Right now we’re gearing up for the insanity and chaos of the ninth annual Gonerfest. The action starts next Thursday, so you still have plenty of time to prepare. Let’s enjoy a highly informative interview between two GF9 performers: Jack Oblivian & Rev. John Wilkins. You can find this interview and more in the latest issuse of Don’t Look.
The Reverend John Wilkins is a North Mississippi Hills Bluesman who has been a pastor at his church in Mississippi for the past 27 years. Rev Wilkins has played Gonerfest 8 and will be closing the ceremonies out for Gonerfest 9. Jack Oblivian is local front man of Jack O & The Tennessee Tearjerkers as well as playing in Gonerfest 9 Thursday night headliner The Oblivians. Jack has played too many Gonerfests to remember.
JO: Is it true, in younger days of your life, that you were on a pro-boxing team with past Mayor of Memphis Willie Herenton?
RW:Yeah, we used to box all the time. Boxing back in ‘56, downtown. On Beale street and stuff like that.
JO: In recent interviews you have talked about riding motorcycles and the King’s Riders motorcycle club. Is it true that once a year the King’s Riders have a meeting and you will do a blessing for the motorcycles?
RW: Yes. We meet at my church, outside for the blessing. We have a whole group of people show up. We have… like a Sunday mass, in fact we just had one on a Sunday in July. All the people came up and I blessed the bikes.
JO: In 1965 you played guitar on a record by O.V. Wright, the song ‘You’re Gonna Make Me Cry’. What was it like to be in the room, and eventually on record, with O.V. Wright?
RW: Oh man, it was great. See, we all hung out all the time at that time also. We knew one another personally. I can’t remember exactly where we recorded it, Stax or Sun, you know, it was so long ago. But, you know, the studios at that time were doing their thing and we were doing our thing. I was back and forth from studios because we were also doing Gospel at the time. OV was a lifelong friend.
JO: You are the pastor at Hunter’s Chapel Church in Tate County, MS?
RW: Yes, in Como, Mississippi. 27 years.
JO: What is your favorite Bar- B-Q place to eat in the Memphis area?
RW: (laughs)… Whenever I come to Memphis, I got two places I gotta go. A&R BBQ (1802 Elvis Presley Blvd ) and Big Bill’s BBQ (4101 Elvis Presley Blvd). The guy who used to work at A&R runs Big Bill’s now.
The Reverend John Wilkins will be performing at the Gazebo at Cooper & Young Sunday afternoon September 30th at 4pm. The Oblivians are playing Thursday night September 27th as the headlining act. Expect them to hit the stage late.