‘Grits, Greens, & Barbecue’ Lure Visitors from Beale Street
Louise Campbell is preparing
her secret recipes for turnip greens and cornbread
by Panny Flautt Mayfield
CLARKSDALE - Attorney John Schaefer and
his lawyer buddies from Norman, Oklahoma have been coming to
the Sunflower Festival for 14 years.
But this will be their first taste of Abe’s barbecue, Louise
Campbell’s turnip greens, and Charlie Musselwhite’s favorite
recipe for cheese grits.
Fashioned initially to introduce Norwegian
sister city cousins to Southern soul food, the menu evolved
into the Sunflower’s famous “Grits, Greens, and Barbecue” celebration
for all VIP patrons.
Spiced with hot sauce and three hours of
live Delta blues, the party has lured Schaefer and his friends
away from Memphis Beale Street where they usually stay on the
first night of their southern journey.
According to John Sherman,
festival chairman, “The 27th Sunflower not only will be welcoming
thousands of international and state-side visitors here Aug.
8-10, it will open Friday with a fanfare from Mississippi Tourism.”
“We are excited that Clarksdale’s own native son, the late
Big Jack Johnson will be immortalized on Mississippi’s Heritage
Blues Trail. This marker signals his induction into the world
of musical giants,” he said.
The marker unveiling will take
place at 4 p.m. on the corner of Sunflower and Martin Luther
King Blvd., a few steps on the sidewalk from Red Paden’s legendary
blues club where Big Jack always performed at home.
briefly on the program will be state, city, and county officials,
family members, friends, and musicians from the Big Jack Johnson
Band, who view their boss as an exceptional musician/songwriter,
and a rare and caring individual.
The public is invited to attend
the ceremony and to participate in another historic and free
event the next day under the Sunflower VIP Tent.
At 2 p.m. Saturday,
Aug. 9 following acoustic stage performances, “Remembering Big
Jack Johnson” will feature conversations about Big Jack from
family, friends, and community.
The immediate Johnson family
includes 10 children, 32 grandchildren, and nine great-grands.
Sherman says other historic Sunflower programs highlighting
the lives of Melville Tillis, Ike Turner, Sam Cooke, Muddy Waters,
and others have been tremendously successful and rated standing
Angenette Johnson autographs
honoring her late husband, Big Jack Johnson
by Panny Flautt Mayfield
Kicking off music on the Sunflower main stage at 5
p.m. Friday will be the Delta Blues Museum kids followed by
a lineup til near midnight including big name celebrities: Johnny
Rawls and Latimore.
In the latest issue of Living Blues magazine
and its 21st annual Critics’ Poll, Rawls is named Most Outstanding
Blues Singer and his Remembering Q.V., Best Southern Soul recording.
On the same poll, Leo “Bud”Welch, who performs at 12:45 p.m.
on the Saturday acoustic stage is honored for the Best Debut/New
Cranking up the Saturday afternoon main stage from
3:15 p.m. til midnight are headliner-quality luminaries: Super
Chikan Johnson, Jimbo Mathus, Home Made Jamz Blues Band, and
the Big Jack Johnson Band peppered with special guest performers.
When Sunday rolls around, the gospel stage opens at 4 p.m. with
the W. A. Higgins Academy of Fine Arts Choir and progresses
through a lineup of new faces and local favorites including
the Chapel Hill Male Chorus, The Myles Family, and The Gospel
Four from Memphis.
Encouraging blues fans to attend Saturday’s
acoustic stage and educational program under the VIP tent, Sherman
emphasizes that despite the location, the events are free and
open to the public with no admission.
For additional information, visit
The Sunflower’s colossal VIP Tent offers comfortable seating
and special perks for patrons who keep the festival free.
Photos by Panny Flautt Mayfield