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aug ust CONTENTS 2018 • VOLUME 15 • NO. 8

features 46 The Legacy Lives On Johnny Cash Remembered

60 Birmingham’s Eclectic Beat Music in the Magic City

54 A Musical Tapestry Mississippi’s Music Museums

departments 14 Living Well Music and Educational Success

42 On the Road Again Nashville, Tennessee

18 Notables Samantha Pauly

45 Greater Goods 66 Homegrown Vintage Sounds

22 Exploring Art A Colorful Perspective

70 Southern Gentleman Songs for Every Situation

26 Exploring Books Don’t Stop Believin’ by Jonathan Cain

72 Southern Harmony The New King(fish) of Blues

30 Into the Wild Teal Hunting

76 In Good Spirits Whiski-Tiki for Hot Days

34 Table Talk TriBecca Café in Sardis

78 Exploring Events

38 Exploring Destinations Clarksdale’s Delta Bohemian Tours


80 Reflections A Place Called Music



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editor’s note } august Rockin’ Around the South AUGUST 2018 • Vol. 15 No.8

PUBLISHER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR Adam Mitchell PUBLISHER & ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Paula Mitchell EDITOR-AT-LARGE Mary Ann DeSantis Channeling our inner Supremes at the Mississippi Grammy Museum with fellow writers, from left, Cheré Coen and Eleanor McDaniel.

Our annual music issue is rockin’ and rollin’ across Mississippi and beyond. From country music to blues, from rock to pop, we’ve got it covered. Mississippians know Meridian’s Jimmy Rodgers was the father of country music, but the late Johnny Cash was the performer who became a country music icon. In our cover feature, Nashville writer Pam Windsor talked with two of his children about how Cash’s legacy continues to be stronger than ever. People don’t think of Birmingham, Alabama, as a music town, but recording studios in the Magic City have worked with major stars like Carrie Underwood and Aretha Franklin. Birmingham writer Verna Gates take readers on a tour of her hometown’s top musical venues and studios.

Mississippi is capitalizing on its role as the “Birthplace of American Music” with world-class museums dedicated to the state’s musical heritage. See my comprehensive list of music museums and plan a trip – or several trips – to see them all and to understand how early musical legends still influence today’s musicians. One of those musicians is Jonathan Cain of the legendary band Journey, who talked with music writer Kevin Wierzbicki about his new book, “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Working behind the scenes for several of today’s top performers is a dream come true for Senatobia’s Samantha Pauly, who described her tour manager role to assistant editor Andrea Ross. Whatever your favorite musical genre is, the DeSoto Magazine team thinks you will find something of interest in this year’s music issue. Rock on,

Mary Ann on the cover The painting of Johnny Cash on the cover was done Richard Day, a British artist with a passion for music. You can find his work at or via Instagram at richarddaystudio.

ASSISTANT EDITOR Andrea Brown Ross CONTRIBUTORS Robin Gallaher Branch Cheré Coen Mary Ann DeSantis John Felsher Jason Frye Verna Gates Jill Gleeson Karen Ott Mayer Charlene Oldham Andrea Brown Ross Karon Warren Kevin Wierzbicki Pam Windsor PUBLISHED BY DeSoto Media 2375 Memphis St. Ste 205 Hernando, MS 38632 662.429.4617 ADVERTISING INFO: Paula Mitchell 901-262-9887

©2018 DeSoto Media Co. DeSoto Magazine must give permission for any material contained herein t o b e re p ro d u c e d i n a n y m a n n e r. Any advertisements published in DeSoto Magazine do not constitute an endorsement of the advertiser’s services or products. DeSoto Magazine is published monthly by DeSoto Media Co. Parties interested in advertising should email or call 901-262-9887. Visit us online at

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living well } music and educational success

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Musical Inspiration for Educational Success By Karon Warren Photography courtesy of Western Carolina University, and

Listening to and learning music can pay big dividends for students of all ages. Turn on your favorite tunes, and you’ll immediately feel an emotional boost. Upbeat songs can reinforce a great mood, while sad songs can help take the edge off a melancholy mood. Studies also show listening to music can reduce stress, improve blood circulation, ease unsettled nerves and keep depression at bay. But did you know listening to and even playing music could lead to increased educational success? According to the 2013 “Prelude: Music Makes Us Baseline Research Report,” students taking music classes – even for less than one year –

outperformed their non-music peers in several key areas including grade point average, ACT scores, and graduation rate. “This means that any level of music participation is associated with higher engagement and achievement, and that more music participation associates with even better outcomes,” the report states. One reason music classes benefit educational success is because listening to music improves cognitive abilities. “There isn’t one place that is not activated within the DeSoto 17

brain when we listen to music,” says Andrew DeBell, content director at Jam Campus Education in Denver. “Music activates almost every part of the brain, which, in turn, gives insight into the positive power of music on our cognitive abilities.” In fact, according to Vincent James, president and cofounder of Keep Music Alive in Brookhaven, Pennsylvania, research has shown that listening to music can actually help some students think through more complex problems during study sessions. “The success of this technique is highly individualized, however, as the style of music that helps one person may be distracting for another,” James says. “Like many things in life, we should experiment with different styles of music to see how it affects our study experiences.” Those who play or are learning to play a musical instrument also will see a tie-in between music and educational success. “Playing an instrument benefits the brain because it is being asked to multitask,” says Dara Blaker, owner of Colour Me Music in Coral Springs, Florida. “Sight, sound, pulse, pitch, expression and physicality of the instrument all have to be occurring at the same time.” And, as James points out, unlike many other activities, playing an instrument utilizes both sides of the brain, the logical and analytical side on the left and the creative side on the right. “These experiences help to create neural connections between the left and right side that otherwise would not exist,” he says. “This leads to what is known as divergent thinking, or what we commonly refer to as ‘thinking outside the box.’ This allows us to approach problems more creatively and find solutions that others are not able to see.” Although there is no scientific method for how long a person should listen to music to maximize its effects on a person’s health and cognitive abilities, there is one necessary step to achieve positive benefits of music on educational success: Be consistent. 18 DeSoto

“For educational success, consistency is important,” DeBell says. “Listening to music before school or work is one of the best proven methods for putting yourself into a positive mindset in preparation for the day.” In fact, DeBell suggests that students listen to music as they walk or drive to school, ideally a calming song they enjoy, and really focus on it so they soak it in. “Feel the emotion of the song, and let the sounds guide you to that mental state of positivity before beginning your day,” he says. When it comes to choosing music, there is no specific type of music one should listen to in order to achieve educational success. Instead, choose music that you like as well as music suited to the tasks at hand. “We recommend listening to music prior to significant events, i.e., taking a test, competing in a sports match, etc.,” James says. “Many professional athletes listen to music that inspires them just prior to going out on the field or court. For students trying to study, we recommend listening to a style of music they enjoy but is not distracting to them. This may take some trial and error to see what music they can listen to and still be focused on their task at hand.” Whether you listen a little or a lot, to classical or classic rock, or even if you create the music yourself, there is no doubt that music can play a key role in educational success. “I feel everybody should have an art and a sport,” Blaker says. “Music is the closest thing to both at the same time. Whether one studies an instrument or plays the radio and dances in their bedroom, the effects of music stirs the soul and quiets the brain.” Karon Warren is a freelance writer based in Ellijay, Georgia. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Karon also writes for USA Today and her blog,

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notables } samantha pauly

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Warsaw, Poland

Musical Roots By Andrea Brown Ross | Photography courtesy of Samantha Pauly

A love of music has taken Senatobia’s Samantha Pauly around the world and behind the scenes for some of today’s most well-known musical groups. Traveling the world… Meeting famous people... Feeling the synergy of thousands of people as they jam to their favorite music. It sounds like the stuff of dreams, but for small town Senatobia, Mississippi, girl Samantha Pauly it’s all in a day’s work. As a tour manager for well-known musical groups, such as Kings of Leon, Maddie and Tae, and Hozier, she’s living the dream. For Pauly, her appreciation of music began at an early age. Like many artists and music industry professionals, her family shared a love of music. She explains,” I grew up in a musical family. My father plays music as a hobby and is a huge music fan. I grew

up always attending shows with them.” Pauly’s parents often drove her to Memphis to see groups playing at popular venues like the New Daisy Theater, Minglewood Hall, and several of the Beale Street Music Festivals. “My mom would even drive me to Nashville to see tours that weren’t stopping in Memphis,” she says. As a teenager and then a young woman, she continued to nurture her love of music. As her own musical experience grew, she learned the importance of playing music not only as an individual, but part of an entity.   “I played flute in the Senatobia High School marching DeSoto 21

Dublin, Ireland

Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Colorado

band and then continued with the Belmont University flute ensemble for a semester in college. I always enjoyed the leadership aspect of playing music and being in bands the most, which is essentially what I do now for a career.” But there’s a giant leap from playing in a school band to managing international tours. A college internship provided Pauly with a unique opportunity. “After my second year of college in Nashville, I was an intern at Vector Management which represents many amazing artists. Through my time as an intern, I built a relationship with the Kings of Leon organization,” she explains. “After I graduated from Belmont University, I was offered to go out on their 2014 Mechanical Bull Tour as production assistant.”  While as glamorous as being on tour may sound, there is a lot of work behind the scenes that is necessary for concert goers to enjoy the show. “My favorite parts of the job can also be the most challenging. As tour manager, my job is to get people safely around the globe and help facilitate an environment where 22 DeSoto

people can put on the best show they are able to. Managing a large group of people can be very difficult, so much of my job is expectations management and crisis prevention,” elaborates Pauly. Pauly admits this demanding job is not without its benefits. One of her favorite highlights of the job is the opportunity to experience other cultures and see the world. “Every once in a while, I get a nice chunk of free time somewhere exotic. I was fortunate enough to have a week off in Brazil in 2014, and I have a few days off in the United Kingdom each year. I make the most of my time everywhere I go. Unfortunately, concert tours are designed to make the most amount of money in the shortest amount of time, so leisurely days off are few and far between,” she says. However, Pauly has been able to manage a tour and manage limited time to discover a few favorites around the globe. “I really enjoy the Eastern block of Europe and always look forward to returning there. Poland, Latvia, and Croatia are a few of my favorite places. I will be returning to Croatia for a personal holiday at the end of this month. I have had some wonderful times in Australia and Vancouver as well.” Her personal favorite is Dublin, Ireland. “I have many friends there. It is the most hospitable, tiny city,” shares Pauly. Even when Pauly returns back home to the states, she

Vancouver, Canada

is not far from the music scene as she resides outside of Nashville. And Pauly admits, she sometimes gets homesick. “I miss my family, cooking my own meals, and washing my own clothes. So much of traveling constantly is outsourcing the small things that I enjoy doing at home. I even miss watering my plants,” she explains. This month, Pauly will be working with the Kings of Leon. As far as the rest of 2018, specific plans and tours are to be determined. She is hoping to spend some time with her family in Mississippi nourishing her musical roots. Pauly says, “I was always surrounded by a family of music lovers and never really knew a life that didn’t have an appreciation for music in it. I am very lucky that my parents saw my passion for it and supported me.”

