In 1973, about the time that I found the como fife and drum corp, I discovered the work of Bill Ferris. Bill’s LP, Mississippi Folk Voices, features tracks of Napoleon Strickland and his como band, Sam Chatmon, the Prisoners from Parchman, and others. At that time, Bill’s vinyl anthology was a gold mine for young listeners learning about Mississippi’s cultural heritage. A 55-page book came along to help study his research.
When I think of Bill Ferris “hero” is the first word that comes to my mind. His lifetime of exploring, experiencing, interpreting and then sharing our culture is epic. When I mention great Mississippians of my generation, Bill Ferris’s contributions rank near the top.
Left: Bill Ferris filming by Hester Magnuson, The Storied South @ Copyright 2013.
Over the years I have had occasions to work with Bill selling his fine books. Twenty-five years ago opening his Encyclopedia of Southern Culture at Hal and Mal’s was a Southern Nostalgic Blast. However, when I did a book signing for Bill’s Mule Book at the Jim Buck Ross Ag Center “Mule Pull” gathering with Bill riding a mule in the center ring, waving to the crowd is my most talked about Ferris memory.
Lemuria is proud to announce Bill’s new book, The Storied South, as a special First Editions Club selection for August. To have Bill as a new member of our heralded line of First Edition Club authors is a great honor for us. We acknowledge not just his fine book but his lifetime of literary contribution.
Bill’s ability to relate the creative legacies of his friends through conversation is unparalleled. With Bill’s relaxing interview skills, these folks come alive, and the reader is brought into the room and is spoken to directly and intimately. In this way The Storied South is a unique and enjoyable book.
Also special with this First Editions Club choice is the inclusion of Bill’s jacket photo and the opening section with our own Eudora Welty. First Editions Club started in 1993 and Miss Welty’s work was never included. Her last Lemuria public book signing was when Morgana came out. Eudora signed with Mildred Nungster Wolfe (illustrator) but in consideration of Miss Welty’s arthritis we chose never to ask for her signature again. Mildred and Eudora pictured below.
Now with Bill’s new interview in book form I feel Miss Welty is now also included in our club. Bill’s interpretive genius comes through with Eudora’s chat (or essay). For me, reading her words, I feel this body of work could be included as an epilogue to her beloved One Writer’s Beginnings.
So with all this being said, Lemuria is happy to celebrate jointly with the work of our two Mississippi heroes. Also, thrown in are the marvelous interviews with Robert Penn Warren, Margaret Walker Alexander, Alex Haley, and many more.
For desert, another Lemuria hero, Jackson’s own–and one-of-a-kind–Bobby Rush. And for your after dinner drink, Bill’s Storied South comes with a CD and DVD.
Bill Ferris will be at Lemuria Saturday, August 24 at 4:00 for a signing and talk to follow.
The Storied South: Voices of Writers and Artists by William Ferris, University of North Carolina Press, 2013. If you’d like us to ship you a copy, click here. Or give us a call and we’ll reserve a copy for you: 601.366.7619Written by John