Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Fogelberg and Mississippi

From the Clarion Ledger:

Singer/songwriter Dan Fogelberg was struggling to be noticed in the early 1970s. He had grown accustomed to playing before audiences of fewer than 100 people. That changed one night in 1972 at a concert in Jackson. "He calls me up right before he's about to go on stage and says, 'You're not going to believe this, but I'm in Mississippi and there are 2,000 people here to see me play,' " recalls Norbert Putnam, a former Grenada resident and Fogelberg's first producer. "Apparently some disc jockey at an FM station in Jackson liked Dan and started playing his records during the late-night hours, and he cultivated a following down there. "It didn't take long for word to get back to New York, and Columbia Records started really spending money promoting Dan."

In a 2002 interview with The Clarion-Ledger, Fogelberg thanked his Mississippi fans: "Jackson was the first place my debut album, Home Free, broke out 30 years ago. My favorite memory was walking out on stage there. I've never headlined a large place before because I was always an opening act. So when I came out and everybody stood and started giving me a standing ovation, I turned to my road manager and said 'They must think I'm somebody else.' "

(Read the Full Story)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Monday Roundup

Douglas Heselgrave provides this review of the installment of Vanguard Visionaries to Avalon native, Mississippi John Hurt’s career. "The tracks contained on the effort are transcendent and lovely; they also are powerful and purifying. Although it is both simple and technically unpolished by today’s standards, Hurt’s guitar style epitomizes everything that is appealing about the country-blues sub-genre." (Read the full story here.)

The Clarksdale Press Register reports on the newest Blues Trail marker for Robert "Nighthawk" McCollum.

Grammy-winner Tricia Walker spent nearly 30 years in the Nashville music industry and now has returned to her home state of Mississippi as director of the Delta Music Institute at Delta State University. (Read the Full Story Here)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

John Work: A folklorist's window into 1940s black music

From the International Herald Tribune:

Two years ago, the book "Lost Delta Found" criticized the American folklorist Alan Lomax for giving short shrift to the work of three black researchers with whom he made some of his landmark field recordings in the 1940s. Maybe more important, the book argued that our appreciation of the black roots music of the era would have been greatly enriched had the writings of the researchers reached a wider audience. With the release of "Recording Black Culture," an album consisting largely of newly unearthed acetates made by one of the collectors, John Work III, we now have the music itself to buttress this claim.

Work, the most eminent of the black folklorists, was not merely an acolyte of Lomax but clearly had ideas of his own. Where Lomax tended to treat black vernacular music as an artifact in need of preservation, Work sought to document it as it was unfolding. Thus on "Recording Black Culture," instead of spirituals harking back to the 19th century, we hear febrile gospel shouting set to the cadences of what soon would become rhythm and blues and rock 'n' roll.

Robert Gordon, who edited "Lost Delta Found" with Bruce Nemerov, cites the hot, driving piano on Work's recording of a group of Primitive Baptist women singing a song called "I Am His, He Is Mine" as an example.

"There's nascent boogie-woogie in that music," said Gordon, who has also written a biography of the blues singer Muddy Waters, whom Work and Lomax recorded on their trip to Coahoma County, Mississippi, in 1941. "That piano would have made many loyal churchgoers angry: a harbinger of the response to R&B and rock 'n' roll."

The pressing harmonic and rhythmic interplay of the Heavenly Gate Quartet singing "If I Had My Way" offers further evidence of this evolution. The heavy syncopation heard there and in Work's recording of the Fairfield Four's "Walk Around in Dry Bones" presage doo-wop a good decade before vocal groups like the Clovers and the Coasters would establish it as the soundtrack for young black America in the 1950s.

[Read The Entire Article Here]

Honeyboy on Blues and Rap

Honeyboy Edwards and Bobby Rush are playing in Ontario on Sunday. The Star has a short interview with Honeyboy: "The blues will always be with us, Mississippi Delta blues legend David 'Honeyboy' Edwards admits over the phone from his home in Chicago, but he's worried about how to win over a new generation of African Americans who seem to have turned their backs on their own musical legacy. 'More white people care about the blues these days,' said the 92-year-old guitarist and singer. 'The black kids are doing rap, and there's no feeling in rap. It's just rhymes and a beat. You need music to give a song its feeling. And that means you've got to learn to play an instrument. You need an instrument for the blues to survive. And the rap kids aren't interested.'" (Read More Here)

John Lee Hooker and the Butterfield Blues Band

Crawdaddy! has this interview with John Lee Hooker recorded June 30, 1966, at the Club 47 in Cambridge, Mass. A couple of youtube links provided get the boom boom boom going: Blues ’66, Part Two: John Lee Hooker and the Butterfield Blues Band

2008 Blues Awards

From the Commercial Appeal: "Nominees for the 2008 Blues Awards, formerly known as the W.C. Handy Awards, were announced Wednesday by the Memphis-based Blues Foundation. This year's awards will be presented at the Grand Casino and Resort in Tunica on May 8. The roll call of nominees is once again headed by relative blues newcomers Watermelon Slim & the Workers, who matched last year's haul with six nominations for their album, The Wheel Man.

It was a good year for veterans as well, with 74-year-old Mississippi-based Bobby Rush garnering four nods for his return-to-roots acoustic record Raw. Also up for a quartet of trophies is the "Queen of the Blues," Koko Taylor, who came back from health problems to win over critics and fans with her latest, Old School.

A number of other notable artists, including Bettye LaVette, Nick Moss & The Flip Tops and James Blood Ulmer, earned three nominations a piece. Award voting begins online today for members of the Foundation." (Read the full story and view a partial list of nominees)

News Roundup

~Blue Shoe Project's 'Last of the Great Mississippi Bluesmen' nominated for a Grammy

~Sun Herald: "Blue Blazes keep local scene smokin'": "The band has performed in various forms for many years, and their distinctive "blues-based Southern rock odd jazz weird stuff" sound still has local fans' feet-a-tappin' to the music this region is famous for. The members of the Blue Blazes (Tim Gross-vox/guitars, Danny Thurston-bass, Ray Hanser-drums, Charlie McGinn-guitar, Mike Brewer-keys/guitar) are not short on experience or talent. I sat down with McGill, Gross and Hanser last week and discovered that between the five band members lies a combined total of 256 years of musical know-how. Though the current line-up of the band has been more or less constant for most of the 21st century, they feed off whatever the other is playing as if they've been performing together their whole lives...The Blue Blazes are perhaps best known for their decade-long run at the EO Club in Gulfport...The band is surviving these days, as most post-Katrina local acts are, and can occasionally be found at the Island View Casino in Gulfport and Dec. 15 at the Blues Tavern in Mobile. McGinn will join the Pat Ramsey Band Thursday for an opening gig with Johnny Winter at The Gutter in Pensacola. Also, McGinn, Gross, Hanser and Thurston will perform under the moniker of Three Strikes Dec. 14 around 6 p.m. at Darwell's in Long Beach. Two CDs of original material are also in the works, but for now the band is enjoying doing what they do best." (read the full story)

~WTOK: Bobby Rush Honored by Home State (with video)

~Ray J got sidelined as Brandy marshaled the Jackson Christmas

~Clarion Ledger: The Mississippi Jazz Foundation, a local group dedicated to jazz appreciation, has grown exponentially during its four-year existence. (Read the Full Story)

~Bobby Rush Revue & James 'Super Chikan" Johnson Announced for Post-Race Concert

RIP Ike Turner

Clarksdale native and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Ike Turner passed away yesterday at the age of 76. Many consider Turner the "father" of Rock and Roll for his work in 1951 cutting the song "Rocket 88" in Memphis at Sun Studios with his band. This song is recognized as the first rock n roll song.

Izear Luster "Ike" Turner
1931 - 2007

BBC: The musical legacy of Ike Turner

Rhonda Swan: Ike Turner, Legendary Songwriter, Dead

SkyNews: Rock Pioneer Ike Turner Dies

Reuters at New York Post: IKE 'BEATS' TINA TO DEATH

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Homemade Jamz Blues Band

This week, CBS Sunday Morning did a piece on the Homemade Jamz Blues Band from Tupelo. With a combined age of 37, the three piece band took second place at the International Blues Challenge 2007. In related news, they just finished a show in the Virgin Islands.

