One of the most exciting musicians I’ve seen perform live? Hands down, thumbs up, head nodding yes, it’s Christone “Kingfish” Ingram from #Clarksdale, Mississippi. He’s played in Jackson the last two summers at the Bright Lights, Belhaven Nights festival, and his guitar work is simply arresting. It slays.
Ingram is a young man–just 20 years old–but he’s an old soul. And a blues music prodigy. A recent Rolling Stone article proclaims Ingram to be the latest blues savior, but I’m not sure blues music needs saving, per se. The Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival in Clarksdale, where Ingram regularly performs, draws thousands of attendees each year from all over the world. To check out Ingram’s future performance dates, click here.
At 1109 Pinehurst Place in #Belhaven sits the home of one of Mississippi’s greatest authors–Eudora Welty (1909—2001). If you visit Jackson, the Welty House and Garden Tour is a must-experience experience. The tour takes about an hour; admission is just $5.
Constructed in 1925, this two-story Tudor Revival is where Miss Welty wrote her most famous works–The Robber Bridegroom, The Optimist’s Daughter, and Delta Wedding in addition to short stories and essays. The house is largely intact as Miss Welty inhabited and left it before passing in 2001. Books and manuscripts are everywhere. There’s even her Smith-Corona typewriter at her desk in her bedroom that overlooks the tree-lined grounds of Belhaven College (now Belhaven University).
Source: Eudora Welty House and Garden, Mississippi Department of Archives and History.
Photos are not permitted, unfortunately, so you have to commit this house and its garden rooms (containing more than 30 varieties of camellia shrubs and trees) to memory as you move throughout. For those who cannot visit in person, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History offers an online photo tour, which you can experience here.
Jason Isbell, seriously. I swoon. He’s a songwriter/guitarist/musician from north Alabama, and I can’t stop listening to two albums: Southeastern (2013) and The Nashville Sound, which he recorded with his band The 400 Unit in 2017.
Tales of heartbreak, drunken lovers, separation, and recovery litter his songwriting, and I relish every piece of debris, each musical note. Here he is performing “Cover Me Up” at Austin City Limits, which was recorded in December 2013:
And another–“If We Were Vampires”–which was recorded in 2017:
Isbell is quite the comeback kid, if a 39-year-old can be considered a kid. Early in his career he played with Drive-By Truckers and was on a one-way road to self-annihilation. I mean, each time he played live with the Drive-By Truckers, he was totally bombed. As he told a National Public Radio interviewer in 2013:
I had it timed where, by the very end of the show, I’d done just about all I could do standing up. I knew I needed two or three [drinks] before I went on, and then during the show, we’d just pass a bottle [of Jack Daniels] around between the band.
He’s since cleaned up, struck out on his own as an artist, and enjoys fans and supporters here in the Deep South and elsewhere–elsewhere as in everywhere. I had the chance to see him and the 400 Unit perform at Thalia Mara in Jackson last year, and it was an exceptional evening. Highly recommend.