okra. Issue 13 Preview

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SPRING ISSUET

2021

R E A L

S O U T H E R N

C U L T U R E

Heritage PRESERVING OUR

Display until May 15 , 2021 Display until November 29, 2020

HOME PLATE Precious Memories live on at our tables

HEROES FOUND James Charlet brings history to life in NC

ROBERT ST. JOHN The Enthusiastic Southerner on bells and dogs

KREWE OF FLOATS Carryng on the tradition of decorated floats on houses


Our first 12 issues ...we're


just getting warmed up.


40: HOME PLATE

For many, the value of china is not its monetary worth, but a way to connect to another time, place, or person.

48: HEROES FOUND

James Charlet is bringing to life the life-saving service that birthed the U.S. Coast guard.

STORIES

56: MEMORIES OF ANOTHER TIME

Photographing the landscape of Southern heritage is a passion and addiction for Watson Brown.

Pinewood Kitchen has helped Mee McCormick share a new mindset about food and health

Photography by Watson Brown

66: SPREADING THE WORD


CHAPTERS EDITORIAL

TO DINE SOUTHERN

PG 7: OUR CONTRIBUTORS

PG 30: THE SOUTHERN TABLE

Growinng up in East Texas with homemade biscuits and potato gravy

The people who make our stories come to life

PG 8: EDITOR’S LETTER

PG 38: GATHERINGS

Looking back on our beginning and celebrating our first 12 issues

Paulina Brand shares her recipes for a good life in her new book, The Bohemian Peach

PG 34: ENTHUSIASTIC SOUTHERNER

PG 40: COOKING WITH

Robert St. John muses about life in the South and the dogs and bells that live in his memories.

Kelly Fields shares her chocolate pudding recipe from her Good Book of Southern Baking

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12 SOUTHERN COMFORTS

A ROAD LESS TRAVELED

PG 12: STONES TO GRIND

PG 92: WANDERING

PG 20: BY SOUTHERN HANDS

PG 98: WHERE WE WENT

A chemist turns her love of nature into a new way to express herself

Celebrating the “joie de vivre” on the bayou in Houma, LA

You’ll want these finds made by locals

PG 24: PAGES

Luthier Freeman Vines is in search of the Mystical Tone

PG 26: LISTEN UP

Blues harmonica man Andrew Alli walks a fine line between the old and new

Photography by Allen Cotton

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SOUTHERN SNAPSHOTS

Grace Episcopal Curch, St. Francisville, LA

FRONT COVER

Treasured items preserve memories like this teacup and antique books. Photograph by Ruth Black

PG 88: ALONG THE ROAD

Mardi Gras floats are replaced with houses decked out ready for a drive-by parade

PG 94: L AY OF THE L AND

Our readers submit photos of their special Southern places and people

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STAFF Scott Speakes Publisher Genie Gaither Jones Editor-in-Chief Rebecca Cashwell Design Director Steve Ransom Digital Imaging Specialist Robert St. John J. M. McSpadden Liesel Schmidt Contributing Editors Richard L. Jones Copy Editor

Advertising Sales Specialists Kris Schultz North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia kschultz@cherokeemediagroup.com Brittany Sanders Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas brmcdonald45@gmail.com All other requests Scott Speakes scott@okramagazine.com

CONNECT WITH US facebook.com/okramagazine @okramag contact@okramagazine.com

Published by Southbound Publishing, Inc.

okramagazine.com

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CONTRIBUTORS

ERIC J. WALLACE is a writer, avid lover of the outdoors, and devotee to the ongoing search for the Good Life. His work has appeared in many noteworthy publications, including Outside, Backpacker, Canoe & Kayak, WIRED, Atlas Obscura, Modern Farmer and more. He is presently a contributing editor for the internet’s greatest fount of culinary wonder, Gastro Obscura. drericjwallace@gmail.com

J. M. MCSPADDEN is a freelance writer and music enthusiast whose work has appeared online at theflamestillburns.com, and at mbird.com, a journal that examines faith in the real world. His love for roots music led to a gig at nodepression.com, where he reported on live music from The Birchmere, the famed music hall in Washington, DC. He is fascinated with the way words and music impact our lives and can be used as a vehicle for healing. Host of The Village Night Owl podcast, an interview show featuring musical artists. He lives in Virginia with his wife Suzanne where he is at work on his first novel.

