March 30, 2017

“Lesa is a muse, unquestionably,” Jim Dickinson, Chilton’s producer, once said. “Nearly every song on 3rd is about her. 

February 06, 2015

An exerpt from The Screening Room: Family Pictures.

“Did you know how your grandfather M.A.’s heart attack really happened?” Lennie says to me, smiling slyly and sipping her bourbon. “What do you mean?” “Exertion, bien sur. The best kind. And not with your grandmother.” Lennie lights a new cigarette and wriggles her stocking covered toes, poised to let fly another story. Cousins nudge forward in their reclining chairs. Someone moans from the pool, the next generation, and Lennie exhales a cool cloud of blue smoke.

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.

September 02, 2016

The Memphis Country Blues Festival had a shoestring start in 1966, organized by the Memphis Country Blues Society, an ad hoc group consisting of counterculture figures, musicians, and fans, including Robert Palmer, who would go on to write the seminal book Deep Blues. His daughter, Augusta Palmer, a Brooklyn filmmaker, is seeking to tell the story of the festival in a documentary called The Blues Society.

March 08, 2018

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

It was devastating to find how much I enjoy quiet. For a person whose life is consumed by music, it felt like blasphemy. The first time that I sat down to play guitar and nothing came out, I was terrified.

January 23, 2017

The Oxford American has been nominated for a 2017 National Magazine Award: Zandria F. Robinson’s essay “Listening for the Country” is a finalist in the Essays and Criticism category.

February 16, 2017

“No one can tell you why Memphis is as magical as it really is,” said artist and washboard player Jimmy Crosthwait when I interviewed him for The Blues Society, my documentary film-in-progress about the Memphis Country Blues Festivals of the late 1960s. He wasn’t talking only about the magic of a beautiful sunset, a joint, and the sound of the blues, all of which were in profound profusion at the festivals. He was remembering something more elemental, what one of the organizers, the irrepressible Randall Lyon, called the eroico furore, or poetic fury: “It was beautiful to be involved with people who had this heroic enthusiasm for what they were doing.” The Memphis Country Blues Festivals, held yearly from 1966 to 1969, changed the way Memphians—and Americans—think about the blues, and they couldn’t have happened anywhere else.

June 26, 2018

The photographs in Bryan Tarnowski’s The Wishbone aim to excavate the “fertile current of optimism” beneath the more obvious portrait of poverty in the Delta.

 

May 15, 2018

The images in Ryan Steed’s Went Out for Cigarettes span four Southern states but are occupied by a common “physical and psychological landscape” shaped by the act of travel itself. Marked by the omnipresence of roadside signs and messages scrawled on windows and walls, Steed’s project is concerned with the witness and discovery inherent in any journey.

January 18, 2018

Devin Lunsford’s All the Place You’ve Got documents the changing landscape along Corridor X, a newly completed interstate project that connects Birmingham to Memphis through a once-remote part of northwest Alabama populated by desolate towns and shuttered coal mines.

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