Delta Blues this Week | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Delta Blues this Week


Ground Zero Blues Club, Clarksdale, MS;
9/28 - Wesley Jefferson Blues Band
9/29 - KENT BURNSIDE Blues Band

Reds Lounge, Clarksdale, MS (Sunflower Ave. & MLK Dr.)
9/28-29 - TBA

Depot Blues Club, Clarksdale, MS;
9/28 - Stan Street and the Hambone Band

930 Blues Cafe, Jackson, MS;
9/28-29 - Grady Champion

Just 1 More Blues Bar, Hattiesburg, MS;
9/28 - Kent Burnside

Miss. State Blues Trail Marker Dedication, Columbus, MS;
Fri., 9/28, 4pm - Big Joe Williams, "Catfish Alley" in Columbus, MS. Music by The Kingsnakes, Big Joe Shelton, Clarence Davis.

Bluesberry Bakery, Clarksdale, MS (662-627-7008)
9/28 - Daddy Rich, Marshall Drew & Friends.

9/28-29 - Oxford Town Bbq Throwdown, Oxford Conference Ctr., Oxford, MS;
9/28 - Willie King and Jr. Kimbrough's Juke Joint Boys
9/29 - LC Ulmer and Super Chikan

9/29 - Columbus Jazz And Blues Fest, Columbus, MS;
FREE music festival at Riverwalk in downtown Columbus. (Related ticketed Jazz and Blues In The Schools event Fri., 9/28 at Rosenzweig Arts Center.) ALSO, note related Blues Trail Marker Dedication (above) on Fri., 9/28.
10:30 am - 11:30 - Big Joe Shelton (Columbus, MS)
11:50 am - 12:50 - Willie King (West Memphis, AL)
1:10 pm - 2:10 - Eden Brent (Greenville, MS)
2:30 pm - 3:30 - Whiteboy Corduroy (Columbus, MS)
3:50 pm - 4:50 - The Sean Carney Band (Columbus, OHIO)
5:10 pm - Big George Brock (St. Louis, MO)

September Song Festival, downtown park, Marks, MS (662-326-8865)
9/29 - 10am till. Gospel in morning. Blues in afternoon -- including Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, Billy Adams and more. MLK Drive. FREE!

Wing Dang Doodle Festival, Gaddis Park, Forest, MS (601-469-4332)
9/29 - Chicken wing cook off, arts and crafts, talent show, live entertainment (incl. blues) and more. Keith "Chickin' Daddy" Hunter is headliner.

• Sundays - Club 2000 w/Mr. Tater (Clarksdale, MS)
• Sundays, 7pm - Club Ebony (Indianola, MS) - David Lee Durham
• Many Sundays, 7:30pm - Alvees (Hwy 4 & 309 at Jamison Rd) - Cedric Burnside/Lightnin Malcolm
• Sundays - Wild Bill's juke joint (Memphis, TN) - house band
• Some Sundays - Bettie's Place (near Prairie Point) - Willie King


10:30 am - 11:30 - Big Joe Shelton (Columbus, MS)
11:50 am - 12:50 - Willie King (West Memphis, AL)
1:10 pm - 2:10 - Eden Brent (Greenville, MS)
2:30 pm - 3:30 - Whiteboy Corduroy (Columbus, MS)
3:50 pm - 4:50 - The Sean Carney Band (Columbus, OHIO)
5:10 pm - 6:10+ - Big George Brock (St. Louis, MO) -- featuring Riley Coatie Sr./Jr. from "Club Caravan" and "Live At Seventy Five" CDs along with Barry Bays.

10:00 am - 11:00 - Muzik in Action (Columbus, MS)
11:20 pm - 12:20 - Parker-Anderson Jazz featuring Kelley Hurt (Memphis, TN; Tupelo, MS)
12:40 pm - 1:40 - Karen Gruber and The Sonny Harris Trio (Florence and Tuscaloosa, AL)
2:00 pm - 3:00 - The Columbus Allstars with special guest Delfeayo Marsalis (Columbus, MS; NOLA)
3:20 pm - 4:20 - Linnzi Zaorski & Delta Royale (NOLA)
4:40 pm - 5:40 - Bruce "Sunpie" Barnes & The Louisiana Sunspots (NOLA)
6:00 pm - 7:00+ - Mahogany Brass Band with Brice Miller, Mardi Gras Indians and Delfeayo Marsalis (NOLA)


As part of the DSU Year of Delta Heritage, the ninth annual Peavine Awards will celebrate excellence in the Delta Blues on October 4. According to historian Steve LaVere, founder of the Peavines, "this year's awards will honor three Delta Bluesmen who created a unique Blues sound: John Lee Hooker, Earl Hooker, and Tony Hollins." The celebration will be at the Grapeland Grill on Highway 61 in Cleveland, starting at 7:30 and featuring live Blues by Bill "Howlin' Madd" Perry and his Blues Band along with the awards ceremony itself. There will be no cover charge for this event, which is funded by Coopwood Communications.

John Lee Hooker was born in Clarksdale in 1917. He recorded several solo albums, and also played with Mose Allison, Albert King, Bonnie Raitt, and the rock group Canned Heat, among others. Earl Hooker was John Lee Hooker's cousin. He was also born in Clarksdale, but spent his childhood in Chicago before returning to Clarksdale to play with Ike Turner. His early influences included Robert Nighthawk and Sonny Boy Williamson. The two Hookers had radically different approaches to the Blues. John Lee's approach involved driving beat and monotonous chords while Earl Hooker specialized in the slide guitar, bending notes to sound like the human voice. Tony Hollins was the oldest of the three, born in Clarksdale in 1900. He wrote some of the music that John Lee Hooker appropriated as his own, including the famous Crawlin' Kingsnake Blues and Traveling Man Blues.

The Peavine Awards were founded at Delta State University in 1998 to honor the memory of the Delta's great Blues musicians. Each year since, they have remembered the work of two to three performers, with special awards for festivals and Blues researchers. For information about this event or the Peavine Awards, contact the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at 662-846-4311.



10/4-6 - Arkansas Blues & Heritage Festival
Helena, AR
Helena's former "King Biscuit" blues fest. Line-up includes: Diunna Greenleaf, Lil' Dave Thompson, Sam Carr & The Delta Jukes w/Dave Riley, Pinetop Perkins & Bob Margolin, Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials, Michael Burks, Willie King, Terry Evans, Hubert Sumlin & The Willie "Big Eyes" Smith Band, Bill Abel, Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, Dorothy "Miss Blues" Ellis, Mississippi Spoonman & Carla Robinson, Rev Payton & Big Damn Band, Blind Mississippi Morris. See web site for details.


Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art, Clarksdale, MS
- Thurs., 10/4 - TBA
- Fri., 10/5 (noon) - KM Williams, "The Blues Preacher."
- Sat., 10/6 (2pm) - Steve Cheseborough "Blues Crosswords"/"Blues Traveling" book signing w/live music.
- Sun., 10/7 (9am till...) - CAT HEAD MINI BLUES FEST w/FREE live blues under tents in front of store. Featuring Bill "Howl-N-Madd" Perry, James "T-Model" Ford, Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band and Robert "Wolfman" Belfour! Food available from Big Jim's BBQ.

Ground Zero Blues Club, Clarksdale, MS;
10/3 - IBC Winner... Sean Carney Blues Band
10/4 - BLUES JAM w/Guitar Mikey
10/5 - Big T & the Family, featuring Terry "Big T" Williams
10/6 - IBC 2nd Place Winner... Homemade Jamz w/special opener Bill "Howl-N-Madd" Perry
10/7 - SUNDAY BLUES BRUNCH (11-3) w/blues by Louis "Gearshifter" Youngblood at noon
10/8 - Terry "Harmonica" Bean, 11:30am

Reds Lounge, Clarksdale, MS (Sunflower Ave. & MLK Dr.)
10/2 - special show w/Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm
10/5-6 - TBA
10/7 - Blues Jam

Depot Blues Club, Clarksdale, MS;
Breakfast thru dinner, 7 days.
10/5-6 - Robert "BILBO" Walker returns!!!
10/7 - 4pm jam hosted by Bilbo, himself

Sarah's Kitchen, Clarksdale, MS (278 Sunflower Ave.)

Bluesberry Bakery, Clarksdale, MS (662-627-7008)

Hopson Commissary, Clarksdale, MS;
10/7 - Pinetop Perkins Homecoming featuring Willie "Big Eyes" Smith Band with Bob Stroger, Bob Margolin and more... starting around 2 or 3pm.

Club 2000, Clarksdale, MS (on Issaquena)
10/7 - Mr. Tater at 6pm.

4. Cat Head Presents... BIG GEORGE BROCK (updates and info)...

- "Big George is on top of his game with 'Live At Seventy Five'! The album is so full of energy and vibe that listening to it is almost like being there with him in the club. It's obvious that interaction with the audience really fuels him as his singing is more powerful and his playing more intense. Plus his backing band is so hot. This is a tremendous release!" -- Przemek Draheim, Sfera Radio (Poland).
- Hear/buy brand new "LIVE AT SEVENTY FIVE" Big George CD today at

- COOL VIDEO OF BIG GEORGE AT COGNAC, FRANCE FEST IN JULY: Note... to stop the awful web page background music, scroll down to where you see "In this moment" on the right. Slightly below that is a pause button. Click it... THEN, click on the play button beneath Big George.

- ST. LOUIS' "RIVERFRONT TIMES" PICKS BROCK AS TOP ACT (thanks guys!): Best Blues Artist (2007) - Big George Brock
"Harmonica player and singer George Brock is noteworthy simply because he's one of the few remaining members of his generation of St. Louis area bluesmen still actively performing and recording. But Brock is much, much more than just one of the last men standing: He's a superb showman and a gritty vocalist whose music embodies the connection between the informal, rural blues of his native Mississippi and the electrified big-city sound of his adopted hometown. For those listeners who value authentic blues roots and feeling over slickness, Big George Brock and the Houserockers represent the real deal."

- NEW BGB INTERVIEW W/MUSIC AT: Big George plus Jimbo Mathus and more.... (Thanks to Dennis Brooks for the heads-up.)

• Sat., 9/29, 2007 - Columbus Jazz & Blues Festival, Columbus, MS.
• Fri., 10/5, 2007 - Blueberry Hill "Duck Room," St. Louis, MO: 9pm, with Riley Coatie band and Clarine Wagner.
• Sat., 10/20, 2007 - Blues Masters At The Crossroads, Salina, KS (Acoustic Sounds/APO studio). -- SEE PRESS RELEASE INFO IN POINT # BELOW.
• Sun., 11/4, 2007 - BB's Jazz Blues & Soups, St. Louis, MO: Annual "Appreciation Day" and St. Louis CD Release Party for "Live At Seventy Five."
• Sun., 12/23, 2007 - BB's Jazz Blues & Soups, St. Louis, MO: Christmas Party with Big George Brock & the Houserockers.
• Mon., 12/31, 2007 - Venue TBA, St. Louis, MO: NEW YEAR'S EVE HOUSEPARTY starring Big George Brock & the Houserockers!



24th International Blues Challenge -- January 31-February 2, 2008
Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee

Press Release

September 27, 2007. Memphis, TN. For the 24th year, Blues musicians from around the world will compete for cash, prizes, and industry recognition as The Blues Foundation presents the International Blues Challenge beginning January 31 and continuing February 1-2, 2008 in Memphis, TN. The world's largest gathering of Blues acts represents an international search by The Blues Foundation and its affiliated organizations for the Blues band and Blues solo/duo most deserving of taking their act to the international stage. In 2007, over 90 bands and 60 solo/duo acts from 34 states and 8 countries competed. Even greater participation is expected in 2008, as musicians and fans fill the clubs up and down Beale Street beginning at 5:00pm for the semi-finals on Thursday and Friday and at the Band finals (1:00pm) and the Solo/Duo finals (7:30pm) at the Orpheum Theater on Saturday. Advance tickets, host hotel information, merchandise and preliminary event schedule will be available at beginning October 1. The IBC has evolved into the world's biggest and most respected showcase for Blues musicians ready to move beyond their regional base. Acts play a short set for a panel of judges who score them on an established set of criteria. Blues acts may not enter the challenge directly but rather each of The Blues Foundation's 165 affiliates has the right to sponsor one band and one solo/duo act. Accordingly, those who make it to Memphis are already the best of the best. The IBC weekend gets an early kickoff Wednesday, January 30 with a Meet & Greet hosted by the Beale Street Merchants Association at the New Daisy Theater and the performance of multiple IBC participants at the FedEx Forum during the Memphis Grizzlies v. Denver Nuggets NBA game. In addition to the evening Blues competition, the days are filled with seminars and workshops and topped off in a moving Saturday morning brunch in which the Blues community will honor its own with the prestigious Keeping the Blues Alive (KBA) Awards that honor the men and women, who have made significant contributions to the Blues music world, in 20 categories such as journalism, literature and photography and to the best clubs and festivals, as well as managers, promoters and producers. Throughout the week, The Blues Foundation will be sponsoring Blues in the Schools programming featuring Gary Allegretto, Spencer Bohren and the duo of James Nixon and Shannon Williford in elementary and middle schools in the Greater Memphis area, as well as special presentations for children facing a wide range of physical or emotional disadvantages.

