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Delta Blues Newsletter

September 27, 2012

Note: From the Museum Director

This year's festival season ends with quite a fanfare. From Thursday, September 27 through Monday, October 8, the whole Delta region, including Mississippi, Arkansas, and Memphis, will be jamming to the music of America's great blues artists. Leland's Highway 61 Blues Festival will take place on September 29-30, followed by the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, Arkansas, October 4, 5, and 6.

"Bridging the Blues" is 12 days of musical, cultural, and culinary events and activities, bookended by the two festivals. For a full list of Delta doings from Sept 27 - October 8, click here.

We'll be busy at the Museum, maintaining our normal business hours Monday-Saturday, 9-5 pm, while opening extra hours for the many King Biscuit Blues Festival visitors who take the opportunity to cross the river to visit us: we'll be open on Sunday, October 7, from 1 to 5 pm. We're only 30 minutes away from Helena, come on by!

We'll also be sponsoring a book signing for The Language of the Blues, Sept 28th, from noon to 2 pm at the Museum (we just got word that the author, Debra Devi, is passing through town and invited her to stop by). "One of the wittiest, bawdiest, most fascinating dictionaries ever," says Reuters. We think you'll agree when you check it out (see Gift Shop News below to order, if you can't make the signing.)

King Biscuit caps an unusually busy summer at the Museum, with the completion of the construction of our new Muddy Waters Addition, the large crowds drawn to the DBM Stage by Robert Plant at the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival, a reception for the "True Delta" film and photographic exhibit, and even "American Idol" auditions conducted on our grounds! It has been wonderful and hectic at the same time.

Crowd at Sunflower Festival for Robert Plant. Photo: Travis Calvin

We'll stay busy this winter, working on our "Deeper Roots" campaign to raise funds for new and expanded exhibits. We have a spectacular new space, and now we need to create exhibits to fill it with artifacts and media to better tell the story of the blues in Coahoma County.

The new exhibits in the Muddy Waters Addition will focus on the 1940s documentation of the blues in our area by Alan Lomax, John Work, Lewis Jones and Samuel Adams including the "discovery" of Muddy Waters at his cabin home (on display in our galleries) on Stovall Plantation.

Rendering of new exhibit for Muddy Waters Addition.
Designer's drawing for new "Muddy's World" exhibit

Other sections will showcase the "Great Migration" of Mississippi musicians and audience to Chicago, where the Delta Blues became a new form of urban entertainment and laid the foundations for rock 'n' roll. The exhibits will also look at how the Delta blues is alive and well today, in Clarksdale and around the world.

The Delta Blues Museum was founded in 1979-it is Mississippi's oldest music museum. It has existed and grown over the years because of the interest and enthusiasm of our many blues fans and Museum members. Thanks for your help so far! With your continued support, we look forward to serving you with new, expanded exhibits about the blues and its history.

We have great plans, but we need your help to realize them.

We need to raise $1.2 million to expand our current exhibits and create new ones. The Museum relies on your contributions to create and expand :exhibits, support our public and educational programs, and maintain and display our collection. Any donation, no matter how small, will help us get to our goal.

If you are a blues fan, if you have spent hours listening to the recordings and performances of Delta musicians, and if you care about the culture that created and still supports the blues, please contribute to our campaign. Donations can be sent to:

Deeper Roots c/o Delta Blues Museum #1 Blues Alley Clarksdale, Mississippi 38614

For more information, email to

Thanks for your continued and future support!

Shelley Ritter, 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.


Exhibit display of John Hurt.
Mississippi John Hurt display. Photo: Lee Pharr

New Exhibits

Mississippi John Hurt: "Hoping to Make a Success".

This wall display outlines the musical life and times of Mississippi John Hurt, whose rediscovery and recordings for the Library of Congress in the '60s helped start the '60s folk and blues music boom. Although from Avalon, MS, south of the Delta, Hurt was often paired with Delta musicians in performances on the university and coffeehouse concert circuit. Many artists have covered his songs, including Taj Mahal, Bob Dylan, and Jerry Garcia, among others. Special thanks goes to the National Endowment for the Arts and the Arts Center of Cannon County, Tennessee.

Continuing Exhibits

"True Delta", featuring photographs by Michael Scanlan from the film of the same name. Prints of these photo are available for sale.

Collection of portraits of Son House by Dick Waterman.
Son House portraits by Dick Waterman

Check with the DBM Gift Shop for details.

"25 Years of the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival", an exhibit of posters that spans the years of the event.

The Portraits of Son House by Dick Waterman, the music photographer who helped rediscover House in the '60s and who managed his concerts during that era's blues revival. For more on House, see our "Follow Son House" web feature on our home page: click here.


September 28: Noon to 2 pm, Book signing for The Language of the Blues, by Debra Devi, Delta Blues Museum.

September 29: The Highway 61 Blues Festival, Leland. Starts at noon and features Pat Thomas, Eddie Cusic, T-Model Ford (If health allows), Duff Dorrough, the John Horton Band, Eden Brent, Lamar Thomas, Jimmy Phillips and the Ruminators, The Walnut Street Allstars, Mickey Rogers and the Soulmasters, L.C. Ulmer, Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, Kenny Brown, The Cedric Burnside Project, Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers.

