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Lower Mississippi River Dispatch No. 341

---- Monday, April 11, 2016 ----

Juke Joint Week in Clarksdale

RIP: John “Mad Dog” Fewkes

June 16, 1956 to April 8, 2016

John Madison "Mad Dog" Fewkes
June 16, 1956 - April 8, 2016

This issue is dedicated to my good friend, philosopher, painter, gardner, and our Quapaw Helena manager John “Mad Dog” Fewkes. It is with a heavy heart that we share the sad news about his untimely passing last week. Please see below for funeral arrangements.

Juke Joint Week in Clarksdale:

Thursday, April 14th

What’s So Special About Your Place?

National Geographic Geotourism Meeting

Quapaw Canoe Company

289 Sunflower Avenue

Clarksdale, Miss

(Don't miss this great opportunity! Meet representatives from Nat Geo who will be at Quapaw Canoe Company in downtown Clarksdale to assist local/regional businesses and organizations with sign up on the Mississippi River Geotourism website!)

Friday, April 15th

Mothman Ohio Street Performance

Under Quapaw Canoe Co Porch

6pm, 45 min set

289 Sunflower Avenue

Clarksdale, Miss

Saturday, April 16th

Quapaw Canoe Company Stage

Kremser Plaza -- by the Fountain

3rd & Sunflower in downtown Clarksdale

10am - 5pm

(Featuring Zoe Sundra & Lautoro Mantillo, Daddy Rich, Anthony "Big A" Sherrod & Allstars w/Space Cowboy, Jaxx Nassar, TBA (possibly CW Gatlin), Dexter Allen, La La & Element 88, and The Blues Doctors)

Saturday, April 16th

James T. McCafferty Booksigning

The Bear Hunter: The Life and Times of Robert Eager Bobo in the Canebrakes of the Old South

Under Quapaw Canoe Co Porch

289 Sunflower Avenue

Clarksdale, Miss

Thursday, April 14th - Sunday, April 17th

Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale!

Music at many jukes, stages, and on the street. Many related events all around town, including canoe/kayak/paddleboard rentals on the Sunflower River and a live canoe-carviong demonstration at Quapaw Canoe Company. For complete schedule of events g
o to:

What’s so special about your place?

National Geographic wants to know at a meeting in Clarksdale at the Quapaw Canoe Company, 289 Sunflower Avenue, on Thursday, April 14th, 9:00am

National Geographic, in partnership with the Mississippi River Connections Collaborative and other partners are developing an interactive website of the Mississippi River to help tell the story of the region to visitors.

National Geographic is looking for local residents involved or interested in tourism in the region to tell the story of the places they would recommend people to visit and nominate these on the website.

This free program is asking local people along the length of the River to identify and map what’s unique about their communities. All sites, attractions or businesses that fit the Geotourism Criteria (see website) and are within a county that borders the Mississippi River are eligible to be nominated.

People can nominate sites at

In addition, National Geographic will be visiting our community on Thursday, April 14th, at 9:00am in Clarksdale at the Quapaw Canoe Company, 289 Sunflower Avenue, on to provide information about the program and how to nominate.

If you are able to attend, please come, learn about the program and how to nominate your favorite sites, attractions and businesses.

If you can’t attend, please visit the website to nominate. Please also share this email with others that might be interested in participating in the program.

Quapaw Canoe Company Stage: Saturday, April 16th

Kremser Plaza -- by the Fountain

3rd & Sunflower in downtown Clarksdale

10am - 5pm

10am – Zoe Sundra & Lautoro Mantillo

11am – Daddy Rich

12 noon – Anthony "Big A" Sherrod & Allstars w/Space Cowboy

1pm – Jaxx Nassar

2pm – TBA (possibly CW Gatlin)

3pm – Dexter Allen

4pm – La La & Element 88

5pm – The Blues Doctors

John Madison "Mad Dog" Fewkes
With the Chinook Tahmanawis Dugout Canoe
at Mhoon Landing, Tunica County

John Madison “Mad Dog” Fewkes

June 16, 1956 to April 8, 2016

If you knew Mad Dog, you are probably as shocked and saddened as we are by this sudden end of his life. It is with a heavy heart that we share the sad news about his untimely passing last week. A funeral service for John Fewkes will be held at 12:00 noon, Thursday, April 14, 2016 at Roller-Citizens Funeral Home in West Helena. Visitation will be Wednesday evening from 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. at the same. Burial will be at Maple Hill Cemetery in Helena. Please send us your favorite Mad Dog story and we will share in next week's Dispatch.

