Oxford, Mississippi, the Home of Ole Miss
Oxford had come highly recommended twice, so we held off on going to Memphis for a day. The change in our itinerary was 100% warranted. The only mistake we made was not to allow enough time.
When we drove in, we managed to land right on the square. Right in the center is an old time Southern white courthouse with these big columns. I think Sherman burned it all down, but they rebuilt it after the war. The architecture on the Sqaure hasn’t changed much since then. But like Mark said, the South has changed. This is a medium sized town, but a cosmopolitan place, where everyone walks around in jeans and tweeds. Full of artists, professors, musicians and books. A cool town.
My agent told me to be sure to take in Square Books and cited it as one of the top independent book stores in the world. It was all that- books piled up all the way to the ceiling. On the first table was Oliver Sacks, ‘Musicophilia’ one Ted Lehmann had recommended I pick up for some time. I’ve just started it, but I think it is one Ms. Turner might want to recommend to her Bread Loaf students. From what I understand, it explores how the regular exposure to music affects the brain (maybe I’ll figure my self out!) and should be a good one to study.
I do know that rats who run mazes learn faster if they are exposed to classical music, and I believe the same theory would work for acoustic music such as bluegrass. I hope so, ’cause I’ve studied medicine to Flatt and Scruggs for years and it has worked out fine so far.
Upstairs at Square Books they had a fiction and Southern Lit section and the strawberry ice cream Sally serves up was right down my ally too. I got out my mandolin to play and the first cat to come in the room was a Greg Johnson who heads up the Blues Archive at Ole Miss, and plays in a Celtic band, Celtic Crossroads. We talked about tunes like ‘Whiskey Before Breakfast’ (The White Spire in Ireland) and ‘Red Haired Boy,’ (alias Beggar Boy) Greg knew his business, no doubt, and invited me to jam.
Like I said, the only error I made was not allow enough time for Oxford. If I ever get published, I’ll bring my book and my mandolin right after I leave Reed’s in Tupelo. If I don’t get published I’ll be back anyway. Between Mr. Johnson and that fellow from Denmark who was hanging out with him, I have a notion they know every jam session and player in that part of Mississippi.
We left Oxford for a medical meeting with Dr. Larry McBride. He was a consultant in the Mandolin Case, and I needed to review some text with him. I’ll report to you soon on that visit. But Greg, I want to tell you I’ll drive many a mile for a good session, so thanks for the invite. I’ll be back. I am confident there is much fine music played at Ole Miss, and I wanta come be a part of it one day.
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