by Robert Bell
The newest issue of The Oxford American hits the newsstands tomorrow. It's the 13th annual southern music issue, and the third to place special focus on a single southern state. This time out, it's one of the big ones, as far as music is concerned: Mississippi.
Of course, legendary blues figures figure prominently. There's a review of a recent biography of the country-blues legend Mississippi John Hurt and the great Howlin' Wolf gets the cover. But there are also plenty of non-blues acts represented in the issue and its accompanying 27-song CD.
The Germans, a Jackson-based post-punk act? Sure, awesome. The under-heralded soul shouter Syl Johnson? Yup, he's in there. Super obscure old-timey fiddlers The Carter Brothers? You know it.
Celebrated Little Rock novelist Kevin Brockmeier writes about Ted Hawkins, the Biloxi-born guitarist and singer who led a troubled life, working odd jobs and busking along the Venice boardwalk and writing some wrenching, beautiful tunes (check out his song "Cold and Bitter Tears" sometime. Whew! In fact, just check out all of Ted Hawkins' songs).
I haven't finished the whole issue yet, and somebody seems to have absconded with the CD from my copy, but it looks to be another good'n.