DeSoto Magazine’s Assistant Editor Andrea Brown Ross is based in Como, Mississippi. Living on a large farm, most of the music she hears these days are moos and cock-a-doodle-doos.

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exploring art } michael maness

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A Colorful Perspective Robin Gallaher Branch | Photography courtesy of Ken Walker

After a brush with death, Michael Maness has a new attitude and colorful perspective on life and art. Michael Patrick Maness measures his life by opportunities, cancer, hardships, making money and giving it away, and talent. What predominates is luck. He lives hard and fast. “I’ve been incredibly lucky,” says Maness, known for his skill, generosity, sense of fun, and grit. His multiple careers include dancer, writer, and artist – the latter is now dominant. He currently has an exhibit of 40 acrylic paintings at the Blues Hall of Fame in Memphis; stars like Janiva Magness, Walter Trout, Bobby Rush, Victor

Wainwright, and John Nemeth autographed 25. Averaging 3 x 4.5 feet, the paintings range in price from $300 to $5,000. Those with a written song sell from $10,000 to $30,000. Midtown Framer & Art, another Memphis location, also carries his work. “I’ve reinvented myself three times,” Maness, 61, says. “My job now is watching the paint dry and caring for my mom.” He has been her primary caregiver for 10 years. Known to all as Miss Evelyn or Mom, she suffered multiple strokes, has dementia, and accompanies her son almost everywhere with her walker. DeSoto 25

Stevie Ray Vaughn

Michael Maness and his mother, Miss Evelyn

Maness received the Keeping the Blues Alive Award from the International Blues Foundation in 2010. His classic acrylic of Glen Campbell shows the recording icon atop a rearing stallion. It sold for $50,000. The money went to the Alzheimer’s Foundation, Maness says. “My mother doesn’t remember the ceremony,” he chuckles. “What she remembers is ‘that nice man,’ Glen Campbell, who wheeled her around the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville and sang to her.” Maness has been painting since fourth grade. He prefers Sharpies and acrylics to oils because of speed; an oil dries in six weeks. “I can easily do 45 acrylics in that time. If I worked in oil, they’d stick together,” he says with a laugh. Fighting lymphoma for 16 years changed him. Although he used to paint in black and white, he now splashes his canvasses with brightness. While undergoing chemo, he found that dark colors made him angry, paranoid, and violent, but vibrant yellows, reds, and oranges brought him smiles. He shades and shadows in cobalt blue. H e d e s c r i b e s h i s s t u d i o i n S o u t h av e n , Mississippi, as “a mess”. It contains a La-Z-Boy couch and ongoing projects. He often paints in a darkened room and breaks to watch a musical with his mother. One painting may take 30 hours. 26 DeSoto

BB King

Luck includes good mentoring. As a cartoonist, he was mentored by Jeff MacNelly, the Richmond News Leader’s Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist, and Mad magazine’s Jack Davis. He graduated in 1979 from Virginia Commonwealth University with an advertising and marketing degree. Before cancer struck, he danced in television’s Dancin’ USA and Broadway shows like The King and I with Yul Bryner. Gene Kelly taught him. Even with chemo’s revenge of arthritis, he can still do Kelly’s signature sailors kick, a heel-to-heel snap on both sides. He’s written and illustrated 23 children’s books. One about a little mermaid served as a good promotional for visitors to Weeki Wachee, Florida. Writing in rhyme and illustrating in color, he repurposed that memorable tale. Hardship marks his life. At age eight, he was hit by a car and in a body cast for a year. Maness stuttered as a child but overcame it by acting in plays. In 2005, he lost many paintings in Katrina. He endured a very painful stem cell transplant and was in hospital isolation for two years. Chemo affected his memory; he’s still paying medical bills. “But I’ve been cancer-free for six years!” he rejoices. Maness is generous. His donated art has raised $6 million over 20 years for 150 charities worldwide, he estimates. It hangs all over Memphis in places like the Convention and

Visitors Bureau, Racquet Club, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and MidSouth Food Bank. He even has a school named after him in Mahahual, Mexico. Why is that? It’s because he donates art at a dock with the stipulation that the proceeds go to the nearby town. Maness enjoys life. To celebrate being chemo free, he and friends take twice-yearly cruises. Good times roll. They call themselves PUPPI’s—the Professional Union of Perverted Pirates International. Ship’s officers – like the captain and purser – regularly join their table, certain of fun and welcome, Maness grins. PUPPI’s Les and Lee Yancey, cattle ranchers in Oakland, Tennessee, have cruised. “Michael’s hilarious,” Les says, adding she thinks she owns more Maness paintings than anybody in the world. Memphis photographer Ken Walker works with Maness on many projects. “Some of his paintings of B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughan come from my photos,” Walker says. Carol Jones, a friend Maness trusts to care for his mother, says this: “If he promises you something like a painting, you can bet the ranch on it. He’ll do it. His word is his bond.” Describing himself as “a creative,” Maness says, “I have a God-given talent. I love to give it away. I wish I didn’t have to charge for my paintings, but I need the money to live and to take care of my mom.” Then, smiling, he adds, “I’m Peter Pan. You can’t be sad and look at my art.”

Memphis writer Robin Gallaher Branch freelances for many magazines. A Fulbright scholar, she serves as an adjunct professor in the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Christian Brothers University

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exploring books} don’t stop believin’

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A Journey of Faith By Kevin Wierzbicki | Photography courtesy of Pat Johnson, Michael Cairns and Micah Kandros

Jonathan Cain’s new memoir reveals how music has been his lifelong ministry. Jonathan Cain, singer, songwriter and keyboards player for superstar band Journey, was about to get some bad news. The mood should have been celebratory; it was early in 1987 and Journey had just wrapped up a 40-date tour with three shows in Honolulu, and the run had been so successful that the band’s manager wanted to immediately book 15 more shows. But then a chill that would reverberate around the world came over the tropical paradise – Journey lead singer Steve Perry announced he was leaving the band.

Cain begins his memoir with the Journey break-up scenario, but otherwise “Don’t Stop Believin’,” named after the hit song that Cain wrote with Perry and Journey guitarist Neal Schon, is presented chronologically. After touching on the dismay of Perry’s departure and noting that he had faith that he and the other band members would somehow carry on, Cain begins his life story with a chronicling of his youth and a horrifying story that understandably still affects him today. In many ways Cain’s youth is typical of a budding DeSoto 29

musician, and the first chapters of “Don’t Stop Believin’” take readers through his earliest public performances, singing Italian songs for old timers in his Chicago neighborhood and eventually wowing them with his accordion playing. As a youngster Cain wanted to be a priest, and he attended Chicago’s Our Lady of the Angels School, which caught on fire during his third grade year. With his classroom being on the first floor, Cain and his classmates got out of the school relatively unscathed, only to watch in horror as others jumped from the upper floors with their hair and clothing on fire. Three nuns and 92 children would perish. Cain’s faith, partially instilled at Our Lady of the Angels school, helps him cope with thoughts of the fire today. “I am often reminded of the school fire by watching people who are dealing with the shock and trauma of the current tragedies we often have to face in our society,” Cain says. “Whenever these events occur I pray to the Holy Spirit for healing and closure, and it is out of our helplessness that His power and change can truly be unleashed into our lives. The Chicago fire brought true lasting change in the school fire safety programs around the world.” As Cain really got into pursuing music in his teen years, writing songs and taking piano lessons, things were looking up professionally but not so much personally. His mom threw him out of the family home because she didn’t think his girlfriend 30 DeSoto

was right for him; mom would turn out to be correct and Cain would eventually end the relationship because, unlike himself, she was into smoking pot. The subject of drugs comes up a few times in the book but more or less just in passing; Cain doesn’t waste words detailing the excesses that come along with rock ‘n’ roll and that he mostly avoided. About a third of the way through the book Cain gets to the part of his life where his stardom began as a member of the Babys, for whom he would co-write hits like “Turn and Walk Away” and “Midnight Rendezvous.” Fans didn’t know it, but the Babys were deep in debt to their record company, so Cain jumped at the chance to join Journey in 1980. As Cain tells stories about the Journey years, there are a couple of incidences where he relates how angry he was, but there is none of the blatant disrespect that is all too often found in rock memoirs. When Cain namedrops, it’s a positive or funny story like how Prince came to him for approval before releasing “Purple Rain.” Prince thought the song’s guitar part sounded too much like that in the Cain-penned Journey mega-hit “Faithfully.” In another chapter Cain tells how Stevie Wonder advised him not to sit on songwriting ideas for very long, advice that Cain still takes to heart. “I’m working on a song right now that started last year that is starting to take shape. I hope it becomes a song for a new Journey album,” Cain says. As fans today are well aware, Journey is still rocking, having survived hiatus and line-up changes, and Cain’s unwavering perseverance is a big reason why. It seems that Cain’s youthful desire to become a priest has, in a way, come to bear, considering that he has “ministered” to millions through his music. “I believe I was saved to serve and have been ministering His grace and goodness for years in my music as we travel around the world,” says Cain. “Ministering and leading worship with my wife Paula at her church and playing piano while she preaches has been a blessing in my life as she brings the true meaning of the Gospel to nations.”

Kevin Wierzbicki is a longtime resident of Phoenix, Arizona. He writes about music for and about travel for various publications.

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into the wild } teal hunting

Several hunters wait for teal to come into range during a September hunt in a flooded field.

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Daniel Felsher shows off a wood duck drake he shot. Tennessee allows waterfowlers to hunt wood ducks during a limited season in September.

