Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Grassroots Blues Festival

The 9th Annual Grassroots Blues Festival in Duck Hill got started around noon this past Saturday, July 9. I traveled north on Highway 55 and took the Duck Hill exit, immediately sighing a breath of releif to be cruising up and down rural Highway 404through the lush, green hills of Montgomery County. Upon arrival, I met the most friendly folks. The people working the gates were happy to see me and knew I was coming to see all the good things taking place in their small community of 750 folks. The MAC's own Larry Morrisey was backing up bluesman Louis Arzo "Gearshifter" Youngblood on drums, where they wrapped the set with a soulful "Happy Birthday" for festival organizer Al White. Al is the director of Action Communication and Education Reform, an arts and social activism organization he spearheaded in the early 1990s. (Learn more about Al and his organization by downloading my Mississippi Arts Hour interview on podcast.)

Excellent music continued throughout the day, including a set from duo Alphonso Sanders and Bill "Howlin' Madd" Perry, both artists on the MAC's Artist Roster. I was especially excited to see that Bill's daughter has joined the band and was jiving on keys.

The unexpected favorite for me, however, was a group out of Baton Rouge: Leroy Conish and Band featuring Nicole Jackson. This group offered a smooth, soul blues sound and Nickee was on fire: This lady was built to perform. No two ways about it!

Last, but certainly not least, there was good food everywhere. Lots of the festival-goers brought their own grills, but vendors were there providing foodways for folks like me who left the grill at home. I bought a gallon zip-lock bag of freshly made pork skins and MAC PR director, Susan Dobbs, opted for the fried catfish plate.

In my opinion, the only way to beat the heat in Mississippi in July, is to lather on the blues and soak up the fried food!

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