2018 Artists

And the Kids

And The Kids is a Massachusetts-based pop quartet that manages to conjure chunky indie rock, blissful new wave, chamber folk, jarring avant-garde, and brawny classic rock. Guitarist and vocalist Hannah Mohan navigates this expansive creativity, along with Rebecca Lasaponaro on drums, Megan Miller on synthesizers and percussion, and bassist Taliana Katz. Their latest album, “Friends Share Lovers” was released in 2017. National Public Radio has said of them, “They make music that’s both fearless and entertaining.” 

Jesse Ball

Jesse Ball has published nineteen books, most recently the novel, Census. His awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, an NEA grant, and The Paris Review's Plimpton Prize; his work has been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Martha Barnette

Martha Barnette is co-host of the public-radio show “A Way With Words,” heard each week by listeners in 300 cities across North America, and worldwide by podcast. The show is about words and how we use them — word and phrase origins, slang, regional dialects, writing well, books and reading, and that weird thing Grandma used to say. Martha holds an undergraduate degree in English from Vassar College, and did graduate work in classical languages at the University of Kentucky. She studied Spanish in Costa Rica at the ILISA Language Institute.

Before her work in radio, Martha was a reporter for the Washington Post and an editorial writer for the Louisville Courier-Journal. She’s the author of three books on word origins: A Garden of WordsLadyfingers & Nun’s Tummies: A Lighthearted Look at How Foods Got Their Names, and Dog Days & Dandelions.

A Kentucky native, she lives in San Diego, where she can be found hiking mountain trails and performing improv comedy at Finest City Improv and Old Town Improv Company.

Eliza Borné

Eliza Borné is the editor of the Oxford American, a national magazine dedicated to featuring the best in Southern writing and art, while documenting the complexity and vitality of the region. Best known for its annual Southern Music issue, the OA has won four National Magazine Awards and other high honors since it began publication in 1992. The OA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and the magazine’s offices are located in Little Rock’s South Main neighborhood. Eliza was born and raised in Little Rock and received a B.A. in English from Wellesley College. She has also served as associate editor, managing editor, and interim editor of the OA. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the the C.D. Wright Women Writers Conference, is on the Arts & Culture Commission of the City of Little Rock, and is on the talent committee of the Arkansas Literary Festival. Eliza will be appearing at Word of South with the writer Diane Roberts.

Rick Bragg

Rick Bragg is the Pulitzer Prize winning writer of best-selling and critically acclaimed books such as All Over but the Shoutin’Ava's Man, and The Prince of Frogtown.

A native of Calhoun County, Alabama, Bragg’s books chronicle the lives of his family cotton pickers, mill workers, whiskey makers, long sufferers, and fist fighters. He has written also for the numerous magazines, ranging from Sports Illustrated to Food & Wine, and was a newspaper writer for two decades, covering high school football for the Jacksonville News, and militant Islamic fundamentalism for The New York Times.

The winner of more than 50 significant writing awards in books and journalism, including, twice, the American Society of Newspaper Editors Distinguished Writing Award, Bragg is currently Professor of Writing in the Journalism Department at the University of Alabama, and lives in Tuscaloosa with his wife, Dianne, a doctoral student there, and his stepson, Jake.

The Brother Brothers

The Brother Brothers tour as an acoustic duo: David on cello and guitar, and Adam on the 5-string fiddle. With individual storied folk and bluegrass music careers under their belts, the brothers have finally teamed up to bring their experiences together. They released their EP “Tugboats” in January 2017 and are planning to release their follow up full length album in early 2018.

The artist Sarah Jarosz says: “The Brother Brothers have been in this together for life, and their familial connection comes through in the music, harkening back to some of the greatest family harmonies ever made. They approach their poignant and often charming songs with an almost startling sense of ease, and the tight harmonies are enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine.”

Cedric Burnside

Cedric Burnside is an American electric blues drummer, guitarist, singer and songwriter. He is the son of blues drummer Calvin Jackson and grandson of blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist R. L. Burnside. Amongst many others, Burnside has played drums, either live or on record, with R. L. Burnside, Jessie Mae Hemphill, John Hermann, Kenny Brown, Richard Johnston, Jimmy Buffett, T-Model Ford, Paul "Wine" Jones, Widespread Panic, Afrissippi, and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Burnside won his fourth overall, and third consecutive Blues Music Award in May 2014, in the category of 'Instrumentalist - Drums'. At Word of South he’ll participate in music and conversation with the historian and blues scholar Dr. William “Bill” Ferris.

