When new author Rock Killough takes centerstage at Page and Palette (32 S. Section St., Fairhope) on Aug. 21, 2 p.m., it won’t be his first time in the spotlight. Though he’ll be reading excerpts from his book “Rock Killough’s Front Porch Stories,” his previous stage focus has been courtesy of his songwriting skills.
“I spent about 55 to 60 years writing songs,” the 80-year-old Killough said. His website touted artists like Randy Travis, Brenda Lee, Hank Williams Jr. and Sammy Kershaw as using Killough’s work.
Recent years’ withdrawal from the road’s hard miles found Killough on the porch of his Northeast Alabama cabin more often, watching dawns and sunsets with his dog and letting his mind wander. He frequently recorded the musings, either by voice or hand, then transferred them to social media. One member of his growing fan base, the widow of NFL coach Bum Phillips, contacted Killough and broached the idea of publication.
“I’m way beyond going down the street and knocking on doors like I was when I was young looking for publishers for my songs,” Killough said. After he waved off her suggestion, Phillips took initiative. A publisher phoned Killough shortly thereafter and it resulted in the book being published in late 2021.
“A lot of it is about finding peace,” Killough said of the subject material. “There’s so much trouble out here in the world today.”
He noted his more reflective and spiritual turn in his later years, but Killough disavowed any perception of evangelizing.
“I’m not trying to recruit anybody,” Killough said. “I’m not after anybody or seeking anything.”
There’s no standard size to the entries. Some of his book’s pieces are a “couple of three paragraphs,” while Killough said others number around 5,000 words. Although some works wax philosophical, others are loaded with funny stories from his songwriter’s life, like when a “big ol’ Palmetto bug” flew down Killough’s overalls during an outdoor performance.
This is far from Killough’s first unexpected directional change. In the era of compulsory military service, he beat Uncle Sam to the punch with a short military stint out of high school, then moved on to Auburn University where he played with a working musical ensemble.
“We were doing well, playing stuff like ‘My Girl’ and Jimmy Reeves, and then the Beatles hit,” Killough said. Everyone wanted a change in musical direction. “It took me a long time to get into the Beatles, so I just said, ‘Y’all go on and do that.’”
It was then he realized guitarists far outnumbered songwriters. By the mid-1970s, Killough found himself on “Austin City Limits” with other songwriters like Floyd Tillman and Willie Nelson. He knows Baldwin County, too, since Killough said this will be his 35th year at the Frank Brown Songwriter’s Festival in Orange Beach.
Guitarist Mac Walter appears with Killough at Page and Palette, taking up some slack for time’s effect on the octogenarian’s fingers. He’ll accompany the songsmith as Killough alternates reading book excerpts with musical performances. The author estimated the show to last 35 to 40 minutes.
For more information on the appearance, go to pageandpalette.com.
Horns blow in for MOJO
The Mystic Order of the Jazz Obsessed (MOJO) continues their climb out of the pandemic doldrums. Mostly dormant in 2020 and 2021, they have since resumed monthly shows at Club 601 @ The Elks (601 State St.) and slowly built regular attendance toward pre-COVID-19 standards. On Aug. 22 at 6:30 p.m., trumpeter Chip Herrington will lead a quintet of pianist Gino Rosaria, saxophonist/flutist Larry Carter, bassist David Webb and drummer David White onto the stage for an evening of intimate jazz in the Azalea City’s most venerated jazz venue.
Attendance has encouraged MOJO to book shows well into 2023. They celebrate their 21st anniversary next month with a nod to Stevie Wonder.
Entrance is $15, $10 for MOJO members. A cash bar and food service are available.
For more information, go to mojojazz.org.
Vocal arts atop the Hill
Mobile Vocal Arts, a choral society for residents of Mobile and Baldwin counties that has given performances in Carnegie Hall and in European capitals, is set to begin its 24th season. Interested parties are asked to come to the second-floor rehearsal room of Spring Hill College’s Eichold Fine Arts Building on Aug. 22 at 7 p.m. Rehearsals are 90 minutes.
The group presents approximately four to five concerts in their 10-month season, which runs from late August to late June.
For more information, contact Terry D. Maddox at 251-406-1454 or [email protected] com.
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