Visitation: Wednesday, April 13, Roller-Citizens Funeral Home, Helena

Funeral: 12 noon, Thursday, April 14, Roller-Citizens Funeral Home, Helena

Roller-Citizens Funeral Home

508 East Plaza Street

West Helena, AR 72390


John Madison Fewkes, IX, age 59, of Dundee, Mississippi passed away Friday, April 8, 2016 at Helena, Arkansas. Mr. Fewkes was born June 16, 1956 at Chicago, Illinois to John Madison Fewkes, VIII and Dorthea Fewkes.

He is survived by his wife, Edna Shaw; his parents; sister, Cheryl Dockins (Randy); two brothers, James Fewkes (Chris) and Matthew Fewkes (Kimberly); mother-in-law, Frankie Mae Magsby; brothers-in-law, Eddie Magsby, Youndris Magsby (Veronica), Mario Magsby and Zenles Newby (Mary); sisters-in-law, Glenda Shaw, Reginlo Booker (Tommie) and Johnette Moore; several nieces and nephews; and a lifelong friend, Tom Herr.

John came to the Delta in 1994 as plant manager for Pillowtex Corporation's Tunica Branch. Fewkes also began teaching business and marketing classes for Coahoma Community College's Adult Outreach evening program in 1996, where he has continued to serve until present.

In 2001 he was asked to take over as curator and executive director of Tunica Museums, Inc. where he directed the design and installation of the museum's permanent exhibits and curated, created and developed several temporary exhibits and research projects.

While working at the museum, Fewkes became interested in helping low and very low income families purchase their own homes. He was asked to join the board of Tunica County Housing Project, Inc. where he has served since 2002.

John then turned his sights to Clarksdale for a while, helping clean, organize and sort the WROX Museum extensive record and tape collection. Next door to the museum, he helped open Gimme Gumbo Gallery, filling the space with his own acrylic paintings of blues musicians and interpretations of blues lyrics and song titles. Fewkes was also a substitute teacher for the Tunica County School District.

In 2007 John turned his attention back to one of his favorite places, Helena, Arkansas. Wanting to participate in the rebirth of Historic Downtown Helena, Fewkes began supporting and helping out at Grounds, a Habitat for Humanity donation center, by purchasing used books and hanging artwork which he donated a portion of any sales to Grounds. He encouraged other artists to show their work at Grounds and helped create an entire gallery space on one side of the building. He is a regular at Grounds poetry night on Thursdays, and through Grounds has met many citizens and businesspeople of Helena.

When friend and fellow artist John Ruskey asked Fewkes if he would be interested in managing the Helena Outpost, Fewkes gladly accepted, noting, "This is the perfect combination of the use of mind and body."

Mad Dog led the Helena Outpost of the Quapaw Canoe Company from 2007-2016. During this time he oversaw the KIPP Canoe Club, and the Helena Canoe Club. These after-school leadership programs included the construction of dugout canoes, hand-crafted paddles, and experience on the wild Mississippi River for hundreds of East Arkansas youth.

Mad Dog helped the American Land Conservancy save Buck Island in 2008, which today is owned by Arkansas Game & Fish as a protected public place for generations to come.

John "Mad Dog" Fewkes has been the face and spirit of the Quapaw Canoe Company in Helena since 2007. He was a prolific artist, poet and vociferous philosopher. He painted a giant mural depicting the Lower Mississippi River which covers 2 walls of the Quapaw location at 107 Perry street. He will be forever remembered by us Mighty Quapaws. His spirit will live forever in the work we do, and in the creative flowing throughout the Arkansas and Mississippi Deltas.

