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Real South is a reality now, thanks to these generous folks:
Michael Caleb Tasker
...and a lady out west who asked to remain anonymous.
Ron and Gloria Hawkins
Lori Ray Tripp
Billy Eli and Pamela Parker
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We've been updating mainly on the Facebook and Twitter pages, but we're determined to get back on track and keep going here. Due to a perfect storm of circumstances, we haven't published in a while. Money's been perennially tight. A contributing editor went off to grad school, the editor got a demanding new job--then had to leave it to help take care of both parents who are battling cancer at the same time. But in and around all that, we've gotten some new articles and fiction together, and reviewed some more books and CDs. So we have a new issue nearing the final stages of production. And even a partnership deal coming up--we'll tell you more when it's time. So hallelujah! Many thanks for all the supportive emails and Facebook messages. They mean more than you know.
A note to subscribers: as special thanks for your patience and support, all subscribers have been granted lifetime access. You'll never have to renew.
Even the big dogs have it rough in magazine publishing these days. Ladies Home Journal just went under --after 131 years! Yesterday, the company that distributed big mags like Time and published car-fan mags like Motor Trend just went under and laid off 6,000 people. They spun the car mags off into a smaller company and Time is working out new distribution elsewhere. This little two-year odyssey of ours has been quite the learning experience in publishing. So we're looking at new ways to "monetize" Real South and keep bringing you the best indie, under-the-radar Southern culture. Thanks, and stay tuned!
Love and eternal gratitude to Dr. Maya Angelou for helping make this world a little brighter, smarter, and kinder.
"I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back."
"I believe that each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory."
Happy birthday to Marie Laveau, fabled voodoo queen of New Orleans, born in the French Quarter on this day in 1794. Wonder if Angela Bassett did anything to mark the occasion--her portrayal of Laveau is filming right now in New Orleans for the upcoming season of American Horror Story. (That's Frank Schneider's painting, based on an earlier one by George Catlin, in the fascinating Louisiana State Museum.)
The new issue is coming together. One year already! We are deeply grateful to all our supporters, subscribers, contributors, and even detractors. You've all been a part of keeping the wheels rolling forward. We've got another great photo essay on tap, along with stories on tequila, a new Townes Van Zandt bio, the Ponderosa Stomp, and much more. Stay tuned.
One of the last real-deal Delta bluesmen, T-Model Ford, died of respiratory failure yesterday at his home in Greenville, Mississippi. His age has been reported between 89 and 94--he famously claimed not to know what year he was born. Billboard and several other outlets are publishing this story of his life. He was also memorably profiled in the 2005 documentary You See Me Laughin': The Last of the Hill Country Bluesmen, along with several other musicians. (Most of them have already passed on as well.) He was so badly beaten as a child that he lost a testicle. Later, he killed a man in self defense, did ten years hard time, and taught himself to play guitar at 58 after his fifth wife left him. That's blues! He was on Fat Possum Records and became internationally famous for his music as well as his raucous personality. Another documentary, Put a Stamp on It: This is T-Model Ford, has already been underway for a while.
Did you know the new issue is up? We're mainly using Facebook and Twitter to get the word out these days as they have more traffic. We're super proud of the new issue. Nashville photographer Heather Lose shares her most memorable photos from her Tennessee Fireworks Project. Read about the Prisonaires and hear their biggest hit (which has been newly reissued by Third Man Records). Beat the heat with great summertime drinks like the classic mint julep. Stop in at the last real filling station in the South. And read up on great new books and CDs, as well as some new poetry and fiction. We're also very proud of fiction editor John Dufresne's new novel, No Regrets, Coyote, coming out on July 15. Of course we've got a piece on that in this issue, too. So dig in and enjoy!
If you are having trouble logging in to your paid issue on the BlueToad newsstand, go to the issue and click through the automatic 20-page preview. When it prompts you to pay or subscribe, click OK and then enter your email address (the one used to sign up there originally) in both the user and password fields, then click Login, and it should open the whole magazine for you. Contact us at email@example.com or BlueToad tech support if it still acts up.
