Sunflower Fest Draws International Media
Favorite Saturday Daytime Acoustic
Stage Expands into Three Cool Locations
Italian photographers photograph Josh ‘Razorblade’ Stewart outside
the 2015 Sunflower Festival main stage
Credit: Panny Mayfield
CLARKSDALE – Flooding their website in Italy are dozens and dozens and dozens of artistic photographs from last summer’s Clarksdale’s Sunflower River Blues and Blues Festival.
They range from musicians in action: William Bell, La La, “Bud” Welch, Super Chikan Johnson, RazorBlade, Kingfish, Sweet Angel, Kenny Brown and others to scenes of The Crossroads, Greyhound Bus Station, Ground Zero’s front porch and walls of Orlando Paden political signs.
They are coming back for more with more photographers this summer. Thirteen (13) in all.
“Last years experience in Clarksdale was really amazing, so we are organizing again with another group and we’ll stay in Clarksdale for the entire duration (August 10-15) of the festival,” Simona Ottolenghi, tour leader said in her email request for media credentials.
Last year’s group showed its photos everywhere on the web, she added.
Welcoming them this year will be three cool acoustic stages confronting the steamy daytime August temperatures they encountered last summer.
These popular events will be located beneath
the air-cooled VIP Tent on John Lee Hooker Lane; inside the
air-conditioned Levon Bar and Grill at 232 Sunflower, and inside
the air-conditioned Crossroads Cultural Arts Center, 332 Delta
All are free and open to the public.
Performing on these stages with lively
interaction and conversations expected between artists and audience
are 14 musical acts starting at 10:00 a.m. Saturday and continuing
through 4:45 p.m. when the main stage reopens with the Bill
Abel Band at 5:00 p.m. Christine “Kingfish” Ingram picks up
the pace at 6:00 p.m. followed by Terry “Big T” Williams, Vasti
Jackson, Sweet Angel, and Lonnie Shields.
Opening Saturday morning’s acoustic stage
beneath the VIP Tent at 10:00 a.m. will be David Dunavant followed
by Pat Thomas, Lil Willie Farmer, Lucious Spiller, an Educational
Program, Leo “Bud” Welch, and Sharde Turner and the Rising Star
Deak Harp and Lee Williams open the Levon’s
Bar and Grill acoustic stage at 1:00 p.m. Saturday followed
by Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, Kenny Brown, and Terry “Harmonica” Bean.
At the Crossroads Cultural Arts Center
Mississippi Marshall kicks off at 1:00 p.m. followed by Bill
“Howl-N-Madd Perry, Watermelon Slim, and Anthony “Big A” Sherrod.
Sunday’s Gospel Stage inside the air-conditioned
Civic Auditorium begins at 4:00 p.m. with the Clarksdale Mass
Choir followed by The Singing Echoes, Ned Johnson & the Jonestown
Crusaders, The Myles Family, and closes with headliner: Lee
Williams & The Spiritual QC’s.
Norwegian divas Rita Engedalen and Margit Bakken, who gave a ‘Women in Blues’ presentation at the 2015 Sunflower attract the Italian photography corps outside Clarksdale’s historic former Greyhound Bus Station and media center.
Photo Credit: Panny Mayfield
The Sunflower hosts a VIP Tent for supporters who purchase weekend tickets to enjoy seating at linen-covered tables with unlimited beverages beneath an air-cooled tent near the main stage. For more information, telephone (662) 627-5301.
VIPs also are special guests for Thursday night’s “Grits, Greens, & Barbecue” supper featuring live entertainment by Richard “Daddy Rich” Crisman, Marshal Drew, and Sean “Bad” Apple. The event’s famous menu was created originally to introduce Norwegian cousins from Notodden, Norway, to Southern Soul Food. It includes Abe’s famous barbecue, turnip greens and cornbread from Chef Louise Campbell, and Charlie Musselwhite’s favorite baked cheese grits.
For updates and a complete lineup, visit
the festival’s website: www.sunflowerfest.org
The Sunflower Festival has been heralded
by USA Weekend as one of America’s Top 10 Places to hear authentic
music. In 2012 it was honored with its own Mississippi Blues
Heritage marker, and Visit South has named it Mississippi’s
Top Pick of blues festivals in 2016.
The festival is staged entirely by volunteers who work year-round raising funds to keep the event free and open to the public. Members are 50 percent African American and 50 percent Caucasian and range from professionals including lawyers, doctors, teachers, and accountants to secretaries, road crew workers, cooks, retirees, and a prison guard from Parchman.
The non-profit 501c3 organization has
been supported by grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission
since it was inaugurated. It is funded also by HPI, Coahoma
Community College, Merit Health, Clarksdale Public Utilities,
local banks, businesses, individuals, and memberships.