Teal Hunting Story and Photography by John N. Felsher

Blue-winged teal are coming in for landings on area lakes this September, providing duck hunters a chance to hone their rusty calling and shooting skills. In the 1960s, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began allowing most states to hunt teal in September to increase the harvest of blue-winged teal. Blue-wings breed farther south and migrate much earlier than most other ducks. They traditionally hit the Gulf Coast by around Labor Day and then head to Mexico, Central or South America. “Blue-winged teal are very early migrants so they often are not available to hunters when regular duck seasons begin, especially in northern states,” advised Jim Kelley, the USFWS Mississippi Flyway representative. “The special September teal

season is an attempt to provide a harvest opportunity for these lightly-harvested species before they migrate south.” Many states including Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama hold September seasons. This early season, generally about two months before the regular duck season begins in November, gives waterfowlers an opportunity to hone their rusty shooting and calling skills before the main duck season opens. “Teal hunting a great activity to knock the rust off,” quips Larry Robinson with Coastal Wings Guide Service DeSoto 33

A wood duck decoy waits for birds to come into range. Tennessee allows waterfowlers to hunt wood ducks during a limited season in September.

After fetching it in a flooded field, a Labrador retriever presents a blue-winged teal to his master.

and Lodge ( who guides hunts in several states. “Teal hunting is a great way to introduce children to waterfowling. There’s usually great activity with not too many lulls in the action. If people skip over the September season, they miss some of the best decoying action all year.” Although waterfowlers bag mostly blue-wings in September, they can also shoot green-wings. Green-wings normally account for 5-to-10 percent of the September harvest. Tennessee allows sportsmen to shoot teal and wood ducks for five days, but only teal for four days in September. “During the wood duck/teal season, the bag limit is four birds a day, but only two may be wood ducks,” explains Dan Fuqua, a Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency biologist. “During the teal-only season, the limit is four teal. Teal are common in Tennessee in September, but the number depends on the weather. Teal tend to come in with cold fronts. After the front passes they’re usually gone.” Besides teal, hunters might also spot some early migrating pintails, wigeon, shovelers and other ducks. To complicate matters, shovelers display blue wing patches, similar to teal. Non-migratory mottled ducks stay in salt marshes along the Gulf Coast all year long so sportsmen must positively identify every bird before pulling the trigger. Teal generally fly fast and early. In a good area, excellent marksmen might bag a limit even before the sun rises. Many teal hunters don’t even use a blind. They simply crouch in thick grass at a good spot, toss out a few decoys and wait for action. “Frequently, we don’t even see teal coming,” Robinson comments. “We just hear the little fighter jets going over our heads. Suddenly, they just appear. Once teal make up their minds to land, they’re coming in. It’s generally action-packed, but hunting usually doesn’t last longer than about an hour.” Since the birds mostly pass through the country while heading south in September, teal might appear and disappear rapidly. A pond could hold several hundred birds today and nothing tomorrow. Tiny dabblers, teal don’t feed in deep water. Look for water about 3-to-12 inches deep so they can root around the bottom and grab seeds, aquatic grasses, invertebrates and other morsels to eat. 34 DeSoto

Navigable rivers and lakes belong to the public, so people can hunt practically anywhere that safety permits as long as they don’t trespass on adjacent private property. Even on a big river like the Mississippi, sportsmen frequently find some oxbows or backwaters that offer good public waterfowling. However, local laws could prohibit hunting in certain areas so check what’s legal before hunting anywhere. In Tennessee, Reelfoot Lake typically offers excellent waterfowl hunting. Sportsmen might also hunt Kentucky Lake, West Sandy or Tigrett Wildlife Management Areas. Old Hickory Lake and Percy Priest Lake can provide good hunting. The best waterfowl hunting in Mississippi occurs in the delta region along the Mississippi River. Some better WMAs include Muscadine Farms, Howard Miller, Mahannah and Malmaison. “Teal are very common in Mississippi during September,” says Houston Havens, a Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks biologist. “Blue-winged teal do not typically stay in an area of Mississippi for long during the fall. September teal hunting in Mississippi is as much about timing the hunt with a migration as it is about finding quality teal habitat.” The large lakes along the Tennessee River in northern Alabama and the Mobile-Tensaw Delta near Mobile provide some of the best waterfowl hunting in the Cotton State. Lake Eufaula on the Chattahoochee River also holds some ducks. Several WMAs in Jackson County and the David K. Nelson WMA near Demopolis can offer good hunting. “Teal hunting can be challenging because they are very quick,” says Seth Maddox, an Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources biologist. “Teal season is a good way to break up the anticipation of duck season and is a good tune up for the hunter, dog, and equipment.” Whether hunting a major reservoir or a tiny pothole, sportsmen can create fantastic memories as a new hunting season begins on those special September days. John N. Felsher is an Alabama-based freelance writer who has written for more than 150 magazines, including Alabama Outdoors News, game and fish publications, and Alabama Living.

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table talk } tribecca allie cafe

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Neapolitan Pizzas in Sardis, MS Story and Photography by Karen Ott Mayer

Beloved TriBecca Allie Cafe in Sardis celebrates its 10th anniversary this fall, continuing its tradition of award-winning pizzas and friendly service. What do bricks and pizza have in common? Quite a lot if you’re Damian “Dutch” or Rebecca “Becca” Vanoostendorp, owners of TriBecca Allie Cafe in Sardis, Mississippi. As TriBecca Allie Cafe nears its 10th anniversary this fall, this original eatery has become a beloved destination for countless guests who love the Neapolitan pizzas. Their menu features specialty pizzas like the Magnolia Rosa Insalata and Becca’s daily special like lasagna. It’s a tossup whether the pizza, Dutch’s breads, Becca’s specials or the “hey-I-know-you” atmosphere holds the greatest value. Well,

maybe not more than the Diavola, a pepperoni pizza hot from Dutch’s brick oven. Originally from New York, Dutch and Becca both speak with an undeniable northern accent which is only outmatched by their sparring, wit and laughter as they work together. Like any good family restaurant, the air is filled with music or a friendly shout to a regular guest. “Hey Becca, how’s your order for table 4?” Dutch says as he pushes a pizza in the brick oven he built himself. No matter what the answer, the result is the same from the kitchen DeSoto 37

– fast service. In between kitchen demands, it’s not unusual to see Becca standing or sitting at a table, catching up with guests. Ten years ago, I ran into Dutch one day in Sardis working on the building, literally tuck pointing every last brick on the two-story store front on Main Street. Subsequent visits always brought the same question. “When do you hope to open?” I asked. His answer changed depending on the building’s progress, but I remember feeling excitement and hope at the prospect of someone doing something new. In the quiet hill towns of Mississippi filled with vacant, dark rundown buildings owned by invisible past generations and bereft of good food, the Vanoostendorps symbolized much more than hope. They represented a refreshing lifestyle, and today TriBecca Allie is the anchor business on Main Street. Having written one of the first feature articles when they opened, I, like so many others, am a regular weekly fixture on a stool, bantering with Dutch as he works dough. The pair is fiercely dedicated to their culinary craft which began with another brick oven Dutch built in their backyard. They eventually sold breads at the Oxford, Mississippi, farmers market, establishing a solid reputation for their artisan breads. It’s the literal hands-on approach that sets them apart. If anyone questions the reason behind their hours, it’s pretty simple. “We don’t want anyone else cooking or running our business. I still love watching people enjoy what I cook,” says Becca. While other restauranteurs take vacations and their staff run the show, rarely do the Vanoostendorps even take a day off. In 2015, Dutch and Becca opened Frog’s Pearl Station next door to TriBecca Allie. A vintage cottage listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Frog’s Pearl is as sweet on the inside 38 DeSoto

as it appears on the outside. Regulars know they can sit on the courtyard patio or front porch before supper sipping a drink or enjoy a leisurely ice cream or coffee afterwards. Many evenings, kids or families sit around a checkerboard or chess game. “I like the idea people may walk by and say ‘hey, what goes on in here?’ and stop in for a moment,” says Becca. Besides ice creams and gelato, Frog’s Pearl features Becca’s baked goods from brownies to paper-thin chocolate chip cookies, tiramisu and cannoli. Sardis residents for more than 20 years, the Vanoostendorps loyalty extends far beyond their restaurant doors. In the larger Sardis community, Dutch and Becca have also invested in buildings and older homes, taking time to renovate them or stabilize those that have been vacant for years. Just like his brick ovens, Dutch approaches the renovations as a long-term project, doing a lot of the work himself with Becca by his side. When not baking or making her dinner specials, Becca runs two guests houses in town, offering travelers a quiet, local lodging option at Hogan’s or Huck’s bungalows. What will the new decade bring? Guests can expect to see new pizza varieties and appetizers added to the menu. While a foreign concept perhaps in today’s big, fast world, slowing down and really taking care of guests remains their focus. “If we’re open, we’re cooking,” says Dutch. And that statement is worth all the dough in the world.

Karen Ott Mayer is a writer and editor based in Como, Mississippi.

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exploring destinations } delta bohemian tours

Billy Howell

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Bohemian Guest House

Beyond the Blues By Mary Ann DeSantis Photography courtesy of Delta Bohemian Tours and Ground Zero

Get an up-close-and-personal look at Clarksdale with a Delta Bohemian Tour to understand why the blues was born in the Delta. When the travel guide recently named Clarksdale, Mississippi, the best music city outside of Nashville, folks in the small Delta town weren’t surprised. After all, they’ve been hosting international visitors who have known for years that Clarksdale is ground zero for blues. “More people are now beginning to come here from a 300-mile radius,” says Billy Howell, founder and owner of Delta Bohemian Tours. “They want to see what the rest of the world has been coming to see.” What the world has known for awhile is the blues began in Clarksdale with legends like Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. That legacy continues with rising and established stars still performing in iconic clubs like Ground Zero and

Red’s Lounge. The city is small but mighty when it comes to performances – it’s one of the few places where visitors can hear live music seven days a week. Listening is one thing, but understanding is another. It’s a common question: why did so many musicians and creative types come from the area. It’s not a simple answer, but Howell’s three-hour regional identity tours provide the background and relational context that many outsiders crave. “We show how it all relates,” says Howell. “I pick them up and they sort of get my rambling monologue. We start in this historic district where Tennessee Williams lived. Then we go through downtown, and I point out where Clarksdale was during its hey-day and where it is now.” DeSoto 41

Ground Zero performer

CLARKSDALE’S LIVE MUSIC SCENE Finding live music seven days a week in Clarksdale is possible when you know where to go. Here’s a rundown of Chilly Billy’s favorite places:

Mondays – Bluesberry Café and the Hopson Commissary Tuesday – Hambone Gallery Wednesday – Ground Zero and Red’s Lounge Thursday – Ground Zero, occasionally Red’s Friday –Stone Pony Pizza and Levon’s Bar & Grill Saturday – Ground Zero, Red’s, and Hopson Commissary Sunday –Levon’s (3:30 – 6:30 p.m.)

