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Lower Mississippi River Dispatch No. 355

---- Monday, August 8, 2016 ----

This Weekend: 29th Annual

Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Fest

Clarksdale, Mississippi

In the Heart of the Mississippi Delta!

--- See below for Full Lineup ---




29th FREE celebration scheduled August 12-13-14 in downtown Clarksdale, Mississippi

For immediate release with thanks to the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival publicist Panny Mayfield, pannywriter@yahoo.com For more information, telephone 662-627-5301. Festival website: www.sunflowerfest.org.

CLARKSDALE – A dynamite lineup of musicians including Lonnie Shields, Super Chikan Johnson, Vasti Jackson, Toni Green, Jimbo Mathus, Sweet Angel, and gospel legend, Lee Williams and the Spiritual QCs will be headlining the free 29th annual Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival August 12-14, according to Melvita Tillis Presley and John Sherman, festival co-chairs.

“Approaching our third decade as one of America’s most distinctive music festivals, we are committed to remain FREE and to present only the best entertainers worthy of our blues and gospel heritage,” emphasize Presley and Sherman.

Opening at 5 p.m. Friday, August 12, on the main stage with the Delta Blues Museum Band, the festival continues through 11:30 p.m. that night with Heather Crosse, Razorblade Stewart, Jimbo Mathus, Toni Green, and Super Chikan Johnson.

To chill out steamy August afternoons, the festival is expanding its popular Saturday acoustic stage to three cool locations: beneath the air-cooled VIP Tent on John Lee Hooker Lane; inside Levon’s Bar and Grill at 232 Sunflower Ave; and inside the Crossroads Cultural Art Center, 332 Delta Ave.

Performing on these stages with lively interaction expected between artist and audience in the Sunflower’s distinctive laid-back style are 14 musical musicians /acts starting at 10 a.m. and continuing through 4:45 p.m. when the main stage reopens with the Bill Abel Band at 5 p.m.

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram picks up the pace at 6 p.m. followed by Terry Williams, Vasti Jackson, Sweet Angel, and Lonnie Shields.

On Sunday afternoon and evening, the air-conditioned Civic Auditorium will host the gospel celebration headlined by super star Lee Williams and the Spiritual QCs.

Inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame, guitar virtuoso Vasti Jackson, winner of the 2015 Albert King Lifetime Guitar Award, Is long overdue in Clarksdale following his early Sunflower performance years ago with Katie Webster on Soldier’s Field. He is followed by Stax Museum sensation Toni Green of Memphis and Paris with her nine-piece band, and Friday night headliner James “Super Chikan” Johnson.

Multi-talented James “Jimbo” Mathus, music phenom Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, the Bill Abel Band, and Terry “Big T” and the Family Band will dominate the main stage Saturday before last year’s unforgettable Sweet Angel in blue singing and playing her saxophone and headliner Lonnie Shields. A Helena native who performed at the very first Sunflower, Shields was nurtured by Sam and Doris Carr and is today’s top entertainer on the east coast.

Starring on Saturday’s acoustic stages will be Leo “Bud” Welch, Pat Thomas, Lil Willie Farmer, David Dunavant, Lucious Spiller, Marshall Drew, Terry “Harmonica” Bean and Anthony “Big A” Sherrod, Kenny Brown, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, Mississippi Marshall, Watermelon Slim, Deak Harp and Lee Williams, Bill “Howlin’ Madd” Perry, and Sharde Turner and the Rising Star Fife and Drum.

Sunday’s gospel stage will feature The Clarksdale Mass Choir, The Singing Echoes, Ned Johnson and the Jonestown Crusaders, The Myles Family, and Lee Williams.

The Sunflower hosts a VIP Tent for supporters who purchase weekend tickets to enjoy seating at linen-covered tables beneath an air-cooled tent near the main stage with unlimited beverages from a full bar. For more information, telephone 662-627-5301.

2016 Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival Lineup

Thursday, August 11, 2016, Grits, Greens & Barbecue

6:00pm – 6:45pm

Richard "Daddy Rich" Crisman

7:00pm – 7:45pm

Marshall Drew

8:00pm – 8:45pm

Sean "Bad" Apple

Friday, August 12, 2016 Main Stage

5:00pm – 5:45pm

Delta Blues Museum Band

6:00pm – 6:45pm

Heather Crosse: Heavy Suga & The Sweet Tones

7:00pm – 7:45pm

Joshua "Razorblade" Stewart

8:00pm – 9:00pm

James "Jimbo" Mathus

9:15pm – 10:15pm

Toni Green

10:30pm – 11:30pm

James "Super Chikan" Johnson

Saturday, August 13, 2016 Acoustic Stage #1 Under VIP Tent

10:00am – 10:45am

David Dunavent

11:00am – 11:45am

Pat Thomas

12:00pm – 12:45pm

Lil Willie Farmer

1:00pm – 1:45pm

Lucious Spiller

2:00pm – 2:45pm

Educational Program

3:00pm – 3:45pm

Leo "Bud" Welch

4:00pm – 4:45pm

Sharde Thomas: The Rising Star Fife & Drums Band

Saturday, August 13, 2016 Acoustic Stage #2 at Levon’s Bar and Grill - 232 Sunflower

