Published on April 23rd, 2014 | by TLV News0
19th Annual Double Decker Arts Festival on Historic Oxford Square – April 25 & 26
Oxford, Miss. – Food, music, and the arts will take center stage at the 19th annual Oxford Double Decker Arts Festival presented by C Spire on April 25–26, 2014. Taking its name from the town’s authentic double decker bus imported from England in 1994, the festival brings together visitors and residents alike for a celebration of music, food, and the arts held on the picturesque Courthouse Square.
This year’s event will again feature a two-day format that includes a special edition of Thacker Mountain Radio on Friday evening and a free concert. Saturday activities include art, food, and more music, including a jam-packed day of eclectic music on Caterpillar Stage.
In addition to music, there are over 150 art vendors from around the region selling creative wares for the anticipated 55,000 festival attendees. Selected by Oxford’s Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, the vendors include potters, glass craftsmen, woodworkers, painters, and self-taught artists working in a variety of media.
Attendees will also want to stroll through the “Taste of Oxford” food court featuring a mouth-watering sampling of culinary treats from 25 local restaurateurs. There will be something to satisfy everybody’s palate whether it’s a cup of spicy duck gumbo, a slice of pepperoni pizza, or a chocolate-filled croissant.
The Children’s Square Fair will be organized by the University of Mississippi Hospitality Management department and will offer activities for children of all ages. Whether face painting, games, or arts activities, there are many activities to keep children and their parents entertained. The highlight of the afternoon is the Best Dressed Pet Contest when participants, hoping to win the coveted first prize, parade their dogs, cats, rabbits, and even chickens dressed in elaborate costumes.
Saturday activities kick off at 8 am with the Chamber of Commerce 5k walk and 10k run. Winding through the University of Mississippi campus and nearby Oxford neighborhoods, the two courses are fun for both beginner joggers as well as experienced athletes.
“We’re very excited about this year’s event. We hope each year we can evolve to improve programming and make the festival more fun, but still maintain the event that everyone loves so much,” said Mary Allyn Hedges, festival director.
“C Spire is a great Mississippi-based company that generously invests in the communities where its employees and customers live and work,” said Oxford Mayor George “Pat” Patterson. “On behalf of our community and its residents, we appreciate C Spire’s continuing partnership in our classic Double Decker Festival,” he added.
The company will feature its new PERCS loyalty rewards program app, which gives customers the opportunity to earn, redeem, and share rewards on any mobile device. The app also is the gateway for customers to take advantage of the company’s device upgrade program, which allows PERCS members to get the lowest pricing on the hottest smartphones every year.
“We’re excited about supporting a dynamic and entertaining program like the Oxford Double Decker Arts Festival that combines the charm of Oxford with a first-class event that focuses on the region’s best in music, food and the arts,” said Jim Richmond, vice president of Corporate Communications for C Spire.
Visit Oxford is thrilled to release a new website just in time for the 2014 festival. Please visit www.doubledeckerfestival.com for up-to-date information regarding the event, band biographies, music samples and more!
6 pm: Rosco Bandana
The Mississippi septet is the product of teenage rebellion and its consequences; of lost love, false starts and, above all, lasting friendship. They’re what happens when a group of kids take a chance on a long shot and—against all odds—it pays off.
The group began—spiritually, if not specifically —when principle songwriter Jason Sanford, at that time acting in open defiance to his strict Christian upbringing, wandered into a tobacco store in a Gulfport mall to buy smokes and struck up a conversation with the kid working behind the counter. “He was like this real cool, hip, indie sorta character,” Sanford explains, “and he ended up turning me on to people like Elliott Smith, Bright Eyes, Iron and Wine, Neutral Milk Hotel. That’s kind of how it all started.” His parents were wary of encouraging their son’s budding interest. “They wanted to keep me in this tiny bubble,” Sanford explains.
Sanford would stay up late at night, teaching himself how to play the guitar his father had given him. At the same time, a childhood friend of Sanford’s, Barry Pribyl Jr., had just moved back to Mississippi from Michigan, and his mother suggested he get in touch with his old friend.
