22nd Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival

Tentative Lineup: August 7-8-9, 2009 - Subject to Change

Check the Sunflower’s website: www.sunflowerfest.org for  Sam Cooke tribute event schedules: the Heritage Trail Marker Dedication and the “Remembering Sam Cooke” Educational Forum.

Main Stage-Delta Blues Museum Stage- Downtown Clarksdale
Friday, August 7, 2009
5:00-5:45 - Bill Perry
6:00-6:45 - Razorblade
7:00-8:00 - Guitar Mikey with Nellie Tiger Travis
8:15-9:15 - Nathaniel Kimble
9:30-10:45 - O.B. Buchanan


Main Stage-Delta Blues Museum Stage- Downtown Clarksdale
Saturday, August 8, 2009
1:00-1:30 - Delta Blues Museum Band
1:45-2:15 - George Horn and South of Memphis Band
2:30-3:15 - Eddie Lee Coleman Band
3:30-4:15 - Wesley Jefferson Southern Soul Band
4:30-5:15 - James Jimbo Mathis
5:30-6:30 - Homemade Jamz
6:45-7:45 - Juke Joint Duo – Cedric Burnside & Lightnin’ Malcolm
8:00-9:00 - Super Chikan Johnson
9:15-10:30 - Bettye LaVette

The Othar Turner Acoustic Stage- Clarksdale Station
Inside the Former Depot Blues Club-Issaquena & Blues Alley
Saturday, August 8, 2009
9:00am - Foster “Tater” Wylie
9:35am - Robert Belfour
10:05am - Eddie Cusic
10:35am - Pat Thomas
11:05am - T-Model Ford           
11:35am - Big Jack Johnson               
12:05pm - Shardee Turner & the Rising Star Fife & Drum Band

Sunflower Riverwalk Park Acoustic Stage No. 2- Third & Sunflower
Saturday, August 8, 2009
1:15pm - Charles Fowler
2:00pm - Arthneice “Gas Man” Jones           
2:45pm - Bill Abel & Cadillac John
3:30pm - Terry “Harmonica” Bean
4:15pm - Jimmy Duck Holmes
5:00pm - Kenny Brown
5:45pm - Johnny Lowbrow

Sunday, August 9, 2009 Gospel Stage-Civil Auditorium -West 2nd & Leflore
(Lineup is incomplete; please check the website for additional information)
5:00 pm - Christopher Coleman
5:45-6:30pm - Chapel Hill Male’s Chorus
6:45-7:45pm - The Myles Family


Main Stage & Educational Forum on Sam Cooke will feature ‘First Lady of Soul’ Bettye LaVette who sang Cooke’s anthem ‘Change is Gonna Come’ at President Barack Obama’s inaugural in D.C.

CLARKSDALE - The 22nd free Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival on August 7-8-9, 2009 will honor Clarksdale native Sam Cooke, who grew up is a children’s gospel group here with his siblings, became lead singer with the Soul Stirrers, and later crossed over to become the world’s most famous soul vocalist, announce co-chairmen John Sherman and Melville Tillis.

“The Sunflower is welcoming members of the Sam Cooke family, the International Sam Cooke Fan Club, celebrities and musicians whose careers have been influenced by his music, local friends and fans who are participating in the “Remembering Sam Cooke” Educational Forum and officials of the Mississippi Heritage Trail who will be unveiling the Sam Cooke marker during this festival.

“The importance of his contributions in the world of music and his influences on other artists will be celebrated on stage during this festival and also during a unique afternoon educational forum that is open to music fans of all ages,” continues Tillis.

Igniting the tribute to fever pitch and headlining the Saturday night main stage is “The Great Lady of Soul” Bettye LaVette, who performed the Sam Cooke anthem, “Change Is Gonna Come” during the inaugural activities of President Barack Obama, and also brought down the house at Kennedy Center Honors.

A veteran performer and recording artist for Atlantic Records whose return to the music scene with the album “I’ve Got My Own Hell to Raise,” has exploded with accolades.

Recipient of the Blues Music Comeback Award, Miss LaVette also
will be participating in the “Remembering Sam Cooke” Educational Forum.

LaVette cut her first record for Atlantic at the age of 16, starred in a Broadway show with Cab Calloway and has toured with Ben E. King, Otis Redding, and James Brown.

Juke Blues magazine describes her voice as “Tortuous soul at its most raw and almost frightening in its intensity.”

The Sunflower’s Sam Cooke tribute has grown from the City of Clarksdale’s “Walk of Fame” plaque dedication in April 2008 that was so successful that a decision was unanimous to continue the connection and the celebration through the 2009 festival.

