29th FREE celebration held August 12-13-14 in downtown Clarksdale, Mississippi
CLARKSDALE – A break in triple-digit temperatures with only a few sprinkles welcomed an international crowd enjoying the 29th Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival and its four days of exceptional music culminating in a grand finale overflowing the Civic Auditorium Sunday night.
“It's very powerful, emotional,” commented visitors who had never before attended a gospel celebration of such magnitude.
Attending the entire festival were large groups of music fans from Austria, Spain, Italy, Australia, Japan, and many sections of the United States.
On Saturday three cool and separate acoustic stages were packed with music fans cheering master musicians and a unique program featuring Super Chikan Johnson displaying and playing his handmade bejeweled instruments with a running “barnyard” commentary.
Impromptu dancing accompanied almost every event.
Paul Wilson, owner of WROX Radio and Saturday's main stage MC, honored with the Early Wright Blues Heritage Award, was surprised and eloquent with his acceptance speech.
Special patrons honored on stage for their primary support of the festival were Hal Ponte, president of HPI, LLC , and four officials of his company: Martin Marsh, Mike Strathdee, Craig Marsh, and Tom Levitz, all of Houston, Tex.
John Sherman and Melvita Tillis, festival co-chairs, promise the festival's 30th anniversary Aug. 11, 12, 13, 2017, will be spectacular.
James "Super Chikan" Johnson, Friday Night Headliner
Sharde Turner and the Rising Star Fife & Drum Band close Saturday's acoustic stage and open the main stage
Lonnie Shields, Saturday Night headliner
Heather Crosse, leader of Heavy Suga & the Sweet Tones
Guitarist Walt Busby, who teaches in the award-winning DBM After-School program, concentrates during the Heavy Suga & Sweet Tones show.
Veteran guitarist Terry 'Big T' Williams on the Saturday night stage
Volunteers man the festival's famous "Grits, Greens, and Barbecue" Thursday night soul food dinner for sponsors
Hal Pontez (right) chairman of HPI, LLC, the festival's primary sponsor, and his crew including Martin Marsh (left) and Mike Strathdee enjoy the Sunflower's informality.