The Cajuns call it "lagniappe." An extra tidbit just for y'all: a great video interview with Bayou Teche Brewing co-founder and brewmaster Karlos Knott. Travel by the Pint is a great online TV show that travels around the world interviewing craft brewers. Lots of great episodes in the South and beyond. We'd been trying to get this in time to post with the Bayou Teche Brewing article in the new issue of Real South, but it took a little longer to get permission. So now that we have their blessing, click and enjoy!
Happy Father's Day to dads everywhere. Hope it's as beautiful and sunny a day there as it is here in Central Texas!
Congratulations to Joseph Scott Morgan, who has just been named a Georgia Author of the Year! His fascinating book, Blood Beneath My Feet: The Journey of a Southern Death Investigator, was reviewed in our December 2012 issue. He also weighs in at various newscasts and TV shows with his expert commentary on high-profile murder cases. And his Facebook feed will keep you up to date on bizarre deaths and murders in the news.
Note to iPad and iPhone app subscribers: iTunes Connect is having some sort of problem accessing the issues on BlueToad's newsstand right now. We've got service tickets open with both of them and hope to have things resolved quickly. In the meantime, you can still access the magazine directly via web browser and it still works just fine. Actually, in case you didn't know, any Real South subscription is covered for any type of access. You're not limited to any particular one. UPDATE: This was fixed as of Monday morning. All's fine now!
At last--summer is here and so is our new issue! You've been working so hard, why don't you pour yourself something cool and refreshing, kick back, and take a little mental vacation to the REAL SOUTH...
Visit the House of Fables and the Garden of Broken Angels in Diana Hendricks' moving tribute to writer Billy Porterfield. You might never look at a broken statue the same way again. Bill Cunningham interviews legendary Austin musician and writer Jesse Sublett, who has a cool new book out. Dianne Scott checks in with teenaged blues prodigies The Peterson Brothers. Meanwhile, down in Arnaudville, Louisiana, the Bayou Teche Brewery is serving up a lot more than just great craft beer. Plus we have a bunch of great new CDs and books to turn you on to, and as always, some of the best emerging new Southern fiction and poetry.
If you are a contributor or subscriber, you are automatically set up with free access to this issue. You'll be receiving an email with your login stuff and a PDF of your work and of course our undying gratitude.
"Country music's worst nightmare--holy mackerel, Andy, it's the Cornell Hurd Band!" That's how they kick off every show, and now they're gearing up for their twentieth CD. All of their releases have been totally indie. They're an Austin institution and so much fun to see live. Top-notch real-deal country, swing, boogie-woogie, and more, served up with cheeky humor and showmanship. Here they are rippin' through "If You Play With My Mind (You'll Get Your Hands Dirty)" at Austin's beloved Broken Spoke. Enjoy, and think about throwin' a little something in their Kickstarter tip jar.
From the Cool Facts iPhone app: In Alabama, it is against the law to wear a mustache that causes laughter in church.
We recently stumbled upon a very cool Facebook page, Old Florida, dedicated to the Sunshine State's history and chock full of beautiful vintage photos (like this one of a steamboat on the Ocklawaha River in 1902), postcards, articles, and such. Turns out one of the page's admins also has a new book out this week: Finding the Fountain of Youth: Ponce de León and Florida's Magical Waters, by Rick Kilby, from University Press of Florida. Then one of our contributors wrote that he just received a review copy of it, so we'll have more about that for you soon. But this looks too good to wait that long...
(And am I the only one wanting to take the whole day off now to read that and then go re-read Swamplandia!? The second I saw that steamboat picture, I thought of the flighty sister slipping off into the swamp to meet her ghostly boatman. Dang, that was a great book!)
And then of course there are all the great Carl Hiaasen books...and Real South's very own fiction editor John Dufresne lives and teaches there and has so many marvelous stories set there... That's the great thing about books and the internet. If you can't just take off on a roadtrip, you can at least take a little electronic literary vacation...)
Meanwhile, in magazine news, we're finally getting a few more articles in and will post the belated new issue very very soon! Thank you for your patience.
Yes, we already mentioned it below, but it certainly bears its own post: HAPPY, HAPPY 80th BIRTHDAY to WILLIE NELSON!! One of the truest American originals, Texas' favorite son, the Red-Headed Stranger, the Dalai Lama of Country Music, and an outlaw in all the best ways. Amazing songwriter, musician, actor, writer, activist--just inspiring all the way across the board. If you haven't read Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die or The Tao of Willie, do yourself a favor, grab a copy of either (or both!), put on a red bandanna and some of his music (Teatro is a personal favorite), and get to readin'. We love you, Willie, and wish you many, many more!
