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It's on weekends like this one that I wish I had never stepped foot in Southern California, let alone been born and raised there. This weekend marks the annual return of Coachella. Coachella is a music festival very much along the lines of what Woodstock used to be, or what Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza are today. Except for some reason I find it so much more annoying than any other music festival. Perhaps it's the SoCal vocal fry that I add to the name whenever it pops up in a social media feed, or how clothes seem to become optional as long as you're wearing a daisy chain. But luckily for me I am nowhere near it. Luckily for me I'm still down in Mississippi with my best friend Blake (singer/songwriter also born and raised in LA) where the legendary Juke Joint Blues Fest just so happens to be in full swing.

So screw Coachella, we're eating grilled pimento cheese sandwiches, sipping sweet tea, and listening to blues music being played where it was born and bred. The Mississippi Delta: Birthplace of both The Southern Debutante Assembly and The Blues.

We had the most wonderful day just walking around downtown Clarksdale today, and admittedly doing a bit of a photoshoot to document our trip. It was an amazing example of how something as universal as music can bring people together from all walks of life.

Me, a debutante from quite literally the other side of the tracks.

Blake, a gay man from LA.

The diverse population of Clarksdale. White, black, young, old, men, women children (including a man who fashioned his own arm rest out of a cinder block and a traffic cone).

We all gathered in this one square mile for the same thing: music.

There was a man who after a short conversation with us declared, "You two are by far the weirdest people I have EVER met". After he stumbled away, obviously drunk, we had a good laugh about how the feeling was decidedly mutual, but hey - three people who couldn't be any more different from one another met because we have one thing in common... the love of music.

That is why make music. It truly is the universal language. And while I'm sure the same could be said of Coachella, that it brings people together, there's just something about being in this place, a place plagued by a history of intolerance and closed mindedness, and not seeing any of that, but instead seeing a people with common interest and mutual respect. It's also free, which takes away any sense of hierarchy or privilege. Tickets aren't sold to the highest bidder a year in advance. It is there for whoever wants to take part. No matter who they are, or where they come from, they can share in this experience. And that is something truly special.

Tomorrow we both head back to LA. I think we’re going to miss it down here.

I already can’t get back quick enough.

With Grace and Good Humor,

My name is Mary Lane Haskell and my two "claims to fame" are that I have Dolly Parton's fax number and that Reese Witherspoon once liked a post on my Instagram.  I am an actor, a writer, and a profound Chipotle enthusiast making my way in Los Angeles while trying to stay true to my family's southern roots, all with grace and a touch a good humor.  I'm so glad you're here!


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