JENNIFER STEWART KORNEGAY is a freelance writer and editor based in Montgomery, AL. Her work has appeared in Garden & Gun, Southern Living, The Bitter Southerner, The Local Palate, thekitchn.com, Bake From Scratch, Paste, Travel&Leisure.com, Nashville Lifestyles, Birmingham magazine, Alabama magazine, Georgia Magazine, Alabama Living magazine and more. She’s interested in everything, will write about almost anything but most often reports on Southern culture, food and travel. jenniferkornegay.com

TYLER DARDEN is a food and lifestyle photographer and cinematographer based in Richmond, Virginia. After spending the first part of his career as a magazine art director, he followed the siren call to pursue photography full time in 2010. In his free time, he experiments with large format and ultra large format film photography, documentary and filmmaking. His photos have been published in Virginia Living Magazine, Wall Street Journal, LIDL Grocery Stores, Garden & Gun, Self, Men’s Health, and Colonial Williamsburg. tylerdarden.com

ROBERT ST. JOHN is a Mississippi native. He has spent almost four decades in the restaurant business as a restaurateur, chef, columnist, and author. For over 20 years he has written a weekly syndicated newspaper column. He is the author of eleven books. St. John is the creator, producer, and co-host of the Public Broadcasting series Palate to Palette with Robert St. John and Wyatt Waters which will soon film its fifth season. In 2009, St. John founded Extra Table, a statewide non-profit organization that ships healthy food to over 50 Mississippi soup kitchens and mission pantries every month. He and his wife Jill have two children. robertstjohn.com DEBORAH BURST is a New Orleans native, author, and award winning writer/photographer with a portfolio of more than a thousand articles and photos including national covers. She has written five travel/photo books featuring the South, its people, critters, landscapes, mystical legends and historic architecture. From hidden graveyards and sacred temples to the shrouded bayous and forests, Deb gives a voice to all the spirits. deborahburst.com

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EDITOR’S LETTER

What started as a dream has turned into a reality. Even though we’ve printed 12 issues, we still find it hard to believe it’s really happened. It started out as something we only talked about. What if we…What about…We could… There were so many “what abouts” it was hard to decide. We are friends, born and bred Southerners, and we love our South. Our professions have always been in the creative field, so we knew whatever we decided to do would have to be visually beautiful, interesting and, most importantly, Southern. But what would that “Southern” look like? Once we landed on a magazine, it became pretty clear to us that we wanted to be “real”. We wanted to tell the stories of the real people in the South. We would only tell stories from within the South. There’s so much here, why would you need to go somewhere else for a story? You know, when you listen, you find out people

“ N E V E R L I M I T YO U R S E L F B E CAU S E O F OTHERS’ LIMITED IMAGINATION; NEVER L I M I T O T H E R S B E CAU S E O F YO U R OW N LIMITED IMAGINATION.” Mae Jemison

have the most interesting stories. And it’s not just the people. The places where we live are so charming, beautiful, and interesting. And let’s not forget the many “interesting” things to see. There is so much great food to eat, whether you want to make it yourself or go try a new place

to dine. And we know, everything about the South isn’t great. But it’s still our South and our story as Southerners. While we are committed to a better South, we felt it was important not to lose sight of our diverse culture and its traditions. It’s who we are. It’s where we’re from and where we live. And we decided to celebrate all of this on its pages. But what would we call our magazine? It needed a name to reflect its Southern roots. What’s more Southern than okra? So, here we are–okra. Real Southern Culture. We literally started from nothing. Looking back, it was obvious we didn’t know as much as we thought we did. But we kept moving forward, spurred with the desire to create something we loved, and hoped y’all would, too. When the first issue was released, y’all bought it and subscribed and told us how much you loved it. Then we found out we were named in the top 20 Hottest Magazines Launched in 2017. It seemed validation and we kept moving forward. So, here we are. With the printing of this issue, we begin our next 12. Yes, it’s sometimes hard to believe we’ve done it, but when you dream anything is possible.