Clarksdale White House

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Billy and Madge

Meeting local “characters” is high on the agenda, because Howell wants folks to see the real-life Clarksdale as well. “We might stop in a body shop where a guy makes harmonicas,” he says. “So much is based on meeting locals. We go around and meet the people who are invested in Clarksdale’s creative economy.” He believes by gaining a fuller awareness of the people and the land, visitors will better understand how the blues was born. The treks include stops at Cat Head Blues-Folk Art, a must-see gallery, says Howell; Stovall Plantation where Muddy Waters was a sharecropper; and Friars Point, a historic river town filled with both blues and Civil War history. The tours end with a visit to a picturesque spot on the Mississippi River. “We take a holistic look and define all the things that affect the blues,” adds Howell. Known as Chilly Billy by the locals, Howell and his wife, Madge, are among Clarksdale’s biggest cheerleaders. In addition to managing B&Bs and restaurants, the couple officially started Delta Bohemian Tours in 2015 although Billy and Madge had been showing visitors around long before then. “Delta Bohemian started as an outreach to locals so they’d better understand why so many tourists were showing up,” explains Madge. “Billy started the tours in a small jeep with no air conditioner, and people still took his tours.” Howell adds with a laugh that the original Jeep “was held together by stickers.” With each tour covering 50-to-60 miles, he put more than 50,000 miles on the vehicle in two years. He now has a new and larger Jeep with air conditioning. The Delta Bohemian Tours have become so popular – with all five-star reviews on Trip Advisor – that Howell gave

up his position at the historic Clark House, a B&B he managed for more than nine years, to devote full time to his tours. Madge, meanwhile runs the couple’s two properties – the Delta Bohemian Guest House and the Clarksdale White House. Built in 1917, the Clarksdale White House caught Madge’s eye when she was a girl. The couple bought it a few years ago, and eventually opened it as a B&B. “People like it because it’s a home away from home,” she says. “Something about the house puts them at ease… It’s an unexpected respite three blocks from downtown.” It’s also serving as an informal musical venue occasionally. Earlier this year, the Howells launched a home concert series on the last Thursday of each month in the living room. “We’re providing a venue where artists can connect with fans,” Madge says. “And all the proceeds go to the artists.” With an informal and creative approach to life and business, the Howells exemplify the two words that Billy mentioned to Madge years ago. “God put the words ‘Delta Bohemian’ on Billy’s heart, and he couldn’t stop thinking about them,” explains Madge. “I’m a Delta girl and he’s a Delta guy, but we’ve lived all over the world. We started a website and didn’t realize what all we’d be able to do.” and A native of Laurel, Mary Ann DeSantis is the editor-at-large for DeSoto Magazine.

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on the road again } nashville, tennessee

, e l l i v NasThennessee A Day in Music City 8:00 – Start with breakfast at Biscuit Love in The Gulch district. This local favorite, which started as a food truck, offers delicious ways to eat the Southern breakfast staple. Choose your biscuit with gravy, fried “hot chicken” thigh, country ham or French toast style. Make sure to order the Bonuts, a delicious biscuit meets donuts with lemon mascarpone and blueberry compote. 9:00 – Nashville’s nickname is “music city,” and the historic Ryman Auditorium showcases its rich musical history. Built in 1892 and known as the “Mother Church of Country Music,” the Ryman offers visitors a peek at the past with exhibits, music, backstage pass or a chance to record your own music. Take a guided tour or experience it on your own. 11:00 – Tour the Grand Ole Opry, a venue that has been home to countless country crooners. There are daytime tours, VIP tours, post show tours or tour packages. Get a behind the scenes look at the people and stories behind the shows. Check the schedule before you visit for upcoming shows. Noon – Be sure to eat Nashville’s famous-style hot chicken at Hattie B’s. The menu is simple: chicken plate or chicken sandwich. The only decision is how hot can you handle it. If you like it mild try the “Southern.” If you like it spicy go for “Shut the Cluck Up”! 1:00 – Stroll along Broadway, also known as the “Honky Tonk Highway,” to hear live music from afternoon into the night. Clubs line the street, and Tootsies Orchid Lounge is always a hot spot. You might even see one your favorite country artists hanging out in the corner. 3:00 – To round out your music-themed day visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Explore state-of-the-art exhibits that tell the story of country music. In addition to the museum tour, you can also tour RCA Studio B where many artists, including Elvis, recorded hit songs. Take time to check out Hatch Show Print, one of America’s oldest working letterpress shops. In operation since 1879, Hatch still prints posters today. 6:00 – Have dinner at Acme Feed & Seed on Broadway. This 22,000-square-foot space has everything…food, great drinks, live music and beautiful views. The first floor offers traditional Southern food classics with a twist and communal table seating. The second floor features a lounge vibe with craft cocktails, pub food, and sushi bar. The third floor is for private events, and the rooftop is the perfect place to view the city with a refreshing drink.

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To plan your visit:

Other Spots Worth A Visit Music Attractions:

Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum The George Jones The Johnny Cash Museum Nashville Studio Tour The Patsy Cline Museum The Storytellers Museum & Hideaway Farm

Outdoor Attractions:

Nashville Sounds Baseball Game Cheekwood Estate & Gardens Nashville Zoo The Parthenon Tennessee Titans Game

Historic Attractions:

Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage Belmont Mansion Belle Meade Plantation Echoes of Nashville Walking Tour

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greater goods } back to class


2 3



6 7


Back to Class

1. Journals, SoCo Apparel, 300 W Commerce Street, Hernando, MS 2. Quick Fix Emergency Kits, Cynthia’s Boutique, 2529 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS 3. Kate Spade Assorted Pens, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS 4. Lunch Boxes , Bon Von, 214 W Center Street, Hernando, MS 5. Vera Bradley Backpacks, The Pink Zinnia, 134 West Commerce Street, Hernando, MS 6. Vera Bradley Weekend Bag, The Pink Zinnia, 134 West Commerce Street, Hernando, MS 7. Scout Lunch Totes, Paisley Pineapple, 6542 Goodman Road, Olive Branch, MS 8. 3 Happy Hooligans Backpacks, The Bunker, 2631 McIngvale Road #106, Hernando, MS

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Back to Class 17 16 9. Mermaid Makeup Brushes, Cynthia’s Boutique, 2529 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS 10. Kids Glitter Sneakers, Merry Magnolia, 194 E Military Road, Marion, AR 11. Stephen Joseph Pencil Cases, Commerce Street Market, 74 W Commerce St, Hernando, MS 12. World’s Softest Socks, Bon Von, 214 W Center Street, Hernando, MS 13. Stephen Joseph Totes, Merry Magnolia, 194 E Military Road, Marion, AR 14. Stephen Joseph Lunch Boxes, Merry Magnolia, 194 E Military Road, Marion, AR 15. Pencil Cases, SoCo Apparel, 300 W Commerce Street, Hernando, MS 16. Chala Backpacks, Bon Von, 214 W Center Street, Hernando, MS 17. Kate Spade Pencil Cases, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS

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Johnny Cash

The Legacy Lives On

By Pam Windsor Photography courtesy of John Carter Cash, Johnny Cash Museum and Cindy Cash

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A growing number of attractions highlight Johnny Cash’s life and career, including his once very private farm.

Fans can’t get enough of the ‘man in black’ 15 years after his death.

Johnny Cash Museum

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Hideaway Farm in Bon Aqua, TN

Library at Hideaway Farm

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Heading west from Nashville, it’s an easy drive along Interstate 40 that only gets tricky after turning onto the winding, country roads that lead back to the farm once owned by Johnny Cash. Most people were more familiar with his larger, lakefront home in Hendersonville, but Johnny often came here to spend time with family and friends. “Dad loved it here,” says Cindy Cash. “As soon as we’d get off the road, June would want to stay at the big house and Dad would say, ‘June, I’m going to the farm.” Tu c k e d a w a y i n t h e s m a l l community of Bon Aqua, Tennessee, the farm offered more privacy. “At his main house, Dad couldn’t get into the car and drive out without stopping and signing autographs. But the farm was hidden. It was an hour away and nobody knew he lived there.” It took him back to his country roots as a young boy growing up in Dyess, Arkansas. Friends – some of them famous – like Waylon Jennings, Marty Stuart, and others came to the farm. Singer Tony Orlando visited in 1976 for a Johnny Cash Christmas Special. “It was a great time for me,” he recalls. “Johnny said, ‘You want to come see the farm?’ Here I was a New York City kid on the farm, right? It was like hanging out with John Wayne.” He tells a story of how Johnny, known for his sense of humor, encouraged him to ‘become a real country boy’ and take a bite of a persimmon. “I took a bite of this persimmon not knowing when a persimmon isn’t ripe your face implodes,” he says. “It was the most sour taste! I look over and Johnny’s sitting there, laughing hysterically.” Despite the persimmon incident, he and Johnny became close friends and a YouTube video of the special shows Johnny, June, and Tony singing “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree” right there on the farm. “I loved Johnny and June,” Orlando says. “Johnny had a humble heart that came through in everything he sang.” No longer owned by the Cash family, the property is now called the Hideaway Farm and belongs to Brian and Sally Oxley, who have restored it and opened it up for tours. “I came out here and fell in love DeSoto 51

Album Display inside the Johnny Cash Museum

“It was his voice, it was the way he delivered the songs. A lot of people can sing songs, but Johnny Cash could perform a song. There’s a big difference.” - Nashville Recording Engineer & Producer Bil VornDick Inside Storyteller’s Museum

