about Norvell's Great-Niece, your Host

Roots Country and Blues artist Lonesome Liz was dubbed 'The Female Robert Johnson' by 'Southern Fried Magazine'; honoring both her sultry contralto and the Hellhound on her trail. Her performances are heavy with Southern Gothic undertones. A natural storyteller, her words shift to expose the seamy underbelly of the South, which she translates through a mystic veil of mojo; often drawing on history along with Hoodoo and other Folk traditions.

Her performances have included Drive-by Truckers artist Wes Freed, art revolutionary Molly Crabapple, Jesco the Dancing Outlaw and she's shared a stage with Timbuk III's Pat MacDonald, The Goddamn Gallows and the .357 String Band.

Featured in the upcoming Hasil Adkins documentary, 'My Blue Star' by Ron Thomas Smith, she has she has also appeared in and directed dozens of plays as well as in an award-winning independent film, 'Leon's Aspirations'. Also a playwright, she has written and produced adaptations of both 'Faust' and Sartre's 'No Exit'.

A multi-disciplinary artist, she is also a music and fine art journalist, published primarily in 'Outlaw Magazine', 'Fine Art Magazine' and GratefulWeb.net. She was the last writer to interview Mike Seeger before his death and her Levon Helm retrospective received praise from Bob Dylan himself.

She has also been tarot, astrology and mythology editor for BellaOnline.com and Suite101.com. Her writing and photography are featured in the best-selling 'Everything Ghost Hunting Guide'. She began writing in Chicago, when Slam was first emerging and her poetry as well as her lyrics have received praise from Beat Poets Charles Plymell and Robert Brannan.

Her strong, sultry voice and powerful lyrics are captivating. Though unquestionably feminine and alluring, she describes hangings, hauntings, reckonings and shoot-outs in a way that makes you think she was not only there but participated. One of Country's true Outlaw Women, Liz blasted the boundaries of Alt Country. However it's delivered, her sultry Southern vision takes you far from the expected. It's hard to resist the spell Lonesome Liz casts when her mojo's rising...

Submissions, Press, Etc: elizabeth.bissette@gmail.com

Monday, September 6, 2010

Becoming the Spider

Author Unknown

Begin with an event without which Norvell Page would never have become the Spider. It happened in Chicago, one June morning on Michigan Avenue in 1907, when he was three. At that time, the family, the last of a long line of Virginia ladies and gentlemen, lived there for what his father called 'business reasons'. Norvell didn't know what 'business' was, but knew it had something to do with Monsieur Wurlitzer and Mr. Edison, whose 'accounts' (whatever those were) his father handled.

All Norvell knew was that his kindly father, who spoke often in rhyme and told tales of elves and fairies, painted beautiful pictures and made rhymes to go with him that he then gave to Mr. Edison and Monsieur Wurlitzer. Norvell loved to watch his father work and had tried to imitate his skill in painting and rhyming, things that he would, eventually, master as well.

His father was gentle and kind, with haunting large eyes and a face lightly wrinkled from laughing. His mother was as beautiful as a china doll. Young and fashionable, a Gibson Girl with piles and piles of chestnut hair. Father called her 'peaches' because her cheeks were as pink and rosy and the ripest fruit.

Chicago was still young, but the streets bustled. Winds sometimes wafted the unpleasant odor of slaughterhouses, factories spewed black smoke from their ceilings and thin, pinched looking children black with grime from the doorways. Department stores had begun to spring up and theaters were thick in some parts. It was to one of these, for a matinee, that Norvell and his mother were walking that day. Walking unitil she suddenly disappeared.

Edison advertisment, drawn and written by Charles W. Page
Everything went black. She had been walking with her son down Michigan Avenue one minute, falling fast down empty space the next. "Who will call Mr. Edison?" Was her last thought before thought left for good. The last thing she heard was a three year old scream. "Maaaa……." The plainative wail stabbed her ear and then nothing.

Norvell only knew one thing; he was alone. His mother had disappeared. The worst nightmare of all infants – into thin air, never to return he was sure, sure sure of it. Not like the times he felt the same dread – when she went to the store, to a tea party, to call on Monsieur Wurlitzer or Mr. Edison....those times, he felt the sting of total abandonment, yes, but there were kind nurses to comfort him, to assure him she would be back. And she always was. But this time was different. This time she hadn't said goodbye. And there was no one to comfort him.

Instead a sour looking man with breath that reeked of stale tobacco and staler beer leaned down to him, asking why such a fancy looking little boy was on the street all alone. The papers had been splattered with his face for weeks and Norvell instantly recognized him as the scourge of Michigan Avenue, thief and murderer who'd mugged dozens of citizens in less than a month's time.

But he lacked the vocabulary to articulate his recognition and was too shocked and frightened to even scream. He managed to stammer that his mother had disappeared the man's eyes lit on the manhole. He climbed down, the boy thought to fetch her, but returned alone, his hands full of her jewels and holding her bag.

The small boy screamed louder as the man put him far down the ladder that led to the bottom of the manhole. Siezed with terror, he froze, unable to speak or move for at least an hour when his mother, dazed and bleeding, began to wake. The two emerged, an odd, muddy but beautifully dressed pair, as if into thin air onto the hot Chicago sidewalk. He snuggled into her lap when they at last caught a cab. It sped them home, where Father and their friends waited anxiously.

"I've asked over and over, time and again, where oh where you were, now tell, where have you been?" His father anxiously querried as he dashed down the steps.

One would never guess by looking at him that he had odd habits. Speaking in poetry was one of these. An utter bibliophile, he'd even gone so far as to have his middle name changed, officially changed, to Wordsworth and had insisted on passing the title along to his son.

Nearly thirty years later, his son kept the tradition by becoming, among more secret, more illustrious, and, sadly, more forgotten things, the most popular writer of his time. But that's jumping ahead too far.

Neither Norvell nor his mother (whose name was Estlee) ever got over that day. He walked for years with his eyes on the ground, looking for holes. In his young, infant way, he vowed to avenge the injustice of the weasely faced man one day. How he didn't quite know, but he knew he would.

The next time something catastrophic came he would save her. He grew and excelled but always, in the back of his mind, was the fear of an invisible menace, someone lurking under the street ready to reach up and snatch at the ankles of passers by to pull them under into a subterranean lair. At least that's what he saw in his nightmares.

Years went by without incident.

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