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

A poem from the Fall 2018 issue. It is such a tragedy, all this Working. The vacation I need is on your mark, Get set, go. It’s been years Since I’ve seen the light by Alex Lemon | Oct, 2018

A Points South essay from the Fall 2018 issue My suitcase is full of batik and baby cologne. One bar emulates the American South. The cover band plays Journey. by Helene Achanzar | Sep, 2018

A poem from the Fall 2018 issue. Heading east on Route 6, A young couple scutters by On a motorbike. Harley, I think. On their way to the beach. I can See his feet are bare, resting inches From the muffler’s burning heat—oh The recklessness of… by Kate Daniels | 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 feature essay from the Fall 2018 issue. Prine radiates a sense of well-being, along with a sort of amused nonchalance toward potential disaster. This is a good thing, because the Coupe, as it turns out, has no passenger-side safety… by Tom Piazza | Oct, 2018

A Points South essay from the Fall 2018 issue I've come to have a friendship with a raven in Paris. I call him Cleitus, a name that I picked up from a Dukes of Hazzard episode or Greek mythology. The… by Megan Mayhew Bergman | Sep, 2018

Anne Spencer’s ecosystem of art and activism As I read, I fell in love with Anne Spencer’s fierceness and wit. In some ways, she reminded me of my own grandmother—a voluble woman, gardener, and scrawler of notes on the back… by Tess Taylor | Oct, 2018

Amanda Petrusich

Amanda Petrusich is a contributing editor to the Oxford American and the author of three books about music, including Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records. She is a staff writer at the New Yorker and a professor of writing at New York University. 

November 21, 2017

That Hell was born and raised not in some dark and edgy urban enclave but in the rolling hills of Lexington, Kentucky, can feel incongruous. It’s too soft, where he comes from—too genteel. Yet having emerged from a region Hell considers a Nowhere—not in the ugly or pejorative sense, but in the empty sense, a place that was just like any other place, a blank place—allowed for wild self-creation later on. These are ideas that repeat for Hell: blankness, voids. He is someone who understands how to make something from nothing.

January 25, 2017

Ethnomusicologists have continued to do necessary and significant research, both in the field and beyond, but it’s difficult to muster up a modern analogue for Lomax. No other single figure is as invested in the American musical canon, or as influential. In part that’s the result of a global shift towards self-mythologizing: we all maniacally catalogue and broadcast our lives now, ensuring our legacies to both transcendent and humiliating ends. Who needs Lomax when we have YouTube?

January 06, 2017

I couldn’t quite figure out why Japanese listeners had come to appreciate and savor the blues in the way that they seemed to—lavishly, devotedly. Blues is still an outlier genre in Japan, but it’s revered, topical, present.

January 12, 2016

I had this idea that I could arrive in Macon, Georgia, via rental sedan, nose around for a day or two, and figure something out about the South, and rock music in the South, and men in the South, and men, and death, and guitars, and the Allman Brothers Band, who, in the late 1960s, engineered a new style of rock music that was deeply and earnestly influenced by rhythm & blues but also by something else—some wildness I couldn’t isolate or define or deny.

December 01, 2013
There is a remarkable story tucked halfway through Bessie, Chris Albertson’s biography of the blues singer Bessie Smith, in which Smith approaches a circle of robed North Carolina Klansmen, places one hand on her hip, and begins shaking the other in the air. She hollers obscenities at the men until “they finally turned and disappeared quietly into the darkness.” This is the sort of tale that stinks of apocrypha, but is nonetheless a useful encapsulation of Smith’s particular prowess: shouting darkness into darkness.
December 01, 2014

By early summer, Houston is so muggy that all the edges blur. Temperatures slink into the low 90s and stay there. In certain neighborhoods, the smell of weed lingers, lending the air a permanent tang. Slabs, creeping slowly down the street, broadcast a sound indigenous to the city, a sluggish hazy rhythm that couldn’t have been born in any other town.

September 09, 2014

"It’s exceptionally difficult to talk about Haw—the newest record from Hiss Golden Messenger, the songwriting alias of M. C. Taylor—without talking about death, and Sunday morning seemed like as good a time as any for Taylor and me to get into it. We were seated outside at Durham’s Geer Street Garden, and in between forkfuls of grits I was trying to tell him about an interview I’d read with the Sri Lankan monk Bhante Gunaratana, in which Gunaratana suggested that death is constant, omnipresent."

November 28, 2012

Between 1929 and 1934, Amédé Ardoin recorded seventeen two-sided 78-rpm records, all of which Christopher King has gathered, studied, and sequenced over two compact discs. Why is Ardoin so important to King? “I just naturally, intensely, obsessively gravitate toward music that is emotionally unhinged.”

May 23, 2013

An installment of "Against Authenticity," an OA symposium.

July 06, 2014

Watching Bussard listen to records is a spiritually rousing experience. He often appears incapable of physically restraining himself, as if the melody were a call to arms, an incitement it would be immoral if not impossible to ignore: he has to move.