Published on April 24th, 2012 | by TLV News1
Local Voice 2012 Double Decker Festival Guide
Oxford, Miss.—The 17th annual Oxford Double Decker Arts Festival presented by C Spire Wireless is taking place THIS WEEKEND in Oxford, Mississippi! Taking its name from the town’s authentic double decker bus imported from England in 1994, the festival brings together visitors and residents alike for a celebration of music, food, and the arts held on the picturesque Courthouse Square.
The 2012 event will again feature a two day format that includes additional musical offerings on Friday night and the traditional festival activities on Saturday. Friday’s concert is a ticketed event, but the family activities on Saturday remain free. In addition, this year’s festival will include a celebration of the City of Oxford’s 175th Birthday.
Once again, over one hundred and fifty art vendors from around the region will display their creative wares for the anticipated 55,000 festival attendees. Selected by Oxford’s Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, the vendors include potters, glass craftsmen, woodworkers, painters, and self-taught artists working in a variety of mediums.
Throughout the afternoon and evening, shoppers can browse to the rhythmic sounds of bluegrass, jazz, gospel, blues, country, folk, Cajun, and regional rock-and-roll groups. The Main Stage, the Caterpillar Stage (on North Lamar) will feature touring and regional acts, and the Local Stage (on Van Buren in front of The Library Sports Bar) will feature mainly local acts. Presenting sponsor C Spire Wireless, will also bring some of their Bright Lights Musicians to the stages this year.
Hungry from a day of shopping and dancing, attendees will want to stroll through the “Taste of Oxford” food court featuring a mouth-watering sampling of culinary treats from 25 local restaurateurs. Whether a cup of spicy duck gumbo, a slice of pepperoni pizza, or a chocolate-filled croissant, there is something to satisfy everybody’s palate.
The Children’s Square Fair will again feature face painting, storytelling, and musicians to keep both children and their parents entertained. There will also be many new activities for kids of all ages. The highlight of the afternoon is the Best Dressed Pet Contest when participants, hoping to win the coveted first prize, parade their dogs, cats, rabbits, and even chickens dressed in elaborate costumes.
The day begins at 8 am with the Chamber of Commerce 5k walk and 10k run. Winding through the University of Mississippi campus and nearby Oxford neighborhoods, the two courses are fun for both beginner joggers as well as experienced athletes.
“The festival continues to grow each year, and we hope that this year will be the largest celebration ever,” said Mary-Kathryn Herrington, Festival Director, “ We have made some improvements and really stepped up our game this year, and can’t wait to share it with all the people who love this festival.”
Sam Beam, frontman of Iron and Wine, has become one of America’s greatest musical storytellers in the past ten years, using folk, African, rock, country, and Jamaican musical traditions to craft his tales. Kiss Each Other Clean, released in 2011, is sprinkled with these elements, plus 60s and 70s pop influences, multi-part vocal arrangements, a horn section, and tasteful use of an electric synthesizer. Expect your ears to be pleased after Sam’s set.
It was a dark night, like many before it in Memphis, Tennessee. Joshua Andrew Cosby walked home from rehearsal with his guitar, case-less, slung over his back. A local homeless man flagged him down, not for money but for a story. He explained to Cosby how he had written a song about his ex-wife Micey. There, on that dimly lit street occurred an exchange, two men playing each other songs of heartbreak and the ultimate sacrifice.
Upon parting ways, this man revealed his name to be Star. That name became the fixture for one of Memphis’ most inventive bands: Star & Micey. Its core members are listed as two brothers without the same last name, Geoff Smith and Joshua Cosby. It was merely coincidence that Cosby later met Nick Redmond at a local pub and began a relationship based on music and above all, brotherhood.
Grace Askew brings her technical jazzy/folk tinged style and her five-piece group, The Black Market Goods, to Double Decker this year. Her first two records were recorded in Memphis at Ardent Studios, but her third and newest release, Until They Lay Me Down To Rest, was solely produced and recorded by Askew. A few tracks were even recorded at Andrew Ratcliffe’s acclaimed Tweed Studios in Oxford.
“If Tom Waits had a singer/writer daughter in Memphis, it would be Askew with her gallery of lost souls on the graveyard shift. Gutsy, bluesy, and a bit boozy, she quietly sings with jagged languor and a skewed spirituality. Discreet percussion, guitar and, on occasion, wistful lap steel notes sagely frame her rough-hewn sophistication.” -Bruce Sylvester of Sing Out! Magazine
Ponderosa, an upstart with a veteran sound. On its New West Records debut, Moonlight Revival, the Atlanta-based act crafts music that’s genuine, soulful, and psychedelic. Lead vocalist and songwriter Kalen Nash suggests that the group is the timeless sound of raw classic American rock-n-roll. Ponderosa strikes a tune that will please any music lover, or, at least, any music listener that likes real music.
A Vicksburg native, George’s Oxford guitar career began in 1985 when he co-founded the band Beanland. After touring for a number of years with Beanland, he became the lead guitarist for Kudzu Kings. After a hiatus to tend to his vintage guitar store on the Square (Django’s), he became lead guitarist for rock/jam band Widespread Panic.
These days, George is playing with his band, The Nonchalants. It’s definitely rock-n-roll, tinged with good ole’ Southern style. After the show, go to georgemcconnell.com and check out Singles Only, a collection A- and B-sided “Virtual 45s.” We suggest starting with “In Walked You.”
