Click Magazine September 2018

Page 1



ALLEY CATS Atomic Tiki


Folk Music


Singer-songwriter Xaris Waltman talks inspiration, style and Southern musical tradition



September 2018

426 Perkins Extd, Memphis

(901) 590-3268






ALLEY CATS Atomic Tiki



Folk Music


Singer-songwriter Xaris Waltman talks inspiration, style and Southern musical tradition

Click September - COVER FINAL.indd 1

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September 2018

8/28/2018 12:15:40 PM

A Folk Revival This month’s cover feature is all about singersongwriter Xaris Waltman. This multidisciplined musician is taking on the folk world, one festival at a time. Waltman will be featured as one of the headlining acts at Northwest Mississippi Community College’s upcoming Ranger Bluegrass Festival, a boot-stomping affair to be held in Senatobia, Mississippi, at the college grounds on October 13. Additional acts include Missy Raines, Alice Hasen, Andy Ratliff, the duo of Mike Compton & Joe Newberry, and The Barefoot Movement.


12 WHAT'S INSIDE 12 Return of the Ranch 18 A Folk Revival 26 The Big Kahuna 30 Desoto's DeMille 36 Recipe of the Month 38 Cocktail of the Month


40 Alley Cats 47 Beer from Here 62 Animal of the Month

OUT & ABOUT 50 Circle G Day at the Ranch 52 Desoto Civic Garden Club Party 54 Delta State Alumni Event 56 Sports Ball 58 WEVL Blues on the Bluff 60 Tunica Humane Society 10th Anniversary Reception



From the Editor

Long Live the King When I was seven years old, I saw Elvis Presley in concert. I know what you’re thinking: “This guy is in his early thirties. There’s no way he got to see Elvis perform live.” This is true, dear reader. My first brush with Bluff City royalty came nearly 20 years after the King’s death at a 1994 concert at the then-new Pyramid arena in Memphis. Although I slept through most of the concert, I was present for Elvis Aron Presley: The Tribute, an overblown tribute show that taught me just how much people dug this pompadoured paragon of hip shaking. And seeing as how Elvis has deftly made the leap from pop culture icon to historical figure, it was no surprise to see tons of people from all over the world turn out to Circle G Ranch, his old place in Horn Lake, to celebrate his legacy and push forward with a community development unlike any the area has seen. To read all about the legacy of Circle G and the upcoming attractions soon to be unveiled, check out “Return of the Ranch” on page 12. We’d be remiss to talk so much about the past of Southern music without talking about the future. If that’s your thing, look no further than our cover story on rising 18-year-old folk singer-songwriter and new Desoto County resident, Xaris Waltman. Waltman will be one of the headlining acts at Northwest Mississippi Community College’s upcoming Ranger Bluegrass Festival, and you definitely won’t want to miss it. See her story on page 18. In addition, we’ve got a story on an organization I’ve been following for quite some time: The Desoto Arts Institute. This humble gathering of visual artists, actors and designers is providing some much-needed technological guidance and instruction to Desoto County residents. Read all about their efforts on page 30. So, from all of us to all of y’all: I hope you enjoy reading this publication as much as we did putting it together. Trust me, it’s a good one. Read on,

Casey Hilder Editor


September 2018

Write to us Editor Click Magazine P.O. Box 100 Hernando, MS 38632

Co-Presidents Jonathan Pittman Angie Pittman Editor Casey Hilder

Art Director Courtney Spencer Copy Editor Taylor Smith Writers Amanda Bernard Casey Hilder John Klyce Sarah Vaughan Feature Contributors Justin Fox Burks Amy Lawrence Photographers Frank Chin Casey Hilder Mike Lee Sales Director Lyla McAlexander

Account Representatives Sheri Floyd

Melanie Dupree

We make every effort to correct factual mistakes and omissions in a timely and candid manner. Information can be forwarded to Casey Hilder at address listed above.

Submit Your Event Interested in having your next party featured in Click? Submit your event by going to or email us at Š2018 P.H. Publishing. Click Magazine must give permission for any material contained herein to be reproduced in any manner. Any advertisements published in Click Magazine do not constitute an endorsement of the advertiser's services or products. Click Magazine is published monthly by P.H. Publishing, LLC.


Click Contributors

Amanda Bernard

Taylor Smith

John Klyce

Mike Lee

Amanda Bernard combines her love of storytelling with her passion for the community through her writing. Writing her blog www.memphismandysue. com provides her a creative outlet in addition to her full time job in finance. When she’s not working or out on the town Bernard is busy turning her new Southaven house into a home along with her husband Shaun and their dogs Haley and Sweetie.

John Klyce is a senior at the University of Memphis studying Journalism, French and English. In addition to writing for Click, he has also worked for the the Daily Helmsman as a Feature Writer and currently contributes to them as a guest columnist. Born and raised in Memphis, Klyce has also trained as a classical pianist and worked as an actor. Last year, he appeared in an episode of the CMT series Sun Records as a young Johnny Cash's friend Louie.


September 2018

Taylor Smith really should change her name to “Word.” She’s been a reporter for multiple publications in the Mid-South, including The Daily Helmsman, The Leader and The Commercial Appeal, and she journals every day. When she’s not moonlighting as a copy editor, she’s working full-time as a project coordinator for City Gear, an urban streetwear retailer, or watching another episode of Forensic Files with her fiance, Jason.