Well, sometimes it can feel like the whole world is just getting crazier and sadder every day. Horrific explosions in Boston and West, Texas; and all their fallout of fear and blame and sorrow. Flooding in Houston and the Midwest. On top of all the 'usual' murder and mayhem and meanness. Just one of those unusually turbulent, tragic times that can make you wonder about planetary alignment or curses or something. But in the midst of all of that, there are always people pulling together and helping out. Tonight Willie Nelson is turning his planned 80th birthday concert in Austin into a fundraiser for the West explosion victims, and here's another way to help. We also feel for everyone affected by the bombing in Boston, and hope for healing and justice. OneFundBoston.org has been set up for the victims. Yes, this is a Southern arts/culture magazine, but after all, real Southerners are real Americans.
An already somber week ended with losing one of the last big legends of authentic country music, George Jones. Like Johnny Cash, George Jones was a great talent revered far beyond the bounds of his genre, even as he was being marginalized within it. (OK, to be fair, his personal struggles did bring about some of that. But there's also no denying that a guy like him wouldn't stand a snowball's chance in today's "country music" industry. All the more reason to hie thee to your local honky tonks and indie labels and such, because those are quite likely the only places you'll find the true country cats following his lead.) All hail the undisputed King of Country Music. It's especially poignant that Willie is turning 80 this week, because now the real-deal country legends are pretty much just him, Ray Price, Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn (who also just turned 80), and Kris Kristofferson.
Amid the media frenzy around Jones' passing, it almost slipped right by that we also lost guitar virtuoso Bob Brozman. He wasn't Southern, and often spanned many musical genres, but he was perhaps best known for his studiously classic Delta blues and bottleneck slide, especially on National Reso-Phonic guitars. He was one of National's most prized contemporary players (and sellers) and a highly regarded teacher with many books, CDs, and videos sharing his techniques with the world. He was also said to be quite kind and approachable. Although he was certainly accomplished and rewarded for his talents, he never really got as wide recognition as he deserved. It's so ironic and dismaying that American roots music is often more appreciated and respected on the other side of the Atlantic.
In other news...as you can see, the fourth issue of REAL SOUTH Magazine has hit a significant delay. To be totally honest, several people just flat did not turn in their stuff. So we're still pulling together a few more things to make a respectable issue. We'd rather give you a delayed-but-great issue than a timely-but-too-thin one. We assure you it is coming.
Birthday love and eternal gratitude to Mr. McKinley Morganfield, best known as Muddy Waters. He would've been 100 today (by some accounts). He electrified his native Mississippi hill country blues and changed music forever. The Rolling Stones might never have happened (or at least wouldn't have been called that) without him. Still the baddest bluesman ever was or will be, yet beloved among friends and fans as a remarkably kind soul who loved to cook soul food.
We're wrangling the last few stragglers for the April issue and hope to have it up soon. This issue features a photo essay of the House of Fables, with Diana Hendricks' ode to its creator, longtime columnist/writer Billy Porterfield. Bill Cunningham interviews punk rocker/author/musical statesman Jesse Sublett. Mary Mikel Stump returns with the second installment from Blackberry Winter, an artistic recollection of growing up in coal country. Dianne Scott serves up some more musical dish from deep in the heart of Texas. We are proud to debut a column covering the Dirty South/hip hop scene, almost totally overlooked by other Southern mags, but an undeniable cultural force in today's South and beyond. Plus a few other surprises and lots of reviews and picks, as well as poetry and fiction.
We hope you're enjoying the new issue. Julie Marie Wade, whose poems "Via Negativa" and "V*A*C*A*N*C*Y" appear on pages 74 and 75, tells us her new poetry collection, Postage Due, is out now. She'll also be signing books at the official debut at AWP in Boston this March on Friday, March 8, at 11:00 a.m. at the White Pine Press table.
