Have You Ever Seen Peaches Growing On A Sweet Potato Vine? - Jake Xerxes Fussell

from the album What In The Natural World (2017)

Poulan is a small town in south-central Georgia with a population under 1,000.  Agriculture is the central industry with farmers primarily growing peanuts, watermelon, and soybeans.  However, Poulan is better known as a notorious speed trap.  Local police haul in roughly a million dollars a year (or $1,000 per resident) nabbing speeders along Highway 82.

Jimmy Lee Williams was born in Poulan in 1925.  For nearly seventy years, he never travelled too far from home, mostly working the farmland.  Jimmy Lee was also a gifted blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist.  In 1977 - and again in 1982 - Jimmy Lee Williams was recorded by George Mitchell, a revered musicologist who travelled the backroads of the American South documenting the region's music.  These recordings are captured on the album Hoot Your Belly, a rough and ramble collection of songs that drip with authenticity.

One of those songs - Have You Ever Seen Peaches Growing On A Sweet Potato Vine? - has now been covered by Jake Xexeres Fussell, a folk musician who grew up along the Georgia-Alabama line.  Jake's father, Fred, was a folklorist who often travelled with George Mitchell and imparted a love for southern music on his son.

In an interview with National Public Radio, Jake shared, "Peaches' stuck with me since the first time I heard it - something about the absurdity of the lyrics but also this sort of serene, rhythmic approach to guitar playing.  A lot of blues guitar playing from southwest Georgia has this serene, droning quality. I don't know how to explain it, really, but its very syncopated and can be quite powerful if you can learn how to get it going."

Aside from digging this song, I feel blessed to live in a time when the music of men like Jimmy Lee Williams can be documented by men like George Mitchell and passed on to new generations by men like Jake Xerxes Fussell.

I also feel blessed never to have been pulled over by the Po-Po on Highway 82.

Click Here to listen to the cover of Have You Ever Seen Peaches Growing On A Sweet Potato Vine? by Jake Xerxes Fussell.

Click Here to listen to the original version of Have You Ever Seen Peaches by Jimmy Lee Williams.