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Lower Mississippi

River Dispatch

Vol 8 No 9 - Aug 6, 2012

Special Festival Issue!!

25th Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival

Clarksdale, Mississippi

Y’all, its festival time, Sunflower River style. Gospel, Blues and Bar-B-Que. (See below for full schedule and additional events). In the middle of the heat and humidity. And this year its no exception, in fact it feels like someone turned the heat up. But according to today’s forecast, we’ll be enjoying the strange annual cool-down that accompanies weather patterns during the 2nd full weekend of August. No one can explain it, but it happens every year. Weird!

Why August? We are often asked this question. Although I am not one of the festival founders, I can say that if you really want to understand the blues there is no better way than spending a week in Clarksdale in the middle of the heat and humidity of Summer! The human body really has no choice but make creative adoptions and the human mind make some attitude adjustments. ANd this leads to a deep understanding of the the deep delta down-home blues.

One year ago we were recovering from the highest water of the century, this year we’re seeing the lowest waters since 1998, and it might be dropping lower, the low water season is just begun. For us paddlers the river never gets too low, it just gets interesting. Of course, for the towboats there’s only one season, and that’s grain season. Next week: How Low Can You Go? Special Low Water Issue!!!

1. Tuesday: Great Flood of 2011: Surfing a 300 Mile-Long Wave

August 6th 5:30 - 6:30pm

Helena’s Delta Cultural Center

Surfing a 300 Mile-Long Wave:

A Canoe Expedition during the Great Flood of 2011

Photos, videos and music from a 300 mile long Canoe Adventure from Memphis to Vicksburg on the Lower Mississippi River 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 on an unforgettable voyage down the main channel, down the back channels and through the flooded fields & forests of the Lower Mississippi River Floodplain.

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. DVD available.

  1. Wednesday: "True Delta"

Screening & Discussion: 5:30pm - 6:45pm

Delta Cinema - 11 3rd Street, Clarksdale, MS

Reception & "True Delta" Photo Exhibit: 7pm - 9pm

Delta Blues Museum - 1 Blues Alley, Clarksdale, MS

Lucky Find Productions cordially invites you to the Movie Screening of "True Delta"

Followed by a "State of the Blues" panel discussion

Moderated by Living Blues magazine co-founder Jim O'Neal.

Panelists include: filmmaker Lee Quinby and award-winning Mississippi Bluesman James "Super Chikan" Johnson

After the screening please join us for a reception and opening exhibition of photography by Michael Scanlan at the Delta Blues Museum

Wednesday August 8, 2012

Screening & Discussion: 5:30pm - 6:45pm

Delta Cinema - 11 3rd Street, Clarksdale, MS

Reception & "True Delta" Photo Exhibit: 7pm - 9pm

Delta Blues Museum - 1 Blues Alley, Clarksdale, MS

True Delta is a cinematic snapshot of the Blues tradition that remains vibrant in and around Clarksdale, Mississippi--the renowned birthplace of the Blues.

"TRUE DELTA" Written by Lee Quinby | Director of Photography Daniel Cowen

Still Photographer Michael Scanlan | Editor Daniel Cowen

Produced by Erickson Blakney & Lee Quinby | Directed by Lee Quinby & Daniel Cowen

Based on an Original Concept by Erickson Blakney

3. Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival, August 10-12, Clarksdale, Mississippi

25th Annual Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival featuring the best of the downhome blues -- and this year one of the best of the British Invasion blues-inspired rockers: Robert Plant! Incredible lineup! See below for complete schedule.

