December 23, 2014
season, the time of the year we pause to
give thanks. We'd like to thank you, the Delta Blues
Museum's visitors, supporters, and Facebook fans for
helping us preserve and present the history of the
Delta Blues and the artists who created the music.
We're come a long way from the early days in a back
room of the Carnegie Library, and from our move in
1999 into the historic Illinois Central railroad depot
to our new Muddy Waters Addition that has doubled
our gallery space. Support and gifts from many of
you have helped make this growth possible.
The new Muddy Waters Addition
of gifts . . . the DBM Band is one of 12 recipients
of a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program
Award. Five members of the band were invited
to perform at the White House for the award ceremony.
the second trip to the White House for the Delta Blues
Museum, which was honored last year with a National
Medal for Museum and Library Service, the
nation's highest honor for museums and libraries.
The band played
"Sweet Home Chicago" for First Lady Michelle
Obama, a native Chicagoan, and the members
of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
Each band member got a high five from the First Lady
after their performance, which received a standing
ovation from the audience.
we traveled to Washington D.C. for the Youth Program
Award, we received recognition from the AIA
Mississippi for the "Design Excellence" of our new
Muddy Waters Addition, given out at the "Mississippi
Celebrates Architecture Design" event held in Jackson,
We also received
a Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor
for outstanding feedback from Trip Advisor travelers.
Thanks to all who wrote us up so nicely!
. . . I traveled to Dubrovnik, Croatia in September,
as one of only two U.S. museums, along with others
from 32 countries invited to participate in the Best
in Heritage Conference, held under the special
patronage of the International Council of Museum,
supported by the Ministry of Culture of Croatia and
the City of Dubrovnik, and organized in partnership
with Europa Nostra.
years ago, the European Heritage Association
began inviting museum, heritage and conservation projects
that received awards in the past year to make presentations
as examples of professional excellence and to share
best practices. Each invitee spoke about their museum;
the presentations were followed by Q&A sessions and
panel discussions. I spoke about the DBM, our National
Medal, and our plans for new permanent exhibits. I
heard some good ideas about disaster preparedness
and recovery from Christchurch Art Gallery, New Zealand.
Many Thanks to MDA Tourism for sponsoring
I also traveled to
Seattle in May to the American Association
of Museums annual conference. I toured the
Wing Luke Museum and the Bellevue Art Museum, and
attended receptions at the Bill and Melinda Gates
Center, the Northwest African American Museum, and
the Experience Music Project (you may remember the
"Sweet Home Chicago" exhibit we hosted in 2005-6 that
came from EMP). I also presented in the session, "Small
Museums: Big Changes." (That sure describes our Delta
I've "rambled" like a blues musician all year,
representing the Museum and promoting our mission
and activities. I traveled to: * Jackson, MS
for the Mississippi Historical Society's
annual meeting. I sat on a panel with Malcom
White, Executive Director of MDA Tourism and
Malika Polk-Lee, chief administrative officer
for the B.B. King Museum to discuss our museums,
the arts, and music trails.
* Greenwood, MS where I spoke to the
Rotary Club. I also met with Cheryl Taylor,
Director of the Museum of the Mississippi
* West Memphis, AR to pick
up our Mississippi River Parkway Interpretive
* Memphis, TN where I attended
the Blues Music Awards event.
* Helena, AR to celebrate Sonny
Payne's 17,000th broadcast of "King
Biscuit Time" on KFFA radio.
My travels reminded me
of just how much the world outside the Delta
appreciates Delta blues, the music and the history.
Through my presentations, I was also made aware
of how many were hearing our story for the first
time, and how enthusiastic were their responses.
The word about the Museum is getting around: May saw the largest visitorship in the 11 years I have served as Director.
of you are finding us on Facebook:
14,509 to be exact. Join up, if you haven't
had some notable visitors during the last few
months. Miss Mississippi, Chelsea Rick,
toured the Museum and observed the Arts and
Education program, and then shared her vocal
talent with us. Thanks to DBM Board Member Tom
Jones for arranging the visit.
Thad Cochran stopped by.
Pictured: DBM Maintenance Manager Anthony Saffold; Chelsea Ricks, Miss Mississippi
continue to visit and to support us. Steve
Miller of Steve Miller Band fame ("The
Joker") stopped in. On his current tour, Miller
tells audiences about visiting us, suggesting
that his fans should check out the "ever-improving"
Museum. Miller is a DBM supporter through his
Miller Foundation. Thanks,
Steve! (Blues note: he was taught to play guitar
by T-Bone Walker at the age of nine!)
