One of the most heralded events of the Mississippi Delta is about to commence — the 42nd Annual Mississippi Delta Blues & Heritage Festival.
As Mississippi Action for Community Education (MACE) makes preparations for the festival, there are also several events taking place during “Blues Week” leading up to the big day itself.
The schedule of Blues Week activities is as follows:
- The Mayors Reception will be from 6:30-9 p.m. Monday at Harlow’s Casino Resort & Spa;
- The seventh annual Blue Fest Family Fun Day will be from 5-7 p.m. Wednesday at Stein Mart Square in downtown Greenville;
- Delta Dialogue will be from 8:30 a.m. to noon Friday at the Washington County Convention Center; and
- The Nelson Street Festival will be from 4 p.m. until Friday along historic Nelson Street.
On Saturday, festival gates are set to open at 10 a.m. with the festival starting at noon at the Washington County Convention Center fairgrounds.
The Mississippi Delta Blues Festival began in 1978 and is the longest continuously-operating blues festival in the world, and serves as the key fundraiser for MACE.
Catherine Courtney, a former employee of MACE and a longtime volunteer for the festival said she and others figured it would be a good way to help the organization. “We came in three or four times to help through crunch time situations,” she said.
One of the ways they’ve kicked off the fun was by hosting their kickoff event in front of their building on Theobald Street. MACE Committee Member Chauncy Wright said the kick-off event was a success and there were approximately 300 people in attendance.
Another was an unveiling event featuring the poster for this year’s festival, which was Thursday evening at Garfield’s restaurant. According to Wright, it is a commemorative poster that’s done every year by an artist and is a hand-crafted original art piece. This year’s artist is Himes “Borie” Weekly, of Clarksdale, and this makes the fourth time he has won the contest to do the poster.
Wright also spoke highly of this year’s impressive line-up of artists as well as past years.
“Everybody that’s among the who’s who of the blues has performed there,” he said. “Ike Turner, Johnny Taylor Tyrone Davis, Bobby Womack, Denise LaSalle, Koko Taylor and Betty Wright has performed at the festival.”
Bobby Rush has played in the festival more times than anyone else — 40 out of the 42 times the festival has been held, according to Wright.
The musical lineup for this year’s festival features Grammy Award winner Bobby Rush; Big Pokey; Calvin Richardson; Mike and Jerry Kattawar; Nathaniel Kimble; John Horton; Sweet Angel; Grady Champion; and J Cenae. Also performing, Butch Mudbone; Keith Johnson & Muddy Band; and The Rising Star Fife & Drum Band.
At this year’s festival, there will be two stages — the Main Stage and the Jukehouse Stage. The Main Stage will be open from noon to 10 p.m. and the Jukehouse Stage will be open from 1 p.m. to sunset.
One of the special aspects of the lineup is the variety of musicians and that it’s not especially typical of a blues festival.
Brothers Mike and Jerry Kattawar are local musicians who now have their own business in Memphis. Sweet Angel, also known as the redbone with the saxophone is said to do an excellent cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain.” Calvin Richardson is well known for the great job he does covering Bobby Womack classic hits and offering a blend of R&B and soul music. Also a not so typical feature is Gino Delafose, who will add some Louisiana-influenced Zydeco sound to the festival mix.
While the music is undoubtedly what makes the festival, the socializing and camaraderie is just as much a staple in the festivities.
“If I didn’t have to work the festival, I would literally spend my days in the RV park, it’s its own party, but there’s so much more to it than the main stage,” Wright said.
For attendees, there are some rules that must be abided by, including:
- No grills;
- No re-entry;
- Tents are available for designated areas only; and
- Only small coolers are allowed (maximum size is 12x12x12)
This year’s sponsors for the festival are MACE; Mississippi State Department of Health; McDonald’s; Dollar General; Entergy; Mitchell Companies; Harlow’s Casino Resort & Spa; Visit Mississippi; Washington County Visitors/Convention Bureau; and Southland Management Corporation.
Tickets cost $25 in advance and $30 at the gate.
Tickets can be purchased across the Delta, including Garfield’s Restaurant & Pub and Disco Den in Greenville; Senator’s Place in Cleveland; Harris Shoe Shop in Greenwood; and the B.B. King Museum in Indianola.
Also, concerts of blues bands are often ordered for corporate parties in the offices of online BTC casinos
with which we work. Such companies most often pay in cryptocurrency, namely in bitcoins. It is always a pleasure to work with them.
Tickets can also be purchased online at deltabluesms.org.
For more information about the festival, call MACE at 662-335-3523.