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Lower Mississippi River Dispatch

Vol 8 No 4 - April 2012

Sent to you courtesy of:

Quapaw Canoe Company

“Serving the Wild Places of the

Lower Mississippi Valley”

Keep Reading Below for:

1) Old Man River Project

2) St. Louis Circumnavigation -- Complete!


4) Friends of the Sunflower River


(Full Schedule Below)

Old Man River Project:

Hold on tight -- The journey begins! 110 days down the river with Brett Rogers and Old Man River in honor and support of the Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper!

Old Man River went online today. A new chapter will be launched every Tuesday for 10 weeks until the entire story is online, for free, forever.

From Brett: “The goal is to share the story of the Mississippi with the world and spread the word about all things fresh water.”

You can watch the web-series on Brett Rogers blog, by going to or by going to Brett’s vimeo page at

Day 1 to Day 14: The story begins in Kingston, Ontario. Brett and Cliff build a York Boat named Annie. Brett lays out his plan: with Cliff as First Mate, he will lead a crew 2400 miles down the Mississippi River to reach the Gulf of Mexico and donate their boat Annie to the Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper.

It’s August. Brett drives Annie to the Mississippi headwaters. It’s here in Bemidji, Minnesota the 110 day expedition will begin. Brett and Cliff are joined by their recruits, Kyle, Magnus and Sarah. The team pushes off with no idea of the challenges ahead. Premieres April 10th, 2012.

2) Will the circle be unbroken?

Will the circle be unbroken
By and by, Lord, by and by.
There’s a better home awaiting
By the riverside, by the riverside.

Life’s ultimate metaphor is the circle, and so is water’s. Everything that starts in motion eventually comes around on itself, finds itself right back where it started, whether you are on a merry-go-round or the longest river in North America. Natives call it the sacred circle, Christians call it being reborn. Whichever you choose its the same, its like releasing a handful of water. It always returns to from whence it came.

And so three voyageurs return to their beginnings the last day of a thirteen-day expedition around the city of St. Louis, one that took them down the Meramec, up the Mississippi, up the Missouri, across the ridge of land on Highway 47, and down the Bourbese back to the Meramec. 193 river miles total.

For Mike Clark, “Big Muddy Mike,” and his expedition partner John Ruskey “Johnnie Driftwood” every year its a different journey, a different learning adventure, and yet they always find themselves back where they started, back at the edge of the river refreshed, rejuvenated and bone-weary tired.

The last day got rolling the same as all days on this expedition — with a 4:30am owl’s hoot, a rustling of the embers of the fire, and a steaming cup of cowboy coffee, strong enough to chase yesterday’s worries and pains away and help open the imagination to the world revolving upon itself and preparing the scene for the new day. Every day is a new life, you go to sleep aching and confused and unable to do any more, and you wake up feeling like you have been reborn.

Camped above the town of Washington in a willow flats behind which stretches a shallow wetlands full of singing frogs, slithering snakes and duckweed. We repack the canoe, something we have become good at, rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a canoe, and how do you think they fit in there? (with all their gear?). We have been asked more than once if we all fit in this canoe with all the gear we are carrying. Canoes are amazing vessels. They carry many times their weight in gear faster than a man can walk, more efficiently than any other means of travel. If there is any solution to the energy crisis, and you live on water, the canoe is it. It doesn’t require any fossil fuels, there is no mechanics. No moving parts. All you need is a vessel and a paddle. Your body does the rest. its simple and straightforward and elegant. Its as close to flying as most of us will ever get. It doesn’t create smog or smoke. It doesn’t kill animals that get in its way. It doesn’t even kill insects. Whatever is in front of it it gently parts with the water and then allows to rejoin after its passage. It doesn’t deplete the protective atmosphere. No one ever said it was easy. But once you start you forget you’re doing it, like walking, or reading, or meditation. The first step is always the hardest, the first paddle stroke is always the most painful.

But today, the last day to complete the circle, is a special day. We will have to load, unload, and reload the canoe three times. 3 times on the 13th day. It has a poetic ring. Maybe there is some numerology in that. 1st time now to get to town from camp. 2nd time to make the nine-mile portage to the Bourbese River. 3rd and last time to get down the Bourbese River to its confluence with the Meramec, where we commenced this circle 13 days ago.

The Circle is Unbroken, 3rd time in 3 years, a lasso thrown around the homes of 3 million people, if there was previously any question it is now dispelled: St. Louis is an island!