Bonamassa visited the Museum and pledged
a donation from his Keeping the Blues
Alive Foundation. Thanks, Joe!
work is not complete until you visit. It's your
support that makes our work possible, so thanks
to all who visit, who subscribe to this newsletter,
who "like" our Facebook page, and who love the
It's the end of the year, when many of you make gifts to organizations you love. If you love the Delta blues, please consider a donation to the Museum. Your financial support helps us preserve the music and its history for future generations of blues lovers. We'd appreciate any gift, no matter how small.
Thanks for your continued and future support!
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
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
the Belly of the Blues," an exhibit of photographs
and a book by Terry Abrahamson, covers
his time in Chicago, Boston, and LA, 1969-1983. He
wrote songs, travelled with, and photographed Muddy
Waters and other blues musicians, and those they influenced,
such as George Thorogood and The Rolling Stones. Signed
copies of the book are available from our Gift Shop:
Pictured: Muddy Waters and Keith Richards
Photo Credit: Terry Abrahamson
of posters that spans the 27 years of the annual Clarksdale
event. Lots of names, lots of color, lots of archival
photos-a lot of blues history in a collection of Festival
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.
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"
Explore & Learn section of our website:
April was "Muddy" Month
On April 4th,
we celebrated Muddy Waters' birthday,
with complimentary cupcakes and lemonade for all visitors.
Thanks to our sponsors: Shack Up Inn, Barnes
Petty Financial, Walmart, the Mississippi Arts Commission,
and the National Endowment for the Arts.
During Juke Joint Festival in April,
we presented Matthew Keeler speaking
about the life and music of Bessie Smith,
followed by "Call and Response - Conversations in
the Blues," led by blues artist and educator Big
Jon Short and native Mississippi blues artists
Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, Terry "Harmonica"
Bean, and Leo "Bud" Welch. They spoke about their
influences and experiences growing up around the Delta,
living and playing the blues.
We hosted musician and scholar
Stephen Wade in a conversation
on "The Beautiful Music All Around Us," based
on his work of the same name. A book signing
followed the presentation.
hosted Tom Graves, award-winning
author of Crossroads: The Life &
Afterlife of Blues Legend Robert Johnson.
Graves presented a multimedia program on the
life and myth surrounding the legendary musician,
his talent, and his death. He compared his book
to older publications on the same subject, dispelling
many myths while teaching the audience much
about Robert Johnson, the person. After the
presentation, Graves hosted a book signing.
Signed copies are available from our online
Terry Abrahamson gave a talk on
"In the Belly of the Blues", his
exhibit of photographs of musicians
Thomas Armstrong, civil rights scholar
and author, offered a presentation based on his book,
Autobiography of a Freedom Rider: My
Life as a Foot Soldier for Civil Rights.
The Mississippi Foundation for Public Broadcasting
hosted a "Meet and Greet" at the Museum. Supporters
of MPB from around the Delta attended the event.
The Pinetop Perkins Foundation hosted
a reception for their board and their Master Class
A reception for Billy Johnson's "Gone but
Not Forgotten" photos (see "Exhibits") was
The 27th Annual Sunflower River Blues and Gospel
Festival was held on the Museum grounds.
This year's festival was a tribute to Big
The Northwest Regional Medical Center
hosted receptions, a retirement party for Dr. Pat
Burke and a welcoming reception for a new Internal
DBM events were covered by a range of local and national
media, including MPB Think Radio, the Clarion-Ledger,
the Press-Register and online music news
site antiMUSIC.com, among others.
We are saddened
to report that former board member, Dr. Frank
Marascalco, has passed. "Dr. Frank" joined
the board during the museum's transition from being
a part of the Carnegie Public Library to a stand-alone
institution, serving until 2012. He first heard the
blues while growing up in Grenada, MS, and developed
a love for the music and deep respect for the musicians.
His first board duties were to help create the educational
offerings. He took his responsibilities so seriously
that he enrolled in the Arts & Education classes,
where he honed his guitar skills and learned to play
the music he loved. Dr. Frank educated his patients
about the importance of the museum to the community.
He rarely missed a board meeting or a museum event.
His support for the museum is evident in our continued
growth and success. The Museum is honored that the
Marascalco family has requested memorials be made
to the Delta Blues Museum in his memory. Through these
and other gifts, we hope to maintain his legacy and
has been an instructor with the Museum's Arts & Education
program for a couple of years. This summer he took over
as Head Instructor for Richard "Daddy Rich" Crisman, who,
after his ten-year stint as a teacher in the program, has
become our Gift Shop Manager. We wanted to let our fans
know a little more about Walt, his goals for the program,
his thoughts on the program's role in the community, and
what he loves about teaching the students. Lee Pharr, until
recently a DBM staff curator (congrats on marriage and the
new job in Jackson, Lee!), talked with Walt about the A&E
Photo Credit: Lee Pharr
What do you think brings the students to join the program,
and how much does the average student know about the blues
when he or she first signs up?
