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August

CONTENTS 2020 • VOLUME 17 • NO. 8

features

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56

Marty Stuart Honors Mississippi’s Musical Traditions

War of the Roses Suffrage in Tennessee

Living a Legacy With the Allman Betts Band

departments 14 Living Well Musicians on Call

40 On the Road Again Muscle Shoals, Alabama

18 Notables Pandemic Perspectives

43 Greater Goods 62 Homegrown Lakeland Leatherworks

22 Exploring Art Deak Harp and His Harmonicas 26 Exploring Books Behind the Boards

64 Southern Gentleman John Nemeth 68 Southern Harmony Shirley King, BB’s Daughter

30 Southern Roots If Trees Could Sing

72 In Good Spirits Soundwaves Lil' Off Key

32 Table Talk Huey’s Celebrates 50 Years 36 Exploring Destinations Chattanooga’s Songbirds Museum

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74 Reflections Music: A Way of Life

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editor’s note | AUGUST

Honoring a Unique Heritage On a recent visit to the Gateway to the Blues Museum in Tunica, surrounded by travel writers from around the United States, one thought struck me. Arguably, most of the music we listen to today has roots in the Mississippi Delta. Sure, we credit the blues and think of that musical genre as a category, but the influences those musicians had on others following behind led to the development of ragtime, jazz, rock ’n’ roll, hip hop, rap, and even country. There’s a reason Mississippi calls itself “The Birthplace of America’s Music.” Tennessee remains a vital part of the equation as well — labeled “The Soundtrack of America” — with Memphis and Nashville helping to spread America’s indigenous sounds to the world, not to mention Nashville nurturing country music in its many incarnations. So, we have a lot to celebrate when we examine the South’s musical heritage. In our annual music issue, Pam Windsor nabs an exclusive interview with Mississippi native Marty Stuart, an award-winning singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who’s establishing the Congress of Country Music cultural center in Philadelphia, Miss. Music writer Jim Beaugez takes us inside the Allman Betts Band, comprised of — you guessed it — family members of the Allman Brothers Band. Marking an important anniversary this month is the passage

AUGUST 2020 • Vol. 17 No.8

PUBLISHER & CREATIVE DIRECTOR Adam Mitchell PUBLISHER & ADVERTISING DIRECTOR Paula Mitchell ADVERTISING CONSULTANT Melanie Dupree CO-EDITORS Mary Ann DeSantis Cheré Coen

of the 19th Amendment, which secured women the right to vote in America. It took 36 states to ratify the amendment and many Southern states voted no. Tennessee tipped the scales, voting for ratification by a close vote, and we have one insistent mother to thank for its passage, who you’ll read about in our third feature story. Our departments this month showcase organizations that recognize the importance of music. Don’t miss the story about Musicians on Call, which has assembled volunteer musicians to perform in America’s hospitals, believing in the healing power of music. The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee agrees, which is why they have paired musicians with their favorite trees in the “If Trees Could Sing” campaign. We hope you enjoy our musical issue that includes so much more. Stay safe and cool!

C

Happy Reading!

heré

on the cover Mississippi native Marty Stuart talks about his long career and his plans for the new Congress of Country Music, a $30 million cultural and education center in his hometown of Philadelphia, Miss.

Cover photo by Alysse Gafkjen.

CONTRIBUTORS Tom Adkinson Michele D. Baker Jim Beaugez Cheré Coen Verna Gates Pamela A. Keene Karen Ott Mayer Tracy Morin Dayle Shockley Karon Warren Kevin Wierzbicki Pam Windsor PUBLISHED BY DeSoto Media 2375 Memphis St. Ste 208 Hernando, MS 38632 662.429.4617 ADVERTISING INFO: Paula Mitchell 901-262-9887 Paula@DeSotoMag.com SUBSCRIBE: DeSotoMagazine.com/subscribe

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©2020 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 paula@desotomag.com or call 901-262-9887. Visit us online at desotomagazine.com.

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living well | MUSICIANS ON CALL

Bedside Musicians

Rachel Platten

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Darius Rucker

The Power of Music By Pam Windsor | Photography courtesy of Musicians On Call

Musicians On Call bring performances to patients in hospitals throughout the country and leave with smiles and sometimes healing. There is something truly beautiful about the healing power of music. Over the past two decades, Musicians On Call artists have performed for nearly 850,000 patients, families, and caregivers in hospital rooms all over the country. These artists range from some of the biggest names in the industry to lesserknown singers and musicians, all volunteering their time and talent to share the gift of music.    “I can talk to you all day about the benefits of music and the research that’s been done,” says Pete Griffin, president and CEO of Musicians On Call. “But when you walk into a hospital room where a kid is battling cancer and his or her parents are there, you know it’s literally the worst day of their life, right? And then a volunteer starts playing music and within minutes everyone is smiling, singing, and dancing. You know you’ve given them a break from the heaviness and the sadness.

And it’s the greatest feeling in the world.” The non-profit organization initially started in New York but is now based in Nashville. It was co-founded by Michael Solomon and Vivek Tiwary, both of whom had lost loved ones who had undergone treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. The two were music fans, so they brought in Grammy-winning musician Wynton Marsalis to perform a concert of healing for patients. Marsalis performed in the common area and the response was so positive, they followed it up with concerts with other artists. The duo soon realized, though, that some of the patients who could benefit the most were unable to leave their rooms so they began taking performances bedside. When they saw the “magical” effect it had, they decided to create an organization that would allow them to take live music into hospital rooms. DeSoto 17


Reba McEntire - Virtual Musicians On Call

With the help of donations and a network of volunteers, Musicians On Call provides performances in children’s hospitals, adult facilities, veteran hospitals, and hospices across the country. Support comes from performers like Keith Urban, Reba McEntire, Darius Rucker, Kelly Clarkson, Jason Derulo, Nick Jonas, Pharrell, Rachel Platten, Lauren Alaina, and many more. Griffin says those artists have seen the difference music can make. “I was in a hospital here in Nashville and Keith Urban was performing and he said, ‘I play a lot of big shows in stadiums and arenas, but honestly, if this was all I did, I’d be the happiest man in the world. There’s nothing better than playing one-on-one for someone who you know really needs music and really needs a pick-me-up.’” As Musicians On Call has become more well-known, a growing number of hospitals have asked to be part of the 18 DeSoto

program. To help meet the demand, a couple of years ago it began adding virtual performances. Performing remotely allowed artists to reach more patients. The idea was ahead of its time. It was already in place when the coronavirus pandemic hit, requiring everyone to quarantine. “When everyone else was getting shut out of hospitals, we were probably one of the only programs still able to operate because we had the infrastructure,” Griffin says. “And during this time, the demand increased because not only were patients dealing with being in the hospital, they were dealing with isolation because they couldn’t have visitors. In many cases there were kids battling cancer and only one of their parents could come to the hospital.” During the pandemic, Musicians On Call performed for nearly 10,000 people a month, up from the usual 5,000 to 7,000 people a month.


It’s the gift that keeps on giving with one example after another of music’s power to heal. One recent performance for a young patient in California featured the girl’s favorite singer, Andrew McMahon. His performance came after a miraculous breakthrough. “A while back, this patient was in a coma and non-responsive,” Griffin explains. “Nothing was really working in terms of bringing her out of it. So, the music therapist at UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital said let’s try music therapy. She asked if there was any music the patient was a fan of and her mother said her first concert was her favorite band and there was an artist there named Andrew McMahon.” The therapist suggested they play one of his songs.   “The next thing you know,” Griffin says, “she starts to cry. So, fast forward a little bit and we recently had him play for her via livestream. She still has a long road to recovery, but she’s improved and she was awake and responsive. So, we were excited to be able to connect her to this artist who literally helped her out of a coma. And that’s just one story, I can tell you a thousand more on the power of music.” While research shows music can have a direct effect on how people manage stress, alleviate pain, improve tolerance, blood pressure, and outlook, those with Musicians On Call believe the benefits stretch even beyond that.” “So many times parents will come up to me afterward and say my son or daughter has been fighting cancer and they haven’t smiled or laughed for weeks, until today,” Griffin says. “When you get that kind of feedback you want to keep doing it. This is really helping people’s lives.” To donate or learn more, visit musiciansoncall.org.

Pam Windsor is a Nashville-based journalist who writes about travel, music, arts and culture, and extraordinary people.

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notables |

Wanda Horton Tandy Olmstead

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TANDY OLMSTEAD AND WANDA HORTON


Tandy Olmstead with Samaratan's Purse and FEMA nurses

Getting Through the Pandemic By Karon Warren | Photography courtesy of Tandy Olmstead and Wanda Horton

For a Mississippi nurse working in New York City and a patient in Tennessee, the coronavirus was more than headlines. At the time the COVID-19 pandemic bloomed into a national crisis, Tandy Olmstead of Hernando, Miss., was taking time off from her work as a nurse to spend time with her 10-year-old daughter, Hannah, who has a rare disease. While Olmstead was aware of what was going on in the country, she was focused on her daughter. However, on April 6, she received a call from a recruiter with FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He asked her about traveling to New York City to work in one of the field hospitals. She told him her Nurse Licensure Compact, a multistate license allowing nurses to practice across state lines,

didn’t cover New York but the recruiter assured her it would be federalized through the end of the year. She still turned him down. The recruiter didn’t give up, so she discussed it with her parents and her former-in-laws because she would need childcare for Hannah. Finally, she prayed. “I said, ‘If you really are calling me, please make it a not-so-subtle time to tell me,’” Olmstead says. “I got a call on Good Friday that my credentials were ready to go. That made it less of a decision and more of a calling.” Olmstead spent four weeks working 12-hour days in full personal protective equipment (PPE) at a field hospital in DeSoto 21


