head toward the end of this year, I'm taking stock
of a great 2015 at the Delta Blues Museum
while looking forward to another great one in 2016.
this year so rewarding is that more of you are coming
to visit us than ever before: 4,000 more
this year than last year. It's that kind of interest
and support from you, our visitors and fans, that
keeps us working on new ways to make a visit to the
Museum a fun, educational, and all-around exciting
It starts on
the road to see us. Many of you come to see us by
driving south on Highway 61 from
Memphis. When you do, look to your left near
the Coahoma County Line and you'll see our
a reminder that the Delta Blues Museum
is Mississippi's oldest music museum,
founded in 1979. From our beginnings in a back
room of Clarksdale's Carnegie Library with a
meager collection of artifacts to the professionally
curated exhibits in our current home in the
historic Illinois Central railroad freight
depot, we've grown along with the interest
in blues music and culture, which is now a worldwide
to a Visit Mississippi MDA Tourism Development
grant, we were able to launch a mobile
site. Just visit www.deltabluesmuseum.org
on your mobile device to check it out. Also, we've
just reprinted our brochure and are
excited to welcome Yazoo Pass as
one of our tourism partners. Look for a brochure in
one of the 13 Mississippi Welcome Centers
or download a copy from our website.
Thank you Yazoo Pass and Shack
Up Inn for helping us get the word out!
is a key function at the Museum. This summer,
we partnered with the University of
Mississippi's Center for the Study of Southern
Culture, Living Blues Magazine, and
the Blues Archive to present
a three-day teacher workshop, which was supported
by the Mississippi Humanities Council,
the Mississippi Arts Commission, Atmos
and the We Shall Overcome Fund.
The workshop included presentations by blues
scholars; performances by musicians Kenny Brown
and Bobby Whalen; tours of the Delta Blues Museum;
and a walking tour of the Mississippi
Blues Trail markers around downtown Clarksdale.
This initial effort was pronounced a success,
and we've been asked to repeat the workshop.
Thanks to all the presenters and teachers who
made the workshop a success.
received a grant from the Community
Foundation of Northwest Mississippi
to create an "Explore and Learn"
feature on The Great Migration.
Work has begun on this project and we hope to
have it "live" on our website by late spring.
If you're not familiar with our Explore
and Learn Series, check it out on our
We are thrilled
that we have received a Museums for America
award from the Institute for Museums
and Library Services. The $100,000
grant will allow us to complete the final
design of our new permanent exhibits. It's a matching
grant, meaning we must raise $100,000 to fulfill it.
Check out renderings of the new exhibits on the DBM
the country, millions of people are choosing to donate
to their favorite charities as part of Giving
Tuesday. And we know we have great support
from friends like you: Just last month we participated
in the first-ever Mississippi Day of Giving,
raising nearly $4,000 to match this grant. The
Museum ranked in the Top Ten of the "most
diverse donors" leader board. We have received additional
funding since participating in Mississippi's
Day of Giving from the Chisholm Foundation, the Miller
Foundation, James Fifield, and Mr. & Mrs. Charles
Ritter (THANK YOU!), and are well on our
way to meeting our match--but as we look to expand
our current exhibits and build out new multimedia
experiences for museum visitors, we could still
use your help. Click
here to donate online, or, feel
free to mail in a donation to us at P.O. Box 459;
Clarksdale, MS 38614. Your donations are
We are working
diligently on our new permanent exhibits
which will celebrate and honor Mississippi's blues
artists by telling their story, not the story of an
industry or an individual. The new exhibits will offer
an even deeper look into the life and work of these
men and women and showcase their legacy to new generations
of visitors hereby creating new audiences
for the blues.
Thank you all for
making possible the work we do. All the ways in which
you support the Museum - through your attendance,
your donations, your online interaction - have helped
us have a wonderfully successful year of fulfilling
for your support, and have a happy holiday.
This newsletter is supported in part
by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state
in part, from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal
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.
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 a comprehensive anthology of what
the country sounded like in the 1920s-30s.
Cawood is a self-taught sculptor with a background
in blacksmithing and metal fabrication. He reuses
and re-purposes scrap and found steel to create his
sculptures. For this Museum show, he created portraits
of Skip James, Furry Lewis, Mississippi John
Hurt, Bukka White, Son House, and Howlin' Wolf.
Says Cawood, "I've always felt that these Delta Blues
musicians were 'Artists' in the truest sense of the
word. This series is meant to broaden that understanding.
Each of these portraits is an attempt to capture what
I hear in each individual's music and express it in
Cawood has received
wide recognition for his sculptures, showing his work
in galleries and museums in New York City, Washington,
DC, Baltimore, Miami, New Orleans, Las Vegas, Mesa,
AZ, and Maui, HI.
Gellert, born Laslow Gruenbaum in Budapest,
Hungary, collected field recordings in the 1920s and
1930s. He began by making audio recordings, using
a makeshift, wind-up recording machine and paper-backed
zinc discs; later, he used a Presto tape recorder.
Gellert wrote a column for Masses in the '30s, titled
"Negro Songs of Protest", which his
brother Hugo illustrated with images of lynchings.