2012 Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival Lineup (Subject to Change):

Thursday, August 9, 2012 –

Acoustic Blues – Grits, Greens, & Barbecue

*VIP Party – VIP Tent

6:00 – 6:30pm Cadillac John

6:35 – 7:05pm Richard "Daddy Rich" Crisman

7:10 – 7:55pm Terry "Harmonica" Bean

8:00 – 8:45pm Steve "Lightnin'" Malcom

8:50 – 9:35pm Lucious Spiller

Friday, August 10, 2012

Main Stage – Downtown Blues Alley

4:15 – 4:45pm Delta Blues Museum Band

5:00 – 5:30pm Rick Burton Blues Band

5:45 – 6:30pm The Sarah Metcalf Blues Band

6:45 – 7:30pm Otis "TCB" Taylor Blues

7:45 – 8:30pm Joshua "Razor Blade" Stewart

8:45 – 9:45pm O.B. Buchana

10:00 – 11:30pm Bobby Rush

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Acoustic Blues – Main Stage – Downtown Blues Alley

9:00 – 9:30am Arthneice "Gas Man" Jones

9:40 – 10:10am Robert Belfour

10:20 – 10:50am Eddie Cusic

11:00 – 11:30am Pat Thomas

11:40am – 12:10pm Jimmy "Duck" Holmes

12:20 – 12:50pm Anthony "Big A" Sherrod

1:00 – 1:30pm Sharde & the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Electric Blues – Main Stage – Downtown Blues Alley

1:45 – 2:15pm Big Dave Dunavent

2:30 – 3:00pm Heavy Suga’ & The Sweet Tones

3:15 – 4:00pm Kenny Brown

4:15 – 5:00pm Terry "Big T" Williams

5:15 – 6:00pm Bill Howlin’ Madd Perry

6:15 – 7:15pm James "Jimbo" Mathus

7:30 – 8:30pm James "Super Chikan" Johnson

8:30 – 8:45pm Award Presentations: Early Wright Blues Heritage Award, Julius Guy Gospel Heritage Award

8:45 – 9:45pm Charlie Musselwhite

10:00 – 11:30pm Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Gospel Stage – Main Stage – Downtown Blues Alley

5:00 – 5:15pm Fountain of Life COGIC Choir

5:30 – 5:45pm Real Faith Ministries

6:00 – 6:15pm New Covenant MB Church Mass Choir

6:30 – 6:45pm Oakhurt Baptist Choir

7:00 – 7:15pm TNBM Choir

7:30 – 7:45pm St James Temple COGIC Choir

8:00 – 8:15pm Chapel Hill Men's Chorus

8:30 – 8:45pm The Myler Family

9:00 – 9:45pm Susie Golden–Ferguson

10:00 – 11:00pm Vickie Winans

Note from the Sunflower River Blues Association:

“The SRBA welcomes you to the 25th anniversary of our celebration that has remained FREE and open to the public since 1988 thanks to the support of our sponsors, patrons, VIPs, and members who are all volunteers. To join the Sunflower River Blues Association or become a patron, visit levels of support on our website."

4. The Delta Blues Museum

Full calendar of free events!

The Delta Blues Museum will offer a full calendar of free events for this year's 25th Annual Sunflower Blues and Gospel Festival.

[Museum admission fees apply during regular hours.]

Wednesday, August 8

5:30 pm True Delta Screening at Delta Cinema, 11 Third Street, followed by panel discussion, "State of the Blues," moderated by Living Blues magazine co-founder Jim O'Neal. True Delta is a cinematic snapshot of the blues tradition in and around Clarksdale.

7 pm - 9 pm Reception for "True Delta" photography exhibit at Delta Blues Museum, featuring photographs by Michael Scanlan taken from the film.

On display: "Celebrating 25 Years of the Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival," a new exhibit, DBM galleries.

Thursday, August 9

1 pm Panel discussion: "25 Years of the Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival," in the museum classroom. The panel will be moderated by Mississippi Blues Trail Historian Jim O'Neal, festival co-founder, and features Patty Johnson, festival co-founder; Catherine Clark, festival treasurer and volunteer since the beginning; and Melville Tillis, who co-founded the Gospel Festival with the late James Julius Guy. This is the inaugural program in the museum's "From the Archive" series and is financially assisted by the National Endowment for the Humanities through the Mississippi Humanities Council. It is also generously made possible by the Mississippi Arts Commission, Micheal Loyd Young and the Friends of the DBM.

