Special from the Sunflower River Blues Association
When Clarksdale's first sister city relationship was established in 1996 with Notodden, Norway, hardly anyone predicted traffic between the two cities would be so intense.
But blues festivals draw zealous fans, agree supporters from both sides of the Atlantic.
Last year Jostein Forsberg, spokesman for the Scandinavian band, Spoonful of Blues, said Norwegians were excited to hear Delta blues on its home grounds, and apparently born-to-travel Mississippians wanted to enjoy Europe's largest blues festival and see Scandinavia.
In October 2001 the Sunflower River Blues Association voted to establish another sister city kinship with the Maximum Blues Festival in the Quebec Province of Canada.
Accompanied by Canadian super star Nanette Workman, Pierre Menard, Maximum coordinator, visited Clarksdale in February for face-to-face planning with Sunflower Festival brass. They were entertained, enjoyed live blues, and even attended a gospel concert at Coahoma Community College.
Menard and Sunflower Co-chairmen Nat McMullen and Melville Tillis report positive vibes from the visit and began planning to swap musicians on each other's festival stages.
For six years the established Notodden/Clarksdale exchange between musicians, festival organizers, and city fathers has been a smashing success, agree officials from both cities. Visits also have not been limited to festivals only.
The 2002 International Notodden Fest is Aug. 1-4, one week before Clarksdale's Sunflower. A delegation from Clarksdale has been invited to attend and enjoy their headliners Buddy Guy, Dr. John and Tony Joe White as well as Jimbo Mathus who will be in Clarksdale the following weekend. Also performing in Norway will be Robert Belfour, who played Sunflower's acoustic stage for the past two years.
Big Jack Johnson, Super Chikan Johnson, and the Myles Family, all from Clarksdale, have been featured other years in Norway.
Since the Canadian festival is the same weekend as the Sunflower, musicians from their festival will travel to Clarksdale to play on the Blues Alley stage Sept. 18. A delegation of musicians from Clarksdale will be performing there.
Tony Czech, director of the Delta Blues Museum,
is a member of the Clarksdale delegation
invited to attend the International Notodden Blues Festival in Norway.
Musicians planning to perform at the Maximum Blues Festival
in the Quebec Province of Canada include
(from left) 'Tater' Foster, John Ruskey, Cliff Jefferson, and Wesley Jefferson.