Friday, March 30, 2012

The final link in a long chain around the City of St. Louis, a 16 mile paddle down the Bourbese River from the town of Union to the Meramec River Confluence, where this expedition was commenced 13 days earlier. And now the paddlers have connected back to the beginning, all life moves in circles, it was a little difficult not to keep going downstream again and make another circle, even with all of the hard-paddling and personal compromises involved, such is the joy of the journey. A lasso has been thrown around St. Louis, the third time in three years, once clockwise, two times counter clockwise. How many times will the lives of 3 million inhabitants be loassoed before they shake their heads in recognition and realize that they are living on an island, surrounded by water, fed and drained by the veins and arteries of the waterways,by the life-sustaining vessels of the heart of the river country of mid-America. Isn’t it time to stop abusing and start loving the waters?

For the full story and all of the Toby the Turtle Tales, go to Big Muddy Mike’s Expedition page at:

For photo galleries:

Bourbese River:

Nine-Mile Portage:

Last Day on Missouri:

Up the Mississippi (St. Louis Harbor)

NATUREFEST! April 14th at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science


3-6 volunteers


Naturefest at the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson, Mississippi


April 14, 2012, 10am-5pm


Support the Mighty Quapaws during canoe tours of the Pearl River -- in particular by helping with River Citizen Sign Up and 1 Mississippi Campaign under the shady trees along riverbank. Wonderful setting! Beautiful way to spend the day outside near water!


2 Water bottles, snacks, lunch, sun screen, sun protection, $6 admission to Museum


Go to museum and park your car. Inquire within about directions to Pearl River Landing (Canoe Rides). Walk down the beautiful trail behind museum (LeFleur’s Bluff). Meet at 10am at the Pearl River Landing. Meet and greet people as they walk down trail to landing. Advocate 1 Mississippi. Work with 1 Mississippi Southern Region coordinator John Ruskey and intern Mark Rivers to sign up River Citizens. Enjoy picnic lunch under the beautiful cypress/sycamore canopy or the Pearl River floodplain. Cleanup at 4pm. Walk up trail and 5pm and return to your vehicle.

Fringe Benefits:

Canoe ride on Pearl River (if you want). Swim Break in Pearl River on hot day. A day along the river. Experience the beauty of the Pearl River floodplain.

What is Naturefest?

Naturefest is the annual spring celebration of all the wonders of nature, especially tailored for children and families. All aboard the Dinosaur Train Nature Trackers Club Challenge, or try your hand at canoeing, and explore the far reaches of the Museum's nature trails. Meet Leona the Lion, Cat in the Hat, Smokey Bear, and watch Inky the Clown create balloon animals. Touch real sea creatures and see live animal shows, like Rob Mies' BioDiversity Live, featuring Mo the two-toed sloth. Shop for crafts made by the Craftsmen’s Guild of Mississippi, outfit your yard with purchases from the Native Plant Sale, and buy a pair of Toms Shoes that local artists can make uniquely yours. Come out to the Museum and enjoy live local music and a beautiful Mississippi day.


John Ruskey

1 Mississippi Southern Region coordinator



For directions, description and more information go to:

Mississippi Museum of Natural Science:

Mid-April update for:

Friends of the Sunflower River

$2730 raised so far

for the Weir Project!!!

Hey Y’all:

We’re almost There!

Weir Update: Thanks to recent donations from the below we are within $300 of reaching our $3,000 goal. We will extend this fundraiser through June 1st. All we need are 3 people to commit $100, or 6 people to become Friends of the Sunflower River, or both. Juke Joint Festival Coming this weekend and the riverbank is resplendent with fields of yellow rocket. Maybe the capping will be completed in time for Sunflower Fest? Many thanks to Bill Luckett who sent the first donation. To my wife Sarah’s mother, Emma Crisler, who sent the second donation. And to Shonda Warner who ushered a $500 donation through the George and Lillith Burner Foundation and started tipping the scales towards the halfway point!

