Friday, January 29, 2010

on the up and up

Two of my favorite musicians in Oxford, Mississippi, have paired up as a string duo. Their calling themselves Fussell & Hollister, a self-titled band name that beckons to the yesteryear, which is where their musical inspiration can be found. They've been playing regularly in North Mississippi, but I was lucky to catch them in Oktibbeha County at one of my favorite drinking holes, Dave's Dark Horse Tavern.

Fussell & Hollister opened for the semi-defunct Mayhem String Band (listen to my interview with the Mayhem on the Arts Hour), playing a few original tunes such as the heart wrenching "Troubles" and the more playful tune "Donkey Riding." I really dig Jake Fussell's voice-- simple, compelling, warm-- and over the years I've watched Jamison Hollister grow into a fine fiddle player. The duo also played one of my favorite traditionals, "Raggy Levy," and it may be my favorite version yet. Listen to Jake singing "Raggy Levy" on a 2007 episode of Prairie Home Companion.

This is one group I'm going to keep up with in 2010. You should, too.

Friday, January 22, 2010

food, art & music from around the world-- in mississippi!

Catholic Charities, Jackson Mississippi Diocese, celebrated National Migration Week by hosting an international festival in the Leggett Center at Millsaps College. My culturally minded colleague, Diane Williams, drove us over for the festivities, which included foods from around the world, international crafts and salsa dancing. I especially enjoyed a heavily gingered Taiwanese noodle dish. Other interesting dishes included the Yemen desserts and fried cheese from Peru.

The highlight of our lunch outing was a performance by Salsa Mississippi, a Fondren-based studio that hosts beginner to advance lessons, with a dance party every Saturday night to boot! If salsa dancing is nearly as fun & healthful as it seems, lessons may be in my near future.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

jack & johnny podcast now available

If you weren't able to tune in for the interview with old-time musicians Jack Magee and Johnny Rawls, then take advantage of modern technology and download the podcast. You'll find more of my Arts Hour interviews, as well as those of my colleagues Malcolm White, Diane Williams & Larry Morrisey.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Old-Time on the Arts Hour

Tune in to the Mississippi Arts Hour this Sunday at 3 p.m. on Mississippi Public Broadcasting for my interview with old-time music players Johnny Rawls and Jack Magee.

Johnny Rawls is a long-time resident of Mendenahall, but he grew up in Stone County in a musical family. Johnny is a multi-instrumentalist, but he's best known as a banjo player.

Jack Magee is a lifelong resident of Magee where his family has roots stretching back to the early 1800's. Jack has been playing music since an early age, lighting up audiences with his spirited approach to old-time fiddle.

I'll talk with Johnny and Jack about the old-time music scene in Mississippi, and where they find their inspiration. We'll also hear some tunes for the duo-- live from the MPB studios.

Tune in to your local MPB station, or listen online at To learn more about Johnny Rawls and Jack Magee, check out their bios on the Mississippi Folklife and Folk Art Directory