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Delta Blues Press Release

May 02, 2017

updated June 2017




This official bicentennial project was made possible by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council, through support from the Mississippi Development Authority


[Clarksdale, Mississippi - May 02, 2017] - In honor of Mississippi's 2017 Bicentennial, the Delta Blues Museum will present a monthly outdoor film series that reflects the state's rich musical heritage. The monthly series, "Monday Movie Nights: Celebrating Mississippi's Music History and Heritage," begins on Monday, May 22nd and will run through September. This official bicentennial project was made possible by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council, through support from the Mississippi Development Authority. Films will be shown on the museum's outdoor stage, and will be free to the public.

Museum Director Shelley Ritter shares the idea behind the series: "Our goal is to help our audience understand the influence that musicians from our state and the Delta region have had on music and the arts, and this series will provide an outlet where the community can come together to celebrate this contribution. We want to create community support that will ultimately sustain the series as an annual series through donations and event volunteers. We envision the event growing to include bi-monthly films and perhaps food trucks that highlight a different local restaurant each month".

A brief discussion and/or "Question and Answer" session will be held prior to each screening, providing the audience context as to the movie's connection to Delta Blues music as well as background on the importance of the film and its time and place in cinematic history. Clarksdale filmmaker and critic Coop Cooper will facilitate these discussions with a variety of panelists including academic representatives from Coahoma Community College and Delta State University.

Featured films will be tied to museum exhibits and activities, beginning with "Robert Johnson Month" in May and including "John Lee Hooker Month" in August. In case of inclement weather, the films will be shown in the upstairs meeting room of the museum, which is ADA accessible. Guests are encouraged to bring their own seating - each screening will start at approximately 8:00pm.

May 22 - Crossroads (1986)

May is Robert Johnson Month at Delta Blues Museum, and this film is loosely based on the myth of his "selling his soul at the Crossroads." During the month of May, the Museum will feature an exhibit of Kim Rushing's photographs of Parchman Farm and a presentation by Jerry Jenkins on West African drumming. Cupcakes, provided by Kroger, will be served to visitors on May 8, the birthday of Robert Johnson.

June 19 - Jailhouse Rock (1957)

The classic feature, starring Elvis Presley, showcases the influence of blues on Elvis' music. The Museum will also feature the exhibit "30 years of the Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival" throughout the month.

July 24 - Ode to Billy Joe (1976)

Based on the song written by Mississippian Bobbie Gentry, the film tells the fictional story of "the day that Billy Joe McCallister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge," which is located within an hour of Clarksdale. Museum highlights will feature an Artist Spotlight on Tallahatchie County's own Sonny Boy Williamson as well as an exhibit on Sonny Boy in the gallery along with a "King Biscuit Time" display.

August 21 - The Blues Brothers (1980)

August is John Lee Hooker Month at the Museum, and the blues legend makes an appearance in this iconic film--as do many other Mississippi blues artists. August 22, 2017, marks what would have been Hooker's centennial birthday. Museum events planned for August include 30th Annual Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival performances and a special exhibit of John Lee Hooker artifacts and memorabilia in the Museum gallery.

September 18 - Cadillac Records (2008)

Loosely based on the story of Chess Records, the film focuses on the record label that gave birth to numerous Mississippi blues artists including Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon and others. The museum will also showcase a collection of cigar box guitars during this month.

About the Mississippi Humanities Council

The Mississippi Humanities Council is a private nonprofit corporation funded by Congress through the National Endowment for the Humanities to provide public programs in traditional liberal arts disciplines to serve nonprofit groups in Mississippi. The humanities are the study of history, literature, religion, languages, philosophy, and culture. The Mississippi Humanities Council creates opportunities for Mississippians to learn about themselves and the larger world and enriches communities through civil conversations about our history and culture.

About the Mississippi Development Authority

The Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) is the state of Mississippi's lead economic and community development agency, with approximately 300 employees engaged in providing services to businesses, communities and workers throughout Mississippi. The agency works to recruit new business to the state and retain and expand existing Mississippi industry and business. MDA also provides technical assistance to the state's entrepreneurs and small businessmen and women and oversees programs that support Mississippi's minority and women-owned businesses. In addition, the agency provides Mississippi's corporate citizens with export assistance, manages the state's energy programs and oversees programs that help its communities become more competitive. The agency also promotes Mississippi as a tourism destination and supports the creative economy and film industry.

About the Delta Blues Museum

Established in 1979 by the Carnegie Public Library Board of Trustees and re-organized as a stand-alone museum in 1999, the Delta Blues Museum is Mississippi's first music museum and the nation's first museum dedicated to the American art form known as the Blues. A 2013 recipient of the IMLS National Medal for Museum and Library Services-the nation's highest honor for museum and library service to the community- as well as a 2014 winner of the National Arts & Humanities Youth Program Award, the Delta Blues Museum is dedicated to creating a welcoming place where visitors find meaning, value and perspective by exploring the history and heritage of the unique American musical art form, the Blues, as a Great River Road Interpretive Center.

For more information on events or programs, please call (662) 627-6820, or visit the Museum web site at

Members of the press may register in the PRESS ROOM on the Museum's website to access further information, downloadable images and related materials.

Shelley Ritter, Director

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2013 IMLS Award

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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.