Bluesman Jimmy “Duck” Holmes hosted his first blues festival back in 1972 on his farm in Bentonia. Entertainment was provided by a deejay spinning blues records and an a capella performance by bluesman Walter Lee “Big Daddy” Hood, aka “500 Pounds of Blues.” Hood otherwise worked for many years with Jackson bluesman Jesse Robinson.
Gradually the event grew bigger, with Holmes bringing in traditional artists including his mentor, Jack Owens, and Leland’s James “Son” Thomas. The first group to play the festival was Jackson’s Roosevelt Roberts, Sr. and Sons; this year Roosevelt, Jr. will be bringing his band to the event. Although this year marks the 40th anniversary of the festival, it’s not the 40th annual event — Holmes took a break for some years, but he’s been active in promoting the event over the last decade, and has been helped out by the tourism folks in Yazoo County.
In recent years the event has been held in front of the Blue Front Cafe, the juke joint that Holmes’ parents started back in the late ’40s, and which he still runs today. This year, though, he decided that in honor of the 40th anniversary he’d move the event back to his farm, which is located just off of Highway 49 a bit north of Bentonia on Wilson-Holmes Road. I’m sure there’ll be lots of signage.
Tickets are $10 for the festival, and $5 for parking.
On Thursday June 14 and Friday June 15 there will be related events at the Blues Front — to arrange to play either night or at the open mic on Saturday morning, you can call Duck at 662-528-1900.
9am-12noon – Open Mic! Call Duck to pre-register. 662-528-1900
1pm – Bill Abel
2pm – Terry “Harmonica” Bean
3pm – Jimmy “Duck” Holmes
4pm – Lightnin’ Malcolm
5pm – Arion “BabyBell”
6pm – Scott Hales
7pm – Roosevelt Roberts Jr.
8pm – Val McKnight
9pm – Super Chikan and the Fighting Cocks