March 13, 2018

A Points South essay from the 100th issue. 

New Orleans loves to celebrate and romanticize its French and Spanish influences. But so much of the city’s culture—the food, the music, the dance, Mardi Gras itself—is indebted to the Caribbean. New Orleans has reaped the benefits of an exported culture, while leaving Haiti behind.

September 04, 2018

An installment in John T. Edge’s Points South column, Local Fare.

Time at Helen’s raises questions, small and large. Other than great barbecue, and my respect and affection for the woman who owns the restaurant, what calls me to Brownsville? And, more broadly, what drives middle-class Southerners to seek pleasure and solace in places often referred to as joints and shacks?

November 20, 2018

A Points South essay from the North Carolina Music Issue. 

Even with all the influences on his style and songs—Fred Miller, Blind Boy Fuller, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Sonny Terry, and Brownie McGhee, to name some—Henry had a large collection of originals, could improvise effortlessly (and endlessly) with his talking blues, and never seemed to tire of stories connecting the dots of his life as a fisherman, preacher, musician, and observer of the world. He could glide easily from a voice of defiance to a lonesome wail of abandonment and isolation, fusing the occupational calls of menhaden singers with the eternal sacred pleas for help and ease of pain.

September 03, 2019

A Points South essay from the Fall 2019 issue

Once, in mixed company, another friend and I mentioned how pervasive lynching imagery was. A white friend admitted that she had never seen a single photo. I was shocked, but not surprised. A lynching was a warning. She didn’t need to be warned.

November 19, 2019

A Points South essay from the South Carolina Music Issue.

Esquerita and Little Richard stayed in touch as friends, collaborators, and rivals until 1986, when Little Richard was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Esquerita died, a victim of AIDS who was buried in an unmarked grave on Hart Island, New York. Their careers had mirrored each other over rock & roll’s first thirty years, playing out the dualities of the sacred and the profane, music and money, and God and the Voola, what Esquerita called his mojo, the spirit that motivated his music. 

September 04, 2013
On a Monday morning in early March, after the annual Shrine circus has wrapped up a three-day run, James Plunkett is trying to go home. It’s cold and windy with a scent of manure in the air—the calling card of eight tigers, two bears, two camels, one elephant, and about a dozen each of horses and dogs.
December 18, 2013

One Sunday night a month, around 8:30 P.M., or whenever the long, narrow, art-bedecked space of Canvas Lounge finally fills with revelers, the strains of “Let There Be Praise,” sung by Sandi Patty, the ’80s- and early ’90s-ruling inspirational star with two first names, come through the P.A. With the final perky, theatrical note still ringing in the air, the bar’s proprietor, playing the part of Pastor Peter in plaid polyester shorts hiked up to his ribcage and anchored there by a wide white belt, grabs a microphone from the deejay booth and introduces the Dickson Chicks: Marlene, Carlene, and Darlene.

October 02, 2014

I had less than a minute, and King was tired. He had no need to be messing around with someone like me, there was nothing I could give him, but he was gracious and I was grateful for the chance to shake his hand.

July 28, 2015

I understood X must have wanted to think she was not like the other women who thought her boyfriend was in love with them. Wanted to think she had some upper hand on the reality of the situation. Maybe she did.

March 22, 2017

Before the “outlaws” were a movement, I knew Kristofferson was trouble but honorable in his insurrection.