New Music Festival Announced for October in the Mississippi Delta—America’s first socially distanced festival?
Mighty Roots Music Festival Is Coming
October 2–3, 2020, on Historic Farm
Where Muddy Waters Grew Up
(Stovall, Miss.) – Bringing some much needed good news to music fans across the country, Mighty Roots Music, LLC announced its lineup for the inaugural Mighty Roots Music Festival to be held Friday, October 2 and Saturday, October 3 on historic Stovall Farms, just outside of Clarksdale, Mississippi, and 70 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee.
The lineup promises a wide-ranging array of performers and a unique experience on the site of the old Stovall Gin Company cotton gin complex, which is being reinvigorated as a concert venue.
Friday’s lineup will feature Jamaican-born Mystic Bowie, also known as the lead singer of the 1980’s Talking Heads side project “Tom Tom Club.” Bowie’s “Talking Dreads” performance will highlight not only his Jamaican musical heritage, but also his unique fusion of reggae and Talking Heads classics.
Friday will also feature The Minks, a Nashville-based “psychedelic-bloos” band, Mississippi singer-songwriter John Mohead and Memphis-based singer songwriter Rollin Rosatti.
Saturday will feature two of the top acts in Americana music. Headliner Deer Tick’s bio simply states, “Deer Tick likes to rock out,” but the band features strong songwriting, excellent music, and a national fan base developed over the course of eight albums.
Saturday will also feature fan favorite Keller Williams, known for collaborations with Yonder Mountain String Band, String Cheese Incident, and Umphrey’s McGee, and who is often described as a “one-man jam-band.”
Saturday’s lineup will also include award winning singer-songwriter and recording artist Radney Foster, Jackson, Mississippi–bluesman Jarekus Singleton, Harrison, Arkansas–bluegrass band National Park Radio, Austin, Texas–blues rockers Red on Yellow, and emerging singer-songwriter Tyler Tisdale.
After the main stage concludes each night, the Stovall Store nearby will feature late night Blues sets by Big A & The All-Stars Friday night and the Stone Gas Band Saturday night, with a special “Burning of the Blues” celebration on Saturday night.
Tickets are offered at www.mightyrootsmusicfestival.com on both a single day and weekend pass basis. In addition to general admission tickets, a VIP ticket offers access to a private area in the historic gin building, special viewing areas, and the Back 40 Bar.
Contributing to the immersive experience of the festival, campsites and RV sites are also available.
In addition to the music, food truck concessions will be anchored by the Doe’s Eat Place truck from Greenville, Mississippi, and the Lost Pizza truck from Cleveland, Mississippi.
The festival’s co-founders are Greenville, Mississippi–based hit singer-songwriter and recording artist Steve Azar and Mississippi native and festival producer Howard Stovall. Decades-long veterans of the national music scene, the two worked together closely on the Mighty Mississippi Music Festival (2013–2018), which Azar co-founded in Greenville as one of the two premier anchor events for the highly successful “Bridging The Blues” tourism and marketing program.
Mighty Roots is very much a re-boot of that festival in a new location—Stovall Farms—where Muddy Waters grew up and was first recorded.
“We created such an inspiring and honest experience at Mighty Mississippi, and Howard’s farm is just the perfect place to recapture that all over again with an authentic roots music festival. The venue is beyond cool and says so much about our delta’s rich history and culture,” said Azar. “Once people experience our VIP area in the old gin building, hopefully they will mark this event down on their calendar as a must attend for years to come.”
The location is not just home to the Mighty Roots Festival, but also a must-see destination for music fans from around the world, with deep local connections to some of the most legendary names in music, including Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Bessie Smith, Pinetop Perkins, and Ike Turner, among others.
Clarksdale even advertises that it features live blues music 365 days a year. Stovall’s roots in the area run as deeply as possible; his family history on the land extends back to the 1830’s, but Azar also has local roots. “My Mom is from Clarksdale, my Uncle Joe was Mayor and my cousins have the best BBQ joint in Mississippi with their world renown Abe’s. So, it is home to me!”
In addition to great music and a great party, the event represents an important economic boost to Coahoma County, a rural area that has historically suffered from higher unemployment rates and lower income metrics than average.
“The economic impact of a major tourism event like this is immediate and can be significant,” states Stovall, who worked in the 1990s to help establish Coahoma’s County’s tourism tax. “Bringing in several thousand people and their buying power can move the needles noticeably in our community.”
The organizers even have a plan to present a socially distanced event if necessary. “We can put 300 individuals per acre with 6-foot distancing, and we have a 21-acre site,” states Stovall. “If social distancing restrictions remain in place, we have a plan to reorient the festival so that we have room to accommodate a crowd of 2,000 fans under 6-foot social distancing parameters. For that reason, we are only offering 2,000 tickets until we are confident that social distancing will not be required, at which time we plan to offer additional tickets.”
Organizers are creating plans for bar service, portajohns, backstage operations, and technical plans to facilitate distancing if necessary. “Bottom line, adds Stovall, “you can count on our festival in October unless there’s a complete lockdown.”