Scott Speakes // Publisher

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Genie Gaither Jones // Editor-in-Chief


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CHAPTER 1

SOUTHERN COMFORTS

Photo: Andrew Shurtleff

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Photo: Andrew Shurtleff


H O M E

STONES TO GRIND A NATURE-LOVING CHEMIST TURNS A LOVE OF NATURE INTO A PASSION FOR PAINTING Written by Lisa Tomey / Photography by Madison Woods Gently applying her own handmade natural paints to a painting, Madison

stone sourced in the nearby King’s River. “Whenever I travel, I collect rocks or

Woods muses on her creative path. “I have a deep love for nature and a great

old bricks for pigments. I have sand from Doha, Qatar. People also send me

desire to capture it in drawings and photography.”

rocks. I have a few from the Ouachita Mountains here in Arkansas.” Woods has

It has been a wonderful journey from the inspiration to the end results of

also used rocks from Seattle, Oklahoma, and North Carolina. Plus, she says

making watercolor Paleo Paints to beautiful artwork. While her own mother

she has enough from Central Texas to start another collection. It is her vision

painted duck decoys, carved by her husband, Woods did not start creating art–

to have collections representing as many places as possible.

other than sketching–until just a few years ago. Self-taught, she began honing

“My favorite spot to gather is in the creek here at Wild Ozark where the flood-

her drawing skills, using her own photog-

waters wash up a new gravel bed every time

raphy for inspiration. It wasn’t long before

it rains, good and hard.” Finding bleached

she brought in her skills with chemistry.

white bones, charring them in the wood

Woods is a practicing chemist and worked

stove, makes the “most incredible black”

in the field of inorganic and organic chem-

(bone black). Using what nature provides

istry, later moving to environmental chem-

even has benefits in the form of a recent

istry. She left the chemistry lab back in

clay-laden landslide, taking the negatives

2013 and began the journey to what would

and turning it into positives.

become Wild Ozark. It started with growing

Processing each color is a time intensive

wild-simulated ginseng and creating crafts

effort. Starting with the raw form, such as

items from wild botanicals found nearby.

stones, these are first ground by hand. The

With that success, she began experiment-

ground up pigment is washed then allowed

ing with other mediums and by 2018, she

to “settle” before the clarified water can be

was creating her own paints and using them

poured off. Next, the resulting pigments

to paint nature inspired watercolor art.

must dry, which can take several days. Next comes the grinding of the dried pigment

From the very start, Woods created her watercolors from local pigments, developed in her kitchen lab, Wild Ozark

and mulling into gum Arabic medium. This will then be formed into a cube,

Paleo Paints became her obsession. Sourcing this paint is as close as her own

which shrinks as it dries. During the drying process, more paint will be added

back yard, located in the beautiful Arkansas Ozarks at the country home she

as needed to create a full cube or pan. The intensive process can take up to

shares with her husband, near Kingston. With the abundance of nature finds

two weeks to complete.

from her daily walks on trails and by creeks, Woods found it easy to get started.