6 pm Grits & Greens Party for VIP Festival Patrons, on DBM grounds

Friday, August 10

10 am Mississippi Blues Trail Marker dedication for the Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival, on DBM grounds

4 pm Sunflower River Blues Festival begins

Saturday, August 11

9 am Sunflower Festival performances begin

Sunday, August 12

Noon - 5 pm DBM open, special hours for Sunflower Festival Weekend ($7 admission)

Charlie Musselwhite and the Museum Band

in the Muddy Waters Addition

2 pm Fundraiser for Arts & Education Program, featuring Charlie Musselwhite and his band; Lightnin' Malcolm, and others, at the Juke Joint Chapel, Shack Up Inn [donation required].

5 pm Gospel Festival begins, on the DBM stage

For more information contact the Delta Blues Museum 662-627-6820

The Delta Blues Museum is located at #1 Blues Alley in downtown Clarksdale.

5. Robert Plant Exhibit

at Rock & Blues Museum

Rock & Blues Museum in downtown Clarksdale celebrates its 6th anniversary in August! To celebrate, the Museum has added a new permanent exhibit of Robert Plant & Led Zeppelin, a British rock group which heavily influenced by the blues before experimenting with other music styles. Due to the heavy, guitar-driven blues rock sound of their first two albums, Led Zeppelin are frequently recognized as the progenitors of heavy metal and hard rock. The exhibit features a Robert Plant and Jimmy Page

autographed guitar and Led Zeppelin memorabilia. Robert Plant will headline the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival in Clarksdale, Mississippi on Saturday August 11, 2012.

For more information about the Rock & Blues museum, hours and their exhibits featuring Clarksdale and Mississippi musicians, go to The museum spans 50 years of music history and collections

from the 1920's through the 1970's. Several vintage jukeboxes were recently added to the permanent displays. Visit Rock 'n Blues at 113 E. Second. The museum is recommended by Lonely Planet Travel Guide 2012 and reviews are on

Rock & Blues Museum

113 East 2nd Street

Clarksdale, MS 38614


6. Tuesday, Aug 14th

Lower Mississippi River Resource Assessment


Join us 4-7 p.m. Aug. 14 at the Vicksburg Convention Center, 1600 Mulberry St., for an important public meeting on the Lower Mississippi River Resource Assessment, a congressionally authorized study of all uses of the Mississippi River and its floodplain for the benefit of people, wildlife and communities.

This study will examine:

? Information needed for river-related management

? Natural resource habitat needs

? River-related recreation and public access needs

Input from river users and stakeholders will help develop recommendations to Congress. Comments can also be made through this website:

This public meeting is organized by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and its partners for the Lower Mississippi River Resource Assessment (The Nature Conservancy, Lower Mississippi River Conservation Committee, National Audubon Society, Mississippi River Corridor-Tennessee, Wildlife Mississippi, Delta Wildlife and Quapaw Canoe Company).

7. 2012 Paddle With Purpose Award goes to “Heroes on the Water!”

Our congrats to Jim Dolan and Heroes on the Water, who won the 2012 Paddle With Purpose Award. Maybe next year the Mighty Quapaws?

NAME: Heroes On The Water

THE CAUSE: Healing wounded spirits through kayak fishing
THE METHOD: Bring wounded veterans together with experienced kayak anglers, and go fishing
Heroes on the Water serves all military personnel who have been wounded, injured or disabled. What looks like a day trip of paddling and fishing for wounded vets is in fact something much deeper and long-lasting. As all paddlers know, time on the water is therapeutic. HOW facilitates that healing by bringing wounded veterans together with experienced kayak anglers in 35 chapters around the country. Founder Jim Dolan estimates HOW has introduced 4,800 wounded veterans to kayak fishing, and his goal is to have 100 chapters nationwide serving 10,000 veterans. Being on the water gives soldiers a feeling of peace and freedom from their wounds—an experience that “coalesces into personal revelations that while the wounds may have closed one door, there are other doors to explore. Life is still good.”


