A Northern Transplant and Her Chickens...

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     As a new resident of Alabama and a total foreigner to the land below the Mason Dixon line, I learned quickly to disregard the suggestions of my GPS, always ask about the origins of the meat cooking over the campfire, and to be wary of bags that move on their own. I became familiar with all varieties of a Waffle House hashbrown, and figured out grits (sort of). I went to my first crawfish boil and figured out how to eat the tiny lobsters, and casually observed a timber rattlesnake without running away or even flinching. I drank more sweet tea than is recommended. I became accustomed to the fake deer head that hung over the fireplace and then adorned it with Mardi Gras beads and Christmas lights. I was as near to...

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Sidewalk Film Festival 2012: Eating Alabama...

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     The sky was steel grey and every few minutes let loose with a smattering of large, sparse raindrops. Yet despite the threat of the storm, the line of people beneath the lighted billboard of the historic Alabama Theater on 3rd Avenue North in the theatre district of downtown Birmingham continued to lengthen, extending down the sidewalk and wrapping around the last building on the corner.      Fittingly, they were all hungry – hungry for a taste of one of the most talked about documentary films of the 2012 Sidewalk Film Festival – Eating Alabama, a project directed by filmmaker and University of Alabama Documentary film professor Andrew Beck Grace, about ten minutes away from making its statewide premiere.      According to their event pamphlet, the Sidewalk Film Festival “is an annual production of...

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Revival of an American Storyteller: My Walk with Kathryn Tucker Windham...

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     They came from an era vastly different from our own.      In medieval times, people combined stories, poetry, music, and dance as a form of entertainment. The ones who excelled at this practice were revered and respected, often reaping the greatest benefits of their talents as honored members of royal courts. The people called them troubadours or minstrels, and women held these roles just as frequently as men.      They journeyed from land to land gathering news and learning favorite tales of the regions. Often they developed their own stories but sometimes… sometimes, they took bits and pieces of other people’s tales and adventures and embellished them with their own. It is said that good storytellers have the ability to hold an audience in the palm of their hand, observing their reactions and...

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Mustang Oil

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     If you follow AL-69 South out of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, you’ll pass through small towns peppered with both weathered structures that have seen better days and more modern erected homes and businesses. On weekends you’ll see a lively flea market on the outskirts of Moundville and various family yard sales. South Central Alabama is a place with a colorful past, stained by the hardship of the depression and the unrest of the Civil Rights era, yet now thriving with life from a people who share a mutual love of the land and a quiet acceptance of the memories – both tragic and triumphant – that shaped the area into what it is today.      Less than 40 miles along this stretch of highway is a town with a population just under 5,000 called Greensboro,...

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Music Review: Boys and Girls...

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     All credit is due to my fellow Drawl writer Ali Dreyer, who implored that I write about the Alabama Shakes’ self-titled EP when it released last year. At that point I had a docket of about four times more Southern music than I was fully able or willing to sink my ears into, and that EP fell by the wayside. Soon, pretty much every music blog I read had the Alabama Shakes on their tongues; this small band of 20-somethings from Athens, AL was aloft on a wave of buzz, making appearances on Letterman and Live…With Jools Holland to promote their first full-length. Clearly, it was time to break into a run after this bandwagon, grab a handhold, and jump on. Coming up into summer, I’m glad I did, cause the Shakes are...

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