Earth pigments sourced from rocks, bone, or clay are permanent and light-

Driven by the desire to discover all possible colors, she is ever on watch for

fast, and do not have to be tested, however plant sourced pigments require

new inspiration.

testing for lightfastness. Swatches are made, cut in half, one going into the

Each of her two collections, Soul of the Ozarks and Blood of the Ozarks are

swatch book (away from UV light) and one being taped on the outside window

made from local pigments. The latter contains shades of the color red from

to get full sun exposure for four weeks. Woods then compares the two halves

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SOUTHERN COMFORTS

to determine if the outside swatch faded, mildewed, or oxidized. Two plant pigments she commonly uses intensify in the light, rather than fading. Once the paints are complete, Woods can start painting. Woods maintains a catalog of the pigments with special notes on the pigments sourced from her immediate area. This involves keeping samples of materials used, a bit of the ground pigment, a sample of the paint itself, and swatches of both the rub from dried pigment and the finished paints. Commissioned work has included a portrait of a brown pelican and a Brahman calf, and more. Recent projects are “Ozark Birds of Prey” and “The Elemental-Nature Fantasy.” Woods finds that birds are tedious, time-consuming paintings so she explores painting with new techniques, still using the limited palette of local pigments. Her art graces walls internationally, 11 states, 2 countries and counting. Making paints is a tedious process but a “labor of love.” Much of her focus is on creating art and discovering new ways to present her prints. Investing in a high-quality printer and creating giclee on 100% cotton rag paper has made a huge difference in the ability to expand her options for reproducing her pieces. While many artists offer tours of their studios, Woods laughs, “Noooooo, lol. I work in my house currently. It looks like a mad scientist lives here.” She does sometimes offer workshops to those wanting to know this craft from ground to finished paint. These folks do “get a glimpse of the mayhem that is my home office/studio/lab.” Most people prefer to start with her ready-made paints, available on her website. Wood is an active member of the art community in Kingston. Her art is on display for sale in the local art gallery on the town square in Kingston. Beyond her painting, Woods is a published author with several books on the topics of ginseng, herbs, nature, musings, and even flash fiction. You might even discover that she writes “Rural Fantasy” under the pen name of Ima Erthwitch. She is also an ambassador for the Kingston area where she lives. Woods works can be found displayed in local and national art shows. She offers stationery, artwork, paints, photographs, and more on her website @ wildozark.com

Clockwise from upper left, 1: Woods laying in some sketching detail as she works on a painting of a bird. 2: Scratching a rock gives an indication of the colors the ground stone would produce. 3: Woods finds birds to be the most tedious to paint. This painting of “On the Cusp” showcaes many brown tones of her pigments. 4: Cubes of finished paints and the colors they produce are labeled on paper to test their lightfastness. 5: The creek near her home is a favorite place for Woods to forage for stone and other items to produce her pigment.

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“WHENEVER I TRAVEL, I COLLECT ROCKS OR OLD BRICKS FOR PIGMENTS,” SAYS WOODS.

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SOUTHERN COMFORTS

S T Y L E

TWINE & TWIG Begun in 2013 almost on a fluke, sisters Elizabeth White and Jacmessy paintings…you name it,” says Tugwell. “Then we source our quelyn Tugwell didn’t actually have any intention of starting a combeads from near and far. The fun part comes next: Piles of beads and pany when they created their first pieces for Twine & Twig. “We were tons of mess. We string, unstring, try again, finish each other’s…and just designing original jewelry for ourselves, and friends then we have a necklace. Once we feel like it’s a go, we started to ask for pieces; so we had a launch party,” have the girls in our studio begin to duplicate.” explains Tugwell, who, in addition to designing jewelry While they may be placing their travel plans on hold for and running Twine & Twig, is a talented hairstylist with a while, the sisters can still take satisfaction in the fact a background in studio art and education. “From there, that their creations are out in the world. “Our pieces are we had tremendous luck, and everything grew very fast; perfect for everyone,” says White. “When we started, we almost too fast for us to keep up. We have learned a lot designed for ourselves, our age, and our style. It has along the way.” been so rewarding to see the collection on people of all Those pieces, among them bracelets and necklaces as ages, ethnicities, sizes, and styles. We have seen our well as pendants, have a decidedly tribal flair, mixed pieces incorporated with the preppiest of looks down with a coastal influence that gives them a unique apto the most hippie, granola style and everything in bepeal. “We’re extremely inspired by our travels and our tween.” Jacquelyn Tugwell & children,” explains White, whose background in graphic Regardless of what they’re making, at the heart of the Elizabeth White design and product development bring a valuable skillset company is just that: Heart. “We have an entire Charity to the company. The mother of three children, White is Collection, and we prioritize incorporating philanthropy also an intrepid traveler, having hiked Table Mountain in Cape Town, into the core values and culture of our brand,” says Tugwell. “Our South Africa. “We are so fortunate in North Carolina to have the beach hope is that these pieces will be a conversation starter about different and the mountains, and we are constantly at both and absorb so much philanthropy objectives as well as becoming a symbol to remember inspiration.” your good deed. To date, Twine & Twig has donated over $50,000 to a It is, perhaps, the creativity and the sense of story that makes their variety of charities and organizations.” pieces so special. “We usually start with the colorway, and we find All collections can be found online @ twineandtwigstyle.com. inspiration for a new collection from waves, trees, concerts, our kids’ Written by Liesel Schmidt