During the “Remembering Sam Cooke” forum, local residents and Cooke family members will be sharing their personal experiences about the celebrity, and the Chapel Hill Men’s Chorus will be singing Soul Stirrers selections.

“We anticipate lively dialogue, discussion and interactions between the audience and speakers,” says Tillis who participated in the 2008 panel.

To plan events and fund-raising drives to keep the festival free, Sherman says members have been meeting bi-monthly.

The unveiling of the 2009 festival poster design created by Cristen Barnard is planned for July 3 at Ground Zero Blues Club

“The mission of our non-profit organization for the past 22 years has been to preserve, promote, and perpetuate our area’s musical heritage in a free community celebration,” says Sherman.

He says all donations are tax-deductible and directly pay performers and production costs of the festival.

In 2008 the Sunflower was ranked among America’s Top 10 places to hear authentic music by USA Weekend’s Travel Section along with Seattle and Miami.
For the past several years, the festival has also been featured as the cover story of the Clarion-Ledger’s Weekend Entertainment section.

Blues Association members range from professionals in medicine, law, and education to secretaries, cooks, and prison guards. All pay $15 membership dues; many make significant financial donations as well as invaluable contributions of services and countless hours of work.

The festival sponsors four stages: two acoustic stages, a gospel stage, and the main electric stage.

Festival activities begin with electric performances Friday afternoon on the Blues Alley stage generally opening with students from the Delta Blues Museum and continuing through 11 p.m. headliners; an acoustic stage inside Clarksdale Station, the historic passenger depot that begins Saturday morning and ends with a traditional procession led by the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band founded by the late Othar Turner, to the main Blues Alley Stage and on to a second acoustic stage on Sunflower Avenue.

Electric blues continues on the main stage through headliners Saturday night at 11 p.m. The gospel festival is held late Sunday afternoon in the air-conditioned City Auditorium.

Tillis says the association has encouraged and assisted local clubs to book many festival musicians to play after hours, and bookings are announced daily from the main stage.

The festival’s three-day lineup includes top performers who are aware of Clarksdale’s legacy as home to W.C. Handy, Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, Son House, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, and John Lee Hooker.

Past performers have included many celebrities including Charlie Musselwhite, Little Milton, Ike Turner, Pinetop Perkins, Koko Taylor, Bob Margolin, Hubert Sumlin, Carey Bell, Honeyboy Edwards, Bobby Rush, Bobby Blue Bland, Denise LaSalle, Sam Carr, Latimore, Big Bill Morganfield, Big Jack Johnson, Super Chikan Johnson, Shemekia Copeland, Shirley Brown, the Jackson Southernaires, and the Myles Family.

Among the visitors signing the hospitality roster are residents of Europe, Asia, Scandinavia, South American. In 2008 visitors for the first time arrived from Egypt, Mexico, and Portugal.

Sherman says visitors are attracted not only by the wonderful music – the Sunflower has been called “America’s purest blues festival” - but also its laid-back atmosphere, the accessibility of artists, and the Southern hospitality of hometown residents.

He says the festival especially appreciates its many local collaborators including the Delta Blues Museum that donates the main stage, green room, Greyhound Bus Station and assists with many services.

John and Lori Moore and their staff at 305 Spin, who donate free webmaster services; the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Commission who provide funding for national advertising; association members who donate all graphic design for national advertising, billboards, and the program, church groups that donate and serve food for the gospel performers.

Others prepare grilled chicken, burgers; restaurants donate trays of appetizers. Members volunteer to serve at the VIP preview supper featuring “Grits, Greens, and Barbecue.”

Tax-deductible donations are encouraged and may be mailed to the Sunflower River Blues Association, Box 1562, Clarksdale, MS 38614, according to Sherman.

VIP memberships are also being accepted; passes/wristbands may be picked up at the VIP tent during the festival. Donations of $300 to the SRBA provide hospitality, tables and seating, beverages for four guests beneath the large
air-cooled VIP tent on Friday and Saturday during the festival. The tent is located near the Main Stage.

Festival news is updated continually on the website: www.sunflowerfest.org

(photo cutlines)
Clarksdale native Sam Cooke was inducted in the first Rock n Roll Hall of Fame following an acclaimed career in gospel and soul music that continues to influence musicians around the globe.


‘The First Lady of Soul’ Bettye LaVette will headline the Sunflower’s Saturday night stage and participate in the “Remembering Sam Cooke” educational forum.

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