Circus No.9

Based in East Tennessee, Circus No.9 is a new progressive acoustic group that embraces the influence of Bluegrass, Americana, and Folk. The group has appeared on stage alongside artists including David Grisman, Bryan Sutton, Larry Keel, and more. With awarded musicians Matthew Davis (2016 National Banjo Champion), Thomas Cassell (2016 Rockygrass Mandolin Champion), and Colin Hotz, Circus No.9 is taking the new acoustic scene by force.

The Conqueror Worm Suite

Ben Holmes & Patrick Farrell are a trumpet and accordion duo whose performances range from klezmer, original concert music and improvisation to interpretations of Romantic-era composers and more. They bring together a unique array of experiences to present a truly original program of music ranging from the 19th-21st century. In the "The Conqueror Worm Suite," they create a 6-part suite of music, words and images based on Edgar Allan Poe’s 1843 poem "The Conqueror Worm". Using Igor Stravinsky’s "The Soldier’s Tale" as a reference point, "The Conqueror Worm Suite" consists of a reading of the poem surrounded by original music inspired by it. Holmes and Farrell present their compositions, Poe's original text, and, in performance, a projected set of animated illustrations by the visual artist Natalie C. Sousa. 

Benjamin Crump

Through a steadfast dedication to justice and service to others, Benjamin Crump has established himself as one of the nation’s foremost attorneys and advocates for civil rights and social justice. His legal acumen as both a litigator and advocate has ensured that those most frequently marginalized in American society are protected by their nation’s contract with its constituency. He has successfully battled to protect constitutional rights at the local, state, and federal levels, using his advocacy skills and the high profile of the cases to provide a voice to those long silenced and hope to those pushed to the outside. Crump is the principal and owner of Ben Crump Law.

Benjamin Crump has served in leadership positions at the highest levels of the legal profession, and has been recognized for his efforts by numerous esteemed organizations. He served as the 73rd President of the National Bar Association and is President of the National Civil Rights Trial Lawyers Association. He was the first African-American to chair the Florida State University College of Law Board of Directors, and currently serves on the Innocence Project Board of Directors. He was bestowed the NAACP Thurgood Marshall Award, the SCLC Martin Luther King Servant Leader Award, the American Association for Justice Johnny Cochran Award, and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Eleanor Roosevelt Medallion for Service. In 2016, he was designated as an Honorary Fellow by the University of Pennsylvania College of Law, and he has been nationally recognized as the 2014 NNPA Newsmaker of the Year, The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Lawyers, and Ebony Magazine Power 100 Most Influential African Americans.

Attorney Crump has represented clients in some of the highest profile cases in the United States, recovering millions of dollars in damages for them. His work has involved the cases of Trayvon Martin, who was killed in Sanford, Florida, by a neighborhood watch volunteer; Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri; the precedent-setting U.S. Supreme Court case involving excessive force perpetrated against Robbie Tolan; and 10 of the 13 Black women who were victims in the Holtzclaw Oklahoma City Police rape case in 2015. His also has used his successes on the national stage to help ensure quality legal representation and access to the courts for poor people in his home community, serving as Board Chairman of Legal Services of North Florida and, with his former law partner Daryl Parks, donating $1 million to the organization’s capital campaign.

Currently, attorney Crump is the executive producer of the ground-breaking documentary, Woman in Motion, about Nichelle Nichols and the race to space. Nichols was among the first African-American actresses on TV and played Lieutenant Uhura in “Star Trek: The Original Series.” He is involved in "Who Killed Tupac" and the host of the critically acclaimed legal docudramas, “Evidence of Innocence” on TVOne and “The Search For Justice” on A&E. He can also be seen on Fox’s “You The Jury.” His CrumpWatch column, a legal essay on law, society, and culture, appears on NewsOne.com. He portrays legendary civil rights attorney Z. Alexander Lobby in the Hollywood movie production Marshall, and has appeared in the documentary Beating Justice, the story of the Martin Lee Anders on case, and BET’s I am Trayvon. He serves as host for the Benjamin Crump Social Justice Institute Annual Contemporary Issues in Civil Rights Symposium, where national thought leaders gather at Tennessee State University.

Benjamin L. Crump was born in 1969 in Lumberton, North Carolina. He graduated from Florida State University and received his law degree from Florida State University College of Law. He is married to Dr. Genae Angelique Crump, and is the proud father of Brooklyn Zeta Crump and legal guardian to Chancellor Isiah Crump and Jemarcus Olajuwan Crump.

