by Joseph Dempsey
Pine Bluff, Arkansas
Hot Sun and Stirred Souls
at Summer's Gospel Fest.
A Gospel Fest happened here today. Nikon and I attended. The weather was so humid you could make yeast rolls rise in a lawn chair. The air was thick and saturated with mouth watering wafts of smoke from a dozen grills, and the music defied you to stay still. At times, I wanted to abandon the shooting and commence the clapping.
As a minority, I was well accepted with genuine congeniality. A couple of folks even offered me a chair when they observed my standard condition in hot summer sun. I turn red as a beet and sweat like a steam engine, but there is no bodily harm. I played along and took my rest. I managed to consume a healthy portion of a Cajun concoction laced with red beans and rice. After about three and a-half hours under the merciless southeast Arkansas sun, I decided to find my way home, sopping wet and laden with images.
The guys on the left are into it. Especially the guy in green, clapping his hands on "one and three." The guy on the right may have just taken a couple of pigeon pellets or a booger in his dollar and-a-half coke. Life goes on.
Adjacent to the Downtown Park where the festival was progressing, a couple of Indian shopkeepers ply their trade of clothier to black Americans in southeast Arkansas. Not letting an opportunity slip by, one of the shopkeepers is demonstrating his answer to the typical July meteorological conditions.
Notice how the cord is used as a device for fine tuning the level of a grill. LA (Lower Arkansas) field expedient engineering at its very best. A dear friend told me that the grill looks like a vintage "Portable Kitchen" aluminum cooker once manufactured in Jacksonville, Arkansas, during the Seventies. They worked their wonders well until time and oxidation caused the dampers to disintegrate and fall off. Much as happens to us geezers.
Gospel fans come in all sizes, ages, and other miscellaneous permutations of the human condition. This grandfather readily admitted that his innocent, angelic grandaughter was " ... wearin' me out." Lo, another generation will step forward to propogate the mantra of Southern Gospel.
The photographer-writer is surrounded by five grandchildren. Two others, an eighteen-month-old girl and a six-month-old lad, are AWOL from the session. I set up the shot, and my beloved Patricia coaxed the talent and pushed the button in our back yard.