The columns were eventually collected in a book of
the same title. In 1936, Time magazine lauded
the "lean, scraggly haired New Yorker" for "collecting
Negro songs that few white men have ever heard."
by Billy Johnson, Founder, Director,
and Curator of the Highway 61 Blues Museum
in Leland, MS. These pictures capture musicians in
behind-the-scenes action at the annual Highway
61 Blues Festivals. Johnson focuses on the
musicians backstage and on stage, capturing intimate
moments before and after performing, when the artists
are enjoying themselves, apart from their onstage
personas as public entertainers. Many thanks to the
exhibit's sponsors: the Mississippi Arts Commission,
Covenant Bank, WADE Incorporated, Oxbow, Mississippi
Delta Blues Society of Indianola, Friends of the Delta
Blues Museum, and Hunter Paper.
Ford, Paul "Wine" Jones
Photo Credit: Billy Johnson
of posters that spans the 27 years of the annual Clarksdale
event. Lots of names, lots of color, lots of archival
photoslots of memories - an eyeful of blues history in a collection of Festival ephemera that are now a valuable record of blues performers and performances.
features photos from the book of the same name by
pioneering southern folklorist William Ferris
who toured Mississippi in the 60s and 70s, 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. The
book comes with a DVD of rare film
of Delta life in the early '70s and a CD
of music from the same period. You can buy from our
Gift Shop here.
April 14 - 17, 2016
Juke Joint Festival, Clarksdale
August 12 - 14, 2016 Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival, Clarksdale
October 05 - 08, 2016 King Biscuit Festival, Helena, AR
October 15 - 18, 2016 Deep Blues Festival, Clarksdale
Holmes has taught in the Museum's
Arts and Education program since 2013. Richard
Crisman, current Gift Shop Manager and a
former teacher in the program himself, interviewed
Holmes about his life in the blues and his interest
in passing on his knowledge of the music and the history
through the A&E program.
What is your background in the blues?
It goes back over 40 years. My parents were running the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, MS when I was born. My mother used to babysit me at the café, where I listened to the jukebox. It played Jimmy Reed, Howling Wolf, all the great musicians and their songs. My brother, Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, still runs the café - it's the same as it was 50 years ago!
Sometimes, there would be live entertainment, and I'd watch the musicians and wonder how hard it would be to learn to play guitar. I heard older guys play acoustic guitar sitting outside the café. But I really liked the smooth sound of bending strings played on the electric guitar.
One night in Lambert, I saw a young band performing contemporary
blues - BB King, Albert King - and that inspired me. The next morning, the lead guitar player, Earnest "Guitar" Roy, came by the Blue Front Cafe. We started talking and became good friends, and he started teaching me how to play the guitar.
What blues influenced you personally? What Delta artists do you especially like?
Muddy Waters. And B.B. King's style of bending notes was a big influence on me.
And Elmore James. When I was 13 - 14, I had some older friends who would drive to Jackson on the weekends, and sometimes, I would ride with them without my mother knowing that I was. Once, we went to a club where we saw Elmore James perform. I was very inspired by his slide guitar playing.
How did you become involved with the Arts and Education program?
I wanted my grandson to be involved with the guitar. So I decided to
bring him to the class at the Museum to try and change his
attitude - because he wasn't very interested at first. And you know what happened after that!
You were always hanging around the classroom while your grandson Aren was in class, and you couldn't resist picking up the guitar and helping out, being a former school teacher. We were actually looking to hire another person to help with teaching the class, so I said "If you're gonna be hanging around here anyways, we might as we put you to work!" So, I asked if you'd be interested in the job and you've been a teacher here ever since.
Tell you what about teaching: I've picked up more knowledge about the guitar and new techniques while teaching alongside Walt Busby, another teacher here. I've also learned the names of the chords I've been playing for many years-and several new ones, too.
What do you think brings kids to the program? How much does the average student know when they arrive?
I think when kids see the Museum band performing at local
festivals and parades, they think it looks fun, and they
want to try it. And some parents want something positive
for their kids to do with their spare time, to keep them
out of trouble after school.
When they first start out, most kids know absolutely nothing about blues, the music or the history of it. So when we teach the class a new song, Walt and I try to teach the students some history about the artists who performed and recorded the song.
How would you describe how you teach the blues in the classroom?
I always start with the simplest style of blues, like a Jimmy Reed
12-bar blues. Some students start out using only one finger and begin adding more fingers as they progress in the class. At first, they may stay on only one chord, then add more chord changes, one by one.
What do you hope to teach kids about blues culture and history?
Artist's backgrounds and how they lived. How their music
originated from the work songs sung while working in fields
on plantations during the times of slavery. People sang
songs to pass the time and ease their minds while doing
hard work, and the blues came from that.
Who are the students' favorite blues musicians?
The favorite songs for the beginners are "Big Boss Man" and "Baby, You Don't Have to Go" by Jimmy Reed. The advanced class's favorite songs are "Tore Down" by Freddie King, "Sweet Home Chicago" by Robert Johnson, and "Hideaway," also by
Freddie King. The all-time favorite song around the program is
"Cleo's Back" by Junior Walker and the All-Stars. It has been a favorite for the past decade in the class.
What is your favorite thing about teaching at the Museum?
To see that smile on a child's face when they finally get that note
right. That's what gives me joy. I love to see that "big teeth" smile!
Delta Blues Museum's Band CD, From Kansas
City to Clarksdale, Vol. 2,
is available from our Gift Shop: Order
Crossroads Highway 61/49 Signs
Set of 2
Deep South, The Story of
Photo Book with 4 CDs
Muddy Waters Tee
Be sure to visit the Delta Blues Museum
Shop for additional items and memorabilia.
|Delta Blues Museum
Board of Directors
Jim Herring, President
Lera Kinnard, Secretary
Return to the Delta Blues Museum
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