“As an artist, my father followed his heart and did what he thought was right. He never altered in that.” - John Carter Cash 52 DeSoto

with it,” Brian says. He found an old video tape showing a Johnny Cash celebration from the ‘70s with family members and an emotional tribute from Carl Perkins. A search to locate where that took place led to the purchase of the building down the road now called the Storytellers Museum. They join a growing number of attractions highlighting Johnny Cash’s life and career at a time when fans can’t seem to get enough. Visitors stream through the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville on a daily basis. Johnny’s boyhood home in Dyess, Arkansas, has been restored and has an annual music festival in October. Nearly 15 years after Johnny’s death, there’s a resurgence of interest in both the man and his music. “It was his voice, it was the way he delivered the songs,” notes Nashville recording engineer and producer Bil VornDick, “A lot of people can sing songs, but Johnny Cash could perform a song. There’s a big difference.” Johnny’s career started at Sun Records in Memphis in the ‘50s and spanned five decades. He recorded his signature song, “I Walk the Line” in 1956. Other hits would follow. He started a family. He and first wife Vivian (Liberto) had four daughters: Rosanne, Kathy, Cindy, and Tara. Toward the end of the decade, Cash began performing at prisons. Merle Haggard would later credit Cash’s first visit to San Quentin, where Haggard was serving time, with inspiring him to pursue his own music career. (Cash would continue doing prison shows with the historic taping of his Folsom Prison album in 1968 and the recording of “A Boy Named Sue” at San Quentin in 1969.) As his fame grew, Cash became addicted to drugs, something he struggled with for years. “The amphetamines would get me up, the barbiturates would bring me down,” he later said. And yet, even during the tough times, he held on to his core values. “Johnny was always spiritual,” notes sister Joanne Cash Yates. “We were raised in church and Johnny gave his heart to the Lord when he was 12. Then, when he grew up and got into the music business, he kind of got away from it.” Early on, she says, he wanted to sing gospel songs. “Johnny wanted to be a gospel DeSoto 53

Thomas Gabriel, grandson of Johnny Cash at the Hideaway Farm

Johnny and Cindy (daughter) Cash

singer but when he went to Sun Records, Sam Phillips said gospel won’t sell. He later went on to record several gospel albums during his career.” It was music that eventually brought Cash and June Carter together. They met at the Grand Ole Opry and began touring together in the early 1960s. In 1963, Cash recorded “Ring of Fire,” a song co-written by Carter. In the mid-1960s, Vivian filed for divorce, and Cash married June. Their son, John Carter Cash, was born in 1970. Johnny stayed busy with music and other projects, hosting a TV show from 1969 to 1971. He also began doing some acting. In 1985, he became part of The Highwaymen with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson. They toured into the late 90s. June died in May of 2003, and Johnny died four months later. Music remained a constant for him until the end. His video for “Hurt” was released the same year he died, garnering several posthumous awards. “I think we’re just beginning to see his impact,” John Carter says. “It goes beyond his music. His character had so much to do with who he was as a human being.” Many still don’t know his true depth. “If you ask some people, who is Johnny Cash,” he says, “the response is he wore black, he did drugs in the 60s,

he married June Carter and she saved his life.” But, he adds, there’s more to the story. “As an artist, my father followed his heart and did what he thought was right. He never altered in that.” John Carter published a book called “Forever Words,” containing poems he discovered after his dad died. Some of those poems have been turned into songs by Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley, Rosanne Cash, and others for an album also called “Forever Words.” “It’s about letting my father tell his own story,” John Carter explains. “His private words said so much and it was cathartic for me to do the project.” As Johnny’s legacy lives on, so does his musical influence. John Carter, a producer and musician in his own right, releases his own album called “We Must Believe in Magic” in the fall. Back at the Storytellers Museum and Hideaway Farm, privately owned and not associated with John Carter, Johnny’s grandson has become a featured performer. Thomas Gabriel (his mother is Johnny’s daughter Kathy) has a voice hauntingly similar to Johnny’s. He’s also had a similar struggle with drugs. “My grandfather wanted me to become a police officer, so I did that for a while. But I had a bad alcohol and later a pill

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Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash

problem and fell to my addiction. I wound up going to prison twice and hitting rock bottom.” He and Johnny discussed his problem. “He said we had the same disease. He said, ‘I understand,’ just be honest.” Years later, Thomas hopes to find his way through music. “A lot of things he said that I questioned, I understand. I see what he meant and I feel closer to him now.” Johnny Cash remains one of the most influential artists in American music. “His heart shined through his music,” Cindy says. “He spoke through his songs and his songs always had a message.” Pam Windsor is a Nashville-based freelancer, who has written for AARP, MotorHome Magazine, the Myrtle Beach Sun News, American Profile, Country Weekly, and other publications.

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By Mary Ann DeSantis Photography courtesy of Mary Ann DeSantis; GRAMMY Museum, exterior, provided by Grammy Museum; MuddyWaters Exhibit provided by Delta Blue Museum; Elvis’ birthplace provided by Bob Franks and Tupelo CVB; The MAX The Made in Mississippi Wall in the Community Gallery provided by Ron Blaylock.

World-class museums honoring Mississippi’s musical legends dot the state and are attracting visitors from around the world who want to experience the birthplace of American music.

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The MAX, Community Gallery


Mississippi has lots of crossroads, but none is more famous than where Highways 61 and 49 connect near Clarksdale. Anyone who loves the blues knows that’s where Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his guitar talent. On the eastern side of the state, however, traffic at the crossroads of Interstates 20 and 59 is exiting in Meridian for the new Mississippi Arts+ Entertainment Experience, also known as The MAX. It’s the latest of many venues dedicated to talented Mississippians. Don’t miss these favorites on your next road trip: The MAX Meridian The MAX stands as an ultra-modern monument to all of Mississippi’s creative legends – not only musicians and singers but also writers, visual artists, and actors. The multimedia tributes showcase the rich culture and legacies of artists like B.B. King, Elvis Presley, William Faulkner, Jim Henson, Leontyne Price, and others. “Every artist here is a brilliant thread in Mississippi’s tapestry of creativity,” says the banner in the Hall of Fame Gallery, the centerpiece of the first floor, which honors 18 artists who are the inaugural class of The MAX Hall of Fame. But that’s only the beginning; more than 280 famous Mississippians are mentioned at the one-of-a-kind museum, which includes six galleries focusing on areas that influenced the artists. “It’s not a traditional museum,” explains Paula 58 DeSoto

Elvis Presley’s Birthplace

Chance, director of marketing. “We have lots of high-tech interactive experiences that offer more of an emotional connection to the artists than physical.” During the museum’s opening, it was fitting that performer Britt Gully was on hand to do his remarkable musical impersonation of Meridian native Jimmie Rodgers, known as the father of country music. Called the ‘man who started it all,’ Rodgers placed a defining stamp on what country music would become, according to the Country Music Hall of Fame. A smaller museum honoring Rodgers is nearby, and certainly adding to Meridian’s designation as a new music gateway into the state. Elvis Birthplace Museum Tupelo Driving due north from Meridian on Highway 45 to Tupelo, visitors will arrive at the Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum. To truly appreciate Elvis Presley’s journey to fame and Graceland, it’s helpful to experience his humble beginnings. In 1934, Vernon Presley borrowed $180 for materials to build a two-room house in East Tupelo where Elvis was born a year later. Although the family moved from the home after three years, Elvis lived in Tupelo until he was 13. He returned to Tupelo in 1956 and 1957 and donated the proceeds from a 1957 concert at the local fairgrounds to the City of Tupelo to start a park. The city purchased 15 acres surrounding the house

where Elvis was born, and in 1971 the East Heights Garden Club began to improve the birthplace as a club project. The complex now includes the actual church where Elvis learned gospel music, a museum, and an amphitheater for special concerts. Two bronze sculptures – ‘Elvis at 13’ and ‘Becoming’ – are popular highlights with photographers. Gateway to the Blues Center Tunica A two-hour drive from Tupelo to Tunica puts you at the gateway to the blues. Elvis himself paid homage to the blues performers who influenced him and so should any music lover – especially rock ‘n’ roll fans. After all, as musician Muddy Waters once said, “The Blues had a baby and they named it rock ‘n’ roll.” A journey down the legendary Highway 61 through the Delta is filled with world-class museums that recognize these musical pioneers’ contributions. The Gateway to the Blues Visitor Center and Museum is a must-see landmark as well as the place to get a blues primer. DeSoto 59

Delta Blues Museum, Muddy Waters Exhibit

“Muddy Waters is a prime influence for anybody who’s ever done anything rock ‘n’ roll.” -- Van Morrison, Irish singer-songwriter Housed in an 1895 train depot, the museum opened in 2015 and has interactive exhibits and interesting artifacts, including a 1952 Les Paul guitar – the first made to be amplified. The museum offers a great overview along with the lowdown on events and not-to-be-missed restaurants along the Blues Highway. Delta Blues Museum Clarksdale Clarksdale, once a transportation hub, is where Highways 61 and 49 connect. Those highways, in fact, are the famous crossroads where Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul. The Crossroads marker is a hard photo to take, because it is a busy intersection after all, so just head into the “ground zero” of blues known as Clarksdale. The Delta Blues Museum, the state’s oldest music museum, showcases just how blues music inspired rock and roll. With so much to see, it’s easy to miss the piece de resistance – the “Muddy Wood” guitar created by Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top fame. Gibbons picked up some loose boards from Muddy Waters’ shack at the Stovall Plantation and had the guitar made, which he played in concerts before donating it to the museum. Peek around the corner to see a Muddy Waters replica sitting in his home. The wax figure is so lifelike that Maie Smith, a tour guide for 23 years, still takes pause when she sees it.

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Grammy Museum and Dockery Farms Cleveland The first Grammy Museum outside of Los Angeles is located in this hip college community that is also home to Delta State University. Open since 2016, Grammy Museum Mississippi deserves a full day to see everything and experience the many interactive displays. The “On the Red Carpet” gallery is filled with legendary performers’ original costumes, including Beyoncé’s 2014 sheer white lace gown. The Roland Room lets visitors channel their inner rock star with an elaborate set-up with instruments and flashing strobe lights. The Grammy Museum’s mission is all about education, especially the history and cultural significance of American music. Another intent is to inspire the next generation to explore and create new forms of music. “We want them to dream,” explains NaCherrie Cooper, marketing director for the museum. As the greatgranddaughter of Muddy Waters, she knows about the power of a dream. “The best gift my great-grandfather gave me was a dream,” says Cooper who remembers her great-grandfather driving her to elementary school. “I share that – the power of having a dream – with the students who visit.” With so many world-class museums along Highway 61, skipping nearby Dockery Farms – considered the birthplace

of the blues – would be a mistake. B.B. King once said, “It all started here.” Roseanne Cash described Dockery Farms in her 2015 concert there as “hallowed ground,” and indeed it felt like that on a rainy Delta morning when I walked through the cotton gin where blues pioneers Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, Son House and others worked during the early 20th century. During their breaks they created the music and culture that became known as the blues. B.B. King and the Delta Interpretive Center Indianola The thrill is not gone at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center, a beautiful facility in King’s hometown of Indianola. Riley B. King was a sharecropper and truck driver before his transformation into the “Beale Street Blues Boy.” The museum chronicles King’s development from a musician touring the Chitlin’ Circuit in the South to his international acclaim. And if you’ve ever wondered how his guitar “Lucille” got its name, this is place to hear the true story. Finally, pay your respects to the icon himself, who was buried in the courtyard in 2015 following a procession down Highway 61. BB King Museum

A native of Laurel, Mary Ann DeSantis serves as editor-at-large for DeSoto Magazine.

