complimentary issue a sip of life from the most soulful
state in the South
to see this summer TUPELO'S
serves as eatery, butcher shop & more
Summertime Sweetness U-pick farms harvest buckets of blueberries
Also: Starkville’s The Biscuit Shop • Bay St. Louis • Harvesting Honey • Artist George Wardlaw
PHOTO BY MELANIE THORTIS
features Page 20
Portrait: George Wardlaw
A cool and casual eatery has Tupelo locals coming back for fresh food from nearby farms.
Northeast Mississippi’s acclaimed artist has a portfolio that spans a lifetime.
Bay St. Louis
Ten years after Katrina, a loyal community has this coastal town back to its former charm.
Returning to his roots has brought this blues musician more than fame.
U-Pick Blueberries The ‘pick-your-own’ model has proven successful for these and many other blueberry farms across the state. COVER SHOT
Fresh blueberries from Cockrell's Farmers' Market are a summertime treat in Mississippi. Photo by Melanie Thortis
departments IN EVERY ISSUE
4 « Editor’s Note 6 « Spotlight: Contributors 9 « Sipmag.com 30 « ‘Sip of Nature: Mayapple 38 « ‘Sip Trip: Yazoo County 63 « ‘Sip Sounds: Ten MS Music Acts 64 « The Last ‘Sip
FOOD 16 | The Biscuit Shop Starkville baker is thriving in the business of biscuits. Contents page photo by Jeremy Murdock
OUTSIDE 26 | Harvesting Honey Nathan reports on beekeeping and the wonders within a hive. Contents page photo by Melanie Thortis
CULTURE 40 | Jordan’s Chapel A Vicksburg gem fulfills much more than a long-ago promise. Contents page photo by Melanie Thortis
ART 50 | Yolande van Heerden South African artist answered Mississippi’s calling. Contents page photo by Rory Doyle
50 MUSIC 60 | Taproot Audio Sound engineer turns his keen ear into a successful career.
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from the Front Porch
“You only live but once, and when you're dead you're done, so let the good times roll.” — as sung by B.B. King
PHOTO BY MILLET STUDIO, 2011
PHOTO BY MELANIE THORTIS
As we gear up for another hot and humid Mississippi summer, thoughts of cold drinks and fresh-picked produce come to mind. This issue celebrates summer with a big “sip” of blueberries in all their glory along with an old-school butcher shop, biscuits, bees and the blues. Speaking of blues...I can’t help but join the chorus of people remembering the legacy of Mississippi’s own B.B. King, whose death has lain heavily on the hearts of people across the world. And when a photo of me with B.B. in 2011 recently resurfaced, it sparked a conversation with my 3-year-old son, with whom, coincidentally, I was nearly 8 months pregnant in the photo. After my explanation of who B.B. King was, my music-loving child, Grady, asked, “Does he play the blues in Heaven?” Bless him. Strange as it now seems, my fondness for B.B. King came when I was a (pre) pre-teen watching The Cosby Show. Seeing the larger-than-life, Mississippi-born bluesman perform on my favorite Thursday night TV show triggered an undying pride for my home state. In college, I took a class on the anthropology of the blues culture, which deepened my appreciation for B.B.’s art form. That same summer, I caught a live homecoming performance in the Delta and was beyond thrilled when he stopped to shake my hand as he left the stage. During the time I traveled with H.C. Porter to build Blues @ Home, a project featuring portraits and oral histories of living Mississippi blues legends, I attended a performance by B.B. King and, once again, met him backstage. I was just as enamored with him then as I was as that star-struck child and giddy college girl. An icon of Mississippi culture and a true ambassador for our state, B.B. has been a beacon for me on this journey of celebrating the culture of Mississippi through this publication. His love for the ‘Sip lives on through his undying legacy. And, I’m sure he is, indeed, playing his blues in Heaven. Summer is full of live music opportunities, and this issue offers a jump-start with a list of can’t-miss summer acts. So...
Let the good times roll,
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a big thanks to this issue’s talented contributors JIM BEAUGEZ | WRITER Jim is a writer, musician and communications professional based in Clinton. After growing up on the Gulf Coast, Jim studied English at Mississippi State University and worked briefly in journalism before shifting to marketing communications and public relations. His work has appeared in such national publications as Guitar Player and Systems Contractor News and various regional publications. He has earned the widely recognized Accredited in Public Relations certification and was named a Senior PR Practitioner by the Southern Public Relations Federation.
LISA LAFONTAINE BYNUM | WRITER Lisa is a freelance writer from Grenada. She is a regular contributor to several publications throughout Mississippi. She is a graduate of Delta State University, where she received a bachelor of arts in marketing, as well as a Master's of Business Administration. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and photography. Lisa currently lives in Brandon with her husband and two sons.
JENNIE EMERSON | WRITER Jennie was born in Portsmouth, Va., and moved every two years throughout her childhood. She works to support the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, where she has lived for nearly 20 years. She received her bachelor’s in journalism from West Texas A&M University and has written for numerous newspapers. She also worked for a local news station in Amarillo, Texas, and has judged several University Interscholastic League feature writing competitions.
KATE GREGORY | WRITER Kate, who grew up in Forest, is a lecturer of freshman English composition at Mississippi State University and an assistant at the Congressional and Political Research Center at MSU’s Mitchell Memorial Library. She has a bachelor of arts in English from Ole Miss and a master's in English from MSU. Kate’s passions are writing, traveling, good food, the Neshoba County Fair and the not-so-fine art of iPhone photography. She has written features and columns for the Starkville Daily News and Town and Gown Magazine. She lives in Starkville with her husband and cat.
SUSAN MARQUEZ | WRITER Susan has been writing professionally for newspapers, magazines, business journals and trade publications from her home in Madison for 13 years. She particularly enjoys writing stories about colorful people, interesting places and fun events in the South, especially when they have anything to do with food. She recently was accepted into the Association of Food Journalists and is passionate about knowing where our food comes from and how it’s prepared. “I see food as a lens through which we can view our region.”
Publisher/Editor Lauchlin Fields HEATHER DUFFY ILLUSTRATOR Heather Duffy is an artist from the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the exhibitions curator at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts in Grand Rapids, Mich. She exhibits her studio work regionally and nationally and holds a Master's of Fine Arts in painting. She also produces commissioned illustrations and installations and a small line of monogram stationery. You can view Heather’s work at heatherduffymade.com and follow her works in progress on Instagram @heatherduffymade.
JAMES EDWARD BATES PHOTOGRAPHER For nearly two decades, James has used his camera to create a compelling body of work in such print publications as The New York Times, Rolling Stone and People magazines, The Daily Mirror, various Marie Claire editions worldwide and Italy’s Panorama. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and a native Mississippian living in Gulfport, James spent much of his career as a staff photographer for The Sun Herald, including contributing to team coverage of Hurricane Katrina that earned the newspaper a Pulitzer Prize in 2006. He is also the founder, director and primary photojournalist of Passing the Torch, an award-winning project documenting the Ku Klux Klan. RORY DOYLE PHOTOGRAPHER Rory is a Maine native living in the Mississippi Delta. He is currently working as Delta State University’s photographer/news writer. He also works for Reebok Spartan Race, a competitive obstacle racing series. His client list also includes Bitter Southerner, Civil War Monitor, Penton Media, Delta Magazine and Teach for America. In 2014, Doyle was an exhibiting artist in “Mississippi Rising,” hosted by the National Arts Club in New York City.
Photography Director Melanie Thortis Design Director Erin Norwood Consulting Editor Karen Gamble Copy Editor Olivia Foshee Outside Editor Nathan Beane Writers Gordon Cotton Leslie Criss Mary Margaret Halford LaReeca Rucker Graphic Designer Claiborne Cooksey Photographers Lauren Wood Jeremy Murdock Marketing/Sales Director Cortney Maury firstname.lastname@example.org Interns Tiffany Carroll Kimberly Eady Mary Kalusche Anna McCollum The ‘Sip is a registered trademark of
Front Porch Fodder Publishing, LLC. The ‘Sip magazine is published four times a year. Owner: Lauchlin Fields 1216 National Street Vicksburg, MS 39180 601.573.9975 / 601.618.0028 email@example.com Copyright 2015 The ‘Sip by Front Porch Fodder Publishing, LLC Reproduction of any part of this publication is strictly prohibited.
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mag.com Want a bigger ‘sip? Read our past issues online on your computer or device! Enjoy complete photo galleries and additional content. You can also subscribe, order back issues, find out where The ‘Sip is distributed and download our mobile app. The ‘Sip website extends beyond the pages and gives you more in-depth coverage of Mississippi’s people, places and culture!
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NEONPIG UNIQUE SPACE IN Tupelo SERVES AS
EATERY, BUTCHER SHOP AND MORE
SMASH BURGER Voted the "Best Burger in the Universe â€” or at least in Mississippi" FAR RIGHT: Neon Pig sells fresh products from other local businesses.
TUPELO – Chef and restaurateur Mitch McCamey talks about food like a man who knows his business. Some might say he’s cocky; most would acknowledge he’s confident. And those who’ve visited The Neon Pig, one of McCamey’s two Tupelo eateries, would tell you his confidence is well-earned. McCamey, Seth Copeland and Trish McCluney are business partners in The Neon Pig and Kermit’s Outlaw Kitchen. The Neon Pig has been making culinary history in Tupelo since it opened in 2012. An Okolona native, McCamey and his family moved around a lot. “I attended 13 schools in 11 years,” he said. He’s always cooked — while growing up and in college. When he was 20, he moved to Colorado. “And I kept cooking,” he said. “I was just trying to find myself.” McCamey studied architecture for a short time and was a self-proclaimed snowboard bum, too. Truth be told, being a professional chef and owning restaurants were not careers he ever really thought of pursuing. And, yet, McCamey continued to be presented with opportunities to learn from and work with some of the best in the food industry. “Like Michael Fernandez, who started with a barbecue place on the side of the road,” McCamey said. “I worked for him. Now he has 35 restaurants coast to coast. He had such an amazing ethic, and integrity. He put me on my path, and I studied every way I could,” he said. McCamey admits it’s been a long road back home and to The Neon Pig. “I’ve done a little bit of everything,” he said. “Greasy spoons, mom and pops, corporate restaurants, some James Beard Award-winning restaurants. I’ve learned as much working with the bad as the good.”
