- On Friday night there’ll be a preview show for the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic at Rooster’s Blues House in Oxford featuring artists including former R.L. Burnside bandmates Kenny Brown and Cedric Burnside. Last week I posted the lineup to the picnic with links to the artists — the picnic takes place on Friday June 26 and Saturday June 27.
- On Saturday Jimmy “Duck” Holmes is hosting the 37th annual Bentonia Blues Festival in Bentonia, which is about 30 miles northwest of Jackson just off Highway 49.
An open mike starts at the Blue Front Cafe at 8am with acts including 19th Street Red, and at 9am a separate gospel stage opens. Here’s a tentative schedule from the Yazoo tourism folks.
9:00 – Bentonia Inspirators
9:45 – Bentonia Mass Choir
10:15 – Dynamic Sounds of Gospel
10:45 – Bentonia Male Choir
11:15 – Temple Love Male Choir
11:45 – Van Foster & Ray Robinson
12:15 – George Winford & The Chosenaires
According to Duck this is the schedule for the blues stage:
1:00 – Four Counts of Mischief
2:00 – Dickie Whitaker
2:45 – Baby Bell
3:30 – Eric Deaton Trio
4:15 - Bobby “Mercy” Oliver
5:00 – T-Model Ford
5:45 – Jimmy “Duck” Holmes
6:30 – TBA
7:15 - Bill Abel
8:00 – Roosevelt Roberts (house band at Jackson’s Queen of Hearts juke)
9:00 – Homemade Jamz
Duck, who is the proprietor of Bentonia’s 60-year-old juke joint the Blue Front Cafe, performs in the distinctive style of local performers Skip James and Bud Spires, and has recorded several records for Jeff Konkel’s Broke and Hungry label over the last couple of years. And recently another CD of Holmes, Gonna Get Old Someday, was released on Big Legal Mess, a label run by Bruce Watson of Fat Possum. That CD was produced by my friend Amos Harvey, and features Holmes together with harmonica player Bud Spires and drummer Calvin Jackson, who is the father of Cedric Burnside.
- On Sunday night at 7pm I’ll be hosting a Summer Sunset Series in the Grove on the Ole Miss campus featuring Rev. John Wilkins, who preaches at the Hunter’s Chapel church in Como, whose congregation once included Mississippi Fred McDowell and Otha Turner. He’s the son of early bluesman Robert Wilkins, who later became a preacher and whose song “Prodigal Son” was covered by the Rolling Stones. If you subscribe to the (free!) Highway 61 podcast you can listen to a show that discusses how Hunter’s Chapel connects various north MS musical traditions.
Last year rain forced his show to be held inside at Fulton Chapel. Hopefully the weather will be with us this year, and the trees provide wonderful shade from the recently brutal sun. I posted the following video of Rev. Wilkins performing Prodigal Son — shot by Highway 61 producers and engineers Joe York and Eric Feldman at last year’s North MS Hill Country Picnic — on my recent Picnic post, but it’s worth seeing again and again….
- On Monday two Mississippi Blues Trail markers will be dedicated in the Delta. At 10am a marker acknowledging Cleveland’s Chrisman Street — which was once lined with nightclubs that featured leading blues acts – will be unveiled at 210 Chrisman Street. At 2:30pm a marker will be unveiled at Po’ Monkey’s juke joint in Merigold, which was opened by owner Willie “Po’ Monkey” Seaberry in 1963. The marker also discusses the history of the juke joint more generally. I’ll be speaking at both unveilings.