And in other news, we're now on the Twitter, y'all! @RealSouthMag
The February issue is up now! You're just one click away from a photographic jaunt through the French Quarter, then some Creole cookin', complete with recommended playlist. New Orleans detective-turned-mystery writer O'Neil De Noux expounds on the real Big Easy. Mickey Raphael regales us with a story from life 'on the road again' with Willie. Mary Mikel Stump starts a three-parter of excerpts from Blackberry Winter, Lenny Lyons Bruno's artistic recollections of growing up in coal country. Del Shores tells us about the 'Sordid Lives' he's led and how laughter is the best way to healing and social justice. Dianne's Deep Dish returns with a double helping of Austin goodness from Honky Tonk Hot Dogs and hard-rockin' Honky frontman J. D. Pinkus. And we study up on "beerlanthropy" in Asheville, Spring Fed Records in Tennessee, some great new CDs and books, and cap it off with some emerging new Southern poetry and fiction. So grab a drink and come dig in to 92 pages of the REAL SOUTH!
Well, Happy New Year! We hope you've had your black-eyed peas and are all rested up from the holiday hoopla. We're putting the finishing touches on Issue #3, which will go live in a few days. Can you believe it's already Mardi Gras season? Diana Hendricks brings a beautiful photo essay of New Orleans, along with some great recipes for Crawfish Pie and Shrimp Creole, even a playlist to jam while you cook. Continuing in the Crescent City spirit of things, Bill Cunningham interviews New Orleans detective-turned-mystery-writer O'Neil De Noux, who says of his beloved hometown: "She is not Big and there's nothing Easy about her."
We're also very proud to welcome Mickey Raphael, who plays harmonica with Willie Nelson. Mickey shares a great anedcote about life on the road with Willie, and more to come for future issues. Music columnist Dianne Scott interviews the guys in Honky and swings by Austin's Honky Tonk Hot Dogs. We also catch up with hilarious producer/director/writer Del Shores and his latest projects, Blues for Willadean and Southern Baptist Sissies. Rounding out the issue, we're bowled over by the scope and beauty of Blackberry Winter, a special book of paintings and sculptures and the stories behind them. And then there are the usual country helpings of CD and book reviews, poetry, and fiction from the South.
The new issue's finally up! It's a funny thing in the magazine business. Some issues just come together so easily, and some are just a bear every step of the way. This one was a full-on grizzly, what with getting the mobile apps working and scrambling to replace a couple things that fell through in the home stretch. Just how it goes sometimes.
Real South Magazine is also available for iPhone, iPad, and Android apps, which are free to download, then you purchase the magazine within that or enter your subscriber login. If you're accessing an existing subscription on an iPad for the first time, you get your login field by clicking on a little 'lock' icon in the upper right corner. So now you can take a little of the REAL South with you wherever you go. Enjoy!
Well, we've been busy little bees down here, pulling together the November/December issue and getting mobile app versions approved by Google and Android--and hope to add iOS any day now--the Real South iPad and iPhone apps are currently "in review" at Apple. It's been an incredibly byzantine (and expen$ive) process, but it will be more than worth it to bring Real South to mobile readers, as many of you have requested, and get the magazine into iTunes and Amazon.
Issue #2 brings you a look at how some regions of the South celebrate the holiday season a little differently, including Cajun river fires, a central Texas tamalada (a party for making tamales--yes, with recipes), a photo essay of Nashville Christmas lights, and a couple of our writers' personal traditions and dishes. We're also bringing you tidbits from the Southern Foodways Alliance; a great piece on Jason Ringenberg of Jason & the Scorchers; an interview with author Teddy Jones (Halfwide); our new music columnist Dianne Scott (Dianne's Deep Dish); a story on the Texas State dance team the Strutters, who will literally kick off the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade this year and open their own museum; a wonderful article from Georgia author Tim Westover about the real-life locations and stories behind his magical novel Auraria; and some cosmic Austin awesomeness from musician/artist Marvin King. Marvin and his compadres in Shiva's Headband helped establish the beloved music scene Austin is still known for, and his paintings and sculptures are popular throughout America and Europe. There's still more, plus a fresh batch of great new CDs and books we're itchin' to tell you about, three new poems, and four pieces of gripping new Southern fiction. Told you we've been busy!