April Weir Donations:

John H. Barnes ($100)

Joe & Dorothy Middleton ($50)

Karen Kolhaas ($50)

Cliff & Lucille Ochs ($250)

Tim & Meri Tenhet ($100)

Mrs. Walter Thompson ($100)

Delta Bohemian ($100)

Bob Long ($100)

Tom & Lois Irwin ($25)

Lou & Gary Ruskey-Halsey ($100)

Linda White ($15)

Charlotte Huddleston ($15)

Bo Graham ($25)

March Weir Donations:

John & Susan McKee ($50)

Billy & Madge Howell ($25)

George and Lillith Burner Foundation/

Shonda Warner ($500)

Charles Evans ($100)

Bill Luckett ($50)

Emily Cooper ($25)

Emma Crisler ($100)

Dr. McGee ($25)

John & Sarah Crisler-Ruskey ($100)

Quapaw Canoe Company ($500)

Thanks to the internal support from Quapaw Canoe Company (administrative, staff & structural), all 2012 membership donations to Friends of the Sunflower will be diverted to supporting the completion of the Weir Project, including:

New Members: Bob “Spoonz” Rowell and Jon Popper ($50 total)

Renewals: Laura Barnaby, Guy Malvezzi, Curtis Boschert, Bill Hayden, Bob Long, and Sandra & Charles West, Tom & Lois Irwin ($175 total)

Lifetime Members: Charlie & Henrietta Musselwhite

Memorial: A $25 donation made in memorial of the late Sonia Fox of Sunflower County. Ms. Fox was a founding member of the friends.

Sub: $2730

WOW! Many thanks to all who have donated so far.

To everyone else, please consider renewing your membership. OR making a one-time donation for this project that will have a positive effect the quality of life in downtown Clarksdale for decades to come.

See below for the reasons you should donate to this project

***Weir Project***

The Sunflower River Weir needs to be raised another 18 inches -- local support needed to complete project -- $3,000 goal by June 1st.


1. Isn’t the weir project completed? No its not done. It is 90% complete but now it needs to be fine-tuned.

2. Why wasn’t the weir built higher? The engineers didn’t want to cause flooding problems for downtown Clarksdale. But now that we’ve seen the effects of the weir we know 18 inches can be added without future detriments.

3. Why donate? This is your way of participating in the future of Clarksdale, and its a good investment: concrete, steel and rock have longevity!

Friends of the Sunflower River has agreed to spearhead a fundraiser to compliment this project which will provide life-long beauty and promote healthy living to downtown Clarksdale and all the neighborhoods along the Sunflower River including Riverton, Brickyard, Lower Brickyard, West Clarksdale, Duckwalk, Circle Drive neighborhoods, Chancellorsville, Ridgecrest, and anyone else who lives along Sunflower Avenue, Riverside Drive, Cypress Street and enjoys Soldier’s Field Park and the Sunflower River Walk. ($20,000 budget total shared by City, County, and Yazoo Water Management District + contributions).

Send contribution by check made out to “Friends of the Sunflower River” with the earmark “Clarksdale Weir”

Friends of the Sunflower River

291 Sunflower Avenue

Clarksdale, MS 38614

“This river has the blues…”

New Members: Thank you


The past 2 weekends we hosted cleanups of the Sunflower River (from downtown Clarksdale up to Lee Drive) and on the Huskpuckena River (off the old Hwy 61 bridge near the town of Hushpuckena).

Hushpuckena Cleanup:

Go see pictures of the cleanups at:

Join the Facebook Group for the Friends:


Please forward, share and post this line-up wherever you like. Still a few more details to come, but plenty of killer blues coming soon to CLARKSDALE, MISSISSIPPI. Also, check out the tons of additional related Thurs-Sun events at and ("Music Calendar"). Thanks y'all!

DELTA CINEMA (11 Third St.) - "Official Juke Joint Festival Kick-off!"
6pm – Delta Cinema Lobby - Cristen Barnard "Juke Joint Festival" art poster signing plus live lobby blues by KM Williams.
7pm – Delta Cinema Stage - Jimbo Mathus live, on-stage -- “Jas. Mathus & his Knock Down Society plays Songs for Rosetta”.

FRIDAY, APRIL 13, 2012

2pm – Big John Short
4pm – KM Williams & Washboard Jackson

4pm - live blues in lobby

DELTA BLUES MUSEM (0 Blues Alley - Arts & Education Room)
2pm-3pm – Conversations with Jimmy “Duck” Holmes and Big George Brock

DELTA CINEMA (lobby & theater - 11 Third St.)
5:30pm – Free hors d'voures & drinks plus live blues by Lil Poochie, Elmo Williams & Hezekiah Early.
6:45pm - "We Juke Up in Here" filmmaker thanks and introductions.
7pm - Free theatrical world-premiere of "We Juke Up in Here: Mississippi's Juke Joint Culture at the Crossroads" blues film.


