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Delta Blues Newsletter

August 10, 2016

Note: From the Museum Director

August is John Lee Hooker Month at the Museum. We are excited to honor the important work of Clarksdale's native son and plan to make this an annual event at the Delta Blues Museum.

We are working with the University of Mississippi's Blues Archive and the John Lee Hooker Estate to create a special exhibit in the Museum gallery that will run throughout this month. Be sure to check our website for our special podcast, "The Roots of John Lee Hooker."

Photo Credit: Terry Abrahamson

For John Lee Hooker Month, the Museum has special items on sale in our Gift Shop: CDs and vinyl, DVDs, and his biography, Boogie Man. The book "gives an account of an entire art form. Grounded in a time and place in American culture, the blues are universal, and in the hands of the greatest practitioners its power resides in the miracle of using despair to transcend it." It's "the authoritative biography of the musician whose career spanned over fifty years and included over one-hundred albums and five Grammy Awards.

Author Charles Shaar Murray lets Hooker tell his story in his own words, from life in the Deep South to San Francisco, from the 1948 blues anthem "Boogie Chillen" to the Grammy-winning album The Healer a half-century later."

We are also hosting Zakiya Hooker, John Lee Hooker's daughter, who will be interviewed in the Museum classroom on Sunday afternoon, August 14th, at 2:00pm by Paul Wilson of WROX radio.

Zakiya is a renowned singer with a lengthy international musical career on her own resume. According to Living Blues Magazine, she is "a decidedly urbane stylist whose dusky alto tones, clear enunciation, and subdued phrasing bring Peggy Lee to mind."

She will talk about her father, his music and life, and her own musical history. This event is free and open to the public.

The event is part of the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival, which is partnering with the DBM for this special John Lee Hooker month.

Photo Credit: Daniel N. Reid, Flickr Creative Commons

The 29th annual edition officially opens Friday, August 12th, 5:00pm, and features the Delta Blues Museum band on the Melville Tillis Delta Blues Stage at the DBM, adjacent to our classroom. Headliners include James "Super Chikan" Johnson, Toni Green, Jimbo Mathus, Lonnie Shields, Vasti Jackson, Sweet Angel, and Lee Williams and the Spiritual QCs. The festival goes day and night August 12th to 13th and concludes with the gospel portion on the 14th. While it's sure hot outdoors in Mississippi in August, this year there are new, cooler, indoor venues in the afternoons. As always,the festival is free and open to the public.

On Friday at 5:00pm, the Delta Blues Museum Band will open the festival. In honor of John Lee Hooker Month, they have learned a few of his songs that will be played.

While enjoying the main acts, check out the Mississippi Blues Trail Marker about the Festival, located just east of the stage.

The Trail Markers tell stories through words and images of bluesmen and women and how the places where they lived and the times in which they existed-and continue to exist-influenced their music.

The marker includes the history of the Festival, now in its 29th year, and tells the story of the founders who established it.

The Museum will be open for special festival hours on Sunday, August 14th, 1:00pm to 5:00pm.

During the Festival we are presenting two book signings, free and open to the public.

Judy Flowers Book Signing - Friday, August 12th at 1:30 pm

Judy Flowers, author of "Clarksdale and Coahoma County (Images of America)",
will lead a Q & A in the DBM classroom.

Joseph A. Rosen Book Signing - Saturday, August 13th at 2:30 pm

Joseph A. Rosen, author of "Blues Hands", signs copies of his book and answers questions in the DBM classroom. Photos from his book are on display in our gallery. We will host the opening reception on Sept 8. Many thanks to the North Mississippi Foot Clinic, Coahom County Tourism Commission, the Mississippi Arts Commission, and Friends of the Delta Blues Museum for helping us present this exhibition.

Thanks to our sponsors Shack Up Inn, Kroger, MAC, and Friends of DBM who are supporting John Lee Hooker Month at the Museum, and to the John Lee Hooker Estate and the University of Mississippi's Blues Archive for collaborating with us on our special exhibit.

We have two other partnerships to tell you about:

Bridging the Blues is a series of blues-related events taking place September 25th through October 11th, in the greater Mississippi Delta region in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

Bridging the Blues is anchored by music festivals, most notably the King Biscuit Blues Festival across the river in Helena, Arkansas; and The Mighty Mississippi Music Festival in Greenville, Mississippi; and the Pinetop Perkins Homecoming, which honors the Delta piano great at the Hopson Plantation.

