Archive | 11:55 pm

Great book on the Legendary “Blind Tom”

17 Feb


I first heard the music of Blind Tom on one of the annual Oxford American Southern Music CD collections. I was blown away and quickly went about trying to learn more about this legendary but nearly forgotten performer of the 1800s. I am pleased that Dierdre O’Connell has taken the great time and effort to put the spotlight back on Tom and, at the same time, clear up some of the many rumors that have surrounded his legend. Musical genius is a term that gets tossed around far too much these days. But in the case of Wiggins, that may be an understatement.  

Born into slavery in Georgia, Tom Wiggins died an international celebrity in New York in 1908. His life was one of the most bizarre and moving episodes in American history. Born blind and autistic-and so unable to work with other slaves-Tom was left to his own devices. He was mesmerized by the music of the family’s young daughters, and by the time he was fourTom was playing tunes on the piano.

Eventually freed from slavery, Wiggins, or “Blind Tom” as he was called, toured the country and the world playing for celebrities like Mark Twain and the Queen of England and dazzling audiences everywhere. One part genius and one part novelty act, Blind Tom embodied contradictions-a star and a freak, freed from slavery but still the property of his white guardian. His life offers a window into the culture of celebrity and racism at the turn of the twentieth century.

In this rollicking and heartrending book, O’Connell takes us through the life (and three separate deaths) of Blind Tom Wiggins, restoring to the modern reader this unusual yet quintessentially American life.

Order yours today at

Lunch at Ginny’s and Jane E’s

17 Feb


I enjoyed a pleasant lunch today at Ginny’s and Jane E’s on Anna Maria Island. This is not your typical resort area diner — that’s for sure. This is a very eclectic place that once housed the island’s IGA grocery store.


The day’s special was written on the chalk board out front — and it sounded pretty good to me. And with weather conditions of 77 and sunny, how could you not grin a bit?


Ginny’s and Jane E’s doubles as the island coffee shop in the morning hours, although they continue to serve a variety of fine coffees all day long.


Whimsical? Eclectic? Colorful? Artsy? All these adjectives apply.


My chicken salad (served with crisp lettuce and tomato on a fresh baked baguette) was nicely done, although I wished that the portion size was just a touch larger. The salad featured sliced grapes and almond slivers … the latter giving the dish some added texture. The highlight for me was the homemade Roasted Red Pepper soup — a fresh and fabulous puree of flavor straight from the garden. If this is any indication of their soup quality here, I can’t wait to try the Carrot Ginger variety! 


The Carrot Cake I ordered for dessert was good, but the cake portion was pretty dry. Maybe that was because I got stuck with a corner piece — they always tend to be lacking in moisture. Thankfully, the cream cheese frosting was really light and fluffy due to some extra whipping. Nice touch, ladies! 


All in all, this is a very cool place that we can confidently recommend. Their frittatas looked amazing and we’re told the Creme Brulee french toast is to die for. You can even build your own Chicago style hot dog complete with that funky neon green relish. But that will have to wait for another day. Stop by and visit our new friends Ginny and Jane E — just follow the footprints on the outside wall!