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Its cooled down 10 degrees in the Mississippi Delta... Whew! Out of the frying pan and into the… uh… steam bath? We’re below 75 degrees at night for the first time in a month! It must be that time of Summer… the annual early August cool-down… Musicians are wandering the back streets of Clarksdale in the tradition of the late great Tater the Music Maker… Hopefuls and wannabees are coming from afar with mistuned guitars in their hands headed for midnight meetings at the Crossroads… Somethings in the air… it must be festival time in Clarksdale, Mississippi! Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival! The best blues festival in the world featuring the purest of the Mississippi Delta Blues tradition! And its still FREE!

Friday, Saturday and Sunday August 12-14th. See below for full schedule. Unless its raining or unbearably sizzling hot, we’ll be hosting the afternoon acoustic stage next to Quapaw Canoe Company in the shade of the trees at 3rd & Sunflower. (Rain Date: Clarksdale Civic Auditorium). Calling all river citizens: we need several volunteers during festival. Contact John Ruskey or call 662-902-7841.

Our Saturday Quapaw Canoe Company acoustic stage schedule includes performances by former Mighty Quapaw Anthony 'Big A' Sherard (2:10pm), the brilliant Lucious Spiller (2:45pm), Bill Abel & Cadillac John (3:15pm), Jimmy "Duck" Holmes (3:50pm), Kenny Brown (4:30pm), Terry 'Harmonica' Bean (5:05pm), and Johnny Lowe Bow (5:45pm).

My mentor Johnnie “Mr. Johnnie” Billington will be on the morning acoustic stage at 11:50am with his newest generation of upcoming blues performers “The Midnighters.” This is Mr. Johnnie’s first appearance at the festival in a long time. Too long. Go show him some love! He is the man responsible for many of the blues musicians currently performing in the Clarksdale area, such as Terry “Big T” Williams, Anthony “Big A” Sherard, and many, many others. His exemplary commitment to area youth led directly to the development of the Delta Blues Museum’s Arts & Education Program.

Quapaw Hours during festival:

Thursday Aug 11: 9am - 5pm

Friday Aug 12: 9am - 5pm

Saturday Aug 13: 9am - 5pm

Quapaw Canoe Company will be showing the recent documentary film Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story which traces the development of America's bountiful heartland and its effect on the legendary river. Through beautiful photography and inspiring narrative, the film offers solutions to the river's troubles through fresh ideas and concrete solutions. (USA, 2010, 57 min.) Directed by Larkin McPhee. Q&A and discussion Following. FREE! Made Possible by the 1Mississippi Lower Mississippi River Campaign.

Quapaw Canoe Company will also be presenting the multi-media show Surfing a 300 Mile Long Wave: Paddling the Crest of the 2011 Flood from Memphis to Vicksburg in 3 days! Featuring legendary writer Hodding Carter and photographer Christopher LaMarca, with maps, photos & videos from the channels and flooded forests of the Lower Mississippi River. Featuring “The Cricket” by Paul “Bubba” Battle. Guided by John Ruskey. 45 minutes. FREE! As featured in August 2011 Outside Magazine. See photos by Driftwood Johnnie on the Delta Bohemian Website.

Troubled Waters Showings:

Thursday: Movie 2pm Discussion 3pm

Friday: Movie 10am Discussion 11am; Movie 1pm Discussion 2pm

Saturday: Movie 10am Discussion 11am; Movie 1pm Discussion 2pm

Surfing a 300 Mile Long Wave Showings:

Thursday: 1pm; 3pm

Friday: 9am; 12noon; 3pm

Saturday: 9am; 12noon; 3pm

Sunflower River Cleanup: you can help the Mighty Quapaws with a cleanup of the Sunflower River Thursday 4-6pm or Saturday 9am-12noon. This is a small part of the 2011/2012 Mighty Quapaw Cleanup Project of the Lower Mississippi River following the Great Flood of 2011.