Queens. She described it as a “rapidly changing environment with high risk.” She worked only with patients who had tested positive for COVID-19. “It exceeded all my expectations I had,” Olmstead says. “There were changes I wasn’t prepared for, but you have to get in there. You have to try to maintain your patience.” One of the hardest challenges was helping patients who couldn’t be with families. Olmstead recalls one instance where she had a patient whose spouse was in another hospital, also positive for COVID-19. She worked with the other hospital staff to connect both patients by phone, but the spouse was on a ventilator and not looking good. The staff arranged a call, which was put on speaker so the couple could say their goodbyes. “To be there to support them in their time of need was probably the most important thing I could do,” Olmstead says. “We had to use more than words because our faces are covered with N95 masks. You smile with your eyes and hold their hands. It’s never been so important to reach out and hold someone’s hand.” Olmstead also says she’ll never forget the medical staff — nurses, physicians assistants, radiology technicians, and others — she worked and stayed with during her stint at the field hospital. “We all really became close,” she says. “The most surprising things I got to experience in this journey are the relationships we built, those are some of the strongest friendships I have now.” Living with COVID-19 On Thursday, April 9, Wanda Horton of Bartlett, Tenn., noticed she had lost all sense of taste and smell. Shortly thereafter, she progressed to a dry cough, had a high fever, and experienced respiratory problems. She didn’t immediately recognize the COVID-19 symptoms, but her daughter-in-law, Lisa Horton, did. A nurse anesthetist, Lisa immediately said Horton needed to go to the emergency room. During her ER visit, Horton received a COVID-19 test and was sent home. On Monday, April 13, she received her test results: positive. She was told to recoup at home, but, by Wednesday, April 15, she was getting worse. Lisa told her to go back to the ER, and, after a video call with her doctor, Horton’s son Matt took her to the hospital.

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“I struggle to remember all the details because shortterm memory loss is one of the effects,” Horton says. After being admitted to the intensive care unit, Horton was adamant she didn’t want to be put on a ventilator unless it was life or death. She told her doctor she wanted to take hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug used to treat ICU patients that meet specific requirements. He agreed she was a good candidate and administered the drug. Following two and a half days in the ICU, Horton moved into a regular hospital room. She felt better each day, so after another five days, she was released to go home where her son and daughter-in-law could care for her. Both Matt and Lisa tested positive for COVID-19, but, thankfully, remained asymptomatic. It would be another few days before Horton felt like she had turned a corner and was finally on the mend. During her hospital stay, Horton says she could tell the staff wasn’t really sure how to deal with COVID-19 patients. They did have plenty of PPE and changed it out in between patients. “It was very bizarre,” she says. “You could see the fear on their faces. They were trying to help you, but you could tell they didn’t want to get too close to you. You could sense they were a little distressed.” Now that she has recovered, Horton is able to look back at being sick with a better sense of perspective. “I was unsure how sick I was,” she says. “After I got out, I realized I was close to death. Probably the closest to death I’ve ever been. I really feel like God did a miracle. I’m sincerely thankful to the Lord.”

A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, Karon Warren now lives in Ellijay, Ga. Her work also is featured on CruiseCritic.com, LendingTree.com and Healthgrades.com.


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exploring art | DEAK HARP

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Bringing Chicago Blues to the Mississippi Hill Country Story and photography by Michele D. Baker

Celebrities and blues players alike have come to Deak Harp for his custom-made harmonicas, but the Clarksdale resident is a musician at heart. Even from his humble beginnings in New Jersey, Delta harmonica musician Deak Harp was always naturally curious. “When I was little, my parents attached a cord to my suspenders to keep me from wandering off,” says Deak. “I was interested in everything; I would just head over to the neighbor’s house or down the block to see what was going on.” Deak started playing harmonica at age 12 when his brother introduced him to recordings of James “Superharp” Cotton, who had begun his own career at an early age playing with Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf and recording at Sun Records in Memphis under producer Sam Phillips. After college, Deak struck off to follow the man himself.

“I followed [Cotton] wherever he went, even if it meant driving eight hours from New Jersey to Pennsylvania to catch a show,” he says. “Finally, [Cotton] came up to me and asked me why I was following him around, and I told him I was passionate about the harmonica, and I wanted to learn from the best.” On the spot, Deak got his wish. “Right then and there, he gave me a job driving the van and paid me a $100 a day. Plus, I got to watch the Superharp perform all the time. I must have seen 400 shows. I learned to change my breathing, make the sounds, do the tongue block, vibrato... everything.” Deak played and toured with James Cotton’s band for six years. “I was the only white guy in the band,” he remembers. DeSoto 25


“If Sonny Boy Williamson is the heart of blues, then ‘Blues Harp Deak’ expresses the heart of Sonny Boy.” — Dion DiMucci of Dion and the Belmonts

He left Cotton’s band to make his own music. Using the harmonica as a guide, he taught himself how to play guitar, electric guitar, and the diddley bow, as well as play drums. Deak has since played with multiple bands, including the Deak Harp Band and the Kilborn Alley Blues Band, and has shown his flexibility as a musician in the varying styles of his performances. From classic blues, to Chicago blues, to Mississippi Hill Country blues, Deak’s repertoire expanded while his performance style has morphed into busking at festivals. With a guitar slung over one shoulder, mouth harp perfectly positioned on a holder across his neck, and drum box beneath his feet, his sound evolved as he transitioned into a one-man-band. He’s also played throughout the world. “We played in Switzerland, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Chile… you name it,” he says. “I played with all the harmonica greats: Kim Wilson, Billy Boy Arnold, Paul Oscher, Terry “Harmonica” Bean, RJ Mischo, Lazy Lester…we had a great time.” 26 DeSoto

Throughout his career, Deak has been interested not only in playing harmonicas, but in their design and inner workings as well. He works on and sells harmonicas in Deak’s Mississippi Saxophones & Blues Emporium, an eclectic oneroom shop at 13 Third St. in Clarksdale, Miss., just down the street from Ground Zero Blues Club. Deak has made custom harps for celebrities Ozzy Osbourne and Dan Akroyd as well as blues musicians Charlie Musselwhite and Big George Brock. “Hohner makes the best harmonicas,” says Deak. He has disassembled a Marine Band Deluxe edition into its component parts. Its pear wood “comb” is clamped into a vise and he is tenderly sanding the square ends of the tines into graceful arcs. The body has already been retrofitted with rounded edges. “I just upgrade them with the rounded comb and I replace the nails with screws so you can take them apart when a reed cracks. Plus, I fine tune them to perfect pitch. It’s all for comfort.”


These improvements allow a musician to play the harmonica for hours on end, which he did while touring for over a decade. “That way, when you play all night, your mouth just slides across,” he explains. Now that he’s been playing nearly half a century, his shop is doing well, and his album “Clarksdale Breakdown” is widely available, he has time to pass along some of the wisdom he learned. “Cotton and William Clarke – who was another great mentor to me back in the ’90s, would always say, ‘Deak, I’ll show you anything you want to learn about the blues and the business, but you’ve got to make your own name, your own music,’” Deak relates. “That was some of the best advice I ever got.” Much like what Cotton provided him back in the day, paying it forward is what motivates Deak to teach and mentor students these days. “It’s more about passing on traditions than pocketing a paycheck,” he says. When not touring the world, Deak spends his time in his shop, an affectionate homage to harmonicas and his beloved blues music. The wood-paneled walls are obscured by scores of posters of harmonica festivals and photos of famous musicians and actors buying — and playing — harmonicas. Vi s i t o r s c a n e n j o y h i s impressive collection of harmonicas: giant and minuscule, pristine and slightly used, and his “museum” of antique harmonicas, which includes a 1920s “rollmonica” (a harmonica sandwiched between two Bakelite tubes). If you visit, you can purchase a harmonica or have your harmonica repaired or customized, and remember to sign up for lessons from Deak himself. deakharp.com Michele D. Baker is a freelance travel writer and blues music lover in Jackson, Miss. She has three cats, too many books, and has recently perfected the art of baking bread.

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exploring books | BEHIND THE BOARDS

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Producer Dave Cobb

Where the Magic Happens By Kevin Wierzbicki Photography courtesy of Jake Brown, Norbert Putnam and Dave Cobb Book cover courtesy of Blackbird Studios

Author Jake Brown offers a look ‘Behind the Boards’ of Nashville music in his latest undertaking. There’s a line in Joni Mitchell’s 1974 hit song “Free Man in Paris” where she sings about “stoking the star-maker machinery behind the popular song.” A huge group of people is involved in that activity including publicists, journalists, record company hype men, concert promoters, and, of course rabid fans. Many go unsung, and perhaps the most overlooked of these star-making folks are the music producers who work their magic in the recording studio, toiling in near-anonymity as far as the general public goes. Now with his new book, “Behind the Boards: Nashville,” Jake Brown puts dozens of Nashville’s most-revered producers in the spotlight. Brown, author of 50 music-related books over the past two decades, was in a funk before he started writing “Behind the Boards: Nashville.” “I lost my precious dog Hannie in 2018 and I was

deeply depressed and seeking something to kick start me out of it,” Brown says. “So, I reached out to (producer management honcho) Andrew Brightman, and he in turn reached out to Dave Cobb (John Prine, Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton) who was the very first producer who signed on. I also found out that Cobb has a couple of my other books in his studio!” With Cobb set to be interviewed, Brown’s project snowballed fast. “Dann Huff, Nathan Chapman, Paul Worley, Jim Ed Norman, Shane McAnally, and Norbert Putnam signed on, and then word of mouth spread,” Brown says. “And I had a wonderful wave of late arrivals last fall that included Clint Black, Ray Riddle, and Don Cook. Then right before the pandemic Buddy Cannon, Bobby Braddock, Frank Rogers, and Ray Baker signed on. We reached out to everybody. Given DeSoto 29


