During the past ten years, blues music has more than ever been in the forefront of today’s news. Through the past several years alone, we have seen the U.S. Congress take notice of this special art form by declaring a “Year of the Blues” because of it’s enormous impact to music in general.
A few years ago, a nation wide audience tuned in to PBS in order to watch Martin Scorsese’s epic that documented the evolution of blues music in America. In Mississippi, our governors have gotten involved starting with Governor Musgrove when he saluted this music with a proclamation called “Year of the Blues In State of Mississippi” almost ten years ago. During Barbour’s term, he and the Mississippi State Legislature created a comprehensive registry of all blues related sites and activities in the state that led to the Blues Trail. Barbour also recognized the blues in several other ways when he was governor. Now, Governor Phil Bryant is also doing the same.
Although our great state is blessed to have many talented musicians from all genres of music, if it weren’t for the blues musicians of the Mississippi Delta and the east Mississippi hill country, this music would have never existed. Blues music is the root form to all popular music in the Western Hemisphere. For without this special music, the world would have never heard of an Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, or anyone else. The significance of this music cannot be understated. The explosion that would spread all over the globe began in Clarksdale in June of 1901.
That year, Charles Peabody, from Harvard’s Peabody Museum, arrived in Coahoma County to begin archaeological excavations on several indian mounds located west of Clarksdale. After arriving in Clarksdale, Peabody hired a dozen or so men to help carry all of his equipment and other provisions from Clarksdale to the first mound about 15 miles away.
One Sunday morning on their walk to the first mound, Peabody’s workers started a “chant like” rhythm. One man would chant a few lines, then the others would answer back in a refrain. Peabody, who had some musical training, took out a piece of paper and began writing down the lyrics and also tried to make some musical transcriptions. Peabody’s notes were later published in the 1903 Journal of American Folk-Lore. His descriptions are the first we have of black music in the Mississippi Delta.
Forty years later, a second explosion would take place when two folk song collectors from the Library of Congress, Alan Lomax and John Work, traveled to the Delta with a tape recorder to record the music of the Delta that they had been hearing about, which by that point, had left the “chanting” stage and transformed into songs performed on acoustic guitars with bottleneck slides that would soon be labeled, blues music. These recordings eventually made their way onto records that were distributed worldwide providing inspiration to young musicians who in turn created another form of music from this root element that became rock music.
Has north Mississippi made a significant contribution to the U.S. and world? Absolutely. Our region has made many contributions to mankind. And, our great blues music is just the start of what we have contributed that has bettered America.
The list is very long and as a seventh generation Mississippian, I could not be any prouder of our great state, our accomplishments, and our people!
Story by, Scott Coopwood
Scott Coopwood, a seventh generation Deltan, lives in Cleveland, Mississippi, with his wife Cindy and their three children. Scott is the publisher and owner of Delta Magazine, one of the South’s leading lifestyle publications, the Delta Business Journal, the first business publication in the Mississippi Delta; and Cleveland’s weekly newspaper, The Cleveland Current .
Email Scott Coopwood at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Summer Sunset Series returns for 2013 with five concerts every Sunday in June. The concerts hosted in the Grove on the campus of the University of Mississippi are one of the highlights of summer in Lafayette County.
The series provides free concerts with rotating musical styles highlighting the diversity of talent in the community. Families and friends are invited to pack a picnic, spread a blanket, and enjoy the music under the shade of the trees in the Grove.
The concerts are from 7 to 9 p.m. each Sunday in June. The series kicks off with a evening of jazz by Michael Worthy & The Mississippians on June 2, 2013, presented by the Ford Center for the Performing Arts. The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council will host the next two concerts on June 9, featuring rockabilly with the Bays/Guyer Band and on June 16 with Jeff Calloway, known as the trombone player for the Yalobushwhackers, showcasing his original songs. Moonstone & Friends will give country flair to the series on June 23, presented by the Ford Center.
The University Museum will close out the season on June 30 with the Minor Adjustments.
Oxford’s Fat Possum Records has put out the new album, Ready to Die, by rock legends Iggy and the Stooges. It’s the follow-up to the first record ever to bear the Iggy and the Stooges logo—Raw Power—released 40 years ago, by Detroit-bred Iggy Pop and his seminal proto-punk band the Stooges.
Here’s an ad for the record by the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame group:
New owner excited for future.
On Sunday, May 19, Meghan Anderson will host her ninth and final dance recital as owner of Dixie Dance Company.
For the past nine years, she’s put her blood, sweat and tears into essentially building the business from the ground up.
Having seen countless students and families pass through the doors at Dixie Dance since 2004, it’s been a memorable ride for Anderson.
A few short months ago, she made the decision to part from the dance studio to focus more her two young girls and career as a licensed counselor.
However, it was her hope that someone from the community would ultimately step up and take over ownership of the successful business.
