24th Sunflower Fest to Celebrate Five
Michael James, Wesley
Jefferson,‘Tater’ Wiley, Sarah Moore,
James Alford to be honored August 12-14, 2011
CLARKSDALE – The Sunflower River
Blues Association has voted to dedicate its 24th annual
festival to five key contributors: musicians Michael James,
Wesley Jefferson, and Foster “Tater” Wiley, club owner
Sarah Moore, and vendor chairman James Alford.
“We will be celebrating the lives
of our own Sunflower family; for more than two decades,
all were part of our history until their deaths last year,”
commented longtime co-chairman Melville Tillis in an announcement
Ranked as one of America’s Top 10
Places to hear authentic music by USA Weekend, the free
festival takes place August 12-13-14, 2011.
In addition to featuring more than
40 bands on four stages – an electric main stage, two
acoustic stages, and a gospel stage – the festival will
include educational programs and panels “Remembering James,
Jefferson, Wiley, Moore, and Alford.”
Participating in formats similar
to past festival programs honoring Charlie Musselwhite,
Muddy Waters with Big Bill Morganfield, Latimore, Sam
Cooke, and Ike Turner will be family members and friends.
A star performer with the Wesley
Jefferson Southern Soul Band, talented guitarist Michael
James also shared his expertise by teaching students in
the Delta Blues Museum’s educational program.
An organizational leader and talented
musician, Wesley “Junebug” Jefferson represented the bedrock
of local bands dominating the musical scene for 30 years.
Foster “Tater” Wiley not only performed
as a solo acoustic guitarist on the Sunflower stages every
year, but also made frequent signature appearances with
many groups including John Ruskey and Jimbo Mathus.
Although Sarah Moore’s club - Sarah’s
Kitchen - offered authentic Southern cuisine, it also
was a magnet and proving ground for Delta blues musicians
as well as international stars - young and old – fledgling
and veterans, says Tillis.
front of Sarah’s Kitchen in its original location
on Sunflower Avenue
Norwegian Grammy-winning vocalist
and guitarist Rita Engedalen, who has performed twice
at the Sunflower Festival, reports she will be recording
a CD tribute to Sarah Moore in Clarksdale during February.
and guitarist Michael James
(wearing white hat)
With past experience as a blues
club owner, James Alford could be talked into singing
“Bluebird” occasionally. He also was a multi-faceted Sunflower
organizer who served as backstage coordinator, main stage
announcer, and vendor chairman.
Festival details, lineups, and photos
from the Sunflower’s Thanksgiving Eve blues party at Ground
Zero are available online at www.sunflowerfest.org
Organized in 1988 and staged entirely
by volunteers, the Sunflower Festival has featured local
musicians and many celebrities including Koko Taylor,
Bobby Rush, Bobby Blue Bland , the North Mississippi Allstars,
Charlie Musselwhite, Shirley Brown, Denise LaSalle, Shemekia
Copeland, Bettye Lavette, and others.