Track 5 – “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)” by Ruby Johnson Then there’s the stripe of love-sickness where you’re not even sure it’s hurting. The pain often masquerades as energy, even optimism, yet there is always, in Johnson’s phrasing—in… by Michael Parker | Nov, 2018

A Points South essay from the North Carolina Music Issue. I remember the dB’s. I was eighteen. It was 1982. The band was still together.  I remember time and space were different then, and information moved incrementally through these media.… by Jonathan Lethem | Nov, 2018

A Points South essay from our North Carolina Music Issue. “Reina de mis . . . Reina de mis . . .” And it struck me suddenly, as I stared down at my notebook at my messy handwriting, how without… by Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas | Nov, 2018

A Points South essay from the North Carolina Music Issue. The songs I heard growing up, sung at family gatherings, and later as I documented music in recordings at Lumbee churches, ring with longing and sometimes nostalgia. They were standard… by Malinda Maynor Lowery | Nov, 2018

A poem from the North Carolina Music Issue. It’s not what you think, not a back-tease aerosol of a band head-banging to a half-cracked amp nor the flame-decal of a beater revving the gravel lot out back, hungry for a big-tiddied girl… by Nickole Brown | Nov, 2018

Track 1 – “Lights in the Valley” (Live) by Joe & Odell Thompson  They were part of a dying tradition: musicians from the community playing functional music for social dances, not to make a living but because that’s simply what… by Rhiannon Giddens | Nov, 2018

A Points South essay from the North Carolina Music Issue. As deeply in love as I was with blaring guitars, exploding amps, and metallic raving, I’d also been listening to James Taylor’s more intimate style of music since his first… by Will Blythe | Nov, 2018

Notes on the songs from our 20th Southern Music Issue Sampler featuring North Carolina. The profiles, eulogies, and essays herein boast of remarkable achievements of North Carolina’s musicians across eras and genres: from unassailable legends (High Point’s John Coltrane, Tryon’s… by Oxford American | Nov, 2018

This story was originally published on OxfordAmerican.org in 2012. 

In underground music circles, Dex is a legend. During the late ’80s and ’90s he fronted North Carolina’s fabled Flat Duo Jets. They were a raw, influential two-piece who blended surf, rockabilly, blues, hillbilly, garage, and country into a savage, one-of-a-kind slurry that paved the way for twenty-first century roots-rock duos such as The Black Keys and The White Stripes.

Track 5 – “Don’t Play That Song (You Lied)” by Ruby Johnson

Then there’s the stripe of love-sickness where you’re not even sure it’s hurting. The pain often masquerades as energy, even optimism, yet there is always, in Johnson’s phrasing—in the way she hesitates against the beat—the hint of denial and delusion, and the suggestion, in those seconds where her voice rises and cracks, of trouble ahead. It might let you sleep, but it will be with you first thing, and stay with you all day. 

A Points South essay from the North Carolina Music Issue.

I remember the dB’s. I was eighteen. It was 1982. The band was still together. 

I remember time and space were different then, and information moved incrementally through these media. Only a handful of things ever happened to everyone all at once—things like John Lennon’s murder, or Reagan’s election.

An installment in our weekly series, The By and By. 

All of the beautiful songs, the incandescent lyrics—poor translations of what we really want to say when we cry or lift our hands or close our eyes and pray. Poor translations for “God, where are you?” and “It’s all going to be okay” and “I need to feel loved right now, will you love me?” We are called to be still and know. We are called to be quiet and know. We are called to listen and know. We are called to learn and do better.

From the dressing room to the stage, Josseline Martinez’s images capture the scenes of intimacy and joy involved in the performances of Savannah-based drag troupe House of Gunt, documenting a night in the life of queens like Carmen iCandy, Xandra Ray, Treyla Trash, LaZanya Ontre, Vegina George, Edna Allan Hoe, and Influenza Mueller.

North Carolinians of all walks of life—on tobacco farms, in textile mills and furniture factories, on street corners and at house parties in the fast-growing cities, on menhaden work boats, and in the churches of blacks, whites, and Native Americans—expressed their deepest joys, sorrows, faith, and dreams through their music.

A Points South essay from our North Carolina Music Issue.

Reina de mis . . . Reina de mis . . .” And it struck me suddenly, as I stared down at my notebook at my messy handwriting, how without having given it any thought, I’d automatically jotted down Spanish lyrics in English words. “Queen of my . . . Queen of my . . .” A force of habit in a country where I am sometimes discouraged from speaking in my native tongue. 

An installment in our weekly series, The By and By.

Winding through these towns, behind buildings and homes, across fields—I am struck by the train’s intimate perspective. The very idea that I was looking into people's backyards felt voyeuristic; I could not avert my eyes. The fields seemed close enough to touch as we plowed through. I could almost feel the wind, the tall stalks of grass.

Photographer Matthew J. Brown’s project, New Developments, investigates the fluctuating story of land use in his home state of Tennessee, where agricultural regions have gradually given way to instances of retail and commercial real estate.

A poem from the North Carolina Music Issue.

It’s not what you think, not a back-tease aerosol of a band 
head-banging to a half-cracked amp nor the flame-decal of a beater 
revving the gravel lot out back, hungry for a big-tiddied girl to stumble
out cork high and bottle deep. 

Track 1 – “Lights in the Valley” (Live) by Joe & Odell Thompson 

They were part of a dying tradition: musicians from the community playing functional music for social dances, not to make a living but because that’s simply what they did. They were also among the last living links to a vast black string band tradition that used to be spread all over the South and other parts of the U.S. but had slowly disappeared until very few were left. And they were swallowed up by the wider societal notion that fiddle and banjo music was strictly a white preserve. 

A Points South essay from the North Carolina Music Issue.

The songs I heard growing up, sung at family gatherings, and later as I documented music in recordings at Lumbee churches, ring with longing and sometimes nostalgia. They were standard Protestant hymns, Southern gospel tunes, or shape-note classics, straight from the Broadman hymnal or from J. D. Sumner or the Gaither family: “I Feel Like Traveling Home,” “Hard Working Pilgrim,” “I Am His,” dozens more. The talented ones in my family often learned them not by reading the music but playing by ear, molding and adapting the arrangement and harmonies to suit our preference. Not so much the songs themselves, but the way we sing, especially the emphasis on harmony and blend—the need for every person to have a part but no one to stand out—is what demonstrates our togetherness and uniqueness.