David Swider owns The End of All Music record store, offering thousands of vinyl records and cd’s to the music enthusiast. David knows a thing or two about the diverse music scene Oxford has to offer and he’s picked out some highlights for us below:

North Mississippi is steeped in the music of hill-country blues, country, and gospel. Oxford, being the home of Ole Miss, is also a revolving door of new music covering nearly every genre as well as a robust live music scene with local and nationally touring acts playing nightly at one of downtown’s multiple venues. Many come to Oxford for the literature, the food, or a football game and the music is always an added bonus.

For music lovers, a good place to start is upstairs at Square Books in the excellent music section. Grab a cup of coffee from the Square Books café and browse the many titles on Blues, Country, Gospel and Rock. They have everything Peter Guralnick has written from his go-to biography on Elvis to his latest book on Sun Records founder, Sam Phillips. Square Books also carries many academic music books written by local scholars and critics including guidebooks for searching out blues holy sites and juke joints in the surrounding area and throughout Mississippi.

The End of All Music record store
The End of All Music record store

Next up, head just a few miles north of the Square to The End of All Music where you’ll find thousands of new and pre-loved records. The shop specializes in vinyl records but carries CDs as well.   The record store is also the unofficial storefront for local indie label Fat Possum Records. Located in Oxford, Fat Possum got its start releasing hill-country blues records by artists like R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, T. Model Ford and many other notable blues and rock artist including the Black Keys. Now days the label focuses on newer indie-rock bands as well as reissues.

The University of Mississippi is the home of the Mississippi blues archives, which is open to the public and worth checking out for any hardcore fan of the blues. The archive acquires and preserves blues and blues-related materials in a variety of formats for scholars of the blues, African American studies, and southern culture. Located on the top floor of the J.D. Williams Library on the Ole Miss campus, the archive always has on display blues posters and ephemera and is worth the walk through the beautiful campus.

Courtesy of the University of Mississippi Libraries
Courtesy of the University of Mississippi Libraries

Sprinkled throughout the state and beyond you’ll find the Mississippi Blues Trail markers denoting important locations in blues history and folklore. Free maps of these markers are available at the Visit Oxford office as well as The End of All Music. You’ll find the “Oxford Blues” marker right downtown on the north side of the Square which focuses on the North Mississippi Hill Country Blues. You’ll also find the “Documenting the Blues” marker on campus next to the library.

Oxford nightlife is where you’ll find live music nearly every night of the week. Some notable venues include Proud Larry’s, The Blind Pig, and Rooster’s Blues Club, or catch national acts at The Lyric Theatre just off the Square. An up-to-date schedule of live music can be found in The Local Voice—a free alternative bi-weekly newspaper, which can be picked up at numerous locations around town.

Mavis Staples performing at the Double Decker Arts Festival

During the fall and spring semesters you can catch Thacker Mountain Radio—a live radio show broadcast from Off Square Books that features live music and readings. The show airs every Thursday night at 6 p.m. and is free to attend.

Mississippi is the home to hundreds of blues and music festivals throughout the year. Oxford hosts the Double Decker Arts festival, which takes place the last weekend of April every spring and showcases local and nationally touring music acts. The North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic is held every June just north of Oxford in Pots Camp, Mississippi. The two-day blues festival features on-site camping and a full lineup of local blues acts. Bring your sunscreen and ice water because it gets hot. For a full list of blues festivals check out the calendar on the Mississippi Blues Trail website.