Arts festival includes music, songwriting, drawing and writing


TRIPOD 2017, the third annual arts festival hosted by University Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, has expanded to include four workshops on Saturday, Nov. 4, with emphasis on songwriting, guitar and blues techniques, creative writing and drawing.

TRIPOD is coordinated through the Back Door Coffeehouse, which hosts talents both local and national, and is coordinated by David Walker. This will be the first year that a drawing workshop will be included in the activities.

“Everybody is really excited to do the workshops,” Walker said. “This is the first time we have added the art component to TRIPOD. In fact, we have never had more than two people for TRIPOD at one time. We have really gone to a wide range. We are keeping the participants in each workshop down to 15, except art, which is at 12.

Leading the workshops will be Back Door Coffeehouse regular Kate Campbell in songwriting, Robert Johnson devotee Scott Ainslie for guitar and blues techniques, Hattiesburg storyteller Sharon Gerald for creative writing and University of Southern Mississippi art professor Janet Gorzegno for art.

University Baptist Church is located at 3200 Arlington Loop in Hattiesburg. Registration is $30 for each workshop, which will all be held simultaneously in different areas of the church. Each workshop begins with an introductory period at 9 a.m., classes start at 9:30 a.m., a catered lunch will start at noon and classes resume from 1-2:30 p.m.

Campbell said she sees the songwriting workshop as “a one-day jumpstart or refresher retreat on songwriting.”

“Bring what you have whether you’ve written a bunch of tunes or want to but just can’t seem to get that first line,” she said. “I’ll be talking about inspiration as well as fixin’ and finishin’ songs! I promise it will be fun and there will be snacks and hopefully you’ll go home with a song.”

Campbell is an award-winning Nashville singer/songwriter whose clear-water vocal delivery and gift for storytelling have drawn comparisons to such writers of the Southern literary tradition as Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty and William Faulkner. Roots Time summarized her 18-album career by stating, “What a great talent Kate Campbell represents is made clear by the legends in music that appear as guest artists on her albums. Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Nanci Griffith, Guy Clark, Maura O’Connell, John Prine, Mac McAnally, Buddy Miller, Spooner Oldham, and the heart of the Muscle Shoals classic soul and R&B hit-making machine are admirers and collaborators in her literate musical vision.”

Along with numerous performances at iconic folk festivals and venues, Kate has been featured in appearances on NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and The Bob Edwards Show.

Ainslie said the teacher is more responsible for the success of the workshop than the student.

“A student’s musical life belongs to (the teacher),” he said. “My job is to meet them there and find a way to advance them along their path in a direction that they want to go. All are welcome. There is no bar they have to climb over. I will teach whoever comes and be happy to feel useful to them. That is my bottom line.”

Content of the workshop will be guided by the needs and desires of the students, but sections on the ins and outs of slide playing, finger picking technique, major open tunings and the special open bass chord forms will be covered, in addition to requested material. Students interested in slide guitar should have a slide that fits securely on their little finger.

A teacher and performer who gets consistently high marks from his students, Ainslie transcribed the recordings of Blues legend Robert Johnson for his book, “Robert Johnson/At The Crossroads”“ and has a useful and well-reviewed instruction DVD on Johnson’s music, “Robert Johnson: Signature Licks” available through Scott’s fifth solo recording, “Thunder’s Mouth,” received strong reviews from DownBeat, SingOut! and Blues Revue magazines and remained on the Americana Music Top 40 chart for six weeks.

His numerous awards include the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian College 20th annual Sam Ragan Fine Arts Award, appointment as a Public Fellow at UNC-Chapel Hill and numerous grant awards from the National Endowment for the Arts. He has been a featured artist at Merlefest, The Kennedy Center, The Old Songs Festival, Louisiana Crossroads, and at the Toronto, Mississippi Valley and Bull Durham blues festivals.

Gerald said the creative writing workshop will focus on poetry and memoirs.

“Have you always wanted to be a poet?” she asked. “Do you have a collection of family stories you hope to one day publish? Do you have a writing background that has grown rusty while you’ve been busy doing life? If you answered yes to any of these questions, our poetry and memoir workshop is for you. Open to any writer at any level. We will get those creative juices flowing.”

An English instructor at Hinds Community College in Raymond, Gerald has long been a favorite of The Back Door Coffeehouse. She became a nationally recognized Mississippi author with the publication of her first book of poetry Thin Is The Kingdom, which brought high praise from such literary luminaries as Angela Ball and Mark Cox. Her blog, Writerly Haphazardry – the daily dabblings of Sharon Gerald, is followed by numerous fans and her creative writing workshops continue to draw praise.

Gorzegno said she plans to explore the power of visual intention in drawing.

“We will explore a range of drawing materials, various approaches to mark-making and some key 2D form concepts,” she said. “Instruction will be geared toward beginners, but all skill levels are welcome. A costumed figure model and basic drawing supplies will be provided.”

Gorzegno’s creative discipline is in painting. Her current gallery affiliation is Bowery Gallery in New York City, where she is planning her next solo show. Her work in painting is also regularly exhibited in invitational and juried group shows, and she has been a fellow at various artist’s residencies throughout the United States and abroad – such as VCCA’s Moulin a Nef in Auvillar, France.

She was recently honored by her undergraduate ala mater Drew University with an Achievement in the Arts Award for 2017. Gorzegno studied drawing and painting at the New York Studio School and received her master of fine arts in painting from Yale University.

Anyone with questions can contact Walker at (601) 520-1589.