Pribyl and Sanford started playing together, then soon began looking to expand their lineup. “Jason started an open mic night at a wine bar,” Pribyl said. “From there, we’d invite 10 or 15 people to come with us out to this abandoned house and we’d just jam. We sort of hand-picked the band from there.”
Local attention inspired the band to enroll in a battle of the bands contest, which they handily won. From there they flew to London to play at a multi-day music festival in historic Hyde Park. Also around this time, the seeds for Hard Rock Records were being planted, and Rosco Bandana eventually became the label’s first band.
“It might sound cliché,” Pribyl says, “but we’re just these humble, good ol’, down-to-earth Mississippi people. And when we play live, you can just see in our faces the joy of music.”
“I want people to feel like they know us,” says Jennifer Flint, co-vocalist. “I want them to feel like they can relate.”
After signing with Hard Rock Records, Rosco Bandana flew out to Los Angeles to work on their debut album with producer Greg Collins (U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt). The results are spellbinding. They turn Blur’s “Tender” into a rousing, gospel-informed hymn, and work similar magic on their own compositions.
Though it began as an attempt to channel the loose rootsiness of Old Crow Medicine Show, the result is a barnburner—a big, raucous number with a booming backbeat and deep-fried electric guitar. Whether loud and rowdy or quiet and contemplative, Rosco Bandana balance both extremes perfectly.
7 pm: Thacker Mountain Radio (feat. Rosco Bandana and The Bo-Keys)
8 pm: The Bo-Keys
Lost in much of the soul revival hype is the fact that many of the originators of soul music are still performing up to their Black Power-era standards. In the early parts of their careers, members of the Bo-Keys performed in B.B. King’s orchestra, anchored the Hi Rhythm Section, nailed the unforgettable intro to “Theme From Shaft,” and survived the plane crash that claimed Otis Redding.
This is a new, hard-hitting Bo-Keys lineup, featuring alumni both of Stax Records and Hi Records, plus younger musicians who’ve garnered an Emmy award and a Grammy nomination. Together, they play fresh Memphis soul.
That’s Howard Grimes’ beat you hear on Rufus and Carla Thomas’ “Cause I Love You,” O.V. Wright’s “Nickel and a Nail,” Ann Peebles’ “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” and Syl Johnson’s “Take Me to the River.”
Like Grimes, organist Archie “Hubby” Turner made his name in the Hi Rhythm Section. Before Hi, Hubby played on collector’s items like The Martinis’ “Hung Over.” Hubby has also entertained thousands of fans as part of the house band at legendary Memphis juke joint Wild Bill’s.
Trumpeter Ben Cauley was a charter member of the school-kid funk band The Bar-Kays, whose party hit “Soul Finger” helped get them an ill-fated gig backing star singer Otis Redding on the road—Cauley was the only survivor when the plane carrying Redding and the group crashed into Lake Monona near Madison, Wisconsin December 10, 1967. Cauley continued his career with a second incarnation of the Bar-Kays, which functioned as the Stax house band, much as Booker T. & The MGs had in the label’s early years, backing Isaac Hayes on Hot Buttered Soul. As a horn for hire, Cauley wrote the charts for the Staples Singers classic “I’ll Take You There.”
Young cats Marc Franklin, Kirk Smothers, Art Edmaiston, Derrick Williams, and Jim Spake round out the Bo-Keys horns.
Bass player Scott Bomar and guitarist Skip Pitts are the founding fathers of the Bo-Keys. They keep the easy-going banter flowing in the studio—before one Got to Get Back session, Bomar told Pitts, (who recorded the wah-wah intro “Theme From Shaft” in 1970) “we need a new guitarist for this track, it’s a funk song.” Pitts brings his otherwise unchallenged funk chops and his gravelly voice to the top of the Bo-Keys’ sound.