Chet Lott donates $125,000 from Erased It sales

"Following Katrina, Chet Lott was impressed with the way Red Cross volunteers worked to rebuild hope in Pascagoula and along the Gulf Coast. Monday, Lott, the son of Sen. Trent Lott, gave the Southeast Chapter of the American Red Cross $125,000. The money was raised from sales for his 'Erased It' compact disc....In the days that followed Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29, 2005, Lott said he came to the Coast and saw the damage done to his father's house on Beach Boulevard. The experience, he said, resulted in his writing two songs, 'Erased It' and 'Where I am From.' Those two songs, he said, became the foundation of the 14-track 'Erased It' album. The album sold more than 8,000 copies, with all profits going to the Red Cross." (Read the full story here)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Otis Rush - 1956-1958, His Cobra Recordings

Blogcritics.org published a review of Otis Rush's "1956-1958, His Cobra Recordings":

For Rush, the impact he made started almost as soon as he walked into a studio to lay down his first sides as a leader in 1956. That's when he started a brief but very fruitful stint with fledging Cobra Records and put to wax some smoking sides that can stand alongside anything Chess Records was putting out during that time.

Rush didn't put out a proper album until the late sixties but these seminal Cobra recordings have been collected about twenty years ago into a compilation, Otis Rush, 1956-1958: His Cobra Recordings. On it are Rush's afflicted vocal and Willie Dixon- or Rush-penned songs which already puts these blues in the top tier category.

Read the full review.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Otis Rush

More on the Otis Rush Blues Trail Marker in Neshoba County: Blues Trail marker to honor Otis Rush

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Otis Rush - Blues Trail

On Thursday, December 6, 2007 at 10:00am, MDA Tourism Heritage Trails Program, the Mississippi Blues Commission and the Philadelphia/Neshoba County Community Development Partnership will honor blues legend, Otis Rush.

The ceremony will take place at the newly restored train depot located at 256 West Beacon Street in downtown Philadelphia, Mississippi. Otis Rush and his family will be present.

Rush is regarded as one of the premier blues artists of the past 50 years. He has been cited as a guitar hero to many performers, bands, and fans, including Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Rush was born in a rural area near Philadelphia on April 29, 1935, according to family sources. (Biographies often give his birth date as 1934, but no birth certificate exists.) His blues came to fruition in Chicago in the 1950s, but was shaped by the hardships and troubles of his early life in Mississippi. He was raised by his mother, Julia Boyd, in a family so poor that Otis had to wear the same clothes to school every day, and when the plantation boss summoned him to work the fields, he had to forgo school. As a teenager, Rush got married and moved to Chicago, leaving Philadelphia from the train station where the Mississippi Blues Trail marker will be unveiled.

More BB

The Times-Tribune (Penn): "WILKES-BARRE — The King of the Blues was in the house at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts on snowy Sunday night, and his presence alone raised the temperature to the sizzlin’ hot mark.

On B.B. King’s return trip to the Kirby Center, he once again mesmerized an auditorium full of people with his basic three-note riffs that can humble the most seasoned rock guitarist. Approximately 1,200 people sat enthralled for 90 minutes as the legendary blues man proved why he continues to be the consummate showman.

Mr. King’s congeniality with his audience is practically unsurpassed in any musical genre....Mr. King coaxes and nurtures his guitar named “Lucille” so that even the most subtle note can be heard in the farthest corner of the Kirby Center with resounding clarity....The angst in Mr. King’s songs was earned over his 82 years. And the love, well, the love speaks to his experiences too, both from the mother in his family and the women in his life. To either, B.B. King speaks with a reverence that you have to appreciate....Watching B.B. King still do his thing on stage at the Kirby Center on Sunday night, one thing is for sure — the thrill is definitely not gone. Actually, in some ways, it’s stronger than ever...."
(Read the Full Story Here)

Times-Leader (Penn): BB King was given a lifetime achievement award from the Grammys, almost a symbolic way of saying his career was done. But he’s still recording and still playing – 20 years after receiving that award. “I’m kind of glad they was off a little,” King said last week from a hotel room in Binghamton, N.Y.

He had a farewell concert last year, saying goodbye to his fans overseas. But he’s still touring the states, and he is playing a show at the F. M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre at 7 tonight. Opening is Lex and Joe’s Blueswing. Retiring doesn’t seem to be in the 82-year-old’s future....

He was working on a plantation in Mississippi driving a tractor-trailer and making $22.50 a week. On the weekends, he would sing gospel on street corners.

“People would praise me, pat me on the head and shoulder and say, ‘Keep it up, son; you’re going to be something,’ but they wouldn’t do no tipping,” he said. “And I noticed that when people came by and asked me to play blues, they would give me a nice tip. I would make more money on a Saturday evening playing than I did in a whole week of driving tractors.”

....After 14 Grammy Awards and 50 years of professional musicianship in his pocket, he stays humble because there was a time when King was Riley B. King, a young man who played on the street corner for anyone lucky enough to pass by. Now he’s a legend, still playing for anyone lucky enough to see him....“I keep telling myself when I get to a place where I can’t handle myself, when I can’t be independent, when people stop buying my CDs, yes, I will retire. Other than that, I will wait for the Great One.”
(Read The Full Story Here)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Trumpet Records - Blues Trail

A Mississippi Blues Trail marker was unveiled Saturday at the former downtown Jackson site of Trumpet Records....Willard F. and Lillian S. McMurry launched the label from their retail store, the Record Mart, in 1950. The first releases by Mississippi blues legends Sonny Boy Williamson No. 2, Elmore James, and Willie Love appeared on Trumpet. Trumpet also recorded gospel and country music....Trumpets biggest hit was "Dust My Broom" by Elmore James, recorded in 1951. (Read The Full Story Here) [Picture is of the now raised Trumpet Records at 309 Farish Street, Jackson]

Jimmie Rogers Legacy

From Mississippi Public Broadcasting: Most country music fans don't realize it, but an important anniversary is fast approaching. Eighty years ago a frail, former railroad worker from Meridian recorded the first country hit record. As MPB's Ron Brown tells us, that's the day the county music industry was born. (Audio Link Here)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Blues Trail: Trumpet Records

This Saturday, November 17, 2007 the MDA Tourism Heritage Trails Program, the Mississippi Blues Commission and the Jackson Convention & Visitors Bureau will unveil a marker honoring "Trumpet Records" at 309 North Farish Street in Jackson, Mississippi at 10:00 AM.

Read more about Trumpet Records in this piece from the Clarion Ledger: The beat goes on: Miss. Blues Trail marker celebrates Trumpet Records.

In other Blues Trail News: Filmmakers touring the Delta- Blues Trail will be part of visit

"The Color of Blues" Photography Exhibit

Join fellow blues artists and enthusiasts at the opening reception of "The Color of Blues" photography exhibit this Friday from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at Schimmel's Fine Dining, 2615 North State Street in Jackson, Mississippi. The full color exhibit, which opened for the nationally acclaimed Smithsonian's American music roots "New Harmonies" exhibit, features the work of Mississippi photographer Marianne Todd. The exhibit features such artists as BB King, Bo Diddley, David "Honeyboy" Edwards, Bobby Rush, Sam Carr, Patrice Moncell and the legendary House Rockers. The reception includes live entertainment by blues musician Chris Gill. Come out for a cultural evening, light hors d'oeuvres and some great blues music and visual art.

BB King

The Press & Sun-Bulletin of Binghamton, NY reports on a recent BB King show:

"I've been around a long time. I'm a blues man, but I'm a good man, understand," B.B. King sang to about 1,000 people who attended his concert Thursday night at Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton [NY]...."Let me apologize again about laughing. Blues music's not supposed to do that," he said. At 82, King's show is as much about his jokes and storytelling as it is about classic songs such as "The Thrill is Gone," which closed out the 90-minute regular set.

King sat in a chair for the entire show, weaving stories and songs as if he was talking to his grandkids. And he makes you feel as if you are one of his grandkids. His infectious smile looms into the crowd as he comments, "It's been said people from Mississippi talk too much. I'm from Mississippi."

Then before launching into a story he settles the music lovers by telling them, "I'm gonna work ... trust me."
(Read the full story here.)

