Friday, 24 July 2009


As you may know, 2009 is the 50th anniversary year of Blind Willie McTell's death. He died in the early morning of August the 19th (1959) in Milledgeville State Hospital. He was 56 years old.

More by chance than good planning, the North American edition of my biography of him (Hand Me My Travelin Shoes: In Search of Blind Willie McTell) will be published on September 1. I shall be doing a promotional stomp round a few bits of the USA - mainly in Willie's home state of Georgia - in October.

I'm right at the beginning of organising this tour of talks, and so far the only firm dates I have are these:

OCT 8, 11am - Ward Hall Great Room, Farmingdale State College (SUNY), Long Island NY
OCT 22, 7pm - Zach S. Henderson Library, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro GA
OCT 23, 7pm - Averitt Arts Center, 33 East Main Street, Statesboro GA 30458

I'm hoping that between Oct 8 and Oct 22 I can arrange a further sequence of talks in Georgia, in the other places that were significant for Willie - Atlanta, Macon, Athens, Thomson, Milledgeville and maybe Augusta.
OCT 15, 7pm - Douglass Theatre, 355 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Macon GA

The talk I'm offering in Georgia is SEARCHING FOR WILLIE McTELL: A British Writer in Georgia and it will include playing records and slideshows of both vintage photos and photos I took while researching the book.

If any reader has contacts at, or even just suggestions for, good venues in any of these places, please do let me know by posting a comment to this blog. All blog comments get moderated - ie I read them before deciding either to publish them or not - so any information you send me this way can be sent privately and in confidence.

Many thanks.


Anonymous said...

Dear Michael,
Its a pity you're not speaking in New York City. I would think you could draw a large crowd here. If you're interested, I could suggest a few places, but I don't really have any experience organizing this type of thing (and presumably your publisher does). But it sounds like I might have to make an excursion to Long Island....

Best wishes,

Hard Luck Child said...

I agree that you could draw a large crowd in New York City! I actually live on Long Island and would LOVE to travel to Farmingdale to see you speak. Unfortunately, I'll be teaching English abroad in South Korea during your tour. It would be wonderful if you'd have someone get one of the talks on camera, Mr. Gray. Perhaps you could upload the video to your blog or to Youtube=)

Michael Gray said...

Dear Chris
Thanks for your enthusiasm, and apologies for not responding earlier. But as you say, you have no experience of promoting talks like mine, and I have, and I know that it's difficult to draw a large crowd in NYC because there's always so much going on, unless you can invest in tons of prior publicity, which I can't. And since it's not my hobby, but part of my livelihood, I can only go out and do these things if they're going to bring some money in. And I think you'll find that most people would not want to bet on a Blind Willie McTell talk being a strong commercial proposition. More's the pity - but that's how it is.

Anyway, surely, if I can get myself all the way to Farmingdale from France, you can get there from Manhattan...