Media Sponsors include XM Satellite Radio, House of Blues Radio Hour, Big City Rhythm and Blues, Blues Festival Guide, Blues Revue, BluesWax, Downtowner magazine, Living Blues and WREG-TV. The 24th International Blues Challenge is sponsored by ArtsMemphis, bandVillage, Beale Street Merchants Association, Budweiser and its local distributor, D.Canale Beverages, FedEx, Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, Sonicbids, T. Clifton Art and XM Satellite Radio. The list of blues artists whose career included the International Blues Challenge over the years includes: Susan Tedeschi, Michelle Wilson, Michael Burks, Tommy Castro, Albert Cummings, Larry Garner, Richard Johnston, Slick Ballinger, Zac Harmon, Diunna Greenleaf and Matthew Skoller, among many others. "I say this every year, but if you love the Blues and you miss this event, you are missing out on the most exciting event in Blues." Lee Mitchell, Magic City Blues Society, Birmingham, AL. "Winning the International Blues Challenge is better than having a $100,000 publicity budget"--2004 IBC winner and 2006 Blues Music Award Best New Artist Zac Harmon. "This was my first year attending the International Blues Challenge and it was better than any festival I have ever attended."—Eddie Bagwell, Vice-President, Tulsa Blues Society. The International Blues Challenge and Keeping the Blues Alive Awards are produced by The Blues Foundation, a non-profit organization established to preserve Blues history, celebrate Blues excellence, support Blues education and ensure the future of this uniquely American art form.. The Foundation consists of a worldwide network of 150 affiliated Blues societies and has individual memberships spanning the globe. In addition to the, the Foundation also produces the Blues Music Awards and the Blues Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. For more information or to join The Blues Foundation, log onto . For more information and to purchase advance tickets, visit or call 901.527.2583.

Jay Sieleman, Executive Director, The Blues Foundation, 901-527-2583 x 12. Email: [e-mail missing]

6. CAT HEAD STORE & related news from 252 DELTA AVENUE IN CLARKSDALE...

- Thurs., 10/4 - TBA
- Fri., 10/5 (noon) - KM Williams, "The Blues Preacher."
- Sat., 10/6 (2pm) - Steve Cheseborough "Blues Crosswords"/"Blues Traveling" book signing w/live music.
- Sun., 10/7 (9am till...) - "Cat Head Mini Blues Fest" w/FREE live blues under tents in front of store. Featuring Bill "Howl-N-Madd" Perry, James "T-Model" Ford, Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band and Robert "Wolfman" Belfour! Food available from Big Jim's BBQ.


These are very worthwhile events that feature amazing markers and free local blues performances. More information at
• Thurs., 9/27, 10am - Memphis Minnie, Walls, MS. MDA Tourism Heritage Trails Program, the Mississippi Blues Commission and the DeSoto County Tourism Association will unveil a Mississippi Blues Trail marker at the grave site.
• Fri., 9/28, 4pm - Big Joe Williams, "Catfish Alley" in Columbus, MS. The Columbus/Lowndes Convention & Visitors Bureau will unveil their first marker. Music by The Kingsnakes, Big Joe Shelton, Clarence Davis.
• Tues., 10/9, 11am - Rabbit Foot Minstrels, Port Gibson, MS.
• Fri., 10/19, 10am - Tommy Johnson, Crystal Springs, MS... in advance of blues festival there.


- BLUES SHOW POSTERS FOR SALE (thx Rebecca): "MAJOR COLLECTION of Chicago, Mississippi and Louisiana blues, soul and gospel posters now for sale. This unique collection of posters, which, for the most part, aren't available anywhere else, dates from the mid-1970s. The posters are mostly "boxing style," gathered personally by the collection's owner. Notable acts, featured in the posters, include: Albert King, Johnny Taylor, Tyrone Davis, Clarence Carter, Professor Longhair, Little Milton, Bobby Blue Bland, Bobby Rush, Willie Clayton, Denise LaSalle, Mel Waiters, Millie Jackson, the Dixie Hummingbirds, the Mighty Clouds of Joy and the Pilgrim Jubilees. For further information/to obtain a copy of the list of posters for sale, contact: [e-mail missing]: Rebecca Sive."

- FRENCH BLUES MAG COVERS "BENTONIA BLUES": Sorry only the mag cover is on-line, and the article is in French, anyway. (Came from Tweed posting by Jeff Konkel.)

- RECENT GREENVILLE "WALK OF FAME" DEDICATIONS: During Delta Blues Week in Greenville, MS, photographer Butch Ruth reports, "The Greenville Blues Walk Association [held] the 2007 stone dedications on Friday September 14th at 7:00 p.m. at the Walnut Street Blues Bar. The following bluesmen [were] recognized:
* Skeeter Provis
* Lil' Dave Thompson
* Honey Boy Edwards

- EXCELLENT MISSISSIPPI WOODCARVER SPECIALIZES IN BLUES AND SPIRITUAL WORK: Cat Head first met Wilson Lee at the second-ever Hwy 61 Blues Fest in Leland, MS. He's a super nice guy who keeps getting better and better. Check out his work on-line at: . Then, meet him in person at his booth on Cherry Street during Helena, Arkansas' big former King Biscuit Blues Fest, Oct. 4-6.

- DELTA STATE UNIVERSITY "DELTA HERITAGE" NEWS COURTESY OF BOLIVAR BULLET: In celebration of Delta State University's recently declared yearly theme, "The Year of Delta Heritage," the Delta Center for Culture and Learning will present a tour of the Mississippi Delta, with a twist. This novel tour will include samplings of Delta foods, each taste chosen to help represent a different portion of the Delta's heritage. Scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 23, the tour will depart by bus from the Charles Capps Archive and Museum on the Delta State campus at 1:30 p.m. This exciting and enriching expedition will focus on those parts of the Delta that are within easy access to Cleveland, beginning with the former Chinese Baptist Church, and including places like Dockery Farms, Fanny Lou Hamer's grave in Ruleville, the Drew Rosenwald school, Merigold, Mound Bayou, Poor Monkey's Lounge, and Scott, where the levee broke precipitating the Great Flood of 1927. Food samples will include such things as sweet potato bread, made with Mound Bayou sweet potatoes, and samplings of Delta hot tamales and barbecue. Cam McMillen, of the Family and Consumer Sciences program at Delta State, has designed the menu of tastes. "It won't be a big meal, just a series of great tastes of the Delta," she explained. The tour will be led by Dr. Luther Brown and Lee Aylward of the Delta Center for Culture and Learning, and McMillen. For more information, please call the Delta Center at (662) 846-4311. Reservations are required, and the tour which is open to the public will have a cost of $5 per person to help cover the expenses.

- BOBBY RUSH ON THE SOUTH MISSISSIPPI SAMPLER (thx Betsie Brown): "Bobby Rush: His Words and Music, Live and Unplugged!"

