In the lead-up to Oxford American’s 25th anniversary gala on Nov. 2, Editor Eliza Borné shares five greatest hits from the award-winning Southern magazine.
1. THE OXFORD AMERICAN’S ANNUAL SOUTHERN MUSIC ISSUE
Every year since 1997, the OA has devoted one issue … to the rich tradition of Southern music. This annual themed issue is an irresistible package: a magazine filled with incredible storytelling and a sweet CD compilation. Like many of our readers, I fell in love with the OA years ago because of this special project. Even though I now work for the OA, I still feel giddy when it’s time for a new music issue to come out. (Trust me. They’re really, really good.)
This year, the OA will publish a Kentucky-themed edition, and for the first time, the song compilation will be available on CD and via digital download. You probably know about Dwight Yoakam and Loretta Lynn, but I can’t wait for readers to learn about lots of other amazing stories in Kentucky music. The music issue hits newsstands on Nov. 21.
2. CONCERTS AT SOUTH ON MAIN
Some of my favorite live music experiences — in my life, in any city, at any venue—have been right here in Little Rock at South on Main. The OA programs a select number of concerts at the SoMa restaurant, and I’m still freaking out about shows I’ve been lucky enough to catch on that stage (think Rosanne Cash, a double bill featuring Patterson Hood and the Indigo Girls, Rodney Crowell, Marcus Roberts and The Bad Plus).
Don’t miss the jazz shows, which are perfect for South on Main’s intimate space. Check out the Latin Jazz All Stars on Dec. 7 and Catherine Russell on Feb. 1.
3. EXCELLENT ART
For 25 years, readers have come to the Oxford American to discover excellent stories, artwork and music. Like hilarious essays by humor writer Harrison Scott Key or fiction by National Book Award-winner Jesmyn Ward. Or the OA’s iconic covers designed by longtime art director Tom Martin. Browse the OA archive at OxfordAmerican.org/Magazine.
4. COMMUNITY EVENTS
In addition to creating a magazine and a concert series, the OA hosts many events around central Arkansas. This spring, we brought in best-selling writer Charles Blow for a conversation about art and civil rights with Grammy-winning trumpeter Terence Blanchard. In August, we partnered with LGBT film festival Kaleidoscope to bring luminary author Armistead Maupin to town. [In July], we commissioned a world premiere jazz work, “No Tears Suite,” written by North Little Rock native Chris Parker in honor of the 60th anniversary of Central High’s integration. In April 2018, we’re planning a packed weekend of events marking the 50th anniversary of Charles Portis’s novel “True Grit.” Visit OxfordAmerican.org/TG50 for more information.
5. READERS LIKE YOU
The best part of my job is meeting people who tell me how the stories they read in the OA changed their life or helped them see the world in a new way. (Plus, I might be a little biased, but OA readers are just discerning and cool — full stop.)
If you’d like to meet a whole crowd of OA fans, join us on Nov. 2 at the Center for Humanities and the Arts Theatre at Pulaski Tech. We’re hosting a huge party called Books, Bourbon & Boogie with special guest Lucinda Williams. Join us for an evening of music and fun as we celebrate 25 years of the Oxford American and toast all our readers and friends.