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Birmingham’s Eclectic Beat

By Verna Gates Photography courtesy of Alabama Department of Tourism

It’s not unusual to see a music legend’s stretch limo parked next to a battered bicycle owned by a legend-in-training around Birmingham’s music venues.

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Alabama Theater

Crossing not one, but two railroad tracks, literally onto what many would consider the wrong side of the tracks, you might question your decision to spend an evening hearing blues -- as authentic as they come. The featured act promises to deliver, from a young man so brain-damaged as a child, that he can only see music in color. He draws the crowds with his rollicking blues and Jimi Hendrix guitar moves, even though he can’t read music, or anything else for that matter. W h e n y o u p o p u p o n t h e ramshackle house where the music plays, and see people unloading coolers and lawn chairs, you have arrived at Gip’s Place, one of the last, great juke joints. For sixty-plus years, Henry “Gip” Gipson has worked as a gravedigger by day and bluesman by night. The driveway leads to a back yard with industrial spools and picnic tables squatting outside of a tin shack, seemingly held together by old music posters and Christmas tree tinsel. On an old cast-iron stove, one of Gip’s sons is turning burgers and ribs, filling the spectacle with scents of a southern summer. The sounds of beer tabs pop like redneck champagne. At 7 pm, Gip plays his guitar with hands that look as large as his gravedigger’s shovel. At 9 pm, the official show begins, after a prayer. And the rules: no drugs, no cussing and no saggy pants -- Gip hates droopy drawers and it is his place. What ensues is the best party you’ve ever been to, even if you 64 DeSoto

didn’t know a soul when you arrived. Like Gip’s Place, the music in Birmingham, Ala., is real. The roots of almost every modern music genre sprouted here: country, rock, blues, jazz, gospel, bluegrass, hip-hop and rap. Virtually every little bar in town offers a live band, a trio or at least a guitarist with voice that carries. VENUES AROUND TOWN Named the best live music venue last year, Iron City seats 1,200 in its main room, a restored former auto dealer showroom. Dwight Yoakam and a Bee Gee’s reenactment group are on the current schedule. Willie Nelson and B.B. King have graced its stage. In the summertime, the Oak Mountain Amphitheater brings in acts as varied as Blue Man Group and Bob Dylan. This open-air venue seats 10,000-plus beneath the shade of a state park. For fancier digs, the beautifully restored Alabama Theater and Lyric Theater downtown provide the acoustics antique buildings specialize in. Lyle Lovett’s band employs so many local musicians, most of them stayed with their families when his tour hit the Alabama. Local greats - St. Paul and the Broken Bones, the Alabama Shakes, Taylor Hicks and Eric Essix have embraced the pin-drop sound of the Lyric’s old vaudeville stage.

WorkPlay bar

WorkPlay live music

Gip’s Place

One of the founding members of the quirky Man or Astro-Man? band opened an equally quirky Indie music venue in the Avondale Entertainment District called, appropriately, Saturn. Across from Saturn, Avondale Brewing Company set up an outdoor amphitheater for live performances behind the brewery and in front of the outside bar. To enjoy singer/songwriters in a good listening room, Moonlight on the Mountain sits atop Shades Crest Mountain. Arrive early to catch the sunset. One of the oldest venues, Zydeco, straddles an old cable car turnaround in Five Points, an entertainment district filled with song. For true aficionados, go upstairs into Charlemagne Record Exchange. Ask for Jimmy, he is faster than Google as a vinyl/recording artist reference. Boomers are drawn to Bar 31 where RazzMaTazz can make you shake your moneymaker with classic rock and Carolina shag tunes. This band has been together for more than 25 years and still lights up the night. DeSoto 65

Henry Panion at Audiostate 55

Walking along the musical strip in the Lakeview district, you can hear almost any genre played somewhere. Blaring from the Tin Roof, Innisfree, Nana Funks, Oasis, and even Slice, the pizza joint, take your pick of music. A good place to start is Lou’s Pub, where you can have a drink outside and hear what is playing nearby. If you are still ready to rock, hit The Nick. Known for the coldest beer and hottest music, The Nick rocks out until 2 am on weeknights and 6 am on the weekends. RECORDING STUDIOS ABOUND Birmingham’s unique sounds are recorded in places such as WorkPlay, founded by Alan Hunter in case you remember him as one of the original VJs for MTV. WorkPlay’s stage performances span from Kinky Friedman and the Texas Jewboys to The Blind Boys of Alabama gospel and everything in between. A funky bar offers a good place to hear enough to know if you want to buy a ticket. In the back, WorkPlay Studios stand ready to record any of the local, regional and national talent who play and stay for a recording session. With all of the talent – just start with the numerous local winners and placers from American Idol – and the legendary Muscle Shoals studios two hours north, Birmingham is a hotbed of recording artists, who never have to leave home for a good studio session. Audiostate 55, Recording Studios and Entertainment Company, located in a transitional neighborhood, caters to music legends and legends in training. Here, it would not be odd to see a stretch limo with a battered bicycle parked next to it. The commitment to music includes filling the gap of music education for talented, underserved youth, and both are led by University of Alabama at Birmingham Music Chair and University Professor, Henry Panion, III. When Stevie Wonder needs someone to conduct the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra for a live album, he turns to Panion, his long-time orchestrator. Panion’s 66 DeSoto

baton is no stranger to orchestras around the world, or to Wonder’s string of hits. While stars such as Carrie Underwood, the Neville Brothers, Chaka Khan and Aretha Franklin have worked with Panion’s Audiostate 55 crew, the photo hanging on the wall is a kid who grew up in the program and now has a hit single and a heartthrob future. Huston Kendrick. “So many young people want to go into the music industry, but don’t know how to be the next Beyonce or Jay Z. They also don’t know about the vast field with lucrative jobs for audio engineers, technicians and song writers,” said Panion. Around 400 children and youth attend classes, summer camps or mentoring programs per year at Audiostate 55. Panion boasts more about the kid signed to his Warner record label, his three students with highly competitive Bill and Melinda Gates scholarships and all of his students attending Berklee College of Music, than 25 years with Stevie Wonder. “We get them to see the world and its opportunities. It is our most important work,” said Panion. Dedicated educators, like Panion, made Birmingham into a music mecca. From the tireless church choir directors to the famed Fess Whatley of Parker High School whose band became a minor league training ground for Count Basie and the jazz movement, the city is filled with worldclass musicians. Come and hear them play in the cafes, restaurants, clubs and music halls found in expected, and unexpected, places all over town. And Panion does say that Stevie Wonder is wonderful – “the nicest individual in the world.”

Verna Gates is the author of “100 Things to Do in Birmingham Before You Die,” and formerly worked for Reuters, TIME and CNN.

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homegrown } vintage sounds

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Sounds that Carry By Charlene Oldham | Photography courtesy of Vintage Sounds

Old luggage and ammunition cans are just a few of the things Nic Hendrick has repurposed for his Vintage Sounds creations. These days, most savvy travelers opt for bigger bags with wheels and plenty of pockets or carry-on suitcases specifically sized to squeeze into an airplane’s overhead bin. The luggage from decades past gathers dust in the basement or perhaps is repurposed into a trendy table or nightstand that offers a little extra storage. But those who want a more modern makeover for their cases can call Nic Hendrick, who transforms the travel gear into portable Bluetooth speakers with uniquely old-school exteriors. Hendrick’s Vintage Sounds can also upcycle ammunition cans, guitar cases, old radios and similar items into stylish speakers that work with smartphones and other Bluetooth-enabled

devices or can be outfitted to with an auxiliary port to plug into players. The battery-powered portable speakers are also as easy to recharge as a phone and come with their own charger. The small business began about four years ago when Hendrick and a buddy who once worked at a car audio store saw some similar speakers online. “We just put our heads together and said, ‘We can do this,’ and it kind of took off from there,” Hendrick said. The friend’s family and work responsibilities prompted him to leave the side gig behind, but not before he helped Hendrick learn how to wire the suitcase speakers. Now, Hendrick spends many of his off hours in a shop situated DeSoto 69

beneath the carport of his Olive Branch, Mississippi, home removing the interiors of vintage suitcases, bracing them with wood, carving out holes with a router and drill and installing new components he buys from different online suppliers. Hendrick says he looks for high-quality electronics and tests each speaker for a few days, rewiring it if necessary, to get the best sound quality possible. He then posts photos of the finished project on Facebook and Instagram, where potential buyers can contact him if the speaker suits their style. “The longest part of the process is really waiting for all the parts to arrive,” Hendrick said. Barring any stock and shipping issues for amplifiers and other items, he can usually turn a project around in a couple of weeks. Depending on the cost of the case and components, Hendrick said his finished products typically range from around $350 to $500. Hendrick also accepts custom requests, many of which start with a sentimental story. One woman had three pieces of her departed dad’s midcentury luggage set turned into speakers. She kept one for herself and gave the others to her children. “And I did one not too long ago for a husband who surprised his wife with her father’s clarinet case from back when he was in high school band,” he said. “That was a fun little project.” Another unconventional order came from Aben Eubanks. Eubanks, a Nashville guitarist who has backed the likes of Kelly Clarkson, wanted an old guitar case repurposed into a speaker. For ready-made speakers, Hendrick and his wife Devon are always on the lookout for sturdy suitcases and other vintage items that could conceal speaker components. “Almost every weekend we have off, my wife and I love going to antique stores, flea markets, garage sales,” he said. “She thinks it’s funny because every time we go somewhere, I ask her, ‘Would speakers look good in that? Would speakers look good in this?’ And she just kind of laughs.” With vintage suitcases, Hendrick usually has a good idea of how to arrange the external parts of the speaker in a way that complements the case’s original design, and he’s repurposed and sold pieces in a wide variety of colors, materials and patterns. It’s not unusual for him to meet local clients in person to pick up pieces they want to have customized or to discuss design details. He’s also shipped speakers to clients on the East Coast and in California, Texas and Florida, among other fairly far-flung spots. But, as a solo craftsman who also holds a job as a manager at a retail store in the Memphis area, he hasn’t yet expanded the operation to any brick-andmortar stores. “As for now, it’s just me; Instagram and Facebook are all I use. I don’t have a website and I don’t have a giant inventory of pre-made speakers,” he said. “My other job is full time, so I just don’t have the time to check up on anything in a store. Maybe I’ll get there one day.” For now, potential customers can contact Hendrick through the Vintage Sounds Facebook page at or via Instagram at

Charlene Oldham is a St. Louis-based writer who grew up in the Arkansas Delta. She has worked as a staff writer for both the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the Dallas Morning News.