Sean Dietrich

Sean Dietrich (“Sean of the South”) is a columnist and novelist, known for his commentary on life in the American South. His work has appeared in Southern Living, South Magazine, Yellowhammer News, Good Grit, the Bitter Southerner, Thom Magazine, and the Tallahassee Democrat, and he has authored seven novels.

Judith Dupré

New York Times bestselling author Judith Dupré writes about art, life, and architecture. Her illustrated nonfiction has been published in 14 languages, and is beloved by readers around the globe. She writes about history as revealed through a single building type, in books that include Skyscrapers, Bridges, Churches, Monuments, and, most recently, One World Trade Center: Biography of the Building. In addition to loving stories, she’s obsessed with discovering the limits of the printed page, something that’s evident in the dynamic designs and unique bindings of her books.  A graduate of Brown and Yale universities, Dupré is a 2015 National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar.

John T. Edge

John T. Edge is a contributing editor at Garden & Gun and a columnist for the Oxford American. For three years he wrote the monthly United Taste column for the New York Times. Edge is also director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi, where he documents, studies, and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the American South. His magazine and newspaper work has been featured in eleven editions of the Best Food Writing compilation. In 2012, he won the James Beard Foundation's M.F.K. Fisher Distinguished Writing Award. Edge has written or edited more than a dozen books, including The Potlikker Papers, a history of the modern South, from the lunch counter sit-ins of 1960 forward, published last year. He’ll be appearing at Word of South with the farmer Jenni Harris.

William "Bill" Ferris

Bill Ferris, a widely recognized leader in Southern studies, African American music, and folklore, is the Joel R. Williamson Eminent Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the senior associate director of UNC’s Center for the Study of the American South. He is also adjunct professor in the curriculum on folklore.

The former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Ferris has conducted thousands of interviews with musicians ranging from the famous (B.B. King) to the unrecognized (Parchman Penitentiary inmates working in the fields). He has written or edited 10 books and created 15 documentary films. He co-edited the massive Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (UNC Press, 1989), which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His other books include: Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues and The Storied South: Voices of Writers and Artists.

Bill Ferris’ films include “Mississippi Blues” (1983), which was featured at the Cannes Film Festival. He has produced numerous sound recordings and hosted “Highway 61,” a weekly blues program on Mississippi Public Radio for nearly a decade. He also has published his own poetry and short stories.

At Word of South he’ll participate in a conversation with the musician and songwriter Cedric Burnside.

Laura Freeman

Laura Freeman received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts and began her career working for various editorial clients. She has illustrated over twenty children's books, including Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, the Nikki & Deja series by Karen English and Fancy Party Gowns by Deborah Blumenthal. In addition to illustrating books and editorial content, her art can be found on a wide range of products, from dishes and textiles to greeting cards. Her debut as an author, Natalie’s Hair Was Wild, is available now.

The Fried Turkeys

The Fried Turkeys, based in Tallahassee, Florida, combine a surprising blend of truly original music and a uniquely eclectic selection of covers that will have you dripping in greasy, hippy, roots-country music. Soulful pedal steel, soaring vocal harmonies, a thumping rhythm section, dixieland piano lines, and a wooden Americana sound will have you tapping your feet and singing along.

Donnie Fritts

Donnie Fritts is a legendary artist and songwriter from Muscle Shoals, Alabama. He's known for his soulful songs, like "We Had It All" and "Breakfast In Bed." A recording artist in his own right, he has been Kris Kristofferson’s keyboardist for decades and released three outstanding albums featuring Tony Joe White, Eddie Hinton, Kris Kristofferson and John Prine. In 2008, he was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.

At Word of South Donnie will participate in a panel discussion on the significance of Muscle Shoals music, and will headline an all-star band playing the songs of the soul singer and songwriter Arthur Alexander.

The Good Little
Chickens

The Good Little Chickens is a young band out of Tallahassee that first took shape in Leon High School’s music program. The band’s name was inspired by guitar teacher Ed Prasse, who jokingly calls his students “good little chickens” if they play well, and “bad little chickens,” if they don’t. GLC lead guitarist and slide player Hub Chason III has also studied music with Luther Dickinson from the North Mississippi Allstars and the late drummer Butch Trucks, of Allman Brothers Band fame. The group’s sound is a mixture of blues, funk, contemporary pop and soul.  The lineup also includes Austin Boyd on drums, Jack Byerts on trombone and guitar, Ellis Chaires on tenor saxophone, Rebekah Hopkins on leads vocals, Josiah Pye on bass, Dylan Tucker on alto saxophone, Dawson Tucker on trumpet and Gilbert Voegtlin on piano.

