CLARKSDALE – America’s “purest” blues celebration is throwing a steamy spring preview before the main event – the 14th annual Sunflower River Blues Festival Aug. 10 – 12 in Clarksdale.
Headlining the April 6 festival fund-raiser in Clarksdale’s Expo Center is super showman Bobby Rush and his famous “Red Hot Las Vegas Road Show” that created a heat wave during the 2000 Sunflower Fest.
Also performing will be rising R&B star O.B. Buchana of Clarksdale, Brown Sugar of Memphis and Clarksdale’s blues kids adding youthful zip to traditional Delta blues.
“I’m delighted to help my friends in Clarksdale raise funds for the festival,” commented Rush, who has starred in several Sunflower Fests.
Melville Tillis, Blues Association co-chairman and longtime Rush friend, said the entertainer always draws tremendous crowds to the festival.
“We really appreciate Bobby, his generosity and loyalty to Clarksdale,” Tillis said. “This benefit is necessary to keep the August festival free for everyone.”
Music kicks off at 8:30 p.m. with the Blues Express with Vanesia Young, Fazenda Young and Lee Williams.
Advance tickets to the benefit are $10; they will be $15 at the door. Reservations for tables are being offered. Tickets and reservations are available from the Sunflower River Blues Association, Box 1562, Clarksdale, MS 38614; at the Delta Blues Museum, 662-627-6820; the Clarksdale/Coahoma Chamber of Commerce, 662-627-7337; and 662-624-5772. Tickets also are available from all Blues Association members.
The Sunflower River Blues Association is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization staffed by volunteers, and tickets are tax-deductible.
Barbecued chicken plates, pork sandwiches, hamburgers, chips, popcorn and drinks will be be available at concession stands.
The August festival has been billed “America’s purest blues festival”, because of the authenticity of its music. Although it has been named in the Top 20 tourism events in the Southeast, it is known for its laid-back style and Southern hospitality.
Labeled the birthplace of Delta Blues, Clarksdale boasts a heritage that begins with W.C. Handy, Charley Patton, Son House, Willie Brown, Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters and progresses to Sonny Boy Williamson, John Lee Hooker, Ike Turner, Big Jack Johnson, and Super Chikan Johnson to blues education students.
Past festivals have showcased today’s celebrities from Charlie Musselwhite, Little Milton, Ike Turner, the John Lee Hooker family, Bobby Rush, Mose Allison, Pinetop Perkins, R.L. Burnside and Snooky Pryor to the late Eugene Powell, Jack Owen, Lonnie Pitchford, Wade Walton and Little Jeno Tucker.