Event photos in this issue were captured by Click photographer Mike Lee. Mike started in news in 1971 as a TV writer, photographer, and art director. For 20 years, his work appeared on national and international television broadcasts, and was published in print media worldwide.


Amy Lawrence & Justin Fox Burks

Husband-and-wife team Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence are the authors of the cookbook The Chubby Vegetarian: 100 Inspired Recipes for the Modern Table (Susan Schadt Press, 2016) and The Southern Vegetarian: 100 DownHome Recipes for the Modern Table (Thomas Nelson, 2013). Amy and Justin recently celebrated ten years of writing and photographing dishes for their Chubby Vegetarian blog, and they often share their new ideas and inspirations on Instagram (@chubbyveg). Learn more at





September 2018











of the


Circle G Ranch hosts its first public event and offers a glimpse of the future of Elvis Presley’s 1967 honeymoon home FEATURE BY CASEY HILDER


September 2018

Buddy Runnels



September 2018

More than 40 years after the death of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley’s former ranch and honeymoon home stands primed for a modern resurgence through the efforts of a select group of investors led by Mississippi native and Real Estate International founder Davage "Buddy" Runnels Jr., of Destin, Florida. “The people who know Elvis, they really know about the ranch,” says Whitney Lee, Public Relations manager for the Circle G Ranch. The ranch, which Presley bought in 1967 and sold just a few years later, is now the subject of a group of investors who want to transform the property into a destination location and historical site. Runnels and his group bought the ranch in mid-2014 and plan to turn the property into an area that includes an amphitheater and places for visitors to stay while they see the Honeymoon Cottage of Elvis and Priscilla, which will be restored and moved inside the ranch away from its present location off Goodman Road. “I’m sure Goodman Road wasn’t as busy in Elvis’ day as it is now,” Lee says. “Of course, the stables are still out there. They need some work, but we’re hoping to host equine therapy on the grounds of the ranch. Mr. Runnels actually has a granddaughter who is in a wheelchair, and she also happens to be a rockstar horseback rider.” The dusty dwelling known as the Circle G Ranch at the southeast corner of Highway 301 and Goodman road in Horn Lake had spent the past few decades a far cry from the luxurious trappings that came along with the King’s heyday. But a joint plan to revitalize the ranch by restoring many of the iconic structures on the 163-acre patch of land and establish the ranch as Horn Lake’s newest attraction is currently underway, with big plans that include an RV Park, restored horse stables and an Unknown Child Memorial

commemorating the loss of Jewish children during World War II. “A group approached our team with a lot of fascinating history about Elvis; his mother was Jewish, and he had some pretty strong Jewish ties,” Lee says. “The very same ones behind the Unknown Child Holocaust Pennies Project, which received donations from actors, athletes and local school children to gather more than a million pennies to help students visualize the lives lost in the Holocaust.” The current investors have plans for the future of Circle G Ranch as an entertainment destination that preserves historic features, embraces the local community, and honors causes about which Elvis felt most passionately. Diane McNeil, president of the Board of Directors of the Unknown Child Foundation, Inc., is leading the charge for the placement of this memorial at Circle G. “The pennies project started in fall of ’09,” McNeil says. “And now we’ve got a new board of directors who are eager to take on another project. In addition to the memorial area, we have an Israeli sculptor who will be creating a very striking sculpture for us to serve as a centerpiece.” McNeil and the Unknown Child Foundation have currently secured four acres of Circle G land to incorporate the memorial under Doug Thornton, architect of the Hernando firm AERC. “I tried really hard in the design to kind of put people there in that timeframe and experience what those people experienced,” says Thornton. As Elvis Week launched this past August, Runnels and the other owners opened the ranch up to the public Sunday afternoon for what was billed as “A Day at the Ranch,” featuring scale models of upcoming projects, live music performances and a meet-and-greet with the Lacker family,


also known as members of Presley’s “Memphis Mafia.” “It was time,” Runnels said about Sunday’s public availability to the ranch grounds, which included horse rides of the property, music and other activities. “It’s the fifth year and, during Elvis Week, we just felt it very important that we open the doors to the public and to those that have been so supportive of us.” A tiny cottage marks the forefront of the 146 and onequarter acres of land that provided the Presleys with an escape from media attention just 10 miles away from Graceland. Legends and rumors about the ranch’s history have become popular among Elvis devotees over the years, the most notable of which being the tale of how Priscilla lost her wedding ring during an equestrian excursion somewhere on the ranch, a story that has drawn countless fans and aspiring memorabilia hunters to the site. It was also announced that the first phase of the project (an RV resort area on a parcel of the ranch) is expected to start construction in the next 90 to 120 days. “There so many reasons why it will be exceptional in that RV world,” Runnels explained. “At about the same time frame, we hope to announce the relocation of the Honeymoon Cottage.” The ranch was purchased in February 1967 and would serve as The King’s honeymoon home following his May marriage. A large cross that stood as a memorial to the former owner’s deceased daughter drew Presley’s attention from the highway and led to his purchase of the property. The cross still looms several stories above the rolling hills of the ranch, only visible through the tree line during Mississippi’s winter months. When asked what initially drew him to the grounds of Circle G, Runnels doesn’t hesitate to mention that the 55-foot cross located on the grounds was a deciding factor. “I had always heard of this place and been a fan of Elvis and his music, but I was never really interested,” Runnels 16

