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Southern Songs & Stories: Dom Flemons - Finding New Ways Forward By Reviving Music's Past

Photo: Daniel Coston
Dom Flemons at the Outback Opry drive-in concert 09-05-20

For those who adhere to the old adage that “If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room,” you would likely feel comfortable being in the company of Dom Flemons. Now living in Chicago, he has called many places home, from his native Arizona to North Carolina to Washington, D.C., and has covered even more musical territory, mastering the banjo, fife, guitar, harmonica, percussion, quills, and bones in many styles along the way. He won widespread acclaim as a founding member of The Carolina Chocolate Drops, and after leaving the group in 2013, has not missed a beat, playing at Carnegie Hall,  the Grand Ole Opry, the opening ceremonies for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, and has represented the United States at the 2017 Rainforest World Music Festival in Kuching, Malaysia. These accomplishments only scratch the surface of his remarkable career, to say nothing of his warmth, openness and modest charm.

Thanks for dropping by, and I hope you might reach out to someone you know who is a fan of music, history or culture and let them know about this series. You can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, TuneIn, Pandora, NPR One -- pretty much everywhere you can find podcasts. And once you subscribe, it helps even more when you give it a good rating and a review. Top ratings, and especially your reviews, will make Southern Songs and Stories and the artists it profiles more likely to be found by more people just like you. Southern Songs and Stories is a part of the podcast lineup of both public radio WNCW and Osiris Media, with all of the Osiris shows available here. You can also hear new episodes of this podcast on Bluegrass Planet Radio here. My full interview with Dom Flemons is on video, which is on my YouTube here. Thanks to Corrie Askew for producing the radio adaptations of this series on public radio WNCW. Our theme songs are by Joshua Meng. This is Southern Songs and Stories, celebrating the music of the South and the artists who make it. - Joe Kendrick

Music heard in this episode:

  • “‘Til The Seas Run Dry” by Dom Flemons from Prospect Hill
  • “Going Backward Up the Mountain” by Dom Flemons from Prospect Hill: The American Songster Omnibus
  • “Georgia Drumbeat” from Dom Flemons’ Prospect Hill: The American Songster Omnibus
  • “Shake Your Moneymaker” by Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band with Dom Flemons and Steve Cropper
  • “My Money Never Runs Out” by Dom Flemons from Prospect Hill
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Joe Kendrick grew up far off in the woods at in rural Stanfield, NC, where he acquired his first Sony Walkman, listened to both AM and FM radio from Charlotte, went to Nascar races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, attended a small Baptist church, read Rolling Stone, subscribed to cassette clubs, and played one very forgettable season of high school football. From there, Joe studied Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was able to fulfill his dream of being a disc jockey at WXYC. He volunteered at WNCW soon after graduation.