Jenni Harris

Jenni Harris, Will's middle daughter, is the fifth generation of the Harris family to tend cattle at White Oak Pastures. After living on the farm her entire life, Jenni went to Valdosta State University and earned a degree in Business Marketing, graduating in 2009. She remained intimately involved in the family business throughout her studies. After graduating, Jenni set out to learn the industry. She moved to Atlanta where she interned at Buckhead Beef, a SYSCO company. She put in time in every department, from shipping and receiving to the cut shop, and was later hired to work as a sales associate. In June of 2010 Jenni returned home to Early County to work for White Oak Pastures full time. As the marketing manager, Jenni travels the East Coast promoting her family’s grassfed beef and lamb and pastured poultry to distributors, retailers, and restaurateurs. She’ll be appearing at Word of South with the writer John T. Edge.

Mark Hinson

Columnist Mark Hinson, who is a fifth generation North Floridian, has written for the Tallahassee Democrat and Tallahassee.com, both part of the USA Today Network, for more than 25 years. He has covered the arts and entertainment scene in the Capital City for the same amount time. Over his long career, Hinson has interviewed and written about such musical figures as Mavis Staples, Philip Glass, George Clinton, Ella Fitzgerald, Renée Fleming, Jim White, Bo Diddley, Sam Moore, Alan Parson, Billy Preston and many more. He’ll be discussing music and the arts at Word of South with the NPR music critic Ken Tucker.

Honeysuckle

Honeysuckle is a progressive folk act that blends older influences and traditional instrumentation with modern effects and inspiration. Comprised of Holly McGarry, Benjamin Burns, and Chris Bloniarz, this Boston-based band has performed at the Newport Folk Festival, Lollapalooza and CMJ, was chosen as a Converse Rubber Tracks artist, and has been nominated for Best Folk Artist of the Year and Best Americana Artist of the Year three years in a row at the annual Boston Music Awards. They were also put in the Top 10 bands of 2016 So Far list compiled by NPR. 

Honeysuckle recently released their sophomore album, "Catacombs." They also have two previous titles: "Honeysuckle" (full length 2016) and "Arrows" (EP 2015). 

David Hood

David Hood is a bassist from Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Hood started his career playing with the Mystics and as a backup musician at FAME Studios. He went on to co-found Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, where he produced songs for Willie Nelson, Cher and others. He played bass on albums by Boz Scaggs, Cat Stevens, Paul Simon, Bob Seger, Bugs Bunny, Traffic, the Staple Singers, Frank Black, Odetta, John Hiatt, Etta James, John Altenburgh, Johnny & The MoTones and Percy Sledge. Hood appeared in 2009 on Klaus Voormann's solo album A Sideman's Journey. He participated in the latest Waterboys album, Modern Blues, recorded mainly in Nashville, and afterward toured with them. He is a member of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.

At Word of South he’ll participate in a panel discussion on the significance of Muscle Shoals music, and will play as part of the Donnie Fritts band the songs of the soul singer and songwriter Arthur Alexander.

Patterson Hood

Patterson Hood is a musician and songwriter living in Portland, Oregon, a co-founder of the band Drive-By Truckers and the son of David Hood, the longtime bassist of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (who is also appearing at Word of South). At Word of South Patterson will be appearing on the Bitter Southerner Stage on Saturday for a panel discussion on the significance of Muscle Shoals music, and on Sunday for a solo performance.

The Jacob Jolliff Band

Jacob Jolliff is one of the country's premier contemporary mandolinists. In 2012, he won the National Mandolin Championship in Winfield, KS. A fixture of the national bluegrass community, he has shared the stage with Darol Anger, Sam Bush, Ronnie McCoury, Jerry Douglas, and David Grisman, to name a few. In 2014, he joined the progressive bluegrass giant, Yonder Mountain String Band. Jolliff's new solo project, The Jacob Jolliff Band, is a next generation bluegrass supergroup. The ensemble features some of the most virtuosic and innovative young pickers in the country. The band features his long-time partner-in-crime, Alex Hargreaves, a winner of the Grand Masters Fiddle Championship, on fiddle, Stash Wyslouch on guitar and Jeff Picker on drums.

Darius Jones

Darius Jones is an extraordinarily gifted alto saxophonist and composer. He joined the New York music community in 2005, after living and studying in Richmond, VA. During his time in New York he has amazed and inspired musicians and audiences from widely divergent backgrounds with his meticulously honed musical gifts. Soul-power is at his foundation; forward-looking expression always at the core. Darius' 2012 release, Book of Mæ'bul (Another Kind of Sunrise) was listed among NPR's Best Top 10 Jazz Albums of that year. He will appear at Word of South with author Catherine Lacey.

