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Miscellany: an introduction

Murder Ballads
Secret London

You won't find anything in this section that could comfortably fit into Murder Ballads or Secret London, but aside from that all bets are off.
What you will find includes:

Show Me the Bunny: Easter Fires in Texas. This piece describes my visit to a bizarre Texan festival which aims - in the words of its own literature - to "blend the local fable of the Easter Bunny with the deeply religious facets of Easter". I wrote it back in 2001 as a sample chapter for a travel book that ended up never being published. Fortean Times bought a much, much shorter version of the same story later that year, but this is the first time it's appeared anywhere in its full form.

We had no room to include Pace in that project, so I'm using the material about him here instead

Black Swan Blues: America's first Motown. Harry Pace did everything Motown's Berry Gordy did, but did it 40 years earlier in an even more racist environment. His Black Swan Records was America's first major black-owned label, and the first to record ground-breaking blues artists like Alberta Hunter, Ethel Waters and Fletcher Henderson. I stumbled across Pace's story while researching a blues programme for BBC Radio 4, but we had no room to include him in that particular project so I'm using the material here instead.

Follow PlanetSlade on Twitter @MoshpitMemories

PlanetSlade’s second Twitter stream runs daily extracts from my diaries as a young music fan. These cover the years from 1975-1981, a period which included the glory days of UK punk. Between the ages of 16 and 23 I saw most of that era’s best bands play live in tiny clubs, bought more than my share of their wonderfully invigorating records and drank an ocean of beer.

Added in October 2014: Extended Black Swan Blues

Since posting my original Black Swan Blues essay here in 2009, I’ve done a lot more research on Harry Pace and the pioneering 1920s blues label he founded.
     Black Swan, you’ll recall, was America’s first successful black-owned record company. No other black label would make the same impact on US life until Tamla Motown’s launch 40 years later – and Pace achieved his own success in a atmosphere of brutal racial prejudice which the Motown stars could barely imagine.
     I’ve now published the fruits of my new Black Swan research as a PlanetSlade Kindle title, which you can buy here. The Kindle edition is over twice the length of my original essay and includes a lot of new material. Think of it as the director’s cut – or a reissued album with lots of bonus tracks.
     Among the new subjects you’ll find covered in the Kindle edition are:

* Pace’s life before Black Swan, including his time running WEB Du Bois’ ground-breaking black magazine Moon Illustrated Weekly.

* Biographies of both Fletcher Henderson and Ethel Waters, the two other most important figures in Black Swan’s success.

* The full story behind the lynching incident in Macon, Georgia, which led to the corpse of a young black man being hurled into the lobby at a Black Swan show there.

* Fletcher Henderson’s key role in developing both jazz and swing music after leaving Black Swan. Both Louis Armstrong and Benny Goodman benefited greatly from Henderson’s early blues training at the label.

* Harry Pace’s leadership in desegregating a white Chicago neighbourhood and the US Supreme Court testimony he gave in that precedent-setting case.

      If you feel that $2.99 (or £1.88 in the UK) is too much to pay for all that new information, then you still have the option of reading my original Black Swan Blues essay free online instead.
      If you are interested in the Kindle edition, though, please scoot on over to one of the Amazon pages linked below and buy a copy. Whichever version of the material you’ve read, please consider adding a review to its Amazon page too. Thank you.

Black Swan Blues (Amazon US)

Black Swan Blues (Amazon UK)