When Bill “Howl-N-Madd” Perry left the main stage of the festival, he headed around to a juke called Club 2000 on Issaquena Avenue, where he and his band led a jam session. After I left Red’s Lounge, I walked around to the club to check things out before I finally headed back to Memphis.
I went from having never heard of Leo “Bud” Welch a couple of weeks ago to suddenly hearing his name everywhere. He’s getting booked a lot more often suddenly, and he has an album in the works from Fat Possum Records/Big Legal Mess. Saturday night, the North Mississippi All Stars were on the main stage, and they’re great, but I’ve heard them many times, so I decided to check out Red’s Lounge to see who was playing, and it was none other than Leo “Bud” Welch. Red’s is a true juke joint with worlds of authentic atmosphere. The tiny open space in front of the “stage” was occupied by dancers, and Robert Belfour, another legendary Hill Country bluesman was in the audience listening.
San Antonio-based soul singer Mel Waiters is one of the most popular figures in Southern soul, best known for hit songs like “Hole In The Wall” and “Got My Whiskey.” Saturday night, Waiters was one of the headline acts for the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival, and the crowd cheered as his band came out in their matching blue-and-white suits. Mel Waiters’ band was first-rate, and he put on a great show.
Bill “Howl-N-Madd” Perry is from Tula in Lafayette County, and has recorded six albums, including his most recent, the 2012 album The Clarksdale Sessions. Saturday evening at the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival, he was joined by legendary Chicago bluesman Cash McCall. Perry’s style seems to straddle the fence between the Southern Soul genre and a more traditional blues approach.
James “Super Chikan” Johnson remains one of the Delta’s best-beloved blues performers, playing his homemade instruments in a rock-influenced amplified style with his band the Fighting Cocks. In addition to his music, Super Chikan is an accomplished folk artist, and his pieces are highly sought after.
The judge’s decision has been rendered in the contentious “stop-and-frisk” case in New York City, but a quote from Judge Shira A. Scheindlin’s decision in the case raised my eyebrows, because, taken at face value, it could possibly have a bearing on whether municipal schools can open next year in Shelby County. Here is the quote:
The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees to every
person the equal protection of the laws. It prohibits intentional discrimination based on race.
Intentional discrimination can be proved in several ways, two of which are relevant here. A
plaintiff can show: (1) that a facially neutral law or policy has been applied in an intentionally
discriminatory manner; or (2) that a law or policy expressly classifies persons on the basis of
race, and that the classification does not survive strict scrutiny. Because there is rarely direct
proof of discriminatory intent, circumstantial evidence of such intent is permitted. “The impact
of the official action — whether it bears more heavily on one race than another — may provide
an important starting point.”
In other words, if I read Judge Scheindlin right, when a “facially neutral” law or policy has been applied in an intentionally discriminatory manner, it is illegal and unconstitutional. And the only proof needed of discriminatory intent is that the “impact” of the official action bears more heavily on one race than another. So the “facially neutral” municipal schools law in Tennessee may be found to have been applied in a biased way if it results in Black students being isolated in an all-Black school district. And the plaintiffs would need prove only that the municipal district adversely impacted Black students in Shelby County more than whites.
Heather Crosse played bass for the legendary Super Chikan before forming her own band Heavy Suga and the Sweet Tones, who frequently appear in Clarksdale at Ground Zero. Crosse explained to the crowd at the Sunflower Blues Festival this year that she used to come to Clarksdale to the festival as a fan and that she never imagined that she would one day live in Clarksdale and get to perform on the stage during the festival. She is a talented blues singer and songwriter, who shows the influence of a number of femal blues greats, especially Koko Taylor.
Clarksdale blues-rocker David Dunavent leads a band called Evol Love, which plays an exciting blend of blues and roots rock. They are a popular band in the Delta, and were the opening act Saturday for the main stage at the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival.
Terry “Big T” Williams is a modern Clarksdale bluesman and sometimes operator of a juke joint on the southside of Clarksdale on Madison Avenue. He records for the Broke & Hungry label out of St. Louis, which is run by Jeff Konkel in conjunction with Roger Stolle of Cat Head. His style of blues is remarkably traditional for a modern bluesman, and his shows typically include vocals from Rip Butler and a female singer named Gladys. His performance Saturday at the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival was quite enjoyable.
There had been instruments set up all afternoon outside of Club Vegas across the street from Ground Zero, but nobody was outside playing them because it was so hot. Finally, it cooled off enough that a drummer named Derick Kemp and a keyboard player came out and played some tunes for the people on the sidewalk.