From the Publisher

People_BirneyNRabbitFayetteStory Birney Imes

One of the unanticipated perks of magazine publishing is you go out to eat with interesting people.

Those outings have included an evening at a steakhouse on the outskirts of Sulligent, Alabama, with fabled singer-songwriter Dan Penn, his wife and mother-in-law; iced tea and sandwiches in a motel diner in Aberdeen with makeup artist to the stars, “Billy B” Brasfield; a barbecue supper followed by a spelling bee at a Mennonite school in Noxubee County; a catfish dinner at the Sparta Opry in Webster County while being serenaded by area country music luminaries; and a luscious fried green tomato sandwich at Saw’s Soul Kitchen in Avondale, Alabama, with my daughter/photographer.

And then there are the talented people we’ve been able to collaborate with.

After the steak dinner with Dan, I returned to his home in the wilds of Lamar County with photographer Whitten Sabbatini to photograph the man who produced “The Letter” and wrote songs recorded by Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin and Percy Sledge.

With Whitten I visited the phantasmagoric studio of Elayne Goodman and a greenhouse filled with oak seedlings, gorgeous in their fall color, to photograph Toxey Haas, the mastermind behind Mossy Oak Outdoors.

Other field trips have involved singer/songwriter Paul Thorn, writers Michael F. Smith and Deborah Johnson and uber economic recruiter Joe Max Higgins.

“I’m jumping into the mosh pit,” Joe Max said as he donned a Santa Claus suit for the Winter 2013 cover shot by Martin Howard.

Martin, who by day is a pathologist, has been our go-to fashion photographer. Martin has stories:

“We were shooting the Pridmore sisters at Plymouth Bluff for the Summer 2014 edition. It had rained a few days before and the water was cascading off the bluff into the river. Stacy wanted a shot of Chase in front of the waterfall. I explained to Stacy that to get the angle she wanted I would have to wade waist-deep into the river and crouch down. Her response: ‘Take one for the team, Martin.’ It’s been our mantra on every shoot since.”

Jan Swoope, whose stories sparkle and are marvels of economy, has been an essential contributor. Same for photographer Luisa Porter, who is remarkable in her ability to put subjects at ease, not an instinctive human response when looking down the barrel of a Nikon.

We’ve published so many gifted writers: Carmen Sisson, Jason Browne, Slim Smith, William Browning, to name a few. Locals have contributed columns. Letters home from area expatriates living in far-off places have enhanced our understanding of the larger world … and of home.

And, then there is Stacy, who orchestrates all this creative activity and through whom it is channeled into a magazine.

We are grateful to all who have opened your living rooms, kitchens and studios to us. And, we thank our readers and supporters, who we value as collaborators.

When we began five years ago, we knew our area to be inordinately blessed with generous, creative, accomplished people. Not only have we found that to be true, we’ve come to realize there are an infinite number of stories here to tell. With your support, we will continue telling them.

CatfishAt5