The Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, in partnership with the UGA Graduate School, UGA Arts Council, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, and Flagpole, has awarded 34 micro-fellowships in its Shelter Projects program. The $500 fellowships support graduate students and community-based artists and practitioners in the creation of shareable reflections on their experience of the current pandemic through the arts and humanities.
Statement: I’m Jim Wilson, local Athens musician and artist drumming in bands or fronting my own since 2002. I wrote “Children of the Apocalypse” spring 2020 while awaiting the birth of my son Leo James. It’s a note observing sheltering in place while adapting to new daily life limitations. Experiencing the uncertainty of our society during this time is stressful for all of us, what will it be like for those that are yet to be born? Though bleak in nature, COTA says community is strengthened by our willingness to help each other. Always. I took my song to Bryan Howard’s studio Del Toro Sounds, a perfect place to go to be creative while feeling safe and less than a mile from my home. The recording was sent to R. Sloan Simpson for mixing/mastering. Luckily for me I can still make music with my talented friends. Another day in the apocalypse.
Listen to “Children of the Apocalypse” below.
Flagpole: Written in anticipation of the birth of your first son, “Children of the Apocalypse” seems to express a very special type of anxiety that I imagine can only come with starting a family during a global crisis. How has the pandemic impacted your experience of fatherhood so far? Have there been any silver linings?
James Aurelio Wilson: My girlfriend Caroline Singletary, her four kids and I moved in together in February 2020 in anticipation of our son Leo’s birth Aug. 21, 2020. I dubbed us the Apocalypse Brady Bunch at the time because the Brady Bunch in the future should be set in the apocalypse, right? Right.
Little did we know that a month later everyone would be doing school from home and people everywhere would be furloughed from work for a spell while global efforts were made to contain and stop the COVID-19 pandemic. As it turns out we ARE the apocalypse Brady Bunch!
There have been many silver linings here at the Singletary-Wilson compound in this new world away from the world. The biggest positive in all of this is definitely the amount of time I’m able to spend with my new family. I always planned to be physically and emotionally present as much as possible during Caroline’s pregnancy and after Leo’s earth arrival. Never in a million years did I think I would get to be here almost every minute of every day. There is no phoning it in. There is only in.
Flagpole: In addition to being a musician and visual artist, you are also the (my!) manager at the 40 Watt Club, which has remained closed since the initial shelter-in-place ordinance was passed in March. Do you have any updates from the club you’d like to share? What are the most effective ways that the community can support the 40 Watt and fellow independent music venues right now?
JAW: The 40 Watt Club, like so many (too many) venues, was among the first places to close and will be among the last places to open back up. We pride ourselves in providing incredibly entertaining memorable experiences where people feel safe and comfortable. That goes for the artists, patrons and staff alike. As soon as it makes sense to rock, we will most definitely rock.
Bombarding our state representatives with letters and phone calls stating the need to aid small businesses and music venues is paramount. That’s a great start. Independent venues throughout the country are laying in wait and there are so many places having to close. On the national level, support and the fight for a change can be accessed at www.nivassoc.org/take-action and www.nivassoc.org/support-niva.
The most direct way to support the 40 Watt Club right now is to buy shirts. We also have a GoFundMe campaign that has helped raise money to aid some of our fellow employees while we ride out this wicked storm. While on the site, check out other local businesses in need and help when able.
Flagpole: You’re also the merchandise manager for the Drive-By Truckers, who have managed to put out new music despite having to cancel tours. How has the pandemic influenced your work with the band?
JAW: I was with the band in Indiana in the middle of March on what would have been the first night of a month-long tour across the country. Drive-By Truckers had just started soundcheck when we learned the show was cancelled. By the time we had the bus loaded up we learned the whole tour was cancelled, and then boom we were back in Athens the very next day, unloading the tour bus. Surreal. Since then my focus as merchandise manager has been geared towards our online store as well as the Bandcamp First Friday sales.
Flagpole: In lieu of asking another question directly, I’d like to share Gregory Frederick’s recently released doc, “Jim Wilson: Inside Athens,” which covers a lot of ground. Sound good?
JAW: Yes, that sounds good. Always a treat when I run into Gregory. He has captured so many of us weirdos on film through the years; I’m grateful and humbled that he chose to document my adventures here in Athens.
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