Published on April 9th, 2015 | by TLV News0
12th Annual World-Famous Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, Mississippi on April 11th
Crazy old bluesmen, leaky juke joints, paddling pig races, and greasy soul food
Clarksdale, Miss.—The Juke Joint Festival may only be celebrating its 12th edition, but it is already the stuff of blues legend.
“2014 was the biggest Juke Joint Festival yet, and so far, 2015 looks to top it,” according to festival co-organizer Roger Stolle. “Our annual festival now attracts attendees from almost 30 foreign countries, almost 50 states and over 50 Mississippi counties. Still, the most important number here is the number of bluesmen in their 70s, 80s and even 90s who play our fest.”
This year’s from-the-old-school lineup includes blues legends like Cedell Davis, Big George Brock, Leo “Bud” Welch, Elmo Williams, Hezekiah Early, LC Ulmer, Cadillac John Nolden, Eddie Cusic, YZ Ealey, Robert “Bilbo” Walker, and others. The festival doesn’t ignore the upcoming young guns of the blues, of course—players like Clarksdale’s 20-something Omar Gordon, 30-something Anthony “Big A” Sherrod, and 16-year-old internet phenom Christone “Kingfish” Ingram.
“The first acts we book are our region’s older, culturally-connected blues performers,” explained Stolle. “Then, we spread out from there. There is an insane number of blues musicians in town during Juke Fest week! It’s like no other event in the world.”
This year’s main event is Saturday, April 11th—all day and late into the night—with related events kicking off Thursday and continuing through Sunday night. The official line-up of events can be found online at www.jukejointfestival.com. Saturday’s Juke Joint Festival itself features 100+ blues acts, 12+ daytime stages, 20+ nighttime venue stages, racing pigs, a 5K/8K run, multiple children’s activities, history bus tours, arts & crafts vendors, Southern food offerings, a student art/writing contest, and much more.
Daytime activities are free thanks in large part to major sponsors. Saturday’s nighttime music requires a wristband. Pre-sale wristbands for the festival’s 20+ Saturday-night “juke joint” venue stages are available online or in Clarksdale, and are $15 pre-sale, or $20 on the day/night of the festival.
The festival weekend starts early with Thursday, April 9th’s free “Mississippi Hill Country Blues” Juke Joint Festival Kick-off at 5 pm featuring a festival poster signing by artist Cristen Barnard and live lobby blues by Preston Rumbaugh, followed by the annual Miss Sarah Awards.
Then, at 6:30 pm, the free Kick-off moves onto the Delta Cinema Stage for a special Mississippi Hill Country Blues Tribute to fallen heroes Robert “Wolfman” Belfour and Martin “Big Boy” Grant—featuring Sean “Bad” Apple, Robert Kimbrough Sr., Andre Otha Turner, RL Boyce, Little Joe Ayers, Stud, and more. This is followed by a performance featuring Clarksdale’s own Dancing Divas of the Delta with music by bluesman character Watermelon Slim.
Then, on Friday, April 10th, Clarksdale’s related events include educational activities at the Delta Blues Museum and book signings, live blues and more at other downtown businesses and entities, including the Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art and the Rock & Blues Museum. At night, Clarksdale’s blues clubs and jukes will run till the wee hours.
After Saturday’s epic day/night Juke Joint Festival itself, a Sunday of additional related downtown events will cap off the weekend—including the annual free Cat Head Mini Blues Fest and the Second Street Blues Party. The Rock & Blues Museum and Delta Blues Museum will be open as well as several downtown restaurants and businesses. The weekend wraps up with live blues at Red’s Lounge and other venues that night.
Full music line-up, event schedule, pre-sale wristbands, parking info, sponsor list, and much more available online at www.jukejointfestival.com. Festival hotline (Mon.-Sat., 11 am-4 pm): 662-624-5992. #jukejointfestival