Venues partner to offer blues week immersion

July 20, 2013 5:41:10 PM

Jan Swoope - [email protected]


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 


  • Tuesday, July 23 -- Take in a free seminar by Scott Barretta of Oxford at 7 p.m. at the Rosenzweig Arts Center Omnova Theater, 501 Main St., Columbus.  


    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. 


  • Wednesday, July 24 -- Visit the Howlin' Wolf Museum at 307 Westbrook St. in West Point from 6-7 p.m. Though small, the museum is rich in history and memorabilia of a true blues legend from Clay County. Visitors from 42 states and 20 countries have made their way there, said Richard Ramsey, director of the Howlin' Wolf Memorial Blues Festival coming up Aug. 30.  


    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."  


  • Thursday, July 25 -- Spend an evening on the river bank to the music of Deacon Jones and the Late Night as Main Street Columbus and The LINK present Sounds of Summer at the Columbus Riverwalk from 7-9 p.m. Lawn chairs or blankets are recommended. 


  • Friday, July 26 -- Delta bluesmen Cadillac John and Bill Abel are in concert at the Rosenzweig Arts Center Omnova Theater at 7 p.m., sponsored in part by the Mississippi Arts Commission. 


    "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.  


  • Saturday, July 27 -- Make your own cigar box-diddley bow in a workshop with Bill Abel at 10 a.m. at the Rosenzweig Arts Center. Cost is $10.  


    "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.