Author Jake Brown

Producer Norbert Putnam

we got about 90 percent of the top talent working in Nashville today, and most of the signature artists’ long-term producers, the book really covers every generation of country over the past 40 to 50 years.” Fans will learn a lot, not only about the men behind the boards (“board” refers to the sound board/mixing board used in the studio) but also about some of the artists they work with. In the chapter spotlighting Norbert Putnam, Putnam details how he nudged Jimmy Buffett into the “trop rock” sound that is his hallmark today. Insisting that Buffett record in Miami and not Nashville, Putnam rented a big house right on the beach for Buffett and his crew, and drove the point home while sailing with Jimmy almost every day. The effort resulted in Buffett’s 1977 album “Changes in Attitude, Changes in Latitude” and its massive hit single “Margaritaville.” The story is just one of many examples in “Behind the Boards: Nashville” where Brown shows how producers shaped a performer’s raw talent. “I was always pleasantly surprised to have a producer really pull the curtain back and give fans a front row seat inside the studio, into how their favorite stars like Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, George Strait, and Kacey Musgraves all really work in the studio and how their greatest hits were created together from the ground up.” There’s a little technical information in the book, so recording nerds will hear producers referring to things like Cole 4038 ribbon microphones and Tascam 246 4-track recorders from time to time. But “Behind the Boards: Nashville” is a breezy read that can be reconsidered a sort of collection of mini-biographies where the producers reveal their personalities and recording techniques through anecdotes. Brown cites Willie Nelson producer James Stroud as an example. “Willie’s recording studio is actually the clubhouse of his golf course, and Stroud told me about recording vocals 30 DeSoto

and guitar tracks with Trigger (Nelson’s Martin guitar) and then the two of them throwing their clubs in Willie’s Mercedes and driving out onto the green and playing 12 rounds, because Willie owned the course!” Getting his subjects to open up is Brown’s specialty; he’s done it for Joe Satriani’s memoir, with tons of songwriters in his “Nashville Songwriters” series and in “Beyond the Beats Vol. 1” where he profiled drummers from bands like Aerosmith, Journey, Foo Fighters and Creedence Clearwater Revival. “Getting it right for fans is a perfectionist pursuit for many of the producers and the artists they work with, so it’s almost a friendly competition because no one can believe they’re in the studio getting to live their dream for a living,” Brown says. “It doesn’t often feel like work from the way they describe it, even though it takes incredible devotion. I hope everyone who reads this book walks away with a better understanding of how hard these country artists and bands work alongside producers in pursuit of excellence.” Brown’s beloved Hannie is no doubt still with him in spirit, perhaps nestled lovingly at his master’s feet. Good thing too; Brown will need the help of his “co-writer” as he completes his upcoming books, which include “Doctors of Rhythm,” a profile of legendary hip-hop producers, and the third in his songwriter’s series, “Nashville Songwriters Vol. III.” On a non-musical note, Brown is also writing about the summer camp he attended for years and the family that ran it. Kevin Wierzbicki has sat in on a few recording sessions and it never ceases to amaze him how, when a band is playing live in studio, a producer can discern when one sour note is played in an otherwise perfect performance. “Let’s try that again!”


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southern roots | IF TREES COULD SING

Chuck Leavell

If Trees Could Sing By Pamela A. Keene Photography courtesy of Allen Farst Photography, Andrew Newiss and Jason Ringenberg

The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee matched musicians with their favorite trees to encourage a love of nature through music. If anyone can spin a good story and get people to pay attention, it’s musicians. That’s exactly what the staff at The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee thought when it approached Southern musicians several years ago to help them launch “If Trees Could Sing.” “The idea actually came about because of a project we did with students to certify high schools as arboretums and to engage students in the environment and a love of nature,” says Nashville-based landscape architect Tara Armistead. “By making a connection between students and trees through the words of popular musicians, it had more appeal than just talking to students about the importance of trees to the environment. “ As the national organization, The Nature Conservancy sought ways to bring trees to the forefront of its conservation message, TNC in TN board member Armistead shared her arboretum project with fellow board members. Soon, staff 32 DeSoto

and volunteers began planning, making calls to musicians and agents, and setting up production schedules to launch “If Trees Could Sing” and give trees a voice. Musicians selected their favorite trees and recorded videos about their selections that are accessible via QR codes on plaques at designated places across Tennessee. The singing moved into Georgia as well. For Southern Rock musician, keyboardist for the Rolling Stones, and Georgia tree farmer Chuck Leavell, it was a natural that he would choose the longleaf pine as his favorite tree to be part of a similar program in Atlanta for The Nature Conservancy in Georgia that was active for several years. “Longleaf pines were the dominant tree from Virginia all the way down to East Texas before the European settlement, so it was the ‘original tree’ of the South,” he says. “Of course, in the mountainous areas like the Appalachians, you had mostly


Kim Richey

hardwoods, and the iconic American Chestnut. But for the most part, longleaf ruled the landscape. It was and is a majestic species, and the lumber from those early days literally built most of the South. Today, and for the last some 20 years there has been an effort to restore longleaf throughout the South, and we have participated in that.” By doing his part, Leavell currently farms 350 acres of longleaf pines on his farm, Charlane Plantation, near Macon. Recipient of numerous awards for his tree and conservation work, he serves on boards and committees for several conservation groups and is active in conservation and forestry issues. “Any time I have the opportunity to help people understand the value of trees and forests, it’s my personal obligation to exploit that, especially in urban areas, where it is important that message is disseminated to the public,” he says. “Those of us who live in rural settings have a closer relationship with trees and forests for obvious reasons, but in cities that have high populations, sometimes that value is overlooked. It’s critical we help folks in these urban arenas understand the true value of trees.” Singer/songwriter Kim Richey didn’t blink when asked to support “If Trees Could Sing.” As a musician, she frequently entertains at TNC’s fund-raising events. “I really believe in the organization and what it does,” says the Ohio native who graduated from Ohio University with a degree in environmental education. She also ran a nature center in Vail, Colo., years ago, before moving to Nashville for her career. “The outdoors has always appealed to me as a place to relieve stress and renew my faith in the world.” Richey selected the sycamore as her tree. “It is beautiful in every season, from its bright-green leaves in spring to its ghost-like appearance in the winter when the bark has such great texture.” Richey, who landed her first recording contract at age

Jason Ringenberg - Hackberry tree

37, released “A Long Way Back: The Songs of Glimmer” this spring to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the original “Glimmer” album. Known as Farmer Jason, singer/songwriter/ entertainer Jason Ringenberg grew up on a hog farm in Illinois. His favorite tree was a hackberry. “That tree was like a cat with at least nine lives,” says Ringenberg, who is known for such fun, upbeat, and humorous songs as “John the Baptist was a Real Humdinger,” “Santa drove a Big John Deere” and “Lookin’ Back Blues.” “I know my daddy cut down that old tree at least three times and it just kept growing back. He finally just gave up and it became my climbing tree. Now it’s a really huge tree in my parents’ back yard.” Talk about getting close to nature. A couple of years ago, Ringenberg spent three months as artist-in-residence at the Sequoia National Park, where he wrote his latest album, “Stand Tall.” It includes another tree tribute, “Here in the Sequoias,” that captures his respect for nature and the reverence of the giant trees. “You know, the spirit of the sequoias is all over that record,” he says. “If Trees Could Sing” is located in 12 sites in Tennessee, from Nashville’s Centennial Park and Coolidge Park in Chattanooga to Montgomery Bell State Park in Dickson County and Morningside Park in Knoxville. Trees at each location have markers with QR codes that can access videos of musicians talking about their favorite trees. nature.org/iftreescouldsing

Pamela A. Keene is an Atlanta-based travel and feature journalist/ photographer who writes about people and places across the Southeast.

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table talk | HUEY’S

Live music is a tradition at Huey’s.

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Alex Boggs with his sisters

Blues, Brews, and Burgers By Tracy Morin | Photography courtesy of Huey’s

A Memphis-area staple for good food, spirits, and live music, Huey’s celebrates its golden anniversary in 2020. Back in 1970, Memphis enterprising entrepreneur Allen Gary envisioned a bar with a unique atmosphere, a place he could hang out with friends while providing a oneof-a-kind atmosphere Memphians would love. The bar was christened Huey’s, after Gary’s childhood nickname. He sold the establishment in 1973 to Don Wood and Jay Sheffield, who did a quick cleanup and revamp before opening the doors as new owners in January 1974. “At that time, they sold only burgers, tamales, chili, and bar snacks,” recounts Samantha Dean, special project coordinator and co-owner of Huey’s Restaurants. “Our dad, Thomas Boggs, started working at Huey’s in 1976 as a bartender

and manager with incentives to buy in. When Dad got there, he really helped transform Huey’s into a full-fledged restaurant and is largely responsible for the Huey’s that Memphis knows today.” Though Boggs passed away in 2008, his late wife, Wight, and three daughters carried on his legacy. Alongside Dean, Lauren Robinson is now CEO of Huey’s Restaurants, with Ashley Robilio serving as COO. Boggs’ sons, Alex (general manager of Huey’s Millington) and Fulton, are also co-owners, and Sheffield remains involved, still booking bands for each location. The family has seen the humble original restaurant DeSoto 35


