Kim 'Fest Junkie' Welsh
We kicked off the Fest with a visit to the Delta Blues Museum and an interview with 95 year old Delta bluesman elder David “Honeyboy” Edwards, with an emphasis on his friend and fellow musician, Robert Johnson, who would have turned 100 years old this year. Honeyboy’s memory is better than many who are half his age and he vividly described life in the 1930’s and 40’s as a traveling bluesman, back-door man, and canned heat aficionado (“That was some good alcohol!”) When posed a question from the audience about his thoughts on Led Zeppelin and how they were influenced by blues legends, Michael Frank confirmed that Honeyboy had never heard of Led Zeppelin but certainly they had heard of him! Honeyboy responded that in general, rockers who are inspired by the blues “have some good fingers on ‘em, but they play too fast… Blues ain’t supposed to be played that fast.”
Afterwards, we laughed as we watched the comical monkeys riding dogs (Border Collies) herding sheep. Events such as this make the Juke Joint Festival a favorite. It has a County Fair ambience in a small town steeped in blues history, and offers a heaping helping of a wonderful Delta Blues festival on the side with a slice of southern hospitality for dessert. Friendly folks from all walks of life were there just digging the blues, barbecue, and the many colorful juke joints. Other events included a blues film festival at an old theatre, CD release parties, pig races, dugout canoe carving and paddling on the Sunflower River, 5K and 8K Runs, a parade, mule-drawn wagon rides, a petting zoo with a children’s activity area, historical bus tours, duck and turkey calling contests, a Juke Joint Express train out to Hopson Plantation and the Shack Up Inn, and live blues on thirteen stages. On Saturday night, a $10 wristband granted entrance to nineteen Juke Joint venues with performers including T-Model Ford, Jimbo Mathus, a tribute to Big Jack Johnson by Robert “Wolfman” Belfour and Lucious Spiller, Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Super Chikan, Lightnin’ Malcolm, and Big George Brock among many others.
On Sunday, Roger Stolle and Cat Head Delta Blues and Folk Art hosted the free Cat Head Mini Blues Festival. The Fest featured a book signing of “Hidden History of Mississippi Blues” by Roger Stolle with photos by Lou Bopp also on exhibit. Anthony “Big A” Sherrod, Honeyboy Edwards, Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band, Big George Brock, Robert “Bilbo” Walker, and “Wolfman” Belfour provided the scorching blues on a stunningly beautiful day. Big Red’s provided lip-smackin’ slap yo mama barbeque.