September 2018

says. “But I finally got out here upon a friend’s request to take a look at the place. When I finally saw it, I realized the cross, as well as legacy were what drew to the place.” It was the same presence of that same cross that lured Presley to buy the ranch from retired pilot Jack Adams, who used the lit cross as a beacon to tell the pilot he was close to home. Today, only a few faint relics serve as reminders of the Presleys’ time at the Circle G. A custom barbeque pit which once proudly displayed his initials has long since crumbled, leaving only a red-brick “E,” as a monogrammed monument to The King. The 14-acre lake shines with the same luster it did more than 40 years ago. The John Deere 4010 tractor used to farm the land now sits restored in Graceland’s Elvis Presley Auto Museum. The work toward getting the ranch nominated for the National Register of Historic Places has taken years to happen but is an important aspect of Runnels’ plans for Circle G. The ranch received its nomination just last year, but with the nomination Circle G has been unable to make any improvements until the Register declaration is finalized. However, Runnels says that he feels that designation is close to being achieved. “One of the guys involved in this project is an archaeologist,” Lee says. “He took it upon himself to get the property listed on the National Register of Historic Places and realized that he couldn’t do it until 50 years had passed since Elvis purchased it. That happened in 2017, so it’s progressing nicely.” Lee says Runnels’ team has earned approval on a state level, but the group expects to hear back on federal approval as soon as early 2019. Desoto Times-Tribune reporter Bob Bakken contributed to this story.



September 2018


Folk Revival Singer-songwriter Xaris Waltman talks inspiration, style and Southern musical tradition




September 2018

It didn’t take long for Xaris Waltman, an 18-year-old folksinger-songwriter, to deep dive into the folk traditions that most teens write off right away. “I started playing guitar for first time when I was 8-years-old,” Waltman says. “My dad would sing us a song every night, and eventually I asked him to teach me the four chords he knew. I enjoyed it and ran with it and eventually started teaching myself. I would listen to music I liked and picked out different chords.” Waltman, who originally hails from Gulf Shores, Florida, just outside of Pensacola, then started her vinyl record collection, her first being a Peter, Paul and Mary album that inspired her to focus her musical leanings to traditional folk. After spending her childhood learning how to play the guitar, harmonica, ukulele, banjo, penny whistle and mandolin (as well as amassing a vinyl collection of 350 or more), she was invited to audition for The Voice in 2017, where she performed “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right” by Bob Dylan, her biggest inspiration. “When The Voice reached out to me to be on the show, I was kind of skeptical because I knew that I wasn’t doing the type of music they typically do on the show,” says Waltman. “Adam Levine told me that Hollywood was not where I was supposed to be, and I feel like I always knew that and never wanted to sell out. When I was on the show, I saw a side of the music industry, and it opened my eyes to Hollywood and how it is essentially driven by a handful of people telling everyone else what to do” She took her “old soul,” as Levine described her, on the road, booking shows by herself to get more exposure and share her love for the folk tradition

of storytelling. Inspired by classic country artists like Hank Williams and current artists like Gillian Welch and Dave Raleigh, it’s easy to see where Waltman’s love of storytelling originated. “Storytelling is what I love most about folk music and bluegrass,” she says. “In the 1800s, they didn’t have television and other types of entertainment that we do now, but they did have stories, and stories were told with care, around the table or around a fire. When I listen to new songs, I listen to the families that would sit around telling stories. The tradition of folk music and storytelling will die out if we don’t care for it. At every single folk or bluegrass festival I’ve been to, there’s a sense of community there and that definitely draws me to this culture. It is simple and straightforward. It’s beautifully simplistic. People don’t do that much anymore, and I think it’s kind of a lost art.” It was at the Folk A llia nce International Festival in Kansas City that Olive Branch native and folk artist Len Lawhon first met Waltman, who goes by Xaris on stage. Impressed by her talent, he invited her to the Ranger Bluegrass Festival in Mississippi to showcase her talents among regional folk artists and fans. In addition to serving as the campus horticulturist and supervisor of grounds at Northwest Community College in Senatobia, Lawhon is an active member of the Folk Alliance International. “It was amazing to hear such talent from such a young artist,” says Lawhon. “She was so young and yet she had such a beautiful voice. Her voice has quite a high range, and it goes right along with bluegrass and this type of acoustic folk music, and she’s just a natural for it.


Her whole approach to life is steeped in the folk tradition, and she is one of the few young people I know who can pull that off.” Her cowboy hats paired with delicate prairie-style dresses is a whimsical combination of hippie chic meets country western, and while her raw talent and deep love of folk tradition impressed many, Lawhon never imagined that the town of Senatobia would also strike a chord with the young artist. “When she arrived here, she wasn’t planning on going to college, because she wanted to start her career, but we convinced her to take a tour of the campus, and she was really taken by the small town of Senatobia.” Lawhon says. After meeting for an audition with Northwest choral instructor Suzi van Dyke, who was blown away by Waltman’s talent and abilities, Waltman was offered a scholarship to pursue her education in Mississippi while performing on stage with the choir and at various music festivals. Despite planting some roots in the MidSouth, Waltman’s wandering feet have taken her from venues and festivals in Florida to Chicago and everywhere in between in the last year alone. “In smaller venues like Nashville and Asheville, there is a stronger pull for americana and bluegrass, and I can see myself signing with a smaller label that understands the creative side of music,” Waltman says. “Every opportunity that has come up has been one that would want to tell me what to do with my music, and I can’t do that because it takes away the artist’s ability to create art, so I can’t make that work. I’m my own manager now, and that’s great because I can connect to the venues I’m