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Photo: Nicole McConville

H O M E

KEYES POTTERY There’s a satisfaction that comes from taking a lump of clay and transelevate each meal, making it a more pleasurable experience,” Keyes forming it into something beautiful, feeling the cool, wet shapelessasserts. “Knowing that a lot of time and care went into making the ness take form under your hands. For pottery artist Laura Keyes, it is mug that you’re drinking your morning coffee out of makes that daily that tactile aspect that so draws her to her craft, making ritual more meaningful. Personally, I love the connection unique pieces whose purpose is to be used “as everyday between the maker and the user; and knowing that each wares while maintaining an elegant aesthetic.” piece I make will be used and enjoyed in someone’s day It was during a visit to see her sister at college when to day life gives me a lot of joy.” Keyes was young that she was first introduced to the A resident of Marshall, North Carolina, Keyes lives with world of pottery, and she recalls being entranced. The her husband and assorted animals: a dog, a cat, and five rows of wheels, the smell of the wet clay, the magic of ducks. Living in a mountain community, she is surroundmaking something from nothing. ed by nature that inspires her work. “I have a lovely view Not until 2013, however, did Keyes rediscover her interfrom my studio, and watching the clouds and mist rising est in pottery, igniting it into a passion while she worked out of the mountains is a daily meditation to me. I spend as a studio assistant at Magnum Pottery in Weaverville, a lot of time in the woods, and the vibrancy and patterns North Carolina. After five years of working and studying of the lichen (which one of my glazes is named for), the with them, she launched Keyes Pottery in 2018. wildflowers, and mushrooms is a constant wellspring of Laura Keyes “I am constantly inspired by the fascinating alchemy of inspiration,” she says. working with clay and seeing the transformation it goes Working with glazes whose colors are inspired by the through,” says Keyes of what makes her so passionate about her work. hues she sees in nature, Keyes creates a wide variety of home goods “It’s a meditative process for me, one that I thoroughly enjoy.” and kitchen ware. “Whether you are a fan of neutral tones or bold, Whether thrown on the wheel or built using slabs of clay, each piece graphic patterns, my collections will compliment your personal style is handcrafted by Keyes, designed with the intent of being functional, and décor,” says Keyes. lightweight, and sturdy enough for daily usage. Clearly, she wants her Her pieces are available online at keyespottery.com and by appointment work to be well-loved and well-used, not just placed on a shelf and from her studio in Marshall, NC. admired from afar. “Having handmade dishes in your home can really Written by Liesel Schmidt