- BROKE & HUNGRY RECORDS LAUNCHES WEB-ONLY SALE AT : From now through the end of the year, all Broke & Hungry Records CDs will be available for the low price of $11.99 from the label's Web site at The sale represents a 20 percent savings from the regular price of $15. In addition, the label offers shipping around the globe for as low as $2.50. Included in the sale are both of the label's offerings from renowned country blues guitarist Jimmy "Duck" Holmes as well as the debut CD by Mississippi hill country guitarist Odell Harris and a joint offering from Clarksdale blues veterans Terry "Big T" Williams and Wesley "Junebug" Jefferson. For more information on the sale or Broke & Hungry Records, contact the label at [e-mail missing]

- THE LATEST SOUTHERN SOUL CDs (incl. some Mississippi):

- CLARKSDALE YOGA NEWS (not "Blues" but stress-relieving, just the same): "Delta Yoga of Clarksdale participates in the Global Mala Project to unite the world wide yoga community to support the United Nations International Day of Peace. Yogis and celebrities cross the borders of their mats in over 30 countries to raise consciousness and funds for global causes. Delta Yoga will hold a free yoga class on Saturday, September 22, from 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. at the pavilion in Soldier's Field." -- Conner Burnham, 662-902-2677.

- MISSISSIPPI NEWS FROM UK'S BOB LONG (thx Bob): "I've updated my website with stories and photos of The Tommy Johnson Blues Festival in Crystal Springs, Mississippi, next month... Visiting The National Resophonic factory in California... Playing at The Southsea Folk and Roots Festival, Hampshire, England (Aug 26) with Keith Miller... Recording a new album with Keith Miller at Rimshot Studios. Website: .

- D'EDGE ART IN MEMPHIS TO HOST OPENING: "Art opening for "Art Boxes & Etc.", featuring the work of Debra Edge Taylor, owner of D'Edge Art Gallery, 550 S. Main St., Memphis... Fri., Sept. 28th from 6-9pm (exhibit up through 10/24).

- GOOD JUKE JOINT RECOMMENDATION NEAR BATON ROUGE, LOUISIANA: I've had a couple people recommend this place recently. It's called Teddy's Juke Joint and features open mic on Wednesdays, blues gigs on Fri/Sat and a blues jam on Sundays. On 10/12, Kenny Neal will celebrate his birthday with a big show there. 17001 Old Scenic Hwy 225-892-0869.

- BLUES-INFLUENCED MUSICIAN WINS BIG AWARD (thx St. Louis Frank): "Just a note to be sure that you are aware of the recent MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Awards. Corey Harris is one of the recipients of this prestigious award. There were 24 Fellowship Awards this year. Each award carries a $500,000 award to be used however the recipient wishes! Corey has a B.A. degree (1991) from Bates College-Lewiston, Maine."

- SAD NEWS FROM BOB CORRITORE: "Gary Primich 4/20/58 - 9/23/07 – RIP: It is with great sadness that we report that harmonica great Gary Primich passed away suddenly on Sunday, September 23, 2007 in his home base of Austin, Texas. He was 49."

- LONNIE PITCHFORD VIDEO IN INFO (link came from Tweed): (scroll down).

- EVENT AT DELTA CULTURAL CENTER IN HELENA, AR (thx Thomas): Essie Neal ready for a ruckus at Delta Cultural Center... HELENA-WEST HELENA – Essie "The Blues Lady" Neal celebrates the CD release of her new album "Shape Up," with two performances at the Deltas Cultural Center on Friday, Oct. 5, and Saturday, Oct. 5, as part of the DCC's Arkansas Blues & Heritage Festival programming. The popular Little Rock-based entertainer performs throughout the year, bringing the blues to audiences of all ages, from festivals across the state and well-known nightspots like Juanita's, Cajun's Wharf, and the Afterthought to educational venues as part of the Arkansas Arts Council's Artists on Tour project and the Blues in the Schools programming at West Memphis and Jonesboro. It is, she says, her way of doing her part "in keeping the blues alive." She takes the stage in the "Main Street of the Blues" gallery at the DCC Visitors Center at 141 Cherry Street at 2 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday. Admission is free. More info at (870) 338-4350 or (800) 358-0972.


9. CAT HEAD REVIEW OF LES PAUL "LIVE" AT THE IRIDIUM IN NYC (the man, not the guitar)...

Last Monday night, my girlfriend Kari and I were lucky enough to catch 92-year-old guitar legend Les Paul at the Iridium jazz club in New York City. It ain't cheap ($45 a ticket), the place gets packed and the set is just over an hour... but it is still pretty darn cool. (And the food is actually really good there, though the service is slow.) He mostly played swing and '50s pop-style jazz -- much of it based off of his 1950s mega hits with then-wife Mary Ford. He tossed in a touch of blues and country, but it was all done in his jazzy, reverby style/sound. His fingers don't move at the lightning, Django-like speed of his youth, but his mind is still very sharp, and his tasteful and instantly recognizable riffs/chords/techniques still sound wonderful. He's also hilarious. Of course, sometimes his jokes and language gets a little spicy... but hey, he's older than anyone in the room and can pretty much do whatever the hell he wants at this point. After all, he did pioneer sound-on-sound recordings and eventually the multi-track recording process as well as the solid body electric guitar. Next time you find yourself near NYC, get your tix and go: . I believe Les' mother lived to be 100, but don't wait and take the chance...


CAT HEAD NOTE: The Club Champagne they mention in this article is NOT, I repeat, NOT a blues club. The Memphis landlord and Clarksdale club owners have let the venue and its audience get out of control repeatedly, resulting in some VERY unhappy business owners on Yazoo Avenue and some very unfortunate incidents. Fortunately, the mayor, board of commissioners and police chief are finally taking action. The Downtown Business Association met with the mayor, police chief and city attorney over a month ago and again about two weeks ago (along w/the board of commissioners) to complain about the problems this club and its customers were causing. ( ) Unfortunately, it took an act of violence inside the club to bring things to a head. Hopefully, the city will succeed in closing down this so-called business ASAP. We have too many positive things going on downtown to have to deal with such ridiculous situations.

- APERTURE MAG TO FEATURE C'DALE'S PANNY MAYFIELD PHOTOS: . (Congrats to Panny. She is a fixture of the local blues scene and one of the major organizers of the yearly Sunflower River Blues fest.)

11. NEWS COURTESY OF WWW.BLUESWAX.COM (edited for space)....
Join their e-list and check out their web site at

- The Stanford Financial Group and ArtsMemphis has announced the nominees for the Stanford Financial Excellence in the Arts Awards. This prestigious award recognizes arts organizations for strong financial performance and sound budget management. The Blues Foundation is among the nominees -- it was also nominated in 2005!
At a reception in their honor on Tuesday, September 25, 5:00 p.m., the recipients of the award will be announced and recognized.
Congratulations once again to The Blues Foundation for their great work.