Huey’s To-Go Order Thank You

grow from a second location in East Memphis that opened in 1991 to today’s nine locations across the Memphis area and north Mississippi. A 10th outlet is scheduled to open in Olive Branch, Miss., in early 2021. The menu has similarly expanded. Earlier versions list only three specialty burgers, while today’s menu offers 13; selections have almost doubled in size from the 30 or so items it once sold. “We’ve evolved in so many ways,” Dean says. “We are doing our best to run the company the way Daddy would, while adding our own flair and ideas. Our menu is constantly evolving, but our atmosphere remains the same — familyfocused with a hefty dose of blues, brews, and burgers.” Those burgers have indeed achieved legendary status in the Memphis area, nabbing multiple awards and flying off the menu. While Dean shies away from giving away all of the secrets to its addictive patties, she does point out heaps of family pride for Huey’s seasoning. “And we never flatten our burgers,” she adds. “We want that first bite to hold all the juicy flavor we put into them.” Live music has also been a central feature of Huey’s locations for decades. Shows began in the summer of 1974, when Huey’s began to occasionally book bands on the weekends. Eventually, the live music became a true Sundaynight tradition. “It’s incredibly important to us to feature local artists and show off Memphis music, because Memphis has such a rich music history,” Dean explains. “And amazing artists are still living out their careers in here today.” Over the years, Huey’s has enjoyed a bevy of accolades, including a 1992 honor as a top small business by the Memphis Business Journal. But Huey’s also knows how to throw a party, including for its 35th anniversary in Midtown Memphis. “Anniversaries are always a blast, because community members, old employees, and vendors all make an effort to stop in and celebrate with us,” Dean says. “And we always donate a 36 DeSoto

portion of the proceeds to a nonprofit in the community. It’s just a special time that brings the whole Huey’s family together.” In light of COVID-19 concerns this year, Huey’s 50th anniversary party was postponed, but the family celebrated by taking time to reflect on and share the Huey’s history via its social media channels. Meanwhile, local media outlets spread Huey’s stories to the community. “We received so many amazing well-wishes, throwback photos, and stories, and kind comments about how much Huey’s means to the community,” Dean notes. “Eventually, we will host our 50th anniversary party, and that will be an amazing day. We’ll have a kids’ zone with rock climbing, face painting, and more, plus local vendors, burgers, brews — and, of course, live music.” At the heart of Huey’s is a sense of togetherness, and Dean believes that its reputation as a great place to relax with friends and family remains a draw today. “I think a big reason people are pulled to Huey’s is because of the history,” she says. “We are a family-owned business, and that close-knit environment spreads to our broader ‘Huey’s Family’ — our employees. We’re always doing our best to make customers feel at home, but we know that starts with us and how we engage with our people. When the atmosphere is positive, fun, and inviting, customers catch on to that.” As Huey’s continues to grow and thrive 50 years after its founding, Dean knows that tremendous local support over the decades has been the real “secret sauce” to success. “As always, we want to say thank you to everyone,” she says. “None of what we’ve accomplished would have been possible without their incredible support and kindness. They’ve trusted us with so many of their memories, and we’ll always be grateful for that.” Based in Oxford, Miss., Tracy Morin is an award-winning freelance writer and editor with a passion for covering food, beverage, beauty, and boxing.

Thomas Boggs and daughters, from left, Lauren Robinson, Samantha Dean and Ashley Robilio.


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exploring destinations | SONGBIRDS GUITAR MUSEUM

Buddy Holly

1966 Gibson EMS-1235

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1966 Gibson EMS-1235


Chuck Berry

Striking the Right Chord By Tom Adkinson | Photography courtesy of Songbirds Guitar Museum and Tom Adkinson

Songbirds Guitar Museum is guitar heaven in Chattanooga with hundreds of classic guitars on display, plus opportunities to play one or two. Try to imagine B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, or Chet Atkins without a guitar in hand. You can’t. Your mind goes to King in a blues club holding Lucille, his name for his Gibson ES-345s and ES-355s. You see Hendrix at Woodstock ripping out “The Star-Spangled Banner” on a Fender Stratocaster with an Olympic White color scheme. And it’s likely your image of Atkins is in a Nashville recording studio making magic on a Gretsch Country Gentleman. King, Hendrix, and Atkins were three world-famous entertainers from different musical worlds, but with a common bond — notable and memorable guitars.

As famous as they were – and as famous as thousands of other guitarists are — you’d never have heard of them if they hadn’t coaxed music from the works of art that hung from their necks or rested across their laps. That’s the point of Songbirds Guitar Museum in Chattanooga, Tenn., where guitars are in the spotlight instead of musicians. Entertainers sometimes help tell a story or offer some historical context, but make no mistake, guitars are what’s important here. “You won’t hear us brag about a player or someone who owned an instrument. We want the guitar to be the show,” DeSoto 39


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says General Manager Damien Rogers. Located on the campus of the famous Chattanooga Choo Choo on Station Street, the museum opened in 2017 to showcase the collection of a private individual who stays out of the spotlight himself (or herself, perhaps). The collection contains approximately 1,400 instruments, and between 500 and 600 are on display at any one time. Your first glimpse can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not a guitar player yourself. Walking into Songbirds is akin to entering a connoisseur’s vast wine cellar or a sports car collector’s display building. You know what’s there is valuable and important, even if you don’t know exactly why. Rogers and his staff make the museum understandable and illuminating, whether you are a non-player, a recreational picker, someone who has been in a band, or a true professional. Visitors in all those categories come to Songbirds. A general admission ticket includes a guide’s assistance in the first display area before you are turned loose among the numerous cases. Guides remain available for questions. However, special ticketing provides you access to the Green Room, where temporary displays are housed, and to the sanctum sanctorum called the Vault, where approximately 60 fretted treasures are stored. Songbirds focuses on solid body electric guitars, along with some acoustic guitars, banjos, and amplifiers. A guide might mention the existence of a 3,300-year-old stone carving of an unnamed Hittite bard playing an ancient guitar precursor, but the story here launches in the 1950s with well-known names such as Fender, Gibson, Gretsch, and Rickenbacker. The very first display contains a Fender Esquire and a Fender Broadcaster from 1950, a Fender No-Caster and a Fender Telecaster from 1951, and a Gibson Les Paul prototype from 1952. These are guitars that changed American music. Evidence of that change is in the far corner of the case — a photo of Buddy Holly and a Fender Stratocaster, along with a replica poster advertising Holly’s last show, the Feb. 2, 1959, Winter Dance Party in Clear Lake, Iowa. It’s easy to think that we wouldn’t have “Peggy Sue” or “That’ll Be the Day” without Fender Stratocasters. Wandering through the museum’s main space reveals the gradual evolution of electric guitars in shape, decoration, construction, and especially color. Rogers points to a Gibson Les Paul with a sunburst finish, that finish made only from 1958-1960.

“That design didn’t sell all that well, so it’s rare by definition,” Rogers explains, noting that Songbirds has more than 30 of them. “It has become one of the most desired electric guitars in the world.” If you have an “I’d feel as if I’d died and gone to heaven if I could play one of these instruments” sensation, you don’t have to die. The museum makes it possible with “player experiences” called the Jam Session, the Rockstar Session, and the VIP Studio Session. They are progressively more expensive, but not unreasonable, opportunities to play selected instruments from the Songbirds inventory. The VIP Studio Session even includes professional photography and videography, recording time, and accompaniment from a professional guitarist if desired. “These experiences are for guitar fanatics who might have thought they’d never even see a particular rare instrument, much less play one,” Rogers says. Performances also are a part of museum operation. Sometimes, display cases are eased aside to create a performance space for about 200 listeners. Artists such as surf music pioneer Dick Dale and acoustic guitar virtuoso Tommy Emmanuel have played there. One level below the museum is a larger venue that can accommodate up to 500. Acts such as the Bacon Brothers, Lizzo, and Ana Popovic have packed that space — all basking in the aura of the Songbirds Guitars Museum’s collection. museum.songbirds.rocks

Tom Adkinson is not one of the 1,352 guitar pickers the Lovin’ Spoonful said live in Nashville. However, he knows where to listen to good music and says so in his book, “100 Things to Do in Nashville Before You Die.” He is a Marco Polo member of the Society of American Travel Writers.

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on the road again | MUSCLE SHOALS, ALABAMA

, s l a o h S e l c s u M

Alabama

8:00 – Few things are better than biscuits smothered in chocolate gravy at River Road’s Cafe. Toss in some country ham or tenderloin along with eggs for a delicious wake-up call. 9:00 – Start where it all began at FAME Studios. One bold man, Rick Hall, opened a recording studio across from a cotton field. He recorded local elevator operator, Arthur Alexander singing “You Better Move On,” a hit covered by the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. A hospital orderly, Percy Sledge, followed with “When a Man Loves a Woman.” Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Etta James, and many others recorded here. You can step up to Aretha’s microphone! 10:30 – The only studio started by musicians, dubbed the Swampers in “Sweet Home, Alabama,” is restored and recording again at 3614 Jackson Highway. The Muscle Shoals Sound Studios inhabits a tiny concrete block building where the Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, Cher, Bob Segar, and Rod Stewart cut hits. 11:30 – When the studio became too cramped, Muscle Shoals Sound moved to larger quarters at Cypress Moon Studios. Here, Bob Dylan, Julian Lennon and Steve Winwood cut albums. Check for concerts held here, right on the river. 12:30 – If you close your eyes, you can imagine sitting at your grandmother’s table at the Garden Gate Café. Fresh, homemade meats and vegetables, along with heavenly desserts, like cobblers and fried pies will take you back to Southern dinners of country steak, butter beans and fried okra. 2:00 – How did such great music come from this tiny town? Some say it’s the singing river. Make the pilgrimage to Tom’s Wall, a memorial to Tom Hendrix’s ancestor who walked back home from the Trail of Tears because Oklahoma streams did not sing to her. Tom built this powerful Native American site himself, stone by stone, more than eight million pounds. 3:30 – TVA Rockpile Trail leads you to the river along a trail packed with wildflowers and song birds. Eagles live in the bluffs and you may see one fishing in the river by the Wilson Dam. 6:00 – Supper at Champy’s Chicken where the music is as hot as the fried menu. Don’t be deceived by this dive; some of the top musicians in the world play here at night. If you ask band members whom they have played with, answers could be Elvis, John Lennon or Bob Dylan. 8:00 – Swamper’s Bar at the Shoals Marriott where you can enjoy cocktails in a mini museum dedicated to the local musicians. Live music nightly features local players who are themselves famed musicians. Enjoy the music! 42 DeSoto


To plan your visit: www.colbertcountytourism.org www.visitflorenceal.com

Hike the Rockpile Trail with Fresh Air Family August 22 Take a tour of summer wildflowers with Charles Rose, botanist and Hall of Fame horn player.