Fortunately for girls in and around Oxford, Dixie Dance has found a new, excited owner in Sarah Hamilton of Oxford.
While Hamilton will take over as owner in August, she’ll be around a lot this summer during classes and special camps.
Moms and dads will quickly recognize her as a fellow Dixie Dance parent herself, having sent her daughter, Taylor Grace, there for years.
Anderson is excited that her own girls will now get to continue taking dance classes in a fun, learning environment under Hamilton.
Moreover, Hamilton gets a special opportunity to own and manage the dance studio while her daughter continues as a student.
Additionally, Ole Miss fans and visitors will again get to see the Dixie Dolls & Campus Cuties on the union steps before home games this fall.
After Anderson’s recital finale this weekend, she and Hamilton will slowly begin making a transition in leadership this summer.
Both current and future owner encourage parents to sign their girls up for summer and fall classes today by calling 662-236-1032.
Last but not least, Ole Miss fans and visitors will once again get to see the Dixie Dolls & Campus Cuties on the union steps before home games this fall.
With a strong background in the arts, it’s no surprise that Oxford takes time to play host to a wide variety of artists during an event known as the Oxford Art Crawl.
“The Art Crawl is an opportunity for students and community members to come out and enjoy a free night of art, wine and food,” says Alyssa Yuen, the Membership, Events, & Communications Coordinator at the University Museum.
From January to October, on the fourth Tuesday of each month, the Oxford Arts Council features new exhibitions at the University Museum, The Powerhouse, Southside Gallery, and other locations.
The Art Crawl has featured exhibitions of famous artists such as Walter Anderson and John Alexander, and, according to Yuen, previous exhibitions have even stirred up controversy.
“Scratch and Sniff was done by an local artist here in Oxford. She took old pin-up photos and on certain areas, she would have certain smells that you literally scratch and sniff,” says Yuen.
City officials had originally banned the exhibition from being displayed due to the nature of the photography, however after pressure from people citing free press and freedom of speech issues, the exhibition went on display.
With free food and drink, attending the Art Crawl is an easy choice for some college students. The art crawl has had as many as 200 people in attendance.
Ashley Locke, a junior English major, believes the culture is the main attraction.
“One of my favorite crawls would have to be one that I went to last semester that was food themed. There were some handmade dresses that had been smoked like barbecue and they smelled delicious. It was definitely the most memorable piece of art I’ve come across,” says Locke, a junior English major.
The unique nature of the event can even draw in students from other schools.
“I think it’s really cool that there are the exhibitions opening during the event and you can go and actually talk to the artists,” says Daisy Edwards, a visiting student from Mississippi State. “There’s not really anything like this at State, so it’s been pretty cool being able to go around and look at all the art.”
The April Art Crawl served as the opening to Kathleen Robin’s new exhibition ‘Into The Flatland,’ which displays photographs she took of the Mississippi Delta.
With planning already underway for the next event on May 28, the Arts Crawl will continue to provide entertainment throughout the summer months.
For students like Locke, it’s part of what makes the art scene in Oxford so unique.
“The Art Crawl is a great way to get people more engaged in the things Oxford is producing, as well as art people from all over are producing. It’s an experience that you can’t find in many other places.” –– Joseph Katool, Integrated Marketing Major, Meek School of Journalism and New Media
With Ole Miss graduation now in the history books, Oxford enters one of those relatively serene times between semesters when locals can move around a little more comfortably, sans crowds. One event in Oxford again nudges into that pleasant little window to provide Oxford with an opportunity to chill, while supporting research funding in search of a cure for a rare pediatric neuromuscular disease.
The Oxford-Ole Miss Rotary Club presents its Second Annual Tunes & Tails fundraiser, set for Wednesday, May 15, 2013, from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Powerhouse in Oxford. For a mere $15, Oxonians get all-you-can eat crawfish and live music by the Daniel Karlish Trio, the Minor Adjustments, and Adrian Dickey. Part of the proceeds go to the Thisbe and Noah Scott Foundation and to the Rotary club.
“We plan this event as one that belongs to the local community,” explains Scott Thompson. “Time and again, Oxford and Lafayette County come through for organizations like ours, so we are happy that Tunes & Tails has turned out to be a family-friendly event that members of our community enjoy.” Read more →
My name is Emily, and I am a Southern literature snob.
Since that is all out in the open, you can only imagine how skeptical I was when I received a copy of Bill Cheng’s Southern Cross the Dog (Ecco, May 7th). Cheng was born and raised in Queens, New York, attended the very prestigious Baruch College where he received a BA in creative writing, followed by an MFA from Hunter College, both in New York City. He currently lives in Brooklyn, and Southern Cross the Dog is his first novel.
