A Points South essay from the North Carolina Music Issue. Shortly after publishing the biography John Coltrane: His Life and Music, Lewis Porter received a letter from a man who identified himself as a Coltrane. Only not, presumably, one related… by Benjamin Hedin | Nov, 2018

A Points South essay from the North Carolina Music Issue. I heard voices down the hall and followed them into the recording room, where I found Soul Council producer Kash talking with Tia Watlington, Jamla’s director of product management, and… by Dasan Ahanu | Nov, 2018

A Points South essay from the North Carolina Music Issue. I first heard Wesley Johnson’s name in 2008 while speaking with Carlotta Fleming (née Samuels) about her vocal group, Odyssey 5. After recording their lone LP, First Time Around, for… by Jon Kirby | Nov, 2018

A Points South essay from the North Carolina Music Issue. In Ryan Adams, the mythic memory of Thomas Wolfe is reincarnate in a contemporary host: an emotional kid from a marginal city in North Carolina with a precocious—underlined—and prolific—triple underlined—talent… by Maxwell George | Nov, 2018

A feature essay from the North Carolina Music Issue.  I wanted to start with the wild weeds and the creaking wood on the front porch, walking up to Nina Simone’s childhood home in Tryon, North Carolina. I wanted to start… by Tiana Clark | Nov, 2018

A Points South essay from the North Carolina Music Issue. Around the close of the 1950s, if you wanted to hear the beginnings of the funk music that James Brown would soon introduce to the world, you wouldn’t find much… by Sarah Bryan | Nov, 2018

A poem from the North Carolina Music Issue. It rises from dust, rakes in the populace, feeds them fried Twinkies, fried trees if they could put them on a stick and powder them in sugar. Bodies bunch up: the perfumed, the balmy, the whole… by C. L. White | Nov, 2018

A feature essay from the North Carolina Music Issue. Perverse? Yes. Blasphemous? Maybe. But not irreconcilable. To contemplate the meaning of Jodeci is to grasp at the intersection of religion and excess, of devotion and abandon, of agape and eros—a… by Lauren Du Graf | Nov, 2018

A Points South essay from the North Carolina Music Issue. Funk can be a sense of place, transmigratory memories filtered through the nose. For George Clinton, the smell of pig shit crosses state lines. “I remember feeding them pigs. I… by Dave Tompkins | 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

January 09, 2019

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

I yanked down a shoebox of old letters, and a tiny folded sheet of paper floated out: a hand-drawn cartoon card that Scott had given me the year I played with Frightened Rabbit in Austin, Texas on my birthday. I kneeled down and doubled over, suddenly blinded with tears. This casual display of unprompted thoughtfulness for another human being had made the magnitude of loss apparent.

December 20, 2018

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

The Jim Ridley line that I wrote about in a previous column, his beautiful notion that “you can find your voice by loving things”—that’s absolutely true. What’s also true is that you can build your history by loving things.

December 13, 2018

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.

December 06, 2018

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.

November 29, 2018

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

Willie grew up right here, on the Westside, el Hueso. The bone of San Antonio. We call it the barrio.

Lately, people have been getting these letters, and they bring them to me. I don’t know why, only that Willie died 30 years ago this year, 2018. Something about he’s stepping up, moving on, and now he’s finding himself. Not lost anymore, no way. Has things he wants to get off his chest. Knows the way home to you now.

This is his story.

November 15, 2018

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

Twice during my visit, I listened to friends say over meals how much they genuinely loved the city. Both times, I immediately thought, Why? Living in New York as an aspiring writer had been hard—isolating and vicious. There had been casualties—relationships I’d leaned on until they broke or some that I’d neglected or cast aside. There had been fresh ideas or lines of inquiry that I’d shunned, in order to cling to diminishing prospects I’d hoped to turn into some type of currency—money, acclaim, respect. Where the city had once seemed a place of limitless potential, I’d become a kind of hermit—buffering myself against perspectives, change, the passage of time—unable to keep up.

November 08, 2018

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

Her mother was characterized by her resilience but also her harshness; she had lived in a holler nestled in the East Tennessee mountains, worked on an assembly line in a shirt factory, and been a divorced woman at a time when divorcées were ostracized. When my relatives reminisce about her, they remark often about her stubbornness, her confrontational tenacity. Neither sentimental nor delicate, her affection manifested in stoic devotion rather than fawning tenderness.

November 01, 2018

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

I couldn’t tell if my total transparency meant I was improving or that I was becoming completely unmoored, with no understanding of my words’ effects—especially on Luke. I was still so far away from understanding the pain I’d caused him. The nearest I could come was a vague worry that I could no longer experience that empathy.

October 25, 2018

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

As I listened, going first through What Would the Community Think again and then switching to Moon Pix, I felt the loneliness leave me. I watched it dance in front of me, saw it swimming against the light from the music.

October 18, 2018

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

I listened to “Just Like You” by Keb’ Mo’ over and over again the same way I did when I was working at a coffee shop when I was in college. Keb’ is singing, “I feel just like you and I cry just like you and I heal just like you and I break down just like you,” and I'm wondering if people would actually live their lives differently if they listened to that song every morning before they went out into the world or interacted with other people.