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After consulting his preacher to make sure there was nothing sinful about playing blues records on the radio Mr. Wright decided to give it a try. He did it six days a week almost until his death on what became one of America's longest-running radio programs. From 6 o'clock to 9, he was the 'Soul Man' playing the blues. For the last two hours he was 'Brother Early' playing gospel music - Early Wright, obituary to the DJ, WROX Clarksdale

Author Topic: Elvie (L.V.) Thomas  (Read 15246 times)

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Offline mdf

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« Last Edit: April 12, 2014, 06:58:36 PM by Slack »

Offline Fkeller

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Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2014, 09:13:51 AM »
Was just going to post it myself.  This is a fascinating article.  A must-read if you love unearthing the life around the music we love.

Offline uncle bud

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Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2014, 10:13:51 AM »
Unbelievable.

Mind. Blown.

Thanks for posting.

Offline uncle bud

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Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2014, 10:59:47 AM »
And bravo, John Jeremiah Sullivan and Caitlin Love.

Offline btasoundsradio

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Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2014, 11:13:02 AM »
Unbelievable, this is thrilling history.
Charlie is the Father, Son is the Son, Willie is the Holy Ghost

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2014, 12:18:18 PM »
This is really better than fiction..amazing! Should net a Pulitzer for sure!
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline Prof Scratchy

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Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2014, 12:18:40 PM »
A gripping and fascinating article.

Offline eric

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Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2014, 01:29:01 PM »
Brilliant. Let's hope McCormick's archives don't vanish.
--
Eric

Offline harriet

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Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2014, 04:27:30 PM »
Great thanks for posting...

Offline Randy Meadows

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Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2014, 05:01:34 PM »
Fascinating!
« Last Edit: April 12, 2014, 05:45:18 PM by Randy Meadows »
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Offline Blind Arthur

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Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2014, 06:24:01 PM »
Very revealing and insightful read, thanks for sharing. Shows how much we?d have almost have lost, especially in the hints of "Had you come only xxx years ago!" Seems it?s the factors "coincidence" plus "good luck" plus, more than all, great (and long) detective work of a few individuals who keep precious biographical info from vanishing forever. Plus, detective work is ungrateful. I am feeling as sorry for the rejected, yet just as well so successful Caitlin as for McCormick himself for not being able to cope with The Monster. I have understanding for this.
Such articles make pre-war blues enthusiasts hungry for more that we now know that is hidden, yet only in unpublished state, in this great private archive :)
I have lots of hope now that many future blues articles and books can be written.
You canīt trust your baby when the ice man comes hanging around :D

Offline Slack

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Re: Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2014, 07:00:34 PM »
Fabulous stuff!  Unbelievable. 

I modified the topic to reflect the article, and I'm moving it to the main forum.

Offline Randy Meadows

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Re: Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2014, 05:49:19 AM »
Was Mack McCormick a contributor to the article?
Am I understanding it correctly that they originally used information without privilege? Or did he turn it over to them originally?
Wonderful article though.
randymeadows@ymail.com
luvthatzeppelin on Youtube

"I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught." - Winston Churchill

Offline Kokomo O

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Re: Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2014, 09:31:17 AM »
Randy, as I read it they used McCormick's information without his consent. There's a line where Sullivan writes something to the effect that he hopes McCormick isn't angry. I can't help but believe that the NYT legal department must have approved this. That was only one of the many things that blew my mind as I read the article.

I don't know how McCormick did his documentation, but if he didn't copyright his material, or put copyright notices on it, I suppose it could be fair game. Or, they could have used small enough excerpts that it falls within the fair use doctrine. Not really my area, but that doesn't stop me from speculating.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Elvie (L.V.) Thomas
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2014, 09:39:36 AM »
Hi Randy - Sullivan addresses this in the article and it is part of the tension of the piece for me. Mack McCormick gave Sullivan 5 pages of notes and letters about LV Thomas, which contained the key to it all, the the real names of  LV Thomas and Geeshie Wiley, and the place Thomas lived, Acres Homes in Houston.

Then there are the 4 pages that Caitlin Rose photographed while working for Mack McCormick. These contain the interview with Thomas that fills in the details about playing with Geeshie, with Texas Alexander, recording in Grafton etc. These are the pages Sullivan wonders whether Mack has left out as a test, or possibly a joke, and that he is warned about when he contacts other researchers, who tell him to be careful and that the content sounds like fantasy. He does refer to it as a "quasi theft", but one which he admires, though there is no real explanation of exactly what happened. E.g was she photographing things as part of the work, was it taking snapshots of something she was intrigued by etc. Sullivan only found out later that she had taken photos of these pages.

All the other legwork and discoveries are their own, and we assume could have been done without the interview pages, since they already had names and places, though perhaps not the name of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church - I don't think it's clear whether this was also in the letters to Paul Oliver that Mack gives to Sullivan.

I would also assume that there would have been standard, professional fact-checking done on this article which would involve contacting those involved, including Mack McCormick. (edited to add as per Kokomo O's post: and quite right, the NYT legal dept.) And that he would have to give permission for the film footage and audio of him talking about his research -- including the part in which he points out that he is even more pissed than everyone else that he has not been able to deal with publishing his research. So I wouldn't say we know for certain that he approves of everything. Sullivan says he doesn't know whether Mack will be angry. And he also says he doesn't know whether the additional four pages were left for them to find, consciously or unconsciously.  Perhaps too convenient an interpretation, but who knows. Like I said, for me, this whole story within the story is one part of what makes it a compelling read for me.

Aside from the obvious thrill of this discovery.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2014, 09:48:26 AM by uncle bud »