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Lower Mississippi River Dispatch Vol 7 No 12

Quapaw Canoe Company

Clarksdale, Mississippi -- Helena, Arkansas

Serving the greater Lower Mississippi Valley

from the Ohio River to the Gulf of Mexico

This Weekend! TaterFest 2011

Saturday Dec 10th 3pm - until

The Music Hall next to the Big Pink

(keep reading below for more info)

Friday, Dec 23rd: You are invited:

Mighty Quapaw Winter Solstice Bonfire

on the banks of the Sunflower River!

4-7pm Friday, December 23rd, behind Quapaw Canoe Company on the banks of the Sunflower, rain, sleet, snow or hopefully stars!

BYOB. We'll have Cheeses, Breads, Wild Meats & Smoked Fish. Spiced Apple Cider. Quapaw Willow-Smoked Community Coffee.

Live Music by “I’d Rather Drink Muddy Waters & Sleep in a Hollow Log” and the spirits of Wesley Jefferson “Mississippi Junebug” and “Tater” Foster Wiley “The Music Maker”

Come enjoy sunset over the Sunflower on the shortest day of the year -- and help us light the bonfire to keep the “fires burning” through the darkness of the longest nights of the year, Venus following the Sun down over the reverberant brilliance of the big mother of all rivers (far over the treeline to the West), Jupiter rising later over the Mississippi Hill Country, and the waning Frosty Beaver Moon following suit later and then peeping over the muddy banks ‘round midnight with frosty whiskers and prussian blue reflections undulating in the soft currents. Have you ever seen effervescent “the pyramid of light” following sundown in the crystal clear nights of the winter skies? If not, we’ll point it out to you. I’ll have my spotting scope out for viewing Jupiter’s Red Spot, and any owls that happen to join us (probably from the safe distance of the bald cypress trees upstream!) We will light the fire regardless of the weather -- rain, sleet, snow -- but hopefully it will be only planets & stars!

As we do with the Bear Dance, bring your wishes & dreams for the health of the world with you and make offerings to the regenerative spirits in the fire. Burn away the old stuff you wish to leave behind and make your dreams for the New Year -- the power of the fire will carry them directly to the creator. (or email to us and we'll print up confidentially and add to fire)

(Note: The Solstice is actually Thursday the 22nd, but we’re celebrating Friday)

We’ll also be showing the new DVD edition of Surfing a 300 Mile Long Wave upstairs in the Owl’s Roost Tree House with new Watercolors by Driftwood Johnnie adorning the walls. (see below for more info on that).

What is the Owl’s Roost Tree House? The Owl’s Roost is our proto-type Youth Hostel reserved for paddlers, peddlers (as in bicycle) and musicians visiting Clarksdale! Discounted for anyone using Quapaw services. Its a “tree house” because its located at the level where the owls like to roost in the cypress & cottonwood canopy alongside the muddy flow of the Sunflower River.

Surfing a 300-Mile Long Wave

Announcing a DVD fundraiser for the 2012 Mighty Quapaw Apprenticeship Program:

Thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi the DVD “Surfing a 300-Mile Long Wave” has been created -- 46 minutes with photos, film clips, narration & original river music. We are selling these at $20 each including S&H as a fundraiser for the continuation of the Mighty Quapaw Apprenticeship Program into next year.

For an advance viewing go to the Canoe & Kayak online blog

For trailer:

Sales from this DVD will be set aside for our one-on-one apprenticeships in canoe carving, big river canoe guiding, and wilderness survival skills for Mississippi Delta Youth.

This DVD tells the story of a 300 mile long Canoe Adventure from Memphis to Vicksburg riding the crest of the Great Flood of 2011 from May 16th - May 19th with guide John Ruskey, writer W. Hodding Carter & photographer Christopher LaMarca -- who paddled the 24 foot long Cricket Canoe Louisiana Bald Cypress Voyageur Canoe designed & built by Paul “Bubba” Battle on an unforgettable voyage down the main channel, down the back channels and through the flooded fields & forests of the Lower Mississippi River Floodplain.

Written & Narrated by John Ruskey, Photography & Film Clips by John Ruskey, Music by John Ruskey from the “Riverman” CD, Text excerpts by W. Hodding Carter, Additional Photos by Christopher LaMarca. DVD created by TK Production Studios, Hernando, Mississippi.

