Published on June 20th, 2017 | by Brittain Thompson0
Get Ready for the 12th Annual North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic June 22–25
UPDATE: The Location of the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic has been changed due to inclement weather concerns. Details and directions can be found here.
North Mississippi has long been known as the home of the blues, but it wasn’t until the mid-‘90s that the world knew of the distinctive sounds of North Mississippi Hill Country Blues. Bannered by the late-artists R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, and Otha Turner, the legacy of hill country blues lives on today.
In 2006 Potts Camp Resident Kenny Brown, who saw first-hand R.L. Burnside take the world by storm, decided to create an event in which artists would be honored at home with the same high acclaim they experienced in their travels around the world. Brown formed the non-profit organization North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic, Inc., the goal of the organization is to spread hill country blues music and educate those interested about the local art form through performance, preservation, and interpretation.
Their flagship event is the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic, a three day event boasting a lineup that features all major contemporary artists with direct ties to R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, and Otha Turner. Taking place on 128 acres in the rolling hills of Marshall County, visitors will be treated to live hill country blues, local art vendors, and the delicious cooking of classic North Mississippi food including barbecue, catfish, and watermelon.
We spoke with Sara Brown, event coordinator, about what this year will have in store for attendees.
While the bulk of the festival takes places on June 23–24, Thursday, June 22, will feature a guitar workshop in partnership with Preserve Marshall County and Holly Springs, Inc. The workshop will be led by Kenny Brown, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Duwayne Burnside, and Cary Hudson. Beginners are welcome to join, though this workshop won’t be the best place for your first lesson.
“They need to at least have a little general knowledge of a guitar,” said Brown. “Somebody who has never picked up a guitar in their life isn’t going benefit from it, but we have everything from beginner, intermediate, and advanced opportunities.”
Following the workshop is the Guitar Workshop Jam from 5–8 pm on festival grounds that will be free to the public and feature all the workshop leaders and participants.
The Picnic also features a raffle of donated items and all proceeds are set aside for a local cause.
“Typically things we use [the funds] for is assisting with medical needs for local artists and also for funeral expense,” said Brown. “I hate to say it but we’ve had a lot of artists pass away. We’ve put up a number of tombstones.”
Included in the raffle items are a one-of-a-kind Harris Brothers Cigar Box Guitar, a signed copy of Jim Dees’ The Statue and The Fury, and 16 CD collection including North Mississippi Allstars and rare Jim Dickinson releases.
The festival had 12 performers in 2006, since then the lineup has grown to routinely offer nearly 30 hill country blues artists. This year’s lineup features Duwayne Burnside Band, Kudzu Kings, Jimbo Mathus, and more.
The North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic offers onsite, primitive camping for all three nights of the festival as well as being RV friendly. Camping passes are $15 per person and good for all weekend. Nearby park Wall Doxey offers camping sites with electricity and running water. Grab your tickets at nmshillcountrypicnic.com.