We will also be providing Canoe & Kayak Rentals for exploring the Sunflower River in downtown Clarksdale, and Stand Up Paddleboards also! 20% off for Friends of the Sunflower River in good standing. Many options for the creative paddler!

24th Annual FREE
Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival

For more information, please visit

AUGUST 12, 2011 - Main Stage

4:15pm - 4:45pm

The Delta Blues Museum Band

5:00pm - 5:45pm

Richard 'Daddy Rich' Crisman

6:00pm - 6:45pm

Deuce & Quarter Band

7:00pm - 7:45pm

Joshua 'Razor Blade' Stewart

8:00pm - 8:45pm

David Brinston

9:00pm - 10:00pm

Nathaniel Kimble

SATURDAY, AUGUST 13, 2011 - Main Stage

1:30pm - 2:00pm

Neicy Keyinessa

2:15pm - 2:45pm

Terry 'Harmonica' Bean

3:00pm - 3:45pm

All Night Long Band

4:00pm - 4:45pm

Dr. Feelgood Potts

5:00pm - 5:45pm

Terry 'Big T' Williams & The Family Band

6:00pm - 6:30pm

Tribute to Blues Legends

6:45pm - 7:30pm

Bill 'Howl-N-Mad' Perry

7:45pm - 8:30pm

Earnest 'Guitar' Roy

8:30pm - 8:45pm

Presentation of Early Wright Blues Heritage Award and

Julius Guy Heritage Awards

8:45 pm - 9:45pm

Johnny Rawls

10:00pm - 11:00pm

Dorothy Moore

Acoustic Stage #1 -- Main Stage


Arthneice 'Gas Man' Jones


Robert Belfour


Eddie Cusic


Pat Thomas


T-Model Ford


Johnny Billington and the Midnighters


Sharde Turner & The Rising Star Fife and Drum Band

Acoustic Stage #2 -- Quapaw Canoe Company


Mellow Blues Duo


Charles Fowler


Anthony 'Big A' Sherard


Lucious Spiller


Bill Abel & Cadillac John


Jimmy "Duck" Holmes


Kenny Brown


Terry 'Harmonica' Bean


Johnny Lowe Bow

Sunday, August 14, 2011 - Gospel Festival - Clarksdale Civic Auditorium

4:00 - 4:30 pm

Chris Coleman

4:45 - 5:15 pm

Edna Nichole Luckett

5:30 - 6:00 pm

Chapel Hill Men's Chorus

6:15 - 6:45 pm

The Myles Family

7:00 - 8:00 pm

Jamar Esaw Triad & Christ

8:15 - 9:15 pm

Evelyn Turrentine-Agee

As always there is no charge for admission, but the festival needs your support.

For more information, please visit

Special Free Blues Events Open to the Pubic:

At 2 p.m. Friday, August 12, A Walk of Fame Bronze Plaque honoring the late Big Jack Johnson will be unveiled on the sidewalk outside Red's Blues Club on Sunflower Ave. The event is sponsored by the City of Clarksdale and Coahoma County.

At 3 p.m. Friday, August 12, a memorial program paying tribute to six key Sunflower Festival figures: James Alford, Michael James, Wesley Jefferson, Big Jack Johnson, Sarah Moore, and Foster 'Tater' Wiley, will be held at Ground Zero Blues Club sponsored by the Rock River Foundation: Morgan Freeman and Bill Luckett.

(Time/ location of the panel is subject to change)

The 2011 Festival is celebrating the lives of our 'Sunflower Family' - musicians/artists/key contributors in our history for more than two decades until their recent deaths. James Alford, Michael James, Wesley Jefferson, Big Jack Johnson, Sarah Moore, and Foster "Tater" Wiley.

The Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival is produced by the Sunflower River Blues Association - a 501 c 3 non-profit organization - composed of multi racial volunteers - 50 percent African-American - 50 percent Caucasian - who donate their time and services all year to showcase the unique cultural heritage of Mississippi Delta blues and gospel music. New members are welcome to join and attend meetings at the Delta Blues Museum. Membership dues are $15 per year. Tax-exempt donations are welcome, needed, and may be mailed to the Sunflower River Blues Association, Box 1562, Clarksdale, Miss. 38614. Many thanks. For additional information, view

Virtuoso blues artists punctuate acoustic stages with intimacy

(Press Release from the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival - 8/7/2011 - Panny Mayfield, publicist, 662-621-4157)

CLARKSDALE - Acoustic blues masters featured each year on the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival's acoustic stages are revered by many as the gemstones of the three-day celebration.

Not only are the performers virtuoso musicians, their presentations are punctuated with conversation, and remarks to the audiences in a personal, intimate setting, explains festival co-chairman Melville Tillis.

"Returning from year to year, visitors line up early for a good seat, even if they've been up late Friday night," adds Tillis.

The lineup that opens at 9 a.m. will be missing two favorites who were regulars: the late Big Jack Johnson and Foster "Tater" Wiley who are being honored with four other Sunflower family members.

Among the quintessential musicians will be harmonica great Arthniece Jones with his colorful stories; guitarists Robert Belfour, Eddie Cusic, Pat Thomas, T-Model Ford, and intensity-driven Lucious Spiller who made his debut in 2010.

Joining them this year will be acclaimed blues teacher/artist, Mr. Johnnie Billington, recipient of the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts and a Master Folk Artist designated by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Shardee Turner, granddaughter of the late Othar Turner, and the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band will continue its 24-year tradition of closing the morning stage with a "Hill Country" procession.

In past years the morning acoustic stage has been held inside Clarksdale Station and the Civic Auditorium, but this year it will be held on the Main Stage.

"Our audience outgrew the depot space; we are taking advantage of our state-of-the-art sound system at the main stage, and the spacious VIP tent where the Lions Club is serving a pancake breakfast," says Tillis.

The afternoon acoustic stage will continue at the foot of Sunflower and Third Street unless the hot weather is unbearable and it becomes necessary to move inside the Civic Auditorium, says Tillis.

Among key afternoon performers are Anthony "Big A" Sherard, Bill Abel & Cadillac John, Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, Kenny Brown, and Terry "Harmonica" Bean.

Shardee Turner, granddaughter of the late Othar Turner of Gravel Springs, and the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band continue a 24-year tradition of closing the Sunflower's acoustic stage. The morning acoustic stage was rained out of the New Roxy stage last year and moved to the Civic Auditorium.


Blues Singer Dorothy Moore to Appear at 2011 Sunflower Festival, 8/12 -14

Singer Dorothy Moore will be appearing at the 2011 Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival on August 12 - 14.

Moore says she will be introducing a new blues song just recorded, "Let the Healing Begin." Moore also will be showcasing a new talent: playing harmonica.

Moore has been honored with a Blues Trail marker and has been inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame, the Mississippi Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Monterey Bay Blues Festival. In July she was honored at the Jackson Music Awards for the Kings and Queens of Southern Soul with Bobby Rush, Willie Clayton, Millie Jackson, and Denise LaSalle.

The three-day Sunflower Festival (August 12-14) is free.

For more information, please visit

Read more:


The development of America’s bountiful heartland and its effect on the legendary Mississippi River are traced in this film. Knitting together federal energy, farm and environment policies against the back drop of the Mississippi River watershed, the film unifies these seemingly discrete entities into a coherent whole, helping viewers to grasp what is a profound truth – that a single drop of water in Minesota is connected to the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. Through beautiful photography and inspiring narrative, it offers solutions to the river’s troubles, from upstream to the gulf and the difficulties it faces, providing fresh ideas and concrete solutions. Directed by Larkin McPhee. Produced by Bell Museum Productions.

Introduced by Anthony Clark, NRDC representative. Discussion with Barbara Coffin, Executive Producer, Bell Museum Productions, Daniel Engstrom, Environmental Scientist, featured in the film, and Bob Deans, Associate Director of Communications, NRDC and co-author of “In Deep Water: The Anatomy of a Disaster, the Fate of the Gulf, and How to End our Oil Addiction” follows screenings.