Catherine Lacey

Catherine Lacey is the author of The Answers and Nobody Is Ever Missing. She has won a Whiting Award, was a finalist for the NYPL's Young Lions Fiction Award, and was named one of Granta Magazine's Best Young American Novelists. Her work has been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, Dutch & German. With Forsyth Harmon, she co-authored a nonfiction book, The Art of the Affair. Her first short story collection, Certain American States, is forthcoming from Farrar Straus & Giroux. Based in Chicago, she is the 2017-2018 Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi. She’ll be appearing at Word of South with the saxophonist Darius Jones.

Irene Latham

Irene Latham is the author of more than a dozen current and forthcoming books, including two novels for children: Leaving Gee's Bend and Don't Feed the Boy. Winner of the 2016 ILA Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, her poetry books for children include Dear Wandering Wildebeest, When the Sun Shines on Antarctica, Fresh Delicious and Can I Touch Your Hair? (co-written with Charles Waters). Irene lives in Alabama with her family where she does her best to “live her poem” every single day by laughing, playing the cello, and walking in the woods.

Laura Lee Smith

Laura Lee Smith is the author of the novels The Ice House and Heart of Palm. Her short fiction has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories and New Stories From the South: The Year’s Best. A writer who’s been praised for her “intelligence, heart, and wit”, Smith has won awards and accolades from across the United States, and her work has been translated into German and French. She lives in Florida, where she writes fiction and works as a copywriter.

Allison Moorer

Allison Moorer is an American alt-country singer. Since her debut in 1998, she’s released seven albums and had five singles reach the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, and her songs have appeared in movies ranging from “The Rookie” to “Moonshiners” to “The Horse Whisperer.” She and her sister, Shelby Lynn, released a collaborative album in 2017 entitled “Not Dark Yet,” and are currently working on another.

Bill Morrison

Bill Morrison is a New York-based filmmaker and artist, whose films often combine rare archival material set to contemporary music. His work was honored with a mid-career retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, NY, from October 2014 – March 2015. Morrison is a Guggenheim fellow and has received the Alpert Award for the Arts, an NEA Creativity Grant, Creative Capital, and a fellowship from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. His theatrical projection design has been recognized with two Bessie awards and an Obie Award. Morrison has collaborated with some of the most influential composers and performers of our time, including John Adams, Maya Beiser, Gavin Bryars, Dave Douglas, Richard Einhorn, Erik Friedlander, Bill Frisell, Philip Glass, Michael Gordon, Michael Harrison, Ted Hearne, Vijay Iyer, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Kronos Quartet, David Lang, David T. Little, Michael Montes, Steve Reich, Todd Reynolds, Aleksandra Vrebalov, and Julia Wolfe, among many others.

The Novel Ideas

The Novel Ideas are a country-folk quartet from Massachusetts that has earned a reputation from music critics and fans for their moving four-part harmonies and rich Americana sound. From rock clubs to living rooms to festival stages, the band strives to convey honesty and intimacy through their music. Featuring the voices of three songwriters, their newly-released self-titled album showcases the band at its best. The Novel Ideas represent a contribution to the country-folk scene that balances love-and-loss melancholy with thoughtful instrumentation and intricate vocal arrangements.

Longineu Parsons

Longineu Parsons has been hailed by critics internationally as being one of the world’s finest trumpet players. He also performs on recorders, flute, percussion and is a vocalist. Longineu performs classical and jazz on trumpet and his compositions include orchestral works and chamber music as well as jazz and world music. He is the protégé of the great cornetist, Nat Adderley and performs regularly with pianist, Nat Adderley Jr.

Longineu is founder and president of Tribal Records and he has produce and engineered recordings from traditional to modern jazz as well as classical, R&B and world music. Longineu’s musical history is very stylistically inclusive as is represented in his various musical projects. Longineu has performed and recorded with such greats as Cab Calloway, Nat Adderley, Cecil Taylor, Nancy Wilson, Joe Williams, Herbie Mann, Frank Foster, Mal Waldron, Philly Joe Jones, Archie Shepp, Sun Ra, Sam Rivers, David Murray, Billy Harper, and many others.