Also, this news: the BB King Museume to Expand

News Round-Up

The Elvis is Alive Museum is moving from Missouri to Laurel, Mississippi.

No response from Kid Rock means no show for Mississippi child with dwarfism.

The Jackson Free Press has this profile of Jackson bluesman Louis Arzo Youngblood: "Youngblood, better known as “Gearshifter” due to his day job driving gravel trucks, is seeing growing interest in his take on the blues and is racking up performances at some high-profile music festivals." (Louis Arzo Youngblood)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Mississippi Delta, Birthplace of the Blues

---Associated Press Travel: Mississippi Delta: Birthplace of the blues

---Wyman brings Blues to the Borders: Former Rolling Stone Bill Wyman has been passing on his passion for the Blues...His latest work is a music documentary - Bill Wyman's Blues Odyssey - where he follows the historic trail from New Orleans to the Mississippi Delta and on to Memphis.

---28 filmmakers and producers from Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, New York, Houston, Denver, New Orleans, Chicago and Ghana, West Africa, will be in Jackson, Mississippi Nov. 11-16 for the 2007 New Media Institute to document the Mississippi Delta and her impact on the Blues. (Washington Post: Film Teams To Trace Stories of Miss. Delta) (Clarion Ledger: Institute, filmmakers to document birthplace of the blues)

Mississippi Blues Trail Update

Bo Diddley performs during McComb Blues Trail marker celebration

Bo Diddley honored (video)

Locative Media and Geo-tagging the Delta Blues Continues

WJZD is stop on state's blues trail

Tommy Johnson: shining light on legend

Flower Pickin' Festival

Flower Pickin' Fest fetes Man in Black

Flower Pickin' Festival has great potential

After blues tonight, Cash in


North Mississippi Allstars Shake Hands with "Hernando"

Friday, September 7, 2007

Friday Roundup

Gospel music attraction The Isaacs will perform Sept. 8 at the 13th annual New Hebron Pulpwood Festival

From gospel to opera: Gary Mitchell finds his voice

South City Records will celebrate the official release of their first album Saturday at their CD release concert at the University of Southern Mississippi

Marty Stuart to headline Cash festival

2007 Gulf Coast Blues and Heritage Festival

From the Sun Herald:

The 16th Annual Mississippi Gulf Coast Blues and Heritage Festival, a daylong concert featuring at least seven purveyors of one of Mississippi's finest homegrown exports, takes place Saturday at the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Pascagoula.

The Blues Fest (gate opens at 11 a.m.) kicks off at 12:10 p.m. with an opening prayer, followed by a presentation by the Mississippi Gulf Coast Blues Commission, which hosts the fest each year, of the winners of the Musical Instrument Talent Contest....From 1 to 1:45 p.m., the Fest's first professional offering, Keith "Chicken Daddy" Hunter and the Hot Wings, takes the stage. From 2 to 2:45 p.m., meanwhile, the Apollo Blues Band performs, followed by the Crescent City Blues Band from 3 to 3:45 p.m.

Members of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Blues Commission will be introduced on stage from 3:45 to 4 p.m., followed by an hour-long performance by Ecko Records recording artist Ms. Jody. From 4:15 to 5:15 p.m., Theodis Ealey, a k a The Bluesman Lover, whose 2004 hit single, "Stand Up In It," landed on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop Track chart, performs. Another Ecko Records recording artist, O.B. Buchana, performs from 6:45 to 7:45 p.m., while blues veteran Bobby Rush closes the fest from 8 to 9 p.m.

The fest goes forward rain or shine, under the fairground's covered pavilion, and admission is $23 in advance and $26 at the gate.

What: 16th Annual Mississippi Gulf Coast Blues and Heritage Festival.

When: 11 a.m.-until.

Where: Jackson County Fairgrounds, under the covered pavilion.

Cost: $23 in advance and $26 at the gate.

Info: (228) 497-5493.

(Full Story Here)

(Who's who at the 2007 Gulf Coast Blues and Heritage Festival)

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Marty Stuart headlines Starkville's Cash fest

From the Daily Journal: Mississippi native Marty Stuart will walk the line to Starkville to headline the Johnny Cash Flower Pickin' Festival in November. Stuart, a Philadelphia native, will headline the event meant to honor Cash, the country music legend whom Stuart called boss and father-in-law. Festival officials announced the musical guests for the event Wednesday....The festival is set for Nov. 2-4, in downtown Starkville. Stuart was a member of Cash's band and was married to one of Cash's daughters....Country band Kingbilly also will perform, as will Jordan Carter and the Larry Wallace Band....On May 11, 1965, Cash was arrested in Starkville for public drunkenness. He wrote the song "Starkville City Jail" about his experience. (Full Story Here)

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Blue Mountain

From the Memphis Commercial Appeal:

A re-formed Blue Mountain finds its musical chemistry of the 1990s is as potent as ever

Ottawa is a long way from Oxford, but for Mississippi roots rock band Blue Mountain, that's where it all ended in the fall of 2001.

Playing as part of a Canadian festival bill, Blue Mountain's final show provided a rather ignominious end to one of the most beloved Southern bands of the '90s. The group, led by the husband-and-wife duo of Cary Hudson and Laurie Stirratt, had enjoyed a fruitful 10-year run filled with plenty of highs and successes. But it had not come without a cost -- including the loss of their longtime drummer, a split with their record label, and, most devastatingly, the dissolution of Hudson's and Stirratt's marriage.

As they walked off stage that night, with the acrimony of a divorce and the dispiriting memory of the band's finish still fresh, it seemed unlikely they would ever play together again.

But this summer, after six years apart, Hudson and Stirratt had a musical rapprochement and Blue Mountain has reunited -- re-formed, to be more precise. Buoyed by the positive response to what were to have been a couple of one-off shows, the group has decided to pick up where it left off, and is set to record a new album. The band makes its return to Memphis with a concert at the Hi-Tone Wednesday night.

Blue Mountain's story dates back some 20 years to an Oxford college cover band called the Hi-Tops, which featured Hudson and future Wilco founder John Stirratt. Stirratt's twin sister, Laurie, eventually joined and the group began playing its own songs as the Hilltops, releasing a pair of punk-flavored albums.

Following a brief spell trying to make it in Los Angeles...(read the full story here)

Wednesday Update

Mississippi native Hubert Sumlin, the blues great who worked with Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters, will be joining a star studded musical tour this summer performing Hendrix classics that includes: Jimmi Hendrix Experience alumni Mitch Mitchell (drums) and Billy Cox (bass), Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon from Double Trouble (Stevie Ray Vaughan's band), Memphis guitarist Eric Gales, Band of Gypsys drummer Buddy Guy, and contemporary guitar greats Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Robbie Krieger of the Doors and Mick Taylor of the Rolling Stones. (Full story here)

The Daniel Pearl Foundation congratulates teenage fiddle sensations Mike Barnett of Nashville and Ruby Jane Smith of Mississippi as winners of the 2007 Daniel Pearl Memorial Violins. Selected at the Mark O'Connor Strings Conference in San Diego, California they will have full use of these prestigious instruments for a year; including appearances at special concerts during the sixth annual Daniel Pearl World Music Days to be held October 1-15, 2007...Twelve-year-old Ruby Jane Smith is both the youngest winner of the Daniel Pearl Memorial violin and the youngest ever invited fiddler at the Grand Ole Opry. A fast-rising star in the landscape of country, bluegrass and Americana music, Ruby Jane exhibited an early connection to music. After only six fiddle lessons at age eight, she won first place in the first competition she entered - beginning a run of acclaim that has included appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and a feature piece on CBS News "Eye on America." She was the 2005 Mississippi State Fiddle Champion and was featured in a 2006 documentary about the legendary fiddler Jim Brock, with whom she has studied. (Full story here)

Leon Newton of Jackson, Mississippi was a top finalist in the 2007 SongOfTheYear.com songwriting competition in the country category with his song titled "Love Story". (Full story here)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Music Business at USM and other updates

New USM program gets students in the music business: A new program [at the University of Southern Mississippi is] devoted to teaching students how to succeed in the world behind the scenes of the entertainment industry...a student of the Entertainment Industry Program [learns] mixing, mastering and tracking of music generated by local artists as well as management, promotion, marketing, distribution and tour support of those same musicians through the program's own record label, South City Records, a first for the university.