- Blues guitar great Hubert Sumlin has been named as the recipient of the 2007 Sonny Payne Award for Blues Excellence presented by the Delta Cultural Center, a museum of the Arkansas Department of Heritage.
The Sonny Payne Award for Blues Excellence, called the "Sonny," is presented annually during the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival in historic downtown Helena-West Helena each October. The award recognizes an individual or individuals who have strongly influenced the Blues music of the Arkansas Delta. The honor is named for Sunshine Sonny Payne, the longtime host of the Peabody Award-winning King Biscuit Time radio program broadcast each week day from the DCC Visitors Center at 141 Cherry Street on radio station KFFA-AM in Helena-West Helena.

- The Fourth Annual Mississippi Delta Regional Blues Challenge will be held at the historic Club Ebony in Indianola, Mississippi, on Saturday, November 3. If you are a fan, plan to attend. More importantly, if you are a solo/duo or band act and play real-deal, Mississippi Blues, then apply today to compete. It's a lot of fun and one solo/duo and one band act will go to the big International Blues Challenge in Memphis early next year! Email Janet Webb now at [e-mail missing], so she can email you back a Word or PDF application form. For more information go to Last year, the winner of the band category (Homemade Jamz) went to second place at the International Blues Challenge (IBC) finals in Memphis!

- The Tommy Johnson Blues Foundation in Crystal Springs, Mississippi, will be holding its second annual Reception and Blues Festival on October 19 and 20 in Jackson, Mississippi, and Crystal Springs, respectively. The Reception will be held on Friday, October 19, at the Jackson Medical Mall from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and will be followed by a "Meet and Greet" at the Edison Walthall Hotel. The Festival will be held on Saturday, October 20, from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the National Guard Armory. Performers include Willie King, Bob Long, Bill Abel, Little Lee, Louis "Gearshifter" Youngblood, Ben Payton, Charley Taylor, Jr., Jesse Robinson, and J. T. Watkins.
Local vendors will be on hand to showcase their products. Food and non-alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase.

- Bluesville Picks To Click:
For The Week Of September 22, 2007
1) Super Chikan Sum Mo' Chikan Self Produced

- Big George Brock Releases Live Album: After a summer of festival dates and overseas touring, 75-year-old Bluesman Big George Brock has released his first live album. Entitled Live At Seventy Five, it marks Brock's fourth release on the Cat Head Presents label. "Yeah, I guess you could call it seventy five years in the making," said Brock from his current home in St. Louis in a press release from Cat Head. "I put everything I have into this recording. Everything I've been through. Man, you just don't know. I was ready to make this record." Recorded live at Clarksdale's world-famous Ground Zero Blues Club on May 12, the CD features a mix of Brock originals and classic Blues covers from many of the legendary Bluesmen he played with back in the day, including songs by Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. It also features a special introduction from an old Delta friend. "Mr. Sonny Payne is always just so nice," said Brock. "I used to listen to him and Sonny Boy [Williamson II] on King Biscuit Time when I was young. I was just so happy that Sonny introduced me on my new record. It really meant a lot to me." It seems that Payne is also a big fan of Brock. He was quoted in Blues Revue magazine earlier this year saying, "You don't hear Blues today. You think you do, but you don't. I'm talking about the younger generation. You're hearing crossover. To me, Blues is I don't know. Big George Brock. That's about as close, not close, it is the Blues." Joining Brock on the Live At Seventy Five are guitarists Riley Coatie, Sr. and Bill Abel. Each has backed Brock on past CD and DVD releases, and each has accompanied Brock on various overseas festival dates. They are joined by Riley Coatie, Jr. on drums and Barry Bays on bass.


PLACE: Center For Southern Folklore Store, 123 S. Main Street @ Peabody Trolley Stop, Downtown Memphis
DATES: Saturday Night, October 6, 2007, 7:30 p.m.
Just back from an eye-opening tour of the Western United States, the Daddy Mack Blues Band returns to the Center for Southern Folklore store Saturday night, October 6. Showtime is 7:30 p.m. When he first headed out, Mack didn't know what to expect, but he soon learned that blues lovers were everywhere. "We just had a natural ball out West. I couldn't believe how friendly folks were and how many were familiar with Memphis blues in general and our band in particular. I remember one day we were passing by this park in Arizona and heard our song 'Royal Shade of Blues' coming out of somebody's boombox. Who would have thought that there'd be so many people in places like Phoenix, AZ, Redondo Beach, CA and Salt Lake City, UT that were starving for a taste of the real thing?" Not all that surprising considering the Daddy Mack Blues Band has had three consecutive albums in the Top Ten of the national blues charts. Even before their recent Western tour, Mack and his crew cemented their legend as keepers of the flame for the rich tradition of urban blues with live appearances at festivals in Paris, London and Chicago. But reputations aside, folks here know the Daddy Mack Blues Band as one of the best bands to party with on a Memphis Saturday night.


- Son of local blues legend eyes career as 'blues rapper' By Kevin C. Johnson POST-DISPATCH POP MUSIC CRITIC, 09/23/2007:


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On the road - Helena and Clarksdale...

Heading down South exploring the Blues Highway is always an adventure! STLBlues recently attended the Paul Butterfield Foundation gathering down in Clarksdale, MS. The PBF was there for 2 reasons, to celebrate Gabe Butterfields birthday, and to honor Sam Lay with the 1st PBF Award for Musical Excellence. The gathering took place just outside Clarksdale, MS., at the historic Hopson Plantation & Shack Up Inn, and brought some of the best musicians together for a great weekend of jams and networking! STLBlues attended with a dual role in mind - to give away the Interactive Gig Calendar to all bands, and to showcase one of St. Louis' finest young talents, 16 year old Marquise 'Big Daddy' Knox! Marquise sat in on all the jams, showing just what all the buzz is about! Hall of Famer Sam Lay took a shining to the raw talent of Marquise, and the two were inseparable the entire weekend. Lots of musical knowledge was shared, turning the weekend into a great artist development experience for Marquise (the haunted Helena, Ar., Magnolia Hill experiences aside). Some side trips included a trip to the Blues Depot - the old rail station where Muddy Waters caught a train up to Chicago, and a stop at the Riverside Hotel (the former G. T. Thomas Hospital ), where Bessie Smith passed away in 1937 after a car accident on her way to Clarksdale. Guided by the proprietor Frank "Rat" Ratliff, the Riverside Hotel tour is full of Blues history, and is within a mile of Clarksdale's legendary "crossroads," Delta Blues Museum, Ground Zero Blues Club, Blues Station, Sarah's Kitchen, Blues Town Music, Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art, Dela's Stackhouse Records, Wade Walton's barber shop, the former WROX radio station, the New World district, and more. Sam recieved his award on Saturday night, and was deeply touched by the moment! A nice tribute, for a well-deserving legendary performer.Some musicians on hand for the weekend included Sam Lay, Chris James, Patrick Ryan, Bob Corritore, and many others! Check out all these links, and learn more about everyone involved!