y u BE Bocal L LOCAL
BIRTH OF THE PIG The Neon Pig came to be because McCamey and his partners wanted to be able to source locally. “Why? Because of the amazing ingredients,” he said. “In Vale, Colorado, we were not surrounded by local farms. But here, there’s a surplus of good farms. I feel like Mississippi has some of the best farms in the world.” The bottom line at The Neon Pig is the ingredients. “Our technique may waver at times as a team,” he said. “But our ingredients never waver.” Dr. Dan Mathews, owner of Mathews Chiropractic & Healthy Living, agrees. “I’ve had the burgers and tacos there,” he said. “And you can certainly tell a difference in the flavor and freshness.” An oversized chalkboard quickly makes customers aware of the local folks whose products provide the ingredients for The Neon Pig’s menu. There’s Mayhew Tomato Farm, Zion Family Farm, Native Son, St. Bethany’s, Memory Orchard, Circle W Farm, Brown’s Family Dairy, McKaskle Family. 11
“IT'S THE WHOLE LOCAL THING. I'M CONVINCED IT'S DUE TO THE ORGANIC VEGGIES AND OTHER INGREDIENTS THEY HAVE THAT ARE LOCALLY GROWN.” DR. DAN MATHEWS And the list changes as more local farms are added. “Early on, it was somewhat of a struggle getting started local,” McCamey said. “But now, folks bring us stuff.” PLACE WITH PERSONALITY On a sunny spring Saturday, The Neon Pig is still packed with patrons at mid-afternoon. It’s a small space, but every inch has a purpose. On one wall, glass-doored refrigerators house cold drinks — mostly cold brews of the craft kind where thirsty customers can help themselves. An open-air cooler holds things as diverse as potatoes and pimento cheese, sauces and spices. Just in front of the opposite wall is a bar that comfortably seats eight, bringing the total number that can be seated in The Neon Pig to about 25. A large tip jar in front of the cash register offers its own portion of pithy prose: “Money is the root of all evil. Cleanse yourself here.” A nearby black and white photograph shows Elvis and Johnny Cash smiling in approval. And all manner of hungry folks — firsttimers and regulars alike — strictly obey one rule that’s prominently displayed: “Y'all come in and make yourself at home.” This friendly atmosphere is one thing that draws repeat customers like Mathews. “I love the energy in the place,” he said. “You can tell the guys are passionate about what they are doing.” The Neon Pig’s specialty, Smash and Bash burgers, are grilled to perfection and served with specially matched cheeses, homemade pickles and sauces.
“We sell a lot of burgers and tacos,” McCamey said. “That allows us to use local cows.” On social media, The Neon Pig’s burger was voted the “Best burger in the universe, or at least in Mississippi.” It’s even touted on T-shirts hanging from a string stretched between the butcher counter and the grill. The popular Smash burger is much more than a hunk of ground beef. It’s made with aged filet, ribeye, New York strip and Benton’s Bacon. You can soak in the cool atmosphere at The Neon Pig while your Smash burger is prepared and brought to your table. Or you can buy several pounds of Smash at the butcher counter and, with advice from McCamey, take it home and cook your own. But the culinary scope of The Neon Pig goes well beyond burgers. “Our menu constantly changes,” McCamey said. “We believe there are 52 seasons in a year. We have a basic menu, but some people don’t realize they can come in here and choose a steak and have me cook it for them or ask me to make them fresh sushi. “We have a really small menu, which allows us not to get stuck or pigeonholed into doing the same thing all the time.” At the back of the restaurant, McCamey can often be found hard at work discussing cuts of meat and the best methods for cooking them with customers who’ve come in to buy fresh seafood or aged beef or fresh chicken or pork. “You can break down a big pig in a matter of minutes,” he said of the process. “But a cow is complex and can take hours.”
“THERE ARE PROBABLY 100 BUTCHER SHOPS IN THE COUNTRY. AND WE'RE ONE.” 12
JUST BEYOND THE BAR IS WHERE THE CULINARY MAGIC HAPPENS.
Cleanse yourselves Johnny Cash and Elvis smile in approval of "Money is the root of all evil. Cleanse yourself here" tip jar.
TOP LEFT: Raina Dupree makes a chicken lettuce wrap. TOP RIGHT: A variety of seafood is also available. MIDDLE: The shrimp buns at Neon Pig Cafe are a hit. BELOW: Smash Burger in the making.
THE NEON PIG NOT ONLY PURCHASES BEEF AND PORK LOCALLY, BUT THE COWS AND PIGS ARE BROKEN DOWN ON THE PREMISES BY MCCAMEY, WHO CALLS IT A LOST ART. IT'S AN ART HE'S LEARNED BY DOING. WHAT'S IN A NAME? McCamey said he sometimes wonders if he and his partners might have misbranded their unique, locally sourced eatery with the moniker The Neon Pig. “Some people probably hear the name and immediately think it’s barbecue,” he said, with a chuckle and roll of the eyes. “But we liked the idea of something playful. Maybe we should have called it The Local Pig.” If McCamey has his way, there’ll be plenty more opportunities for other names in the future. But he’s not rushing because he understands it takes time. “There’s a lot of room to grow,” he said. “There are always things we can do better. And I can’t open more without great people, you know. We have to move forward correctly. “But I’d love to open 10 or 15 more restaurants in other places. I really want to do that.”
THE NEON PIG
1203 N. GLOSTER STREET, SUITE F TUPELO, MISSISSIPPI
MONDAY - SATURDAY: 11AM - 9PM SUNDAY: 11AM - 4PM (662) 269-2533
STORY Leslie Criss PHOTOGRAPHY Lauren Wood
TOP : All butchering is done in-house at Neon Pig Cafe.MIDDLE: Beef, cheese and chicken fill the deli case at Neon Pig Cafe. BOTTOM: Mitch McCamey, one of the owners, grabs a piece of meat to cut while talking to a customer.
S T A R K VI LLE
The Biscuit Shop
Baker scratching more than surface with biscuits
Some people have visions of sugarplums, but Michelle Tehan has dreams of biscuits – making them from scratch and selling them fresh to the community she has always called home. In June 2014, Tehan opened a biscuit shop in a small, white cottage on South Jackson Avenue in Starkville. The Biscuit Shop has become one of the biggest breakfast attractions in town and, with her staff of seven, she averages more than 1,000 biscuits a day. “And when I run out, I run out,” Tehan said. “I know my limits, and that’s OK.” But her dreams are far from running dry. Tehan is a goal-oriented woman whose professional passions are obvious from the outset, as well as from the infamous, floor-to-ceiling size chalkboard on which she has listed her “Biscuit Bucket List.” It includes the names of people she’d like to serve, from star Mississippi State University athletes and their head coaches to Miss Mississippi Jasmine Murray to former Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck to SEC Network analyst Tim Tebow. Quite a few of them have been by. Next to their names, they’ve left their autograph and an indelible mark on Tehan’s never-ending journey. But, why biscuits? “I’ve always made them,” she said. “My entire family is from Starkville, and I would spend weekends at my grandparents'. My grandmother always made biscuits and gravy, and I would sit on the counter and help her. I’d pour the buttermilk. There’s never been a time when I didn’t make them.” She said her grandmother to this day makes biscuits at 7:30 a.m. every Saturday. In May 2013, while she was working for the Wildlife and Fisheries Department at MSU, Tehan began selling biscuits out of her house and, later, as a
participant at Starkville Community Market. She’d post her availabilities on Instagram, and through connections made there, she’d take orders. “People would come to my kitchen and get them, or I’d deliver. I’d even meet college guys to deliver biscuits in the CVS parking lot,” she said, laughing. Eventually, her aunt told her about Kickstarter, a popular online crowdfunding site for individual projects and businesses. Her campaign received enough support that she was able to confidently go forward in setting up a storefront. “She said, ‘Just see. Just put yourself out there,’ and I did,” Tehan said. “I think it’s a lot easier to grow when you have the support of others, and it’s never stopped. It’s absolutely never stopped.” Much of The Biscuit Shop’s soaring success is due to Tehan’s continued reliance on social media — namely Instagram — to connect with customers and keep them posted on the shop’s daily offerings. She said she will drop what she’s doing between batches, wash the flour off her hands and take a picture of the shelf behind the register. The decadent photos have now earned the moniker “Shelfies.” “It’s the best way to get the information out there and tell them what we have on the shelf,” she said. “Since it isn’t like a big doughnut factory and we can only get about 80 biscuits out at a time, it’s the best way to make sure customers can get what they want when they want.” The menus change daily, with options ranging from more traditional flavors, such as blueberry and sausage cheddar to seasonal concoctions such as red velvet and cranberry orange. She’s constantly developing new flavors, most of which stem from family or customer suggestions.
Hours: 6:30 a.m.- 2 p.m. Tuesday - Saturday New Location: 104 S. Washington St., Suite 3, Starkville Contact: (662) 324-311 8 thebiscuitlady.com twitter.com/ TheBiscuitLady instagram.com/ thebiscuitshop facebook.com/ biscuitshopstarkville
They’re the ones who eat them,” she said. “If there’s something they want to try, we’ll do it. It makes for a great way to have a conversation with people.” The most popular, according to Tehan, are the sprinkle biscuits — plain biscuits with multi-colored sprinkles baked in and topped with a simple glaze. They’re a visual dream, perfect for birthdays and for children. “The sprinkle ones just taste like good, buttered, sugary biscuits,” she said. “They’re the closest to what my grandmother’s tasted like when I was making them with her as a child.” But her social media feed isn’t simply a barrage of biscuits or ads; it gives frequent glimpses into Tehan’s bubbly personality as wife to Alan and the mother of their four children, including a set of 8-year-old triplets: Hannah, Hollis, and Houston, and their youngest son, 6-year-old Andrew. With her husband’s help, she’s able to balance the demands of owning a business with family life with what she lovingly refers to as the “Tehan Crew.” “Alan has more faith in me than I could have ever expected,” she said. “If I told him I wanted to go to the moon tomorrow, we’d go. He’d figure out a way.” Going to The Biscuit Shop becomes like visiting a friend’s
home. Patrons feel familiar enough to dash in wearing pajamas to grab a plate or two of biscuits and some coffee, or a cold bottled Coca-Cola from her grandmother’s old refrigerator to take home to their own crews on a Saturday morning. “I really hope that it helps everyone feel comfortable in my space,” she said. “I want them to feel good about coming here.” Customers can also take a larger order of biscuits to their tailgating crews at MSU. The Biscuit Shop offers a customizable menu featuring both savory and sweet fare for a crowd. Last football season saw success for MSU on the field as well as for Tehan’s shop. She remembers the Auburn weekend as a time of high stress and an even bigger sense of pride as people turned out in droves to buy biscuits for their tailgates. “That weekend was crazy,” she said. “I was sitting on the porch crying for a minute, thinking, ‘Wow, they’re all here for my biscuits!’” But even those overwhelming moments haven’t slowed Tehan down. In fact, they seem to fuel her fire.
STORY Kate Gregory PHOTOGRAPHY Jeremy Murdock
I have an insane amount of energy.