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southern gentleman } a gentleman’s playlist

Songs for Every Situation By Jason Frye | Photography courtesy of

When called upon, every Southern Gentleman should have a great song to pull up on the jukebox and a killer song for any situation. Even better than one favorite song, why not develop a whole playlist of tunes that celebrate the best of the South? Take it a step further and create a playlist of southern artists. Better yet, find songs that fit a lazy afternoon in the backyard, a day on the boat, or an evening catching lightning bugs and counting the stars. Here are our suggestions – packed with artists and songs – to get you started. Out on the Boat Songs for when you’re on your boat, on your friend’s boat, wishing you had a boat, or are just in the proximity of a boat.

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Chris Janson: Buy Me a Boat Zac Brown Band with Jimmy Buffet: Knee Deep Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers: American Girl Outkast: Rosa Parks Outkast: I Like The Way You Move Leon Bridges: If It Feels Good (Then It Must Be) Justin Timberlake: Can’t Stop The Feeling Gary Clark Jr.: Don’t Owe You A Thang The Code Talkers with Colonel Bruce Hampton: I’m So Glad Future Islands: Balance Migos: Narcos Widespread Panic: Magic Carpet Ride (from 10/29/17 Park Theater, Las Vegas, NV) Zoogma: Richest Man In Town

Time for a Cookout When you’re cooking out and managing a dozen burgers on the grill, not burning the buns, and getting the hotdogs off in time before they burn, you need a few good songs. Here you go. Booker T & the M.G.’s: Green Onions Colonel Bruce Hampton & Aquarium Rescue Unit: Compared To What Parliament: Supergroovalisticprosifunkstication James Brown: Pass the Peas (Live At the Apollo Volume IV version) Mojo Nixon: B.B.Q. U.S.A. Carolina Chocolate Drops: Cornbread & Butterbeans Louis Jordan & His Tympani Five: Beans and Cornbread Migos: Stir Fry Dr. John: Cabbage Head Late Nights Late night, time to keep things a little more sedate and a little quiet so as to not anger the neighbors; even the upbeat songs here are a little downplayed. Vic Chesnutt: Flirted with You All My Life James Brown: Funky Drummer Tom Petty: Honey Bee Tom Petty: Wildflowers Trombone Shorty: It Aint’ No Use Leon Bridges: Coming Home Pigeons Playing Ping Pong: Porcupine Future Islands: A Dream of You and Me R.E.M.: Nightswimming Colonel Bruce Hampton & Aquarium Rescue Unit: Yield Not Unto Temptation Bobby “Blue” Bland: Turn On Your Lovelight Sturgill Simpson: Life of Sin Johnny Cash with Nick Cave: Cindy Future: Turn On The Lights Galactic: Cineramascope Backyard Games Whether you call it cornhole or bags (honestly, who calls it bags?) or bean bag toss (really?), here are some tunes that will help you keep your game on point. James Brown: Get Up Offa That Thing/Release The Pressure Tom Petty: You Don’t Know How It Feels Sutso: Acid Boys Sutso: Far Out Feeling Johnny Cash with Carl Perkins: Brown Eyed Handsome Man The Dirty Dozen Brass Band: My Feet Can’t Fail Me Now Widespread Panic: Chilly Water (from 10/29/17 Park Theater, Las Vegas, NV) Widespread Panic: Tall Boy (from Wood (Live)) Galactic with The Soul Rebels: Boe Money Jon Cleary: Dyna-Mite The Marcus King Band: Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong With That

Road Trip Get in the car, crank up the radio and let these songs get you going for the first hour of your drive. You won’t regret it. The B-52’s: Roam Sturgill Simpson: Long White Line R.E.M.: The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight R.E.M.: It’s the End of The World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) Outkast: The Whole World Louis Jordan & His Tympani Five: Salt Pork, West Virginia Steve Martin and Edie Brickell: When You Get To Asheville Johnny Cash: I’ve Been Everywhere The Allman Brothers Band: Hot ‘Lanta The Allman Brothers Band: Southbound Lynyrd Skynyrd: They Call Me The Breeze Future Islands: Seasons (Waiting On You) Dr. John: Goin’ Back to New Orleans Pigeons Playing Ping Pong: Horizon Party That Gets Weird, but It’s Fun Like You Haven’t Had Since College You know how every once in a while, the party takes a turn and there’s a moment when you think, “Man, this party took a turn.” Well this playlist can help you instigate the weirdness or just keep it rolling. From psychedelic tunes to songs that are just a little left of center, they’ll entertain, get you dancing, and make you scratch your head. Booker T & The M.G.’s: Time is Tight Sturgill Simpson: Turtles All The Way Down Outkast: SpottieOttieDopaliscious George Clinton: If Anybody Gets Funked Up (It’s Gonna’ Be You) George Clinton: Do Fries Go With That Shake The Marcus King Band: Fraudlent Waffle Dr. John: Right Place Wrong Time Dr. John: Goodnight Irene Johnny Cash: Chattanooga Sugar Babe Johnny Cash: Cocaine Blues (At Folsom Prison version) Future: Feed Me Dope Childish Gambino: IV. Sweatpants Childish Gambino: Sober Keller Williams: Doobie In My Pocket The Meters: Cissy Strut Keller Williams: West L.A. Fade Away Zoogma: Primary Colors (Live) Papadosio: Hippy Babysitter – Live Papadosio: There’s a Snake in My Bootsy Collins Colonel Bruce Hampton: Fixin’ To Die Johnny Cash with Merle Haggard: I’m Leavin’ Now Mojo Nixon: Can’t Find My Keys

Jason Frye is a freelance writer from Wilmington, North Carolina. Jason has authored three travel guides for Moon Publications and written for Southern Living and the Dallas Morning News.

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southern harmony } kingfish

Kingfish at Reds, Jan 2018. Photo credit Roger Stolle

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Bassist Kingfish, drummer Hollywood and guitarist Lucious Spiller at the New Roxy in Clarksdale. Photo credit: Lou Bopp

New King(fish) of the Blues By Jill Gleeson | Photography courtesy of Roger Stolle and Lou Bopp

Kingfish Ingram shares his soulful sound and talent wherever he goes… from Mississippi juke joints to the White House. It’s a special night at Red’s Lounge in Clarksdale, pretty much the last of Mississippi’s original juke joints still open regularly. The little room, lit almost entirely by strings of crimson-colored Christmas bulbs, is much more crowded than the last time I visited, and there’s an energy about the place that was lacking a year ago. Red himself is here, holding court with his patented blend of cantankerous charm, talking about the young man everyone came to see, the one who even now is picking up his guitar at the front of the room and settling it onto his lap. “He’s the real deal,” Red is saying. “He’s the next B.B. King.”

It’s a bold statement; I could probably be excused for rolling my eyes at it. And then the man in question, 19-year-old Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, starts playing. The sound that pours forth is immediately rich and powerful – it’s technically masterful, but with a raw, full-throated passion that unmistakably marks it as the blues. From the classic “Feel So Bad” to his own song “Fresh Out,” (No flour in the sack, ain’t got nothing cooking since you went away...I’m fresh out…), everything Ingram performs sounds like it’s coming from a much older man, one who’s got a lifetime of hurt behind him. Ingram, who was raised in Clarksdale, endured his share of pain early on in life. Diagnosed five years ago with DeSoto 75

Kingfish standing outside Club 2000. Photo credit: Lou Bopp

Asperger Syndrome, he experienced homelessness as a child after his father left his mother, Princess Pride Ingram. “Kingfish’s dad left us with nothing,” Princess Ingram explains, “and when he did that Kingfish started speaking through the music more. He felt it more. To feel the blues and sing it is different than never living it and singing it. It’s coming from his heart.” Princess Ingram says she played music for her son while he was in the womb; he was also exposed to gospel pretty much since birth in the church his family attended. There’s even music in Ingram’s genes – the legendary African-American country singer Charlie Pride is his mother’s first cousin. But Ingram’s childhood obsession with the artform was remarkable, even for someone with his pedigree and early exposure to it. By age 6, the tiny prodigy was playing drums; by 8, he was enrolled in blues classes through the Arts and Education Program of the Delta Blues Museum. At 9, he’d moved on to mastering the bass guitar. By 13, he’d found his true calling: lead guitar. Of course, natural ability without a strong work ethic behind it seldom develops into anything special. But that was never an issue for Ingram, according to one of his instructors at the museum, Richard “Daddy Rich” Crisman. “He was very talented and he really paid attention and had a lot of good qualities,” Crisman notes, “but the thing about him was, you could tell how hard he was practicing outside the classroom. When I showed him something, he’d come back and you could tell he’d been practicing at home for maybe a couple hours a day, every single day of the week.” In 2014, that dedication, talent and passion took Ingram to the White House, where he performed with five other members of the Delta Blues Museum 76 DeSoto

Upcoming Performances Although he’s becoming a big fish in a big pond, Kingfish still plays locally. Catch him this month at the following festivals: August 10 Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival Clarksdale August 11 Bright Lights Belhaven Nights Festival Jackson

band for First Lady Michelle Obama. In addition, he’s been a guest on the “Rachael Ray” and “Steve Harvey” shows and played at big-time gigs including the Chicago Blues Festival, Biscuits & Blues in San Francisco and the Montreal Jazz Festival. Later this year he’s expected to release his first album, produced by Tom Hambridge, who has worked with luminaries like Buddy Guy and B.B. King. Speaking of Guy and King, Ingram cites them, along with Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Albert King, Jimi Hendrix and Prince as his influences. But, he adds, “I think it’s also important for me to create a sound and style of playing that is uniquely my own...Music is such a soulful art form. I love that one can tell a story in song and that the story is elevated because of melody.” Word is the Ingrams maybe departing Clarksdale later this year for the bright lights of Nashville, Tennessee. No matter where he goes, though, Kingfish Ingram will bring the Delta with him, says Roger Stolle, a blues promoter and proprietor of Clarksdale’s Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art. “I see a lot of young folks who come through from other places,” he says. “Usually they’re technically proficient. With Kingfish, who grew up here with music in his life, going to church, to festivals, it’s just different. This is blues country. He didn’t get this just from a book or YouTube, but from the trenches here, learning from the guys and playing with them in everything from low-down juke joints to the nicer blues club across the Delta.” Jill Gleeson is a travel writer and memoirist who has written for Woman’s Day, Country Living, Washingtonian, Gothamist and more. Find her at

