Freelancer of the Month: Larry Morrisey


Larry Morrisey evangelizes musicians who don't fit a mold. His story earlier this year about Delta bluesman Bill Abel, a painter as well as a musician, depicted a side character who usually plays small venues. That's Morrisey's favorite kind of story.

"I can't just write about anybody," he says. "It has to be compelling. It has to be someone I want to know more about."

Musician, writer and arts administrator Larry Morrisey is the Jackson Free Press Freelancer of the Month. Most recently he wrote a JFP feature about Paul Collins. He's working on a story now about a young, Memphis-based roots musician.

About four years ago, he proposed writing music stories for the JFP with an angle on folk music and traditional artists. "A lot of people were writing about rock and hip-hop in the Jackson Free Press," he says. He wanted to find the blues and gospel musicians. "My pitch was, this is the kind of stuff I can write."

Morrisey knows what he is talking about. He has a bachelor's degree in music from Webster University (in his hometown of St. Louis, Mo.) and a master's degree in folk studies from Western Kentucky University. After graduate school, Morrisey took a job in 1998 at the Mississippi Arts Commission as folk arts director. He is still with MAC, now as grants programs director.

Away from his day job, Morrisey plays the drums with the local band Hypnotic Chickens. He also plays back-up for Gearshifter, the stage name of Jackson-based truck driver and musician Louis Arzo Youngblood. He plays at Ole Tavern, Underground 119 and Sam's Lounge. He respects the acts Ole Tavern has booked lately, and he likes playing at Sam's, where he says different types of people you don't expect to see together create a friendly audience.

"Nobody hassles you," he says.

Morrisey, who is married and has two sons, turns 43 today. If you see him out and around today, wish him a happy birthday. Then make plans to see him play the blues with Louis "Gearshifter" Youngblood at 9 p.m. Friday at Underground 119.


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