“ I don’t know how to do things any differently. I just always want to be doing something, and I’ll do it until I don’t fail.” ~ Michelle Tehan
Enjoy a handful of fresh blueberries, and youâ€™ll taste the sweetness of a Mississippi summer.
RAYMOND – Mother of five Susan Branson of Madison never misses a blueberry-picking season with her children at Pecan Hill Farms. "I grew up berry-picking with my family. It's such a good family summer activity that I wanted to carry on with my children," she said. Creating a fresh outdoor experience for Mississippi families is partly what spurred Max and Susan Draughn to open four acres of their 330-acre farm outside Raymond to berry-lovers young and old who want to pick their own blueberries, blackberries, muscadines and peaches. The U-pick operation at Pecan Hill Farms opened 10 years ago at the farm the family had purchased three years earlier. Originally, the couple had hoped to restore the landscape, lined with pecan trees and ponds. The fermented odor of a non-harvested berry orchard urged the Draughns to change their business model and open to the public as a U-pick. The couple and their three sons set out to learn how to work with all the delicate fruits that had to be picked from late May until mid-July. “So many berries were going to waste. We couldn’t keep up with picking them all, not even with the help from the boys,” Susan said. “We needed more help. That’s when the thought occurred to us to open for the public.” The Draughns’ orchards are near historic Raymond, about 30 minutes from Jackson. They are stocked full with four varieties of blueberries — Powder Blue, Sweet Climax, Brightwell and Premier — and five varieties of blackberries — Apache, Natchez, Arapaho, Osage and Ouachita. Thorn-free blackberries offer children a safe place to pick. This summer, for the first time, Pecan Hill Farms has opened the orchards to daycare field trips. The addition of a new covered pavilion allows visitors to lounge on picnic tables as children scatter among berry rows.
Pecan Hill Farms owner Susan Draughn inspects her growing berries.
Three-year-old Callen Evans tastes a bitter berry while picking at Pecan Hill Farms.
Max Draughn is a retired CEO for a pharmaceutical company. These days, he devotes plenty of time to his berries as a break from his seasonal commercial operation of pecan harvesting. When he and his wife opened the U-Pick to guests four years ago, visitors could begin to see how fruit is grown on a working farm and sample all of the berry varieties. Max encourages guests to walk the fields and taste them. Getting to this picturesque scene hasn’t been easy for Max and Susan, mainly because the blueberry is a berry that is not easily satisfied. It is prudish, demanding constant attention and perfect aeration, moisture and drainage. Hence, the Draughns have spent quite a bit of time perfecting their irrigation system. “I’ve made it as hands-free and simple as I could, but it has taken time and a lot of work,” Max said. “It’s finally paying off.” Pollination is another necessity, and Max has an advantage there. “Bees are everywhere around my farm,” he said. “They
in his rearview mirror. “Being the big brother, he has had the toughest jobs. He’s looking forward to starting college,” she said. Max, who explained that berries have a shelf-life of about 16 days, understands why the farms are successful. “When folks taste and say how delicious mine are compared to store-bought blueberries, I come alive,” he said. Susan Branson’s family is one of many from a 40-mile or more radius who flocks to the farm for fresh berries as soon as the picking season begins. “It’s nice to be outside doing an activity together,” she said. The children learn to “appreciate the food that’s made with the fruit they helped pick.” Across Mississippi, self-pick farm operations allow consumers to select fresher, higher quality, vine-ripened produce at lower prices. Pecan Hill Farms is one of at least 50 U-Pick farms and orchards in the state. One of the first was Tim Cooper’s Cooper Farms and Vineyard. He has been growing and harvesting blueberries in Morton for three and a half decades and farms four acres,
live in the 100-year-old pecan trees. I’ve never had to bring in bees like most farmers. I’m very lucky.” Just a few months ago, Max was checking his berries when he was met with a deafening buzz — and acres of bees fluttering from blossom to blossom. “I walked through rows and rows completely surrounded by millions of bees,” he said. “They didn’t care about me. There was nothing to be afraid of — not that time of year. It’s all about pollination for those little guys.” When the Draughns’ first full acres of berries were harvest-ready, Susan invited one of her sons’ Boy Scout troops over as a fundraiser to help pick berries. From that summer on, the orchards became a picking jubilee. As for her own sons, “They didn’t always like it. Sure, it’s hard work, but they did it…learning more and more about the working aspects of berry farming,” Susan said. The Draughns’ youngest son, 14-year-old Stephen, appears to be most likely to follow in his father’s shoes. “He’s the task-master, always thinking of ways to make money,” his mother said. Sixteen-year-old Case, on the other hand, avoids crowds. “He’s happy driving tractors and working in the background,” his mother said. The oldest, 18-year-old Owen, is ready to put the farm
all available for picking during the peak blueberry season. He also has 14 acres of U-pick muscadines and 25 acres of vegetables he harvests and sells at farmers’ markets. While he sells his berries and produce to individuals, at fruit stands, grocery stores and restaurants, his U-pick operation has been going strong for 34 years. His one-time hobby has become a thriving business. “It’s rewarding because of the satisfaction of being able to grow things and reap rewards from your labor,” he said. Year-round maintenance — grass-cutting, keeping weeds at bay and keeping the blueberry plants fertilized and watered — is required to maintain the operation. Tim has been selling his fresh-picked berries at farmers’ markets for nearly nine years and, while blueberries do well at market, he believes nothing beats the thrill of picking your own berries. “When they come and pick their own, they get the experience out in the country, and they get to pick their own fruit, and it’s fresh,” he said. “It’s the experience of seeing and picking what you’re going to eat right off the bush.”
STORY Jennie Emerson PHOTOGRAPHY Melanie Thortis
Pecan Hill Farms U-Pick Berries 19470 Highway 18, Raymond 601-594-2012 facebook.com/UPickPecanHillFarms Thursday/Saturday: 7 a.m. - 1 p.m. Sunday: 4 - 8 p.m. Blueberries: $8 Gallon Bucket (5-7 pounds) Blackberries: $14 Gallon Bucket (5-7 pounds) Peaches: 25 cents each Cooper FarmS and Vineyard 1101 Rushing Road, Morton 601-732-2908 facebook.com/muscadinefruit Monday/Wednesday/Friday: 7 a.m. - 5 p.m. U-pick: $7/gallon Packaged: $12/gallon
Second Creek Blueberry Farm 801 Highway 61 South, Natchez, MS 39120 (601) 807-3369 Hales Farm 1999 County Road 150, Quitman, MS 39355 (601) 776-5675 Blue River Farms 1876 Hwy 532, Mount Olive, MS 39119 (601) 797-3922 or (601) 797-3896 Crystal Springs Farm Market 3042 Mathis Road, Crystal Springs, MS 39059 (601) 835-7305 Nesbit Blueberries Plantation 123 Malone Road, Hernando, MS 38632 (662) 368-9521 For a complete listing of Mississippi U-Pick Farms, visit our website at thesipmag.com
Dannemann Farm, LLC 19069 Blueberry Hill Road, Kiln, MS 39556 (228) 255-5979 Live Oaks Farm 22329 E. Dubuisson Road, Pass Christian, MS 39571 (228) 263-1004 Johnson Blueberry Farm Rt. 1 11624 Suqualena Road, Meridian, MS 39325 (601) 626-8166 Larry Blackburn’s Blueberries 3310 Old Highway 15 Road, Decatur, MS 39327 (601) 635-2824 The Blueberry Patch 493 Oriole Drive, Starkville, MS 39759 (662) 320-4504 or (662) 769-2896 Blue Tara Organic Blueberry 258 Langnecker Road, Poplarville, MS 39470 (601) 403-8272 Ted’s Blueberry Farm 3973 Old Highway 24, McComb, MS 39648 (601) 341-2002 Pontotoc Blueberry Hill 240 Carter Lane, Pontotoc, MS 38863 (662) 489-8481 Burris Farms U-Pick 8920 Highway 4 West, Senatobia, MS 38668 (662) 562-0075 or (662) 562-2643 Blueberry Heaven 16705 Old Kelly Road, Vancleave, MS 39565 Phone: (228)826-5321 Dunbar McCurley Blueberry Farm 474 Briarwood Lane, Woodville, MS 39669 (601) 888-4420 or (601) 888-4434 or (601) 888-6574
Berry Chess Pie 1 ½ cups sugar 1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour 1 Tbsp. cornmeal 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted 1 ½ cups fresh or frozen berries
4 eggs ½ cup of milk Juice of one lemon 1 unbaked pie shell
Preheat oven to 350.˚ For batter, blend sugar, flour, cornmeal and butter until mixed. Add eggs, one at a time, milk and lemon juice to batter. Using unbaked pie shell, put 1 ½ cup (the more the merrier!) berries in bottom. Pour batter over berries. Bake 1 hour, or until pick comes out clean. This is a basic chess pie recipe, so any fruit can be substituted. By Sally Bullard, Main Street Market Café, mainstreetmarketcafe.com
Blueberry Orange Almond Salad ¼ cup sliced almonds 1 ½ Tbsp sugar ½ head leaf lettuce, torn ½ head Romaine lettuce, torn ½ cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped red onion 1 can (11 oz.) mandarin oranges, drained 1 cup blueberries 1 cup sliced strawberries
Cook and stir almonds and sugar in skillet over low heat until sugar is melted and nuts coated and browned. Cool and set aside. Combine both lettuces, celery and onions. Cover and refrigerate. When ready to serve, pour Blueberry Vinaigrette Dressing over lettuce mixture and add oranges, blueberries and strawberries. Sprinkle nuts over top just before serving. Yield: 6 servings. Visit thesipmag.com for Blueberry Vinaigrette Dressing recipe. Salad recipe adapted from Le Bonté Women’s Club’s Elegant But Easy cookbook.
The Blues Cat 3 oz. Cathead Vodka 10-15 blueberries 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. simple syrup 5 basil leaves
Muddle all ingredients and strain in to a lowball glass over rocks. Garnish with blueberry spear, basil leaf and lemon wedge.
By Cathead Vodka, catheadvodka.com
For more recipes, visit thesipmag.com/blueberry-recipes.
VI C K S B U R G
Bees are abuzz at Beane Farm
PORTRAIT BY MELANIE THORTIS
I started beekeeping seven years ago, and the adventure hasn’t stopped. When I moved to Vicksburg after graduate school, I brought my three hives with me in the bed of my truck along with houseplants, guns, alcohol, and propane cylinders — items the moving company refused to take. Yes, I traveled the 1,000-mile journey from West Virginia with three beehives full of more than 100,000 honeybees. It’s a good thing I didn’t wreck!
