Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival
08/07/11: Virtuoso blues artists punctuate acoustic stages with intimacy

Press Release from the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival - 8/7/2011 - Panny Mayfield, publicist, 662-621-4157

Eddie Cusic Acoustic Stage

Eddie Cusic of Leland performs at 10:10 a.m. on the morning acoustic stage.Eddie Cusic of Leland performs at 10:10 a.m. on the morning acoustic stage.

Robert Belfour Acoustic Stage

Holly Springs native Robert Belfour, an international touring artist, performs at 9:35 a.m. Saturday.

Lucious Spiller at ground zero

Terry "Harmonica" Bean, performs on guitar and harmonica at 5:05 p.m. Saturday.


CLARKDALE - Acoustic blues masters featured each year on the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival's acoustic stages are revered by many as the gemstones of the three-day celebration.

Not only are the performers virtuoso musicians, their presentations are punctuated with conversation, and remarks to the audiences in a personal, intimate setting, explains festival co-chairman Melville Tillis.

"Returning from year to year, visitors line up early for a good seat, even if they've been up late Friday night," adds Tillis.

The lineup that opens at 9 a.m. will be missing two favorites who were regulars: the late Big Jack Johnson and Foster "Tater" Wiley who are being honored with four other Sunflower family members.

Among the quintessential  musicians will be harmonica great Arthniece Jones with his colorful stories; guitarists Robert Belfour, Eddie Cusic,  Pat Thomas,  T-Model Ford, and intensity-driven Lucious Spiller who made his debut in 2010.

Joining them this year will be acclaimed blues teacher/artist, Mr. Johnnie Billington, recipient of the Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts and a Master Folk Artist designated by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Shardee Turner, granddaughter of the late Othar Turner, and the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band will continue its 24-year tradition of closing the morning stage with a "Hill Country" procession.

In past years the morning acoustic stage has been held inside Clarksdale Station and the Civic Auditorium, but this year it will be held on the Main Stage.

"Our audience  outgrew the depot space; we are taking advantage of our state-of-the-art sound system  at the main stage, and the spacious VIP tent where the Lions Club is serving a pancake breakfast," says Tillis.

The afternoon acoustic stage will continue at the foot of Sunflower and Third Street unless the hot weather is unbearable and it becomes necessary to move inside the Civic Auditorium, says Tillis.

Among key afternoon performers are Anthony "Big A" Sherard, Bill Abel & Cadillac John, Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, Kenny Brown, and Terry "Harmonica" Bean.

Shardee Turner, granddaughter of the late Othar Turner of Gravel Springs, and the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band continue a 24-year tradition of closing the Sunflower's acoustic stage. The morning acoustic stage was rained out of the New Roxy stage last year and moved to the Civic Auditorium.

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