New York native Adam Gussow arrived on a hot and humid University of Mississippi campus in August of 2002, harmonica in hand. The Center for Study of Southern Culture was in need of a blues expert at the time, and he was exactly what they were looking for. Gussow said moving from Vassar College in New York state to small-town Mississippi was a big transition, but it was an ideal one.
In a cultural climate based on the superficial, one has to wonder how much deeper the annual Elvis Death Day observances go than mere tradition and habit. Can such events be mined for anything worth knowing about the world we live in today? Was there more to be learned from Death Day ten years ago? Twenty years ago? Thirty? Those might be the most interesting questions of all to ask about what happens in Memphis on August 15.
The August issue of Living Blues is available now and features our cover story on Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater. Clearwater turned 80 earlier this year and we decided it was a good time to catch up with one of Chicago Blues’ elder statesman.
The new issue also includes a look back at the life and career of the King of the Blues, B.B. King. First, we examine King’s career and influence as covered via the pages of LB. Writer David Whiteis’ tribute gives an overview of King’s life and influence and we wrap things up with a decade-by-decade guide to B.B. King’s albums.
Jake Xerxes Fussell’s self-titled solo debut album showcases his folk and blues roots. The Southern Studies alum (MA 2013) says that the album came together fairly easily, with most of the basic tracking done one afternoon at Bruce Watson’s studio in Water Valley, Mississippi, with tracking and mixing at Mark Nevers’s studio in Nashville.
As B. B. King is laid to rest Saturday in Indianola, we wanted to share footage from the 2004 Blues Today Symposium when the Center named King an Honorary Professor of Southern Studies. Charles Reagan Wilson, then Director of the Center, conveys the honor. Greg Johnson of the Blues Archive did a public interview with… Read More >
We’ve just published a new essay on our journal Study the South. Karlos K. Hill’s essay, published May 11, explores the near lynching of Robert Johnson’s stepfather, Charles Dodds, the influence that event may have had on Johnson and his music, the horrors of spectacle lynching in the late 19th and early 20th century South, and grassroots responses to this violence.
Music of the South Concert With Rory Block on February 23 Heralded as “a living landmark” (Berkeley Express), “a national treasure” (Guitar Extra), and “one of the greatest living acoustic blues artists ” (Blues Revue), Rory Block has committed her life and her career to preserving the Delta blues tradition and bringing it to life… Read More >
Music of the South concert series continues Lee Bains III brings his distinct Southern rock and soul to the University of Mississippi for a solo performance Jan. 27 as part of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture’s Music of the South concert series. Bains, a songwriter from Birmingham, Alabama, who lives in Atlanta,… Read More >
Center Director Ted Ownby wrote the introduction for a new book on Elvis Presley by Joel Williamson, Elvis Presley: A Southern Life. Here, his thoughts on whether Southern Studies might’ve saved Presley. Elvis Presley died in 1977. That was the same year the Center for the Study of Southern Culture hosted its first events, and… Read More >