NATHAN BEANE THE ‘SIP OUTSIDE EDITOR
At Beane Farm today, the beehives are as essential as the garden hoses. Having honeybees provide their pollination service to my garden plants and trees around my home is wonderful. I provide them a place to stay, and they provide me with liquid gold. I love having bees. Everything about them is enjoyable — with the exception of stings, I suppose. But, I shouldn’t lie. I actually enjoy getting stung once in a while — it really makes me feel alive. Honeybees provide a literal buzz around my home, and they
OUTSIDE are an unsurpassed link to nature. I study plants for a living, and I can assure you, my extent of learning from the western honeybee is neverending. From gauging which plants offer certain colored pollen (packed away in the hairy baskets on their knees) to which flowers have the desirable nectar (what bees collect to make honey) is intriguing. Each spring season begins new trekking expeditions around my property to see what flowers they have honed in on. Life in an apiary, or a bee yard, also attunes the mindful beekeeper to observe the complexity of insect life. In a hive, the queen rules all and at the peak of the summer season, she may rule more than 80,000 workers. Before you go wishing you were a queen, I should warn you, she is slave to her own kingdom. She leaves the hive only once, as a young queen to breed, and will lay up to 2,000 eggs a day to keep her hive in good working order. Her temperament and the pheromones she emits as a result dictate the overall behavior of the hive. The adage, “If mama ain’t happy…” certainly applies here. The labors of egg-laying by the queen are precise with the size of each cell in the honeycomb determining the type of egg she will lay. A larger cell size is a chamber built precisely for a male and is termed a drone cell, whereas a regular-sized cell is for a female and is a worker cell. The worker cells are more abundant and are used for creating the working force of the hive. It’s also where pollen and honey are stored. The queen will lay eggs throughout her lifetime and, specifically, must be able to lay both fertilized eggs and unfertilized eggs interchangeably. That is, if a drone cell is present, she will lay an unfertilized egg and, in a worker cell, she will lay a fertilized egg. The queen possesses a specialized organ that serves as the repository for providing the necessary means of fertilizing an egg to create a worker. One can marvel simply at the capability to lay eggs in such a manner. As worker bees are the true laborers in the hive, they are the most common and the queen produces a consistent workforce of them as they are responsible for cleaning, tending to eggs and the larval stages of young bees, as well as collecting nectar and pollen as sustenance in the hive. The pollen serves as their protein, while the honey provides their energy source. To produce honey, the worker bee collects nectar from flowers and stores it in her abdomen in a specialized organ called the honey gut. When the worker bee returns to the hive, she regurgitates the nectar into a cell for further processing. The selection of particular nectars, the exposure of the nectar within her honey gut and the method of drying honey to 17 percent moisture before capping it with wax is what makes honey unique. It also allows it to keep for such long periods of time without molding or spoilage. Each worker bee produces the wax they use within the hive by using specialized wax glands on their abdomen. Honeybees are a marvel of nature! Having an apiary offers VIP access to a world sure to instill a refined appreciation for our natural world. If you’ve never experienced the workings and details of a beehive up close, it should be on your bucket list. Honeybees conduct dances — a joy dance and waggle dance — to show both the excitement and also the location of a nearby nectar source they have discovered. When a worker returns after such a luxurious discovery, a joy dance is performed by the bee jumping on the side of other bees and shaking in an excited fashion. These fast vibrations excite bees within her vicinity and have
them pay close attention to her as she performs her next feat. This is when a waggle dance is performed. This dance includes a waggle motion in a specific direction (they use the sun as north regardless of position) from north to indicate the direction of the newfound nectar source. And even more astoundingly, the number of waggles she makes in the short distance before starting over indicates the distance from the hive the source occurs. The ability of a tiny insect to provide such a visual map is simply incredible. And what a sight to see such a display in your own apiary! All of the work the hive performs is to systematically and efficiently collect food and nourishment for the hive. This social dynamic is incredibly advanced and the beekeeper not only gets to see it firsthand, but also reaps the greatest reward by ensuring the hives are strong and healthy. Honey — the best part! As a hobby beekeeper, I don’t own an extractor. They are expensive, and I prefer to do things by hand — I believe the quality is improved also. Not having an extractor entails more work for me and my bees as they have to rebuild the honeycomb I harvest. When I rob my hives of honey, I collect only completely sealed frames of honey and take them inside to remove the honey. I cut each frame of sealed honeycomb into smaller sections and use a potato masher from our kitchen to crush up the honeycomb in a cake pan. Next, I use a straining bucket with filter basket at the top and pour the honeycomb and honey into the top baskets. The mesh filters allow the honey to drip through, leaving the wax up top. To speed up
the process, I place a lid on the bucket and set it on my back porch for the afternoon sun to warm up the golden honey inside and speed up the straining process. At the base of each bucket is a honey gate, a tightly sealed latch that opens to allow honey jars to be filled directly from the bucket. Not everyone loves going into an apiary where several hundred honeybees are buzzing around. However, extracting the honey on our kitchen counter always draws an attentive crowd. Several of our friends have come over and extracted honey by hand to experience the process. Don’t be scared to start beekeeping. If you have land to legally own them and some hobby funds saved up to invest in a couple of beehives and the necessary equipment, you should give it a try. There are several online sources offering a wealth of information as to what equipment is good for beginning beekeepers. My best advice is to begin with two beehives. That way you can comparatively gauge each hive to assess overall health with respect to number of individuals, laying rates of each queen and also the amount of honey each hive is storing. Being able to gauge the number of bees in each hive is important. I have never for a second regretted becoming a beekeeper. If you have any questions, email me at outside@ thesipmag.com. Beekeeping will provide a buzz you won’t soon forget!
STORY Nathan Beane PHOTOGRAPHY Melanie Thortis
VICKSBURG The Key to the South VISIT
UNFORGETTABLE FLIGHT EXPERIENCES
“The Mississippi Delta begins in the lobby of The Peabody Hotel in Memphis and ends on Catfish Row in Vicksburg…” David Cohn, “God Shakes Creation”
Just across the bridge from Vicksburg!
Located at the Vicksburg-Tallulah Regional Airport
Exit 182 off of I-20 in Mound, LA
A PERFECT GIFT OR BUCKET LIST ITEM: An aerobatic flight in a WWII or Vintage Aircraft!
New Museum Hours: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Tuesday - Saturday
LANDMARKS. LEGENDS. LYRICS.
Explore Vicksburg’s historical attractions, live entertainment venues and delicious restaurants for a true Southern experience! Relive where American history was made and immerse yourself in the arts, antiques and architecture of Vicksburg. Vicksburg’s downtown area is the proud home of Catfish Row which is full of museums, restaurants, the Levee Street Marketplace and an art park with riverfront murals and a splash fountain.
Scan this QR to visit our mobile site and get your keys to Vicksburg.
Choose your own path.
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‘SIP OF NATURE
PHOTO BY NATHAN BEANE | ILLUSTRATION BY MARY KALUSCHE
‘SIP OF NATURE
N Mayapple : (Podophyllum peltatum)
Whether you’re putting the stalk on a springtime gobbler or walking through the woods with family or friends, you’ve likely stumbled upon this Mississippi wildflower. Unmistakably unique and with a beautiful white flower, the mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) is a herbaceous plant you can readily identify. Mayapples occur in small to large colonies within upland and lowland forests, and walking into a woodlot where hundreds of individuals are present is a neat find. Mayapples prefer partial shade and thrive in hardwood stands in many parts of the state. As the adage goes, “Don’t miss the forest for the trees,” and with this plant, you would surely miss out if you did. Mayapples have a unique history, and increased interest has been given to this plant because of its edible fruit and otherwise poisonous parts. Even the immature fruit is considered toxic, so use caution before you decide to live off the land and start eating them. Mayapples possess chemical properties used in topical medicine and have been considered an important plant for cancer research in recent years. Historically, American Indians are noted using the mayapple for its purgative properties, with the dried rootstock made into a tea that when consumed would kill intestinal worms because of its toxicity.
To identify a mayapple is easy. Each leaf is suspended on a stalk in the center of the leaf. Botanically speaking, this is termed peltate, and it makes the plant appear like an umbrella, with a large-lobed leaf, or pair of leaves, suspended 12-15 inches from the ground. If you see only one leaf per plant you are looking at an immature plant. It won’t flower. But once mature, mayapples will possess two leaves, and right at the junction of each leaf stalk is where the flower comes each spring. Mayapple blooms are delicate and protected by the plant’s large, umbrellashaped leaves. The flowers typically reveal themselves in April at our property, although as you go north in latitude, flowering in May is the norm — hence the name “mayapple.” The flowers are quite remarkable and the petals appear dipped in a glossy wax. After fertilization, often from bumblebees, the mayapple fruit is produced and will mature throughout summer. The fruit, when ripe will turn a golden yellow and gives rise to another common name — wild lemon. When the summertime heat reaches full steam, mayapples wither to the ground, and thus are available for only a short window of time. If you have a chance to look for this plant, seek it out. If you know where some occur currently, take a closer look. They are sure to impress.
g BY NATHAN BEANE
Bay St. Louis THE TOWN KATRINA COULD NOT KILL
Today, when Bay Town Inn owner Nikki Moon steps onto the front porch of her charming and newly remodeled downtown bed and breakfast, she sees a sandy beachfront and a dead oak tree that’s intricately carved into the likeness of angels.
Bay St. Louis - Ten years ago, that beachfront was fully submerged after Hurricane Katrina’s deadly surge drowned the Hancock County coastline; and as Moon’s original bed and breakfast was destroyed before her eyes, she clung to that same oak tree that was very much alive behind her house. “The house was built in the 1800s. It withstood everything,” Moon said, citing a rationale that’s not unusual among the Mississippi Coast residents who decided to ride out the Category 5 hurricane on Aug. 29, 2005. But on that day, Moon and two friends, Kevin Guillory and Doug Nicolet, were nearly washed away as Katrina crashed ashore. “We were upstairs in a side guest room when the storm surge hit; it came up the front stairway and wiped the whole first floor out,” Moon said. “That room was like a boat. The water pushed us back.” As the waters
continued to rise, the trio caught hold of the oak tree. When the waters receded and the three could jump from the tree, Moon, Nicolet and Guillory found clothes and food and began the long and painful process of picking up the pieces of their devastated town. Not too many miles away from the ruins of the Bay Town Inn, Bay St. Louis city officials found themselves waking in the early morning hours from makeshift beds, air mattresses spread across the fire station floor, to begin the monumental task of removing debris and eventually rebuilding their town. “We pretty much went ‘can’ to ‘can’t,’” said thenMayor Eddie Favre, who served 20 years in office. “We’d get started and go until we couldn’t go anymore.” Favre made it through the storm with just the clothes on his back — a pullover shirt, shorts, flip-flops and a rain jacket.