Del Shores has a new movie out! The brilliant writer/producer/director, who gave us Sordid Lives and Daddy's Dyin'...Who's Got the Will? and the plays Southern Baptist Sissies and Yellow, has just released Blues for Willadean, the film version of his award-winning 2003 play, Tales of a Trailer Trash Housewife. Beth Grant, who was unforgettable as Aunt Sissy in Sordid Lives, stars as an abused wife determined to turn her life around with the help of her best friend LaSonia, played by Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer. David Steen, Dale Dickey, and other familiar faces from Del Shores projects also appear. This is an exceptionally tight ensemble since they all originated their roles in the play and have worked together many times over the years.
A couple days ago Del told Real South via telephone that although this is somewhat more serious than his fans might expect, it will still have flashes of the humor he's known for "because I don't know how not to do it. It's part of the way I write and how I live my life. I like to mix those tones." Del is a busy busy guy these days. He and his chihuahua Bitsy Mae are currently on the road promoting both the movie and his one-man show, Del Shores: Naked. Sordid. Reality. We'll have more from Del for you soon, but in the meantime, check out this intense trailer for Blues for Willadean...
(OK, Adobe Muse apparently has some sort of bug affecting the embedded video links on this page. Even exporting the code and re-coding by hand didn't fix them. We're still working on it. So in the meantime, here's an old-fashioned hyperlink that we assure you is worth a click!)
Sorry for the 'radio silence' for a while there, but we were finishing up all the myriad details and arrangements for the Premiere Issue, which is now finally up and ready! We are thrilled to present you 122 pages of great Southern music, photography, food, and fiction...and there's more where that came from. We're already starting on the next issue, which will launch the first week of November.
Right now this is just the web-based Flash page-flip version. The mobile apps are in process and will take a couple more weeks.
If you are a REAL SOUTH contributor, you should have received an email with your very own prepaid login. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if it went into the void or something.
Heartfelt thanks and virtual hugs to all who helped make this a reality. It could not have happened without each and every one of you!
We've also gotta give a special shout-out to the folks at BlueToad.com. They've been most attentive and helpful and patient and of course, affordable. And they're based in Orlando, Florida, so we're proud to say REAL SOUTH is 100% produced and hosted in the South.
Wow, where'd the past several days go?! We are in the home stretch on the first issue, finalizing layouts, proofreading (again), abusing various caffeinated products, doublechecking photo credits, and all the other million jillion little things that need tending before we can finally upload. And then take a deep breath and start on the next one! Meanwhile, here's a little peek at the cover. That's Adam Smith's evocative photo of the Po' Monkey Lounge near Merigold, Mississippi. It doesn't get more REAL SOUTH than that. And there's plenty more where that came from--Adam has put together a spectacular book of his Delta photos, Mornin' Ain't Come Yet, which we are proud and honored to feature in this issue.
Sending some birthday love to Baytown, Texas' own Joe Tex (August 8, 1933-August 13, 1982), one of the very best Southern soul singers to ever shimmy across this planet. Amazing voice, boundless energy, and superb old-school showmanship. A talent show in Houston awarded him a ticket to New York City, where he wowed the Apollo crowd and went on to record for several R&B and soul labels, most notably Dial. He had moderate hits throughout the '60s and '70s, although he never quite achieved the success he deserved. This clip may be a bit long but it's so worth it. Don't miss the mic-stand magic toward the end. (OK, for some reason, the embed code isn't behaving, so here's a direct link to the YouTube clip.)
Sweet Baby Jesus, the IndieGoGo campaign is now fully funded!!
Big Special Thanks to Michael Caleb Tasker and to Marie Slaight at Altaire Productions & Publications, our two newest Sponsors! We are elated to welcome you. This means we can pay the digital newsstand host and all the freelancers for the premiere issue. It also means that since we've now met our basic funding goal, IndieGoGo takes a slightly lower cut of the proceeds. We're still producing this on a shoestring, but at least now it's a long enough shoestring!
We can't say it enough...Thank you again, to all of our contributors--online and 'offline'--for supporting the rich, authentic indie arts culture of the REAL SOUTH!
Three quick tidbits for you today...