September 30: Highway 61 Blues Festival continues with The Holly Ridge Jam, 2:00 - 7:00 pm.

October 4-6, King Biscuit Blues Festival - Helena, AR The King Biscuit Blues Festival presents its 27th annual event in Helena, Arkansas (just across the river from Clarksdale). This year's edition features Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, and Otis Rush, and many more local and regional musicians and bands. This year, the DBM Band will perform on Saturday, October 6, from 1 - 1:45 pm on the Bit-o-Blues stage.

October 4: "From the Archives: History of the King Biscuit Festival," Delta Blues Museum classroom, 2 pm. A panel led by Terry Buckalew, who has written about the Helena blues scene. Buckalew will lead a discussion about the Festival, its roots with the "King Biscuit Time" radio show, and the festival's music, including the Jelly Roll Kings, who featured Delta musician Sam Carr, the subject of an exhibit in our galleries. This will be the second in the "From the Archives" series, sponsored by the Mississippi Humanities Council.

October 12-13: 20th Annual Tennessee Williams Festival, Clarksdale. This year's festival focuses on The Glass Menagerie, a play inspired by stories and people in Clarksdale. The free event features readings, monologues, a Stella "shouting" competition, panel discussions, presentations by actors and directors, and visits to local landmarks used in the plays.

On August 9, The Museum hosted its first "From the Archives" event, as part of the Sunflower Festival. "25 Years of the Sunflower Festival" was moderated by Jim O'Neal, former editor of Living Blues magazine, and included panelists Melville Tillis, Catherine Clark, and Patty Johnson. Daddy Rich, a DBM Arts & Education instructor, recorded the proceedings for a podcast soon to be available on our Web site. David Morgan from the Mississippi Humanities Council attended as MHC was the sponsor.


October 6: The Delta Blues Museum Band will play at King Biscuit at noon 1 - 1:45 pm on Saturday on the Bit O' Blues Stage.

October 20: the Delta Blues Museum Band plays at the Coahoma Community College homecoming.

On August 12, Charlie Musselwhite and his band, along with Lightnin' Malcolm and other musicians, played a benefit concert for the Arts and Education Program at the Juke Joint Chapel, Shack Up Inn. Over $1,600 was raised. Thank you Charlie, Malcolm, and all the other musicians who contributed their time and talent!

Charlie Musselwhite on stage with a band.
Charlie Musselwhite and band at the Juke Joint Chapel for the Arts & Education Program. Photo: Lee Pharr

The DBM Band's first CD, From Kansas City to Clarksdale, Vol. 1, is available from the DBM online Store.

DBM volume 1 CD front cover art. DBM volume 1 CD back of cover.

This month sees the return of two unique items: the Bottle Tree Tee and The Language of the Blues.

DBM Bottle tree tee-shirt.
Bottle Tree tee-back in stock!

We sold out of these distinctive Bottle Tree tees-twice! Now, we have all sizes in Kiwi Lime and Charcoal colors. The graphic is a bottle tree. Glass bottle trees have their roots in the Congo culture of West Africa. Legend had it that empty glass bottles placed outside the home could capture roving, evil spirits at night. Once trapped inside, it was believed that the spirits became mesmerized by the colors of the bottles in the sunshine and couldn't find their way out. The practice was brought to North America by African slaves who hung blue bottles from trees to capture the evil spirits: blue bottles for "blue devils" (what Clarksdale's Tennessee Williams called his "demons.")

Bottle Tree Tee, in Charcoal and Kiwi Lime, $20.

To order, go to DBM online Store.

The Language of the Blues - now back in print! (And we have signed copies!)

"One of the wittiest, bawdiest, most fascinating dictionaries ever." *Reuters

Back in print! Signed copies!
The Language of the Blues, by blues musician and Huffington Post blogger Debra Devi, explains more than 150 blues terms. From familiar words like "mojo" to more obscure ones like "buffet flat," this is one jammin' read. With a foreword by Dr. John, stories from the author's interviews with the likes of Hubert Sumlin, Bonnie Raitt, and Jimmie Vaughn, and original research into African language, voodoo culture, and oral histories, there's a lot to learn-and to enjoy while doing it. "You can open it at random and fall into the world of your favorite blues songs," says former Muddy Waters guitarist Bob Margolin.

Available 9/28 Price: $24

The Museum Store has a new Muddy Waters tee shirt. This tee features a graphic design taken from the life-size statue that sits inside the Muddy Waters cabin, now on display in our new Muddy Waters Addition. The image on the back shows "Electric Muddy", the quintessential Chicago bluesman, "at" the Crossroads.

The front pocket area features the distinctive Museum logo, which references both a guitar and the nearby Mississippi River in its flowing outline.

Available in Cardinal, Kiwi, and Chocolate, in sizes S-M-L-XL-2XL-3XL. Order at our online Store: Order here.

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

Delta Blues Museum Board of Directors
William H. Gresham, President
Yvonne Stanford, Secretary
Johnny Lewis
Dr. Frank Marascalco
Jim Herring

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