Published on April 11th, 2016 | by Shelby Rayburn0
Clarksdale’s Juke Joint Festival Begins April 14
Clarksdale, Mississippi’s Juke Joint Festival celebrates its Lucky 13th anniversary this April 16th weekend in the land of the proverbial Crossroads.
“If you’re looking for a blues festival with headlining rock acts, that ain’t us,” said Roger Stolle, music director of the non-profit festival. “If you want over 100 blues acts — including teenage prodigies and 80-something blues kings — then you’ve found the fest for you.”
Southern blues acts range from 17-year-old Christone “Kingfish” Ingram to 94-year-old Henry “Gip” Gipson with dozens of nicknames like Super Chikan, Big George and Cadillac in-between.
“No festival in the world better illustrates the surviving Mississippi and Southern blues tradition,” explained Stolle.
Still, the festival locals refer to as simply “Juke Joint” is much more than just a blues showcase. According to co-organizer Nan Hughes, there is something for everyone at this one-of-a-kind event.
“It’s half blues festival, half small-town fair and all about the Delta,” she said. “From a 5K/8K run and arts & crafts exhibits to Southern food and kids’ stuff, we put our region’s best foot forward — above and beyond the music.”
Official daytime events on Saturday, April 16th are free. Saturday’s nighttime juke joint crawl requires a $20 pre-sale ($25 day of) festival wristband which can be purchased now at www.jukejointfestival.com.
While the actual Juke Joint Festival itself is that Saturday — with 13 free daytime stages and 20-plus nighttime wristband venues — organizers stress that “related events” stretch from Thursday through Sunday night, and include:
Thursday, April 14 – FREE – Official JJF Kick-off at Delta Cinema (5-8 pm) with poster signing, Dancing Divas of the Delta and music by Sean “Bad” Apple and Vasti Jackson. Sponsored by C Spire – Official Wireless Sponsor of Juke Joint Festival.
Friday, April 15 – FREE – Ghost Riders monkeys-riding-dogs shows (10:45,12:45, 3:30 & 5:30 pm).
Friday, April 15 – FREE – Special Clarksdale appearance of Thacker Mountain Radio sponsored by Delta Regional Authority. Live, public music/literary event at historic New Roxy (6-7 pm).
Sunday, April 17 – FREE – Cat Head Mini Blues Fest (10-4 pm), Second Street Blues Party (11-5 pm) and much more!
With three days of related events plus Saturday, April 16th’s actual Juke Joint Festival, it’s no wonder that the festival now attracts attendees from as many as 28 foreign countries, 46 U.S. states and 53 Mississippi counties each year. Fortunately, there are still hotel rooms available in nearby Lula at the Isle of Capri Casino Hotel as well as various camping options.
The official festival lineup is at www.jukejointfestival.com. Pre-sale wristbands for Saturday night, April 16th, are available now online, and organizers strongly recommend buying them in advance since a sellout is possible.