The 14th annual Freedom Creek Festival June 4 in Aliceville, Ala., continues in honor of the late Willie King, pictured here performing at a previous Freedom Creek event. Photo by: Courtesy
May 27, 2011 6:12:00 PM
When it comes to authentic blues, Freedom Creek Festival has delivered year after year. Started by bluesman Willie King in a rural field behind his home, this annual gathering of the faithful has continued in his honor in the two years since King''s untimely death in 2009. Known for a warm welcome, peaceful atmosphere and down-home music, the event over the years has attracted a very diverse and international audience.
On Saturday, June 4, the blues return to Aliceville, Ala. -- although to a different venue this time -- with headliners Homemade Jamz and Super Chikan, plus the Mississippi Blues Boys, the Blues Women Review featuring Debbie Bond, Clarence Davis, "Birmingham" George Conner and many more artists leading the 14th annual fest.
Live music from 11 a.m. until "late" will be hosted at 1438 Wilder Circle, Highway 17 South, on the outskirts of Aliceville.
"Although not as remote as our usual venue, the festival will be easier to find, and also have a little more shade," said Rick Asherson, who worked closely with King and spearheads the festival. "The stage backs on to a large field, which is available for camping, and there is a nearby motel in Aliceville."
As always, the festival will open with a gospel performance, this year by the Mississippi Nightingales. The rest of the day is devoted to the blues, with performers of all ages.
"In trying to keep true to the spirit of Willie King, who started this festival and remains its main inspiration, the music is devoted to the traditional blues, with a focus on the Black Belt region, where Willie lived," said Asherson, a native of Great Britain.
Performers range from the students of the Alabama Blues Project, to the only slightly older but internationally-renowned family band, Homemade Jamz, to seasoned juke joint star Super Chikan "and everything in between," promises Asherson.
Homemade Jamz, comprised of siblings Ryan, Kyle and Taya Perry of Tupelo, are the youngest-ever Jus Blues Music Award winners and the youngest Blues Music Award nominees. They''re been featured on virtually every network and are lauded throughout the global blues community.
When B.B. King first heard the family band three years ago, he remarked, "In my 82 years, I''ve never seen something musically ... so remarkable."
Living Blues Critics Award winner Super Chikan -- who Market Street Festival audiences enjoyed May 7 at the Riverwalk in Columbus -- is a 2010 Blues Music Award winner for Traditional Blues Album of the Year. In 2004, he was a recipient of the Mississippi Governor''s Award for Excellence in the Arts.
"Willie started this festival with a mission to bring people together -- to ''mix and mingle'' -- in the heart of the Deep South, the land where blues was born," Asherson explained. "Since his passing in March 2009, his nonprofit organization, the Rural Members Association, has been working hard to present this festival as a memorial and living testament to his deep love of the blues, as well as the community he lived in, loved and served."
How to go
Directions to the 2011 site can be found at www.willie-king.com.
A suggested donation to the Rural Members Association of $10 serves as admission. Camping is free.
Lawn chairs, shade, sunscreen and water are recommended. Vendors with food and drink will be on site.
"Aliceville recently voted to be a wet city, so coolers are permitted," Asherson noted.
For additional information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Asherson at 205-752-6263.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.