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Interview with Sam Mixon, May 5, 2016

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:15 - Early musical formation

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Partial Transcript: So Sam, just tell us a little bit about where you grew up...

Segment Synopsis: Mixon talks about inheriting some of his mother's musical ability, teaching himself different instruments growing up, learning how to play by ear, and his background in classical music. He talks about how learning to play piano and read music formed the foundation for his future musical performance.

Keywords: classical music; music education; piano

00:17:14 - Evolving music capability: country music

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Partial Transcript: After I got done with the drums and piano, and as I was getting older, I started becoming attracted by other instruments.

Segment Synopsis: Mixon discusses his transition to playing the bass guitar and playing in a country music band, and he describes the components of bluegrass music. He talks about memorable travel experiences with the band and continuing to play with them during his freshman year of college at the University of Georgia.

Keywords: bass guitar; bluegrass music; country music; music genres

00:30:59 - Before coming to Athens

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Partial Transcript: You're talking about when you went to college, you're already up here at UGA.

Segment Synopsis: Mixon recalls working as a DJ at the local radio station in Washington, Georgia and selling records in his dad's discount store. He recounts his exposure to different genres of music, including soul music, through his work at the record store.

Keywords: Mixon Discount; Washington, Georgia; music genres; radio; soul music

00:41:10 - Playing in Athens bands

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Partial Transcript: Well anyway, so you move up to Athens.

Segment Synopsis: Mixon recalls his decision to postpone college, eventually enrolling at the University of Georgia and moving to Athens, where he wanted to play original music. He talks about joining the band, The Flaming Chopsticks, with Bob Fernandez, Dave Watkins, and Robby Collins, and practicing at the old Stitchcraft factory on Oconee Street. Mixon talks about his next band, Doo Blan Tant, and trying to balance music with academics.

Keywords: Doo Blan Tant; Flaming Chopsticks of Death; Stitchcraft Factory; bands

00:50:26 - Athens music scene

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Partial Transcript: And then Porn Orchard started its beginning out of those ashes.

Segment Synopsis: Mixon talks about the Athens music scene in the early 1980s, describing the creative freedom afforded to artists to create music outside of the typical genres. He also comments on the need for practice and work ethic for a band's success.

Keywords: artistic freedom; cover music; music scene

01:01:16 - Playing in Porn Orchard

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Partial Transcript: So 1985, you start playing drums again when we started Porn Orchard

Segment Synopsis: Mixon talks about forming the band Porn Orchard with musicians Curtiss Pernice (the interviewer), Ted Hafer, and Rob Collins, taking on the role of drummer, and playing in venues like the 40 Watt. He talks about having to learn new drumming techniques, and describes the physicality of performing music.

Keywords: band formation; drumming; friendship; music; technique; venues

01:15:07 - Collaborative songwriting

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Partial Transcript: We worked hard in Porn Orchard, didn't we?

Segment Synopsis: Mixon talks about the collaborative songwriting process in Porn Orchard and compares it to his experience in previous bands. He talks about having a high standard for songs that make the cut, and describes the musician culture he was a part of in Athens at the time.

Keywords: musician culture; songwriting

01:21:21 - Touring with Porn Orchard, Sunshine Fix

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Partial Transcript: We did a lot of touring, too.

Segment Synopsis: Mixon talks about touring with Porn Orchard on the informal venue circuit along the East Coast and some cities in the midwest. He recalls memorable tour moments and his impression of the Black Cat club in Washington D.C. He talks about the driving experience he has accrued through his touring.

Keywords: Black Cat club; VFW hall; east coast; music tour

01:34:11 - Memories of September 11, 2001

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Partial Transcript: My relationship with the World Trade Center and Sunshine Fix is a lot different.

Segment Synopsis: Mixon recalls his memories of September 11, 2001 while he was on tour with Sunshine Fix in Washington, D.C. He recalls playing in New York in the days following the attack, the crowd's response at the venues they played, and what he remembers of the news coverage of the event.

Keywords: 9/11; September 11; Sunshine Fix; World Trade Center; music tour

01:42:15 - Playing with Vic Chesnutt

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Partial Transcript: But around the same time we were playing with Vic too.

Segment Synopsis: Mixon talks about how he and Pernice started playing with Vic Chesnutt in addition to doing pre-production for his Silver Lake record. Mixon also recalls how vocals on the record shifted from a from a three-part harmony to a call-and-response format.

Keywords: Silver Lake record; Vic Chesnutt; folk music; harmony

01:49:26 - Vic Chesnutt as a songwriter

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Partial Transcript: Vic was a really musical guy, wasn't he?

Segment Synopsis: Mixon talks about Vic Chesnutt's musicality and songwriting abilities, and describes the difference between prose-writing versus songwriting in terms of economy of language. Mixon recalls Chesnutt's openness and experimentation during the songwriting process.

Keywords: music theory; musicality; songwriting

02:04:32 - Music as a conversation

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Partial Transcript: Because that's part of the fun of music to me.

Segment Synopsis: Mixon discusses how music is a conversation that takes shape between musicians as they play. He recalls his childhood best friend with whom he was in a band and the different paths their lives took in relation to music.

Keywords: music performance; perfect pitch