Celebrating food, music and the arts April 28 and 29
OXFORD, MISSISSIPPI–APRIL 2017–About an hour from Memphis, Tennessee, off of Interstate 55, Oxford, Mississippi, is celebrating the 22nd year of its award-winning Double Decker Arts Fest on April 28 and 29. The red double-decker bus, imported to Oxford, Mississippi, in 1994, transports passengers around town and also serves as the inspiration and centerpiece of the two-day celebration of arts, music and food that takes place in historic Courthouse Square. Now the recipient of more than 25 awards, including Best Festival by Mississippi Magazine and a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society, Double Decker brings in over 65,000 attendees for a celebratory weekend.
Each year since 2015, a local artist’s work has been selected from several submissions to be featured as the festival’s “official art,” which is printed on festival t-shirts and posters. 2017’s featured artist is Pam Locke.
“I entered the contest because I feel the Double Decker Festival is such an important part of Oxford and is a showcase for the wonderful art that is produced in the region surrounding Oxford. I wanted to be a part of that celebration,” says Locke. “For several years, I have had this idea in my head to express Double Decker as a blend of art with a festive atmosphere. I finally got around to making it a reality.”
A Southern showcase–from mouthwatering bites to inspiring art
Like any respected Southern tradition, the festival has grown while preserving its original integrity. Tried and true tasty temptations, from snow cones to roast beef sandwiches to pizza by the slice, all from local vendors–many offering a specialty item that can only be found during the event–satisfy hunger pangs. An artist showcase is regulated by the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council which selects the jury from a panel of local artists, bringing more than 160 art vendors to the event, spanning a variety of media including drawings, glass, jewelry, mixed media, painting, photography, print making and sculpture. Little ones are not left out either–children can gather at the Square Fair, located in the public parking lot directly behind the Oxford-University Club, for special activities.
Tune in for toe-tapping fun on the Specialty Orthopedic Stage on April 28 and 29
The weekend kicks off with music on the Specialty Orthopedic Group stage on Friday, April 28 at 6 p.m. with Jimmy “Duck” Holmes followed by a special edition of the beloved Thacker Mountain Radio hour at 7 p.m. and Muddy Magnolias rounding out the evening at 8 p.m.
This year’s festival has an incredible lineup of other featured musicians for the weekend, including James McMurtry, Luther Dickinson, Dr. John & the Nite Trippers and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. James McMurtry spins stories with a poet’s pen (“Long Island Sound”) and a painter’s precision (“She Loves Me”). Proof: The acclaimed songwriter’s new Complicated Game. McMurtry’s first collection in six years spotlights a craftsman in absolutely peak form as he turns from political toward personal (“These Things I’ve Come to Know,” “You Got to Me”).
“The lyrical theme is mostly about relationships,” McMurtry says. “It’s also a little about the big old world verses the poor little farmer or fisherman. I never make a conscious decision about what to write about.”
Luther Dickinson on Blues & Ballads finds his way forward by retracing his steps. This ambitious double album collects 21 tunes from throughout his life and career–songs he wrote with his rock and roll band, the North Mississippi Allstars, songs he learned from friends and family, songs passed down to him by his heroes and mentors, songs that have lived in the American subconscious for decades–and pares them down to their irreducible elements. Voice, guitar, drums. Here and there some blues fife or Beale Street piano.
The legendary Dr. John is a six-time Grammy Award-winning musician and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee. Known throughout the world as the embodiment of New Orleans’ musical legacy, Dr. John is a true icon in American culture. His colorful musical career began in the 1950s when he wrote and played guitar on some of the greatest records to come out of the Crescent City, including recordings by Professor Longhair, Art Neville, Joe Tex, Frankie Ford and Allen Toussaint. He headed west in the 1960s, where he continued to be in demand as a session musician, playing keyboards on records by Sonny and Cher, Van Morrison, Aretha Franklin and The Rolling Stones’ “Exile On Main St.” During that time he launched his solo career, developing the charismatic persona of Dr. John The Nite Tripper. A legend was born with his breakthrough 1968 album “Gris-Gris,” which introduced to the world his unique blend of voodoo mysticism, funk, rhythm & blues, psychedelic rock and Creole roots. Several of his many career highlights include the masterful album “Sun, Moon and Herbs” in 1971 which included cameos from Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger and 1973’s “In The Right Place,” which contained the chart hits “Right Place Wrong Time” and “Such A Night.”
Rounding out the night is Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats practically explodes with soulfulness with music that lends itself more to an experience than a listening session. Bud Scoppa, writer for Rolling Stone Magazine, suggests it’s entirely fitting that the self-titled album will bear the iconic logo of Stax Records, because at certain moments Rateliff seems to be channeling soul greats like Otis Redding and Sam & Dave. But as this gifted multi-instrumentalist honors the legacy of the legendary Memphis label, he’s also setting out into audacious new territory.
Catch all the bands as they perform throughout the weekend:
Friday April 28, 2017
8 p.m.–Muddy Magnolias
7 p.m.–Thacker Mountain Radio Hour
6 p.m.–Jimmy “Duck” Holmes
Saturday April 29, 2017
8:45 p.m.–Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats
7 p.m.–Dr. John & The Nite Trippers
5:30 p.m.–Luther Dickinson
4 p.m.–James McMurtry
1 p.m.–Robert Finley
11:30 a.m.–Amelia Eisenhauer and the Peruvian Farm Girls
10:15 a.m.– The Mississippi Jazz Ensemble
The festival’s 2017 Presenting Sponsor is The University of Mississippi Museum, an opportunity gifted to them by Ole Miss Athletics. Specialty Orthopedic Group is sponsoring the stage, and Faulkner Sponsors include C Spire, Winchester, The Domain and Cannon Motors.
If you go
On the Square, don’t miss the Mississippi Blues Trail marker, which commemorates many of Oxford’s musicians and the blues heritage that exists in the Mississippi Hills. Having just celebrated 75 years in 2015, The University of Mississippi Museum and Historic Houses showcase the finest collection of Greek and Roman antiquities in the South. The Museum also houses the permanent Theora Hamblett folk art collection. Admission to The University of Mississippi Museum is free; hours are 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., Tues.-Sat.
Named after Oxford, England, Oxford, Mississippi, is also the home to Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner. Travel the Bailey’s Woods Trail, a National Recreation Trail, from the Museum to Rowan Oak, the writer’s home built in 1844. Be sure to peek at the outline of his award-winning novel, “A Fable,” handwritten on the wall of his study. Later, pay homage to the literary great with a visit to his grave site located in nearby St. Peter’s Cemetery.
Don’t miss Square Books, voted “Best Bookstore in the Nation” by Publishers Weekly, and stop by on Thursday nights for the Thacker Mountain Radio show hosted live from their sister store, Off Square Books.
Inspiring other literary greats, author John Grisham also left his mark in Oxford, attending The University of Mississippi Law School. Catch a performance at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts or at the Powerhouse, built in 1928 as the home of the Oxford Electric Department, featuring eight rotating art exhibits throughout the year, which are free to the public. Art exhibits highlight Mississippi artists, as well as artists inspired by the South. Be sure to check the schedule at The Lyric, situated just off the square, which originally opened in 1913 as a silent movie theatre and was renovated to provide premier live music and event space in Oxford and the Southeast.