Published on September 20th, 2021 | by TLV News0
10th Annual Oxford Blues Festival Kicks Off Thursday, September 23 at Lamar Yard
Performers include R.L. Boyce and Anthony “Big A” Sherrod
After a one year hiatus due to the pandemic, Oxonians are excited to welcome back the annual Oxford Blues Festival this weekend. The festivities will begin Thursday evening, September 23, with a kickoff party at Lamar Yard on South Lamar Boulevard.
“The kickoff Thursday is kind of a welcome, a time for people who are coming in from out of town to relax and get settled into Oxford. We are going to kick off the festival to celebrate music, good food, and family and friends,” said said festival organizer Darryl Parker.
Parker also emphasized that the festival will follow all state health department guidelines to best ensure the safety of attendees.
First up Thursday evening will be Jimmy “Duck” Holmes and R. L. Boyce at 7 pm. Holmes is the proprietor of one of the oldest juke joints in Mississippi, The Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia. In the mid-2000s he began performing blues actively after many years of performing casually, and he has already garnered several awards and accolades. He is a practitioner and conscious advocate of a distinctive blues style from his hometown, whose most famous proponent was blues pioneer Nehemiah “Skip” James.
R.L. Boyce has been a musician since his days as a child growing up in Como, Mississippi, home to the great Hill Country bluesman Mississippi Fred McDowell. He started out as a drummer, playing for the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band with blues legend Otha Turner, all the while waiting to come out in front to sing and play guitar. His songs are often delivered in an improvisational fashion, with references to his collaborators, his environs and whatever else happens to be on his mind.
Following Holmes and Boyce at 8:15 pm is Dave Sherman, who is known for hard-driving blues tunes like The Duct Tape Blues and soulful songs about real life experiences of family, faith, and work. Sherman escorts his audiences from Mayberry to see Andy and Barney, to Alaska to witness the Gold Rush, and to a hospital corridor to hear a baby girl being born. Dave was born and raised in the Greenville, Mississippi, where learned the Delta Blues at an early age. He has shared the stage with such acts as with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, The Hues Corporation, and Blood Sweat & Tears. He currently resides in East Texas.
The night’s final act, Anthony “Big A” Sherrod, will take the stage at 9:30 pm. Sherrod is a current bluesman that performs regularly in Oxford. His natural showmanship proves that one can hear authentic music in Clarksdale today that is as good as it ever was historically. At present Anthony has a weekly residence at Red’s Lounge, the famous juke joint in Clarksdale’s historic downtown Arts & Culture District.
Like his deep Delta Blues forefathers, young Anthony’s introduction to music was found in the church. His father, E.J. Johnson, was a gospel singer that performed with The Golden Stars gospel group. By age 6, Anthony started playing, and he hasn’t stopped since. He is professionally proficient on bass and guitar, and he also plays drums, keyboards, and is the lead vocalist in his current band, Big A and the Allstars.
Anthony exemplifies the success of the blues music education after-school program at the Delta Blues Museum, where he studied under bluesman Mr. Johnnie Billington, who tutored young Anthony with a strict practice schedule of both music development and a focus on learning important life lessons.
As a young bass player, Anthony took the stage with Buddy Guy in Clarksdale. He regularly played at Delta Blues Museum events and held a Thursday gig at an important former Clarksdale venue, Sarah’s Kitchen. Sherrod has also appeared in a documentary film, played overseas, and regularly performs throughout the region and at festivals in the Mississippi Delta and across the country.