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Request for Assistance: Search for Photos for the Tommy Thompson book

Posted by Brooklynbanjoboy on Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Good morning.


I'm at the point in the project on Tommy Thompson of Red Clay Rambler fame where I'm searching for photographs. 


Tommy's daughter has been a source of some good pics from his youth.  I've seen other family photos, too.  And fellow musicians and friends have dug into their stocks of memories.


One thing that's become clear is that to a large extent, a lot of the photography done extemporaneously at concerts, festivals, jam sessions, gatherings of musicians and other like-minded souls in the 1960s was done with equipment that does not necessarily lend itself well to digitizing - especially, at least insofar as my experience has shown, when it comes to polaroid pics and other "innovations" in photo taking. 


To a certain extent, the photos taken in the 1970s and 1980s are a bit better.  And by then, there were ample resources devoted to properly promoting and photographing a band that was producing recordings and concertizing.  So, there are probably better pics of the Red Clay Ramblers than the Hollow Rock String Band.


But I'm sort of looking for photos that were not used on LP covers and for publicity shots.  I'm looking for good photographs of the Hollow Rock String Band in its natural habitat, the Randolph Road weekly gatherings at Tommy and Bobbie's house. 


Or the Durham/Chapel Hill music scene at local venues and jams, where Tommy might have showed up in those years.


I'm having some luck, but not as much as I had hoped. 


I realize that we're taking about photos that are nearly 50 years old. 


I thought I'd give it a try anyway.


I'm looking for pics that might be associated with the chapters as I've devised them:


Chapter One is about Tommy’s “Early Life,” taking the story up to his decision to move to Chapel Hill after his stint in the U.S. Coast Guard. 


Chapter Two is about Tommy’s years of “Studying Music,” largely with the Hollow Rock String Band, but also with various other musical partners in the context of the Durham/Chapel Hill Old Time Scene. 


Chapter Three, “Playing Music,” focuses on Tommy’s place in the evolving old time music community in Chapel Hill, after the Hollow Rock String Band years, including his music making at old time festivals and in the burgeoning music scene in his corner of North Carolina. 


Chapter Four, “Studying Musicians,” looks at Tommy’s growing curiosity, dating from the early 1960s, with Appalachian source musicians. 


Chapter Five, “Studying Thinking,” delves into his decade as a graduate student in philosophy at UNC – a venture into another kind of creative space. 


Chapter Six, “Red Clay Rambling,” details Tommy’s 22 years with the band including the origins of the Red Clay Ramblers, their branching out from traditional southern string band music, Tommy’s collaborative work on original songs and lyrics with Mike Craver, Rambler involvement in Musician’s Theatre, working with Sam Shepard, and the transformation of the band over those two decades. 


Finally, the “Conclusion” is the mechanism I use to attempt to discern the relationships between these parts and to explore aspects of his creativity as musician, play writer, lyricist, and a thinker of profound thoughts. 



I'd be glad to hear from anyone inclined to share photos, and grant me permission to use them in the book.


Thanks.  Have a great day,



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