September 2018

working with as well as the music.” The musica l g reats that she emulates—Emmylou Harris, Iris Dement, Gillian Welch, and other singer-songwriters steeped in the folk music traditions of Appalachia—shine through her unique brand of americana melodies, and those who know her are well aware that she is someone to watch. “She is so driven and disciplined, and she is such a performer that I have no doubt she is going to be offering the public her music,” says Lawhon. “Her work ethic and talent alone are going to give her a career. I have no doubt in my mind that she will be recording and playing for years to come. We are lucky to have her here and to be able to experience her talent at the Ranger Bluegrass Festival.” The 2018 Ranger Bluegrass Festival will take place on Saturday, October 13, at the Northwest Farm Arena in Senatobia, Mississippi. Proceeds from the campus-sponsored festival benefit the Northwest Foundation through scholarships while sharing an appreciation of bluegrass music and culture. In addition to Waltman, other artists featured will include The Barefoot Movement, Mike Compton and Joe Newberry, Missy Raines, Alice Hasen, and Andy Ratliff. The event will also feature food trucks, a free activity area for kids, and an arts and crafts area. Visit www.RangerBluegrassFestival. com for more information and to purchase tickets. To learn more about Xaris Waltman, visit, or follow her on Instagram @xarismusic.



September 2018




Kahuna Brian “Skinny” McCabe’s Atomic Tiki restaurant brings a slice of island living to the Mid-South INTERVIEW BY CASEY HILDER

Although the nearest beach is some 400-plus miles away from the Bluff City, restaurateur and owner of Memphis’ Hi Tone Café Brian “Skinny” McCabe brings the smell of fresh-diced pineapple and surfboard tabletops to the landlocked Mid-South masses in his new restaurant venture, Atomic Tiki.


September 2018

Click Magazine: How did you come up with idea for Atomic Tiki? Brian “Skinny” McCabe: I was thinking of opening a new place back in late 2017 and I wanted it to be fun and cool, but I wasn’t sure what that was. It had to be those things, but it also had to be something that Memphis didn’t have. The answer was a tiki bar. I’ve been to lots of Tiki and Tropicalthemed places all over because my wife’s mom lives in Cape San Blas, Florida, and they just have tons of ‘em. I’ve just always been a big fan of those places. If I go somewhere and see coconut shrimp on the menu, I’m getting it. CM: Where did all this island-themed interior décor come from? BM: About half of this stuff I just had laying around. My wife was pretty excited when we decided to do this since it was a way to get it out of the house. I’ve always been into all kinds of nautical, tropical stuff: pirates, the big ole boat steering wheel, the monkey you see in the corner flipping you off. Old Dominick helped us out with these custom pineapple cups we use. Every place you go to around here has some kind of keeper cup – Central BBQ, Huey’s, The Young Avenue Deli, my cabinets are full of these things – we needed our own. One of our bartenders, Stacey, put together the really cool tiki faces you see around the bar. CM: What are some places you drew inspiration from? BM: There’s this bar in Pittsburg called the Tiki Lounge.

Every time I’m up there, I go visit my buddy and make it a point to visit that place. The last time I went, a new one had opened up. It was super cool, a lot of fun, and drew a crowd. CM: How did you decide on a location? BM: Our location on Overton Park Avenue was perfect for us. Jeff had this place and was running special events out of it. I even did my daughter’s first birthday here since it beats a bunch of one year olds waddling around the Hi Tone. CM: How did you build the menu? BM: Jeff Johnson came up with most of the food here. We’ve got a good partnership: he handles the food, I handle the drinks. We meet in the middle on a lot of that. We just rolled out a new one about a month ago. You’ve always got to keep up with what people are buying and what people are actually eating. Sometimes people will say they want something new and different, but get turned off when whatever you give them if too new and different. For example, I like Spam. Ninety-nine percent of the people I know don’t like Spam. We had early ideas for a Spam mac n’ cheese and a few other dishes, but we ended up rolling it back. It’s really big on the islands and you’ll see it incorporated into things like sushi and Jell-O molds. We still keep it on the menu and you can always get it on a burger if you like. I don’t know if you’ve ever had Spam on a burger cooked in a cast iron skillet, but it’ll blow your mind.



September 2018

CM: What are some of the more successful Atomic Tiki menu items? BM: People have asked for dishes like tacos and nachos, which aren’t necessarily Polynesian, but they are more universal. So we came up with our island nachos, which are amazing with our housemade spicy yellow queso, pineapple pico de gallo, topped off with barbecue brisket. You get a really good, bold mix of sweet and salty in that. CM: Why did you decide to keep the seafood to a minimum? BM: I love seafood, but we don’t do a whole lot here since it’s hard to find fresh. It’s much easier to get down by the coast, of course. Our main meat dishes here are our roasted smoked pork, barbecue beef brisket, or tofu for an alternative. CM: How did you come up with your selection of cocktails? BM: There’s an old saying in island culture when it comes to cocktails: “One part sour, two parts sweet, three parts strong, four parts weak.” I had a little help from a few local distributors out here that had some specialty cocktail mixologists on hand. A lot of these are tiki staples: The Dark & Stormy, Mai Tais, The Scorpion, The Suffering Bastard. We started with a really extensive menu with something like 28 drinks on it. The ones I thought would be favorites weren’t exactly hits: again, people usually go back to what they know with strawberry daiquiris and margaritas. We put our own twist on these by doing things like putting pineapple in a margarita with our signature Atomic Tiki topper mix. Now it’s a Tiki-rita. The topper mix is a trade secret, but it’s a little sweet, a little spicy, and a little fruity. We also serve our own take on the Old Fashioned that uses rum instead of bourbon, and also a piña colada – it’s more indicative of South America than what we’re going for, but it’s a big seller. Mix a little pineapple with a little coconut, you can’t go wrong.



