Thursday, May 5, 2011

Delta Blues Museum's Debut Album

Our friends over in Clarksdale at the Delta Blues Museum have a lot to celebrate. They broke ground in March on the Muddy Waters Addition, a long anticipated bricks and mortar project which expands the museum by 7,000 feet. The Muddy Waters Addition will be home to the remains of Muddy Waters' cabin and other interpretive materials surrounding the life and creative work of the famed Mississippi bluesman. "The Muddy Waters Addition represents the museum's ongoing commitment to our mission, honoring the history and heritage of Delta Blues music, musicians and their important influence," said DBM board president William Gresham in a press release issued by the museum.

And while honoring the history and heritage of the blues is a big part of what happens at the DBM, you'd be remiss to overlook the energy and youth that is also central the the museum's mission. The Arts and Education Program has grown tremendously under the guidance of museum director Shelley Ritter and her staff of dedicated blues musicians. The purpose of the DBM's Arts and Education Program is to continue the great musical tradition born in the Mississippi Delta: the Delta blues. Students are taught to play the blues on the instrument or instruments of their choice.

The MAC invited the DBM Band to perform during our 2009 Day at the Capitol advocacy campaign, and they knocked the socks off our state senators and representatives. We even had people dancing on the Capitol floor! Over the past two years I've seen the DBM band perform at festivals around the Delta and they keep getting better and better.

Hence, the release of their first studio album, From Clarksdale to Kansas City, Vol. 1. This 12-track CD covers a range of classic Delta blues tunes such as Muddy Water's Catfish Blues and Memphis Slim's Everyday I Have the Blues. More contemporary R&B hits like Bill Withers No Sunshine show off the band's groovability, and special guests Charlie Musselwhite and Bill Abel help to nicely tie the ecletic mix together.

Album artwork was created by the students themselves, and liner notes by Robin Rushing make it clear that the blues is alive and well in the Mississippi Delta. Rushing writes,

"One of the grittiest andmost natural forms of musical expression, the blues borrows a lot from nature. and nature teaches us that simply because a plant is not in full bloom that doesn't mean it's dead; it simply means it's preparing for the next season. As the seasons turn, something that once seemed withered suddenly bursts forth in a luscious green, bearing flowers, fruit, bounty. Bearing beauty. The same applies to the blues, and the DBM's Arts & Education classes are simply nutrients that supplement the natural progression of this important, everlasting musical form."

All proceeds from the sale of the album benefit the Arts and Education program, a worthy way to update your music collection and help the greater good of arts, music and culture in the Mississippi Delta!

For more information about the CD, the Delta Museum Band or any of the museum's programs, please call (662) 627-6820, or visit the Museum web site at (Note: the website is a great resource for blues news, educational materials and site-seeing.)

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