HIGH FREQUENCIES: R. Land — The road leads back to Georgia

Putting the state’s music on the map

GA Musicland
Photo credit: R. Land
PROMISED LAND: “Georgia Musicland” is a map of the Peach State's greatest musical exports.

You’ve seen his artwork around town. The two hands pointing toward the heavens with the admonition, “Pray for ATL.” Or, maybe you’ve seen its variation, the clasped cat paws, “Pray for CATL.” But just because both are credited to R. Land Ministries,” don’t think Ronnie Land is out to save the soul of Atlanta and its cat lovers — or maybe he is.

Land’s state map of Georgia, filled with the names of singers, songwriters, musicians and bands that have enriched Georgia’s musical legacy, has certainly played a part in unifying Georgia’s vast music industry. With its name checking a list ranging from Ma Rainey and Little Richard to Johnny Mercer and Otis Redding to the B-52’s and Mastodon, the painting commissioned by Georgia Music Partners not only encapsulates the wide-range of Georgia music, but traces the extended roots of the musicians throughout the state.

A Florida native who calls Atlanta home, Georgia was not originally on Land’s mind when he got the idea for combining a location with its musical produce.

“For years I had been working … kicking around the idea of a sort of tongue-in-cheek culture map of my hometown of Jacksonville in North Florida" Land, who has spent his last three decades in the Peach State, explains. “It kept hitting me that the music from that area was pretty significant. After I finally made the first fleshed out version, basically a music map of the First Coast heavy on Southern rock acts, I started playing around with the Georgia idea. It never got past the drawing board until the fine folks at Georgia Music Partners called and asked if I would do a Georgia music map art print. Naturally I jumped on it and rushed it to production.”

Mala Sharma and Tammy Hurt, then co-presidents of Georgia Music Partners, a group Hurt co-founded to promote the business of the music industry statewide, needed a premium with which to entice donors and reward members.

Sharma, who was already familiar with Land’s work, suggested they contact the artist, Hurt remembers. “Mala asked him to create a piece of artwork that showed the depth and breadth of the artists who came from Georgia. We named the piece “Turn Up The Volume on Georgia Music.” It supported our efforts to raise awareness in the public, the industry and with legislators about our efforts to grow the music industry in Georgia.”

The work, Hurt recalls, not only helped in their fundraising plans, but was also instrumental in rallying statewide support for the passing of Georgia House Bill 155, more commonly known as the Georgia Music Investment Act. The bill, which was also supported by the Recording Academy, went into effect last July. It aids state efforts to retain and grow creative talent by offering the first tax incentive targeted for musicians and those in music production.

This week Land unveils a new edition of the map, which he has renamed “Georgia Musicland.” The reason for his producing an updated version, available now at his website and in stores throughout the state starting next week, stems from his love for music — and his wanting to do right by those artists to which the work is dedicated.

“I took the sketch from my board and hurried it into production, making it print ready for them (GMP), he says of the original. “I always wanted to go back and improve the design and make it more comprehensive and give it a lot more love.

“The result is a piece that includes a decent range of artists and genres that span mostly from the mid to late 20th century on into current times. Some are personal favorites, others legends of the state and beyond. I couldn't possibly fit every single act, but I feel like the final cut includes a great example of what our state has produced.”

But don’t expect this to be his last revision. As Georgia’s music output grows, Land plans to document the changes. “I think the piece will continue to evolve as the years go on.”

Never break the chain dept. … The announcement that Lindsey Buckingham will not be a part of Fleetwood Mac’s upcoming tour (was he fired or did he quit?) set off a twit storm this week. You’d think he was a founding member of the group! For most Fleetwood Mac fans today, I guess he was.

When Buckingham and Stevie Nicks joined the British band in the mid-‘70s, it began to enjoy its greatest commercial success. Nonetheless, the California couple’s pop leanings didn’t set well with early followers of the British blues band, especially those ultra-knowledgeable salespeople who worked at the Peaches Records and Tapes on Peachtree Street. After Rumours, the second Mac album to feature Buckingham and Nicks, was released in the spring of ’77, with seven of its 11 tracks becoming Top 10 hits, customers would enter the store asking for the first Fleetwood Mac album (referring to the self-titled LP released in 1975 with the hits “Over My Head,” “Say You Love Me,” “Rhiannon,” and “Landslide.”) Knowing the customers were ill-informed, most daytime employees would direct them to what they wanted, while those on the night shift usually lead the unsuspecting buyer to the “import” section, and handed them a copy of Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, the real first album by the band originally founded by ex-John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers guitarist Peter Green in July, 1967.

But that was when the band’s history extended a mere 10 years. Now, with the group having been together in one incarnation or another for 50 years (drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie being the only original constants; Christine McVie having not been asked to join the band until 1970), and Buckingham and Nicks having been a part of the group for over 40 years, does it matter if Buckingham, another in a long line of guitarists to play with the tumultuous, ever-changing line-up, is gone? It didn’t the last time Buckingham was out of the band, when he left in 1987 over “creative differences,” only to rejoin it again in 1995. And Fleetwood Mac has had a serious succession of lead guitarists in it’s fold, from founder Green who hired guitarists Jeremy Spencer and Danny Kirwan, to Bob Welch, Billy Burnette, and Rick Vito, to now, the latest line-up with former Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell and Neil Finn (Split Enz, Crowded House, the Finn Brothers) filling the void.

Chances are, Buckingham’s absence won’t make a difference. As the success of tribute bands and cover bands attest, many concert-goers just want to hear the songs, to relive the moments from long ago, when life was more simple, and love something new in the air.

Only the purists will miss Buckingham, just as those who worked at Peaches missed Peter Green, Jeremy Spencer, Danny Kirwan, and Bob Welch, when Buckingham and Nicks joined Fleetwood Mac generations ago.

Contact Tony Paris regarding upcoming shows or noteworthy news, at cl.highfreqs@gmail.com. Messages sent by other means usually scatter in the wind, and, as you’ve probably realized, he never responds to “messages” received on his Facebook account.