George & The Nonchalants on Facebook
Patterson Hood, originally from the Muscle Shoals region of Alabama, now resides in Athens, Georgia, where he is a Southern rock star. In 1996 he formed The Drive-By Truckers with Mike Cooley, long-time friend and fellow musician.
In 2005, Hood recorded Murdering Oscar (and other love songs), but was unable to produce the long-awaited release until 2009. Hood recorded three of the tracks with his father, David Hood, long-time bassist of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (who also ironically played bass on the Staple Singers’ original “I’ll Take You There”). Hood wrote most of the songs on Murdering Oscar back in 2001 and recorded them on cassette using his roommate’s boombox. Fortunately for fans, we can now enjoy mastered studio versions of these tunes.
The Funky Meters is comprised of some of the most talented musicians in the business. Art Neville and George Porter, Jr. have been making magical music together since 1967, when The Meters was formed. The Meters disbanded in 1977 but was resurrected informally in 1989 by Neville and Porter.
In 1994, Brian Stoltz and Russell Batiste joined the band, and they were officially christened The Funky Meters. They’ve been playing strong ever since. In fact, the funk is still going as strong today as it was 40 years ago. Give ‘em a listen.
Mavis Staples won a Grammy award in 2011 (Best Americana Album) for You Are Not Alone, produced by Jeff Tweedy. 2011 also saw Staples awarded an Honorary Doctor of Music Degree fom Berklee College of Music. In 2005 she received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award. In 1999, she and The Staple Singers were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. She’s been included in Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Singers of All Time” and VH1’s “100 Greatest Women Of Rock and Roll.” Rolling Stone has also named The Staple Singers’ “I’ll Take You There” and “Respect Yourself” among the “Top 500 Songs Of All Time.”
The kudos could continue for a few more paragraphs. Needless to say, Mavis Staples is a top-notch entertainer who has nothing left to prove to anyone. She’s been singing her heart out since her family group was formed in 1950, and this week she brings her soulful sound downtown for y’all.
“Mavis Staples is the most underrated diva of the century. She has an almost superhuman ability to implant the pure power of passion and emotion.” -Rolling Stone
Mavis Staples on Wikipedia (because her career is so damned extensive)
NPR’s Mavis Staples page
Mavis Staples on Facebook
***Rolling Stone Video: “On Hanging With the Next Generation” (PROBABLY MY FAVORITE LINK IN THIS PAGE!)
Brothers Barrett and Thad O’Donnell have recruited an incredibly talented and versed lineup of musicians while simultaneously making a bold choice few bands anywhere would make: to assimilate a second bassist into an already established collective. This contributes to elevating each member to a new level of playing. Elemovements is one of the few bands anywhere bold enough and skilled enough to incorporate multiple bass players in their ever-progressive musical arrangements.
Elemovements is Fred Dunlap (Bill Perry Trio, The Guruvs) who stages massacres on the drum kit, while Jason Ball (Zoogma, Gigantic Ant, Kristen Ford) plays beautifully constructed jazz-guitar and Steven McCain (Garry Burnside, Hancock Co.) lays it down on super-funk bass. Barrett adds the other element of driving groove-based bass while bro Thad handles lead guitar in rip-roaring fashion.
“Machine Gun Kelley” is Kelley Norris, and “The G-Men” are Tim Burkhead, Jesse Pinion, and Ben Yarbrough. Norris’ voice is captivating—a show you won’t want to miss!
Kenny Brown is an American blues slide guitarist from Nesbit, Mississippi. Skilled in the North Mississippi Hill Country blues style popularized by his mentor R. L. Burnside, Brown began his career by apprenticing with Mississippi Joe Callicott, Johnny Woods, and Mississippi Fred McDowell. He has also cited Muddy Waters, George “Mojo” Buford, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Junior Kimbrough, Johnny Winter, and Johnny Shines as influences. He has recorded one album for the Fat Possum Records label (Stingray), and his most recent double album, Can’t Stay Long, was released in June 2011 on Devil Down Records.
In 1971, Brown began performing with R. L. Burnside, who claimed Brown as his “adopted son” and affectionately called him “white boy on guitar” and “my white son.” Both Brown and Burnside have noted the singularity of Brown’s being a white musician playing in the previously predominantly African American genre of North Mississippi Hill Country blues.
Rocket 88 is probably one of Oxford’s most prolific bands. With frequent guest musicians, the lineup consists of Jamie and Rosamond Posey, “Rocket Natey-Nate” Robbins, Ryan Rogers, and Robert Chaffe—certainly a who’s who of local talent. Their self-described “juke-joint gospel” is sure to get your toes tappin’ with crowd pleasers like “King Moonshine,” or “Tombstone.” Rosie’s haunting drawl and Nate’s steady thump on the bass complement perfectly the greasy guitar licks and keyboard wails coming from the stage. I dare you to stand still when they are on a groove!
Oxford’s Indie music scene cannot be fully justified without mentioning local Oxford band, Young Buffalo. The trio of young talent frequents the stage at music hotspot, Proud Larrys’. If you swing to the sounds of locals, Bass Drum of Death and Deadgaze. One favorable attribute is the burst of musical talent the young band has to offer. The three musicians constantly play a game of musical chairs during show, with all three members rotating through vocals, guitar, bass, and drums. Slap on your dancing shoes folks because Young Buffalo is sure to make your feet move and the female hearts quiver!
This article was published in The Local Voice #154 (April 19-May 3, 2012)…Click here to download the PDF of issue #154.