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Photography by Heidi Harris

SOUTHERN COMFORTS

H O M E

WOODKITH Webster’s dictionary defines the word kith as “familiar friends, neighin the piece reveals the storied history of the tree and its tale.” bors, or relatives.” Fittingly, that is the very heart and soul of WoodInspired by the movement and the inherent features of the wood they Kith; and since its founding in 2015, the products bearing its brand are working with, WoodKith pieces are a labor of love and a celebrahave united two of the South’s most valued treasures: tion of nature. And while most woodcraft uses trees harfriendship and wood. “We design lasting pieces that are vested and milled specifically for that purpose, the Atmade more beautiful by the company had and the times lanta-based company sources urban lumber that would spent around them,” says Wayne Bedenbender, who cootherwise be considered waste. “We use as much of the owns WoodKith with Shane Schoenith. trees we rescue as possible, making Feast Boards; furRaised in a family of carpenters, Bedenbender worked niture; and small items such as coasters, recipe card with wood as a child and harbored a passion for the craft holders, and candle holders all with a live edge,” says that grew as time went on. It wasn’t until 2015, howevBedenbender. “The lumber is natural—we simply cut, er, that he realized that woodworking could be his true sand, and oil it.” calling. “We came upon a huge old pecan tree at a conNaturally, part of the appeal—apart from the beauty of struction site that was cleared away, and we rescued the the wood, is the craftsmanship and the fact that each tree and had it sawed into live edge boards,” explains piece is made completely by hand. “Handmade work alBedenbender, who is the company artisan, while Schoelows for perfectly imperfect craftmanship,” BedenbendWayne Bedenbender nith handles the business side. “One tree led to another, er contends. “Mass produced has too much sameness, and a business was born.” but each piece we make is unique and different. You Settling on the name WoodKith as a nod to the phrase “kith and kin,” can lay ten Feast Boards side by side, and you would be hard-pressed Bedenbender and Schoenith wanted their creations to be “pieces to to find two that were the same.” gather around.” And so they are, from their large Feast Boards—a Of all their products, the Feast Boards are WoodKith’s most popular name they trademarked for their specialty charcuterie boards—to their pieces—and with good reason. “They’re perfect for anyone that loves beautiful live edge furniture. Like the trees they are harvested from, to entertain. It’s the ‘wow factor’ of having a natural, live edge board each piece is completely unique. “We believe each piece of wood has for serving charcuterie,” Bedenbender says. Look for WoodKith naa story to tell,” says Bedenbender. “Each ring, grain, crotch, and fork tionwide at select retailers and online @ WoodKith.com. LS

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FOOD

BLUFF CITY TOFFEE In a day and age when candy is mass-produced and created by mathat is rich and creamy. It’s the texture of the product. It’s the perfect chines, it’s special to find a handmade confection—especially one balance of crunch and smoothness that can only be found when it’s with history. It was that sense of specialness that inspired Stephanie created in small batches.” Upshaw to launch Bluff City Toffee in 2016, building If your mouth is watering at the thought, it’s with good on a recipe that she had been making for decades. “It’s reason, as all of Bluff City’s sweets are indeed drool-woralways been a staple in our household and social circles, thy. Dark or milk chocolate covered pecan toffees, white so it just felt natural to introduce it to the public once chocolate macadamia toffee, toffee covered popcorn… my kids left the nest and I had a little extra time on my All of Upshaw’s recipes utilize the finest ingredients and hands,” says Upshaw. follow a process that is sweet in its simplicity. “That Using that “extra time,” the Tennessee native took steps simple process is, to me, what makes it so good!” she to create a fully-fledged business that would far outpace says with a laugh. “I make each toffee variety by hand in the small batches she was used to making. After reservsmall batches, using just a few simple, natural ingrediing a spot in a commercial kitchen that offered access ents. Think butter, sugar, nuts, and chocolate, as well as to top-of-the-line equipment, she worked with food scisea salt for one flavor.” Containing no added preservaentists to understand such things as nutrition panels and tives and 100% gluten-free, the toffees are the perfect shelf life, learning the ins and outs of product creation. treat for those with dietary restrictions. Stephanie Upshaw “After that, it was off to the races with local retailers Being Memphis-based, Upshaw is deeply inspired by her and online sales!” Upshaw recalls. Five years later, her city. “There’s no doubt that Memphis is a food city,” she toffees are on the shelf in numerous local shops in the Memphis area. says. “It’s also a place that rallies around its local makers. Everyone She also unveiled her very own storefront/fulfillment center in Novemhere wants to support their neighbors, their friends, and even friends ber 2020. of their friends. It really is amazing how supportive Memphians are Success is made even sweeter for Upshaw with the knowledge that all for locally owned small businesses like mine. They make me want to of it has come from the work of her hands. “I may be biased, but I am do all I can to give them a sweet treat made in their own backyard for a firm believer that small-batch treats taste much better than those years to come.” Bluff City Toffee products can be purchased online @ that are mass-produced,” she contends. “It’s the velvety chocolate bluffcitytoffee.com and in retail stores in Memphis. LS