â€œI was grasping a limb with my dog under my stomach, Kevin was facing the water so he would tell us to duck when the waves would come. We were up there for four or five hours.â€? - Nikki Moon
Angel Tree The tree that saved their lives
Even when President George W. Bush came to Mississippi to meet with Coast mayors, Favre showed up wearing just what had become his uniform. “People in the meeting were offering to send me clothes, but when you start dressing up, that kind of signifies that everything is OK, and we were a long way from being OK,” Favre said. “I told them ‘When we get to be OK, when we’re put back together, that’s when I’ll start dressing in long pants again.’” To Favre, “OK” not only meant rebuilding structures, but also having people come back to the city. “That was always one of the things we’ve said, ‘It’s the people that set Bay St. Louis apart,’” Favre said. “After the storm we knew that no matter how much rebuilding we did, it just wasn’t going to be Bay St. Louis unless our people came back.” Just next door to Bay Town Inn across from the beach is one of downtown’s oldest buildings and the home of the first beachfront restaurant to open after Katrina — 200 North Beach. It is owned by a sprightly 78-year-old named Ann Tidwell, a woman well aware of how Bay St. Louis people treat each other and newcomers. “The third day I was living (in Bay St. Louis), a lady came up to my house with some flowers she pulled from her yard to welcome me,” Tidwell said. “From then on, I knew I would like it here.” Though Tidwell left home for the hurricane, she was back in the Bay just days after the disaster, sifting through the rubble with friends and neighbors. Moon moved to Bay St. Louis in 2003, and like Tidwell, she knew right away that the city had an ambiance not found in other places she had lived. Located just 90 miles east of New Orleans and about 15 miles west of Gulfport, Bay St. Louis is nestled on the Bay of St. Louis, which empties into the Mississippi Sound. For decades, downtown’s Main Street area just off the beach has been known for its lively cultural scene, dotted with unique shops and galleries that have slowly but surely been resurfacing since Hurricane Katrina. For the past 20 years, the area, lovingly called “Old Town Bay St. Louis” has been home to a monthly art walk, where tourists and locals alike wander the streets, enjoying live music and crafts and a breeze off the Bay.
“I loved that feeling of community that you got here. I’ve never lived in a small town in my life,” said Moon, who had spent most of her career in New Orleans. “I loved the people. They just put their arms around me and took me in.” “All we did was help ourselves and help each other. We were all trying to keep each other up emotionally,” Moon said of the days and weeks after Katrina. “You’d help yourself in the morning, and you’d help your neighbor in the afternoon.” As the days following the storm turned into weeks, months and years, the people of Bay St. Louis trickled back into the area. Schools reopened, water and gas lines were replaced and angels were carved into the oak tree that saved the lives of Moon, Nicolet and Guillory. All the while, Eddie Favre continued to lead the people of his city while wearing shorts. “CNN invited me to Washington, D.C., for a press dinner up there, and I told them the only way I can go is if I wear short pants,” Favre said. “So I went and rented a tuxedo and bought a pair of tuxedo pants and had them made into short pants. I wore the tuxedo top and short pants. “Some people took it the way it was meant to be, to keep attention focused on us down here,” the former mayor said. “Some people didn’t, but even the negative people were talking, so it was accomplishing its purpose.” Though the constant national news coverage of Katrina had begun to die down, the people of the Mississippi Coast were far from restoration. “No one who saw it will ever forget,” said Ellis Anderson, author of Under Surge Under Siege: The Odyssey of Bay St. Louis and Katrina. “It’s what I imagined Hiroshima looked like after the atomic bomb was dropped. The scale of utter destruction was surreal, unimaginable. The debris of people’s homes, their lives, was pushed to the side of roads like giant snowdrifts for months before it began to be hauled away. So every day you’d have to drive by the ruins of lives of friends and neighbors. There was no escape from the enormity of the loss.” Bay St. Louis was “like a small town smashed to smithereens,” Anderson said. “Yet, the small-town feel made people reach out to each other, in the most horrific, stressful circumstances. I can’t imagine people behaving better under extreme duress anywhere on the planet.
“We were out there with sticks. It was like an Easter egg hunt almost. You didn’t know what you were going to find,” she said. “After the storm it was amazing. You could almost feel it in the air — the camaraderie.” - Ann Tidwell
200 North Beach The first business that opened after Hurricane Katrina
FRIENDLY COMMUNITY LEFT: Artists are the strength of this town. ABOVE: Enjoying time in the Bay BELOW: The community is thriving and so are the businesses. FAR RIGHT: Nikki Moon, Doug Nicolet, and Kevin Guillory pose on the porch of Bay Town Inn.
"A lot of people have asked, ‘But, what if it happens again?’ I’m not going to live that way. I’m not going to live ‘what if.’ I loved having a bed and breakfast, and I love being part of this community.” - Nikki Moon
I feel extremely proud to be a member of this community.” And it was nearly five and a half years after Katrina battered the Hancock County coastline when Eddie Favre finally put on long pants. “I think we still have a ways to go,” Favre said in April 2015. “It’s one of those things where I don’t know if we’ll ever be completely finished. "To some extent, yes, it’s settled. There’s a tremendous amount of rebuilding going on, but, at the same time, there’s a tremendous amount of rebuilding that hasn’t been done yet. As much as it’s been redeveloped, there’s room for more.” At 200 North Beach, Tidwell is seeing signs of revitalization every day. “Right now I see so much encouragement, all the new shops and new buildings. I think we’re becoming a vacation destination; we’re not some sleepy little town,” she said. “I’m not exaggerating, we’ve got at least one person come in every week who is renovating or rebuilding a house here.” With the help of some grant money, Moon reopened the Bay Town Inn in September 2013. “I knew (Bay St. Louis) would come back eventually. That’s why I never sold this property. I had absolute faith,” she said. Though not every seaside shop and restaurant has
returned to Old Town Bay St. Louis, numbers show the area is bouncing back. The city landed a No. 3 spot on the 2013 U.S. Census list of fastest growing Mississippi cities. From 2010 to 2013, Bay St. Louis saw a whopping 16.9 percent increase in its population, estimated at about 10,800 people. Five years before Katrina hit, census data showed about 11,500 people living in the city. Business throughout the downtown area has been picking up, and it’s not unusual for Moon’s inn to be booked for weekends. “It’s picking up. Every day it gets better and better,” she said. “Our strength has always been that we’re an arts community, and the artists are still as strong as they can be here. We’ve got an unbelievable selection of artists here.” Though the giant debris piles have been cleared and new construction covers the slabs of structures washed away by Katrina, curious guests still quiz Moon and other survivors about the catastrophic hurricane. “It’s part of our history. It will always be there,” she said. “It’s made us all really strong, and it’s hard to explain what it does to you when you go through something like that.” STORY Mary Margaret Halford PHOTOGRAPHY James Edward Bates
Yazoo County weekend roadtrip
The Triangle Cultural Center 332 N. Main St. Yazoo City
Yazoo’s former Main Street School is now an educational and cultural center. Blue Front Café 107 E. Railroad Ave. Bentonia
Facebook: BentoniaBluesFestival Authentic Mississippi Delta “juke joint” where the world-famous original Bentonia Blues was born Hall of Fame Restaurant 54 Dover Road Bentonia (662-755-8330)
Owned by David Brown, brother of NFL Hall-of-Famer Willie Brown The Main Street Hotel 203 S. Main St. Yazoo City (662-751-8886)
Rooms are uniquely decorated with antique furniture. Yazoo County Courthouse Broadway and Washington streets Yazoo City
An octagonal cupola housing the town clock is a notable feature of this Beaux Arts Classical building. The Witch of Yazoo Glenwood Cemetery Yazoo City
This grave surrounded by chain links showcases the unusual folklore of the area.
M.J. Cabins at Wolf Lake 2419 Deerfield Road Yazoo City, MS 39194 (662-836-9225) Facebook: MJCabinsLlc
Two cozy cabins on the shores of beautiful Wolf Lake
A sunken roadway that once was a Native American trail
ER DU FFY N BY HE ATH
The Bell Road Yazoo City
VI C K S B U R G
Sacred place built on a promise, saved by providence
“We’re going to build you a chapel” was a spur-of-the moment comment that resulted in the construction of a small church in south Warren County. The late Hobbs Freeman made the promise to Ginnie Mitchell when she was a little girl. When she grew up, she said, she wanted to be married on his tree-shaded lawn. The expression “cats in the cradle” comes to mind, for it seemed only a few years passed before Ginnie was a young lady, sporting a diamond on her finger, introducing her fiancée, Jay Campbell, and asking “Where’s the chapel?” I knew when Hobbs said “we” it was an all-inclusive enlistment of his friends. Hobbs lived in Fayette but wanted to move to Warren County, so I
ILLUSTRATION PROVIDED BY GORDON COTTON
Hobbs Freeman (top and below) and Gordon Cotton (middle) work to build Jordan's Chapel.
PHOTOS ON THIS PAGE PROVIDED BY GORDON COTTON
had given him land not far from my house. On weekends, he came up and we cleared underbrush, planted shrubs, built a gazebo and an art studio. It was always a big party with lots of food and visiting, as well as work. Hobbs and I were both collectors of stuff — some said we were pack rats — and, though building a chapel had never entered our minds, we had a pretty good stash of essential items. Years earlier, when a Jefferson County church remodeled, he bought its stained glass windows, and I had homemade pews dating to the 1890s from old Antioch Baptist Church. We drew our plans. Hobbs insisted on a steep, steep roof, “one that will split rain drops,” and he wanted a bell tower and a balcony. We had no certain size in mind, but the structure had to fit on a gentle slope in a wooded area. Details were not so important — Hobbs was an artist; I, a historian. We would work out the details as we went along. Work began in August 2001. The foundation timbers were from an old railroad bridge and were 14 feet long, thus the width of the chapel. They were too heavy for us to move, but some visiting college students had them in place in a matter of minutes. A subfloor served as a work area, and there on site we built the front wall, even painted it and planned to raise it with main strength (and mostly awkwardness). John McHan, Charlie Mitchell, Joe Gay, Hobbs and I soon realized we were no matches for Charles Atlas. My nephew, Pat Forbes, a carpenter, came to the rescue. Pat was in the last stages of cancer, but he sat on the tailgate and directed the placement of pulleys and ropes, which were tied to the truck, and with the greatest of ease the wall was up, looking like a prop for a little theater production. The walls were easy; the rafters, a little more trying but the next big challenge was the construction and erection of the bell tower. Hobbs and I built the sides in sections and, with the truck, ladders and ropes, we lifted it into place, a method that would have left professional builders cringing in anguish, some friends in prayer, and OSHA in a twit — but it worked! Soon the roof was on, and it didn’t leak! Moselle Zimmer had given Hobbs a bell for the tower, and then came the crowning moment: Hobbs had made a stylized copper free-turning cross, and with it over his shoulder he climbed a long ladder to the top and put it in place. So much was given. My neighbor Walter May, who also collected “stuff,” gave beautiful old doors to panel the interior; and his son-in-law, Steve Brown, spent many an afternoon planing the seasoned walnut boards, which I had been saving for a project such as this. They became the chapel’s floor. The chapel needed a pulpit. The top of one I had salvaged from mud and termites at Rodney in the 1970s was in my barn, awaiting its time. I built a base, and the chapel had a pulpit. In an Arkansas junk shop, I bought a bowl-shaped brass object for $5. It was a baptismal font in need of a base. Bess Mitchell had the hulk of a parlor organ, its innards all gone, but an electric keyboard was a perfect fit.