CAT HEAD STAGE (252 Delta Ave.)

10am – Libby Rae Watson

11am – Jimmy “Duck” Holmes

Noon – Terry “Harmonica” Bean

1pm – Lil Poochie & Hezekiah Early

2pm – Elmo Williams & Hezekiah Early

3pm – Louis “Gearshifter” Youngblood

4pm – Roosevelt Roberts Jr. Blues Band

5pm – Anthony “Big A” Sherrod & Blues Allstars

6pm - Johnny Lowebow

MISS DEL'S STAGE (145 Delta Ave.)

10am – Delta Royals

11am – Cadillac John & the Cornlickers

12 noon – Josh “Razorblade” Stewart Blues Band

1pm – The Beat Daddys

2pm – Cedell Davis & Brethren

3pm – Okratones

4pm – Hal Reed & Bret Dale

5pm – Leaf River Blues Band

YAZOO PARK STAGE (200 block of Yazoo Ave.)

10am – Bloodshot Eyes

11am - Carlos Elliot Jr. Days (from Colombia)

Noon – Superbad String Band

1pm – The Bailey Brothers

2pm – Lucious Spiller

3pm - Low Society

4pm – Jake Leg Stompers

5pm - Little G Weavil

STONE PONY STAGE (Stone Pony Pizza, Delta Ave.)

10 am – Roosevelt “Piano Red” Harper

11am – Pat Thomas

Noon – Eddie Cusic

1pm – Brad Webb & David Hudson

2pm – Blind Mississippi Morris & Brad Webb

3pm – Austin “Walking” Cane

4pm – Chris Gill & “Fingers” Taylor

ROCK & BLUES MUSEUM STAGE (2nd St. near Museum/Hambone Gallery)

10am – Roman Barten-Sherman

11am – Daddy Rich

Noon – Deak Harp

1pm – L.C. Ulmer

2pm – Theo D.

3pm – Heavy Suga & the SweeTones

4pm – Selwyn Cooper


10am – Keith Thompson

11am – Pork Chop Willie

Noon – Big Jon Short

1pm – Whirled Boogie

3pm – Lew Jetton & 61 South

4pm – Davis Coen

5pm – Little Johnnie Kantreed

6pm – Blue Mother Tupelo

THE BANK BUILDING (E. 2nd & Yazoo Ave.)

1pm – Bob Long

2pm – Billy Smiley & the Young Guns

3pm – Vintage

4pm – Dr. Feelgood Potts

5pm – Rev. Robert Wilkins Band

SUNFLOWER AVENUE GAZEBO STAGE (200 block of Sunflower Ave.)

10am – Reparation Man

11am – John Horton Blues Band

1pm – Rev. Robert

2pm – Rev. Freakchild

3pm – Jarekus Singleton

4pm – Big Dave Dunavent & Evol Love

WADE WALTON STAGE (317 Issaquena Ave.)

10am – Earl The Pearl

11am – Little Joe Ayers

Noon – R.L. Boyce & Steve Toney

12:45pm - Sharde Thomas & Rising Star Fife & Drum Band

1pm – Robert Kimbrough

2pm – Robert “Wolfman” Belfour

3pm – James “T-Model” Ford

4pm – All Night Long Blues Band

DELTA FURNITURE STAGE (Third St. & Issaquena Ave.)

10am – Mark Miloff

11am – Dicky James & the Blue Flames

Noon – On The Run Blues Band

1pm – Butch Mudbone

2pm – Adam Gussow

3pm – Rotten Belly Blues Band

4pm – Southern Halo

5pm – Earnest “Guitar” Roy

JOHN-ALEX MASON MEMORIAL STAGE (near New Roxy Theater on Issaquena)

10am – Westbound

11am – Mark “Mule Man” Massey

Noon – Steve Kolbus & Clarksdale Blues Revue

1pm – Elam McKnight & Bob Bogdal

3pm – Fiona Boyes

4pm – KM Williams & Washboard Jackson


2pm – Delta Blues Museum Band

3pm – W.A. Higgins Rock Ensemble

4pm – Stax Music Academy

5pm – DSU's Ol’ School Revue

CROSSROADS MARKER (Hwy 49 & 61, near Abe's BBQ)

11am – Mississippi Fred Gee

1pm – Ryan Rigdon

2pm – Husky Burnette

3pm - Rand Mikell

4pm – Jeff Norwood


8am – live acoustic blues