This soulful blues tune is performed here with foreboding intensity by John Cephas and Phil Wiggins at the 1991 Florida Folk Festival in White Springs. “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” was originally penned and recorded in 1931 by delta blues legend Nehemiah Curtis “Skip” James.
John Cephas and Phil Wiggins performing at the Florida Folk Festival, White Springs, 1991
Guitarist John Cephas (1930-2009) and harmonica player Phil Wiggins (1954- ), legends in their own right, were an acoustic blues duo hailing from Washington D.C. The pair were known for their Piedmont blues style, but as you can hear in the audio clip above, they perfectly capture the essence of “Skip” James’ delta blues. If this song sounds familiar to you, it was also performed in the Coen Brother’s film “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” by musician and actor Chris Thomas King.
Belle Glade based hip hop group Kan-Dee-Krew formed in the mid-1980s.
Hip hop culture has undeniably solidified itself as a worldwide phenomenon. The mouthpiece of the culture is its music, the aural representative so appealing to so many people. Hip hop originated in the Bronx, New York, in the early 1970s. Its rise is attributed to DJ Kool Herc, who looped break beats on his turntables to keep dancers out on the floor. As the MCs who rapped over the break beats achieved greater notoriety, the limelight shifted from the DJs to the MCs and evolved into what is commonly understood today as hip hop music. By the mid-1980s, hip hop was storming the airways nationwide and there was no stopping the momentum, despite dissenters who dismissed it as a fad.
Kan-Dee-Krew (left to right: Emanuel Harden, Charles Plummer, and Terrance Coffie) at a performance for a medical center, Wellington, 1987
Belle Glade based hip hop group Kan-Dee-Krew formed in the mid-1980s. The Krew consisted of Terrance Coffie, Emanuel Harden, Rodney Rumph, Duane Rumph, Charles Plummer, and Elijah Thomas. Heavily influenced by Run-DMC (one of the most popular hip hop groups at the time), the Kan-Dee-Krew delivered energetic lyrics with accompanying vocals that overlap. Unlike some of their counterparts, however, the group focused on the betterment of the community, using hip hop music as a way to connect with children and the underrepresented by advocating for education and warning against the dangers of drug abuse with songs like “Education” and “Crack is Whack.” This doesn’t mean that the group shied away from a little braggadocio and style, showing off with songs like “Fresh” and “Nikes and Reeboks.”
In February 1987, the Kan-Dee-Krew performed for a classroom of students at Pahokee Elementary School as part of the Palm Beach County Folk Arts in Education Project. The goal of this performance was multifaceted: the children learned how a vernacular art form is transferred to new practitioners, while at the same time received positive guidance through the music’s content that was delivered in the fresh form of hip hop, making them more receptive to the Krew’s message.
Kan-Dee-Krew’s “Education” speaks of the necessity of having a good education to pursue one’s goals in life. Those familiar with Run-DMC will certainly recognize the heavy influence. And, check out that accompanying beat box.
Skateboarding originated in California in the 1950s and swiftly moved east to Florida. Kona Skatepark, located on Kona Avenue in southeast Jacksonville, opened in 1977 and is the longest-running skatepark in the United States. In the world of skateboarding, Kona is legendary. The picture below features one of the park’s most popular features that still remains firmly upright and imposing today: “The Tombstone,” a vertical wall measuring 6 feet above the rim of the bowl.
Ben French riding on “The Tombstone,” Jacksonville, 1988
In 1988, Gregory Hansen interviewed skateboarders Ben French and Shawn Roden as part of the Folk Arts in Education Project in Duval County. At the time of the interview, both French and Roden were high school students who spent every spare moment on their skateboards. Of course, Kona Skate Park was their venue of choice.
Skateboarder Ben French at Kona Skate Park, Jacksonville, 1988
While you’re looking at the photos, listen to an interview excerpt of Ben French and Shawn Roden explaining some of Kona’s features for a glimpse into the life of young skateboarders in Jacksonville in the 1980s.
Excerpt from an interview with Ben French and Shawn Roden
Once Florida’s largest industry, and one of the oldest industries in the United States, turpentine was a ubiquitous ingredient in American household products including paints, medicines, hair spray, and cosmetics, just to name a few. The industry was a driving force behind the development of port cities Jacksonville and Pensacola.
Chipping a tree to make turpentine, 1930s
Oleoresin, better known to turpentiners as pine resin, is a natural byproduct of certain types of pine trees that at one time proliferated in North Florida. This pine resin was extracted from the trees by laborers (mostly African-American males) and then distilled to give us turpentine or “spirit of turpentine.”
Dip testing the gum, Lake City, 1948
Yet, before these modern uses of distilled pine resin, it was originally used for sealing wooden ships to protect against leaks, earning the name “naval stores.” The first known European use of naval stores in Florida was in the sixteenth century by Spanish explorers, but production of the resin did not become a fruitful trade in Florida until the early 1800s.
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