The Coon Dog Cemetery Labor Day Celebration September 7 Visit the world’s only coon dog cemetery with some of the most colorful headstones to be found anywhere. Festivities include bluegrass music, barbecue, buck dancing and a liar’s contest.

“Oka Kapassa” – Return to Cold Water American Indian Festival September 12-13 This festival commemorates Native American Heritage as the Nations journey back to “recollect” local kindness shown to the Nations during the early 1800s. Experience authentic culture showcased in storytelling, dancing, music, arts & crafts and a torch-lighting ceremony. — Compiled by Verna Gates

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greater goods | BACK TO SCHOOL

Back to School

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1. Disco Vibe Backpacks, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS 2. Beaufort Bonnet Company dress, Merry Magnolia, 194 E Military Road, Marion, AR 3. Kids Masks, Paisley Pineapple, 6542 Goodman Road, Olive Branch, MS 4. Scooples Earrings, The Speckled Egg, 5100 Interstate 55, Marion, AR 5. Bracelets, Bon Von, 230 W Center Street, Hernando, MS 6. Corkcicle lunch bags and thermoses, The Pink Zinnia, 134 West Commerce Street, Hernando, MS 7. Cool t-shirts, Commerce Street Market, 74 W Commerce St, Hernando, MS 8. Scout lunch bags, Mimi’s on Main, 432 Main Street, Senatobia, MS 9. Teletie ponytail holders, Cynthia’s Boutique, 2529 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS 10. Handmade bracelets, Cynthia’s Boutique, 2529 Caffey Street, Hernando, MS 11. Save The Girls touch screen purses, Bon Von, 230 W Center Street, Hernando, MS 12. Sandals, The Speckled Egg, 5100 Interstate 55, Marion, AR

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MARTY STUART By Pam Windsor Photography courtesy of David McClister and Alysse Gafkjen

Mississippi's Marty Stuart is busy planning his Congress of Country Music, a new tourist attraction that will honor the state’s musical legacy.

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Pantheon in Nashville

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Singer, songwriter, and multiinstrumentalist Marty Stuart would normally be touring right now, if not for the Coronavirus pandemic. He’s missed performing for live audiences, but staying home for an extended period of time turned out to be a rare and welcome break for Stuart who has been making music for the past 40 years, virtually non-stop. “The truth of the matter is, I haven’t been this still and this centered since…,” he says, pausing to think about it. “I left home when I was 12 to go play music, so I’ve been a moving target. And to actually be at home with Connie (Stuart is married to country singer Connie Smith) and to be around my family and the things I’ve worked for, it’s been wonderful.” The pandemic may have affected his ability to tour, but not his creativity. Stuart recently went back into the studio to record a new album (release date to be determined), he’s been working on his next book, he helped Smith finish her latest album, and he’s been busy with projects related to his Marty Stuart’s Congress of Country Music. The $30 million cultural and education center planned for his hometown of Philadelphia, Miss., will showcase some of the state’s many contributions to music. “When you drive across the state line, it says ‘Welcome to the Birthplace of America’s Music,’” Stuart explains. “We are unparalleled when it comes to that kind of story. No other place on planet earth comes close to the musical legacy: past, present, and future.” The complex will add to other attractions already showcasing much of Mississippi’s music story. “I think the spiritual home of rock and roll is unquestionably Tupelo, Elvis Presley’s birthplace,” Stuart says. “And I love what B.B. King did over in the Delta at his place. Then, when the Grammy Museum put a facility on the campus of Delta State I thought, okay, the north state is zipped up now. So, I think East Central Mississippi where I’m from could be considered the spiritual home of country music, between the Congress of Country Music and the Jimmie Rodgers Museum 35 miles away.” Stuart is well-known for his love of country music and depth of knowledge regarding its history. He shared his expertise throughout Ken Burns’ “Country Music” documentary series that aired on PBS last year. DeSoto 49


Marty Stuart’s Congress of Country Music Museum Rendering

In his own career, Stuart has stayed true to honoring the tradition of the genre, while also making his own music. “My favorite question that Ken Burns asked me during the making of that series, and I don’t think it made it into the show, was, ‘Tell me about tradition,’” Stuart relates. “And I think my answer was tradition can be viewed from many perspectives. If you look at tradition and let it be an inspiration and a role model and history lesson as to what to do and what not to do, that inspires me. I know where my bedrock of tradition is, but it’s really and truly about making new stuff and new music and keeping the story moving forward.” His dedication to honoring country music history may come from being so much a part of it, himself. The former child prodigy, who drew inspiration from watching country music TV shows with his dad during the early 1960s, taught himself to play both the guitar and mandolin by the time he was eight years old. At 14, he was touring with Lester Flatt, and by his early 20s had been invited to join Johnny Cash’s band. Stuart went on to become an artist in his own right with a number of hits in the 1990s. In 2002, he put together the band he travels and performs with today: The Fabulous Superlatives. He also hosted a popular TV show on RFD-TV. Last year he celebrated the anniversary of his critically acclaimed album “The Pilgrim,” released in 1999. It marked a turning point in his career. “‘The Pilgrim’ was my line in the dirt record,” he says. “I’d had so much commercial success and we’d done it all, and it was starting to become a game. Then, something inside me told me you don’t have to change anymore, go back to your heart 50 DeSoto

and soul. So, I made this record called ‘The Pilgrim’ which is basically a take on a tragic story that happened in Philadelphia when I was a kid. And this record came out to great critical acclaim, more than I ever had in my life, but commercially it was a flop.” It may not have sold enough records to be a hit, but it was so revered by fellow musicians, artists, and fans in multiple genres, Stuart says it never really “went away.” He released a 20th anniversary version with 10 extra tracks and a book telling the story of how it was made. He’s currently working on a book that will highlight another of his albums called “Badlands: The Ballads of the Lakota.” Building a music cultural center in the small town where it all began is especially meaningful for Stuart. One section will include a museum where he’ll share some of the 20,000 pieces of memorabilia he’s collected through the years. “My love for the treasures of country music goes back to when I was a kid. And in the early 80s, I started noticing for instance that Patsy Cline’s hand-tooled leather make-up case with her name and address on the inside, wound up in a junk store on Eighth Avenue in Nashville. I paid 75 bucks for that. And that was example after example, of item after item that was happening to. So, I said, you know what, I’m going to save our culture.” He stops here, laughs, then adds, “It was a selfappointed mission.” Items will include Johnny Cash’s first black performance suit, Hank Williams’ hand-written lyrics to “Cold Cold Heart,” the boots Patsy Cline was wearing when she lost


her life, and so much more. In the planning for nearly a decade, Marty Stuart’s Congress of Country Music will open in the next two to three years.   “The property’s been purchased, the collection’s in town, and the working board and advisory boards are seated,” Stuart says. “We have a representative from the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, Ken Burns is on the board, Charley Pride (also a Mississippi native) myself, Connie Smith, the director of the Grand Ole Opry, the executive director of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Everything is done except basically raising the rest of the money and building the thing.” The 50,000-square-foot campus will feature the renovated Ellis Theater, built in 1926, as a performance and multi-use space, the museum, a rooftop performance venue, a community hall, meeting rooms, classrooms, TV production space, and more. There will be live music with legendary artists and rising stars. Stuart is excited to share his passion for music and help shine a light on the state where so much of it originated.   “I think if we link together as basically a cultural chain that runs throughout the state with Presley’s birthplace, the Delta Cultural Center, the Grammy Museum, and the Jimmie Rodgers Museum, and if you put it alongside of the blues and the country music and literary trail markers coming up out of the ground, and you put live performances with that, we’re going to be a state to be reckoned with when it comes to music tourism,” he says. “And I’m proud to show up and be able to do my part.” To lear n more or to make a donation, visit congressofcountrymusic.org.

Pam Windsor is a Nashville-based journalist who writes about music, arts & culture, travel, food & drink, and extraordinary people.

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Living a

Legacy

The Allman Betts Band

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By Jim Beaugez Photography courtesy of Kaelyn Barowsky and Gilbert Lee


Children of musical greats, Devon Allman and Duane Betts begin their own chapter in The Allman Brothers Band saga.

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Native Americans swore the Tennessee River “sang” as it wound its way through northern Alabama, where today the cities of Muscle Shoals and Florence exist. “They say that the magic in Muscle Shoals comes from that river,” says Devon Allman, co-leader of the Southern rock supergroup The Allman Betts Band. There’s no question the Alabama River proved magical for Duane Allman, his late uncle, who made his name as a session guitar player for Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett not far from its banks. That’s also where he began to sow the seeds for The Allman Brothers Band, the jam-rock juggernaut that included Devon’s father, Gregg Allman, and a second guitar player named Dickey Betts. So, when Devon teamed up with Duane Betts, Dickey’s son, to form The Allman Betts Band in 2018, Muscle Shoals was the natural place to begin. “Down to the River” recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio reaffirmed the legacy established by their fathers while forging a new chapter together. “We felt like we were adding our little bit to the story,” Allman says. The real origins of The Allman Betts Band began much earlier, though, when their fathers reunited for the 20th anniversary of The Allman Brothers Band in 1989. With their hard-partying days behind them, the band members brought their families along for the ride. On the trek, Devon became fast friends with Duane and Berry Oakley Jr., the latter named for his bass-playing father, and the three bonded over their mutual love of music. “It was much more of a family affair for them [at that point],” recalls Allman. “I was 17. Oakley was 16 or 17, and Betts was 12 or something like that, but that’s where we all met and hung out and kind of got to know each other. “We always thought it would be cool to join forces, but it was never a have-to; it was always a want-to. I’m glad we waited, because now we start this band as seasoned musicians that are ready to jump right out of the gate instead of kind of finding our way or learning as we go.” After that tour, their paths continued to cross. Betts picked up guitar at 14 and was sitting in with The Allman Brothers Band by the mid-1990s, including the band’s performance at Woodstock 1994. DeSoto 55


Two years later, he teamed with Oakley in the Oakley Krieger Band, before playing with his father in Great Southern and later joining Dawes. Allman followed a similar path, forming the band Honeytribe in the late ’90s and teaming with Cyril Neville in Royal Southern Brotherhood. Both artists were touring with solo bands when Allman invited Betts to open some shows for him in 2018. “I’d do a little opening set, and then I would sit in with him and we’d do this rotating-doors jam thing throughout his set,” Betts recalls. “And that was the beginning of the process that led to The Allman Betts Band.” When Allman and Betts officially united under their new moniker — which gives more than a subtle hat-tip to their parents’ legacy — their old friend Berry Oakley Jr. came onboard as bass guitarist. Over the last two years, the band members have grown tighter as friends and musicians. “You go out there and play six nights a week all year, you’re going to grow, you’re going to get that trust, you’re going to get that synergy,” Allman says. “There’s a lot of trust there — there’s a lot of comfortability that translates on stage.” Alongside songs from “Down to the Water,” the band regularly peppers their sets with Allman Brothers Band classics like “Blue Sky” and “Ain’t Wastin Time No More.” It’s important to play those songs, according to Allman, even though they’re not a nostalgia or legacy band.