1:00pm – 1:45pm

Deak Harp & Lee Williams

2:00pm – 2:45pm

Jimmy "Duck" Holmes

3:00pm – 3:45pm

Kenny Brown

4:00pm – 4:45pm

Terry "Harmonica" Bean

Saturday, August 13, 2016 Acoustic Stage #3 at Crossroads Cultural Arts Center - 332 Delta Ave

1:00pm – 1:45pm

Mississippi Marshall

2:00pm – 2:45pm

Bill "Howl-N-Madd" Perry

3:00pm – 3:45pm

Watermelon Slim

4:00pm – 4:45pm

Anthony "Big A" Sherrod

Saturday, August 13, 2016 Main Stage

5:00pm – 5:45pm

Bill Abel Band

6:00pm – 6:45pm

Christone "Kingfish" Ingram

7:00pm – 7:45pm

Terry "Big T" Williams

7:45pm – 8:00pm

Awards

8:00pm – 9:00pm

Vasti Jackson

9:15pm – 10:15pm

Sweet Angel

10:30pm – 11:30pm

Lonnie Shields

Sunday, August 14, 2016 Gospel Stage

4:00pm – 4:15pm

The Clarksdale Mass Choir

4:30pm – 4:45pm

The Singing Echoes

5:00pm – 5:15pm

Ned Johnson & The Jonestown Crusaders

5:30pm – 6:00pm

The Myles Family

6:15pm – 7:45pm

Lee Williams and The Spiritual QC's
Heart of the Mississippi Delta
(Defined and Refined by the Big River)
Watercolors available through the Delta Bohemian Gift Shop

Sunflower River Fest headliners ready to roll

Clarksdale’s 3-day free event celebrates its 29th season

CLARKSDALE – “I’m ready to come home,” says bluesman Lonnie Shields commenting on his approaching trek from Pennsylvania to headline the Sunflower River Blues Festival’s Saturday night stage here August 13.

Although the multi-talented guitarist, singer, songwriter has been a favorite at several Sunflower festivals including the first one in 1988, his musical career for almost a decade has centered around the Philadelphia, Pa., area.

His last Sunflower appearance was in 2007.

Speaking from his home near Philadelphia, Shields said his show in Clarksdale will include a tribute to the late B.B. King, Johnny Taylor, and Tyrone Davis.

“B.B. was my idol,” said Shields. “When he toured the East Coast, he always called me up on stage with him.”

Born in West Helena, Ark., Shields credits Sam and Doris Carr for shepherding his early years and his musical career. “Sam was my godfather,” he said.

In addition to making up for lost time with his family when he was busy building a career, Shields said he was working on two CDs: a tribute to B.B. King, and a collection of original compositions.

Friday night’s headliner James Super Chikan Johnson returned to Clarksdale Aug. 2 from a tour of Brazil and Uruguay.

“It was freezing, wintertime down there; even the hotels were cold,” says the ebullient musician on his way off to another out of town gig.

In addition to Johnson’s high-energy performance with his band Friday night, he has accepted a request to star as the centerpiece of Saturday afternoon’s Educational Program at 2 p.m.

While displaying an array of his folk art: handmade and bejeweled instruments – guitars, didley bows, and other music makers that work, Johnson will be spinning colorful “barnyard” stories and characters in dialect from his childhood growing up in the country.

The event is part of the acoustic stage lineup beneath the air-cooled VIP Tent near the festival main stage. It is free and open to the public.

Arriving with super star credentials for her first Sunflower Festival, Toni Green is wedging her performance between European gigs and must fly back Saturday morning following her Friday night show here.

Backed by a 9-piece band, Green, who is a native of Memphis but performs globally, promises

great variety ranging from blues and R&B to jazz and country.

“I grew up in a musical family, went to church every Sunday and I’m at home and influenced by gospel to R&B,” Green said.

Speaking from Europe in a telephone interview Green added, “My father loved jazz, and I love Aretha Franklin and Billie Holiday.”

Green says she is not related to Al Green but loves his music. She’s also a big fan of Bobby Rush, and they both performed recently at a festival in Italy. She worked with Willie Mitchell at Royal Studios in Memphis before his death.

As a fifth grader, Green said she announced she planned to be a super star and travel around the world.