A silhouette of Lindsey Gay and Chase Koestler showcases the unique design and stained glass of Jordan's Chapel.
“Over the years, the chapel was the setting for many more weddings, as well as Sacred Harp and gospel singings, carolings, memorial services and times of worship.” ~ GORDON COTTON
We weren’t sure what to do for a front door until on a morning walk down Cherry Street, I saw that the arched 1885 doors that opened from the St. Francis auditorium (now Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation) to the playground were being replaced because of deterioration. Could I have them? Sure, but they’re no good, I was told. So, I repaired them, and they must have been intended for the chapel — another perfect fit! An abandoned church in Red Lick, St. Mary of the Pines, was torn down and Hobbs was given the altar rails, which were just what we needed for the balcony and stairs. Hobbs made two stained-glass windows, one to go over the nave and the other over the entrance. He also made copper sconces for the walls. Above the organ he hung a light shade of pierced copper made in the early 1900s by the girls at Sophie Newcomb. There were unforgettable moments, such as the time when Charlie Mitchell lost his grip on a board that bounced and broke a stained-glass window. I must have a dark side, because I let him agonize for a while before telling him there was one spare window.
There was never any question about the name. Hobbs’ great-great-great-grandmother, Emma Kline Freeman Price Bantz, had a chapel on her Tensas Parish, La., plantation that was called Jordan’s (pronounced Jerden), probably for a circuit-riding Methodist who preached there on a monthly basis. The chapel ceased to exist after the War Between the States and Emma’s death, but it would rise again, reconstituted as Jordan’s Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church, South, a name which my late cousin Alice Luckett thought was “bigger than the building!” Though the denomination by that name no longer exists, it was the one into which Hobbs was christened as a child. He always grinned and said, “I didn’t unite with anybody.” After about eight months it was time to consecrate the building. The Rev. Michael Nation, a relative of mine who was rector of Holy Trinity, Episcopal, conducted the service, and all who had helped were there. Those were times none of us would forget. Everything that happened, it seemed, was meant to be. It was a very emotional and moving service, and we gave God the glory.
TOP: The groom's siblings, Amber and Clay Koestler, sing during the ceremony from the chapel loft. MIDDLE: A Confederate cemetery near the chapel BOTTOM: Inside Jordan's Chapel
The day came when the praise was fulfilled as the lovely Virginia Ann “Ginnie” Mitchell walked the aisle. It was March 23, 2002. Over the years, the chapel was the setting for many more weddings, as well as Sacred Harp and gospel singings, carolings, memorial services and times of worship. All changed when Hobbs became ill and died of pancreatic cancer on June 17, 2009. He was buried in the cemetery he established adjacent to the chapel grounds, his grave marked by a huge carved boulder from a nearby creek. The chapel passed to other hands and it was padlocked by the new absentee owner. When the place was put on the market for sale, we were all concerned about what might happen. Providence — and my nephew Tommy Forbes — was on our side. He grew up in Marion County, earned a degree in anthropology from Ole Miss and a master’s from the University of London. He spent time in the Army Security Agency, translating Russian and German. He lived for a while in England before moving to Boston. Tommy was retiring from a position with Boston University and wanted to come home to the South, “to get away from Yankees and snow.” What brought him to Warren County were good memories and family ties. He was about 10 when he and his younger brother Mike went exploring, across the ridge, down to the creek and up the hill , where they found a piece of tin and went sliding on some fresh-fallen snow, “having a high old time until Mike ran into a tree.” He recalls his grandparents’ garden there, of how peaceful and nice it was. Those were good memories that stayed in his head, he said, and he also wanted to get the property back into the family. All of this tied him to the past. Tommy had known Hobbs, of the chapel being a special place, and he wanted to see it maintained and kept beautiful. He hired Tom McHan of McHan Construction to build his house on the site where Hobbs had planned to build. The place was also special to Tom, for his dad John had a hand in much of the construction of the chapel, and that is where Tom and his wife, Emily, were married. Tommy continues to maintain the grounds and the chapel. In a way, he said, Hobbs is still around “as I can see him through his work.” “His spirit is here,” Tommy said. Four years after Hobbs’ death, his friends gathered in the chapel on his birthday for a memorial service and a time of rejoicing, for only a few days before the chapel was again in the Cotton/Forbes family. Once again it is a place for friends and family to gather, to sing, to visit, to hear the word of God, to say vows, to celebrate. Jordan’s Chapel Methodist Episcopal Church, South, is one of the prettiest country churches in the state, and it was built on a promise.
STORY Gordon Cotton PHOTOGRAPHY Melanie Thortis
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THE WORLD GE ORGE WARDLAW I S CELEBRATED AT H OM E
Mississippi native and artist George Wardlaw poses with his artwork at the Mississippi Museum of Art exhibition "George Wardlaw A Life in Art: Works from 1954-2014"
George Wardlaw’s journey from humble beginnings as a small-town farm boy in Northeast Mississippi to renowned artist can in many ways be compared to one of his paintings. When examined closely, the canvas registers a series of events. Take a step back, and those brush strokes and variations in color form a bigger picture. Just as a blank canvas in Wardlaw’s studio is destined to become a painting, Wardlaw was destined to become an artist. Wardlaw was born a few miles outside of Baldwyn, Miss., in 1927 — one week before the most destructive river flood in the history of the United States and two years before the stock market crash that would lead to the Great Depression. “When I was born, we were poor. We lived in six different houses before I was in high school. And when I say houses, I mean six different shacks,” he said. “This was during the height of the Depression. If everyone else is poor, there is not much to compare things to. I didn’t know any better.” Despite the reality of the family’s poverty, Wardlaw had a happy childhood. Because the focus was on survival, there wasn’t much time or money for such things as art. “Art doesn’t survive when survival is the issue,” he said. However, when he wasn’t in school or working on the farm, young Wardlaw did enjoy drawing. He found a kinship in a school friend who shared his talent, and the two boys formed a healthy competition. Wardlaw’s aunt, with whom the family lived during part of his childhood, also took an interest in the budding artists’ creations. The encouragement motivated Wardlaw to continue drawing through high school. Wardlaw left school in 1945, after his junior year, to join the Navy. Suddenly, this small-town farm boy was traveling to places about which he had only dreamed. “I used to sit on my front porch and wonder what was out there over the hills,” he said. “After I joined the Navy, I found out there were cities and trains to take me there. It was a real eye-opener and the beginning of my disconnection to the farm.”
WHEN SURVIVAL IS THE ISSUE." -GEORGE WARDLAW
“IT FEELS TERRIFIC FOR MY WORK TO COME BACK TO MY HOME STATE. I'VE WAITED A LONG TIME FOR THIS.”
George Wardlaw, A Life in Art: Works from 1954-2014, an exhibition of work by the celebrated Mississippi artist, will be on exhibit through Aug. 16 at the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson.
Art at Home Artist and Mississippi native George Wardlaw poses with his artwork at the Mississippi Museum of Art.
“I REMEMBER THINKING TO MYSELF, ‘IS THIS ART?’” However, the break in the tie did not come immediately. After his naval discharge, just a year after leaving, he was back on the farm in Baldwyn when he ran into a friend from school. “He asked me if I was still drawing, and I told him, ‘Yes.’ He told me, ‘George, you should go to art school’ and I asked, ‘What is art school?’” Two years earlier, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill, which provided college or trade school assistance to veterans. Wardlaw’s friend told him about an art school in Memphis and the Veterans’ Affairs office in Tupelo. Wardlaw immediately borrowed a car and drove to Tupelo. The VA Office contacted the Memphis Academy of Arts, which agreed to sign him up even though registration was closed for the semester. Wardlaw met a hurdle though when he found he must have a high school diploma. In two weeks’ time he was able to secure the credits he needed and complete the admissions process. Then came the beginning of his eyes being opened. “When I got to Memphis, the first place I went was to the registrar’s office. Directly across the hall was a wall covered in artwork,” he said. “One painting caught my eye. It was a bowl of peaches painted so realistically that I could actually touch the fuzz on the peaches with my eyes. I was so impressed.” Realist paintings had been the dominant influence in American art before World War II. When Wardlaw entered the academy, abstract expressionism had taken America by storm. It was a movement that would influence the work of art students all over the country. By the end of his first school year, Wardlaw’s painting Factory Buildings was included in a national traveling exhibition of artists 25 and younger and sponsored by the Jaques Seligman Gallery in New York. It was the first of many recognitions for Wardlaw, the student. At the academy, Wardlaw also studied silversmithing and became a respected and acclaimed jewelry maker. In 1951, The U.S. State Department purchased five of his pieces to include in an exhibit that traveled around Europe and the Far East. That same year, Wardlaw graduated from the academy. He returned to Baldwyn to build a studio and planned to make a living selling paintings and making jewelry. Little did he know, halfway across the world in Instanbul, a former instructor from the academy who had just accepted the position as chair of the art department at the University of Mississippi was viewing Wardlaw’s work as part of the traveling art exhibit. Next came an offer for Wardlaw to teach metal-smithing and jewelry-
making at Ole Miss. He also became the first student to enroll in the university’s inaugural Master’s of Fine Arts program. Wardlaw said his time in Oxford was critical to his development as an artist. While there, he met and befriended two artists who would have the biggest influence on his work, abstract expressionist painter Jack Tworkov and sculptor David Smith. After completing his MFA, Wardlaw taught at Louisiana State University and State University of New York in New Palz. In 1963, he joined Tworkov as a professor at Yale University, where he would teach for four years. Finally, in 1968, he joined the art department at the University of Massachusetts, where he later became department chairman. He stayed at the university until his retirement in 1990. Today, the 88-year-old Wardlaw lives in Amherst, Mass., where he continues to paint regularly. “Finding something to paint is never a problem,” he said. “I paint from my head, not from objects. I am always pulling ideas out of storage in my head. I know I will probably die before I am able to paint them all.” Wardlaw’s art spans more than six decades and has been included in nearly 100 exhibits across the world. He has been honored with numerous accolades, including the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award, which honors Mississippi artists, musicians and writers. His works range from the bayous of Louisiana, an apple orchard in New Paltz and the Hudson River to the coast of Maine and Judy Wardlaw, his wife for more than 50 years until her death in 2008. The Mississippi Museum of Art is currently featuring 34 of Wardlaw’s most influential pieces, including drawings, paintings and sculpture. “Mr. Wardlaw has reached a point where we are able to look back over the entire sweep of his career,” said Dr. Roger Ward, MMA deputy director and chief curator. “Each piece was selected from each of the six decades he has worked, so that we are able to see from one stylistic trend to another. It is a rare opportunity to pay tribute to an artist who has continued to be active.” Wardlaw visited Mississippi for the opening, a trip he hasn’t made in 20 years. "When I first started this journey, I had no idea where it was going or what the future held for me. The way my life developed without plan, everything just happened and then kept happening. I am a very fortunate person.”