Paul Butterfield Foundation -
Sam Lay -
Bob Corritore -
Chris James and Patrick Ryan -
Clarksdale, Ms. -
Shack Up Inn -
Magnolia Hills bed and breakfast -
Hopson Plantation -
Riverside Hotel -
Delta Blues Museum -
Ground Zero Blues Club -
Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art -


On Thursday [9/6/07], Chris James, Patrick Rynn, Kim Danielson, and I headed to Clarksdale, Mississippi to the 2007 Paul Butterfield Fund and Society's Conference and Gathering. This event also was an awards presentation and a birthday party to Paul's son, Gabriel Butterfield (who is, by the way, a fine drummer). We (Chris, Patrick, and I) went there to perform behind our former bandleader, Sam Lay, who received an award at the event. Special Thanks to Gabriel Butterfield and his lovely wife Salli Squitieri, who created and executed an amazing event. We performed each of the four nights at a different venues in Clarksdale, including Ground Zero, The Depot Blues Club & Restaurant, The Commissary at Hopson's Plantation, and Club 2000. Sam Lay brought pianist Bob Riedy with him from Chicago, and it was an honor to perform with Bob Riedy, after being a big fan of his Chicago Blues Band during the 1970s. Riedy was a pioneering figure in the early 70s, creating a niche for blues bands on Chicago's North side with his RMR Productions. It was also great to meet Rod Hicks, who played bass in the horn-driven later version of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. I also really enjoyed hanging with Alan Bloomfield (the brother of Michael Bloomfield), 16 year old Marquise Knox (who is a brilliant traditional blues singer and guitarist, and an understudy of Henry Townsend, Louisiana Red, and Honeyboy Edwards), Ellen Foster (of the River City Blues Society of Richmond, VA), Dave Beardsley (of, Zack Pomerleau (a 14 year old passionate harmonica player whose main influence was Paul Butterfield), Gashouse Dave, and many other great people too numerous to name. In addition to the nightly playing, we were able to enjoy many of Clarksdale's blues stops, including the Shack Up Inn, Cat Head Delta Blues and Folk Art, owned by Roger Stolle (where I actually purchased a 78 of Big Walter Horton's "Hard Hearted Woman"), The Riverside Hotel (where Bessie Smith died, and where John Lee Hooker, Robert Nighthawk, and Muddy Waters stayed), and The Delta Blues Museum (complete with the actual cabin that Muddy once lived in).

ALSO FROM BOB... session info on upcoming HONEYBOY CD...

[A]t Tempest Recording Studio (owned and operated by the great Clarke Rigsby) ... we laid down some heavy tracks with Honeyboy backed by a small electric combo. These tracks included a hypnotic version of the Memphis Minnie classic "Bumble Bee" and the romping Robert Lockwood, Jr. evergreen "Take A Little Walk With Me". Such songs have a transcendental effect when performed by a man who was there as they were being created. Thanks to Michael Frank and Earwig Music for allowing us the honor of bringing Honeyboy in the studio.


Silver Ash Ranch in North Mississippi will be presenting a Blues Workshop on the weekend of October 26th-28th . Instructors :
Davis Raines, award-winning Nashville songwriter and recording artist, veteran worldwide performer, and noted music scholar; Mark Robinson whose list of performances include playing with Buddy Guy, Pinetop Perkins and Bo Diddly; Cedric Burnside, legendary drummer, grandson, and prodigy of the late great Bluesman RL Burnside, and Lightnin' Malcolm, whose first album "Juke Joint Dance Party" was the #1 requested album of XM radio 2005. The workshop will take place on the Silver Ash Ranch, a beautiful spot right in the middle of Northern Mississippi's Hill Country--the home of such Blues giants as Junior Kimbrough, R.L.Burnside, Fred McDowell, and Joe Callicott. This weekend workshop will be a chance to immerse yourself totally in the blues and study with the masters. Participants will learn about blues history and lore, songwriting, as well as singing and playing the blues.

Session topics include:
Blues History
Singing The Blues
Playing In A Blues Band
Blues Guitar--Rhythm, Lead and Slide Guitar
Drumming The Blues
Blues Songwriting and Theory
The One-Man Blues Band
Sitting-In and Jamming-- Blues Band Etiquette
Excursion To The Juke Joint
Blues Lore--Mythic Heroes and Hoodoo

Special guests from the Mississippi blues scene will be a part of this weekend. All levels welcome to apply. If you want to know more about the blues, and learn about playing the blues, this is a chance to work with master bluesmen for an intensive weekend in a small group setting. All in the home of the Hill country blues style. Please pass this message on to anyone who might be interested in attending this workshop.

Thanks, Mark Robinson, The Silver Ash Ranch, 1-662-333-9419,


For Immediate Release... Contact: Marcia Weaver 601-372-8851

Dorothy Moore attended the Blues Foundation meeting in Virgina Beach, VA, September 15, 2007. Moore made a motion for the 2008 Blues Music Awards (formerly the Handy awards) to be held in Tunica, Mississippi, in 2008. On May 8, 2008, the 29th Blues Music Awards (BMA) will be held at the Tunica Grand Casino. The BMA will move to Mississippi for the first time ever. "Having the BMA in Mississippi, where the blues was born, will bring many tourists and blues fans to our state. This is good for Mississippi and I'm pleased to be a part of it," Moore said. The BMA gives awards each year to the best in blues. Last year Mississippi born, Charlie Musslewhite, won five awards. Based on the west coast, Musslewhite now has a building in downtown Clarkdale he purchased for re-development. The Mississippi Development Authority is working with the Blues Foundation to host the premier blues event in Tunica, MS. Moore has been on the board of the Blues Foundation for one year. The Foundation seeks to support blues musicians, societies, clubs and events across the world. The September board meeting was held in Virginia with the Natchel' Blues Network who sponsored a three day beach festival at Virginia Beach. The Virginia blues society won a Keeping the Blues Alive (KBA) award in 1998 for supporting the blues. On Sunday morning, Moore sang "What is This?" as special guest at Mt. Hermon Baptist Church, Norfolk, VA. The gospel song is taken from her 1986 album titled "Giving It Straight to You" on Word/Rejoice label. The whole church joined her in singing the background for the song.


