Mourners of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Billy Powell Create Record-Breaking Visits to

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The recent death of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Billy Powell led to record visitors at the newly launched, which posted a 110% increase in visitors and a 69% increase in pageviews from its previous highs. Actor/writer/ musician Billy Bob Thornton and others provided exclusive thoughts on the passing of Billy Powell to features thousands of pages of content that cover all areas of the "Cultures of the South."

her perspective remains essential because, out of all of us, she has probably seen the most change here., a recently launched website that focuses on the many cultures of the American South, has seen a traffic explosion in the wake of the deaths of Lynyrd Skynyrd's Billy Powell.

"We are a new and developing site, but lots of people have found us overnight in the wake of this tragic passing," says founder, Jim Markel.

Yesterday, posted its highest traffic numbers to date largely from southerners devastated by the surprising news of Powell's death. Swampland posted a 110% increase in visitors and a 69% increase in pageviews from its previous highs that coincided with the death of Delaney Bramlett, another southern legend, at the end of December 2008. features thousands of pages of content that cover all areas of the "Cultures of the South." Obvious subjects like music and sports are placed alongside other points of interest like film and literature (Discourse), food (Victuals), travel (Wayfaring), business (Merchantry), art (Manner), and history (Lore).

When GRITZ Magazine, founded and lead by South Carolinian Michael Buffalo Smith (aka "Ambassador of Southern Rock") merged with, the site instantly became a top destination for Southern Rock fans. Smith has written about this music for over a decade creating long standing relationships with many of that eras stars. Billy Bob Thornton, Chuck Leavell (Allman Brothers Band), and others contributed their thoughts and condolences that were published yesterday on

"In many ways, Southern Rock represents nexus point for the South, and its large baby boomer population. It was an era that produced musical icons like Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers, helped get Jimmy Carter elected President, and marked the shifts and advances that we see today in our region in areas like race relations, urban growth, and economic diversity," explains Markel.

Along with Smith's GRITZ on, the site also features native Georgian James Calemine helming Mystery and Manners, as well as Penne Laubenthal's RiverVue.

Like Markel, Calemine hails from what was once called Generation X, growing up at the beginning of MTV and its cultural consolidation effects. A University of Georgia graduate, Calemine wrote for various publications through the years about music, food, film and literature while following local Georgia bands like The Black Crowes and Widespread Panic in their rise to prominence from his backyard.

Calemine penned Panic's Georgia Music Hall of Fame induction essay in 2008. In his search for the real and true, he's just as likely to write about Depression-era recordings, Cormac McCarthy, John Coltrane, his old friend Stanley Booth, soul food joints, Blind Willie McTell, and Hunter S. Thompson.

Penne Laubenthal grew up in the Civil Rights Era and never really left her north Alabama home on the Elk River. Her career as an English professor allowed her the opportunity to study under greats like Louis Rubin. Of Laubenthal, Markel says, "her perspective remains essential because, out of all of us, she has probably seen the most change here."

In addition to these three and Markel himself, Swampland Sports is under the steady hand of Nashville-based Patrick Snow who has written for Athlon Sports and has a long background in sports radio. Swampland Sports gives voice to perspectives not often given by the national sports media. Its Tribal Fever page chronicles the collective passion of sports "tribes" be they Gator, Volunteer, Longhorn, Tar Heel, or other.

Markel points to a recent Wall Street Journal article entitled "What The Rise of Southern Football Says About America" as evidence of a bigger picture:

"The dynamic of the 'Swampland Footprint' might best be shown through the power of SEC football. When I was a kid, college football was still Big 10, Pac 10, Notre Dame. Today, the SEC has won three straight national titles and signed a $3 billion television deal. The value isn't in any one team but in the collective power that makes the whole more than the sum of its parts.

"This region is a cultural dynamo. In the area of music alone, most every American music form from blues, gospel, country, jazz, and rock n roll all were born here. This happened because so many different peoples mixed down here despite laws and customs that were meant to keep them apart.

"Sure, we're Skynyrd and BBQ, but we're also Martin Luther King, jazz, and dynamic urban areas like Atlanta and Dallas. We're growing and we're changing, but there's a continuing tie that bind us all."

So, why He explains:

"There's a history with swamps and swamplands in our region. Someone or some company is always trying to plow them under, but usually they find a way to persist and thrive. They were also a place where runaway slaves hid. Swamps have a sense of mystery about them, a mystery that makes you want to investigate deeper. A persistant mystery that still finds a way to give one a sense of comfort or shelter - I think that sums up our region pretty well."


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Lesley Bates
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