Diversions :: Ben Weaver – A Lowride: Larry Brown, Rick Bass & Southern Literature

(Diversions, a recurring feature on Aquarium Drunkard, catches up with our favorite artists as they wax on subjects other than recording and performing.)

I have been writing about Ben Weaver as long as I've been publishing Aquarium Drunkard.   His music, and words, are comprised of the same grit that initially drew me in me to the works of Larry Brown, the late Mississippi author Weaver writes about below. Ben has a new LP out, Mirepoix And Smoke, via his home at Bloodshot Records; a record that once again pulls the listener into his world and doesn't let go. Below, Weaver waxes on his relationship with not only Brown, but that of Southern literature.   A lowride indeed.

I was 21 years old. Was living in a farmhouse in southern Minnesota. Up on a hill. Surrounded by rotated corn and soybeans. Used to sometimes climb to the top of the old windmill and watch the storms sweep the landscape.

A few years earlier I had discovered the short stories of Rick Bass, who was originally from Texas, but at that time was living up in Montana by way of Jackson, Mississippi. His stories were quiet and magical, about the mountains and the south. His words and characters resonated, had a sense of wildness lived. More than other current fiction I had come across.

It was partly because I was naive and had a lot of ambition but also because I genuinely wanted to tell Rick how much his stories meant to me, that I wrote him a letter. Sent it to his publisher with a copy of what would have been my first and only cd at the time. A record called El Camino Blues. I never actually thought he would respond.

A few weeks later I had a message on my machine from Rick saying he got my letter and loved the cd. He said if I was ever passing through Montana to drop him a line. He lived in a small valley called The Yaak, way up in the north west corner of the state. About 5 and a half hours from Missoula, almost into Canada, almost into Idaho, but still in Montana. Turned out I was booked for some west coast shows and would be playing Missoula in a few weeks. I called Rick and said I would be coming through.

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