Logue's Black Raven Emporium is one of the cool new places you'll read about very soon in the premiere issue of REAL SOUTH Magazine, thanks to Nashville writer Randy Fox and photographer Carl Lambert. It's a bar, a shop selling vintage clothes and movie memorabilia and collectable vinyl records, and a forty-seat theater paying homage to the golden age of grindhouse and the gritty DIY creative scene in East Nashville. They're also about to host their first art show, with works inspired by horror legend H.P. Lovecraft. In the meantime, drop by their blog and Facebook page.
Thunder Soul is like Stand & Deliver meets Mr. Holland's Opus and pretty much the best argument ever for keeping music in the schools. This toe-tapping, stand-and-cheer documentary was executive-produced by Jamie Foxx and released in 2010 to critical acclaim on the festival circuit, but just now screens in New Orleans on August 6, thanks to the Ponderosa Stomp Foundation and DJ Soul Sister. A couple Kashmere Stage Band alumni in the film are on hand for a Q&A afterward. If you can't make it to NOLA, Thunder Soul is also available on Netflix and AT&T U-verse On Demand. God bless Conrad O. Johnson and all the Kashmere Stage Band alumni.
Our IndieGoGo campaign enters its final week, and so does the production phase of the premiere issue! This first issue is a bit of a hurdle, what with various setup fees and app licensing, so we're passing the tip jar to get us over the hump. After that, it gets much easier for us to keep on serving up the creative culture of the REAL South. Click on the widget in the lefthand column for more. Thank you so kindly!
The first issue is coming together--just a couple more stories and layout tweaks and it'll be ready! Our rep at BlueToad, the digital newsstand host, says this first issue has to go through a one-time approval process with Apple, Amazon, and Google (Android) for their apps. She said this can take "anywhere from a few days to a few weeks," and that it's usually closer to the "few weeks." So we're bumping the premiere issue date forward just a bit to September. Subsequent issues will only take a few days.
To give you just a little taste: this issue features stunning photography from around the Delta by photographer Adam Smith from his forthcoming book, Mornin' Ain't Come Yet, and tributes to recently departed Southern literary legends Harry Crews, William Gay, and Lewis Nordan--including a never-before-published interview with Nordan. We're also serving up four fine fiction pieces by newer Southern writers; a couple band profiles; a special look at Moog headquarters in North Carolina and their upcoming MoogFest; the latest from Southern Culture on the Skids; an Italian bluesman fashioning gorgeous guitars from cigar boxes, coffee cans, vintage tins, and elaborate Balinese wood carvings, among other things. The food section features hot peppers, including the story behind the super-crazy-hot 7 Pot Primo pepper, some pepper recipes beyond just salsas, and how to make real by-God Texas chili. And a whole mess of book and CD reviews. And still more stuff. So stay tuned!
Well, quite the dust-up over at the beloved Oxford American. Truly sorry to hear it. One of the biggest reasons for starting Real South is the OA never had any editorial openings. Some months ago, they added several unpaid bloggers to their website, which was a bit dismaying, but the OA is after all a non-profit. Here's hoping the new regime will stay true to the original vision and that Marc Smirnoff and Carol Ann Fitzgerald go on to great things. The South is a big place--there's plenty of room for a bunch of magazines to cover it.
(And, yes, learning to install a scroll bar is on this week's to-do list.)
There have been entirely too many obits on here lately, but we'd be remiss if we didn't give a loving shout to soul food queen Sylvia Woods, who brought great Southern soul food from South Carolina to the Big Apple. "From no lights to the bright lights," as she put it. Sylvia's Family Soul Food Cookbook is a classic must-have for any kitchen. My copy has stains and scribbled post-it notes tabbed throughout. Soul food is such a huge part of authentic Southern culture and hospitality. We've got to keep the legacy alive. Time to whip up some smothered pork chops in her honor (page 117).
Special Thanks to our latest campaign contributor, Edward Hagelstein. And thanks to Martin Guillot and M. Ford. We're getting there!
Well, the music world has lost Kitty Wells and Funk Brothers bassist Bob Babbitt. They both passed away in the Nashville area yesterday. The great ones are sadly getting to that time in their lives. Kitty Wells, as you might know, was a groundbreaking, sing-it-like-it-is female country singer back when that sort of thing just wasn't done. Bob Babbitt, as you might not know, was one of the Funk Brothers, Motown's backing band. He played on many of the label's biggest hits, and went on to play with Bette Midler, Bonnie Raitt, Jim Croce, and Frank Sinatra.