Saturday, April 16th

James T. McCafferty Booksigning

The Bear Hunter: The Life and Times of Robert Eager Bobo in the Canebrakes of the Old South

Under Quapaw Canoe Co Porch

289 Sunflower Avenue

Clarksdale, Miss

The Bear Hunter: The Life and Times of Robert Eager Bobo in the Canebrakes of the Old South

USA: Canebrake Publishing Company (2015)

Over a century ago readers of sporting journals in America and Europe relished the tales of Mississippi Delta bear hunter Robert Eager Bobo. Yet, in the years since, this most famous bear hunter of the late 1800s has been all but forgotten – until now. The Bear Hunter: The Life and Times of Robert Eager Bobo in the Canebrakes of the Old South brings to the modern reader, not only the story of Bobo’s bear hunting, but a thoroughly fascinating and entertaining picture of pioneer life in the nineteenth century Delta wilderness.

Come now with Bob Bobo and a variety of captivating characters – including the notorious outlaw Jesse James – on their quests for black bear in an environment that now exists only on the pages of history: the wild, trackless, Delta canebrake. Gallop at a breakneck pace through sloughs and swamps, where a horse’s stumble over a cypress knee could mean sudden disaster; thrill to the savage chorus of the hounds as they pursue their game; charge into the cane to knife the bear before it can decimate the pack; taste the fear when the tables turn and hunter becomes the hunted; relax by the campfire on a frosty November evening and listen to the tales of wolf and panther and gun and knife; laugh, too, at comical stories of old time Delta backwoods ways; and, perhaps, shed a tear, as the inevitable tragedies of life visit your newfound friends. The book will delight hunters, outdoors lovers, nature enthusiasts, southern history buffs, folklore fans, and anyone who just enjoys a good book.

But let us not delay! The hunters are gathered; the horses are champing at their bits; the dogs are spoiling for a fight; Bobo is sounding his horn. It is time to ride!


This thoroughly researched and superbly written account of the exploits of Robert Eager Bobo – one of the Mississippi Delta's pioneer leaders and most fabled bear hunters – is better than any cowboy story that you have ever read – and it all really happened.

--Honorable William F. Winter

former governor of Mississippi and past president of the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History


Bravo to Jim McCafferty! His skills as a wordsmith, historian and storyteller shine in his marvelous story of The Bear Hunter, Robert Eager Bobo – a real-life character whose 19th century exploits were every bit as fascinating as those of Daniel Boone or Davy Crockett. You won’t want to put it down!

--Keith Sutton, author of

Arkansas Wildlife: A History


McCafferty’s masterful portrayal of an era, now almost unimaginable, when the Mississippi Delta was forest primeval and bears were as plentiful as hogs, brings to life a host of colorful 19th century characters. The reader sees, hears, feels, smells and tastes the drama of the hunt – an essential addition to the library of both Southern folklore and outdoor writing.

--Ernest Herndon, outdoor editor,

McComb, Mississippi, Enterprise-Journal


About Jim McCafferty:

Jim McCafferty grew up in the Mississippi Delta during the 1950s and 1960s and is the award-winning writer of hundreds of articles that have appeared in Field & Stream, Outdoor Life, and many other publications. His two children’s books, Holt and the Teddy Bear (the story of Holt Collier, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Mississippi Delta hunt that resulted in the naming of the Teddy Bear) and Holt and the Cowboys, each received Children’s Crown Collection designations. McCafferty practices environmental and education law in McComb, Mississippi. He and his wife, the former Malinda Hamilton, of Greenville, Mississippi, have five children and are communicants of St. Nicholas of Myra Byzantine Catholic Church in New Orleans, Louisiana.




Our 13th annual, 2016 edition of Juke Joint Festival is dedicated to all of the late, great Delta blues performers who have passed away during the past year — including Juke Fest regulars LC Ulmer, Elmo Williams and Eddie Cusic as well as other Mississippi bluesmen like BB King. RIP.

