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Delta Blues Newsletter

June 2012

Note: From the Museum Director

The long, hot Mississippi summer has begun, and so has our prime season for visitors at the Delta Blues Museum.

The big news: after nearly seven years in the planning and several months of construction, Phase I of the Muddy Waters Addition expansion is now a reality. At 7,300 sq feet, it doubles our available exhibition space.

Front of new Muddy Waters building.
New Muddy Waters Addition - completed!

We've moved the Muddy Waters cabin into the new Addition.

Muddy Waters cabin inside the new Muddy Waters Addition.
A 1939 Ford Delux inside Muddy Waters building.
Muddy Waters cabin installed in the new Addition
1939 Ford Deluxe

Next to the cabin, we have parked a 1939 Ford Deluxe, the kind of car driven by pioneering musicologist Alan Lomax when he visited Clarksdale and recorded Muddy Waters for the Library of Congress in the 1940's.

These two artifacts play an integral part in the story we are going to tell in the Muddy Waters Addition, about the 1940s documentation of the blues in Coahoma County and the "discovery" of Muddy Waters on Stovall Plantation, just outside Clarksdale.

In Phase II of our expansion, the current permanent collection will be augmented with items and artifacts, and new exhibits will use film, video, and music to follow the development of the blues from Africa to modern-day Clarksdale.

Here are some sketches of what we are planning:

Rendering plans for 'Muddy's World' exhibit.
"Muddy's World" exhibit plan

To launch Phase II, we have begun a "Deeper Roots" campaign to raise funds for these new exhibits. To learn more about the campaign and how you can help, click here.

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.

Breaking News: We are thrilled to learn that the Mississippi Humanities Council has funded our project grant for "From the Archives." This grant will allow us to reorganize our subject files and make them available on our Web site for researchers. As the files are re-organized, we'll have scholars present programs on the files, the first one being on the Sunflower Festival. We will share more information about the grant and the programs in the next email: stay tuned!

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.


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

Special exhibits to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Sunflower Blues and Gospel Festival will go up on our gallery walls soon: stay tuned for the details.

Continuing exhibits include 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.

Ground Zero Blues Club building at dusk.
"Ground Zero Blues Club, Clarksdale" by Ken Murphy

Also still on view is Mississippi: State of Blues, an exhibit of photographs by Ken Murphy, from the book of the same name. The display features photos of blues scenes in and around Clarksdale, from performances at the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival and Red's to portraits of Super Chikan and Jimbo Mathus. The book includes an essay by blues historian Scott Barretta and is available from our online Store.

Close up of a signed Bean Blossom Blues Guitar.
Signed Bean Blossom Blues Guitar

The Museum recently received new acquisitions from Monica Prestage, who donated an incredible array of blues memorabilia. We are thankful to her for making it possible for us to honor the legacy of the blues and these wonderful artists. These acquisitions especially increased our ability to honor the career of B.B. King, as we received several wonderful concert posters; a signed copy of his studio album, King Size framed with concert tickets; an autographed guitar; and some classic photos.

Another cool, unique artifact recently received was also a bit of a mystery at first to the DBM staff: a guitar from the 2001 Bean Blossom Blues Fest, which was autographed by musicians we presumed to be festival performers.

After a little research, we had the opportunity to speak with John Hall, owner of Bushman Music Works and founder of the festival (and one of the signatures on the guitar), and we learned the moving story and history of the festival-which made us appreciate the guitar even more! It's one of several which were raffled off at their 4th annual event in September 2001 to raise money for the 9/11 Red Cross Relief Effort. Despite taking place after such a huge tragedy, their festival had a great turnout and raised thousands of dollars. The Bean Blossom Blues Fest is still going strong, and will be held on August 23-25 this year. Come visit us during the Sunflower Festival August 9-12, see the cool guitar signed by performers from the 2001 Festival, including the late, great James Cotton, and then head up to Indiana for the Bean Blossom Blues later in the month. To learn more about Bean Blossom, click here.


The Museum is very excited that indie rock band The Flaming Lips have chosen Clarksdale and Ground Zero Blues Club to be the second stop on their attempt at breaking the world record for most concerts in one day on Wednesday, June 27. We are equally thrilled that they have chosen blues/rock singer and guitar virtuoso Gary Clark Jr. to be their opening act while here.

August 10-12: The 25th Annual Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival Get excited for the 25th Annual Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival! This year's event is set to be bigger and better than ever with headliners Charlie Musselwhite, Robert Plant, and Bobby Rush.

For Sunflower, on August 8 we'll be opening a "25 Years of the Sunflower" exhibit as well as screening True Delta, a cinematic snapshot of the blues tradition that remains vibrant in and around Clarksdale, at Delta Cinema, to be followed by a reception at the Museum with an exhibit of photographs that mirror the film by Michael Scanlan. Details to follow: stay tuned!

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 1-2 on the Bit-o-Blues stage.

On May 23, we hosted a reception for Coahoma Community College staff and the members of the Mississippi Community College Board, headed by Dr. Eric Clark, executive director and former Mississippi Secretary of State. MCCB coordinates the activities of Mississippi's 15 community colleges. The May meeting of the MCCB was held at Coahoma Community College.

The WA Higgins Academy of Arts and International Studies and the Museum partnered to present performances on the Museum stage last month. Performances included a composer's concert, performances by the beginner band, the concert band and a collaboration between the dance and band departments. In February, art students made an after-school field trip to the Museum to provide students a chance to sketch in the galleries.

Black and white portait of George Wright.
George Wright
Photo: Carol Masica

Several George H. Oliver students created blues portraits, a selection of which will be hung in the Museum's galleries with accompanying information about the project. Many thanks to their teacher, Cameron Gates, for making this possible.

The "Fridays at the Stage" program presented a series of performances throughout May that concluded with "Party Shot" featuring former DBM music instructor Marshall Drew and current instructor Daddy Rich.

R.I.P. George Wright, chef and proprietor of Uncle Henry's, the legendary restaurant on Moon Laked passed away on April 16. Famed for his generous garlic seasoning and colorful character as well as his good cooking, he was a friend who will be missed.

A Mississippi Blues Trail marker for the The Blues Foundation was dedicated on South Main Street in Memphis on May 11. The latest entry on the Blues Trail, the copy on the marker notes that Mississippi-born performers outnumber those from any other state on the organization's lists of Blues Music Awards, and that more than 50 Mississipians have been inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.


Delta Blues Museum Band news:

The DBM Band opens the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival, Friday, August 12.

The DBM Band has almost finished a second CD, From Clarksdale to Kansas City, Vol. 2. It should be available by the Sunflower Festival. Many thanks to the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and the Mississippi Arts Commission for making this project possible.

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

Front cover art of DBM band volume 1 CD. Back cover of DBM band volume 1 CD.

The Museum Store has just received its first shipment of 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.

New Muddy Waters tee available at the Delta Blues Museum

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.

Over 400 blues bricks with names of our supporters inscribed on them have been installed in the old rail bed outside the new Addition.

Blues Brick walkway between Muddy Waters Addition and Ground Zero Blues Club.
Blues Brick walkway between Muddy Waters Addition and Ground Zero Blues Club

There's plenty of room left for a brick with your name (or of someone you want to gift and/or honor) to be added. To order a Delta Blues Museum Brick, click here.

Support the Delta Blues Museum, Buy a Blues Brick.

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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