September 2018

Desoto’s DeMille

Rob Rokk and the Desoto Arts Institute bring high-tech flm classes and more to the Mid-South FEATURE BY JOHN KLYCE There’s a buoyancy in the air. One side of the room is full of equipment—cameras, microphones, a ladder, a green screen—and the middle contains a circle outlined with people. In its center are four more individuals. Keelin, a ballcapped kid, is speaking hypothetically: “If Miles just passed out right in front of me,” he says. “The very first thing I’d do is laugh. That makes me a bad person, but. . .” and he trails off. “You’re getting to the heart of the character,” says Robb Rokk, the group’s facilitator. “If you all act exactly the same way,” the man continues. “You’ve got four of the same characters.” It’s a warm Thursday night at the Desoto Arts Institute in Southaven, and Rokk is leading the organization’s weekly acting workshop. The four in the middle—Keelin, Daniel, Carolyn, and Angel—are improvising a CPR scenario. “Daniel,” he says. “Tell me about your character.” “I broke my wrist in a biking accident,” he replies. “But I still know CPR and everything.” Rokk nods, turns to Angel, and asks the same question. “I yell at everybody,” she says. Daniel quips, “No, your character.” Rokk quiets the room. “Come on guys, scene’s starting. And… action.” Founded in 2016, the Desoto Arts Institute gives Mississippians the chance to learn how to make a movie. “What we’re trying to do is make it more accessible,” Rokk says. “Filmmaking isn’t a huge focus here, and it’s probably because people don’t realize it’s attainable. But it is. You can make a film and enter a competition.” The Institute, through free classes, aims to teach locals about every aspect of production, including directing, cinematography, editing, acting, music, even wardrobe. “We want to put a camera in their hands, a slate in their hands, and really hit the ground running,” Rokk says. It’s a kind of instruction that tends to accelerate learning, and one he would have liked to have growing up. “I wish when I was a kid, someone would have said, ‘Hey, have you ever thought about being a filmmaker.’ My wife asked me yesterday why I never considered it, and it’s because it wasn’t accessible.” Originally an IT manager, Rokk didn’t get into video production until 2009, when a friend asked for help with a music video. He fell in love with the process, purchased a few Canon 7Ds, and shot more film. As the work volume increased, so did the amount of attention. In 2011, he was asked to teach a week-long music video production course at the Nashville Film Institute, and the video Rokk made with his students aired on CMT and GAC. Now, through the Desoto Arts Institute, Rokk creates



September 2018

short films and leads the workshops. The latest have been on acting, and it’s a component that fascinates him. “I want to understand what the actor’s thinking,” he says. “The whys. Why do we think like this, why do we feel like this? Where do we get these emotions from? I’m teaching acting from a director’s point of view.” At the institute, Daniel and company perform the scene. As the four eat and chatter amongst themselves, a fifth player, Steven, strides across the circle and collapses next to them. Speaking quickly, the actors move and bicker. “You said you know CPR,” Angel says to Daniel. “Why don’t you do something?” “My hand’s broken,” he cries. As Keelin calls 911, Steven convulses on the floor, and Daniel attempts to give CPR with a broken wrist. “Alright, cut,” Rokk says. With the scene over, participants jest and talk. “I thought he was having a seizure,” a girl says. “And they were trying to give him CPR.” Rokk laughs. “Yeah,” he says. “I love it. I love it.” The DAI has produced three short films, with each taking on a heavy topic. The first one, “On Edge,” addresses suicide contemplation through a millennial staring down a ledge. The second one, “The Game,” warns of sex trafficking and the most recent, “Outside Arcadia,” is about sexual abuse. Still, Rokk works to make sure the films are suitable for all to see. “What we’re trying to do is tell stories that mean

something, without a lot of coarse language and things like that,” he says. “There’s never anything that’s terribly offensive.” The shorts have found success, and “The Game” even placed second in the Memphis Film Prize. But for Rokk and the DAI, it isn’t about awards or profits. It’s about bringing art to the Mid-South. Though primarily a film-based organization right now, the institute will introduce dance and music in the future, and it’s just a few thousand dollars away from adding a dance floor. Rokk is eager for things to come together and believes these subjects will add another dimension to the region. “Desoto County has plenty of football, plenty of baseball, plenty of soccer,” he says. “We need arts.” Near the end of the workshop, Rokk presents another exercise, and Sidney, a red-haired girl with glasses and Converse shoes, bounces to the center. In the scenario, she’s trapped under rubble. She lays on the floor, and Rokk calls action. The crowd grows quiet. “Help,” she cries. “Someone help!” There’s panic in the air, and as she speaks, a slight quiver can be heard in her voice. “Alright, cut,” Rokk says. “That was good.” For more information about the DAI, go to


Billy Frazier, DVM / Jeremy Keen, DVM / Ryan Kennedy, DVM



September 2018



CAPRESE PIE - Serves 4 to 6 -



1 store-bought, frozen pie crust

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake the pie crust until golden brown. (This should take about 12 to 15 minutes, but please refer to the package instructions for guidance.) While the crust is baking, prepare the tomatoes and the dressing.