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“We’re truly a band because we have legit chemistry,” he says. “What accompanies that, being who we are, is that we are carrying on a legacy. Allman Brothers fans are going to come see us because they’re curious or because they want a reminder of the past, and that’s beautiful and amazing. That legacy is something to be very proud of. It means so much to so many people, but the core of the equation is that we have chemistry and we wanted to just start a band.” That chemistry shines through on the band’s new second album, “Bless Your Heart.” The band locks in on extended jams like the 12-minute “Savannah’s Dream,” which mixes jazz and rock influences as their forebears did on classics like “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” “There’s an obvious growth,” says Allman. “There’s an obvious comfortability in stretching out a bit. There are some songs on the record that kind of stretch out, but they don’t stretch out of place.”


Allman and Betts pass the microphone back and forth across the album’s 13 songs, just like their fathers did throughout The Allman Brothers Band’s history. “We knew that if we ever wanted to work together, we’d want to kind of pass the ball around,” Allman says. “But I’ll tell you this, if there were no songs, there would have never been a band.” Allman knew he didn’t want to have prescribed ideas about song length and structure. As a result, the band approached the songs organically. The process of writing and working out the new songs together, as a band, kept Betts’s fire lit. “It seemed like every week there was a new peak, the new musical highlight of my career playing with this band,” he says, “because we’ve just really grown and there were some really, just nice musical moments. The vision is to keep pushing forward.” Both Allman and Betts — and Oakley, for that matter — know a lot of musical history is packed into their names. But listening to The Allman Betts Band, there’s no baggage or strain from carrying that legacy. There is room enough to bring their own vision to life on top of the foundation their fathers built. “The ultimate goal, for me, is to create something that I’m proud of, that I feel can stand the test of time and that touches people,” says Betts. “That’s what art is about. The whole point of writing a song is to have people relate to it and carry them through, or just make their day a little easier.” Jim Beaugez is a freelance music writer based in Clinton, Miss. Follow him on Twitter @JimBeaugez.

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Tennessee March

Tennessee’s

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By CherĂŠ Coen Photography Credits: Phoebe Burns - public domain. TNMarch, the Carrie, Hermitage tea and Karen-Rubin photo courtesy of the Hermitage Hotel.

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified 100 years ago when Tennessee cast the deciding vote to allow women the right to vote. The contentious debate was symbolized by yellow and red roses. DeSoto 59


Pheobe Burns

Did you know? • Memphis women formed the first local suffrage league in the state. • The Woman Suffrage Memorial in Knoxville’s Market Square honors state suffragists Elizabeth Avery Meriwether of Memphis, Lizzie Crozier French of Knoxville, and Anne Dallas Dudley of Nashville. • Mississippi ratified the 19th Amendment on March 22, 1984, a full 64 years after it became U.S. law. The Mississippi Legislature originally rejected ratification of the woman suffrage amendment in February 1920. By the 1970s, many Mississippians regarded the state's failure to ratify the amendment as an embarrassment because it was the only state that had never done so. On a March day when few legislators were even listening and with no opposition, the state legislature finally ratified the 19th Amendment although Mississippi women had been voting for years.

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The movement to gain women the right to vote in the United States started in the 1800s when women of many social situations — many of them mothers — rallied to the cause. They wrote letters, they marched, they demonstrated. They were spit upon and disgraced by their families and churches. Several went to jail, others injured in the fight. “Winning the vote required 72 years of ceaseless agitation by three generations of dedicated, fearless suffragists who sought to overturn centuries of law and millennia of tradition concerning gender roles,” writes Elaine Weiss in “The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote.” “The women who launched the movement were dead by the time it was completed; the women who secured its final success weren’t born when it began. It took more than 900 local, state, and national campaigns, involving tens of thousands of grassroots volunteers, financed by millions of dollars of mostly small (and a few large) donations by women across the country,” says Weiss in her book. The day they had all been waiting for arrived one hot August in Tennessee. It was aided by one mother in particular. Votes for Women! After decades of citizens demanding that women be allowed to vote, the U.S. Congress passed the 19th Amendment to the Constitution on June 4, 1919. It read simply that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” Once passed by Congress, the amendment had to be ratified by 36 states to become law. By the summer of 1920, in an election year, 35 states had ratified, eight had rejected the amendment, and five had not voted. One of those states in the balance was Tennessee. Gov. Albert H. Roberts called a special session of the Tennessee Legislature to consider the issue with activists on both sides arriving in Nashville. Among the leaders of the suffrage movement were Carrie Catt, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and Josephine Pearson, president of the Tennessee State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage. For six weeks, Tennessee legislators were met by thousands of women DeSoto 61


The Hermitage Hotel.

and men on both sides, many times events turning bitter and cruel as the days wore on, claims Weiss. Supporters of suffrage wore yellow roses, opponents red, and the conflict was nicknamed Tennessee’s “War of the Roses.” “The conflict quickly devolved into a vicious face-off, brimming with dirty tricks and cutting betrayals, sexist rancor, racial bigotry, booze, and the Bible, with the ghosts of the Civil War hovering over the proceedings and jitters lingering from the Great War amplifying the tension,” she writes. The underlying fear of some opponents was that the amendment gave African American women the right to vote. “The outcome remained in doubt until the very last moment,” Weiss adds. That moment came in the form of State Rep. Harry Burn, who hailed from McMinn County where most of his constituents opposed suffrage. He stood with the “antis” in the hopes of getting re-elected but his heart favored his mother’s viewpoint of suffrage. The Senate had approved ratification by a large margin but the House appeared ready to vote it down. On Aug. 18, 1920, the day of the final vote in the House, Phoebe Ensminger Burn’s letter lingered in her son’s jacket pocket, an epistle from a college-educated woman. She encouraged her son to vote for suffrage. When Chief John Green called for a vote in the Tennessee General Assembly to ratify the 19th Amendment, Burn listened to his mother and said, “Aye.” His vote forced a tie that inspired others to vote the same. The amendment passed and the outcry so explosive that Catt heard the commotion from Suite 310 at The Hermitage 62 DeSoto

Hotel two blocks away. “I guarantee she had the hotel window opened and heard the cheers,” says Tom Vickstrom, Hermitage Hotel historian, adding that suffrage supporters later arrived at the Hermitage and sung “America.” The joy was unrestrained. “It’s a great story proving that one vote matters,” Vickstrom continues. Roberts certified Tennessee’s ratification on Aug. 24, 1920, and two days later U.S. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby proclaimed the 19th Amendment part of the U.S. Constitution, giving women in America the right to vote. The Race Issue The road to ratification moved swiftly through the country but hit snags when Southern legislatures took up the issue. Many worried it would allow female African Americans the right to vote. The suffrage movement itself struggled with race issues, sometimes resulting in separate organizations for black women. Holly Springs, Miss., native Ida B. Wells formed the first black woman’s group, the Alpha Club, in support of both suffrage and other equality issues. This year, the Oxford-North Mississippi League of Women Voters has created a multi-media presentation for Mississippi schools that explains the suffrage movement, including the role of African Americans such as Wells and their issues surrounding the right to vote in America. “There were so many African American women involved in the movement,” said Linda Bishop, president of the Oxford-North Mississippi League. “And not every woman got


the right to vote so we’re trying to correct the record on that.” Celebrating 100th Years This month marks the 100th anniversary of women winning the fight to vote and there are numerous events and places celebrating this milestone, including the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville. Many of the suffrage players, as well as Tennessee legislators resided at the Hermitage in August 1920. “Both sides — the pros and the antis — stayed at the Hermitage and that’s what made it interesting,” says Vickstrom, adding that the hotel had 251 rooms. “The women were from all over the country. We were packed.” Vickstrom will offer a Suffrage History Tour to Hermitage guests every Friday and Saturday through the end of August. Visitors to the historic hotel may enjoy a Suffrage High Tea and Suffrage Sundays at Capitol Grille with throwback dishes and suffrage-themed cocktails. In addition, monuments, such as the Memphis Suffrage Monument titled “Equality Trailblazers” is scheduled to be unveiled this year. The monument at the University of Memphis Law School features 13 trailblazers such as Wells and Maxine Smith, NAACP executive director who registered large numbers of women to vote. The monument is part of the Tennessee Woman Suffrage Heritage Trail, the Memphis Heritage Trail and the National Vote for Women Trail. Mississippi State will commemorate the anniversary with the exhibit, “Votes for Women! A Centennial Celebration of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in America” and the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville offers the exhibit “Ratified! Tennessee Women and the Right to Vote.” The Oxford-North Mississippi League of Women Voters hope for a big celebration on Aug. 18 with a parade through Oxford’s square and an oversized birthday cake for all. Their educational program will be available this fall to be distributed to Mississippi schools, said Ruth O’Dell, chair of the League’s Centennial Committee. Co-editor Cheré Coen is grateful to the many American women who fought for the right to vote. She registered to vote on her 18th birthday and proudly votes in every election.

