Participants in a previous diddley bow-making workshop at the Columbus Arts Council assemble their cigar box-instruments. Delta bluesman Bill Abel will lead a workshop Saturday, July 27 at the Rosenzweig Arts Center. Call the CAC at 662-328-2787 to reserve a space. Photo by: Courtesy photo
July 20, 2013 5:41:10 PM
Blues music is one of Mississippi's indigenous treasures -- and one of its greatest exports. The Columbus Arts Council and area venues will partner July 23-27 for a five-day blues immersion that begins with a free seminar and ends with a diddley bow-making workshop. In between are performances by some of the region's best musicians and an open house at the Howlin' Wolf Blues Museum in West Point.
"Travelers come to Mississippi from literally all over the world to experience authentic blues, and we need to understand and appreciate both the music and the musicians, and their importance in our creative economy," said CAC Program Manager Beverly Norris.
CAC Executive Director Tina Sweeten-Lunsford noted the spirit of collaboration among venues that are teaming up to spotlight the genre.
"We're all working together and hope music fans will take advantage of the education and entertainment at their fingertips this week," she encouraged.
Things to do
Sponsored by the Mississippi Humanities Council, this talk by Mississippi Public Broadcasting's "Highway 61" Radio host addresses "White Blues and African-American Stringbands: Mississippi's Creolized Musical Traditions."
The former editor of Living Blues magazine and co-writer/researcher for the Mississippi Blues Trail teaches at the University of Mississippi and is a recipient of the 2012 Keeping the Blues Alive Award from The Blues Foundation.
"There are a lot of common stereotypes about the blues, and I just find it interesting to illuminate some of the things that people don't know too much about," said Barretta in a phone interview Thursday. "We often make easy assumptions, but when you look into it, you find that Southern music history is more complex."
Barretta's interactive presentation will use music samplings and touch on musicians including Jimmy Rodgers, Mississippi Sheiks, Junior Kimbrough, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup and Elvis Presley.
Museum admission is free, but donations are appreciated. If interested in carpooling, contact the CAC at 662-328-2787.
After the museum, stop at Anthony's Good Food Market at 116 W. Main St. in West Point for Blues Night featuring Mookie Wilson's All Star Band and New Orleans/Delta style dining. Reservations are recommended; call 662-494-0316.
Anthony's manager Tara Dickson said, "I think the blues week is great; everything done around here to promote the blues is going in a positive direction. I feel like if we all work together and promote things going on in the different towns (of the Golden Triangle), we'll help each other overall."
"Cadillac John Nolden is one of the last of the great 'second generation' Delta musicians," said Norris. "Together, Mr. John and Bill create a magic on stage that's hard to beat."
Barretta added, "Mr. Nolden plays in a very subtle style. When you get to see him in an intimate situation, there's a great emotional depth to his music. ... It's a rare opportunity; I wish we could find more artists like him (in Mississippi), but they are seemingly few and far between, at least that have come to public attention."
Concert tickets are $10 in advance at the Rosenzweig Arts Center, and $12 at the door.
"As a blues documentarian and blues educator, I really appreciate the wide array of activities during the week," remarked Barretta, with praise for the educational element that recognizes the value of the blues, not simply as entertainment but as an integral part of the culture.
For more information, concert tickets or to reserve a space in the workshop, contact the CAC at 662-328-2787.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.