Under the direction of entertainment industry professor Darko Velichkovski, who's an independent producer, Juilliard graduate and former member of the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra, the music industry department was reborn five years ago with a mission of reviving a program, which at that time turned out only 12-15 students a year.

Since then, the program has incorporated a wide range of projects beyond the music industry including film, television and radio, as well as splitting the degree into two areas of emphasis - production and management.

Velichkovski said he wrote a curriculum based on what the college wanted to compete with similar academic programs at other universities so plans could be made to expand with more faculty and equipment as it evolved.

Now, the program has nearly 100 students.
[Full Story Here]

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McComb native Bo Diddley released from hospital after suffering a heart attack

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New Harmonies - WLOX: There are so many forms of music with deep American roots. Jazz, the Blues, Gospel and Country were all developed and perfected in the United States. Mississippi is among a number of states that have made major contributions to the American music scene. The Smithsonian Institute got together with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to bring a unique exhibit to the Jefferson Davis campus. It's called New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music. The exhibit is in the school's Fine Arts building through September 28th. (Full Story with Video Here)

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USM hosts honors forum on Mississippi blues culture

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Book Review: "High Cotton: Four Seasons in the Mississippi Delta"

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Mississippi Gulf Coast Blues & Heritage Festival Cool blues comes to Pascagoula

16th annual Mississippi Gulf Coast Blues & Heritage Festival - Noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept 8 - Pavilion at Jackson County Fairgrounds, Pascagoula

Performers include Bobby Rush, E.B. Buchana, Theodis Ealey, Ms. Jody, the Apollo Blues Band, the Crescent City Blues Band, Keith "Chickin Daddy" Hunter and the Hot Wings....Prior to Saturday's heritage festival, the blues commission is holding a student "Musical Instrument Contest" from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Jackson County Civic Action Center in Moss Point. (Full Story Here)

Friday, August 31, 2007

Honeyboy - the convincing bluesman

This profile in the London Telegraph of David "Honeyboy" Edwards includes three videos (David 'Honeyboy' Edwards performs Gamblin Man' --- He Plays and describes learning the guitar --- He tells stories about life on stage) and tells his story from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago to European success:

On a perfect Chicago summer afternoon, the man regarded as an oracle of Mississippi blues lore is scouring a pawn shop for a guitar case. David "Honeyboy" Edwards approaches this task with a veteran's eye, but his battered features crease when he's told I want to ask some questions.

"What's the matter?" chides his manager. "Tired of talking about yourself?" Honeyboy, a very sprightly 92, agrees that he's weary. But an English tour is on the horizon and tickets must be sold. Yet where to start? Honeyboy's a legend of Delta blues, the last man standing of pre-Second World War American music. So is he surprised to be playing the blues aged 92?

"I should have been dead 50, 60 years ago," he says. "God just wasn't ready for me. Because I used to raise hell and drink. I've had my fun!"

Fun, alongside hard times: born to sharecropping parents in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, Honeyboy began picking cotton as a small child. His grandmother told vivid stories of slavery days, and sharecropping was, in many ways, legitimised slavery, with plantation life devouring his parents. "The doctor we had was the same one that went to the mule," he says. "Working for them white folks, you have a doctor come to you about twice. If the doctor talk to your boss and say, 'Well, he ain't goin' to get well,' then the boss quit spending money on you."

Honeyboy - he attracted the nickname as a child - set out to find his fortune aged 16 by jumping a train to Memphis. This was 1931, Depression-era America, so Honeyboy joined the hoboes. Between stints of farm work he begged and rode trains. "I'd ride the rods, too, underneath, because the cops would never look down there for you. The rods are kind of rough, though. The train be running so fast it would throw rocks up and they'd hit you."

Arrested for riding a freight train, he was sentenced to 30 days' hard labour on a county farm. Barely surviving the chain gang, he returned to sharecropping briefly before setting out for good in 1932....He witnessed Charley Patton and Tommy Johnson, the musicians regarded as Delta blues founders, play his plantation. Big Joe Williams tutored him in music and hoboing; he busked with the Memphis Jug Band; befriended Howlin' Wolf when both were teenage farmhands. In 1942 Alan Lomax recorded him for the Library of Congress and in 1945 he took the teenage harmonica prodigy Little Walter to Chicago.

In Chicago Honeyboy was signed by seminal blues label Chess Records....on Monday he starts an eight-date English tour, a trek that would leave a young rocker weary. Surely the pace must make a man born in 1915 feel, well, shattered? And England is only the last stop of a 30-date journey around Europe. "Touring can be hard," he says. "Getting' up stairs is difficult. I just have to walk slow."....Honeyboy lives in Chicago's tough South Side - carjacked in 1996, he boasts of stabbing the thief ("I cut him good!") and carrying a pistol ("Crack makes them boys go crazy"). Which is perhaps why he remains such a convincing bluesman.
(Read the full story here)

Howlin with the Wolf

All you need to know about the Howlin Wolf Festival this weekend in West Point.

Daily Journal: "SCENE: Howlin' with the Wolf"

Extreme Makeover: Blues Edition

52-year-old Morris Cummings, better known as Blind Mississippi Morris, can play the harmonica like nobody's business. The talented musician, born in Clarksdale, Mississippi and blind since the age of four, has performed with B.B. King, Rufus Thomas and Muddy Waters.

Bluzharp Magazine calls Morris one of the 10 best harmonica players in the world.

He and his band, The Pocket Rockets, are favorites down on Beale Street.

For months now, Morris has been in a predicament. His home on Chelsea Avenue in North Memphis is nearly a hundred years old. It's so rundown that code enforcement says it's not safe for Morris and his family to live there.

Saturday morning, volunteers showed up on Morris' front lawn with an offer he couldn't believe.

For the next several hours, nearly three dozen people of all ages, braved the summer heat to give Morris' home a makeover....As the day went on, the volunteers made progress. The staircase was rebuilt. The air-conditioning and ventilation units repaired. Leaks in the roof were patched up....As hammers pounded away and saws buzzed through pieces of lumber, the sound of Delta blues played in the background as Morris played the harmonica.

"This clean-up is a dream come true," Morris said. "I tell you, it means I get to stay here. I'm not going to be homeless."

Morris hopes to one day install a recording studio in the old home. He says he'd like to teach music to the young people to keep them off the streets and out of trouble.

The work on his home is expected to take some more time to complete. And the volunteers say they'll be back again, until it's done.
(Full Story)

JFP: Marty Stuart & Divine Country

Jackson Free Press: It’s difficult to label Marty Stuart. He is a solo artist who broke onto the country music scene as a sideman; a country artist whose roots are firmly entrenched in bluegrass; and a strict traditionalist who can still rub shoulders with country music’s rising stars.

But to Stuart, only one of those descriptions matters.

“Country music is what I do. If I die tomorrow, that’s what the headline will say: ‘Country Singer Marty Stuart,’” Stuart says.

The plain-spoken Stuart speaks of country music with the same reverence that most reserve only for religion. “If you go back to Virginia to where the Carter Family came from, you can feel that it was kind of divinely ordained music,” Stuart says.

Being a self-appointed caretaker of a “divinely ordained” musical genre is a lot of hard work, but Stuart knows that it’s a weight worth carrying: “(It) is what I feel like I am called to do. It’s part of who I am,” he says.

A native of Philadelphia, Miss., Stuart got his start in country music at age 14 as a member of bluegrass legend Lester Flatt’s band, and he hasn’t looked back since.
(Full Story)

Friday News Update

McComb native Bo Diddley Suffers Heart Attack

Mississippi native Richard Durham to be inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame

Book Review: Journeyman's Road: Modern Blues Lives From Faulkner's Mississippi To Post-9/11 New York


The Big Muddy Blues Festival cut Ike Turner from the line-up ("after the idea drew complaints stemming from Turner's well-known violent marriage to Tina Turner. Mayor Francis Slay declined to issue a Turner proclamation — a decision that made international headlines — and the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer called in sick") but still claimed its share of Mississippi blues roots (Full Story).

