Monday, 13 February 2012

Oxford American Magazine

The deep south offers a rich cultural heritage, the delta region was a hotbed of musical development that shaped the history of music. In our modern society it's difficult to find an outlet that recognises and focuses on such iconic history, the Oxford American magazine is devoted to southern culture it's mantra being, 'The Southern magazine of good writing'. It's not just southern literature that is promoted but also southern music both new and old. The latest edition of the magazine focuses on the music and artists hailing from the magnolia state, Mississippi. As a musical progenitor Mississippi seems to get neglected, attention always seems to be deflected to Memphis and Nashville in Tennessee, further south it's Louisiana that many feel has the greatest and most diverse musical history others focus on the soul music that came out of Muscle Shoals in Alabama.

However as the magazine outlines Mississippi was the birthplace of some of our pioneering artists, Elvis was born in Tupelo and during his early years would have heard a mixture of gospel and rural blues before departing for the delta heartland of Memphis. The father of country music Jimmie Rodgers was born just north of Meridian, the king of the electric blues Howlin Wolf was born in White Station and would have been heavily influenced by the country blues artists who travelled through the south. Sam Cooke was born in the home of the delta blues, Clarksdale before heading up north to pioneer his mix of gospel and secular music that resulted in some sweet soul music. With the magazine comes a companion cd that is truly enlightening, there is a terrific swamp pop gem from Harold Dorman (Dorman wrote Mountain of Love which was later covered by Johnny Rivers) There is a soul gem from Ruby Andrews with Tit for Tat from 1969, there is some country pop from Ernie Chafin and Jimmy Donley an underrated songwriter with a very soulful voice and an insatiable appetite for alcohol. I found out about the magazine from Brian Wise on his radio program Off The Record, so I ordered the magazine and I haven't been able to put it down since I received it this week.

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