So far, she’s been busy performing in Italy, France, The Netherlands, Singapore, and Japan.

Full of energy and enthusiasm, she says she’s available and ready to go.

“You would not believe how much Europeans love and are impressed with the music of Mississippi’s small towns and Memphis,” she said.

For lineup information, view the festival’s website: www.sunflowerfest.org.

Sunflower Fest draws international media

Favorite Saturday daytime acoustic stage expands into three cool locations

CLARKSDALE – Flooding their website in Italy are dozens and dozens and dozens of artistic photographs from last summer’s Clarksdale’s Sunflower River Blues and Blues Festival.

They range from musicians in action: William Bell, La La, “Bud” Welch, Super Chikan Johnson, RazorBlade, Kingfish, Sweet Angel, Kenny Brown and others to scenes of The Crossroads, Greyhound Bus Station, Ground Zero’s front porch and walls of Orlando Paden political signs.

They are coming back for more with more photographers this summer. Thirteen 13 in all.

“Last years experience in Clarksdale was really amazing, so we are organizing again with another group and we’ll stay in Clarksdale for the entire duration (August 10-15) of the festival,” Simona Ottolenghi, tour leader said in her email request for media credentials.

Last year’s group showed its photos everywhere on the web, she added.

Welcoming them this year will be three cool acoustic stages confronting the steamy daytime August temperatures they encountered last summer.

These popular events will be located beneath the air-cooled VIP Tent on John Lee Hooker Lane; inside the air-conditioned Levon Bar and Grill at 232 Sunflower, and inside the air-conditioned Crossroads Cultural Arts Center, 332 Delta Ave.

All are free and open to the public.

Performing on these stages with lively interaction and conversations expected between artists and audience are 14 musical acts starting at 10 a.m. Saturday and continuing through 4:45 p.m. when the main stage reopens with the Bill Abel Band at 5 p.m. Christine “Kingfish” Ingram picks up the pace at 6 p.m. followed by Terry “Big T” Williams, Vasti Jackson, Sweet Angel, and Lonnie Shields.

Opening Saturday morning’s acoustic stage beneath the VIP Tent at 10 a.m. will be David Dunavant followed by Pat Thomas, Lil Willie Farmer, Lucious Spiller, an Educational Program, Leo “Bud” Welch, and Sharde Turner and the Rising Star Fife Band.

Deak Harp and Lee Williams open the Levon’s Bar and Grill acoustic stage at 1 p.m. Saturday followed by Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, Kenny Brown, and Terry “Harmonica” Bean.

At the Crossroads Cultural Arts Center Mississippi Marshall kicks off at 1 p.m. followed by Bill “Howl-N-Madd Perry, Watermelon Slim, and Anthony “Big A” Sherrod.

Sunday’s Gospel Stage inside the air-conditioned Civic Auditorium begins at 4 p.m. with the Clarksdale Mass Choir followed by The Singing Echoes, Ned Johnson & the Jonestown Crusaders, The Myles Family, and closes with headliner: Lee Williams & The Spiritual QC’s.

The Sunflower hosts a VIP Tent for supporters who purchase weekend tickets to enjoy seating at linen-covered tables with unlimited beverages beneath an air-cooled tent near the main stage. For more information, telephone 662-627-5301.

VIPs also are special guests for Thursday night’s “Grits, Greens, & Barbecue” supper featuring live entertainment by Richard “Daddy Rich” Crisman, Marshal Drew, and Sean “Bad” Apple. The event’s famous menu was created originally to introduce Norwegian cousins from Notodden, Norway, to Southern Soul Food. It includes Abe’s famous barbecue, turnip greens and cornbread from Chef Louise Campbell, and Charlie Musselwhite’s favorite baked cheese grits.

For updates and a complete lineup, visit the festival’s website: www.sunflowerfest.org

The Sunflower Festival has been heralded by USA Weekend as one of America’s Top 10 Places to hear authentic music. In 2012 it was honored with its own Mississippi Blues Heritage marker, and Visit South has named it Mississippi’s Top Pick of blues festivals in 2016.

The festival is staged entirely by volunteers who work year-round raising funds to keep the event free and open to the public. Members are 50 percent African American and 50 percent Caucasian and range from professionals including lawyers, doctors, teachers, and accountants to secretaries, road crew workers, cooks, retirees, and a prison guard from Parchman.

The non-profit 501 c 3 organization has been supported by grants from the Mississippi Arts Commission since it was inaugurated. It is funded also by HPI, Coahoma Community College, Merit Health, Clarksdale Public Utilities, local banks, businesses, individuals, and memberships.

For lineup information, go to the festival’s website: www.sunflowerfest.org. For media, contact publicist: Panny Mayfield, pannywriter@yahoo.com For more information, telephone 662-627-5301.




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