An essay from the Place Issue My dad wanted his death, like his life, to be a work of art—a tomb he designed and filled with ceramics—and one that would allow him to define death on his own terms. My… by Alice Driver | Aug, 2020

An essay from the Place Issue The quest was half-ironic, but I was hoping at the same time to feel something I couldn’t make fun of. If a revelation from the Earth manifested inside my body, well, that would mean… by Liam Baranauskas | Aug, 2020

An essay from the Place Issue This congregation is the only one in eastern Alabama and was born out of a potluck dinner for Rosh Hashanah in the early ’80s when a local couple invited four friends over, telling them… by Carly Berlin | Aug, 2020

A feature essay from the Summer/Fall 2020 issue. This is how so many black families lose their land. One person wants to sell and starts an action that can force a sale. And if a developer wants the land, he… by Rosalind Bentley | Aug, 2020

A featured conversation from the Summer/Fall 2020 issue. “The pandemic in the United States opened up the truth of what that nation is about. Like a volcano, truth just came pouring out. Just layers and layers and layers. I keep… by Minnijean Brown Trickey and Crystal C. Mercer, moderated by Danielle A. Jackson; photographs by Ebony Blevins | Aug, 2020

A Points South essay from the Place Issue As of today’s journey, our family has been in quarantine for more than a hundred days. Summer camp plans have fallen by the wayside, much like those color-coded home-school schedules parents passed… by Karen Good Marable | Aug, 2020

An Omnivore essay from the Summer/Fall 2020 issue. Johns has said that, even as a child, he wanted to be an artist—only he didn’t know what an artist was. “In the place where I was a child, there were no… by Baynard Woods | Aug, 2020

 A Letter from the Editor, Place Issue. A tiresome stereotype about the American South is that this place is a monolith. Growing up in Arkansas, with the two sides of my family living in different regions of the state, I… by Eliza Borné | Jul, 2020

Bill Bentley

Bill Bentley was born in Houston, Texas, and has been working in the music business for fifty years, as a drummer, newspaper writer, record store clerk, radio deejay, label publicist, club promoter, and album producer. He wrote about Charlie Sexton for the 2014 Texas Music Issue. 

October 17, 2017

Bill Bentley’s introuction to Smithsonian Rock and Roll: Live and Unseen, a crowd-sourced collection of photos and stories. 

Thousands of submissions were uploaded over the next year. From professional-quality shots taken on film stock to digital mobile phone snaps, the entire spectrum of rock photography filled Smithsonian servers. . . . The results, spanning seven decades, aim for neither encyclopedic authority nor comprehensive finality, but rather an index of supreme influence. Artistic importance isn’t the same as popularity, as this guided tour of rock & roll proves at every turn of the page.

March 30, 2016

There is a name buried deep inside the treasure troves of long-dormant record labels, a name that is whispered among soul music’s true believers: O. V. Wright. He sang like God was sitting on his shoulder, urging him to bear witness to the pain that comes with hardship.

March 16, 2017

A profile of Charlie Sexton, from the 2014 Texas Music Issue. 

The circus had left town. Rolling toward the end of the Seventies, all the high-dollar distressed denim, heavy turquoise bracelets, soft and scuffed Lucchese boots, and even the brain-blowing snow-white cocaine weren’t quite as ominous in Austin’s nightclubs. It was starting to feel a little more like home again, back before the so-called redneck rock invasion. When the cosmic cowboys first started raiding the city, hijacking all the musical attention in our little Austin oasis, it was the mid-Seventies and the Lone Star state was slightly sedate. But that’s how we liked it, actually, because it let the city’s hippies and beatniks create their own fantasies and live on inexpensive fumes. Before the onslaught, the dozen or so honkytonks and nightclubs took care of their own. There were no record business people to promise what rarely got delivered, and the long days and nights spread before central Texas like the promise of a pot hit and a hot kiss.