- BLUES MUSIC AWARDS MOVE TO MISSISSIPPI FOR '08: "The 29th Blues Music Awards will be Thursday May 8 at the Grand Casino and Hotel in Tunica, MS. In recent years, the nominees, the voting, the tickets and the host hotel information has generally been posted all at once around December 15. Check the website for details in the coming months. Please note that Blues Music Awards special hotel rates are not in effect at this time. "

20. BLUESSOURCE.COM MOVES BASE OF OPERATIONS TO CLARKSDALE... moves to Clarksdale, MS. We have moved to 115 Third Street, Clarksdale, MS 83614. We will get email at - [e-mail missing] ( the old [e-mail missing] is NO LONGER VALID). Our new phone number is 662-313-0061. We'll be back with coverage of the San Francisco Blues Festival and the Arkansas Blues &Heritage Festival.

We made it to Clarksdale!!!
Gary W. Miller,, "Your Source For The Blues"


For immediate release:
Schenectady native John Sayles' 16th feature film "Honeydripper" debuted to sensational reviews at the Toronto Film Festival on September 10th. The Northeast Blues Society celebrates the success of that new film at 8 p.m. on Sunday, September 30th with a special concert appearance by Eddie Shaw & The Wolfgang at Cheers Roadhouse Grill, 27 Fuller Rd. in Albany on the border of Schenectady.
In the film, blues man Eddie Shaw is the band leader and sax player in a group that saves the day for club owner and pianist Danny Glover when Magic Slim fails to show up for a crucial gig. Sayles' idea for Magic Slim and the film itself is based around the mercurial on-again, off-again habits of a real bluesman named Guitar Slim. Shaw once worked with Guitar Slim, the flamboyant '50s hitmaker whose song "The Things That I used to Do" inspired decades of rockers and blues artists and whose flamboyant walks among the crowd influenced the stage presence of everyone from Buddy Guy to Luther Allison and Lonnie Brooks. In the film, Shaw - the only blues man ever to play with both Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf on the same night - breathes an incredible level of authenticity into Sayles' film as Time Trenier, band leader of a group that impersonates Magic Slim and his band and becomes an instant sensation at Danny Glover's roadhouse in rural Alabama circa 1950. At Cheers Roadhouse, Shaw crosses the line between the fiction of "Honeydripper" and the reality of performing with his own band, Wolfgang. Both he and bass player Shorty Gilbert were in the legendary Howlin' Wolf's band where Eddie was arranger and band leader for the last five years of Wolf's life. Eddie's son, Vaan, one of the most underrated guitarists in blues, has decades of experience mastering the masters he grew up with in his own home and is visually startling with dreadlocks down to his knees and jewelry that makes him look like an Indian chief as he plays a three-necked guitar. "It's kind of like Spike Lee being in his own movies," says Sayles about Shaw. Sayles whose dad Donald John Sayles still lies in Schenectady recently completed several drafts for the upcoming "Jurassic Park IV" film. His first film "Return of The Seacaucus 7" was chosen by the National Film Preservation Board for presentation in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry. A veteran of 28 years in the business, Sayles is known as " a kind of hitchhiker who stops at different places here and there, soaking up the people and the stories," according to Elston Gunn. Sayles says that Shaw is one of those people who "embodies" his character in "Honeydripper." "My favorite moment of Eddie's in the movie," says Sayles, "is when a character says (to Eddie), 'You gotta dress sharp,' and Eddie just (Sayles shrugs and holds his hands out as if to say, 'Check me out'). He knows he's dressed sharp, and there he is. That natural cool comes out." Rockin' blues legend George Thorogood agrees with Sayle's assessment of Shaw's natural cool. "Eddie taught me how to sell it," says Thorogood who himself turned "Bad to The Bone" into a national anthem for his own crossover appeal. "I could be playing in front of the Washington Monument for a handful of Republicans and be in heaven 'cause I'm with Eddie," says the rocker today. Thorogood first opened for Howlin' Wolf when Shaw was the Wolf's band leader in 1973. Eddie still sits in frequently with Thorogood's band The Destroyers. They recently completed a DVD together at Morgan Freeman's Ground Zero Club in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and Thorogood credits Shaw with putting life back in his stage show. "I (decided to) give it a shot with Eddie," says Thorogood, "and see if the fun comes back because the fun wasn't there for years, for ye-e-e-ears. I mean I was doing a better acting job than Paul Newman ever did. So, Eddie came in. He brought the fun element back in." Eddie Shaw & The Wolfgang perform here one day after appearing at the Mid-Atlantic Blues Festival billed as "the largest blues party in Jersey Shore history" where they will share the stage with acts like Tab Benoit, Bobby Rush, Lil Ed & The Blues Imperials and Hubert Sumlin. In June, Shaw made several appearances at the Chicago Blues Festival fronting The Honeydripper band from the film for their first live performance and hosting a Howlin' Wolf reunion with Wolf alumni who included James Cotton, Hubert Sumlin, Jody Williams, Jimmy Dawkins, and Daddy G. When Thorgood asked Shaw if he knew the song "Madison Blues," Shaw told him he'd played the classic blues number with Elmore James, the seminal slide master who influenced Stevie Ray Vaughan. Shaw's resume also includes gigs with such masters as Ike Turner, Otis Rush, Magic Sam, Hound Dog Taylor, Little Milton and Earl Hooker. See and hear the music that inspired one of Schenectady's most famous sons to produce what's promising to be his most successful movie ever. Hear Edie Shaw the man who kept Howlin' Wolf alive literally for the last five years of his life and who is keeping the Wolf legacy vibrant 31 years after his death. Experience the melding of film fantasy and live raw electric blues energy in the same local roadhouse that once hosted Roy Buchanan and Rory Gallagher. Capture a moment in time that promises to be a night to remember. Tickets are first come first served $10 at the door. For more information on Honeydripper, see For more information contact Don Wilcock at 518-347-1751, 518-258-4373 or [e-mail missing]

22. GIBSON INVENTS AN ANTI-CEDELL DAVIS/MR. TATER GUITAR??? (That's a joke. I love CeDell and Tater.)...

- Seriously, this is pretty interesting -- a guitar that tunes itself:
- Also in Gibson-related news, Led Zepp to reunite:

- And finally... The history of the "guitar face":

September 12, 2007 -- Black Cultural Center arts ensembles to study the blues in Memphis