The paddling community came together on Thursday night, for the first time ever, to celebrate the year’s best and most inspiring paddlers, movies, expeditions, and philanthropic efforts during the inaugural 2012 Canoe & Kayak Awards, presented by ZEAL OPTICS, in downtown Salt Lake City. And after 12,000 votes, an all-star cast of presenters announced the deserving, reader-selected winners.

It was a notably big night for the Southeast, as … drumroll, please … two of the region’s brightest young talents took home the Male and Female Paddler of the Year Awards.

Male Paddler of the Year Isaac Levinson

To raucous cheers, North Carolina’s 23-year-old Adriene Levknecht took home the top women’s honor while Atlanta’s Isaac Levinson, 22, finished top among the men.

“I didn’t think I had a chance with all the other paddlers on that list and the other up-and-coming guys that weren’t,” Levinson said. “It just shows the support of the industry, and paddlers out there going out on a limb to say, ‘This kid charges.’”

Levinson and Levknecht are currently the reigning men’s and women’s Green River Narrows Race champions, respectively. Liquidlogic head designer Shane Benedict accepted the Female award on Levknecht’s behalf, noting how she was unable to attend, working as a paramedic “saving lives” in Greenville, S.C.

The Southeastern accolades continued with Movie of the Year, where Asheville, N.C.’s AMONGSTiT won for ‘Canoe Movie 2: Uncharted Waters.’ Shon Bollock from Shasta Boyz Productions won the Reel of the Year category for his GoPro Highlight Reel from ‘Slippery When Wet.’

In one of the most-anticipated awards of the evening, for Expedition of the Year, Jon Turk and Erik Boomer won for the pair’s grueling and unsupported, ski-assisted 1,500-mile paddle around Canada’s Ellesmere Island.

After receiving the award from presenter Scott Lindgren, Turk first thanked Boomer, and then the “20 polar bears and the one walrus, for not eating us.”

Boomer added later how, “on the trip, we were asking ourselves, ‘Does anyone realize we’re out here?’ It’s just amazing to get that recognition that we didn’t realize that was there from the people that connected with our journey.”

Jim Dolan, founder/president of Heroes On The Water, accepted the Paddle with Purpose philanthropic award alongside Kody Wilson, an amputee veteran of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division and now chapter coordinator for the growing Heroes program that takes wounded veterans kayak fishing.

“Man, I just got a papercut compared to the guys I’m able to take out paddling now,” said Wilson, putting his injury in perspective.

The final award of the evening, for Lifetime Achievement, added another layer of emotion to the gathering. In a stirring presentation recapping his conservation battle to protect the Grand Canyon (and to continue rowing wooden dories down its fabled waters), Martin Litton was given the honor. NRS’s very own Bill Parks took the stage and presented Litton as a “take-no-prisoners environmental activist” who stands as one of America’s greatest unsung conservation heroes who made a difference, “not only for paddlesports, but also the world.”

Lifetime Achievement Recipient Martin Litton

To a standing ovation, Litton, at “95 and half years old,” humbly accepted the award, silencing the crowd of nearly 400 attendees as he elaborated on the importance of maintaining free-flowing rivers, “not just for fun, but for inspiration—what they do for our spirit.”

The Canoe & Kayak Awards video program featured film clips from the year’s epic cinematic efforts, including a debut of Steve Fisher’s trailer to ‘The Grand Inga Project’—which is as mind-blowing as the rumors claim—as well as new work from Male Paddler of the Year nominee Tyler Bradt, plus clips from Andy Maser’s ‘The Craziest Idea,’ Forge Motion Picture’s ‘Of Souls + Water: The Nomad,’ and Cloud Level Media’s ‘Black Canyon: The Next Generation.’

In addition to Fisher, Parks, and Lindgren, awards presenters included paddlesports fixtures like American Whitewater Executive Director Mark Singleton and whitewater kayaking icons Rob Lesser and Risa Shimoda. Nominees as well as some of the biggest personalities in the sport came together in one of the greatest nights in paddlesports history to celebrate one another. “The sport would not be what it is today without the people in this room,” said C&K Editor Jeff Moag.