This snapshot was taken a little over a year ago, on one of my first weekends in Mississippi. My friend Jeff and I had driven out from Oxford to Foxfire Ranch, which is just south of Holly Springs. His girlfriend Nikki (on the left) was coming from Memphis and met us there.
I didn't know what to expect, but I soon realized this was one of my favorite places on earth. During the rest of the week, Foxfire is a working cattle ranch owned by Annie and Bill Hollowell. But on Sundays they let folks come and camp out in their open-air barn out back to hear bands play--usually three sets between 4 and 9 PM. People bring a picnic cooler (BYOB) or take advantage of the BBQ and collards Miss Annie herself cooks on site. Kids run around with their dogs. Little Ole Miss girls get going in their hula hoops. You come out with the sun still blazing; you leave long after it has set.
As for the music, it's where pros come out to jam, from Kenny Brown to Revered John Wilkins to all three Burnside brothers. The vibe reminds me a little of a good late-night on U Street, after people have finished their paying gigs at Blues Alley or wherever and want to do a little pick-up playing. And there is dancing. Sometimes, everybody up on their feet; sometimes just a few brave souls doing their thing.
A year later, I made a straight drive from DC to catch the Saturday night show of the annual North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic. I arrived about 4 PM, having left my apartment at 9 PM the night before, and realized there was no option other than to fill my flask, slip on some gold Mardi Gras beads, and catch a second wind. This was one of the headline acts--Garry Burnside playing with Cadillac Funk. That's Andrew in the hat and sunglasses on the right, the frontman for CF. I'd heard them play a few times, but never got to talk to them before. I stayed out as long as my tired body would let me.
I'm typing this from Andrew's kitchen at the moment. Tomorrow I'll be at Foxfire again, wearing my favorite black skirt for dancing (not so short as to be scandalous, with a bit of a flare if I'm twirling). Cadillac Funk will be up on stage, with Garry on guest guitar and Bill Perry, Jr. on keyboards. I'm hoping Jeff and Nikki can make it out to join us. They are engaged now, living together in Memphis.
A lot can happen in a year.