31st Annual Sunflower River Blues Festival
Cool breezes and sizzling hot blues welcomed blues fans celebrating the 31st Annual Sunflower River Blues Festival in Clarksdale Friday night with celebrity performances by 19-year-old music phenom Christone "Kingfish" Blues home from sell-out concerts in San Francisco; Anthony 'Big A' Sherrod who traveled with his guitar off stage to the festival grounds; and James 'Super Chikan' Johnson, a crowd favorite, who alternated playing his handmade instruments with barnyard lyrics.
Christone "Kingfish" Ingram
Anthony 'Big A' Sherrod
James 'Super Chikan' Johnson
Highlighting the Sunflower River Blues Festival's Saturday night main stage event is its prestigious awards ceremony honoring two of its own special musicians who made significant contributions for many years to the festival and died in the spring of 2018: Josh 'Razorblade' Stewart and C. V. Veal Also honored was Clarksdale super star and international ambassador, James 'Super Chikan' Johnson, who was awarded the festival's top accolade: the Early Wright Award. Family members and Sunflower officers on stage include (from left) Laura Tillis, Saturday emcee; Pepper Von, celebrity fitness guru son of C.V. Veal who flew from Sacramento, Calif, for the event; Maie Smith, Sunflower booking chairman; longtime co-chairman John Sherman; 'Super Chikan', Catherine Clark, Sunflower treasurer; Jermaine Hanfor, Razorblade's son; Melvita Tillis Presley, festival chair; Margaret Walker, vendor chair; LaTrena Hayes, Razorblade's daughter and her son, Randy Stuckey Jr.
Arriving with a dramatic drum and fife march into Ground Zero Blues Club Saturday, are Sharde Thomas and the Rising Star Drum and Fife Band created by her grandfather, Othar Turner of Gravel Springs. Their appearance signals the finale of the Sunflower's acoustic stage and the opening of its main stage for its Saturday night set.
Simona Ottolenghi, (seated center in black) of Rome, Italy, leader of the Viaggio Fotografico tour group of 11 Italian photographers, take a break from documenting the Sunflower Festival and many blues sites in Clarksdale and the Mississippi Delta for multiple global websites. Ottolenghi has led groups here annually since 2008.
Matador videographer Issac Snow from New York City focuses on the Jonestown Crusaders during Sunday's Sunflower River Gospel Festival in the Clarksdale Civic Auditoriumat Sunday. Segments of the program will be incorporated in a tourism travel video for the State of Mississippi.
Winners of the prestigious 2018 Julius Guy Gospel Heritage Award for outstanding contributions to gospel music presented Sunday at the Sunflower River Gospel Festival in the Civic Auditorium by Maie Smith (left) booking chairman, and Johnny Kinard, gospel chair (far right) are the Rev. Nathaniel Cusic, pastor of Morning Star M. B. Church; and the Rev. Ricky L. Walker, pastor of Locust Grove M. B. Church.
Matador Network video photograpers Issac Show (left) and Blaze Nowara of New York City visit with Sunflower gospel festival buffet chair Madge Harris Sunday during at the 2018 Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival. Sunday in the Civic Auditoium. Their footage will become a tourism travel video for the state of Mississippi
Veteran blues musician Terry (Big T) Wiliams excites the large Saturday night crowd surrounding the main stage at the 31st Annual Sunflower River Blues Festival.