Bomar composed the soundtrack to the film Hustle and Flow, and the Bo-Keys played the film’s score. Bomar also produced three songs for the Soul Men motion picture soundtrack, including Grammy-nominated “Soul Music,” and the Bo-Keys performed on-screen with stars Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mack. The Bo-Keys’ debut effort The Royal Sessions drew raves, and can still be heard in snippets on National Public Radio broadcasts.
While the Bo-Keys’ credentials speak for themselves, you’ll hear that they’re not getting by on reputation alone on the new CD Got to Get Back.
From the opener “Hi Roller,” the record’s 12 original tracks evoke the classic Memphis sound, replete with superhero horns, tight rhythm, and shaggy organ. Skip Pitts’ thorny voice spikes the background here and there, and Otis Clay, Percy Wiggins, and William Bell bring muscular lead vocals to several tracks. But the record is more than nostalgic—Bomar and the band bring fresh style to the timeless sound.
In this age of revival and reenactment, the Bo-Keys are classic, straight-up soul.
Saturday April 26, will be the main event, with music going on all day. From jazz, soul, pop, rock, and more, your ears will be filled with great sounds as you stroll around browsing art and food vendors and visiting with folks on the street.
Most artists appreciate their audiences, just as many are grateful for them, but few artists love their fans as much and as sincerely as Charles Bradley. “I want them to know how much they have helped me grow,” notes Bradley when discussing Victim of Love, the follow up to his widely praised debut album No Time For Dreaming.
By now, Bradley’s remarkable, against-all-odds rise has been well-documented—how he transcended a bleak life on the streets and struggled through a series of ill-fitting jobs before finally being discovered by Daptone’s Gabe Roth. The year following the release of No Time For Dreaming was one triumph after another: a stunning performance at South By Southwest that earned unanimous raves; similarly-gripping appearances at Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits, Newport Folk Festival and Outside Lands (to name just a few); and spots on Year-End Best Lists from Rolling Stone, SPIN, GQ, Paste, and more.
Victim of Love is a continuation of that story, moving past the ‘heartache and pain’ and closer to the promise of hope.
The new album also brings a broader musical scope. Where Dreaming hewed close to the rough-and-ready R&B sound Daptone has become known for, Victim is stylistically more restless, edging closer into the kind of psychedelic soul The Temptations explored in the early 70s. “People are not going to expect this. There’s a lot of psych influences on this record, a lot of fuzz guitar,” notes Thomas Brenneck of Menahan Street Band, Bradley’s producer, bandleader and co-writer.
The album’s closing track “Through the Storm” best summarizes Victim’s message. Over a deep gospel groove, Bradley expresses his gratitude—to his fans, his friends, and to God—for their support, their dedication, and their devotion. “When the world gives you love,” he sings, “It frees your soul.”
Although New Orleans’ traditional jazz scene had many top players in the 50s, there was no one center for the city’s veteran greats to play. In 1961, local art dealer Larry Borenstein opened a building in the French Quarter called Preservation Hall. Young tuba player Allan Jaffe ran the hall and organized tours for the musicians who often performed there, naming the band after the venue. Four decades after the group’s genesis, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band continues to honor the musical traditions of New Orleans, despite many switches in personnel.
The band’s current lineup consists of Ben Jaffe (Creative Director / Tuba), Mark Braud (Band Leader / Trumpet), Charlie Gabriel (Clarinet / Saxophone), Freddie Lonzo (Trombone), Joe Lastie Jr. (Drums / Percussion), Rickie Monie (Piano), Ronell Johnson (Tuba), and Clint Maedgen (Saxophone).
5:30 pm: The Wild Feathers
Long before it got broken up into a million sub-genres, rock & roll was just rock & roll. Pure, true, organic. Six strings, booming harmonies, and the call of the open road. It’s a singularly American tradition that Nashville’s The Wild Feathers are full-force dedicated to not only preserving but also—more importantly—evolving. Their sound melds the five unique voices of Ricky Young, Joel King, Taylor Burns, Preston Wimberly, and Ben Dumas, taking inspiration from across the musical spectrum—country, blues, folk and rock—and spinning it into a roaring web of warm, cosmic melodies with vintage roots and modern tones. The Wild Feathers are a rock band that feels impossibly fresh with the air of having been here all along.