3 large tomatoes (Beefsteak, Jet Star, or Better Boy)

1⁄2 teaspoon Kosher salt (more for garnish) 1⁄4 cup balsamic vinegar 1 1⁄2 teaspoon olive oil 2 cups basil leaves 12 ounces fresh Buffalo mozzarella cheese

(sliced into 1/4-inch rounds)

Cracked black pepper (to garnish)

Core the tomatoes and slice into generous 1/4inch slices. (You should get 4 to 6 slices per tomato.) Layer tomato slices and salt into a large bowl while making sure to get a little salt on each slice. Allow salted tomatoes to rest for 20 minutes. You'll notice quite a bit of liquid collected at the bottom of the bowl. Remove tomato slices and place them between two clean kitchen towels until you're ready to assemble the dish. This process ensures that the pie won't be watery. Discard the tomato water in the bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the balsamic vinegar and cook it until reduced by half. It will become thick and syrupy when it's ready. Remove from heat and add the olive oil. Assemble the pie in the shell by shingling in a tomato slice, basil leaf, and then mozzarella in a circular pattern. Once you have a layer all the way around the pie, start another layer on top of that. Using your hands, lightly press the tomatoes, basil, and cheese down into the crust. This will make the pie more compact and easier to cut. Drizzle the top of the pie with the reduced balsamic and olive oil dressing.


September 2018



CUCUMBER-MINT SPARKLERS As far as cocktail profiles go, these are on the light, bright and slightly sweet side. Cucumber is muddled with fresh lime juice, shaken with vodka and mint simple syrup, and then topped with a heavy pour of Prosecco (or champagne if you re feeling particularly fancy). You get the cucumber and bubbles on your taste buds first and then a surprising, minty finish. It's straight-up delightful, if I do say so myself.



September August 20182018

THE GOODS (Yield: 1 cocktail)


1-inch piece of seedless cucumber, finely chopped

First, you'll need to make the simple syrup. In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, water and mint leaves to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, swirling the saucepan occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool completely before using.

½ ounce fresh lime juice (about half a lime) 1½ ounces vodka 2 teaspoons mint simple syrup (recipe below) 3 ounces Prosecco or champagne FOR THE MINT SIMPLE SYRUP

½ cup granulated sugar ½ cup water ½ cup fresh mint leaves FOR GARNISH

3-4 slices cucumber 1 sprig fresh mint

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the chopped cucumber with the lime juice. Add the vodka, simple syrup and a few ice cubes, and shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker becomes frosty. Strain into a glass filled with ice (I like crushed ice for this), and top with Prosecco. Garnish with the cucumber slice and mint sprig. Get after it. NOTE: The simple syrup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. It will come in handy for future coffee, and also as a sweetener for tea, coffee, and even baked goods. Feel free to get creative.



September 2018

AllEY CATS Clarksdale creatives fight blight in the Delta with a more measured take on public art FEATURE & PHOTOS BY CASEY HILDER


Meghan Maike


September 2018

Stan Street

Where some people might see a dank and decrepit alleyway, Robin Colonas and Lena Van Machui saw an art gallery in progress. “My main idea was to clean up the alley,” Van Machui says. “It all started with a lot of recycling and adding more trash receptacles, but it got to a point where I thought I could make it an even cooler experience.” And while it may be a far cry from The Louvre in Paris, the humble collection of boarded-up windows panes painted over by local artists in the Delta/Yazoo alley between 2nd and 3rd streets in Downtown Clarksdale plays into the creative capabilities of local residents, as well as the great Southern traditions of Delta ingenuity and making the best out of a rough situation. Colonas and Van Machui are both members of the Clarksdale Collective, a community organization comprised of writers, photographers and artists devoted to making Clarksdale a better place. Few know this small section of Clarksdale like Van Machui, whose apartment leads directly into the alleyway. Van Machui applied for a $4,000 grant from Clarksdale Revitalization, Inc., to revitalize the slim, but frequently traversed area. “I’ve worked for a few nonprofits in the past, so I have some experience in grant writing,” says. “It was inititally about getting it cleaned, maintaining it, adding a sense of security and getting businesses to take responsibility for their own backyard.” A portion of the grant was devoted to lighting the alley, with more than 400 feet of string lighting installed by Clarksdale Public Utilities and the City of Clarksdale. Participants in the Alley Arts projects are as diverse as the artwork presented, with subjects that range from scenic depictions of the Mississippi River to iconic Delta landscapes. “I started by asking my artist friends,” she says. “We’ve had all sorts of people contribute to this project: art teachers and students, as well as local artists like John Ruskey and Stan Street. It’s all been a series of coincidences as far as getting everyone onboard and I’ve been really fortunate to have these connections to local artists.” Among these local artists is Joey Young, a painter and sculptor who contributed a painting of a cat and a catfish in his own signature style. “It’s actually a pretty high traffic area,” Young says. “We use the alleys, tourists use the alleys, and something had to be done to clean it up. I had actually done a few graffiti-style pieces there myself a few years back, but this project was all about using the alleys to display public art in a way that people can appreciate. So we hosted a work day and pulled out a lot of the rotting boards, and replaced some of the broken with painted canvases.” Young, a Charleston, Mississippi, native and art teacher at a Lee Academy, emphasizes nature and landscape work in contrast to the bevy of blues-centric Clarksdale creatives. “My brother is a weatherman, so I’ve always been into storms, tornados and atmospheric stuff,” Young says. “Not necessarily your typical blues-themed work that you might see down here, but I do have a love for

