BONUS TRACKS: Oxford American’s ‘Up South’ Music Issue, The Physical Toll of Music, and More
Oxford American's Southern Music Issue this year has an "Up South" theme and has versions of the cover with Aretha Franklin and Tina Turner. (Images courtesy of Oxford American)
Since 2009, Oxford American magazine has dedicated one of its quarterly editions each year to an exploration of Southern music, usually zooming in on one state at a time. This year’s music issue focuses on Southern music once again, but with a twist: “Up South,” as the 2021 issue is titled, is about music with Southern roots that blossomed outside of the South — “the musical legacy of the Great Migration,” according the issue’s introduction page. The issue has two covers, one featuring Aretha Franklin and one with Tina Turner, both of whom were born in the South (Memphis and Brownsville, Tennessee, respectively) but found fame and a musical home in Northern states. In addition to features on Franklin and Turner, the issue’s stories spotlight Sunny War, Emily Scott Robinson, Quincy Jones, Lowell George, Buddy Guy, the television shows of Johnny Cash and Lawrence Welk, and more. As always (except for last year), the music issue comes with a CD collecting featured songs and artists. Read more about Oxford American’s Up South Music Issue here. You can find the issue on newsstands now, or order a copy here.
Much has been written about the mental toll of touring (for a particularly frank depiction of it, I recommend musician Deren Ney’s remembrance of his friend Neal Casal, written just after Casal’s death). But touring — and recording, and practicing, and jamming, and composing — takes a physical toll, too, one that musicians don’t always let the rest of the world, or even bandmates, see. This NPR piece talks with Max Weinberg, Yasmin Williams, Leo Kottke, and others about the physical ailments that have arisen from their instrumental work, and what they’ve done to balance wellness with the musical life they love.
The Country Soul Songbook project is holding its second annual summit this week, an online festival and conference that aims to examine the country music and Americana space and how to make it more inclusive and equitable. Panelists and performers include Country Soul Songbook founder Kamara Thomas, Rissi Palmer, Amythyst Kiah, Lizzie No, Sunny War, Alice Gerrard, Adeem the Artist, Miko Marks, Karen Pittelman, and many more. The event, titled “All Aboard the Sea Change,” started yesterday and runs through tomorrow. Registration is still open, with fees set on a sliding scale.
Vinyl is back, as you may have heard, surpassing CDs in sales numbers last year for the first time since 1986. This year, according to The Hustle, vinyl is poised to more than double CD sales. What does it all mean for artist pay, supply chain headaches, and more? Check out The Hustle’s look — mostly via some very interesting graphs — at the vinyl resurgence and how it fits into the modern economy.
This week brought sad news of the passing of several in the roots music community. Here’s a quick look, with suggestions for further reading:
Stonewall Jackson, country singer and Grand Ole Opry member
Gary Scruggs, musician and oldest son of Earl Scruggs
Greg Tate, music journalist and critic
Scott Alarik and Dean Johnson, Boston music journalists
Bill Staines, musician
WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO
Here’s a sampling of the songs, albums, bands, and sounds No Depression staffers have been into this week:
The Cactus Blossoms — “Hey Baby,” from their new album, One Day, coming in February
Shovels & Rope – “The Human Race,” from their new album, Manticore, coming in February
Rainbow Girls – “Doesn’t Make Any Sense”
Low Cut Connie – Private Lives
The Weather Station – Ignorance
Arooj Aftab – Vulture Prince
The Beatles – Let It Be
Phoebe Bridgers – If We Make It Through December [EP]
Vivian Leva and Riley Calcagno – “Sanctuary Song,” for a project benefitting Annunciation House, a nonprofit organization that supports migrants and refugees around El Paso, Texas