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  Blues Today Symposium

  Legendary musician B.B. King returns to his home state February 26-28 to perform at the University of Mississippi's (UM) second annual Blues Today symposium. Produced by Living Blues magazine, the event includes everything from a panel discussion on the current state of the blues to a goat roast at a local juke joint.

Preeminent blues scholar Paul Oliver, author of the critically acclaimed Blues Fell This Morning (Cambridge University Press) will deliver the symposium's keynote address on this year's theme, "From Africa to Mississippi," at 4 p.m. on Friday, February 27 in UM's Paul B. Johnson Commons.

The symposium includes performances by a wide variety of artists. Following B.B. King's concert, slated for 8 p.m. Friday, February 27, in UM's new Ford Center for Performing Arts, blues fans are invited to attend a "blues crawl," which showcases artists at various venues on Oxford's town square. Scheduled to perform are country-blues style guitarist and singer Corey Harris, who serves as the honorary symposium co-chair; French-African bluesman Abraham Yameogo; members of Otha Turner's family on fifes and drums; and local favorite T. Model Ford.

Saturday afternoon's activities include a poets' session, featuring spoken-word diva Jessica Care More, "dirty-South" bluesman Chris Thomas King and Mississippi's blues poet laureate Sterling Plumpp. The local juke joint Club Disco 9000 will open its doors to symposium attendees Saturday night for a catfish fry and goat roast, and of course, more music - this time, down-home, Mississippi "hill country" blues.

Living Blues founders Jim O'Neal, Amy Van Singel and Bruce Iglauer, along with industry insiders and scholars, join the event's performers to discuss topics including Living Blues magazine itself, the state of current blues music, a critical appraisal of 2003 as the "Year of the Blues," blues in relation to Africa and blues guitar techniques. For the latter topic, symposium participants are invited to bring their own guitars and harmonicas to take part in an audience jam session.

Symposium fees are $225 for VIP Blues Package and $125 for Blues On A Budget. The VIP package covers the entire symposium's events, including admission to the B.B. King concert and all Oxford town square performances, VIP access at dinners, cocktail parties and receptions for artists and panelists; reserved seating at all events; free CDs, T-shirts and posters from industry sponsors; and the option to participate in an overnight tour of the Mississippi Delta, sponsored by Viking Range Inc. The Blues On A Budget package is a scaled down version of the VIP package. The symposium's panel discussions are free and open to the public and B.B. King tickets can be purchased separately without registering for the full symposium by calling UM's Central Ticket Office at 662-915-7411. Ticket prices are $35, $55 and $100.

For more information and to register, visit Living Blues.com or e-mail mark@livingblues.com.

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