An installment in John T. Edge’s column, Local Fare. She was a genius, I’ve come to recognize, at recasting defeats as glorious spectacles. Faced with small-town ignorance, fearful of what small-town boredom might wrest from her, she did her best… by John T. Edge | Sep, 2019

A feature essay from the Spring 2020 issue. I moved to Texas in 2017 and returned often to Dilley. When I would chat with residents—after a city council meeting, at the nail salon, before a cook-off—they’d ask if I was… by Emily Gogolak | Mar, 2020

A feature essay from the Spring 2020 issue. I wasn’t sure how to explain to a rising high-school junior why I’d followed her and her classmates to Belize. I’d met Pierre-Floyd a few months before during a tour of Frederick… by Casey Parks | Mar, 2020

A short story from the Spring 2020 issue I tell him goodbye and go wander around the beauty section in Dillard’s. I find the perfume like what I’m wearing on display and I spray some more on. I find a… by Ashleigh Bryant Phillips | Feb, 2020

A feature essay from the Spring 2020 issue. History is, in part, the memories we choose to protect and reinforce, to ensure their longevity and influence. In Thibodaux’s protected memory, sugarcane has endured, plantations have endured, Confederate heroes have endured—but… by Rosemary Westwood | Mar, 2020

A Points South essay from the Spring 2020 issue When we weren’t whizzing through intersections, I was trying to read road signs, thinking that their letters, dimly lit by our headlights, would give me some kind of orientation on this… by Malinda Maynor Lowery | Mar, 2020

A featured short story from the Spring 2020 issue. She stopped short. The dogs would have passed without noticing her, but Seth had to give them a parting yap. In a second they wheeled around and came straight at her,… by Ben Fountain | Mar, 2020

 A Letter from the Editor, Spring 2020. Over the years, I have come to admire a certain kind of story that the Oxford American, as a quarterly magazine untethered from the demands of a rapid news cycle, is especially well… by Eliza Borné | Mar, 2020

We would like to hear from you.  The magazine will begin publishing letters to the editor in the fall issue and going forward. If you would like to respond to a story published in the magazine, we welcome your letter. by Oxford American | Jun, 2019

November 20, 2018

Track 15 – “Holy Ghost, Unchain My Name” by Elizabeth Cotten

Mentor to Alice Gerrard, beacon to all of us North Carolina folkie wannabes, revered by those of us with any musical knowledge, and—music’s highest compliment—sung by many of us who don’t know how we know the words. This Chapel Hill woman is the very heart of what we call Piedmont blues. 

November 19, 2019

Track 3 – “Down to the Graveyard” by Moon Pie 

In clubs and bars they played ninety-minute shows, at the least, filled with three- to four-minute narratives about living in a town and wanting to get out, being away from home and wanting to return, hating a job, being unemployed and willing to work for the worst boss ever. Unrequited love. Main Street drag racing. Bad, bad radio station formats. Moon Pie was a mix of Springsteen, the Modern Lovers, Hank Williams, and the Blasters. Some years later I saw Jason and the Scorchers—a band I love—and thought, Moon Pie, back in the day.

November 20, 2018

Track 21 – “Me Oh My” by The Honeycutters

If I’d been asked, I might’ve said I was held hostage, and truthfully I kind of was. Platt sang and her voice sank its claws into me and I didn’t move. One song bled into the next and I sat there until she was finished. I would’ve sat there for days if she’d kept singing. When the show was over, I pulled out what little money was in my wallet and shoved those crumpled bills in a jar by the stage for the only album the Honeycutters had at the time, a record called Irene. I played that record on a loop for months. 

November 19, 2019

Track 5 – “Bad Case of the Blues” by Linda Martell 

“Bad Case of the Blues” shouldn’t be compelling, but it is—because of Martell, the way she guides, colors, and shades the song. She infuses it with the dissonance of self-knowledge, even as she takes her problems home to Mama in the country and deprecatingly calls herself “Miss Smarty.” The track shares a title with torch songs by greats Dinah Washington and Dusty Springfield and seems to warn of the perils of holding down-home values in the big city.

November 20, 2018

Track 22 – “Somebody Else’s World” by Sun Ra & His Arkestra FEAT. June Tyson 

Sun Ra—master jazz pianist, composer, visionary, and astral traveler—is why many jazz listeners entered the Space Age before there was a Space Age. And June Tyson gives vibrational birth to Sun Ra’s visions. 

November 19, 2019

Track 9 – “Paradise” by Charlie McAlister

It might sound like kitchen-sink music at first, seemingly made with whatever junk was lying around and played by whoever happened to be there. It might seem off, even uncomfortably so. But listen closer. The warble of stretched tape, the loose tuning, the home-recorded hiss. It’s all a disguise. At heart, lots of his catalog is strange, charmed pop music, wry without being goofy, ineffably simple, personal and universal at the same time.

November 20, 2018

Track 20 – “Mill Mother’s Lament” by Ella May Wiggins; Performed by Shannon Whitworth

Ella had grown up in the Smoky Mountains, first on farms and then in lumber camps, where she and her mother took in laundry while singing old mountain ballads. According to accounts, Ella’s singing voice was deep and seasoned with pain, and her lyrics reflected the plainspoken style of her speech. 

November 19, 2019

Track 17 – “My Father Is a Witness, Oh, Bless God” by the Plantation Echoes

Established in early 1933, the Plantation Echoes were made up of fifty Gullah field hands who enjoyed singing spirituals, most dating back to slavery. A handful of the singers were, in fact, former slaves themselves. Heyward’s praise of the Plantation Echoes was effusive. “The entertainment is not only highly unique but enlightening,” he later remarked. “There is an electrifying quality to the ‘shouting’ and the performers’ ability to shift from one time to another in perfect unison is a revelation.” 

November 20, 2018

Track 11 – “You Don’t Come See Me Anymore” by Malcolm Holcombe

This is the second time I’ve heard him play in the past few months and it’s always the same: nobody knows who Malcolm Holcombe is, except those who do. And those who know really know. You listen to him and you become evangelical about his music, this scarecrow of a man folded over his Martin guitar. 

November 19, 2019

Track 21 – “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” by Alice Wine

“I know a different echo to that,” she said, and proceeded to sing a version of “Hold On,” delivered without accompaniment, in hushed intonations, the refrain “keep your hand on the plow, hold on” replaced, after one verse, by words that are not found in any transcriptions of the song previously cataloged by folklorists: “keep your eyes on the prize, hold on.” 

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