It’s Wednesday. Let’s Rock.

We start the year with some new reasons to get excited about Southern rock and roll. One more time.

The Kletz brothers’ parents fight in the yard in their underwear /
Bobby and Jimmy sit in the baby pool with lice in their hair.

Put that 21st century plastic kiddie pool in the front yard of Mrs. Hopewell’s house in 1955, and you’d swear Flannery herself wrote that scene. Instead, those words come from a North Carolina songwriter named Karly Hartzman who fronts a band of Gen Zs from Haw Creek called Wednesday.

Young Southerners making oddball rock and roll. Because I spent my delightful college years being part of the early-’80s upheaval led by R.E.M., I am drawn to and excited—deeply—by the story of Wednesday. Their third proper album, Rat Saw God, bobbed up in the indie-rock ocean back in April and created gigantic waves. After their formation in the late 2010s, four of the band’s five members lived on the same rented tract of land in Haw Creek, east of Asheville, and the fifth, who properly lived in Durham, had a particular couch to himself there.

It all reminds me how, forty years ago, bands lived in shabby rental houses scattered in the countryside around Athens, in places like Arnoldsville and Winterville and Bishop, making art on the cheap. But the difference in Wednesday’s generation of bands—and Wednesday in particular—is how they’ve cannonballed into the Southern Gothic territory of O’Connor and Faulkner and photographers like Sally Mann and William Christenberry with their lyrics and imagery.

The sharp young music writer Grace Robins-Somerville brings us a story that will introduce you to Wednesday, plus a passel of other young Southern bands that, each in their own way, play into the same territory. And into that story, we’ve embedded Rat Bastards of Haw Creek, a half-hour documentary about the band released by their friend, filmmaker Zach Romeo, in October.

This Week-01

—“The New Southern Gothic Rock,” by Grace Robins-Somerville
—“One on One,” by Drew Bratcher
—“What the Farm Carried,” a poem by Terry Huff

Personal confession: I ain’t been this excited about a young Southern band in a really long time, and my buddy Patterson Hood, whose Drive-By Truckers took Wednesday on the road with them for ten dates last summer, told me this week, “Wednesday is my favorite band right now.”

We’re also proud to welcome Drew Brasher, a tremendous Tennessee essayist and journalist whose 2022 collection Bub: Essays from Just North of Nashville, is a great read. He joins the ranks of Salvation South contributors with "One on One,” an essay about the painful joys of parenting—and basketball. And we fill out our first full publication week of the new year with another Tennessee writer, poet Terry Huff, with “What the Farm Carried.”

We hope 2024 is rocking along nicely for all y’all.

Author Profile

Chuck Reece is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Salvation South, the weekly web magazine you're reading right now. He was the founding editor of The Bitter Southerner. He grew up in the north Georgia mountains in a little town called Ellijay.

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