Lena Van Machui


Joey Young things based on local culture.” One of Young’s students, Andrew Lamb, also has a piece of artwork featured in the Yazoo-Delta alleyway based on a recent trip down the Mississippi River. Lamb’s painting depicts some of the more surprising things he experienced and heard about on his trip, including long-abandoned watercrafts, shark corpses, and, unfortunately, a plethora of plastic debris. “His piece was all about water,” Young says. “Its influence on our life down here is really profound.” Another alley artist involved in the Clarksdale Collective’s project is Stan Street, owner of Hambone Gallery in Downtown Clarksdale. “The cowgirl [Lena] approached me with the idea and I just went to town,” Street says. “The lights are really something, beautiful in this part of town.” Street’s Alley Arts contribution hones in on an iconic Delta image: an abandoned Oldsmobile, surrounded by overgrowth and nestled in a field, bearing the name “Hambone” on the front license plate. “I kind of get attached to themes: roosters, blues musicians, New Orleans,” Street says. “Right now, I’m on a Rust Bucket 44

September 2018

kick. If you’re from certain eras like me, I was born in ’49, a lot of those cars have a sense of character that they’ve carried over the years. There’s definitely a magnetism.” In stark contrast the scenic Delta visions created by other Alley Art contributors, the work of local artist Meghan Maike is known for its bright and colorful look honed through years of mural work and sign painting. “I wanted to do something really bold, with lots of clean geometric shapes,” Maike says. “I wanted something a little more streamlined here so it really stands out in the alley.” Maike is no stranger to public art in Clarksdale. One of her recent projects, a series of street posts adorned with the lyrics to “Hey, Jude” and featuring members of the Beatles in all their Ron Campbell-influenced cartoon glory. “I’m a big fan of this kind of work because of the access it offers,” she says. “Everybody can enjoy this, it’s not in that standard gallery setting that has so much separation between the art and the viewer. It’s also a great way to brighten up some of the more empty bits of the city since we tend to have areas with a lot of abandoned or neglected buildings.



September 2018

BEER FROM HERE WITH DERRIC CURRAN AND ALISTAIR CLARK Owners and Operators of The Mississippi Ale House

ALT-ered State Homemade Chicken salad that momma doesn’t have to make. The brightness of grapes, crunchy celery, local honey, toasted pecans and roasted chicken in a perfect mixture that makes you feel like one of mama’s homemade lunches. Pair this with Natchez’s ALT-ered State and you will be zonked out on the couch in no time. The chicken and the german-style amber were made to go together. The honey brightens up the the malty German hops in the beer and this tall glass of goodness cuts through the creaminess of the chicken salad. It’s a great fall pairing for picnicking or tailgating. Oh, and don’t forget that perfectly placed pickle. Cheers y’all.

BREW FACTS Brewery: Natchez Brewing Company Style: German-Style Amber ABV: 6.4% IBU: 27 Food Pairing: Chicken Salad Sandwich Appearance: Dark Amber Aroma: Malty With a Hint of Fruit Where to find this pairing: Mississippi Ale House, Pinks Coffee Shop



September 2018

Tommy Bennett & Jan Campbell


Joan & Allen Latimer, Buddy Runnels


Circle G Day at the Ranch Circle G Ranch, a property formerly owned by Elvis Presley, held its first celebration on-site during Elvis Week. Elvis fans enjoyed live music and local food vendors during the family friendly festivities. The property is currently under extensive renovations and guests of the day’s festivities got the first peak at plans for the future.


Dawn Cytaki, Ireta Justus, Dave Stuart & Norma Wolfe

Donna Schnider, Kathi Schwomeyer, Kim Minton, Terrie Counter

Desoto Family Theater


September 2018

Jimmy Bailey, Connie & Eugene Knight

Connie Arnell

Angie & Val Dickerson

Cooper & Phyllis Brown


Charlie Roberts & Debbie Gold


Desoto Civic Garden Club Party The Desoto Civic Garden Club hosted a fundraiser at Longview Point Baptist Church in Hernando, welcoming lauded floral designer, author and co-owner of Memphis' Garden District to chat with members and demonstrate his work and promote his new book, Florists to Field. Proceeds from this event go toward horticulture scholarship at Northwest Community College.


Betty Funderburk & Julie Starr

Pat Evans & Donna Shankman


September 2018

Anne Krekelberg

Angela Cason & Connie Ripley

Janie Norwood

JESSICA H. COX DDS, MSD Orthodontics for Children & Adults Flex Accounts Welcome

HERNANDO: (662)429-8022 • 1150 Monteith Ave. Suite 100 OLIVE BRANCH: (662)893-8024 • 5965 Goodman Rd. Suite 102

June Rose



Delta State Alumni Event Delta State University alumni came together for their annual DSU Alumni Gathering at the BankPlus Banquet Room to reminisce about college days and renew bonds and relationships. The DSU Alumni Gathering is one of the largest in the North Mississippi area.