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homegrown | LAKELAND LEATHERWORKS

Lasting Leather By Karen Ott Mayer | Photography courtesy of Karen Ott Mayer and Lakeland Leatherworks

Lakeland Leatherworks creates handcrafted leather goods that are bought for practicality but cherished as heirlooms. In today’s mass markets pushing Amazon-style, onesize-fits-all goods, it’s rare to find high-quality handcrafted products like those found at Lakeland Leatherworks. Located in Lakeland, just east of Memphis, Tenn., Tom and Donna Hathaway’s workshop is filled with every imaginable leather item from small key chains to elaborate bags and coats. And all is crafted by the couple or their primary leather artist, Jean Garny. “We make everything individually by hand,” explains Donna Hathaway, adding that among their extensive inventory, many of their products begin as custom-made orders based on one or two prototypes. The couple ventured full time into the business in 2010 when they both retired from their primary careers. They were both raised near Trenton, Missouri, and have known each other since high school. Tom Hathaway first became interested in leather working when his mother arranged for Don Atkinson, a renowned saddle maker and leather craftsman whose works are in the Cowboy Hall of Fame, to mentor him on Saturdays. 64 DeSoto

Donna also had a connection with Don. “It was sort of serendipitous because Don was my dad’s best friend and he kept his horses at our farm,” Donna Hathaway says. “That’s how I met Tom, through our mutual interest in horses. “We all had horses and showed them,” she adds. “That’s where we met... at a horseshow.” The pair agreed that rural living during the 1950s and 1960s offered little to do. “There was more emphasis on doing things for yourself,” Tom Hathaway says. As work and family demands grew over the years, the pair only dabbled with their leather hobby. Today, however, they spend their days in the shop, welcoming customers and working on pieces. From the time they opened the shop doors to now, the requests have been constant. Things naturally slowed during the COVID-19 pandemic, but because they frequently work with distance customers the orders continue to arrive, although at a bit slower pace. “It’s been two or three years since we’ve not had


something waiting in the queue on the workbench,” Hathaway says. “At one point, after a show, we had 40 orders in three months.” These days, the orders for half-chaps, an album cover, and other custom requests still keep the shop busy. Hathaway can also craft leather skirts and dresses, adding fun touches like long, hairy fur pieces from New Zealand and Iceland. She utilizes existing patterns or designs her own. “I like making patterns and putting things together like a puzzle,” she says. Because Hathaway worked with distance learning and technology for more than 20 years in her previous positions at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, she was already using Zoom, FaceTime, and other technology with their long-distance clients, designing custom pieces without meeting the client in person. One particularly complex project she named “Nick’s Ultimate Duffle Bag” evolved entirely over the phone and via email. “Nick had some specific needs which resulted in 40 separate pattern pieces and lots of pockets,” she explains. Some of the couple’s most gratifying experiences have been creating unique pieces for challenged horse riders and heirloom items such as their baseball glove valet tray. With seven leather sewing machines, Lakeland Leatherworks can create most any design imagined, including intricate lacing. Turnaround time on a custom project depends on the complexity and the current backlog of orders. Jean Garny has been working with the Hathaways for the last three years and brings her lifelong leather tooling and carving expertise to the craft table. Her intricate tooling and carving, designs, and colors grace many pieces. Surrounded by hundreds of leather tools, she can create flowers, basket weaves,

lines, curves, and most anything a customer imagines, including a recent photo album cover of a desert scene. One aspect of the business that’s been challenging for the couple is finding leather to begin the process. “We buy through U.S. sources whenever we can but there are only six tanneries left in the U.S.,” Hathaway says. “Most of the hides are imported. One of my favorite places for softer bag and apparel leather is the Hide & Leather House in Napa, Calif., which imports some of the finest leather all over the world.” Under normal circumstances (without the threat of a pandemic), customers can find the couple selling their wares at the annual Germantown Charity Horse Show in Germantown, Tenn., and at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky. Donna is always involved with the Memphis Fashion network. “We don’t do this because we want to be filthy rich,” Tom Hathaway says with a laugh. “It’s a pleasure to do something you enjoy and make a living at it while keeping the art of leather-crafting alive before it becomes a lost art.” Donna says perhaps they have only one regret when it comes to their work — they didn’t create enough! “I think if we had made time to keep leather work even a small part of our busy professional lives, we would have enjoyed it even more and could have benefitted from the creativity and relaxation.” lakelandleatherworks.com

Writer, essayist, copywriter, and flower farmer, Karen Ott Mayer is located in Como, Miss. For more than 20 years, she has published hundreds of articles on health care, agriculture, horticulture and travel.

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southern gentleman | JOHN NÉMETH

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John Nemeth and his band

Living the Blues By Kevin Wierzbicki | Photography courtesy of Lisa Mac

Like many other musicians, Memphis bluesman John Németh has lived the blues in recent months as performance schedules were disrupted by the pandemic. My baby done left me, the bottle is empty, all I’ve got left is this cold jailhouse floor. Misery is a common topic in blues music; more specifically, surviving hard times is a common theme. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, folks have experienced physical, mental, and economic pain like never before. Like many others in 2020, the Memphis-based blues musician John Németh found himself suddenly out of a job. A professional musician his entire adult life, Németh has always

lived the blues; now he’s living the blues in an entirely different way. “This is the first time in 25 years that I’ve been without a performance schedule and the first time in 15 years that I’ve been off the road for a long amount of time,” Németh says. “Times are going to get very tough for me and so many others, and while I’m hoping for the best, I’m not sure what my future will bring.” During the pandemic, Németh was live-streaming DeSoto 67


shows from his front yard with a virtual tip jar out for those who care to offer compensation. He also notes that along with help from government assistance programs, The Blues Foundation and The Memphis Arts Council have been helping musicians survive. Németh is a native of Idaho but he long ago surrendered to the siren call of Memphis, America’s blues mecca. A singer, songwriter, and harmonica player, Németh honed his chops on the road as a sideman for the likes of Junior Watson (The Mighty Flyers, Canned Heat), Elvin Bishop, and Anson Funderburgh. He recalls that the city really rolled out the welcome mat for him in his early days as a Memphian. “My first performance at the Levitt Shell (where a fellow named Elvis Presley played his first paid show) was a big moment for me,” Németh says. “I was backed-up by the Bo-Keys for that show and the audience interaction and connection made me feel so good. I became even more grateful to call Memphis home that night.” The Memphis music scene has endured lots of changes since Németh came to town, some encouraging and some sorrowful. “The passing of B.B. King, Ruby Wilson, Teenie Hodges, and Preston Shannon were the end of an era,” the bluesman explains. “Yet the comebacks of Don Bryant, Percy Wiggins, Verlinda Zeno, and Eric Gales has given a lift to the scene, and rising stars like Victor Wainwright and Tony Holiday are proof that the music is strong. I know quite a few musicians that have moved to Memphis in the past few years, and I’ve met several young blues players at my shows and around town. Blues is alive and well here.” The blues is also alive and well in the Memphis-adjacent Mississippi Delta, a place revered by all blues musicians. Living in Memphis makes it easy to visit some of the Delta’s many blues-related attractions, like the B.B. King Museum, outside of which the star is buried, and the infamous “crossroads” in Clarksdale where the legendary guitarist Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul to the devil in return for musical talent. “I can feel the presence of Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, and Ike Turner still in the Delta,” says Németh. “And performing at Ground Zero in Clarksdale, the King Biscuit Festival in Helena, Ark., and the Delta Blues Festival in Greenville, Miss., have been career highlights for me. Having the support of the audiences in the home of the blues really feeds my soul.” If you didn’t know what was going on with the pandemic, you’d never guess anything was wrong by watching Németh’s live stream shows. His music is buoyant, his voice exudes joy, and

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he generally has an ear-to-ear grin going. His between-song patter is upbeat and, like some of his song lyrics, oft times peppered with wit. It all has the quality of genuineness that makes it easy to get comfortable with his music quickly while also experiencing a sense of camaraderie with its creator. Amusingly, between songs during his outdoor homebound shows, he’s waving at friends and neighbors and greeting them by name as they pass by. Németh may be stuck at home like the rest of us, but he’s putting that time to good use and enjoying being able to spend quality time with his wife and kids. He’s been writing new songs too. “I’ve written a few new songs since the shutdown, and they’re influenced by the quarantine and ensuing poverty,” he says. “Right before the quarantine I recorded two new albums. One features 10 originals that I recorded with my band the Blue Dreamers. Many of the songs deal with our current struggles and age old ones as well.” Both records were, of course, cut in Memphis and will add to Németh’s nine previous releases. When he’s on tour Németh always speaks highly of Memphis and invites his fans to come for a visit. The sooner the better, but there’s no hurry on that, Németh philosophizes. “The music will never die in Memphis. It’s woven so tightly into the culture and tradition. Kevin Wierzbicki loves to hear the blues on Beale Street while in Memphis. You can bet he’ll be finding some good grub too, like at Cozy Corner BBQ, a favorite of John Németh.

“I can feel the presence of Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, and Ike Turner still in the Delta And performing at Ground Zero in Clarksdale, the King Biscuit Festival in Helena, Ark.,and the Delta Blues Festival in Greenville, Miss., have been career highlights for me."