Longineu holds a BS degree in Music from Florida A&M University and Master of Music in classical trumpet from the University of Florida. He has also had supplementary jazz studies at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and holds a Ph.D in Composition from the University of Florida. He is currently Professor of Trumpet and Composition at Florida A&M University and President of Tribal Records, Inc. Longineu will be appearing at Word of South with the writer Kent Spriggs.

Pickle Pie

Educator and musician Seth Warden started his career as a children’s recording artist in the summer of 2011 with the release of “Hi, Hello, How do you do?.” Seth and his wife, Tanika teamed up with local artist and illustrator Kara Kniffen to create a picture book based on their song, “Pickle Pie.” They released their second children’s book Little Lady Bug in 2013. Seth teamed up with local violinist Doug Moody and percussionist Brian Melick to start performing “Hi, Hello, How Do You Do?,” at local festivals, libraries and community events and soon thereafter the album was on the shelves of local bookstores. In 2014, Seth released “Instrumental Lullabies,” geared towards infants and young children and a third book release, Playful Poems. In addition to writing and recording music for the band, Seth has combined his music and educational background to develop enrichment and character education programs to bring to local school districts.

RAM

RAM is a drum-roots-driven powerhouse band from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, that derives its name from the initials of its founder, songwriter and lead vocalist, Richard A. Morse. After 25 years of consistently producing quality music, they recently released “Manmanm Se Ginen,” their sixth album - the first in over a decade. In RAM’s music, ancient folkloric polyrhythms intertwine harmoniously with punk rock guitar riffs and swinging Caribbean keyboard melodies, led by the entrancing singer, Lunise, for a truly magical experience. During the years of the military junta of Raoul Cédras, one of the band’s singles, “Fey,” was banned nationwide by the military authorities who perceived it to be a song of support for the exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The band continued to play weekly concerts in defiance of death threats from the regime until Morse only narrowly escaped kidnapping. In 1998 the band clashed with the newly elected mayor of Port-au-Prince, a supporter of Aristide, and survived an assassination attempt during their Carnival performance. They play on Thursdays at Hotel Oloffson in Port Au Prince- where RAM has consistently gigged for the last 25 years, as well as international concerts and festivals in places ranging from the U.S. to France to the UK to Mexico and Brazil.

RAM will appear at Word of South with author Bob Shacochis.

Chuck Reece

Chuck Reece is the editor of The Bitter Southerner, an online magazine that tells the stories of the new South - pieces about bartenders, musicians, cooks, designers, farmers, scientists, innovators, writers, thinkers and craftsmen - showing the reader the spots that make the South a far better place than most folks think it is. Chuck will be moderating a panel discussion at Word of South on the significance of Muscle Shoals music, featuring John Paul White, Donnie Fritts, Patterson Hood and David Hood.

Jason Reynolds

Jason Reynolds is the author of young adult novels including Ghost, a National Book Award finalist for Young People's Literature. Reviewing Ghost in the New York Times, Kate Messner said that in his title character, Reynolds has created a protagonist "whose journey is so genuine that he’s worthy of a place alongside Ramona and Joey Pigza on the bookshelves where our most beloved, imperfect characters live." Reynolds is also the author of As Brave As You, which won the 2016 Kirkus Prize and the 2017 Schneider Family Book Award, Long Way Down and Miles Morales: Spider-Man, among other works. He encourages people to read and aims to not write boring books.

Diane Roberts

If you are a fan of the FSU Seminoles or a resident of Florida, you know – or should know – about the writings of Tallahassee’s own Diane Roberts. Her latest book, Tribal, a comic, critical analysis of a Southern intellectual’s love of FSU football and distaste for the excesses that go with it, made several Best of Book lists in 2015. Dr. Roberts is a professor of creative writing at Florida State who received her undergraduate degree at FSU and doctorate at Oxford University in England. The author of four books, she is known for her spot-on interpretations of Southern culture and her sardonic sense of humor. She writes op-ed articles for major newspapers and has been a commentator for NPR and the BBC. Diane will be appearing at Word of South with Eliza Borné, the publisher of the Oxford American.

