Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mississippi Delta National Heritage area approved!

This month the US Congress formally approved the management plan for the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, which is comprised of 18 counties that contain land inside the Delta region. It's one of just fifty National Heritage Areas in the country. Here's a news article that explains the process leading up to Congress' approval.

A central idea behind National Heritage Areas is to foster identify, celebrate and perpetuate cultural resources for the purposes of both education and economic development, such as through foster blues and Civil Rights tourism.

The Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area focuses on five themes.

- The Mississippi River and the Land It Embraces

- The Culture of the Blues and the Birth of an American Sound

- Moving Toward Freedom: Changing America’s Character in the Struggle for Rights

- Growing More than Cotton: The Delta as a Wellspring of Creativity

- The Delta Divide: Building Communities.

The board for the non-profit organization is chaired by Delta State University President John Hilpert, and much of the legwork was conducted by Dr. Luther Brown, who recently retired from DSU's  Delta Center for Culture and Learning. Brown has contributed immensely to drawing attention to the cultural wealth of the region for the last fourteen years, and will continue to work with the Center. DSU recently announced his replacement, Dr. Rolando Herts, who has worked extensively on the issue of universities and tourism and served for several years in the Delta with Teach For America.

On October 6-7 Delta State will host the first International Conference of the Blues, featuring artist including Alvin Youngblood Hart and speakers including Robert Santelli of the Grammy Museum.

B.B. King Museum to host exhibit "Blues @ Home" by H.C. Porter

Over the last several years Vicksburg-based artist H.C. Porter traveled across Mississippi document blues artists through oral history interviews and photographs, which she used as the basis for a series of thirty paintings. The portraits include a wide range of artists, ranging from B.B. King to lesser-known musicians such as T-Bone Pruitt of Laurel and YZ Ealey of Natchez. To read more about the project and to view many of the portraits, visit the Blues @ Home website.

The opening reception for Blues @ Home will take place on Thursday, August 21 from 6-8pm at the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center, with an "After Glow" party following at the nearby Club Ebony. The exhibit will remain up into the first week of Bridging the Blues. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This weekend in Vicksburg - King Edward! Full BTB schedule for the Bottleneck Blues Bar

Every Friday and Saturday night the Vicksburg Blues Society teams up with the Ameristar Casino's Bottleneck Blues Bar for great blues shows, with no entry fee. This week it's veteran Jackson bluesman King Edwards; he's originally from the Lafayette, Louisiana area, but has been in Jackson since the 1970s after a stint in Chicago.  He just recorded a new CD, and he'll be glad to sell you at the Bottleneck show this weekend! 

Here's the schedule for the next months -- during Bridging the Blues the featured artists are Mr. Sipp, Eddie Cotton, and Grady Champion, all exciting young Mississippi artists.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fall lineup for free concert series at Memphis' Levitt Shell

Memphis' wonderful outdoor venue the Levitt Shell has announced its Fall lineup, with 18 free concerts and events beginning in September. The first scheduled event, on Friday, September 5, is a showing of the music documentary  "Meanwhile In Memphis: The Sound of a Revolution."  The following evening, Saturday September 6, is a concert by the North Mississippi Allstars, who have been touring Europe this summer with Robert Plant.
The music continues each Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Oct. 12.  A show of interest for blues fan during Bridging the Blues is the concert on Friday October 3 by Big Sam's Funky Nation, a New Orleans R&B outfit led by former Dirty Dozen Brass Band trombonist Big Sam Williams. The following night it's Tupelo native and roots rocker Paul Thorn.
Built in 1936, the Shell (known for many years as the Overton Shell) was the site of Elvis Presley's first professional rock'n'roll show on July 30, 1954. It  later hosted the Memphis Country Blues Festival.  It's located in Midtown off of Poplar Avenue in Overton Park, next to the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

Upcoming soul/blues festival in Helena, Arkansas

Many fans come to the Delta region seeking out traditional blues, but one of the most vital scenes today is of modern "soul/blues." Mel Waiters, Sir Charles Jones, Luther Lackey and Sweet Angel are all leading artists in this genre. This festival takes place on the levee of the Mississippi River in the same space of the main stage of the King Biscuit Blues Festival.

Here's Mel Waiters live at last year's Crescent City Blues Festival in New Orleans

Go to the Visit Helena site for more great local events and activities, including the upcoming Bar None pop-up bar event