CLARKSDALE – A break in triple-digit temperatures with only a few sprinkles welcomed an international crowd enjoying the 29th Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival and its four days of exceptional music culminating in a grand finale overflowing the Civic Auditorium Sunday night.
“It’s very powerful, emotional,” commented visitors who had never before attended a gospel celebration of such magnitude.
Attending the entire festival were large groups of music fans from Austria, Spain, Italy, Australia, Japan, and many sections of the United States.
On Saturday three cool and separate acoustic stages were packed with music fans cheering master musicians and a unique program featuring Super Chikan Johnson displaying and playing his handmade bejeweled instruments with a running “barnyard” commentary.
Impromptu dancing accompanied almost every event.
Paul Wilson, owner of WROX Radio and Saturday’s main stage MC, honored with the Early Wright Blues Heritage Award, was surprised and eloquent with his acceptance speech.
Special patrons honored on stage for their primary support of the festival were Hal Ponte, president of HPI, LC , and four officials of his company: Martin Marsh, Mike Strathdee, Craig Marsh, and Tom Levitz, all of Houston, Tex.
John Sherman and Melvita Tillis, festival co-chairs, promise the festival’s 30th anniversary Aug. 11, 12, 13, 2017, will be spectacular.