The Farish Street Heritage Festival [in Jackson] will celebrate its 29th year with performances by funk legends Zapp and soul star J. Blackfoot, as well as a lineup of local performers that includes bluesman Eddie Cotton and rapper Kamikaze. (Full Story)

“The Howlin' Wolf Festival will join forces, as a part of a cross-promotional event, with the Prairie Arts Festival to present the first annual Point City Fest,” Howlin' Wolf Society of West Point program director Richard Ramsey said. (Full Story in Columbus Dispatch) - and - West Point blues fest kicks off Thursday (Full Story in MSU Reflector)

With just 42 days remaining until the 22nd annual Arkansas Blues & Heritage Festival, supporters of down home Delta Blues are answering tons of questions from fans around the world. Roger Stolle, owner of Cathead Delta Blues & folk art shop on Delta Ave. in Clarksdale Miss. is very busy helping promote the festival as well as answering masses of e-mail quires about Helena's own blues weekend that has received world wide attention. (Full Story)

A couple of Mose's

Memphis Music & Heritage Festival pays tribute to Mose Vinson:

Born in north Mississippi in 1917, the boogie-woogie pianist served as janitor and fill-in session musician at Sun in the '50s; when Peiser met him, he was playing at Peanut's, a seedy Midtown bar.

"Mose goes back to dirt. He looked like he was 150 years old when he was about 50," recalls local producer and performer Jim Dickinson, who, along with Vinson, Rufus Thomas, Eddie Bond, and the Spirit of Memphis gospel quartet, was a headliner at the Center for Southern Folklore's first Memphis Music & Heritage Festival, held in 1982. (The festival became an annual event in 1988.)

In 1997, Dickinson, Peiser, and Knox Phillips co-produced Piano Man, Vinson's first solo album.

"For me, it wasn't as much the historical aspect as it was getting the musical qualities of his voice on tape," Dickinson says. "I cut Mose the same way I did the Replacements. I just tried to make him comfortable and take him back to a certain place in time. When Mose asked, 'You ain't got no pain pills?' that just made it for me."

Dickinson, Bond, and the Spirit of Memphis will reprise their '82 appearances with new sets at this year's Memphis Music & Heritage Festival, which Peiser views as a tribute to Vinson, who died in 2002.
(Full Story)

Mose Allison: ‘I’m dealin’ with the essentials’

Jazz sage Mose Allison, 80, could be forgiven for kicking back on his front porch and singing to himself instead of hustling off to 120-plus dates a year.Problem is, he’s not yet tired of hipping generation after generation to his vinegary piano style and spot-on social commentary. Allison says his classic attack-of-the-fascists dirge, “Monsters of the Id,” has never been better received.

Jazz sage Mose Allison will perform Friday and Saturday at Lansing's JazzFest. Photo courtesy of Carol Fridman.“People come up and ask me, ‘Did you just write that song?’ and I did it 40 years ago,” Allison says.

“The same things always keep happening,” he declares. “There’s always a war, there’s always hypocrisy and political maneuvering, corruption and all that stuff. I’m dealin’ with the essentials.”

“Monsters of the Id” paints a blackly funny picture of society’s self-styled leaders. “Creatures from the swamp are writing their own Mein Kampf,” he sings in his famous seen-it-all drawl. As usual, he pretends to calm while stirring the muck in your mind. “No need to make a fuss,” he reassures. “No need to cause a scene. They know what’s best for us. They’re fighting fire with gasoline.”

As the ship of civilization sinks deeper and deeper, audiences love nothing more than to pull up a deck chair near Allison and enjoy the nosedive.

“I still enjoy playing,” he says. “The traveling is getting to be kind of a drag. That will probably have more to do with me quitting than anything else. Once I get to the piano, I’m OK.”

Allison’s melting-pot keyboard style mixes several jazz variants, from Gerwhwin-esque polish to Thelonious Monk prickliness, with traces of hard blues and deep country from his Mississippi youth. His terse tunes skitter like a knife on a cutting board, while his lyrics make him one of the great American gentleman malcontents on the order of Mark Twain and Bob Dylan....

Growing up in rural Tippo, Miss., at the heart of the Mississippi River delta, Allison was steeped in blues, jazz, big-band swing and country music. He also took classical music lessons and was drawn to the authority and flexibility of the piano. “I grew up listening to Nat King Cole and Erroll Garner, and then I started listening to Monk and John Lewis and Bud Powell,” he says.
(Full Story)

Blues Trail Update

Howlin' Wolf, Magic Sam to get Blues markers

Marker dedication, festivals celebrate the legacy of Howlin' Wolf

Robert Johnson Blues Trail marker stolen

Bluefront Cafe on Blues Trail

Mississippi Blues Trail features some of state's best golf courses

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Blues Trail - August

Here are three upcoming events on the Mississippi Blues Trail:

Bentonia - Blue Front Cafe - August 21st at 10am

Grenada - "Magic Sam" - August 28th at 10am

West Point - Howlin' Wolf - August 30th at 1:30pm

More details to follow...

Thursday, July 5, 2007

L.C. Ulmer

The Laurel Leader Call writes about L.C. Ulmer's recent gigs:

Imagine the youngest of 14 children, the son of a Stringer sharecropper, playing his blues music to crowds of thousands in Italy and Switzerland. That’s a long way for someone who came up the hard way, cutting crossties and timber, building a railroad across Lake Ponchartrain and working at sawmills, all before he was 15 years old. L.C. Ulmer returned to his home in the Currie settlement near Ellisville Wednesday night following a week-long tour of blues festivals in the two countries Thursday night.

“It was a reaction I never seen before,” Ulmer said. “They were hollering, dancing. There were other bands there, but most of them left after they heard the blues. I was on the high stage, started playing at 6:30 that night. It was jam-packed and they were hollering and cheering me on. They wanted to hear the blues. They gave me the thumbs up, and I gave them the thumbs up back. I couldn’t speak their language, but when I did that, it was like I was communicating with them. That and singing the blues. I was supposed to only play for 30 minutes, but the next group saw how much the crowd liked my music, and I played til almost 8.”

He played five nights of blues festivals in Switzerland and at the Roots and Boues Festival in Parma, Italy. He toured with the Taylor Grocery Band of Oxford. Justin Showah of the band is Ulmer’s manager....

After playing for nearly 70 years (he’ll be 79 in late August), he is finally being recognized for his talent as a blues singer and writer. He performs only songs he has written. “I don’t want to mock nobody,” he said....With no gigs currently set, Ulmer is enjoying being back in the home he bought in 1983, but only moved to five years ago. He plans to put some songs on CD along with Chase Holifield this summer at a recording studio in Ellisville.

Thursday News Roundup

Jerry Lee Lewis - Hall of Fame Magazine writes on "The Life and Times of Jerry Lee Lewis: The Killer Rocks On."

It's possible that Jerry Lee Lewis – of the Ferriday, Louisiana Lewis clan – is pound for pound the greatest rocker ever to stomp a stage in any generation since that subversive music commenced. It is likely – and God bless Hank Williams – that The Killer is the best country singer ever to moan the blues, sing of done-wrong love, wives waving good bye, or forlorn saloons. Such a personage as Leonard Bernstein, a keyboard man of some repute, considered Jerry Lee one of the finest piano players this country ever produced. In fact, perch a parrot on his '88' and you've got the single greatest whore house professor the world has ever known. Not houses like Madame Claude's, the pride of Paris, but the scarlet houses of Natchez, Baton Rouge, and Memphis attended by men in ruffled cuff shirts and women with color on their eyes and cheeks. These rough-edged lives would have been his concert halls had The Killer gone that route. Jerry Lee Lewis is indeed a son of the South, the deepest South where life moves at the speed of the Big River as it sings its love song to the Gulf of Mexico.

Jerry Lee's first cousin is The Reverend Swaggert, a preacher known to pound both the Bible and the ladies of those sultry, mysterious southern evenings with equal fervor. Another cousin, Mickey Gilley, a fair country singer himself, described his outrageous relative this way: "Killer? You're talking about a man who puts away a fifth of tequila in the morning just to straighten out."....