Michael Rothenberg &
The Ecosound Ensemble

Two years ago, Michael Rothenberg, co-founder of the global arts movement 100 Thousand Poets for Change, moved to Tallahassee from California where his life's work had been one of intimate collaboration with the original Beat writers. Friend, publisher and editor of many of the Beat writers, Rothenberg learned from the source about music and poetry collaborative performance, and in his own work he has pushed the boundaries of that form into a new realm and manifestation, evidenced by his work with the recently organized Ecosound Ensemble, an all-star lineup of Tallahassee's most dynamic musicians. The Ecosound Ensemble includes Brian Hall (upright bass), Vivianne Asturizaga (flute and piccolo), Michael Bakan (drums and percussion), Joel Johnson (guitar), Bradley White (didgeridoo), and Mason Margut (Piano). Rothenberg has been writing and performing poetry for nearly 40 years. He has published over 20 books of poetry and is co-founder of the global poetry and arts movement, 100 Thousand Poets for Change. As recipient of the Creative Work Fund Grant he has performed his poetry with The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Bob Malone (John Fogerty), Johnny Lee Schell (Bonnie Raitt), Debra Dobkins (Richard Thompson), John B. Williams (Freddy Hubbard), Joe Sublette (Taj Mahal, Eric Clapton), and Marty Ehrlich (Anthony Braxton, John Zorn).

Tony Schwalm

Tony Schwalm is a retired lieutenant colonel with the US Army Special Forces (aka the Green Berets). A veteran of multiple combat deployments around the world, he is currently assigned to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan as a Department of the Army Civilian leading a group of social scientists supporting special operation forces in that war-torn country. With “a fresh, authentic voice” (Publishers Weekly), Tony Schwalm takes readers deep inside the grueling training on the notorious Q course, required for all Special Forces soldiers before they can join the elite Green Berets that defend our country in nontraditional operations, in his book The Guerilla Factory.

Bob Shacochis

Bob Shacochis is one of America’s most provocative and accomplished writers. His story collection Easy in the Islands won the National Book Award, and his novel Swimming in the Volcano was a National Book Award finalist. His most recent novel, The Woman Who Lost Her Soul, was the winner of the Dayton International Literary Peace Prize and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. His most recent work is a collection of his travel and adventure essays, Kingdoms in the Air, published in 2016. He lives in Florida and New Mexico, and teaches at Florida State University.

He will appear at Word of South with the musical group RAM.

Katy Simpson Smith

Katy Simpson Smith is the author of We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835, and the novels The Story of Land and Sea and Free Men. Her writing has also appeared in The Oxford American, Granta, Literary Hub, Garden & Gun, Catapult, and Lenny. Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, she attended Mount Holyoke College and received a PhD in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. She lives in New Orleans.

Kent Spriggs

Kent Spriggs has been a civil rights lawyer for more than five decades. He specialized in large class actions seeking to vindicate employment rights of blacks and women. He authored the critically acclaimed two-volume Representing Plaintiffs in Title VII Actions (2d Edition Panel Publications 1998), and most recently edited Voices of Civil Rights Lawyers: Reflections from the Deep South, 1964-1980, published in 2017. He has served as a Tallahassee City Commissioner and Mayor, and will appear at Word of South for a program on Voices with the trumpeter Longineu Parsons.

Byron Stripling

Since his Carnegie Hall debut with Skitch Henderson and the New York Pops, Byron Stripling has become a pops orchestra favorite, soloing with the Boston Pops, the National Symphony, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Cincinnati Pops, the Seattle Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony, the Vancouver Symphony, the Toronto Symphony, and the Dallas Symphony, to name a few. He has been a featured soloist at the Hollywood Bowl and on the PBS television special, "Evening at Pops," with conductors John Williams and Keith Lockhart. Currently, Stripling serves as artistic director and conductor of the highly acclaimed Columbus Jazz Orchestra. At Word of South he’ll team up with the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra’s Jazz Ensemble for an afternoon of gospel and jazz.

Tallahassee Symphony
Jazz Orchestra

Sophisticated, cheeky, and always fun, the Tallahassee Symphony Jazz Orchestra combines the best in jazz with the lush sounds of strings.  Led by drummer Leon Anderson, TSOJazz unites outstanding musicians from FSU and FAMU with the TSO.  Exploring jazz music from its roots in the 1920’s all the way to the present day, TSOJazz is a celebration of America’s unique and influential art form that swings, bops, croons, and wails! Since its creation in 2014, TSOJazz has featured great singers such as Avis Berry, Carmen Bradford, and Deborah Brown. 

Tedeschi Trucks Band

The Tedeschi Trucks Band journey began on April 1, 2010 with their first gig at the Savannah Music Festival, and led to the recording and release of their Grammy-winning debut album “Revelator” in 2011, and “Made Up Mind” two years later. During their five-year rise, the group toured incessantly, raising their profile and being handpicked to play with the likes of Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, and Santana; to appear on television shows hosted by Jay Leno, Conan, and on the premiere of Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show; and hosting special all-star musical salutes themselves, including Bonnaroo’s Superjam in 2014 (with Chaka Khan, Anthony Hamilton, Taj Mahal, and others), and Lock’n Festival’s Tribute to Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen in 2015 (with Leon Russell, Rita Coolidge, and many other original members.). What began as an eight-piece group has now expanded to an onstage lineup of twelve musicians—a lineup that has remained unusually consistent—known as one of the best live acts in the nation. 2017 featured the release of the band’s “Live from the Fox Oakland” album, and a new album is in the works.