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Members of four performing arts ensembles from Purdue University's Black Cultural Center will travel to Memphis, Tenn., and the Mississippi Delta region as part of a field research tour with a focus on the blues. The tour is in keeping with the BCC's theme for the semester "The myths and mores that make up the blues tradition." For the past five years, BCC performing arts ensemble participants have engaged in an artistic field research experience during fall break at a site pertinent to exploration of the semester topic. "This semester, our focus is on the blues, one of America's greatest musical treasures," said BCC director Renee Thomas. "By studying the content of the blues songs, students can learn about experiences and struggles of the working class southerners who created music, including the legacies of slavery and the cotton economy in the south, the development of Jim Crow, the Great Migration and the Civil Rights Movement." The blues is a root music form that evolved out of African-American work songs, field ballads, spirituals and country string ballads more than a century ago. It is regarded as the foundation of virtually every major American music form born in the 20th Century, including jazz, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, and hip hop. This trip is intended to give students a visual impression of the past and lend authenticity to their representation of various blues artists for the Cultural Arts Festival in December. Activities during the research trip include a trip to the W.C. Handy Memphis Home and Museum, the Rock n Soul Museum, the Center for Southern Folklore and a dance performance by Ballet at Wheels Dance Theatre at the University of Memphis. Theater and music classes will be held at the Hattiloo Theatre. The students will dramatize what they learn about the blues tradition at the BCC Cultural Arts Festival. The showcase will be performed at 7 p.m. Nov. 30 at Stewart Center's Loeb Playhouse. Call (765) 494-3092 for ticket information. The BCC's four performing arts ensembles are the Black Voices of Inspiration, a choir that specializes in gospel music, spirituals and contemporary songs by African-American composers; Haraka Writers, a group of student poets, essayists and short-story writers; Jahari Dance Troupe, which performs a repertoire including African, ballet, folk, jazz, tap and modern dance; and the New Directional Players, a theater group with a focus on presenting drama about the African-American experience.

To contact the BCC, call (765) 494-3092.
Writer: Maggie Morris, (765) 494-2432, [e-mail missing]
Source: Renee Thomas, (765) 494-3091, [e-mail missing]
Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; [e-mail missing]


Standing at the Crossroads: After an amicable split, the Music Commission and the Music Foundation aim to get the Memphis music scene back in tune. BY PRESTON LAUTERBACH | SEPTEMBER 13, 2007
A longtime Memphis music insider calls the history of the Memphis and Shelby County Music Commission "labyrinthine." The organization has existed under different names. It has changed agendas. The doors to the presidency and board of directors seem to revolve at a dizzying pace. Public perception — insofar as Internet message boards and local-interest blogs can gauge — is that the commission has absorbed ample public funds and produced nothing enduring in return. Plenty of confusion remains, though, about what the commission is actually empowered and financed to do. When asked how much money the music commission has cost, and to what results, Shelby County finance officer Jim Huntsiger reacts this way: "That's a good question," he says. Huntsiger explains that the county provided an annual grant in the $150,000 range for operating costs beginning in 2000 but that a scheduled, gradual reduction brought the county government funding to zero as of fiscal year 2008. The city continues to fund the jointly governed organization to the tune of $125,000 annually, while the county's patience seems to have expired. Last month, the Shelby County Board of Commissioners voted down a resolution to transfer $50,000 to the music commission for the purpose — in classic music-commission-style vagueness — of "enhancing the music industry." With government support waning and a suspicious public looking on, the embattled Memphis and Shelby County Music Commission is at a crossroads. The music commission and the Memphis Music Foundation, the commission's fund-raising arm since 2003, split earlier this year. The commission then voted former Motown Records producer Ralph Sutton — who came to the city three years ago to run House of Blues Studio D — its new chairman of the board. Sutton hopes to adjust the music commission's focus to the new rules of the music industry, empowering artists with business training and stressing independence — something his experience suits him for. "The most intriguing part of the challenge would be to put what I've learned from people like [Motown Records founder] Berry Gordy to work here," he says. Standing outside the House of Blues Studio D off Lamar Avenue, Sutton says he is so enamored of his new surroundings that he sometimes records the sounds of the Memphis night. Though Sutton has engineered and produced records by Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and other giants of the Motown sound, the chorus of cicadas that fills the air after dark in Memphis is new music to the Los Angeles native. Though the county funds for the music commission have dried up, the city's share is enough to pay a new executive director. Sutton will participate in that search — the executive director is jointly appointed by the city and county mayors, but the commission board will have some input in the decision — and some insiders say that he needs to look no further than the nearest mirror for the best candidate. Sutton is game. When asked how he'd do things differently from former commission president Rey Flemings — whose self-interested leadership coupled with the organization's inertia during his tenure symbolize the commission's failures in the public mind — Sutton says, "I've already been validated." Sutton says that certain of the commission's struggles are attributable to unqualified leadership, mistakes the commission should have learned from. "The press and the public have a right to wonder what the commission was doing," Sutton says. "The [next] executive director would need to be a true music professional. The city has tried to use a marketing person and a fireman. It has to be someone who has industry connections and the understanding of the creativity and human characteristics of a musician, record producer, or songwriter. It's important that we select someone who has a running knowledge of the industry." While Flemings left the commission for greener financial pastures, Sutton says he's already been there. "I'm human, and I believe that we're all striving toward more recognition and better opportunity. I could always go work for Lionel [Richie] or Stevie [Wonder]. But I don't really have an interest in that. I would prefer to participate in the rebirth of something here." It's simple enough for Sutton to claim greater commitment to the city than Flemings showed, but he views the tasks ahead of the commission with a pragmatism missing from Flemings' plans, which included bringing the MTV Video Music Awards to Memphis. "We're not attractive to major companies right now," Sutton says. "Sony's not thinking about coming down here. Universal's not going to open an office here until we can show them that we have some infrastructure. Industry professionals as a whole need to know this information." The rebirth Sutton envisions will require planning for sustained growth and ground-up music industry development built around knowledgeable artists. Sutton says that business-savvy artists enjoy a heightened opportunity to succeed in the independent-driven digital music age. "People can't expect us to be able to start doing things like an established city like Nashville," explains Sutton. "The realistic thing is to recognize that we have things to learn. We need to start industry programs for musicians here. What is a publishing-rights organization [PRO]? What's the difference between a PRO and a publishing company? They need to know those types of things to know how to make a living. We don't know who's going to be a star, but we can help people make a living. We're in a digital world now, and we have to start with the little things and work our way up." Rather than aiming for a one-time big splash like the MTV awards, Sutton defines the role of the new music commission as empowering artists through high-level industry connections. "ASCAP and BMI would be down here in a heartbeat," he says. "They wouldn't open offices, but they'd send high-ranking people to do seminars and Q&A's. A digital music company like iTunes would love to come and help us with the process of getting our songs on there. We need to learn from Concord and gain from the publicity they're bringing Stax. They're the biggest independent record label in the world, and they're masters of repackaging. They're showing us how we can do this." In the meantime, the commission can still help musicians out in a pinch. They've used money from the unused executive director's salary to subsidize local events like Goner Fest and organizations such as the Center for Southern Folklore. They also administer a health-care program for 15 qualifying music professionals, and they could accommodate more. Finally, Sutton stresses visib

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