In meeting Wendell Culbreath one wonders where this name THE Dubber comes from. This man is real; in this interview, there is no veneer of glamour or self promotion as one expects in most performers who have succeeded on stage and in recordings as well as he has. His story gives us reason to know, why, when he walked into the office before this interview, he could have been anybody, including your next-door neighbor.
This writer met THE Dubber on his first trip to Edgefield, but the memory was not of him but of the poet who accompanied him that day (SilDag is his name and he will be on the program with THE Dub tomorrow at the library – 6:00 p.m. the doors open). SilDag had that feel of a performer and he was remembered. What about Wendell?
Well, once he told in the interview of spending almost all his summers in Edgefield with grandparents, from the time he could leave his parents in D.C. where he grew up until he was out working on his career, and that Edgefield in the summers was one of the best things that could have happened to him in his youth, it came clear that, “He is one of us.”
Culbreath says that he knew, every summer, as school ended, that his parents would say, “All right, time to go to Edgefield to grandmothers’.”
The grandparents are (now deceased): Samuel and Annie Williams; Sam (a former Deputy Sheriff) and Mamie Ross.
Wendell writes his own lyrics and performs, usually, as a one-man band. He explains his music as a “hybrid of Reggae, Blues and Jazz.” And another way to speak of him is “Folk singer.” “A single songwriter,” as he calls it, “who speaks on social and political issues.”
Culbreath, THE Dubber, comes to Edgefield through a grant from S.C. Arts Commission (called “Horizon Edgefield Underserved”) and he brings with him two young people who play strings. They accepted his invitation to join him in concert. Sarah Land, violinist, and Ryan Knott, cellist, both play with the Greenville and Aiken Symphonies and the S.C. Philharmonic Orchestra.
Wendell Culbreath started with the guitar on his own, no real training but his own initiative to teach himself. He developed his talent and spent 10 years in Long Beach, California, nurturing that talent. There he made contact with the “Sublimes,” and their drummer, Marshall Goodman, has remained a colleague who works with him on recordings.
He has traveled abroad, in the UK and France as THE Dubber, and he will be in small town, America –Edgefield — tomorrow night (May 25, at the Edgefield County Library on the Square, at 6:00). He actually spent three years living here with an aunt, Lizzie Williams, before moving on to Columbia, where he is now.
South Carolina and Edgefield are in his blood and it shows in his presence. He spoke of billing the music in his first performance here as “the Dirty South.” Afraid that many misconstrued the meaning, he noted that “dirty south” is a term of endearment. That is all he had to say. A Southerner knows.
Edgefield dirt has to be still on his shoes – so he has gotta’ be good!