When he is done with the road, Jerry Lee Lewis will go home and put his boots up at his Mississippi farm. He lives there with his daughter Phoebe and the many dogs roaming the place. It's a quiet life. The house is less than an hour from Memphis, which keeps him close to his business and not too far from the casinos. Even closer is the Mississippi River. In their own way both Jerry Lee and the Mississippi are emblematic of the south, eternal and undefeated. The wind is like a hymn through the juniper trees along the banks, providing accompaniment to the green and brown rolling river of history, as it pours into the Gulf which merges with the Atlantic which turns The Cape of Good Hope to join with all the oceans of time in their embrace of the world. And the Earth turns. And the sun rises and sets and rises again. And The Killer rocks on. (read the full story here)

More updates...

Harp Magazine: Looting the Bins with the North Mississippi Allstars' Luther Dickinson

AP: Hard Rock Biloxi plans its opening day for the second time

Scott Barrett/Clarion Ledger: Duck Hill's Grassroots Blues Fest features all-ages lineup

Willie Dixon

From the Vicksburg Post:

The debut of a traveling Smithsonian exhibit brought out at least 700 people to dine and dance in Vicksburg Thursday, with multiple events centered on native bluesman Willie Dixon.

Crowds dodged showers and poured into venues to honor “the poet laureate of the blues,” who would have celebrated his 92nd birthday Sunday.

It was a big start to a big week, with almost daily events leading up to and following the Fourth of July.

An evening jam session, bluegrass pickin' and gospel concert at the Southern Cultural Heritage Center launched the Smithsonian's New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music displays that will be free and open at the center for six weeks. The director, Bess Averett, said by 7:30, with an hour and half left and the crowd growing, at least 700 people had filled the former Catholic school campus downtown.

Averett said she was overwhelmed. “We are just so excited that Vicksburg decided to come out to support roots music,” she said.

“Willie Dixon Day,” is what Vicksburg Riverfront Mural Project chairman Nellie Caldwell termed the day of events, which began at 3 when about 40 people endured the heat and gathered along Willie Dixon Way to view the newly installed blues trail marker for the legendary singer, songwriter and bassist.... (read the full story here)

BB King

BB King is preparing a new album, recording this month to be released in early 2008. T-Bone Burnett is producing the Geffen studio album. This article includes a quote from King about doing a partner album: "People keep asking when I'm going to do something else with Eric Clapton or U2. But I can still do things by myself. This time, I've decided I don't want to do anything with partners for a while."

The AP reports on his homecoming this year to Indianola and his summer plans including a 16-city blues festival tour. This piece is also a good update on BB - festivals, museums, honors, etc.
And from the Muskegon Chronicle, "In the king's own words, the thrill's not gone. Nowhere near. A lesser musician -- say, a mere commoner -- might expect it at least to have dissipated a little, after six solid decades of playing the blues. But B.B. King -- whose long reign as king of the blues makes any of the world's other monarchs a mere flash in the pan by comparison -- isn't about to step down from his throne." (read the rest of it here)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Thursday Roundup

Vicksburg - Blues Trail marker honoring Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Willie Dixon to be unveiled today.

Potts Camp - North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic: Friday - Bobby Rush, T-Model Ford, DuWayne Burnside and his Mississippi Mafia, Olga Wilhelmine Mathus, Danny Lancaster, Jocco Rushing and John Barnett. A "sunset jam" brings together roots rockers Mother Tupelo, Rocket 88 and Goshen of Santa Fe, N.M. Saturday - Blue Mountain, the Taylor Grocery Band and Alvin Youngblood Hart's trio Muscle Theory, the Rev. John Wilkins, the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band, David Kimbrough and Garry Burnside of Burnside Exploration, the North Mississippi Allstars, Jimbo Mathus and Knockdown South. (Read the Clarion Ledger story here.)

Oxford - alt-country band Blue Mountain reunites

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wednesday News Round-Up

BlogCriticsMagazine: Music DVD Review: North Mississippi Allstars - Keep On Marchin'

Friday morning, Main Street Kosciusko will be hosting their annual Side Walk Sale, Breezy 101’s 2nd Annual BBQ Battle, and Main Street’s June Jam. June Jam will begin around 6:30 p.m. with the finalists from the 2007 Colgate Country Showdown opening for Nashville singer/songwriter Leith Loftin. Loftin, 27-year-old native of Carroll County and last year’s Colgate Country Showdown winner, said he is ready to come home to Mississippi and play his music.

Benoit will host its first Summer Fest Saturday, featuring bluesman Nathaniel Kimble, Courtney Smith, Jessie Lee Clay, and Mississippi Slim.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tuesday News Roundup

The Mississippi Blues Commission will dedicate a Blues Trial marker on Thursday to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Willie Dixon of Vicksburg.

University of Mississippi professor and author Adam Gussow teams with Sterling Magee in a new feature-length documentary on "Five Fingers" Magee in New York City.

Delta State's Delta Center for Culture and Learning has been sponsoring "From the Birth of America's Music: The Music and Musicians of Mississippi," to educate and expose Mississippi teachers to the cultural and artistic resources of the state.

Big George Brock will play Sainsbury's Social Club, in Basingstoke, United Kingdom, on Thursday, June 28. "When 75-year-old Mississippi-born musician Big George Brock sings the blues, he isn't lying. When he sings 'they call me a lover', know that he has 42 kids. When he talks about 'that lonesome cotton field', understand that he grew up a Delta sharecropper." Read the full story here.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Mississippi music tv

Scott Coopwood writes about a project to spread the word of Mississippi's musical heritage in June's Delta Business Journal:

Mississippi Media Group Inc. (MMG) is currently designing and creating content with the intent of launching a television channel rooted deep in the Mississippi mud. Programming is being planned that will include all aspects of life within the Delta. The project is being spearheaded by Vincent Productions who has been collaborating with Bill Luckett and Morgan Freeman of Ground Zero Blues Club, Inc. on a series of shows called “The Clarksdale Juke Joint Jam.” The series produced by the Vincents and partner Robert Eva spotlights performers with international fame, in particular honoring blues legends.

The first show features George Thorogood and the Destroyers with blues master Eddie Shaw. Other shows currently in production include artists such as, Elvin Bishop, Little Smokey Smothers, Pinetop Perkins, Delaney Bramlett, Jimmy Thackery, and the Cate Brothers.

Sponsors for the “Clarksdale Juke Joint Jam” include Intel Corp., Gibson Guitars, Pearl Drums, and Canon International. The idea for a network was brought to Vincent Productions by Columbus resident Ron Williams.

Individuals integrally involved with the Mississippi Media Group include Ron, Gary and Carol Vincent, Covenant Bank CEO Willis Frazer, entertainment and media consultant Jeff Skillen, and Senior Judge of Tunica County Ellis Darby, among others.

It’s time that Mississippi reclaims and exports its own cultural heritage to the world. Production of original content that promotes the rich culture of the Delta could be a significant step in the right direction towards bringing attention and opportunity into our unique corner of the world.

Lee Chester Ulmer

78-year-old Ellisville blues guitar musician, Lee Chester Ulmer has encountered troubles getting a passport to join Afrissippi for a gig in Italy. Why?

Ulmer was born on a backcountry plantation in Stringer in 1928. He was delivered by a midwife, so there's no certified birth certificate or hospital birth certificate.

He was baptized in a creek - so no baptismal certificate.

He attended all-black country schools that did not keep records.

Ulmer doesn't have a family Bible because it was lost in a tornado in 1939.

Both his parents are deceased. His 12 older siblings also are deceased, so there is no one to submit an affidavit of birth.

Read the full story of his struggle with government logistics to take Mississippi blues to Italy in this article by the Clarion Ledger.

Monday News Roundup

Ground Zero in Clarksdale is under new management.

Blues diva Dorothy Moore of Jackson will donate mementos from her personal collection to the Robert Johnson Blues Foundation Official Museum in Crystal Springs.

The Son House Blues Trail Marker is being unveiled today near Tunica.

Lucille and Friends will perform in a Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame presentation at the OnStage Restaurant at Jackson Evers International Airport this Friday. Lucille is a slide guitarist and vocalist who toured with Little Milton and has played with Albert King, Dr. John, Dorothy Moore, Z.Z. Hill, R.L. Burnside, Sam Myers and others.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday News Roundup

Hattiesburg native Hot Dollar has new material out: a single "Streets On Lock" and the album "My Dreams...A Day in the Life." DJBooth.net has an interview with this up and coming rapper.

Bluesman David Honeyboy Edwards, a Shaw, Mississippi native, is approaching his 92nd birthday in Chicago and as this article makes clear "sees no reason to slow down."