Documenting the islands, the bridges, the hunting camps, the landings, and what remained of the landscape of the Lower Mississippi Valley in the highest water ever recorded in Vicksburg & Natchez, and the biggest volume water ever recorded on the Lower Miss.

This DVD made possible with a grant from the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi to TK Production Studios.

$15 each -- Sales to benefit the Mighty Quapaw Apprenticeship Program

+ $5 S&H

Send check to:

Quapaw Canoe Company

291 Sunflower Avenue

Clarksdale, MS 38614

The Music Maker Mini Fest

Saturday, December 10th beginning at 3 p.m.

The Music Hall

(next to the Big Pink Guesthouse

a/k/a the Little Pink)

312 John Lee Hooker Drive

Clarksdale, MS

At 3:00 p.m.

Featuring the "Tater Tots" with

John Ruskey

Bill Abel

Stan and Dixie Street

At 6:00 p.m.

Featuring Big T

At 8:00 p.m.


LaLa and Dino

We will have snacks. BYOB.

In remembrance of Foster "Mr. Tater the Music Maker" Wiley. Hope to see you there!!! Love and Peace!

Quapaw Canoe Company

Catalog -- Winter 2011

DVD: “Surfing a 300-Mile Long Wave”

46 minutes with photos, film clips,

narration & original river music

Featuring Hodding Carter & Christopher LaMarca

Guided & Narrated by John Ruskey

Sales to benefit the Mighty Quapaw Apprenticeship Program


Book: “New Delta Rising”

Edited and photographed by Magdalena Solé
Introduction by Rick Bragg
Narratives by Tom Lassiter

160 pages (approx.), 92 color photographs

12 x 9, Hardback


Book: “Mississippi Delta: Flood of 2011”

Edited by Michael Simmons

130 pages color photographs

12 x 9, Hardback


Story: “57 Feet and Rising”

text by W. Hodding Carter

photography by Christopher LaMarca

Outside Magazine, August 2011

8x11, color photographs


Book: “Ghosts along the Mississippi River”

By Alan Brown

208 pages, bibliography, index

6 x 9, Softback


CD “The Riverman”

16 original river songs recorded on or along the rivers of America

by Johnnie Driftwood on steel guitar, wood guitar & banza


Shipping & Handling:

DVD, Magazine or CD (regardless of quantity) $5

Any one book: $10

Any combination of the above items regardless of quantity: $15

Send check to:

Quapaw Canoe Company

291 Sunflower Avenue

Clarksdale, MS 38614

Or Contact:

John Ruskey


About “New Delta Rising”

Edited and photographed by Magdalena Solé

Called “the most southern place on earth,” the Mississippi Delta is an iconic region lying between the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers, running from Memphis to Vicksburg. The Delta evokes visions of sharecroppers, plantations and, of course, the sound of the Blues. The area has a small wealthy gentry and a large impoverished underclass living in dilapidated houses and tilting trailers. The Delta is one of the poorest places in the United States with the saddest infant mortality rate, rampant unemployment and little hope for a better future. What is little known is the resilience, resourcefulness and family cohesiveness of its people. Cottonland is an exploration of communities in the Mississippi Delta.

“When I came to the Mississippi Delta I encountered what is familiar: communities that exist at the edge of society, forgotten and shunned by the mainstream. I was born in Spain during the Franco years. My family had to leave in the middle of the night for Switzerland and I found myself living at the edge of a small town where the immigrants lived in apartments, or barracks, navigating a society that was very hostile to outsiders. This is where I learned to understand exclusion, and a life lived at the margins.

“I was drawn to the people I met in the Delta. Unlike most people I had encountered in other areas, Delta people allowed me to slip into their midst as if they had known me forever; we could swap stories and laughter, sorrow and silence. This happened not just once or twice; it happened every day in every town. In the most unexpected places I

found kinship.

“Sometimes as a photographer you are lucky and make a friend here or there, but most often you arrive as an outsider, and that is how you leave. But the Delta refused to go along. I arrived as an outsider, but I was gradually so absorbed into the fabric of life “there that I felt not like an outsider but rather like the family member who happened to have the camera.

“These photographs are the result of 12 weeks, 9 trips, and more then 10,000 miles of crisscrossing the Delta in search of people and their stories. The project is part of a larger work called “Forgotten Places”, an ongoing series capturing communities that exist at the edge of society.