Um, that’s a LOADED book title. I read W.C. Handy’s Father of the Blues several years ago, and he tells his story of being at Tutwiler, Mississippi train station in 1903. There was a black man, playing a guitar with a knife, and he was singing about “goin’ where Southern cross the dog.” The gritty and raw primitive music made him reconsider his classic approach, and the rest is history. Handy made it famous in his song “Yellow Dog Blues,” and there is a sign in Moorehead to mark the railroad crossing “Where Southern Crosses the Dog.”
Bill Cheng is being compared to Cormac McCarthy and Flannery O’Connor, and Library Journal thinks he is a 21st Century FAULKNER. Bill Cheng is also a Chinese-American writer, born and raised in NEW YORK. You can only imagine my skepticism. It was laid on pretty thick. Read more →
Athens, Georgia’s Futurebirds are on a roll and picking up plenty of fans, and they’re taking Oxford along for the ride. Oxford audiences have grown to love the band when they fly through town, and the feeling evidently is mutual.
The band’s new video for “Serial Bowls” is on the uptempo end of their music, which they describe as “laid-back country-rock with an atmospheric, psychedelic twist.” It premiered today on the SPIN magazine website and follows the raffish band on the run, with downtown Oxford, Proud Larrys’ and its basement green room/storage area/catacomb, and the bar’s doorman Alvin part of the tour.
But enough of my yappin’. Here’s the video:
— Tad Wilkes, Nightlife & Lifestyle Editor
The opportunity to showcase the work of Mark Acetelli is something Southside Gallery has looked forward to for some time.
“We are pleased to finally have the chance to showcase Mark’s work,” says Wil Cook, manager of the gallery. “He has participated in a few of our group exhibits over the past year, but this will be the first time he will feature a full body of work.”
The artist will exhibit new works at Southside Gallery through June 1. A reception for Acetelli will be held Thursday, May 9, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Acetelli, a self taught painter, moved to Holly Springs from Los Angeles a few years ago. He has exhibited his work extensively and maintains ties to galleries in Los Angeles but has recently begun to show his work in the Mid-South also. Read more →
Julie Cantrell, bestselling author of “Into the Free” is an Oxford resident. HottyToddy.com’s Emily Gatlin recently picked Cantrell’s brain in a Q&A.
By Emily Gatlin
You published two children’s books before your first novel, Into the Free. What made you decide to take the leap?
My publishing journey has been anything but typical. Years ago, I published the children’s books after being nudged to do so from several friends. The first book, God Is With Me Through The Night, was originally written to help my young daughter feel safe to sleep in her room at night, so we could all get some rest. As my daughter’s friends would stay the night, we’d read The Emily Book before bedtime. Gradually, friends asked for copies. Stapled copies we’d printed out at home began to trickle out to different families around town, and I began to hear positive feedback about how well young children were responding to the book. Several friends suggested I should share it on a larger scale, in hopes of helping other sleep-deprived mothers. Voila! The result was a two-book deal with Zonderkidz to produce the simple, colorful set of books to help children overcome fears both day and night.
Did you always want to write a novel, or did your novel find you?
As an avid reader, sometimes I would finish reading a novel and wonder if I had it in me to accomplish writing such a thing. Because I had never taken a writing class or studied literature in college, I was and still am very insecure about my writing abilities. But, it was something I had always wanted to try. So when I was approaching my 35th birthday, I set a personal goal to write and finish a novel. I never intended to show anyone the book. I simply wanted to see if I could do it. Now if only I could be as productive with my fitness goals!
Tell us a little about your process. You and your husband operate a sustainable farm and you have children. How do you find time to write?
For me, finding time to write is the hardest part of the entire process. Not only do we have a farm and two active children, I also teach English Language Learners in kindergarten and first grade, and I am a dedicated volunteer with our literacy council. Aside from that, I love to just live life—spending time with friends and family, watching films, attending live music events, visiting with my book club, taking long walks and bike rides, playing with my pets, working in our gardens, etc. etc. Sadly, there are only so many hours in a day, and it’s never enough for me to do all I love to do. Solve that problem for me, will you? As of now, the only way I even come close to managing it all is by getting VERY little sleep—too little for human survival, but I’m still here.
Describe it? Nope. Sorry, but no words suffice. Honestly, it’s that good. Okay, if you insist, I’ll give it my best try. Picture your favorite hot guy—I’m thinking Johnny Depp—hanging out with you in your favorite fantasy location—I’m thinking some clear blue water, tropical island with no jellyfish, seaweed, or sharks, and no other people—serving you your favorite drink (anything with rum or vodka for me) before strumming his guitar and singing a song he wrote just for you. He then surprises you with happy news: you’ll spend the next decade traveling the world—no expenses spared—together! Yep. It’s kind of like that. Even better. Promise. Honestly, it’s been more than a year since I got that call, and it’s still too hard for me to believe.