STORY Lisa LaFontaine Bynum PHOTOGRAPHY Melanie Thortis
GR E E N W O O D
Yolande van Heerden
Artist designs for the soul in the Delta
Inside Yolande van Heerden’s colorful studio, it was all sunshine and rainbows as she flitted around the room — pouring paint into plastic containers, hanging large sheets of paper on the wall with clothespins.
While rain fell outside, cheerful Yolande was making sure all was ready for the class of 3- and 4-year-olds who were on their way. “I live for this,” she said as she stopped and smiled. There’s no doubt Yolande loves what she does. Her sunny disposition and kind smile greeted every child as they rushed in from the downpour into the studio behind her Greenwood home. A box of blocks and small action figures kept the children busy while their mothers handled the financial business of art classes with Yolande. It wasn’t long before she had each child in a painting shirt and busy painting his or her own masterpiece on the paper hung on the wall.
The little studio sits in the backyard of Yolande’s creative home, just beyond the swimming pool. The small, wooden structure features a front porch strung with colorful flag banners. Inside, the walls are lined with playful art painted by her students. From prints to space aliens to fabric-covered frames, there is much for the eye to see. In the middle of the room, two short-legged tables are covered with thick paper. Chairs, perfectly sized for young students, surround the tables. A native of Durban, South Africa, Yolande said her grandmother was her major inspiration to be an artist. “She could do anything. She sewed clothes without a pattern, she cooked and she ran a farm,” Yolande said. “She never wasted anything, and she was always creating something from nothing.” The adventurous Yolande left Durban her senior year of high school as an exchange student to Troy, Mont. She returned to South Africa, but soon after, moved on her own to Los Angeles. For the next few years, Yolande had a series of interesting jobs, ranging from being a nanny for high-class socialite Nancy Silverman to moving into the restaurant world when the Silverman children didn’t require as much care. “The Silvermans opened a restaurant, Campanile, and then an offshoot, La Brea Bakery,” Yolande said.
It was while working at La Brea that Yolande met her first Mississippian, Martha Hall Foose. They became fast friends and, in 1989, Yolande made her first trip to Mississippi. “I instantly felt at home here and knew this is where I needed to be,” she said. It took several more years for Yolande to make her way back to Mississippi. She was employed as international distribution and accounting manager for Sketchers, and she had a position as a preschool art teacher at The Neighborhood School’s Matilija Campus in Sherman Oaks, Calif. — a high-end, private Montessori-styled school using a Reggio Emilia art-based curriculum. It was there that she learned the value of using art to teach across disciplines. Her own art blossomed while living in Las Vegas. “While in the desert of Nevada, I became fascinated with the varied license plates that I saw on cars. I loved the colors and graphics. Each one was a piece of art,” she said. “Coming from a background where nothing was thrown away, I was amazed that people would throw their expired tags in the trash. I began collecting them and appreciating their differences. Some are solid steel, some are very thin, while others are thicker. Did you know Virginia and West Virginia are the only states that use Bookman font?” Using the license plates, along with reclaimed wood and other objects, Yolande creates unique art pieces that hang
“They are colorful and happy
and fun. They really are good for the soul. I’m teaching people there how to make them. I can envision them strung all over Baptist Town, and then the residents can sell them to the tourists. I believe all the international tourists who come here will want them because it’s a reminder of the wonderful sight they saw in the Mississippi Delta.” — Yolande van Heerden Artist
in homes and businesses around the country. She has pieces for sale in shops around the Delta and she also does commission pieces, often working with objects provided by her clients. It may be described as general creative mayhem, and that works for Yolande. A free-spirited seamstress and selfproclaimed art freak, she allows the creative wheels in her head to spin constantly. Her eclectic Etsy shop, tomboyART, is filled with her license plate art and her free-flowing cashmere sweater skirts. But, rather than talk about her own art, Yolande is intent on talking about her work with children in the community. In addition to the art classes she teaches in her home, Yolande teaches sewing classes to teenage students at the Art Place in Greenwood during the week. And, on Fridays, she heads over to poverty-stricken Baptist Town, a historic section of Greenwood, where children participate in an after-school program. “They do homework every afternoon, but on Friday, we have Fun Friday Art Day,” she said. “They love it!” Some of Yolande’s flag banners are decorations for a grouping of recently built Katrina cottages in Baptist Town.
STORY Susan Marquez PHOTOGRAPHY Rory Doyle
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ON VIEW SEPTEMBER 26, 2015 – JANUARY 10, 2016 Traveler. Trailblazer. Teacher. Mississippi Master.
Marie Hull (1890-1980), Bright Fields (detail), 1967. oil on canvas. Collection of the Mississippi Museum of Art. Mississippi Art Association purchase. 1972.008.
Cost: $10 adults, $8 seniors, $5 students. FREE children 5 and under, FREE FOR MUSEUM MEMBERS
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On the Road with Marie Hull 380 SOUTH LAMAR STREET JACKSON,MISSISSIPPI 39201 601.960.1515 1.866.VIEWART @MSMUSEUMART
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BEYONDDRIM Jarekus Singleton aims high with his love of the blues
Jackson — At mid-morning, Underground 119, Jarekus Singleton’s favorite hometown haunt, is still full of shadows. Above, at ground level, the rest of the world hustles past on President Street. Down here, it may as well be midnight. Light from red-toned wall sconces bleeds dimly across a maze of black leather couches in U-formation in front of a cramped stage area where many of Mississippi’s top blues talents perform. It’s not hard to imagine this place as general manager Matt Briggs describes it when Jarekus takes the stage a few times a year — packed with fans mingling and moving like the vibrant figures in the murals on the wall, a line of people down the block waiting for their turn to enter. After a rapid knock at the back door next to the bar, a beam of sunlight precedes our man, positively beaming, fresh and in command of his element. No surprise: He’s on his game. Jarekus greets his manager, Peggy Brown, and shares a joke with Matt. Every few minutes a familiar face walks through, and nearly all are greeted with a laugh, a clap and a hug. “This is where I built my following,” Jarekus said. “I played at other local spots, but I’ve always had a special love for 119. Matt gives local people a shot — a chance to fail.
And in life, that’s all we really want. Give me the ball at the end of the game when the clock’s running down, and if I miss the shot and we lose, I’ll take the blame. But if I make that, I want it again the next game!” Jarekus laughs, but then sobers on the point that propelled him beyond the tales of struggle and determination detailed on his breakthrough album, Refuse to Lose. “That someone would believe in you enough to give you the ball, that’s what means everything to me. That’s what I care about. I had to fight for it a lot of the time,” he said. Fighting doesn’t begin to describe it. Even church, which his grandfather led five nights a week, and where Jarekus first played guitar at age 15, brought its share of challenges. But as many times as he’s been down, he’s also rebounded. “My grandfather’s church in Jackson was in the hood, in subdivision 2 on Dewey Street. That’s a tough part of town. We used to have people sitting outside, watching the cars, because every night we’d come to church someone would break into a car. We had to haul all the instruments in and then all the instruments out when church was over, ’cause my granddaddy didn’t want to take a chance on someone breaking into the church and stealing the equipment.” Back then, basketball was Jarekus’ passion, and music was just something he played at church. Many of his friends never knew he could tune a guitar, let alone play one. That all changed after working his way through college, an experience he relates in the album’s title track: “To pay the bills I had to sweat / I worked hard jobs with no regrets I scrubbed toilets to squeaky clean / And I scrubbed floors with Mr. Clean.” The Clarion-Ledger named Jarekus a Dandy Dozen athlete in high school, and he earned National Player of the Year honors while at William Carey University but he didn’t find the home he wanted in the NBA. So Jarekus fought to stay on the court, traveling as far as Lebanon to
play professional ball. A freak accident during a stateside pro-am camp for scouts left him with torn cartilage and bleak prospects. “I had no career or foundation, didn’t have a place to stay so I was living at my mama’s house, and my agent quit on me. That’s how the world is. People don’t care about you, man, it’s just unfair. But you have to refuse to lose,” he said. The new idle nights took Jarekus back to the talent that now takes him to stages on both sides of the Atlantic. As his song goes, he grabbed his six-string girlfriend and tuned the world out. Now, the world is tuning in. “When I was 20 years old, my grandfather asked if I wanted this old guitar he had at the church. And that particular guitar, six or seven years later, when I’m lying in bed after surgery, that’s the guitar I played in bed at my mama’s house. “I never dreamed of being a musician. I wrote poetry a lot, just to ease my mind growing up. I felt like I had a lot of good things to say but people weren’t listening to me as a child,” he said, laughing. “What child do people listen to?” Counter to the musician stereotype, Jarekus doesn’t spend a lot of time partying. He treats music like a job, waking early and keeping bankers’ hours on business before cranking up and letting the notes wail. “I feel like I’m free. I wake up every day and do what I love. Blues is a way of life,” he said. “Being a musician is a way of life. It’s not a job, but you have to approach it with that intensity. Every move we make is life or death.” Sudden death — it’s one of many sports metaphors that weave through his language and his experience. It’s how he relates to life. When he left the court, only the game changed. He traded hardwood for tone woods and kept pushing himself. “When I was on my own, every day I was making 30 phone calls by 12 p.m., Monday through Friday,” he said. “On a lot of these festivals I’m getting booked on
“ I feel like I’m free.
I wake up every morning and do what I love.
Blues is a way of life.”
Blues guitarist, singer and songwriter Jarekus Singleton strums his guitar at Underground 119. Singleton said playing at the Jackson restaurant and music venue brings back good memories.