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SOUTHERN COMFORTS

Q&A A U T H O R

:

F R E E M A N

V I N E S

North Carolina native searches for the Mystical Tone Written by J. M. McSpadden / Photography by Timothy Duffy In September 2021, Bitter Southerner, in conjunction with the Music Maker

me how to play Wildwood Flower. And that was the beginning of the guitar.

Relief Foundation released a stunning book entitled Hanging Tree Guitars. It

Q : When you started to learn the guitar who were your influences?

is the collaboration of luthier Freeman Vines with narrative by Zoe Van Buren

A : Wasn’t no influence around cause there wasn’t but one road into the plan-

and gorgeous tintype photography by Timothy Duffy. Duffy is the founder of

tation and one road out and one car on the road with about fifteen or twenty

the Music Maker Relief Foundation and has worked with Vines since 2015.

people that sharecropped down there. Nobody knowed the way out except up

Freeman Vines lives in Fountain, North

to the general store or over to (the store

Carolina, not far from the plantation his

at) Snow Hill.

family once sharecropped.

Q : So, you have lived in North Carolina

According to Vines, he has been making

all of your life?

guitars for fifty years. Part visual artist,

A : Yep. I done a little bippin’ and bop-

part spiritual philosopher, the book is

pin’, but you know how it is, I’d always get

Vines look at life and his encounters with

broke and have to come back.

racism. He approaches a piece of wood in

Q : I lived in Wilmington, North Carolina

a manner befitting a druid. Vines says that

twice, the first time from 1969 -1979.

wood has a personality, and that personal-

There was a lot of racial strife there in

ity informs each piece he creates. The title

those days.

comes from a specific piece of wood that

A : I know, that’s why I got the hell outta

was delivered to Vines, wood from a tree

there. I went down there riding with some

that had been used to lynch a black man,

folks. To get some herrings. This is in the

Oliver Moore, in 1930.

days of the Saturday Night fish fry. We went to get some cheap herrings offa the

Q : When did you first take up playing

boats.

guitar?

Q : Many people think of art as something

A : It’s been quite a while. Used to, when I lived on the plantation over there,

to entertain us. When I look at what you do with wood, I believe your art

I used to have to tote the… there was a bad white man over there. At least

challenges us.

they said he was bad. But someone told me he was a nice guy. He toted his

A : Right. Well, you have to sit there and look at the guitar to see what it’s

shotgun and his fishin’ pole all the time. I had no idea that during the hard

saying. Cause the wood itself already has that personality, that it makes me do

times he wasn’t the only one hunting and fishin’ over there. I thought he was

things. Cause see, a lot of them are, cause of losing my eyesight, were done

a bully cause every time I saw him…well, anyway, on to the important stuff. I

with about 1/3 of my vision. People come down there and ask me how do you

was out there toting it for him and stuff and he had an old Martin guitar down

cut the guitar out and assemble it. I say ‘Simple. When I run into a problem

there in the cabin. One day he went there and got it and he said, “I want you

I make a tool to compensate for what I can’t do.’ I did the same thing when

to meet Mr. Martin.” I was looking around and looking around and he had an

I restored cars. They stole all my tool designs and made them some purty

old Martin’s guitar. He wouldn’t let me play it then, but later on he showed

tools, and painted them and stuff, but my old raggedy-looking ones did the

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