You skyrocketed to the New York Times Bestseller list very quickly and quietly. Where were you when you heard the news? Did you even have time to celebrate?
I don’t remember exactly where I was when Into the Free hit the NYT list, but I do remember I was in my barn with my horse when a friend texted me to say my book had just climbed past Hunger Games on Amazon’s list. I didn’t believe her, but after she insisted she wasn’t playing a cruel joke I did go check. I sat in my living room, wearing my PJs (after showering off the barn funk), and watched in disbelief as my name topped so many accomplished authors, eventually reaching that number one spot. It was surreal. Beyond. About a month later, the book landed on the NYT and USA Today lists. Again, I was kind of numb. It spent three weeks on each, and every time someone told me, I’d get all giggly. I still do. Granted, it wasn’t 30 weeks, but three weeks of that acclaimed top spot sure was good enough for me. I’m grateful.
Living in Oxford is every writer’s dream. What influences you?
Someone recently referred to Oxford as the Motherland of Literature. That is an accurate description. I honestly don’t know if I would have ever published a novel if I hadn’t moved to this amazing literary community, where I’ve become friends with so many talented authors who helped me realize that I, too, could give it a try.
Who inspires me? Every writer who has come before and who is walking this road with me today, as well as the many literature lovers, readers, and the folks who feed our souls through Square Books. I’ve lived all across the country, in many wonderful communities, but I consider myself very lucky to call Oxford my home.
Your publisher is David C. Cook, which is technically a Christian publisher, although your book isn’t necessarily Christian fiction. How is that market changing, and why do you think it is evolving so much?
This is such an important question, and no easy one to answer. The publishing market is changing by the minute. Publishers are watching carefully and hoping they can stay ahead of the game. With e-books becoming the strongest selling format, and young adult genres as well as inspirational genres taking the top profits, traditional houses are making adjustments to follow reader interests.
I realize there’s a huge market for darker works like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Fifty Shades of Grey, but there are also millions of readers who want to close a book feeling inspired, hopeful, and, in some significant way, changed for the better. Personally, I read because I want to experience life through another lens. I want to crawl into another person’s head and live their adventures. I want to come away with a broader understanding of an opposing view, a more compassionate soul for those who struggle, and a more engaged mind to absorb every little sensory detail around me. I write for the same reasons, and I hope my readers leave my stories feeling hopeful, engaged, compassionate, and renewed—not to mention inspired.
I’m not concerned about how people label me or my work. Into the Free has been defined in many different ways, including Christian fiction, inspirational fiction, women’s fiction, historical fiction, literary fiction, contemporary fiction, Southern fiction, young adult fiction, and general fiction. I’m probably forgetting a few. Ultimately, I just hope people read it and think it’s a good story. I also hope readers learn to care about my characters and can enjoy spending time in their fictional world.
You’ve got an Into the Free sequel coming. After that, will we continue to follow Millie, or do you have other characters to introduce us to?
The sequel, When Mountains Move, is set to release in September. Once again, it’s published by the extraordinarily talented team at David C. Cook, and I’m excited to hear readers’ reactions. While I’m hoping this book can be read as a stand-alone instead of a sequel, this story does continue Millie’s journey, taking us to Colorado for the next phase of her life. There, we are introduced to a new cast of characters while still seeing the storyline continue for some of our favorite folks from Into the Free.
When I finished the final edits of Into the Free, I knew there was more to tell. I am grateful I get the chance to finish this tale, and while I could continue to write about Millie—or many of the characters that have shared her world—I have the closure I need now to walk away and start something entirely new, which is what I’m working on now.
Book Three is set in Louisiana and brings readers through a more contemporary timeline. My first novel was a love song to Mississippi, the state I now call home; the second book was a love song to Colorado, a state near and dear to my heart after living there for two years; and this third novel will be a love song to Louisiana, the state where I spent the first 24 years of my life. I’ve been fortunate to live in many communities and experience tons of different cultures across our great nation, but there really is no place quite like Louisiana. Blame it all on my roots.
Emily Gatlin spent four years as the manager of an independent bookstore in Mississippi. In 2012, she was nominated to serve on the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance Board of Directors. She is a contributor for Book Riot, Food Riot, and also writes for Invitation Oxford and Mud & Magnolias Magazine. Occasionally, she updates her own blog, A Prose For Emily.
Members of the Oak Ridge Boys stopped in Oxford on Sunday as part of their 40th anniversary concert tour. Following their performance at the Gertrude Ford Center for the Performing Arts Center on the Ole Miss Campus, three members of the group joined Ole Miss alum Blake Tartt for a private dinner at Lenora’s restaurant on The Square. Seated left to right are William Lee Golden, Blake Tartt, Joe Bonsall and Richard Sterban. Not shown is the Oak Ridge Boys’ Duane Allen.