We both loved Gary Stewart, and we both loved Grace. My wife Grace’s father was a big man. He wasn’t much more than six feet tall, but I think folks thought of him as taller because he carried himself large.… by David Ramsey | Sep, 2017

A story by Jesmyn Ward, the third and final excerpt from her forthcoming novel  Sing, Unburied, Sing. The officer is young, young as me, young as Michael. He’s skinny and his hat seems too big for him, and when he… by Jesmyn Ward | Sep, 2017

Sketches of Tennessee. From the time I was about ten years old, my mother and I put in our time by visiting with Irma for an hour or two every day. We’d bring her the Enquirer and Star and try to cheer her up… by Danielle Chapman | Sep, 2017

Traces of Cormac McCarthy’s Knoxville.  McCarthy’s books came to me as transformative things so often do: several-times borrowed. It was during my junior year of college, my first semester back home in Colorado after a failed track scholarship out of state.… by Noah Gallagher Shannon | Sep, 2017

An installment in Chris Offutt’s Omnivore column, Cooking with Chris.  Nothing is as powerful as the extraordinary jolt of a teenager’s first love. It’s like seeing the world after a double-cataract surgery. Life is suddenly exquisite. Each leaf becomes the bearer… by Chris Offutt | Sep, 2017

Take Sturgill Simpson. Sturgill (can I call you Sturgill?) is a Kentucky rascal, born in the heart of the Appalachian mountains. Jackson—population around twenty-one hundred. He comes from a family of coal miners. He was in the Navy. He worked… by Leesa Cross-Smith | Nov, 2017

A Kentucky Music Issue web-exclusive liner note.  Raised in Sandy Hook, Kentucky, Whitley grew up admiring country greats Lefty Frizzell and George Jones, whose vocal styles he imitated as a young musician. Whitley’s uncanny talent for mimicry is something of a… by Alex Taylor | Nov, 2017

A Kentucky Music Issue web-exclusive liner note.  Jim Ford’s lone album is a twenty-eight minute, mystical celebration of the kid that got away—a hazy, bourbon-and-cocaine-fueled-funk-&-soul-honky-tonk cousin to Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run. by Jesse Donaldson | Nov, 2017

Notes on the songs from our 19th Southern Music Issue CD featuring Kentucky. This faculty, to be attuned to one’s surroundings and the ways in which they’re unique, to be rooted in the local, to be of a certain place—no matter if… by Oxford American | Nov, 2017

Jonathan Bernstein

Jonathan Bernstein is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Guardian, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, American Songwriter and the Village Voice. He lives in Brooklyn. 

September 05, 2017

“They were brothers in music,” Ursula Covay said. “They wrote together, hung out together, traveled together, fought together, loved together, and made deals together.” That’s the word most of the children of the Soul Clan use today to describe their fathers’ bond. Brothers.

October 18, 2016

A conversation with Guy Clark biographer Tamara Saviano.

“Guy was telling me for at least a year and a half before he died that he would not be here when the book came out.”

February 02, 2016

Dave Prater played a quietly essential role in Sam & Dave, and it takes only a slightly closer listen to their discography to hear the vital contributions of the duo’s soft-spoken half.

February 02, 2016

From the beginning of Sam & Dave’s career, Sam’s otherworldly high tenor overshadowed Dave’s low harmony, and for a variety of reasons—some personal, some practical, some musical—the history of the duo has been rewritten in the nearly thirty years since Prater’s death so as to diminish Dave’s contributions.

November 16, 2015

Peter Guralnick on his new book, the nature of biography, and the endless complexities of Sam Phillips.

June 04, 2012
Whether it was with The Band or, in the last decade of his life, the Levon Helm Band, Helm was always happy out of the spotlight, off to the side and out of the way, grinning, laughing, dancing, and drumming away behind his kit. American Son shows off a different Levon: Levon as front man, star, singer.
July 07, 2012
The Bravest Man In The Universe, Bobby Womack’s first album of original material since 1994, is already being heralded as a late-career triumph, a classic comeback tale of aging soul singer being rejuvenated by a younger producer.
August 20, 2012
Like many of Foster’s compositions, “Oh! Susanna” was a black-face minstrel song. It was his breakthrough hit as a songwriter, a song that surely would have been a number one single if such a measurement had existed in the mid-nineteenth-century. The song quickly spread all over the country through its many publications and permutations on sheet music and as traveling minstrel troupes all over the country thrilled crowds with the tale of long-distance, lost, confused love, others began adapting Foster’s irresistible melody for their own purposes.
September 25, 2012
So it was a summer night in Manhattan, and the City Winery, an upscale sit-down club that seats no more than three hundred, was hardly full. Moore sang the first verse from backstage, as if his tenor, now fragile and weathered but still unmistakably, shockingly powerful, was the legend, not Moore himself. When he finally did take the stage, the seventy-six-year-old took his time snatching the show back from his voice, from the idea of another era, a time long past.
October 09, 2012
He began writing a sketch of an idea for a novel, to try something different. He wanted the novel to be a fictionalized account of a very rough period of his life in the early nineties, and he knew the title would be Slam Dancing In The Pews, the name of a forgotten song he once wrote for a forgotten band called Virgil Kane. A songwriter at heart, Hood started interspersing song lyrics in between chapters of the book, but predictably, the songs quickly became more central. He decided to abandon the book altogether.
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