The Jerry Thigpen Trio

In 2013 North Florida regional favorites Jerry Thigpen, Pete Winter, and Jimmy Bone combined their talent and experience toward creating a new musical synergy. Their self-titled debut album was released in 2016 with an encore album anticipated in late spring 2018.

Known for their engaging live performances, the Trio's straight-forward and relatable songwriting showcases strong vocals musically seasoned by blues, rock, British invasion and Americana influences. Reminiscent of other high energy trios (Cream, Police, ZZ Top) the Jerry Thigpen Trio delivers the goods like a band twice its size.

Ken Tucker

Ken Tucker reviews rock, country, hip-hop and pop music for National Public Radio’s Fresh Air. A cultural critic, he has been the editor-at-large at Entertainment Weekly and a film critic for New York Magazine. His work has won two National Magazine Awards and two ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards. He has written book reviews for The New York Times Book Review and other publications. Tucker is the author of Scarface Nation: The Ultimate Gangster Movie and Kissing Bill O'Reilly, Roasting Miss Piggy: 100 Things to Love and Hate About Television. He’ll be interviewed at Word of South by fellow attendee Mark Hinson.

Jeff VanderMeer

Jeff VanderMeer grew up in the Fiji Islands and currently lives in Tallahassee, Florida. His critically acclaimed New York Times-bestselling Southern Reach Trilogy has been published in 20 countries, and the Paramount Pictures film of the first book in the trilogy, Annihilation, starring Natalie Portman, has just been released. VanderMeer's nonfiction has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Atlantic, Washington Post, the Guardian, and many more. Jeff will be appearing at Word of South with some feathered friends.

Suzanne Vega

Suzanne Vega emerged as a leading figure of the folk-music revival of the early 1980s when, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, she sang what has been labeled contemporary folk or neo-folk songs of her own creation in Greenwich Village clubs. Since the release of her self-titled, critically acclaimed 1985 debut album, she has given sold-out concerts in many of the world’s best-known halls. In performances devoid of outward drama that nevertheless convey deep emotion, Vega sings in a distinctive, clear vibrato-less voice that has been described as “a cool, dry sandpaper- brushed near-whisper” and as “plaintive but disarmingly powerful.” She’ll perform at Word of South some of her work set to the words of Carson McCullers, as well as other tunes.

Loudon Wainwright III

Loudon Wainwright III is a songwriter, humorist, actor, and now, memoirist. He’s known for his acting as Captain Calvin Spalding the singing surgeon on “M*A*S*H*”, and on films ranging from “Big Fish” to “The Forty-Year Old Virgin”. Three of his albums (“I’m Alright,” “More Love Songs” and “High Wide and Handsome, The Charlie Poole Project”) have been nominated for Grammy awards, with “High Wide” winning Best Traditional Folk Album in 2010. And now he’s written a memoir, Liner Notes: On Parents and Children, Exes and Excess, Death and Decay & A Few of My Other Favorite Things, which he will read from and sign copies of at Word of South.

Ken Waldman

Ken Waldman is an author and musician. A former college professor with an MFA in Creative Writing, he's been a visiting writer at nearly 100 colleges and universities, a visiting artist at over 230 schools in 33 states, and has led workshops from Alaska to Maine. His nine CDs of old-time Appalachian-style string-band music include two for children. His nine books consist of seven full-length poetry collections, a memoir about his life as a touring artist, and a volume of acrostic poems for kids. As a performer, he's played from the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage to Berkeley's Freight and Salvage, occasionally as a soloist, more often as leader of one of his ever-changing troupes of nationally recognized musicians.

John Paul White

John Paul White is an American singer-songwriter and a former member of the duo The Civil Wars, which won the 2012 Grammy Awards for the best Folk Album and Country Performance by a Duo or Group and recorded four albums. A co-owner of "Single Lock Records," his new album, "Beulah", was released in 2016. At Word of South John Paul will participate on a panel discussing the significance of Muscle Shoals music, he’ll join the Donnie Fritts band in playing the songs of the soul singer and songwriter Arthur Alexander, and he’ll also do a solo show with his own band.