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Issue 99, Winter 2017

Kentucky Music Issue

The Oxford American’s 19th annual music issue explores the Music of Kentucky. The magazines comes with a 27-song CD + free download with bonus tracks. The Commonwealth gave us musicians like Loretta Lynn and Nappy Roots, Richard Hell and Bill Monroe—just to name a very few—and beloved writers like Crystal Wilkinson, Ronni Lundy, Silas House, John Jeremiah Sullivan, and our own poetry editor, Rebecca Gayle Howell. You’ll see those names (and many, many others) in our Kentucky Music Issue—“the greatest mixtape accompanied by the best liner notes ever,” according to Beale Street Caravan.


Notes on the songs, including: 

Minda Honey on James Lindsey

"Me Hungry"
Jay Ruttenberg on King Kong

"Camp Nelson Blues"
Nathan Salsburg on the Booker Orchestra and two Kentucky octets

“I'm Going to Organize, Baby Mine“
Elyssa East on Sarah Ogan Gunning

Joe Manning on Rachel Grimes


Hey, Loretta!, by Marianne Worthington

Louisville Lip, by Erik Reece

If God Had a Name, by Jason Howard

A Peculiar Composition, by Michael L. Jones

Ain't Half Bad, by Leesa Cross-Smith

Living Too Close to the Ground, by Will Stephenson

Just As I Am, by Jewly Hight 

Real People Radio Stories, by Jeffrey A. Keith

The Lexington Cure, by Rebecca Gayle Howell

Three previously unpublished poems by Thomas Merton


He's Not There, by J. D. Daniels

Paradise Waiting, by John Thomason

Fire in My Bones, by Ashley Blooms

Let's Gather, by Harmony Holiday

"That Place in the Middle," by Ronni Lundy

Cleo, Cleo Black as Coal, a story by Crystal Wilkinson


Blank Place
Richard Hell after Lexington 
by Amanda Petrusich

Southeastern Kentucky’s Phipps Family legacy 
by Silas House 

Border Wars
When the South is everywhere and nowhere 
by Zandria F. Robinson 

Tuned Up in the Spirit
The Old Regular Baptists and the joyful sound 
by David Ramsey  

Death Rattle
Searching for the old jawbone
by John Jeremiah Sullivan


Cowboy Steve, photo by Guy Mendes


Art by: David McClister, Steve Squall, James Dechert, Dave Banks, Les Leverett, Chloe Meynier, James Robert Southard, LaVon Van Williams Jr., Judith Eisler, Chris Sikich, Letitia Quesenberry, Audrée Anid, Dennis Mader, Ray Johnson, Gina Phillips, Bob Hower, Steve Schapiro, Lina Tharsing, Ted Kincaid, Ray Kleinhelter, Nadezda Nikolova-Kratzer, Les McCann, Emily Joyce, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Robert Beatty, Meg Wilson, Alan Lomax, Tom Martin, Adrian Morales, Juliana Hawawini Johnson, Guy Mendes 

Cover: Sturgill Simpson – Photo by David McClister, Loretta Lynn – Photo by Les Leverett, Courtesy of Grand Ole Opry, LLC, J.D. Wilkes – Photo by James Dechert, Les McCann – Photo by Dave Banks, James Lindsey – Photo by Steve Squall