“You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” -Jarekus Singleton now, they wouldn’t even talk to me then. But things take time. You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” Now that he has a strong label, Alligator Records, and solid management behind him, the calls are mostly about going over new gigs, tour routing and recording sessions. He also makes them from a place in the country, now that he’s expanded on his Clinton-by-way-of-Jackson roots with a few acres outside of town, where he interrupts the quiet with nightly jams. “It’s really peaceful. I’m not used to that. I’m used to a lot of noise. Sometimes it’s too peaceful for me, and sometimes I write best when I have a distraction.” While Jarekus found an outlet putting his poetry to beats in college, every now and then he’d pick up the
guitar his grandfather gave him and play. He never owned an amp, never played in a band. Music was an outlet, something he kept virtually secret from everyone except a select few. Now Mississippi’s best-kept-secret bluesman is having a hard time keeping it all to himself. “Who knew that I would be writing songs and people would be singing ‘Crime Scene’ word for word when I go to San Francisco, or Mount Tremblant in Canada? I’m just thankful.” STORY Jim Beaugez PHOTOGRAPHY Melanie Thortis
OXF O R D , MS
Utica native engineering a sound note
As a young man, Jeffrey Reed played guitar in the cover band Psychodelic Reaction. The band wanted to produce a record, so they traveled to SLATS, a Vicksburg recording studio, to make their dream a reality, and Reed was immediately hooked.
“It is still the best studio I’ve ever been in, and I’ve been in studios from Los Angeles to London,” he said. “It was up in an attic above a garage. His control room was a deep, narrow closet. The old man had vintage gear from floor to ceiling. He was in there working, and I was like, ‘That’s what I want to do.’” Today, more than 20 years later, Reed is an accomplished sound engineer who has worked at some of the top studios in the Southeast. His career has taken him all around the world. He now has his own studio space and works as a freelance engineer specializing in post audio production. And he is the broadcast and post-production engineer for Thacker Mountain Radio in Oxford. The part-time engineer has transformed a small, rented building in the College Hill community into a dimly lit recording studio with red velvet curtains, purple lighting and speakers
decorating the walls. Reed sits at a table covered in electronic buttons with words like: fast, slow, boost, gain and frequency. He uses this “harmonically enhanced digital device” to control what’s happening on the huge display monitor in front him. Growing up in the small town of Utica, between Jackson and Port Gibson, Reed lived the typical small Southern town life. “It maybe had a couple thousand people,” he said. “At one time, it was a fairly bustling railroad town. Then the railroad and everything went away. I can remember when we had three red lights, a cafe with a hotel in it and a movie theater, which is crazy. I can’t even imagine that now. It’s kind of a ghost town now.” Reed’s earliest musical experiences came from his grandmother’s record collection, listening to such classic country stars as Johnny Cash, Charlie Pride and Conway
Twitty. He attended Utica High School and Rebul Academy, where his favorite subject was science. Some of his earliest childhood memories are playing outdoors. “If I’m not in here, I’m in the woods or the water doing something,” Reed said inside his studio. “In Utica, going to the creek is some of my biggest fun, and I remember looking for Indian artifacts.” Reed attended Hinds Community College and initially thought about becoming an architect, but didn’t like drafting classes. He switched to business administration, but soon realized he was wasting his mother’s money. After dropping out of college, he and a friend started a business hauling pulpwood. “Thank God that truck broke down,” he said. He later decided to pursue a career in the recording industry. “I started making phone calls to studios, because back in the day, that’s kind of how you did it,” he said. “You got in, swept the floor, and started trying to get in good with the engineer.” His first job was working with Morrison Brothers Music. Now located in Ridgeland, it’s a leading supplier and service center of pro music, audio and lighting equipment. While working at Morrison Brothers, Reed also landed a job at Malaco Records in Jackson, a nationally known company comprising recording studios, record labels and music publishing, that has been making Southern soul, blues, and gospel music since 1968. “A little podunk kid from Utica, I got the job,” he said. Reed didn’t work as an engineer at Malaco but, rather, learned studio etiquette. “It’s a combination of babysitting and psychology to deal with so many kinds of egos and the equipment, and make it all work together,” he said. “One night, we were working on an album, and I noticed there was some tension. Nobody said anything and, after the session was over, they told me there is one thing you should never do. Don’t sit in the producer’s chair. I realized they were teaching me some really important stuff, which is studio etiquette.” Reed later attended Full Sail University in Florida and
earned an associate’s degree in recording arts. That’s where he met fellow engineer Eric R. Fischer. Fischer grew up in the Midwest, moved to Los Angeles in 1993 and began working as a junior technician at a Hollywood recording studio called Music Grinder. He quickly moved into a staff assistant engineering position and eventually became an engineer. Today, like Reed, he owns a small studio specializing in post audio production. Fischer said he and Reed were classmates, lab partners and instant friends at Full Sail. “After graduating, I moved to Los Angeles and Jeffery moved to Memphis to work at the prestigious Ardent Studios,” he said. Fischer said Reed is a “talented engineer with great ears.” “I think a big part of being successful in this business is being a great hang,” he said. “You spend long hours in a small room with clients. You have to be someone people like to be around. Jeffery is someone people like to be around — a good person, a great sense of humor, smart, with an interest in always being his best. “He always wants to keep moving forward, whether it’s in a new area of his career or expanding his business. He truly has a great sense of customer service.” Two weeks after graduation in 1992, Reed was offered a job with Ardent Studios in Memphis. “It’s one of the biggest studios in the Southeast and in America,” Reed said. “It’s still one of the top studios. The tentacles of its influence is worldwide.” Memphis was at one time a city with many recording studios. “But, obviously, with changes in the music industry, they are dropping like flies,” he said. “I am very fortunate to still be doing this.” Reed started as the night manager at Ardent, but, within two weeks, he was assigned to work on a major recording session with Gibby Haynes, lead singer of the band Butthole Surfers. “That was my first introduction to the whole sex, drugs and rock and roll world that was pretty wild,” he said.
“I went straight from that to working with the legendary Tom Dowd. Anything you’ve ever air-guitared to, he did it — Clapton, Rod Stewart, Lynyrd Skynyrd.” Dowd was an American recording engineer and producer for Atlantic Records credited with conceptualizing the multitrack recording method. He has worked with a number of top artists, from Ray Charles and Chicago to Willie Nelson, Diana Ross and The Eagles. “I went from working with him, to working on the Afghan Whigs record,” Reed said. The Afghan Whigs is an American rock band from Cincinnati. “They just put out the 20th anniversary edition of that. I got lucky.” Jim Gaines is an award-winning engineer who currently owns Bessie Blue Studio in Stantonville, Tenn. His career has taken him all over the world and into the lives of many famous musicians. He has produced and engineered music for Huey Lewis, George Thorogood, Blues Traveler, Herbie Hancock, Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Steve Miller Band, Carlos Santana, John Lee Hooker, Huey Lewis & the News, Journey, the Neville Brothers, Van Morrison and Bruce Hornsby. Gaines said he has known Reed since the early 1990s when Gaines moved back to Memphis from San Francisco to take care of his ailing father and work on Stevie Ray Vaughan’s album “In Step.” “He was a young assistant engineer at a couple of studios that I worked at,” Gaines said by phone. “That’s how we met. I was the producer/engineer.” Gaines said Reed moved up to engineer pretty quickly in the business. “An assistant engineer is someone who helps out the engineer,” he said. “They are there to take care of you or
whatever you need. Eventually, they become engineers themselves. I had several people in Memphis that I really enjoyed working with. He’s a great person, a lot of fun, very eager to learn. We consider Jeffrey part of our (music industry) family.” Reed said he worked at Ardent Studios about six years before becoming a freelance engineer with gigs that took him to Los Angeles and England. “I’m very fortunate,” he said. “I’m lucky that I was able to come up right at the height of the traditional recording industry. Even now, it’s adapt or die. Having nice tools makes it easier, but my ear is my instrument. People have no idea what is involved in creative endeavors. It’s a lengthy multitiered process.” Locally, Reed said he is known for working with Blue Mountain, the alt-country/roots rock band formed in Oxford in the early 1990s. He also worked as an engineer on the Kudzu Kings’ first record. “I still cut and produce records, but now, I’m really focusing on the post-production end,” said Reed, who said he’s one of the few people in the state doing that kind of work. Reed said this can make a huge difference in the quality of a music or movie project. He also can engineer projects with surround sound. “I have the ear and the tool set to do it,” he said. Always a lover of outdoors, Reed said he might one day give up engineering and open a bait shop. Lately, he’s been thinking of combining both ideas — building a recording studio on a lake called The Bait Shop. STORY LaReeca Rucker PHOTOGRAPHY Melanie Thortis
mary margaret MILLER white's
10 Mississippi Acts
PHOTO BY JERIMAYA GRABHER
PHOTO BY KRISTI MILLER-LEE
to Catch this Summer
Summertime is ripe with live music here in the ‘Sip, so make a dart for the ticket line when you see these names on the playbill.
(pictured above) 10
1 ) Tyler Keith • North
6 ) Young Valley • Part indie-
Mississippi’s punk rock front-
rock, part alt-country and
man heartens listeners to the
altogether enlivening, this
ideology of the gritty, blue
four-piece's concert is the
collar, American dreamer.
perfect soundtrack for any summer road trip.
2 ) Libby Rae Watson • An
apprentice of the late Sam
7 ) Cary Hudson • Largely
Chatmon, this Mississippi blues
regarded as Mississippi’s
woman is sure to satisfy your
craving for back porch blues.
music-maker, if you don’t already have an album, it’s
3 ) Jimbo Mathus • Don’t
about time you did.
PHOTO BY DEREK MIDDLEBROOK
PHOTO BY CHAD EDWARDS
miss Captain Catfish (just
PHOTO BY FRANCOISE DIGEL
one of this musician’s many
8 ) Jarekus Singleton • Former
monikers). Backed by a family
athlete turned blues big-
of veteran players, his live
name, you’ll hear more Jimi
shows are dynamic.
Hendrix than Robert Johnson in this guitarist’s style.
4 ) Southern Komfort Brass Band • You’ll want to say
9 ) Kingfish • Christone
you “saw them when…”
Kingfish Ingram got lots of
This Jackson-based brass
buzz for his White House
band brings a high-energy
performance, but this blues
performance to every venue.
virtuoso is no passing trend. Catch him on festival line-
5 ) Reverend John Wilkins •
ups, or in his hometown of
This big man brings a big show
when he delivers his soul8 Mary Margaret Miller White is the bureau manager for Creative Economy & Cultural Heritage at Visit Mississippi. She also hosts Next Stop Mississippi, which airs Friday mornings at 10 a.m., on Mississippi Public Broadcasting Radio. Read her complete commentary on thesipmag.com/sip-sounds.
stirring mix of blues, gospel
10 ) Cardinal Sons • Based
and rock. His up-tempo style
in New Orleans via Jackson,
gets listeners hip-shaking and
this trio of brothers rocks
foot-stomping within the first
audiences with their eclectic
licks of his guitar.
mix of pop lyricism and funked-up instrumentation. 63
THE LAST ‘SIP THE LAST ’SIP
the thrill is gone
photos by Melanie Thortis TH OR T I S P HOT OGRAP HY.C OM
U-Pick Farms Harvest Buckets of Blueberries