An installment of Chris Offutt’s Omnivore column, Cooking with Chris.  Big Bad Breakfast’s official slogan is “Lard have Mercy,” and I own one of their souvenir t-shirts. Recently I began to consider the words more carefully. Could it be sacrilegious? How… by Chris Offutt | Sep, 2018

An installment in John T. Edge's Points South column, Local Fare. When I began reading and thinking about Dixie Vodka, I didn’t want to gallop toward a conclusion. I aimed to plod, to listen, to map the paper trail of… by John T. Edge | Jun, 2018

A short story from the Fall 2018 issue. He saw no need to damn a place just on the face of it; he figured there must be a flower blooming somewhere in West Memphis, though he had seen no sign… by David Wesley Williams | Sep, 2018

A feature essay from the Fall 2018 issue. Why was my great-great-grandfather always referred to as “Robert Singleton, the Civil War veteran who lost his leg at Murfreesboro, then went on to become Clerk of the County Court” rather than… by Danielle Chapman | Sep, 2018

 A Letter from the Editor, Fall 2018. I was struck by a phrase written by Jelani Cobb for the New Yorker, which characterized our former president as “a man who grasps history as the living context of our lives.” This… by Eliza Borné | Sep, 2018

A Points South essay from the Fall 2018 issue For the past year, five Vanderbilt researchers and historians, myself included, have collected oral histories related to this site—a Union fort largely built by enslaved and free African Americans, many of… by Kelsey Norris | Sep, 2018

A featured short story from the Fall 2018 issue. Our distant ancestor Harriett Moss made a living painting portraits of dead children. But before her career began in earnest, she sketched only cows. It was her husband, Thomas Moss, who… by Lee Conell | Sep, 2018

A Points South story from the Fall 2018 issue “I just have this fear every day that somewhere there’s another load going to the landfill of the only known copy of something that helped change American music,” Darden told me.… by Will Bostwick | Sep, 2018

A feature essay from the Fall 2018 issue. I first devoured Robert Gipe’s books and plays because I wanted to understand Appalachia. I was searching for deeper insights than the victim-blaming bootstrap narrative espoused in J. D. Vance’s best-selling book,… by Beth Macy | Sep, 2018

March 28, 2017

Landlocked in a neighborhood of warehouses, all-night convenience stores and urban decay, where FedEx planes come in close on their approach to the country’s busiest cargo airport, Chris Rooke has sold and hitched sailboats from coast to coast for forty-three years.

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.

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.

December 08, 2016

Daddy’s truck was one of those places—like a grandmother’s house, a real and actual soul food restaurant, or a barbershop owned by an older black man who guards the radio by silent threat of the revolver in his drawer next to the good clippers—where one could reliably expect to hear either (and only) 1070 WDIA or 1340 WLOK. It was the other side of sound, the other side of Southern blackness, a steady if muffled undercurrent that persisted and quietly buoyed new generations.

November 16, 2016

You can argue endlessly about whether it’s Elvis, W. C. Handy, Al Green, Jerry Lee Lewis, Rufus Thomas, Sam Phillips, Dewey Phillips, or Justin Timberlake who best defines Memphis music. I’m going with Jim Dickinson. 

December 27, 2013

When I was a kid in 1970s Memphis, limousines were a rare sight, though two would occasionally appear in traffic. From the backseat of our family station wagon, we’d scream for Mother to pull up closer. We’d know whose it was by the license plate. Elvis Presley’s was not customized. Isaac Hayes’s read MOSES, referring to his nickname, Black Moses. He was leading people to the Promised Land.

November 01, 2013

In the early 1960s, the Staple Singers marched with their gospel rhythms and church-house fervor into the arena of civil rights–inspired folksong. Some saw this as a straying from the one true way, a betrayal even. For the Staples, it was a seamless progression, a greater embracing of all creation. And so it was that a like-minded admirer came by one day to introduce them to a scruffy young songwriter from northern Minnesota.

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.

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.

January 06, 2016

When Tav Falco announced his entrance on Memphis’s music scene, his caterwaul hardly seemed like the overture to a multi-decade career. More than thirty years after his musical debut, he’s still tilting, far from center and ever forward.

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