David & Theresa Lara

Spring Heflin, Celeste Wilson, Janie Stafford & Meagan May


September 2018

Keeley, Kiersten & Chris Wilson

Grant & Dennis Foley, Jeffrey Ferris

Alex & Dru Howarth

Patsy Sledge & Marilyn Mason-Burnside


Sports Ball Guests at this year’s Sport’s Ball paired their finest tennis shoes with their black tie for a night of fun and games benefiting Big Brothers Big Sisters of The Mid-South. Nike Inc. served as the evening’s host. Party goers enjoyed a football themed food buffet, arcade and casino games, and basketball shooting before dancing the night away.


Michael Blair & DJ Jeff Burnisky

Richfresh, Magyn Merrick, Brittney Lindberg, LaToya Baker

Demone, Noah & YTeresa Dickerson


September 2018

Brad Carson & Marty Brooks

Garry Coleman & Freda Mukes

S E RV I N G D E S O T O C O U N T Y F O R O V E R 3 0 Y E A R S

Patrick Henery

4824 Goodman Road • Olive Branch • 662.874.5917

Denise Rikard & Beth Tanner

Issac & Allison Erickson


WEVL Blues on the Bluff The sunset over the Mississippi River as music fans gathered on the Metal Museum grounds in support of WEVL. “Lightnin’ Malcom” Burnside kicked off the evening’s festivities, as his family, who had traveled from across the country, watched on with pride. The Kenny Brown Band got the crowd on their feet and dancing and Marcella & Her Lovers came out to enthusiastic cheers from the crowd to end the perfect evening celebrating Memphis Music.


Mathew, Wyatt, Jennifer & Whitney Smith

Nate Mitchell, Margaret Tallulah, Jordan Peifler & Katherine Gater


September 2018

Donna & Jud Williford

Sandi Hughes & Barbra Rooney

Dorthy Williams & Anita Walton

Donna & Meade Kendrick

Virginia Pleasants & Jesse Davis


Tunica Humane Society 10th Anniversary Reception The Tunica Humane Society celebrated their 10th anniversary by hosting a “family reunion� for all the volunteers, friends, foster families and adoptive families that have supported the organization over the past 10 years. Animal lovers gathered to toast to the successes of the organization and look forward to the next ten years while sharing laughs and stories about their furry family members and connections to the humane society.


Melissa Allen & Lisa Garceau

Jim Davila & Sandy Williams

Tim Pultz & Pamela Bernbaum


September 2018

Jennifer West & Donna Kennon

Dick Dollard & Jan Courtney

Jon & Katina Goodwin

Lori Umstattd & Becky Dean




September April August 2018 20182018


What weighs from 175 to 200 pounds, is reeking havoc on natural ecosystems in Mississippi and Tennessee, and is an invasive, non-native species? If you guessed feral hog, you’d be right. This pest is a growing problem in the MidSouth for a variety of reasons. They can spread diseases to livestock, damage wild areas and crops, and cause erosion and water pollution. In fact, they carry up to 45 different diseases and parasites such as Swine Fever, Pseudorabies Virus, and Bovine Tuberculosis. They cost us about $1.5 billion a year nationally in terms of damage and control costs. They are also prolific, having spread from fifteen counties in Tennessee to eighty. In Mississippi, they have gone from occupying 8 percent of the land area in the eighties to being found in 38 percent of the land area by 2009. Charming, eh? Although it is fair to call this animal a nuisance, in survival terms, it’s quite successful. At just one year in age, they reach sexual maturity and breed all year long, producing up to two litters a year. Just a few hogs can produce up to 600 in about ten years. These ravenous brutes really get around. A feral hog’s litter is typically eight to 10 animals, but usually only four to six make it to adulthood. When they reach adulthood, they can consume up to 5 percent of their body weight. Their diet consists of mostly vegetable matter and puts them in direct competition with native wildlife for the grass, acorns, persimmons, muscadines, and fungi they like to eat. One other problem is that they have no natural predators other than human hunters and can live for up to ten years in the wild.

So what are we to do about this piggy pitfall? Landowners in Mississippi are allowed to hunt these animals any time of the year, day or night. It is strictly prohibited to transfer an animal from one area to another. In 1999, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency tried to control Tennessee’s wild hog population by opening a no bag limit, year-round hunting season. Unfortunately, some landowners took this opportunity to stock certain areas with populations of hogs for hunting purposes, which increased the population during this period. Now the population is controlled without the use of sport hunting, and it is illegal to possess, release or transport wild hogs. Wildlife officials believe that trapping and eliminating the animals afterwards is the most effective method of helping to control these pests. What else can we as concerned citizens do? According to Mississippi State’s wild pig information site, we can promote cooperation between landowners to control wild pig populations on large blocks of land, educate others about the nuisance that these animals create, increase efforts for more accurate state and national data collection concerning the estimated economic impact and damage to acreage, and strengthen laws to prevent relocation of the animals or the escape of animals from fenced in hunting preserves. Yes, wild hogs are disease-ridden pests, increasing their range, competing with native wildlife, and eating as they go. However, there is reason to hope that increased efforts can help stem the tide of their growing population.

Russ Thompson was a science teacher for 14 years and has been a freelance writer since 2014 focusing mainly on science and nature writing as well as fiction. His science and teaching background has compelled him to take an interest in researching and writing about the natural world.




September August 20182018