Staff from the Planet Weekly had the opportunity, recently, to attend a performance of the Debbie Bond Trio in the intimate-listening courtyard of the Rock House Eatery in lovely, lakeside Guntersville, Ala. We couldn’t help but notice a photographer moving about, taking multiple shots from all angles, dancing to the rhythm as she went. PW decided to check out this photographing fan, Rachel Bolton, who’d driven in from Huntsville to catch the show. Here’s what we learned:
PW: You are from Huntsville, and you are a civil engineer. What does your job involve?
RB: Right now, I’m working for Croy Engineering. We have a Huntsville office but we are headquartered in Marietta, Georgia. Specifically, I’m working on widening a road adjacent to a new Walmart, emergency signal preemption, and traffic signal inventory. I also have a strong background in Traffic Incident Management. I am very passionate about saving lives on our roadways!
PW: You live with your husband, Richard, & dog, Teddy. What does Richard do? And what breed is Teddy?
RB: Well, I’ll be nice and mention Richard first (of course!). He has been working as a software engineer for a major financial software company and works from home. He actually has family ties to Pickens County but he’s from Oklahoma. A distant relative was rumored to have been hanged by the Home Guard during the Civil War for being a Union sympathizer.
As for Teddy, who is a wire fox terrier, you can imagine the antics he causes but we wouldn’t trade him for the world. What a character. He was actually lucky enough to attend this year’s Freedom Creek Festival.
PW: How did you first become acquainted with Debbie Bond’s music? When was that?
RB: I first saw Debbie in 2010 at the Freedom Creek Festival in Old Memphis at Willie King’s old place. I saw an ad for it somewhere in Huntsville and ‘Burnside’ caught my eye. I think one of his grandson’s was playing that year. I think he was playing on Friday and I went Saturday so I didn’t get to see him. It doesn’t matter because I left as a lifelong fan of Willie King, his legacy, Debbie Bond, Mudcat, and Willie Lee Halbert!
PW: Are you a big fan of the blues in general? What other kinds of music are you drawn to?
RB: Absolutely. I love the blues probably the most of all the genres. I like R.L. Burnside, Keb Mo’, Murali Coryell, oh! and you can’t forget Albert Castiglia. I’m also a huge fan of Bluegrass. I love the Steeldrivers, Cherryholmes, Chris Stapleton, Dan Tyminski, and Ronnie Bowman. Check out Ronnie and Chris’s song they wrote together ‘Here I Am’. You won’t be disappointed! I’ve been to different concerts anywhere from VNV Nation to Danzig to Ozomatli.
PW: How many years have you been attending the Freedom Creek Festival in Pickens County? Tell us about your experience there. Teddy got to come along this year. Do you camp?
RB: I have been going since 2010. I didn’t get to see Willie King live. He passed away the year before, in 2009. I enjoy listening to stories the various musicians tell about Willie because he influenced everyone differently in their own special way. Everyone has a common theme, and that’s being positive about life. Everyone I’ve met that knew him just wants to have a good time. I’m a big fan of The Secret. Everything happens for a reason.
I love that Freedom Creek is low key. It’s like our own little secret place, once a year. However, it’s not at Freedom Creek anymore. It’s at Cookieman’s Place [an indoor/outdoor venue in Aliceville, available for events and parties]. Who’s Cookie Man? I don’t really know but I didn’t see any cookies while I was there. And I love me some cookies!! It is convenient being closer to town. I hope it survives. I think it will. I still go and everyone always comes back because we all know it’s not about the location, it’s about the music. The huge shade tree is nice too!
I got to camp one time at the festival. I remember it was hot, of course. It was at Cookieman’s Place in 2012 and a storm came rolling in. It was in the middle of the afternoon and a dark cloud was in the distance. I told my husband we better head back to the tent and put the rain fly on. Next thing we know we are getting hit by a microburst with 60 plus mile an hour winds. I looked out the tent and saw the tall pines bent over and started screaming in exhilaration. It was a blast! When we got out everyone’s canopies were blown over and I heard that people took shelter in the building. It passed over real quick and the music just resumed like nothing had happened.
PW: Do you go to a lot of other music events?
RB: I really don’t go to any large festivals. I guess I don’t see the fun in that. I love low key, small venues. I usually avoid big arenas too. I like the setting to be more intimate. It’s more special that way. It’s all about the connection between you, the friends you meet, and the musicians who drove hundreds of miles to play just for you.
PW: You said you were a fan of longtime bluesman R. L. Burnside. How did you become exposed to the music of him and others like him?
RB: I discovered R.L.’s music from a friend of mine. He had the ‘Wish I was in Heaven Sittin’ Down’ album and I was hooked. From there I started seeking out other artists like him.
PW: You describe yourself as an amateur photographer, although that’s a nice piece of equipment you use. What type of camera do you shoot with and how long have you been at this hobby?
RB: I have a Nikon D5000, a DSLR. I’ve had mine since 2010. I’m still learning how to use it. Before that I used early digital ‘point-and-shoot’s’ and even further back – 35mm. I was 16 when I started using disposable cameras. I’d also like to add that photographing people candidly can be very difficult because it’s all about predicting their next move.
PW: A big part of Debbie Bond’s message has been that Alabaman’s are too often unaware of the blues legacy of the state, and perhaps even the region. As a young professional, what are your thoughts on this?
RB: Well, I grew up listening to 70s vinyl and appreciating the older types of music. I feel like kids and young adults growing up now are being exposed to music that just lacks…well… everything. There are no roots the music can tie back to unless, of course, it’s a cover song. Artists get forgotten and people don’t tend to seek out what’s not on the radio. It’s easier that way. It requires no effort on their part. Which is exactly what the next generations are all about.
PW: We thought the Debbie Bond Trio gave an outstanding performance at the Rock House last Thursday evening. Did you enjoy the show?
RB: I thoroughly enjoyed the show and the food was excellent. It was nice to just take it all in. I really felt privileged to have gotten to hear Darrell Tibbs [the percussionist with the trio]. I heard he recorded with the Neville Brothers. How cool is that?
PW: Any thoughts to add to this interview as we close?
RB: Sure. Thanks for coming up to me and asking to share my story.
PW: Thanks so much for talking with us and for your interest in and support of these important local artists.

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