Gary Clark Jr - the "future of blues music in Texas" - plays with Mississippian Pinetop Perkins tonight at Antone's in Austin, Texas.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Williams Brothers

The McComb Enterprise Journal writes about an event honoring multiple Grammy nominated The Williams Brothers.

The Williams Brothers of Smithdale have been spreading the gospel through song for 47 years, winning multiple Stellar and Dove awards and receiving six Grammy nominations. Now, the group’s home church is planning to honor them.

On June 22, Rose Hill Missionary Baptist Church of Franklin County and its Women’s Missions Auxiliary will honor the singing trio and lifetime church members with a special celebration at Fernwood Country Club.

Guests will include keynote speaker Bishop Paul S. Morton of New Orleans, master of ceremonies Dr. Bobby Jones of Nashville, and performer and minister Bishop Neal Roberson of Lansing, Mich.

McComb Mayor Zach Patterson will present the group with a proclamation and a key to the city.

The Williams Brothers formed in 1960 with Leon “Pop” Williams heading up the family group. Although Leon Williams died in a wreck in 1989, the Williams Brothers soldiered on. Leon and his wife Amanda, now 87, had 10 children, eight of whom are living. Mrs. Williams sang with The Williams Family and in the church choir at Rose Hill. While she has much to be proud of in her family, Mrs. Williams’ children are proud of her strong influence, too....

The Williams Brothers are Melvin and his younger brother Doug Williams, and longtime family friend Henry Green. Melvin began singing at age 6 with his brothers and has been writing and arranging music since 1970. His youngest brother, Doug, has been singing with his family since age 5. Green joined The Williams Brothers at age 18.

Not only have the trio seen continued recording success, The Williams Brothers own their record label, Blackberry Records, based in Jackson, as well as Blackberry Entertainment. Blackberry made news in 1991 by becoming the first black-owned recording company in Mississippi.

Read the full story here.

Wednesday News Roundup

Purvis native Johnny Rawls plays at Peterborough's Red Dog Tavern in Canada. (06/13/07)

Jackson native and Grammmy winner Cassandra Wilson will be headlining the Bucks County Jazz Restival in Pennsylvania. (06/12/07)

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes about the blues heritage that spread up Highway 61 from the Delta to Chicago and visits Clarksdale to see this home of the blues still jams live from juke joints to Ground Zero. Another article asks if the blues have left St. Louis and looks closer at the history of the Mississippi blues in the city. (6/10/2007)

Greenwoodians enjoyed the Family Funk Festival this past weekend (06/09/07)

Bentonia native Jimmy "Duck" Holmes is profiled in this article in prep for his performance at the Chicago Blues Festival. (06/08/07)

Beulah is planning a gospel festival for June 30. (06/08/07)

The Edinburgh Jazz Festival has sparked some controversy for booking Clarksdale's Ike Turner. Advocates against domestic violence are protesting the Grammy winner. (06/08/07)

Moss Point highschoolers took their instruments to Burlington, Vermont to thank their sister city for post-Katrina support. (06/07/07)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

BB King in Indianola

Scott Barretta writes in today's Clarion Ledger: This Saturday B.B. King makes his annual visit back home to Indianola, where he'll headline the B.B. King Homecoming Festival at Fletcher Park and appear in the evening at the historic Club Ebony. A late change in King's schedule moved the festival from last Friday to this Saturday. Also performing at the festival, which begins at 5 p.m., are Willie King, Bill "Howlin' Madd" Perry, local favorite David Lee Durham and Jackson soul-blues diva Dorothy Moore.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

News Roundup

Sunflower County hosted the Holly Ridge Jam this past weekend with performances by John Horton, Cedric Burnside and Lightning Malcolm, Eden Brent and others (full story here: Delta Democrat Times: 06/04)

Marty Stuart

Great interview with Philadelphia, Mississippi native Marty Stuart regarding his collection of country music memorabilia now on display at the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville at an exhibit: Sparkle & Twang: Marty Stuart's American Musical Odyssey.

Pinetop Perkins DVD

Josh Perkins reviews the new music DVD documentary on Belzoni native and blues legend Pinetop Perkins.

Perkins writes: Joe Willie “Pinetop” Perkins is a national treasure. Forget Mount Rushmore and to hell with the Grand Canyon – old rocks and dead men are no match for a timeless spring of eternal blues....

He was born in Belzoni, Mississippi [in 1913] on the Honey Island plantation. Perkins has taken to saying he was “born in the honey,” a turn of phrase that now serves as the title of a 60-minute documentary on his incredible life.

He started playing music at an early age, learning both guitar and piano as a youngster before leaving home around age 16....He moved to Clarksdale in 1940, not long after the moonshine operation he helped run got broken up. His fellow entrepreneurs were apprehended by the law. He escaped and decided it was time for a change of scenery....Perkins knocked around Memphis, St. Louis, and Cairo, Illinois throughout the '50s. While in Memphis, he taught Ike Turner to play piano. He also recorded on a session with Earl Hooker for Sun Records. While there, he recorded “Pinetop's Boogie Woogie,” which was originally recorded by Clarence “Pinetop” Smith. The song meant so much to Perkins that he donned the nickname himself, becoming even more famous than its originator....

Born in the Honey assembles a wonderful cast of blues legends to both pay tribute to Perkins as well as swap stories about time spent with him. Bobby Rush has a great story about Pinetop the prankster. Ike Turner, Bob Margolin, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Ann Rabson, Paul Oscher, Dr. John, Lonnie Brooks, Hubert Sumlin, Taj Majal, Kim Wilson, Marcia Ball, Koko Tayler, and Bernard Allison are all interviewed during the documentary as is Pinetop himself....

Pinetop Perkins is a blues icon, and Born in the Honey does a fine job of telling his story....Also included in the package is a 10-song CD, Pinetop Perkins on the 88s. The first nine tracks are taken from a live performance.

(Read the full article here.)

Monday, June 4, 2007

Howlin Wolf Festival

Columbus Commercial Dispatch: The festival honoring great blues legend Chester “Howlin' Wolf” Burnett is set for Saturday, June 10 at Waverly Waters in Columbus, and will feature plenty of entertainment and barbeque. The event should help finish raising the remaining funds needed to purchase the Howlin' Wolf marker for the Mississippi Blues Trail. Entertainment will feature Daniel “Slick” Ballinger, 19th Street Red, Big Joe Shelton and Flathead Ford. (Full Story)

In other news, Howlin Wolf and others are featured on the "The American Folk-Blues Festival: The British Tours" DVD reviewed by the LA Times.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Friday Roundup

Gold suit? Black sideburns? Must be Elvis Fest time. Elvis Fest in Tupelo.

From New Jersey's Courier Post: Mississippi native Steve Forbert, meanwhile, is touring in support of his soon-to-be released album, "Strange Names & New Sensations," which includes a new version of his biggest hit, 1980's "Romeo's Tune." "After all these years, it's still my signature song and I still like to sing it," Forbert said recently, adding that for the remake "we didn't try to repeat the original. The song has magic which made it a hit, and you can't get that out of a bottle," he said. "It stands on its own, so we just changed it a little, slowed it down a bit. It's the same song, only different."

Thursday, May 31, 2007

This Weekend

44th Annual Medgar Evers B.B. King Homecoming - Jackson

9th Annual Elvis Presley Festival - Tupelo

Robin Thicke - Jackson

Highway 61 Blues Fest - Leland

Thursday News Roundup

Yesterday, the Mississippi Blues Commission dedicated a Blues Trail marker for the Summers Hotel and Subway Lounge in Jackson. The Subway was featured in the Last of the Mississippi Jukes and was a longtime blues staple of Jackson.
WLBT has video and the Clarion Ledger also has a report of the event.

Delta Southern Bank has pledged $200,000 toward the BB King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola (full story).

Elvis Fest kicks off tonight in Tupelo (full story).

Tupelo Daily Journal: Country music star Marty Stuart will bring a host of artists to Oxford this weekend to celebrate American music. The stars will gather to perform for Oxford Sessions, a series of concerts to be videotaped live for a planned series of TV specials celebrating American Music. The two-night event will kick off Thursday at the Gertrude C. Ford Center on the University of Mississippi campus. The Williams Brothers, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Hubert Sumlin will take the stage Thursday, while the Blind Boys of Alabama and Charlie Mussellwhite will perform Friday. Marty Stuart will host and perform both nights. Tickets for each show is $5. For more information about the shows, call (662) 915-2787 (More on this at the University of Mississippi newsdesk.)