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in good spirits} whiski-tiki

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Channeling His Scottish Ancestry By Cheré Coen | Photography courtesy of Brown-Forman

Chef Michael Ring hit the ground running when he embarked on his culinary career, working as an American Culinary Federation apprentice and rising to the rank of executive chef before turning 24. As he also developed a love of wine and spirits, particularly whiskeys, he realized his bloodline may have had something to do with it. His ancestry included Scottish distillers. After years of touring world distilleries to learn more about the spirits and 18 years in whiskey distribution, Ring works today as a “Bourbon Ambassador” for Greenhouse Agency, a marketing group that represents Brown-Forman distillery of Kentucky and its portfolio of whiskies. One of those fine spirits include Coopers’ Craft Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. What makes Coopers’ Craft unique is that BrownForman creates its own wooden barrels, where bourbon goes to age after distillation. This process before bottling creates about half of bourbon’s flavor and all of its color as the charred insides of the barrels turn the clear alcohol brown. Coopers’ Craft gets its name from the company’s tradition of creating these barrels, most of which are made from American white oak, in a process known as coopering. Brown-Forman is the only major distillery to own its own cooperage. The creation of Coopers’ Craft involves three types of wood — oak, birch, and beech — and the bourbon’s distilled, bottled and aged in Louisville, a town known for its bourbon since the late 1800s. Coopers’ Craft is a sipping bourbon at 82.2 proof that’s “uniquely smooth and meant to be shared,” said Heather Howell, director of Emerging Brands for BrownForman. Coopers’ Craft is available in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee. Ring uses his vast whiskey education — he’s a Certified Spirits Specialist, a member of the United States

Bartenders Guild, Sommeliers Guild, and the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America — to create some fun summer cocktails with Coopers’ Craft. His repertoire includes Frosé, a frozen drink that incorporates bourbon, butterscotch schnapps, cream soda or cola concentrate, vanilla extract and chicory bitters, and a Summer Crush, which mixes Coopers’ Craft with watermelon, lemonade concentrate, basil and mint leaves and hibiscus bitters. We’re leaving you with Ring’s fun Whiski-Tiki cocktail that’s perfect for summer and the upcoming Labor Day Weekend holiday. Who can resist a refreshing cocktail served in a tiki glass that’s dressed in pineapple and flowers? Whiski-Tiki 2 ounces Coopers’ Craft Bourbon 2 ounces pineapple juice 1 ounce orange juice ½-1 ounce Orgeat syrup or almond syrup 2 dashes chili and lime bitters (18.21 Japanese Chili and Lime Bitters or bartender’s choice) 1 cup ice Directions: Blend all ingredients on high for 15 seconds or until very smooth. Pour into your favorite tiki mug or glassware and top with additional dash of bitters, edible flowers and slice of pineapple or pineapple leaves. Serve with a metal straw. Find more recipes

Cheré Coen is a freelance food and travel writer living in Lafayette, Louisiana, with deep Mississippi roots.

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exploring events } august Legends of Motown: Celebrating The Supremes Through September 3 GRAMMY Museum Mississippi Cleveland, MS For more information visit or call 662-441-0100.

Water Valley’s 49th Annual Watermelon Carnival August 3 - 4 City Park Water Valley, MS Fireworks show, street dace, BBQ contest, music, arts & crafts, children’s activities and free ice cold watermelon slices! For more information visit Water Valley Facebook page or

Natchez Food and Wine Festival August 3 - 5 Natchez, MS Experience delicious food, wine and craft beer. For more information and tickets visit or call 601-660-7300.

Bikes, Blues & Bayous August 4 Greenwood, MS Mississippi’s largest cycling event features more than 1,000 riders on the flat, fast alluvial plains of the Mississippi Delta. Ride distances are 62 mile Metric Century, 46, 22 and 11 mile routes. Rest stops along the way feature Southern cuisine and hospitality. Postride event includes free barbecue, cold beverages and therapeutic massages. For more information, visit

Elvis Week August 9 - 18 Memphis, TN Join us for Elvis Week 2018 in Memphis on August 9-18 as we celebrate the music, movies and legacy of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. For more information visit or call 901-332-3322.

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Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival August 10 -12 Clarksdale, MS O.B. Buchana , “Super Chikan” Johnson, and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram are set to perform at this year’s festival, which is being dedicated to the late C.V. Veal, longtime festival emcee, and the late Josh “Razorblade” Stewart, a festival favorite for 15 years. For more information visit

Boyz II Men August 11 Gold Strike Casino Tunica, MS 8:00pm For more information call 888-747-7711, visit or call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000.

Turnrow Books Author event with Catherine Egley Waggoner and Laura Egley Taylor, Realizing Our Place: Real Southern Women in a Mythologized Land August 16 Turnrow Books Greenwood, MS 5:00pm What does it mean to be from somewhere? In particular, what does it mean to be from a place with a storied past, one mythologized as the very best and worst of our nation? Such questions inspired Catherine Egley Waggoner and Laura Egley Taylor, sisters and Delta expatriates themselves, to embark on a trail of conversations through the Mississippi Delta. For more information visit or call 662-453-5995.

Down on Main Featuring The Sunday Red & Cowboy Mouth August 16 Fairpark Downtown Tupelo, MS 6:00pm - 10:00pm Down on Main is a free summer concert series that occurs once a month during July, August and September. For more information visit or call 662-841-6598.

RL Boyce Picnic & Blues Celebration August 16 - 17 Como, MS Como Bluesman RL Boyce was first recorded in 1971. Playing percussion on his 15th birthday with his Uncle, Othar Turner’s Fife and Drum band. Today in 2018 at 62 a recent Grammy nominee, we celebrate RL’s 63rd birthday. A lifetime of creating music we invite all to come and revel in his astounding achievements. For more information email

Mississippi Book Festival August 18 Mississippi State Capitol Jackson, MS 8:00am - 5:00pm The historic setting and lovely grounds of the Mississippi State Capitol become a book lover’s playground with hundreds of visiting authors, panel discussions, book signings, booksellers, live music, tours, food trucks and kid/teen activities. FREE and open to the public. For more information, visit

Rodney Crowell August 18 Halloran Centre Memphis, TN 7:30pm For tickets visit or call 901-525-3000.

16th Annual Tri-State Blues Festival August 18 Landers Center Southaven, MS 7:00pm Entertainment by Sir Charles Jones, T.K. Soul, Nellie “Tiger” Travis, Bobby Rush and more!. Purchase tickets at or Landers Center Box Office.

Jason Mraz August 21 BankPlus Amphitheater at Snowden Grove Park Southaven, MS 7:00pm Purchase tickets at, or BankPlus Amphitheater Box Office.

The Charlie Daniels Band August 25 Fitz Casino Tunica, MS 8:00pm Purchase tickets at Fitz, or call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000.

Josh Turner August 31 Horseshoe Casino Bluesville Tunica, MS 8:00pm With a rich, deep voice and distinctive style, Turner is praised as a disciple of traditional country music and one of the youngest members of the esteemed Grand Ole Opry. Come hear Turner’s celebrated hits “Your Man”, “Why Don’t We Just Dance”, and “Hometown Girl” live. For more information visit or call Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000.

Iuka Heritage Festival and Car & Tractor Show August 31 - September 1 Mineral Springs Park Iuka, MS The festival is free for all which includes all day entertainment, vendors with all sorts of crafts, jewelry, clothing, food, etc. The antique car show is held in downtown Iuka. There is also the Shriner’s transport train in the park. 2018 marks the festival’s 31st year. For more information, please contact Sandra Medlin 662-423-8638 or Martha Biggs 662-423-8421.

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reflections} a place called music

A Place Called Music By Karen Ott Mayer

It’s Wednesday morning and I’m drinking another cup of coffee to get going. The phone rings. “Do you know about Facebook Live?” asked my mother. I respond yes while staring at a blank computer screen. “You have to go look at ours! Someone at our ukulele group did one last night. And it has hundreds of likes!” she said. In any other family, folks might be surprised by this statement from a 76-year old woman about herself and her 82-year old husband. In mine? The words simply reflect a new musical chapter in their lives which have been filled with creative pursuits. More than 50 years ago, my parents met while Mom played the piano atop a revolving bar in a hotel in Ohio. During my early years, she traveled from church to church playing the organ. Eventually, we all played the piano. Maple Leaf Rag, The Entertainer and plenty of Scott Joplin ragtime music filled the house as we kids danced and laughed around the piano--or whined about having to practice it. Even my Dad could pluck out this one little nameless tune we always begged to hear. After 18 years of playing classical music, I moved to the violin in my 20s, playing for three years before laying it down. My brother tried the saxophone for a short stint and my nephew now plays the bass drum for his high school marching band. My Uncle Johnny played violin with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra while my grandpa used to occasionally pluck the banjo. And so, the musical chapters continued when Mom and Dad picked up the ukuleles about a year ago. He chose the banjo ukulele. I couldn’t get my brain past Tiny Tim’s shrill 82 DeSoto

version of “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” when I thought of a ukulele. “You mean the ukulele isn’t just for Tiny Tim?” I asked. Perhaps the final insult came when I realized my retired parents had a more interesting social life as they buzzed about their Tuesday night at Central BBQ in Memphis where upwards of 50 folks gather to play the ukuleles. One evening Mom couldn’t go so I agreed to go with Dad. In a backroom filled dozens of people of all shapes and sizes, I found a chair and felt rather conspicuous without an instrument. More than one person offered to let me try their instrument, and during the next two hours, I found something unexpected. As the lead teacher stood in front of the room pointing to a video screen, the crowd plucked and sung without a care in the world. My voice got lost in “You are my Sunshine” and the laughter. Who knew a ukulele equated to sheer joy? When I left that evening, I felt changed and remembered only one other moment that compared. As a teenager, I practiced difficult piano passages for hours, getting lost in another dimension as I worked through notes and rhythms. I found it again amidst a sea of unlikely ukulele players. Music takes us away for a while and when it brings us back, we are changed, no matter our age or place. Karen Ott Mayer is a writer and editor based in Como, Mississippi.

DeSoto Magazine August 2018  

Southern Music - We invite readers to learn about the rich talents, both new and old.

DeSoto Magazine August 2018  

Southern Music - We invite readers to learn about the rich talents, both new and old.