell their wares. (My parents still drink out of wine goblets purchased there 35 years ago.) The festival also brought in internationally renowned musicians. Some I’ll always regret missing (Mose Allison, Muddy Waters). Others I’ll always cherish getting a chance to see (Dizzy Gillespie, Bo Diddley).

Carolina Street Scene Poster courtesy of the MIlton Rhodes Center for the Arts

Carolina Street Scene Poster courtesy of the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts

I vividly remember seeing Carl Perkins in 1983. I don’t remember how much I knew about Perkins at the time. I probably knew his biggest hit, “Blue Suede Shoes,” and that he was the least famous member of the Million Dollar Quartet. I definitely didn’t know the back story, how he was supposed to be bigger than Elvis but things didn’t quite work out. It didn’t matter. What I saw that September day was a transcendent musical moment. I define transcendent as when someone is doing what he does better than anyone on the planet and having a great time doing it, feeding off the energy of the crowd. Long Gone Daddies says this about Carl Perkins: “Carl’s guitar, it could power a train. Carl’s guitar could bring the freight.” For one glorious afternoon, I was lucky enough to be standing next to the tracks as the train went by, feeling its power and gazing in awe at it.

Perkins' blue suede shoes

Perkins’ blue suede shoes

Perkins was a rock-and-roll messiah. Someone who could make you believe in the power of music, no matter how jaded you were. I’ve seen hundreds of live music shows. I’ve forgotten more acts than I remember. But Perkins really stuck with me—what a great guitar player he was, how much stage presence he had, what a great performer he was.

Over the years, music has become less important to me, getting shunted behind other distractions. Long Gone Daddies reminded me of a part of my life I used to really enjoy. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a transcendent musical moment. I should check the calendar of The Garage (www.the-garage.ws), the local bar where the Drive-By Truckers played all the time before they got famous. Maybe the next big thing is playing there this month.

Blair Prepares for World Book Night by Shannon Pierce

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An excited recipient from World Book Night 2012

This Tuesday, April 23, is the second annual World Book Night U.S. and Blair could not be more excited to be participating! Individual and groups of volunteers will head out into their communities armed with books and a passion to spread the love of reading.

April 23 was chosen for World Book Night as it corresponds with the UNESCO International Day of the Book, Shakespeare’s birthday, and the anniversary of Miguel de Cervantes’ death. Blair was thrilled to be a part of the initiative last year and we are eager to get out there again.

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North Carolina rocks World Book Night.

Blair staffers aren’t the only North Carolinians who will be putting books into the hands of unlikely readers. The North Carolina Triangle area is the 7th top region in the country by givers per capita. Way to go North Carolina!

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Our books are ready and waiting for eager readers!

This year Blair staff members will be handing out copies of Fahrenheit 451 in front of the BB&T Ballpark before the Winston-Salem Dash baseball game. Check back with us here to hear how it goes!

Blair Books in Action by Angela Harwood: When the Dogwoods are Blooming, the Crappie are Biting—A Pictorial History

January 2011: Brought home copy of Fishing North Carolina.

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My husband is immediately taken with the book, and I begin to feel like I’m being stalked by Mike Marsh.

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Mid-January 2011: Jeff purchases an inexpensive john boat with bad rivets.

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Late January 2011: It is above 50 degrees, so we try out the new boat at Lake Brandt. We’ve known each other since we were in the 7th grade, and I’ve rarely seen Jeff so happy.

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This is Jeff’s happy face.

February 2011: Jeff purchases expensive “marine wood” to make new seats for the inexpensive boat. He refuses to paint my seat pink.

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March 2011: Based on information I’ve gleaned from reading Fishing North Carolina and a few of Mike Marsh’s fishing articles in North Carolina Sportsman magazine, I decide to upgrade my fishing lures. Jeff tells me I will never catch anything with my new lures.

I call this lure my red guy.

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I catch this crappie with my red guy.

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And this crappie . . .

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Jeff snags this brehm.

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August 2011: I admit that I don’t catch fish with any of these guys.

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January 2012: Jeff purchases a brand-new boat with good rivets.

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We both agree that the new boat feels much more like home.

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April 2012:  I am now quoting Bill Dance in regular, every day conversations.

“When the dogwoods are blooming, the crappie are biting.”


“When the dogwoods are blooming, the crappie are biting.”

Well, the dogwoods are blooming, and this is my crappie.

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I let Jeff hold my crappie.

June 2012: Thanks to Fishing North Carolina, we find out that Lake Higgins is open until 11 p.m. on Friday nights all summer long.

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So we go night fishing.

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I catch this catfish after dark. (Jeff’s catfish puts up a big fight and is probably bigger than mine, but it gets away while we are trying to get it into the boat.)

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April 2013: A new season of fishing awaits! It’s not too late to purchase your own copy of Fishing North Carolina, available wherever books are sold and at blairpub.com.

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Blair Books in Action (or Fishing is Dangerous) by Heath Simpson

Heath and Fishing

One spring, I went fishing on a beautiful North Carolina urban lake. I cast out a tiny lure, meant to be food for bigger predators. Under water, something crashed into it with force. I was ready for minnows but not a shark. Fighting and swirling through the water was an armor-plated, primordial gar!

Taken from FisheriesSociety.org

Taken from FisheriesSociety.org

This fish had a mouth like an alligator. On nature programs, they always clamp the alligator’s mouth shut so I used my hand to do the same. Bad idea! The creature thrashed and sliced grooves in my palm with its razor sharp teeth. Luckily a friend’s medicine cabinet was a block away. In 20 minutes, the blood had clotted, and I went back to fishing. The gar had freed itself.

Unfortunately for me, Blair hadn’t yet published Fishing North Carolina, a fishing guide from expert Mike Marsh. Next time, I’ll be sure to reference this book.

For more fishing stories, check out Growing Gills by David Joy and Brook Trout and the Writing Life: The Intermingling of Fishing and Writing in a Novelist’s Life by Craig Nova. 

Look for another installment of Blair Books in Action next week!