OK, we're on a movie kick. Just got back from seeing Beasts of the Southern Wild. Spreading the word about stuff like this is exactly what Real South is all about. It's hard to distill this strange, brutal yet beautiful film down into a short, adequate description, but here goes. Six-year-old Hushpuppy lives with her father in The Bathtub, a squalid little enclave of hardy outsiders as off-the-grid as it gets, just off the coast of south Louisiana. The unflinching study of their third-world-level poverty isn't put up there for pity or contempt. Like the more fantastical elements of the film, it's allowed to just be. This is simply how it is in Hushpuppy's world, as she tells you herself in a voiceover that's sometimes naively childlike and sometimes eloquent beyond her years. Not many six-year-olds in isolated squalor are able to expound on the workings of the universe, but it's still believable here. The film hinges on an odd balance between the blunt reality of The Bathtub's conditions and the flights of magical realism involving the return of the aurochs, huge prehistoric boar-like creatures thawed out of the melting ice caps. They are the beasts in the title, and so are the fiercely determined survivors trying to rebuild The Bathtub after a catastrophic storm. The same odd balancing act echoes between Hushpuppy and her dad, who is violent and ignorantly stubborn (shooting at the big storm), yet fiercely loves his little girl and teaches her (albeit roughly at times) to stand tough and be "the king of The Bathtub." They're never objects of pity or scorn, but allowed to be wholly human and alive and oddly beautiful. Which, come to think of it, is a fairly short, adequate description of the film itself. And in keeping with its dual spirit, it will depress you and uplift you, and make you jones for Cajun food with friends and also want a stiff drink alone to process this. It's astonishing that this is a debut film. And little Quvenzhané Wallis is utterly phenomenal. Beasts of the Southern Wild won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and started the arthouse theater circuit last Friday.
(A bug in Adobe Muse was causing this trailer to 'take over' every instance of embedded code on this page, even if the other links were still coded properly by hand, so we had to un-embed it and switch to a plain ol' hyperlink instead, but we assure you it's worth clicking!
Fitting enough for a Sunday, here's the short film The Freezer Jesus, written by Real South fiction editor John Dufresne. Enjoy!
Yesterday there was a big second line in New Orleans for Treme Brass Band bass drummer "Uncle" Lionel Batiste, 81, who passed away Sunday morning. Befitting his iconic stature in the music scene there (and in HBO's Treme), the crowd filled all of Frenchman Street near DBA, the club his band played on Tuesdays. More about him and what he meant to New Orleans culture in American Blues Scene's great post. Here he is on the poster for Spike Lee's post-Katrina documentary If God Is Willing and Da Creek Don't Rise. I love the part about him floating to safety in the Katrina flooding on his bass drum.
Day One with our blog and this spiffy new website! Over the next few days we'll be fine-tuning the design and fleshing out the content. Let us know if it gives you any trouble. It came down from a Cloud with the help of a Muse. OK, actually Adobe Muse from their Creative Cloud, but I just love the surreal things we get to say these days, thanks to technology. After this goes on the web, I'll finish reading the books in my phone. Seriously, though, these latest Adobe apps will go a long way toward making REAL SOUTH Magazine real indeed.
As you can see, we're also busily pulling together our premiere issue for August. To launch a magazine on a professional digital newsstand requires licenses for Apple iOS, Amazon Kindle, Android, and Barnes & Noble Nook, plus setup and conversion fees with the newsstand host. So that first issue is a bit steep. We're running a short campaign on IndieGoGo to help get that funded. After that, it's much easier for us to keep on bringing you the best of the Real South.
And stay tuned for a sneak peek at the premiere issue!
In the meantime, keep checking back for updates or join our handy little e-mail list up there.
REAL SOUTH Magazine is your big bi-monthly digital helping of authentic Southern arts and culture. We're especially interested in bringing you indie, emerging, under-the-radar artists and writers. The South is also a more diverse place than it's typically portrayed in other magazines, so we'll also strive to bring you a slice of the many different cultures and lifestyles that make up today's South--the REAL SOUTH.
To subscribe, go to the current issue on the BlueToad digital newsstand.