For the sake of openness, transparency, and shared knowledge, I have published this ongoing blog, which will be updated every week for the foreseeable future. Mistakes will be made, so I apologize in advance, and I encourage you to add, expand, fix, or re-shape the text by using either the feedback mechanism on the blog or by emailing me at: leftofthedialmag@hotmail.com. Please used the heading  “POW article.”

davidpressDavid Ensminger is a Humanities, Folklore, and English Instructor at Lee College in Baytown, TX. As a writer covering music, art, and contemporary issues, he has authored three books — Visual Vitriol: The Street Art and Subcultures of the Punk and Hardcore Generations (Univ. Press of Mississippi), co-authored Mojo Hand (Univ. of Texas Press), a biography of bluesman Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Left of the Dial: Conversations with Punk Icons (PM Press) — and has contributed to Popmatters, Maximum Rock’n’Roll, Houston Press, Postmodern Culture, Art in Print, M/C Journal, Journal of Popular Music Studies, Liminalities, Artcore, and others. As a digital archivist and blogger, he maintains 25 blogs documenting vernacular culture. Throughout his career, his articles and blogs have focused on the often overlooked but fecund, ongoing, and nuanced contributions of women, African Americans, Hispanics, queers and lesbians, and Deaf/Hard of Hearing communities upon the legacy, history, and modern dynamics of punk. In 2012, he released The Punk and Indie Compendium, an App published by BiblioBoard (featured on iTunes), featuring 250 entries, including music, photography, interviews, and ephemera from 1988-2012. His photographs have been featured in his books, blogs, and articles as well. Lastly, as a drummer, singer, and curator of traveling Visual Vitriol poster exhibitions, he has toured American and Western Europe since 2002.

Abstract in Process: With over 400,000 Axis troops in internment camps throughout most American states and Canada, the region hosted an influx of short-term, temporary, and forced immigrants on an unprecedented scale. Each detention site became a distinct pop-up cultural microcosm – an Italy, Germany, and Japan in exile – that featured both elite high culture activities, like symphonies and romantic drama, and resilient folk art practices as well. Due to overall American tolerance and generosity, in most cases, internees could revel in a sense of pride, nostalgia, and heritage. Overt Nazism was discouraged but occasionally thrived, undeterred by armed guards and razor wire, which sometimes did not even exist.

Many camp routines did reflect rigid military mores and hierarchies, both Axis and American, but work environments for rank’n’file enlisted men POWs (officers were not required to work), which took place in branch camps situated in rural communities, from rice paddies and East Texas ranches to Midwest orchards and asparagus canning factories, tended to offer more flexibility and freedom, as asserts Nick Clemenza too, a guard stationed in New Mexico “at the Bogle farm, where American soldiers would tell a prisoner needing discipline that he would have to go back to the base camp in Roswell. This worked as discipline because the prisoners preferred the freedom of the Bogle farm.”

These opportunities, which offered kinesic and proximal immersion in workaday American life, fostered amiable perspectives towards former enemies. Such newfound relationships are evidenced in the folk production of goods, from paintings and cabinetry to jewelry, models, and toys, that were handcrafted and gifted, bartered, traded, or sold to locals (the collection of Robert Henderson features a receipt for a POW handicraft valued at $6.00 in 1943, a rare paper trail of evidence), cementing long-lasting relationships and receptive attitudes towards democratic values and systems. Such aspects  are chronicled in letters, visitations, and the immigration of former POWs back to America, the country of their detainment.

Editor David Ensminger’s Mavericks of Sound is available from Rowman and Littlefield on Sept. 16th!

Writer David Ensminger's new book "Mavericks of Sound" released by Rowman and Littlefield

In Mavericks of Sound: Conversations with the Artists Who Shaped Indie and Roots Music, music scholar David Ensminger offers a collection of vivid and compelling interviews with legendary roots rock and indie artists who bucked mainstream trends and have remained resilient in the face of enormous shifts in the music world. As the success of the concerts at Austin City Limits have revealed, the fan bases and crowds for indie and roots music often blur and overlap. In Mavericks of Sound, Ensminger brings to light the highways and byways trod by these music icons over the course of their careers and the ways in which their music-making has been affected by, and influenced, the burgeoning indie and roots music movements.

Ranging from seminal modern singer-songwriters to rockabilly renegades and indie rockers, Mavericks of Sound features a set of broad, penetrating, and insightful conversations imbued with a sense of musical history and heritage. Ensminger captures firsthand accounts from singer songwriters like Texas Country musician Tom Russell and first wave indie artist and folk rocker Peter Case; rockabilly artists Junior Brown and the Reverend Horton Heat; American indie rock icons such as 11th Dream Day’s Janet Bean, Pere Ubu’s Dave Thomas, Apples in Stereo’s Robert Schneider, and Swans members Michael Gira and Jarboe; English and New Zealand figures such as folk legend Richard Thompson, The Clean’s David Kilgour and The Waterboys’ Mike Scott; and folk, country and rock legends such as Merle Haggard, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Ralph Stanley, Neko Case, and Yo La Tengo.

Mavericks of Sound is the perfect work for contemporary indie, roots, Americana, country, and folk music fans who want to understand the unique artistry and unbound passion behind America’s musical innovators that readily broke and remolded rules.


One response

  1. excellent venture. If you haven’t already I recommend you look at the website for the New Brunswick Internment Camp Museum in Canada. nbinternmentcampmuseum.ca The gallery section has quite a few interesting WWII prisoner crafts. T

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