For the five members of The Infamous Stringdusters—Andy Hall (Dobro), Andy Falco (guitar), Chris Pandolfi (banjo), Jeremy Garrett (fiddle), and Travis Book (upright bass)—reverence for traditionalism has always been only part of the equation. The group has always remained intent on fostering something bigger, more original. It’s this desire—and the combined efforts of uniquely creative minds—that has brought the quintet to its current place as multi-dimensional string explorers, mixing tight song craft from a variety of musical styles with a flair for improvisation. Armed with an exhilarating, often-unpredictable live show, the open-minded approach has certainly resonated and allowed the band to easily fit on a diverse set of stages—from Telluride and Grey Fox to Bonnaroo and High Sierra—building crowds along the way that fill some of the country’s best rock clubs.
T Bird and the Breaks are one of those gangs of people who could have easily banded together to steal hubcaps or hustle you out of your last dollar in a game of street craps. Lucky for all involved, they chose to make music. The core of this band of musical miscreants consists of Tim Crane on vocals and piano and an unstoppable rhythm section consisting of longtime partner in crime Sammy Patlove on drums and Cody Furr on bass. Johnny “Too Bad” Allison and Sasha Ortiz, on guitar and vocals, add the icing on the red velvet cake. With a sound that pulls from the origins of hip hop, the alleyways of the Crescent City, the grease and grime of an old-school soul review, and all seven of the deadly sins, the Breaks have developed into a locomotive; slowly pumping across America, leaving crowds drenched with sweat and walking funny the next morning.
Dent May writes, performs, and produces homemade pop music. A stylistic chameleon, Dent’s recordings echo folk, disco, R&B, psychedelia, country-western, soul, and funk sounds of the past, present, and future. Increasingly, his songwriting has taken a turn toward existential classicism, channeling the tuneful longings of Harry Nilsson and Brian Wilson at their dreamiest.
Garry Burnside is considered to be a living legend by many throughout the region. R.L. Burnside’s youngest son, Garry grew up playing music with both his father and Junior Kimbrough. It’s clear to see that the legacy lives on in Garry’s music today. Favored by locals, his live performances include a mix of old standards and more contemporary Blues.
Garry plays with a raw power and authenticity that leaves even the most ardent Blues junkie gushing. As a songwriter, Burnside brings what the Blues scene needs the most; a new, young and strong voice. A prolific songwriter, he wrote all of The Hill Country Review album featuring Cody and Luther Dickinson, and Chris Chew. He also wrote all 14 tracks on The Promise, which was written as a dedication to his father the late R.L. Burnside. A predominantly up-tempo record, The Promise gracefully swifts through various sub-genres of the blues, funk, and soul with a constant, lick heavy undercurrent of the trance-like country blues his family is so well known for.
by Suanne Strider:
Morgan Pennington is one of the four bands that I had heard of when I read the lineup [for this year’s festival]. She is also my favorite. Miss Pennington is the Mayor’s Executive Assistant to the City of Oxford, so it is quite fitting that she would be put in the lineup for the festival. But after seeing her live performances, and being familiar with her music, I am a little confused as to why she is playing at 10 am. I feel that Morgan deserves a higher spot than this.
Morgan has been working with Winn McElroy out at Blackwing Studios in Water Valley, Mississippi, on her debut EP, Wolves. The EP will be released April 26th, and [after listening] I was absolutely blown away. Check out the title track, “Wolves.” All of the songs on the EP are great, but that is my favorite. It really captures the essence of what Morgan’s music is all about. As one avid fan of Morgan’s put it on her blog page, “You will not regret buying it!” I agree.
Read Suanne Strider’s interview with Morgan Pennington HERE.