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The Oxford American Southern Music Issue Is A Thing To Admire

Above: "Record Player" by Haley Jane Samuelson, from her series Another Room (2009), courtesy of Hous Projects, NYC.

As many on the west coast anticipate today's publication of McSweeney's San Francisco Panorama, I want to highlight a different regional publication, the latest issue of the southern literary quarterly The Oxford American.

The magazine's annual Southern Music Issue came out last week (its 11th) and it's as amazing as ever. For the second year in a row, the issue comes with 2 CDs, one of the "Southern Masters" and the other featuring the music of Arkansas, launching the magazine's new southern state series. Every year, part of the music issue will be devoted to the music of a specific southern state.

I produced an hour of radio based on the music issue this morning (I've done so for the last three years). Editor Marc Smirnoff joined Maureen and we played a ton of terrific music and told stories about the artists.

The mix of music is old and new, celebrated and obscure, and covers most southern genres - from funk and soul to the blues and country.

The OA Music Issue is a product born of good curating, investigation, passion for music and storytelling, and fine ears. The editors are not looking to current Billboard lists, record labels, reality shows, or pop culture to inform their best of list. Theirs is gathered from cultural foot soldiers, folklorists, thrift store regulars, street legends, and music obsessives. They talk to other music lovers and legends and they listen. They clearly listen. I admire the process of putting this issue together as much as I admire the thing itself.

So while McSweeney's is doing their part to preserve newspapers (or at least the idea of them), the folks at The Oxford American continue preserving the most interesting southern music for their readers. You can order the issue online, or go to one of these stores to buy it.

Here's a list of the 27 artists on the Arkansas Masters CD (the Southern Masters CD is also impressive, with 26 artists)

Bobby Brown & the Curios: "I Viborate" (ca. 1959)

Maxine Brown: "Take It Out in Trade (1969)

Frank Frost: "Now What You Gonna Do" (1962)

The Esquires: "Sadie’s Ways" (1965)

Kenni Huskey: "Wild Man Tamer" (ca. 1966)

Sister Ernestine Washington: "Holding On" (Part 2) (1954)

Larry Donn: "I'll Never Forget You" (1963)

Johnny & Dolores: "Sockin' Soul" (1968)

Wayne Raney: "You Better Treat Your Man Right" (1951)

Little Beaver: "Everybody Has Some Dues to Pay" (ca. 1970)

Carolina Cotton: "Three Miles South of Cash (in Arkansas)" (1946)

Sleepy LaBeef: "Treat Me Like a Dog" (1996)

True Gospel Wymics: "Oh Yes That's Right" (ca. 1987)

Wayne Jackson: "It Happened in Tennessee" (Part 2) (1973)

Linda Brannon: "I'm Leavin'" (1958)

American Princes: "Auditorium" (2008)

Andy Starr: "Round and Round" (1956)

William Grant Still: "Suite for Violin and Piano" (Third Movement) (1943)

Suga City: "Savoir Faire" (2009)

Claudia Whitten: "Bring Me All the Love You Got" (ca. 1972)

Billy Lee Riley & the Little Green Men: "Baby Please Don't Go" (1958)

The Gunbunnies: "Water Tower" (1990)

Larry Davis: "Down Home Funk" (Part 1) (ca. 1974)

Oliver Lake Organ Trio: "Gano" (2008)

Jim Mize: "Release It to the Sky" (2007)

Amina Claudine Myers: "Dirty No-Gooder’s Blues" (1980)

Chris Denny: "Vacation" (2007)

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