In addition to these festivals, a multitude of events will take place throughout the Delta region.

Bridging the Blues is a partnership between Mississippi Delta Tourism, Arkansas Delta Byways, Arkansas Parks & Tourism, Mississippi Development Authority, Memphis CVB, and the Mississippi Arts Commission.

We're especially proud to be part of the Blue Star Museums program, a national appreciation program for military families that offers free admittance to active-duty military personnel and their families, including the National Guard and Reserve, at more than 2,000 museums across the country.

The program began on Memorial Day and runs through Labor Day. We join with the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and the Department of Defense to say "thank you" to our military community.

When you visit the Museum today, here's what you'll see in our galleries:

In 2019, here's what we want to show you:

To make these new and upgraded exhibits into a reality, we need help from you, our visitors and supporters. What kind of help? To be direct, donations. We have received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for $100,000, which will help us finalize our plans for new permanent exhibits. But it's a matching grant. That means we have to come up with $100,000 to match the grant amount.

So far, we are almost half way to our goal. We need your donations to keep adding to the total we need to raise. Any amount is meaningful: $25, $50, $100 - more, if you're able. And we need your help, now: the clock is running out on the time allowed to raise the matching money.

The blues community that visits the Museum and supports our work numbers in the thousands. If every visitor and every reader of this newsletter made a donation, we could reach this goal - quickly!

The musical and historical legacy of the blues is a national cultural treasure. And its heartbeat is here, at the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale. Please help us continue to provide the best home possible for the artifacts and the stories that preserve and present the musical culture we all love.

To Donate click here. Thank you for your support!

We are pleased to announce that the Mississippi Arts Commission has awarded us $26,100 for general operating expenses. This funding supports the vital day-to-day work we do to preserve and present the Delta Blues to you and future audiences. Thank you!

Through their grant program, the Grammy Foundation is supporting our efforts to organize our incredible collection of blues recordings. With this support, we have been able to identify many gems that will enhance our exhibits and your experience.

We are grateful to the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi for supporting our latest "Explore and Learn" feature on The Great Migration. Coahoma Community College faculty and students have reviewed the feature and it will be "live" on our website soon.

We hosted two special guests among our many visitors in the past few months.

Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the Small Business Administration and Obama administration Cabinet member toured our galleries as part of her Delta Region Main Street Road Tour. We appreciate the good work that the SBA and the Delta Regional Authority are doing in our area. And blues legend Charlie Musselwhite stopped in for a public conversation as part of our Juke Joint Festival program.

Contreras-Sweet and DBM Director Ritter.

Shelley Ritter, Paul Wilson (WROX manager and DBM Board member),
and Charlie Musselwhite. Photo Credit: Howard Greenblatt

Breaking News:

Bluesman Terry "Big T" Williams
needs your help.

His house was destroyed in a fire, and while he and his family are safe, they lost everything, including his musical gear. "Big T," a Clarksdale native, is a former teacher in our Arts & Education program and an amazing talent. In 2009, he was named Blues Guitar Player of the Year by the West Coast Blues Society.

You can help "Big T" and his family by donating to his
"Go Fund Me" page.

As always, we look forward to your visits.


Shelley Ritter, Executive Director

This newsletter is supported in part by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, and,
in part, from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

2013 IMLS Award

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NAHYP logo


Joseph A. Rosen: Blues Hands

Photographs from the book, showing the "strength, beauty, diversity, depth, and power of the blues. The exhibit and book (available from our shop) feature photos from Rosen's 30+ years of adventure in blues and music photography.

Included are B.B. King, Gary Clark, Jr., Buddy Guy, Al Green, Willie King, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, The Blind Boys of Alabama, and James Brown. With powerful imagery, as well as anecdotes and biographical information, Blues Hands tells the story of the blues.

Don Nix: Photographs from "Memphis Man: Living High, Laying Low"

Don Nix worked with many artists over a long career as a musician, producer, and songwriter. A selection of photographs from his memoir, "Memphis Man: Living High, Laying Low", is on display in our galleries.