John Németh DeSoto 69


southern harmony | SHIRLEY KING

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Daughter of the Blues By Kevin Wierzbicki | Photography Courtesy of Shirley King

Shirley King carries on her father’s blues musical tradition, but in her own right and on her own terms. Sammy Davis Jr. once quipped, “Part of show business is magic. You don’t know how it happens.” Blues singer Shirley King, the daughter of the late legendary blues man B.B. King, knows exactly how the magic happens — with innate talent developed through hard work. King’s famous dad was quick to offer encouragement and proudly nurture her talent, but

Shirley in no way was interested in riding anybody’s coattails. “One thing I learned from the start once I decided to make music my career was that just because I was B.B. King’s daughter, nothing was going to be handed to me,” King says. “I was going to have to work for everything I wanted to achieve, which of course is how it should be. My father was always there DeSoto 71


with a kind word and I had his full support in pursuing a career in music, and he was always there to help me out if I wanted it. But I think it’s always more gratifying to succeed in life on your own terms. Throughout my journey, I’ve learned the value of hard work and persistence.” Born in West Memphis but currently a resident of Chicago, King did not grow up wanting to be a professional blues singer. Recently a septuagenarian, the singer began her career in the 1990s and has released numerous albums over that 30-year span, including the stellar “Blues for a King” that dropped early this summer. The effort finds King performing blues-ified covers of familiar songs like the Elvis Presley-associated “That’s Alright Mama” and Traffic’s “Feeling Alright” along with an especially eerie interpretation of “Gallows Pole,” a cut also covered by Leadbelly and Led Zeppelin. The album features lots of guest musicians, but since the spotlight is on King’s vocals, all the guests are guitar players. “I’ve learned to trust my instincts and associate with people who are supportive of what I’m trying to accomplish,” says King. “I’ve never met any of the musicians who guest on my new album but I know they all loved and respected my dad as both a person and a musician, and I think they were also honoring my dad’s memory by performing on my record. I recorded my vocals in a studio in Chicago; the guest artists recorded on their own in whatever studio they chose. I wish I could have met them and recorded with them; it’s great to be able to record remotely but I always prefer getting into a studio with musicians and letting it rip the old-fashioned way.” King’s guest guitarists on “Blues for a King” include some of the hottest in the business: Harvey Mandel, Robben Ford, Duke Robillard, Elvin Bishop, Pat Travers, Joe Louis Walker, and former Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre. Considering who her father was it would be unlikely that King would be star struck, in the studio or elsewhere, though she did come close once with one of her idols. 72 DeSoto


“My son, on tour with dad, called me from the road on one of my birthdays and told me he had a surprise for me,” King recalls. “The next thing I know I’m on the phone speaking with Etta James! I just about fainted. She was very sweet and kind to me on the phone and she told me she was a big fan of my singing and my career. She was probably just kidding with me, but it was still very kind of her to say that. I certainly have always been a fan of Etta and her music. She was one of a kind.” Always aware to a certain extent of her dad’s gravitas, King remembers the moment that she really realized the heft of B.B.’s star power. “My dad was performing in Chicago and was feeling really good that day,” says King. “I was in the audience watching him and all of a sudden I hear, ‘Honey, come on up! Come up onstage.’ It was my father inviting me up to sing with him. I was happy about it at first but then when I got up there and saw all the people and saw my dad sitting there on stage, I thought to myself, ‘Oh, so that’s what people mean by being intimidated by being on stage with B.B. King.’ “At that moment I started seeing him as not just my father but also as B.B. King, the beloved music icon. I went up there and made sure to give it my all, but it was initially very intimidating.” This daughter of the blues also puts her mothering instinct to use with Chicago schoolkids where she’s involved with the Blues in the Schools program. King notes that kids like to sing “I Got my Mojo Working” with her, but she also teaches them about where the subject matter of blues songs comes from. “If you get bad grades in school, that’s the blues,” she says. “If you don’t have any milk in your refrigerator, that’s the blues. Hopefully my efforts will help keep blues music alive in the schools and in kids’ lives.” Music writer Kevin Wierzbicki is in awe of the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola, Miss., where Lucille, one of King’s famous guitars, is enshrined. The much-beloved bluesman himself is interred on the museum’s property.

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in good spirits | LIL’ OFF-KEY

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Drink to America’s Music By Cheré Coen | Photography courtesy of Gaylord Opryland

It’s only natural that Tennessee and Mississippi would name cocktails after the native sons who gave the country its distinctive sound. Tennessee and Mississippi tourism tout their states as birthing America’s music. And rightly so. Blues musicians from deep in the Mississippi Delta, country singers from throughout the state, and a hip-gyrating man from Tupelo brought their unique sounds to Memphis and Nashville to record and share their tunes with the world. The rest is music history. Naturally, cocktails in both regions tend to bask in this glory. There’s the “Ms. Pat’s Shimmy Shimmy Cocoa Puff” at Bar DKDC or the “Black Magic Woman” at The Blind Bear in Memphis. The Skull’s Rainbow Room in Nashville serves up “Ramblin’ Man” and “For the Good Times.” Even water parks throw a nod to the music that took America by storm. SoundWaves at Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville offers two indoor bars and two outdoor tiki bars for its patrons looking to cool off. The water park cocktails run the gamut, but lean toward the refreshing style of tikis to coincide with the water attraction, says Trudy Thomas, resort director of beverage. “SoundWaves is a little tiki-inspired,” she explains of the attraction’s cocktail menu. “I wanted something reflective of summer but also reflective of the history of tiki.” And the drinks also mirror the city’s famous musical heritage. “All of SoundWaves drinks have a music name and a musical reference,” said Thomas. There’s the signature “Blue Note,” combining RumHaven coconut water rum, Grey Goose vodka, Blue Curacao liqueur (for that lovely azure tint) and citrus, served in a keepsake container. “In Harmony” mixes up Jack Daniel’s whiskey with Bacardi Rum, passion fruit, lemon juice, and bitters. One cocktail going the extra mile is the “Standing Ovation,” featuring aged rum, Cointreau, pineapple juice,

and banana liqueur served in what resembles a sterling silver pineapple. The cup’s actually plastic — it is a water park, after all — but the extra attention to detail makes it special. “The cup really sets it off,” Thomas says. Here’s a SoundWaves musically-inspired drink that doubles as a refreshing summer cocktail. The Bajan punch Thomas incorporates may be created at home by mixing 12 ounces each of the lemon, lime, and orange juices with four ounces of Falernum syrup. Thomas also suggests mixing the juices with simple syrup and a dash of cinnamon and ground cloves for a touch of spice. SoundWaves Lil’ Off Key Cocktail is one of many fun recipes in a free downloadable digital recipe book titled “Recipe Notes: A Taste of Music City,” produced by Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. Food and drink lovers can access it at visitmusiccity.com/nashvilles-cookbook. SoundWaves Lil’ Off Key Cocktail From SoundWaves at Gaylord Opryland 1 1/4 ounces Maker’s Mark 4 ounces Bajan punch (12 ounces each of lemon, lime and orange juice with 4 ounces Falernum syrup.) 1/4 ounce Kahlua A sprig of mint Directions: Shake the first two ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Then pour over fresh ice into a cocktail glass. Float the Kahlua — slowly pour about 1/4-ounce Kahlua on top of the drink. Garnish with mint. Cheré Coen is a native of New Orleans and thus, a lover of cocktails. Her roots hail back to Mississippi, however, which may be why she loves Four Roses bourbon as much as Faulkner.

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reflections | MAKING MUSIC A WAY OF LIFE

Making Music a Way of Life By Dayle Shockley | Photography provided by Dayle Shockley

My great-grandfather, George Carter, was a fiddler. In the 1920s, he formed a group called Carter Brothers & Son and it is believed they were the first group to record to phonograph the infamous “Cotton-Eyed Joe” in 1928. I’ve been told that out of all the Mississippi fiddlers recorded on 78 rpm records by commercial companies like RCA Victor and Columbia, the only authentic old-time fiddling preserved by these companies was recorded by the Carter Brothers. So when I discovered Grandpa Carter’s version on YouTube, my heart skipped a beat. Music is in my blood. My dad was barely a teenager when he joined his brother and two friends to form The Mississippi Ramblers. In the 1940s, they could be heard playing and singing on radio station WCBI in Columbus, Miss., as well as at store openings and schools in the area. Now 93, Daddy still sings and plays guitar. My mother plays keyboards, mostly by ear. Music is what brought them together as a couple. When my sister was born, music came naturally to her. She could sing and play before she could read and write. Eventually, she formed a trio with my parents and they recorded an album. After my twin sister and I came along, people assumed we would follow in the footsteps of those before us, but it was years before we showed interest. The first time I  sat at the piano, it didn’t take long before I was picking out one-finger melodies. Then I discovered how to add a second finger, producing a bit of harmony. Before long, I could make full chords in every key on the scale. Eventually, I taught myself how to read notes, but 76 DeSoto

playing by ear came easier. I was 16 when my big sister married and moved away, leaving no pianist at church. My mother could have filled the job, but she played the organ, so my father, the pastor, put out a “help wanted” across the congregation. When nobody responded, he volunteered me to step in and “make a joyful noise unto the Lord.” The first few months were rough, but the more I played, the better I played. I learned how to duplicate almost anything, simply from hearing it on a recording. Through the years, I’ve played for choirs, weddings, funerals. And on dismal days, I’ve played away my blues. The sound of music always brings comfort to my world. One night, years ago, a storm blew into our area. Rain poured, lightening exploded in jagged fingers across the sky. Suddenly, the lights went out, filling the house with darkness, and scaring my little daughter, a toddler at the time. When she started crying, I wrapped her in my arms and began singing softly. In a few minutes, I got distracted by a noise outside and stopped to listen. That’s when she touched my face and said, “Sing, Mama.” Thoreau wrote: “When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe.” As for me, I can’t imagine a world without it. Like the comforting arms of a loved one, music touches my soul. A native of Lucedale, Miss., Dayle Shockley is an award-winning writer and the author of three books. She and her husband reside in Spring, Texas.


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Profile for DeSoto Magazine | Exploring the South

DeSoto Magazine August 2020  

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

DeSoto Magazine August 2020  

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

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