is Muddy Month at the Museum - the blues
legend was born and died in April (1903 - 1983) and
we're celebrating with a month-long
series of events (see below).
Photo Credit: Terry Abrahamson
Muddy Waters Addition houses
the cabin from Stovall's that
the former McKinley Morganfield
grew up in; the ZZ Top - donated
"Muddywood" guitar; another
Muddy guitar (a Stella) that
was abandoned when the house where he was playing
caught fire (or so the letter with it claims;
a car just like the one that carried folklorist
Alan Lomax to Clarksdale
where he made the first recordings of "Stovall's
best tractor driver"; and much more: Muddy photos,
memorabilia, and, of course, that inimitable
"Follow Muddy" biography
in the "Explore and Learn"
section of the Museum's website
uses colorful graphics and authoritative text
to outline the great bluesman's life and times.
(You can also hear many Muddy tunes while
out the Muddy Merch from our
Shop. This April we're offering a 10%
discount on Muddy CDs, DVDs,
tee shirts, biographies, and coffee
- all month! Our sharp Shop staff
looks forward to greeting Museum visitors, and
filling your online orders.
help support our mission to preserve and present
the legacy of the Delta blues - thanks!
Mayfield, Richard Crisman (Shop Manager), Shalonda
Cooper, and April Shaw
also means Juke
Joint Festival time. The 13th annual
edition takes place in downtown
Clarksdale on April 16th. There's racing
pigs, 5k/8k runs, food and other vendors, and
of course, blues, day and night, in and around
town. The Museum has a full
program of events:
two very special events:
Nix Book Signing - Saturday, April 16th at 3:00
blues and rock legend writes about a long career
that has involved close associations with Joe
Cocker, Leon Russell, George Harrison, Freddie
King, Furry Lewis, John Mayall, and
many others. Memphis Man: Living
High, Laying Low is a memoir about
Nix's life and times in Southern music culture,
starting in the Sixties. He played sax in the
Mar-Keys, the band that scored
one of Stax Records first Top
10 hits, and then evolved into Booker
T. and the MGs. A prolific songwriter
and record producer for Stax,
Nix's song, "Going Down"
has become a blues classic; it has been recorded
by Pearl Jam, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Deep
Purple, The Who and many others. As
a producer and musician Nix worked with Lonnie
Mack, Albert King, Delaney, Bonnie & Friends,
the Staple Singers, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton
and many others. He was asked by George
Harrison to organize the 1971 Bangladesh
Concert at Madison Square Garden. Nix's stories
of living at George Harrison's mansion
in England is the cherry on top. This
book contains dozens of photographs
taken by Nix of the legendary musicians
with whom he worked. A selection will
be on display in our galleries (see "Exhibits" section below).
Charlie Musselwhite - Sunday, April 17th at 2:00
harp legend talks about the
life and times of Muddy Waters.
Photo Credit: Danny Clinch
in town this weekend, check out the "Mad
Mod Affair," which offers an unusual
tour of the modernist architecture of
I had the opportunity to meet with docents from
the Emmett Till Museum in Sumner
and students in the Career Cafe at Myrtle
Hall Elementary School in Clarksdale.
It was wonderful to see the local interest
in preserving the history and culture of Mississippi
and the Delta. We had an interesting
discussion about storytelling
and its role in our lives.
Cafe in action at Myrtle Hall Elementary School
Telling the story
of the Delta blues is an ongoing
project at the Museum. We've planned
new and updated exhibits to display
that story to new generations of blues fans.
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.
for how you can help. Thanks for your support!
MSU Alternative Spring
Break volunteers in the flood in downtown Clarksdale.
Photo Credit: Quapaw Canoe Company.
"Backwater done rose
drove poor Charley down the line
Lord, I'll tell the world the water,
done crept through this town
Lord, the whole round country,
Lord, river has overflowed
"High Water Everywhere, Pt. 1" Charley
blues about the legendary 1927 Mississippi
River flood came to life in Clarksdale
in March, when the Sunflower River rose 25 feet in
24 hours, its highest-ever recorded level, thanks
to 17" of rain in a day.
Museum sits on high ground, located
in the historic Illinois Central
freight depot, far away from the river.