Juke Joint Festival is "half blues festival, half small-town fair and all about the Delta." It celebrates our past AND living history by presenting over 100 blues acts during the course of the weekend -- most of them Mississippi or Southern, many in their 60s, 70s, 80s or even 90s! This is the real-deal Mississippi blues festival that you've read about. It is like no other in the world.

During the daytime, you can expect at least a dozen small stages with authentic blues. At night, we feature all of our surviving juke joints, blues clubs and other indoor stages -- last year included 20+ venues.

Our next Juke Joint Festival is Saturday, April 16, 2016, with exciting related events on starting at 5pm on Thursday, April 14th and carrying through the night of Sunday, April 15th. (Related events on that Sunday include the always free and fabulous Cat Head Mini Blues Fest at 10am as well as the Second Street Blues Party in front of the Rock & Blues Museum.)

The home of this much acclaimed festival? Historic CLARKSDALE, MISSISSIPPI -- just 90 minutes south of the Memphis International Airport and once home to such blues greats at Son House, John Lee Hooker, Junior Parker, Ike Turner, Eddie Boyd, Sam Cooke, Muddy Waters, Pinetop Perkins, Earl Hooker, Lil Green, Big Jack Johnson and many many others. It's the land of the Crossroads!

What is the JUKE JOINT FESTIVAL? It’s a positive event for everyone in Clarksdale. It’s good for families, businesses, musicians and tourists alike. The festival itself combines an international “blues festival” with a community-minded “small-town fair,” creating a strong and memorable event like no other in the universe. It’s organized by the Clarksdale Downtown Development Association (CDDA) and staffed by enthusiastic volunteers. This “half small-town fair, half blues festival” does more than simply entertain attendees -- though it definitely does that, too! It aims to educate and enlighten native Deltans and blues tourists alike through a series of performances, exhibits, and presentations involving music, art, storytelling, film, and children’s events. The event mixes visitors with locals and showcases the economic power of cultural tourism, turning average Deltans into ambassadors for the region.

Speaking of economics, last year’s festival was our most successful yet with full hotels and expanded press coverage. Festival attendees came from at least 46 U.S. states, 53 Mississippi counties and 28 foreign countries. The Juke Joint Festival makes every effort to keep vendors, talent and suppliers as local as possible. A family-friendly event, the festival also provides a bus service at night to discourage drinking and driving between music venues. Our daytime Saturday events are all FREE while our nighttime Saturday events all come for the price of a cheap ($15 pre-sale or $20 that night) wristband which gets you unlimited rides on the blues shuttle bus and entry to at least 20 nighttime 'juke joint' venues.

What’s so special about your place?

Geotourism Website Program for The Mississippi River

National Geographic Society – Maps Division

Geotourism Stewardship Council and Website Program

Community Outreach Workshop

Thursday, April 14th, 9:00am

Quapaw Canoe Company, 289 Sunflower Avenue, Clarksdale

What’s So Special About Your Place?

We want to know because:

“The best travel advice comes from the people who live there”

Workshop Objectives:

To inform local people about National Geographic’s Geotourism Partnership Project with the Mississippi River Connections Collaborative - goals, objectives and benefits for the communities along the Mississippi River

To orientate and inform local people who are engaged in tourism from the private and public sectors on how they can participate in contributing content to the Mississippi River Geotourism Website:

Agenda: 1.5 hours

:20 minutes Introductions and Overview of National Geographic’s Geotourism Program

Concept and work plan for the Mississippi River Geotourism Program

:45 minutes How you can contribute content to the Mississippi River Geotourism Website

Why? Because the best travel advice comes from the people who live there

Who? Local individuals, service providers, small businesses, organizations and others

are invited to share on a co-branded National Geographic Society website

recommendations for place based authentic experiences for travelers along the

Mississippi River


Detailed explanation and demonstration on how to contribute information by uploading content onto the website

Options for those not oriented to the internet to become content contributors

:25 minutes Q and A / Plenum Discussion / Closing

The Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

is brought to you courtesy of:

The Lower Mississippi River Foundation

John Madison "Mad Dog" Fewkes
June 16, 1956 - April 8, 2016