Bobby Rush and Koko Taylor Heat Things Up in Clarksale

CLARKSDALE – Mix the magic of showman Bobby Rush and his stable of electric dancers with the raw, gritty power of Blues Queen Koko Taylor, and Clarksdale’s Sunflower River Blues Fest guarantees one steamy night of music history Aug. 12.

Headlining the Saturday night stage of the 13th annual festival in the birthplace of blues, the Grammy-winning vocalist promises to blast her audience into a dancing mood, say festival co-chairmen Nat McMullen and Melville Tillis who confirm the celebrity’s appearance.

Although Taylor’s music ranges from foot-stomping barnburners to powerful slow blues, she says, “My blues isn’t designed for people to look down, but to get up and dance.”

But thanks to the 1999 Critics Choice Best Live Performer winner, the crowd already will be on its feet keeping time to his hit recordings, “One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show,” and “Lovin’ a Big Fat Woman.”

Rush, the harmonica-playing singer/composer with his risqué, fun-poking revue is a long-time favorite with Mississippi Delta audiences who swarm the stage for a close look at the ladies man describing the charms of “Sue.”

Making their Sunflower Fest debut the same evening will be multi-talented Anson Funderburgh and the Rockets with legendary harmonica master Sam Meyers, annual crowd favorites at Helena’s King Biscuit Blues Festival.

Although Saturday promises excellence ranging from the sublime to the raucous, the Friday night lineup headlined by Clarksdale’s own globe-stomping bluesman Big Jack Johnson will be a hard act to follow.

Claiming the spotlight before the Oilman’s Blues Alley reign will be other hometown heroes including O.B. Buchana, one of the hottest hunks on the Southern R&B circuit, energetic Chuck Berry-style guitarist/vocalist Robert “Bilbo” Walker and quintessential drummer Sam Carr.

Saturday’s fabled acoustic stage inside the passenger depot where Muddy Waters bought his ticket to Chicago is expected to draw a repeat standing-room-only audience. Performing will be Eddie Cusick, Pat Thomas, John Mohead, Lane Wilkins and others with Othar Turner and his Rising Sun Drum and Fife Band drumming the crowd over to the Blues Alley stage.

Without skipping a beat, Sunday’s gospel festival will be no less spectacular. Featured will be James Williams and the Messengers, the Victory Travelers, the Myles Family and Patricia Branch and the 300-member Clarksdale Elementary School Children’s Choir.
The festival is free and open to the public Aug. 11 through Aug. 13