Pictured: Sleepy John Estes by Nix

"Anthony Mostrom: Paramount Portraits"
Drawings from the Rise and Fall of Paramount Records, Vol. 1 and 2

Anthony Mostrom, cartoonist, illustrator, and writer, created hundreds of ink portraits of Paramount's recording artists for Jack White's Third Man Records' reissue of the entire Paramount catalogue. The ink drawings were originally published in two "Field Manuals," 700 pages of encyclopedia-style biographies and discographies of 347 musicians.

Paramount Records is one of America's most important record labels. The company's open-door recording policy led it to the nation's blues, jazz, gospel and folk musics, capturing an anthology of what the country sounded like in the 1920s-30s.

Grammy Award winner 2015 for Best Special or Limited Edition Package Design.


"27 Years of the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival"

An exhibit of posters that spans the entire 27 years of the annual Clarksdale event. Lots of names, lots of color, lots of archival photos, lots of memories - an eyeful of blues history in a collection of Festival ephemera that are now a valuable record of blues performers and performances.

"Give My Poor Heart Ease"

This exhibit features photos from the book of the same name by pioneering southern folklorist William Ferris who toured Mississippi in the 60's and 70's, documenting African Americans as they spoke about and performed the diverse musical traditions that form the authentic roots of the blues. Here are the stories of blues musicians who represent a wide range of musical traditions - from one-string instruments, bottle-blowing, and banjo to spirituals, hymns, and prison work chants.



August 11 - 14, 2016 Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival, Clarksdale

August 12, 2016 at 5:00pm Delta Blues Museum Band performance on the DBM Main Stage

August 12, 2016 at 1:30pm Booksigning with Judy Flowers, author of Clarksdale and Coahoma County (Images of America), leads a Q&A in the DBM classroom

August 13, 2016 at 2:30pm Booksigning with Joseph A. Rosen, author of Blues Hands, leads a Q & A in the DBM classroom. Open to the public.

August 14, 2016 Special Museum hours on Sunday from 1:00pm to 5:00pm

October 05 - 08, 2016 King Biscuit Festival, Helena, AR

October 15 - 18, 2016 Deep Blues Festival, Clarksdale



Willie "Po Monkey" Seaberry, July 14, age 74 Willie was nicknamed "Po Monkey" as a child. With a deep love of the blues, he opened his home in the grand tradition of Delta house parties. For more than 50 years, Po' Monkey's has been reknowned as an integral Delta site in the development of the blues. One of the last remaining rural juke joints, Po' Monkey's was dedicated as a stop on the Mississippi Blues Trail in 2009.

Scotty Moore, June 28, age 84 Moore was a member of Elvis' original band, and played on the Sun Records tracks "That's All Right, Mama," "Good Rockin' Tonight," and "Mystery Train." He continued with Elvis on the RCA label, recording on "Heartbreak Hotel," "Jailhouse Rock," "Don't Be Cruel," and "Hound Dog." Moore's distinctive style of playing has influenced generations of guitar players, from Keith Richards to Jack White.

"Sir" Mack Rice, June 27, age 82 Soul legend Rice was the writer of "Mustang Sally," co-writer of "Respect Yourself," and a Stax house songwriter for Rufus Thomas, Albert King, Johnny Taylor, and the Staple Singers. Born in Clarksdale, Rice was mentored by Ike Turner and sang in The Falcons with Wilson Pickett and Eddie Floyd.

Chips Moman, June 13, age 79 Moman recorded Stax's first hits by Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas, and William Bell, and helped produced "Last Night," the Mar-Keys hit. He later founded American Studios in Memphis, where he produced Joe Tex, Bobby Womack, Dusty Springfield, and mostly famously, Elvis' Memphis Record.


The Delta Blues Museum's Band CD, From Kansas City to Clarksdale, Vol. 2,
is available from our Gift Shop: Order here.


Celebrate John Lee Hooker Month with gifts from the Delta Blues Museum!

When you buy from our Shop, you support the Museum. Thanks!

Shop for these items and other blues stuff here.

Be sure to visit the Delta Blues Museum Gift Shop for additional items and memorabilia.

Delta Blues Museum Board of Directors
Jim Herring, President
Lera Kinnard, Secretary
Tom Jones
Ralph Simpson
Paul Wilson

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