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Sarah Fest Brings Celebrated Artists to the Square This Weekend

sarah fest

This weekend, the Sarahfest by University of Mississippi’s Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies and Yoknapatawpha Arts Council will bring a huge dose of alternative culture to Oxford in film, photography, music and readings and panel discussions.

Tonight Marcella and Her Lovers with Rory Mills Sullivan will kick off at 10 p.m. the Lamar Lounge. Marcella Simien has shared the stage with Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Taj Mahal, Susan Coswill to name a few. She has had solo engagements at GRAMMY GPS, Memphis Crosstown Arts and ABC Local 24’s morning show to name a few. Her music can be heard here.

Then tomorrow noon at the Powerhouse Megan Abbott will interview Jon Langford during a free brown bag lecture open to the public.

Megan Abott, courtesy of www.meganabbott.com
Megan Abott, courtesy of www.meganabbott.com

Abbott said, “I’m very excited to come to Oxford, this year probably more than ever! To me, what’s great about oxford is that it’s such a hodgepodge of art and creativity.”

Megan Abbott, author of widely praised Dare Me and Fever among her works, was the John and Renée Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi for 2013-2014. She was the first non-Southerner chosen for the residency. What she loved best about Oxford when she lived there was that “everyone is always working on different stuff, and that’s truly unique.”

She said, “My best memories are probably some of the conversations I had with friends while sitting at City Grocery. The friends I made in Oxford, the great energy Oxford has – everything there is so interesting. There is a wonderful sense of community in Oxford. Everyone bounces ideas off of each other and everyone has a story to tell.”

This weekend she is looking forward to the interview with Jon Langford. “I’m so excited to hear him talk. I’m also excited about the great energy that surrounds Oxford. It’s so culturally rich,” she said.

She is currently working on the next novel and a couple of television scripts. Oxford will be a welcome “little break” for her.

John Langford, courtesy of jonlangford.de
John Langford, courtesy of jonlangford.de

Jon Langford is also ready for the interview. The Welsh-born musician and artist has been recently making art at Hatch Showprint in Country and Western Hall of Fame in Nashville after a great tour with The Mekons.

He said that as a “long-serving artist and musician with a history of social activism, (Oxford) is the place to be!”

He is planning to discuss his “continued involvement in art and music, commitment to breaking the rules and keeping it all vital and a part of a conversation that hopefully makes the world a better place without pandering to the mainstream for money.”

To Langford, Oxford is a strange place. Its past, good and bad, is never far behind, he said.

Later that night, Langford will be joining other artists at the Thacker Mountain Radio Pop-Up Show at the Rowan Oak. Kelly Hogan, Amy Ray and Tenement Halls will be there as well as Minton Sparks, crtically praised performance artist from Nashville, Tennessee.

Minton Sparks
Minton Sparks

Her spoken word/honky-tonk hybrid performances makes it hard to pin her down as anything but an artist. Sparks has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, BBC’s Bob Harris Show and WoodSong’s Old-Time Radio.

She said, “It is thrilling to be visiting in the hotbed of Southern literature on the incredible Thacker Mountain show. I’ll be going to visit Faulkner’s home for the first time. I’m really looking forward to it!”

She will be telling stories about the gold diggers in her family (she quipped, “Don’t we all have them?”) which is the title track of her newest record.

Sparks is ready to have some fun since Oxford seems like “one of the coolest small towns in the South” to her.

The festivities will then continue from the TMR at the Powerhouse starting at 10 p.m. until midnight. The attendance is $10 at the door, $5 for Thacker Mountain members there.

Sunday brings a “Day of Local Music” by The Blues Doctors, Jimbo Mathus, and the Slow Rollers at the Lamar Lounge for $5.

For the rest of events for next week, visit sarahfest.rocks.

Callie Daniels Bryant is the senior managing editor for HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at callie.daniels@hottytoddy.com.

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