We're high and dry - come visit us!
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
Nix worked with many artists over a long
career as a musician, producer, and songwriter (see
notes regarding book signing in "Director's
Note"). A selection of photographs from
his memoir, "Memphis Man: Living
High, Laying Low", is on display in our
John Estes by Nix
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.
Award winner 2015 for Best Special or Limited
Edition Package Design.
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
May 16 - 23, 2016
Deak Harp's Mississippi Saxophone Festival, Clarksdale
August 12 - 14, 2016 Sunflower River Blues & Gospel 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
Williams teaches drums in the Arts and Education program.
A graduate of the program at age 12, he has taught
at the Museum since 2015. Richard Crisman, Museum
Shop Manager and a former A&E teacher himself, caught
up with Williams between classes to talk about his
history of playing and teaching the blues.
What is your blues background?
I started first playing on buckets when I was about eight
years old. Then, when I was 10, I got with Johnnie Billington
at the Delta Blues Museum and joined the DBM Band. Mr. Johnnie
made me dress nice and watch from the side for almost two
years before I actually got to be in the band. I graduated
the A&E program when I was 12. Then I went on the road with
Mr. Johnnie to perform in Jackson, MS and many other places.
In 1995, we performed at the White House.
Who are some of the musicians you've played with?
When I was 16, I started playing with Josh "Razorblade"
Stewart at Sarah's Kitchen in Clarksdale. He gave me the
nickname "Pocket Knife" because my drumming was always right
in the pocket. After that, I played with Terry "Big T" Williams,
Bill "Howl-N-Madd" Perry, Jacqueline Nassar, Lil' Dave Thompson,
Big Jack Johnson, Arthneice Jones, Marshall Drew, $Daddy
Rich$, Bill Abel, Phillip Carter, James "Super Chikan" Johnson,
Tab Benoit, Tommy Castro, Kenny Wayne Sheppard, and many
others. In 2002 B.B. King was doing a workshop at MS Valley
State. His band broke down, so I got to play drums with
BB King, alongside Anthony Sherrod & Marvin Sherrod who
were in the DBM band as well.
Most recently I've been performing with Heather Crosse,
Super Chikan, and Deak Harp.
Who are your musical influences?
Some of my influences include Mr. Johnnie Billington, of
course. B.B. King, Deion Thomas, Arthneice Jones the "Gas
Man", Big T Williams, Sam Carr, Big Jack Johnson, and Harvelle
My favorite drummer is Sam Carr. Some others that have really influenced me are Tony Royster Jr. Dennis Chambers, Carter Beauford, Dave Wekel, and Thomas Pridgen with his Gospel licks.
How did you learn to play drums?
I started out playing on buckets when I was a little kid.
Then Johnnie Billington taught me the basics, and I just
ran with it. I learned while performing live with the band,
and from being around and watching other people play.
What's it like to teach in a program you studied in?
I started teaching at the Delta Blues Museum April 2015.
It feels good coming back to teach here because, since I
was a student and graduated from the program, I know what
it takes to make things work.
What do you think about your students?
Most parents originally brought their kids to the Arts and
Education program to keep them out of trouble, so they had
something positive to do with their time after school. Some
of the students have played a little bit in church or school,
but have never tried playing or even heard much blues music.
Many of the kids who show up know absolutely nothing when
they get here-but they learn fast.
How do you teach kids with little or no musical background?
I like to teach right on the spot. I teach by showing them,
by ear. I start them out with the kick and snare drum, and
then start to add in the hi-hat and other pieces. We also
teach a bit about blues stories, such as the Robert Johnson
legend and how B.B. King's guitar Lucille got its name.
What have the kids taught you?
They have taught me a lot about patience!
What are you looking forward to in the program?
I look forward to having some good students and helping
them to graduate from the program, just like I did.
Delta Blues Museum's Band CD, From Kansas
City to Clarksdale, Vol. 2,
is available from our Gift Shop: Order
Muddy Waters CD
The Complete Plantation Recordings
Can't be Satisfied, The Life and Times of Muddy Waters
The Definitive Collection CD
Muddy Waters Coffee
Muddy Waters Poster
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
Sign up for our newsletter "Keeping