The Delta Democrat Times has this great feature on Greenville native Frank Vick, bluesman and longtime drummer for Little Milton and later Howlin' Wolf. The eighth annual Highway 61 Blues Festival, to be held Saturday in Leland, is dedicated to Vick and to the late James “Son” Thomas (Full Story Here).

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Marty Stuart & Brandy

Great article and review of Philadelphia, Mississippi native Marty Stuart's new album over at Monsters & Critics. An excerpt: For Stuart, it all comes from what he calls his "Mississippi heritage." "So much of America`s music sprang from there," says the Philadelphia, Miss., native, whose hometown is within 35 miles of Meridian, home of country music pioneer Jimmie Rodgers. Stuart points to such Mississippi music notables as Elvis Presley, B.B. King, Tammy Wynette and Pop Staples among the state`s rich legacy of American music figureheads. "I realized early on that I come from there, and that any form of music that`s from there I could legitimately go to, and make a contribution," Stuart continues. "When I embraced that, I went beyond making music from one street, one town to the whole American roots system that`s bigger than anybody`s chart. I love that."

McComb, Mississippi native and R&B star Brandy is back in the news for her December 2006 car accident. Now she is suing another driver involved "accusing him of calusing the accident which left a mother-of-two dead." (Full story at RapWeekly.com)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Monday News Roundup

From the Gwinnett County Georgia Daily Post: "Mississippi is a state that’s hard to spell. It’s a place that divides East and West and a state steeped in Southern culture. More than that, the Magnolia State is the birthplace of some of our nation’s most prominent people, from music scene heavy-hitters to literary prodigies. We surfed the Web to find the top five highlights of any Mississippi itinerary." The story highlights Mississippi as the "Birthplace of rock" and "Birthplace of the blues" and the birthplace of the Muppets and the "birthplace of Southern drama" and the "birthplace of American fiction." (Read the full story here) 5/29

The Chicago Sun Times discusses the new book and CD to honor the late Larry Brown of Oxford. (Read the story here) 5/27

The Subway Lounge Blues Trail Marker will be unveiled in Jackson on Wednesday. (Full story) 5/25

Friday, May 25, 2007

44th Annual Medgar Evers B.B. King Homecoming

44th Annual Medgar Evers B.B. King HomecomingMay 31st - June 2nd 2007 in Jackson, Mississippi

Saturday afternoon: The 44th Annual Blues Concert staring Sir Charles Atkins, Bobby Rush, Peggy Scott Adams, Nellie (Tiger) Travis, Tina Diamond, The Houserockers and many more. The concert will be held at the parking lot beside WMPR Radio Station at 1018 Pecan Park Circle behind E&E Blues Cafe' at 2605 Robinson Rd. Concert Admission will be $25.00 at the gate. Gates open at 2:00PM and show starts at 4:00PM. (Security Provided)

Friday News Roundup

Ground Zero Blues Club celebrates sixth anniversary this Saturday. Clarksdale’s James "Super Chikan" Johnson and Tupelo’s Homemade Jamz will perform. (Full Story Here) 5/25/2007

StarNewsOnline.com (North Carolina): At the LAUNDROLOUNGE This Saturday as part of WE Festival XI: "8:30 p.m. Jennifer Glass [Jackson] Mississippi-born/NYC-based singer [Decca Records] Jennifer Glass has chops and songwriting abilities to spare. A recent performance at The Living Room will soon be broadcast on XM Radio, while Glass will also cover Bonnaroo this year as a VJ for Concert TV, an on-demand music channel." 5/25/2007

McComb native and R&B artist Ray J continues his "salacious scandal" lifestyle as reported in great detail at the Black Voices Blog. 5/24/2007

Jackson Free Press: "Larry Brown loved music. The late Mississippi author was a constant presence around the music clubs in his hometown of Oxford, and a CD was always playing in his writing room (often the disc of a local musician). Many of the musicians from the Oxford area responded in kind, becoming dedicated followers of his sparse, direct novels and short stories. Brown's death in 2004 at the age of 53 was devastating, and many are still trying to come to terms with it, the music world in particular. To celebrate his life, a group of musicians from Mississippi (and some from other parts of the country) have come together and created a special compilation CD. “Just One More: A Musical Tribute to Larry Brown,” which will be released this week by Chicago-based label Bloodshot Records, features tracks from 18 of Brown’s favorite performers." (Full Story Here) 5/23/2007

Jackson Free Press: "Mckinney “WorkHorse” Williams Jr. has plenty to rap about. With an easy-going voice, the West Jackson native doesn’t give you 16 bars of nursery rhymes. Instead, he conveys stories of what he has witnessed in the capitol city. “I got so much music in me that I literally dream songs,” Workhorse writes on his MySpace blog. His mixtape “In the Future Volume II” is available at BeBop." (Full Interview Here) 05/16/2007

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Carey Bell and Jesse Robinson

Scott Barretta writes in today's Clarion Ledger: "The blues world suffered a major loss May 6 with the passing of harmonica great Carey Bell (Harrington), a native of Macon. His death came shortly after the release of a new dual CD and DVD release, Gettin' Up: Live (Delmark), which illustrates how his command of the harmonica and powerful vocals remained undiminished." (Full Story Here)

Carey Bell's son, Steve, a resident of Kosciusko, will participate in a "harmonica blowout" at blues guitarist Jesse Robinson's annual birthday celebration at Hal & Mal's, which begins at 7 p.m. tonight. Other guests include King Edward, Alphonso Sanders and Rhonda Richmond.

3 New Blues Trail Markers

The Mississippi Blues Trail has announced three upcoming marker dedications:

Jackson - Former Site of the Subway Lounge - May 30, 3pm: 619 West Pearl Street

Tunica - Son House - June 18, 10am

Canton - Elmore James - June 19

Highway 61 poster signing Thursday

Delta Democrat Times: "LELAND - The poster signing and reception for the eighth annual Highway 61 Blues Festival will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Highway 61 Blues Museum. There will be wine, hors d'oeuvres and music by local bluesmen at the public event. The poster contest was won this year by renown artist Cristen Barnard of Tutwiler. .This year's festival, which will be June 2, is dedicated to legendary Leland bluesman James “Son” Thomas and longtime Greenville drummer Frank Vick." (Full Story Here)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Willie King DVD

If you've been to the juke joint Betty's Place in Noxubee County, Mississippi, you know about Willie King who lives on the Alabama/Mississippi line. Visible World Films has just put together a DVD on King. The Columbus Dispatch reports (full story at link):

Ever wonder what it's like to be a modern bluesman, living in the woods of the Alabama Black Belt? A pair of Dutch filmmakers, Saskia Rietmeijer and Bart Drolenga of Visible World Films, found out. And now they've brought the experience to everyone.

Just in time for Willie King's upcoming Freedom Creek Festival, the filmmakers have released a DVD, “Willie King: Down in the Woods,” about the bluesman, a local favorite, who lives in Old Memphis, a rural community in Alabama....

"We have always been fascinated by the Old South, which is so rich in culture, music and literature," he continued. "We are big American roots music fans - blues, jazz, soul and Americana. We heard Willie sing and play on his porch and the decision was easily made to make the documentary on him."...

For the DVD, King also was filmed performing with other musicians, such as [Forest, MS native] T Model Ford, and while visiting his mentor, Mississippi bluesman Jesse Daniels....

King was inducted into the Howlin' Wolf Hall of Fame in 2005. He was recognized by Living Blues magazine in 2000, 2001 and 2003 and was nominated for the traditional blues male artist of the year in the 2006 Blues Music Awards. He also is a repeated nominee in the W.C. Handy Awards.

Freedom Creek Festival
May 25, begins at 4 p.m., and May 26, begins at 11 a.m.
Old Memphis, near Aliceville, Ala. (On King's property in Pickens County)
(For directions, contact the Alabama Blues Project at (205) 752-6263.)
Admission: Suggested donations - $5 Friday and $10 Saturday