The OA is thrilled to pair our South Carolina Music Issue announcement with an exclusive premiere of a new song from Ranky Tanky, the acclaimed Charleston band reviving the Gullah musical tradition of South Carolina’s Lowcountry. “Beat Em Down” is the title track from the band’s new EP, due out on Friday, and will be included on their upcoming album, Good Time (out July 12, 2019), the band’s first to include original compositions written in the Gullah tradition.
Check out the exclusive premiere of “Beat Em Down” from Charleston’s Ranky Tanky:
The Oxford American’s South Carolina Music Issue will celebrate the unforgettable stories, songs, and artists that convey the deep history and continuing vitality of South Carolina’s music—including icons like Dizzy Gillespie, Eartha Kitt, and the Marshall Tucker Band, as well as contemporary voices, such as Iron & Wine, Shovels and Rope, and, of course, Ranky Tanky.
As always, the music issue will come with a sampler compilation of songs spanning the 78-rpm era to the present (in CD and digital download formats), with accompanying liner notes included within the magazine.
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One hot day in June 2002, a young man named Chris Gladden was fishing with his father when he discovered the complete fossilized remains of an ancient marine reptile called Clidastes. The fossil has the potential to be the most important of its kind known to science. More than a decade later, hardly anyone outside the Alabama Museum of Natural History in Tuscaloosa knows that it exists.
A Points South essay from the Fall 2019 issue
We all hear them, nearly two thousand young women making a joyful noise and heading this way in a ritual officially known as “Bid Day,” but called “Squeal Day” by pretty much everyone. The sound is less a squeal than a soprano roar, high and triumphant, louder and louder as they round the corner, a delirium of girls in shorts and sneakers, cantering behind sisters bearing huge cut-out Greek letters.
An installment in John T. Edge’s Points South column, Local Fare.
Costumes transform their bar into a theatrical production, Feizal said to me that day in the jungle room. “You watch someone put on a Big Bird suit and then you ask, what will the Big Bird do? You give two banana costumes to two guys and then stand back to watch what happens. Pretty soon the dude at the bar in the banana costume sees the dude in the booth in the banana costume. They hug. And they start buying each other drinks.”
A Southern Journey from the Summer 2018 issue.
I am again driving through the moon-flecked summer night, the hot dead bugs against my windshield summer night, the benzene-sulfur-streaked chemical stacks streaming into the gleaming Gulf summer night. It is so damn hot down here, so sultry, but I don’t want to turn the air-conditioning on in my little red fuel-efficient rental vehicle; I want to breathe in the heat, bathe in the heat, dance with it! And I happen to find a watering hole where I can do just that, in the belly of the belly of the belly of the beast. The Neon Moon Saloon, a cement-floor biker bar in industrial Houston. There’s a lively game at the billiard table, rough red-faced men at the wooden bar, a glowing neon cabinet of booze. It is an end-of-the-world type of place, and this is the end of the world.
This song is a new model—built on a standard frame, maybe, but showing an understanding of how the blues legacy both enables the expression of chaotic emotions and streamlines them, tuning them up for maximum performance within a structure that demands precision as much as openness.
A video supplement to “Social Engineering” by John T. Edge, published in the Summer 2019 issue.
“Written in tight script on one of those green-and-white guest check pads, her words account a surrealist barnyard: ‘gecko elastic, cookie armpit, giraffe crotch, zebra elastic.’ I had noticed Rachael working on the far end of the bar, pulling costumes from cubbies and then carefully refolding and restacking each one. But I hadn’t realized that she was doing triage, making note of which of the thirty or so costumes they stock needed repair.”
—John T. Edge, “Social Engineering”
The pieces of Johnny Greene, an Omnivore essay from the Fall 2019 issue.
Johnny used place as a recurrent theme, along with displacement. As a journalist, he was fascinated by communities, by groups of people and the environments which shaped them. As a person, his roads always led back to Alabama.