When they arrive in our class, they have very little idea
of what blues is at all. Most of them have only heard the
name B.B. King here and there. I feel like it's an honor
to introduce them to the world of the blues and help them
understand why our town is so important to music history.
Who are some of the students' favorite musicians to learn
about, or whose music do they enjoy the most?
Most of them, especially the younger ones, have never really
listened to much blues. They quickly become fascinated by
the stories and the fact that it all started here. They
particularly like hearing about Muddy Waters and being able
to walk into the museum and seeing his cabin. Also, some
of Muddy's music is fairly simple to learn, so it's a perfect
way for beginners to get introduced and excited about the
What future goals do you have for the program, and what
past achievements are you most proud of?
I would like the students to have more of a well-rounded
idea of what it takes to be a musician. Just standing on
stage and playing the notes isn't enough. I would like more
experienced artists to come to our class and talk with the
kids and tell them stories about how they got where they
are in the music world. The most rewarding achievement for
me is always standing backstage at a festival watching a
group of students (who only a year before knew nothing about
blues) give a great performance.
What's your interest/background in the blues, and how did
you get your start playing music?
As a teenager, most of my friends were already playing music.
Being a huge music fan myself, I felt like picking up the
guitar was the most logical thing to do. Within and year
or two of obsessive bedroom practicing, I was playing in
bands at festivals and local bars. It was mostly old rock
and roll music. I didn't start playing the blues till I
was in my 20s. I was asked to sit in with some local blues
bands, and even though I could play all the licks, the feeling
just wasn't there. So I went to lots of shows and studied
blues guitarists to try and wrap my head around that "blues
sound" that inspired all the artists I grew up listening
to. I feel like all rock players should take that journey
at some point.
How did you become involved with the DBM Arts and Ed Program?
How long have you been a teacher here?
Several of the people who inspired me and influenced the
way I play were teachers here before me. Some include Dr.
Mike, Marshall Drew, Big T. and Daddy Rich. Rich has been
a friend of mine since junior high school. About two and
a half years ago, he asked if I wouldn't mind helping him
out as a teacher. I hesitated at first because I had NO
experience teaching anybody, let alone an entire class.
But after some thought and about sixty more calls from Rich,
I decided to give it a shot. I'm so very glad I did. This
has been a very rewarding job and I look forward to it every
What is your favorite thing about teaching here? What keeps
you going after a tough class?
I love playing music more than anything in the world. Now
I get to share what I love with people on a daily basis
who might not have discovered their talent and love for
music on their own. After a rough day in class, I can always
think to myself, "we just made music together. No matter
how tough it was, I can't think of a better way to live
DBM Band rehearses in the classroom.
Photo Credit: Lee Pharr
What music really influenced you personally and what Delta
Blues Artists do you particularly like?
I grew up listening to rock music from the '60s and '70s.
Bands like The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin,
and others. All of these artists were heavily influenced
by musicians from right here in the Delta. In order to really
understand them, I had to listen to a lot of Albert King,
B.B. King, Muddy Waters, and Howlin' Wolf. I know these
artists don't technically play that old Delta blues style
like Son House or Robert Johnson, but they are the foundation
of everything I listen to today.
Are you excited about the Arts & Education Program winning
a National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Award, and what
do you think makes us deserving of the award compared to
Yes I'm quite excited! I believe we deserve the award because
to me we are more than just an afterschool program. Not
only do we give kids a chance to learn and do something
special, we are helping the blues stay alive and fresh.
Our town is now swarming with up and coming blues musicians,
and a big number of them came straight from our class. They
will be the next generation of blues men and women that
help keep the genre thriving.
DBM Band's second CD, From
Kansas City to Clarksdale, Vol. 2, features
classics like "Big Boss Man," "Born Under a Bad Sign,"
"Key to the Highway," "Stormy Monday," and "Jumper
on the Line." Guest artist Kenny Brown
leads a group workout on "Kenny Brown Jam," and Bill
Abel guides the revival of the diddley bow drone on
"Return of the One String Blues." The CD is available
from the DBM online Store: just $10! Order
Thanks Note: Congratulations to Charlie
Musselwhite and his band, whose latest CD,
Juke Joint Chapel, has
been nominated for a Grammy award.
Juke Joint Chapel was recorded recorded
in Clarksdale at the Shack Up Inn. The performance
was a benefit for the Arts & Education Program. Thanks
Charlie and band! You can order the CD here. Order
DBM Shot Glasses
Crossroads Gift Basket
Monster Guitar Picks
Set of 2
MS Blues Musicians Map
with DBM Logo
Home of the Blues Tee
Long Sleeve Crossroads 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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