I first heard Ed Bankston’s Over There … and Over Here several years ago in his son John’s apartment off Greene Street. John, a friend from college and then a business reporter at The Augusta Chronicle, had told me about his father’s long-lost record, but copies were so scarce, so hard to come by, that it had been some years since he had heard it.
I remember sitting down, listening and appreciating the tightly wound blues and emotional stories – I appreciated them, but not quite ready to embrace them.
That was my mistake.
The 1983 album, credited to the Red Rippers, was recently re-released on the North Carolina label Paradise of Bachelors.
I’m glad. It has given me an opportunity to re-examine a set of songs that are both polished and primitive, engaging and deeply infused with a sense of solitary confession. Inspired by Ed Bankston’s own Vietnam experience, both as a military man in combat and a veteran returning home, they are deeply personal songs that are, both musically and thematically, a snapshot of a very specific time in the artist’s life.
Does this sound a lot like 1983? Certainly – for better and worse. It has the immediacy a Vietnam record couldn’t possibly muster, but also bears some production hallmarks that date the album a little. There’s an old-school chorus on a lot of the vocals that feels like it would have been more appropriate on a Styx record than this taut little number.
I bring up this record, of which there were originally 3,000 copies, that number bolstered by whatever Paradise can shuffle out the door, because it’s a perfect illustration of what I feel is a musical responsibility.
Ed Bankston didn’t make much – if any – off this record. But he made the record. He invested time, talent, work and money into a project because he felt strongly that his art should be preserved and in doing so, avoided a misstep too many artists still make.
Bear in mind, he also did this at a time when making a record was considerably more difficult than today.
So here is my message and my plea to Augusta’s artists. Record what you’re doing. It doesn’t have to be Dark Side of the Moon. Record a demo or a single or an epic double album.
Distribute them to friends and sell them at shows. Just make sure you have a record of your creative process.
Send them to me as well – c/o Pop Rocks, The Augusta Chronicle Newsroom, P.O. Box 1928, Augusta, GA 30903-1928. I want to hear what people have to say, musically speaking. I want to be able to turn people onto the wealth of musical talent Augusta has. I want to do my small part in making Augusta a community of musical consumers, of fans.
Record your music not just because it’s part of your musical responsibility – although I believe it is – but because, despite occasional evidence to the contrary, people will listen.
I know I will.