Booker Brown and Big Don Valentine Deliver The Blues at September In Fredonia

Since nobody seemed to know where in Mason Big Don Valentine would be performing, I sent him a text on Facebook to ask about the location. and he responded back with an address. I had assumed that the show was a public event since he had sent me the information, but when I arrived at the location, it was actually the backyard of a private house in a Fayette County community known as Fredonia. My coming to the event, called “September in Fredonia”, was rather awkward, to say the least, but I was taken to meet the woman who was putting on the event and she graciously allowed me to come and enjoy the performance. I sat at the table with Big Don Valentine and his band members, and he told me that the woman had been sponsoring these events for many years, and that she usually hired him and his band to perform. I looked around and saw that probably a couple of hundred people were present, seated at any number of tables. There was a gigantic spread of food as well, but of course I had eaten at Bozo’s only a short time before. The weather was cool, but not chilly, and when Big Don got on stage with his band to perform, the crowd got into it immediately. After a few songs, blues singer Booker Brown also came on stage, and it didn’t take long for a small crowd of dancers to appear. The party-goers were even more exuberant during the band’s second set, and a few people from the crowd, relatives of the woman who gave the party, came on stage to perform with the band. Several of them were actually decent singers, and of course were greatly encouraged by people in the audience. The group of people dancing in the grass near the field grew, and the general atmosphere was like a Tennessee version of the Mississippi Hill Country Picnic. Despite my initial embarrassment and discomfort at crashing someone’s private party, I ended up having a great time. </ahref=”https:>

Late Afternoon at the Southern Heritage Classic

201 SHC202 DJ Tru203 SHC204 SHC205 SHC206 SHC207 SHC208 SHC209 SHC210 SHC211 SHC212 SHC213 Probeat DJ's214 Probeat DJ's216 Probeat DJ's217 SHC218 SHC219 DJ Juice The Great220 Alphas Tailgate221 Alphas Tailgate222 Alphas Tailgate223 SHC224 SHC225 SHC226 Game before the Game227 Game Before The Game228 Game Before The Game229 Game Before The Game230 Game Before The Game231 Game Before The Game232 SHC233 SHC234 SHC235 SHC236 SHC237 SHC238 SHC239 SHC240 SHC241 SHC242 SHC243 SHC244 SHC245 SHC246 SHC247 SHC248 SHC249 SHC250 Hollywood Street251 Hollywood Street
The Southern Heritage Classic tailgating is an all-day party, and the festivities continue in full swing until sunset. Even though some people finally enter the Liberty Bowl and attend the game, many enjoy the barbecue, music and dancing at their tents until late in the evening.

Coors Memphis Celebrating the Southern Heritage Classic With John Williams and the A440 Band

139 SHC140 SHC141 SHC142 SHC143 Jookin'144 SHC145 Coors Bar146 Mayor A. C. Wharton147 Mayor A. C. Wharton148 A440 Band149 A440 Band150 A440 Band151 A440 Band153 A440 Band154 A440 Band155 John Williams156 John Williams157 John Williams158 A440 Band159 John Williams160 A440 Band161 A440 Band162 A440 Band163 A440 Band164 John Williams165 A440 Band166 John Williams167 A440 Band168 A440 Band169 A440 Band170 A440 Band171 A440 Band172 A440 Band174 A440 Band175 A440 Band176 A440 Band178 A440 Band179 A440 Band180 Mayor Wharton's Coors Party181 Mayor's Party182 A440 Band183 A440 Band184 A440 Band185 A440 Band186 Coors Bar187 A440 Band188 Mayor's Party190 Mayor's Party191 Mayor's Party192 Mayor's Party193 SHC194 SHC195 SHC196 SHC197 SHC198 Mayor's Party199 Coors Cadillac200 Mayor's Party1842 SHC1844 Coors Bar1845 Mayor A. C. Wharton1846 John Williams and the A440 Band
During the tailgating day at the Southern Heritage Classic, the ultimate destination is the official City of Memphis party sponsored by Coors Memphis, on what is roughly the site of the old Tim McCarver Stadium. The event is technically private and invitation only, but fortunately, I have never had a problem getting inside. There’s always an appearance by Mayor A. C. Wharton, and other politicians, and a big stage with plenty of live blues and soul. This year the featured band was John Williams and the A440 Band, playing lots of great blues and soul for the crowd, and Coors had set up some really cool portable bars complete with upstairs lounges with couches and an awesome view of the entire Fairgrounds. Great food, drink, music and weather- you couldn’t ask for a better time.

Day 2 of the Otha Turner Picnic at Gravel Springs

1790 Otha Turner Picnic1787 Along the Road1786 Along the Road1784 The Other Festival1782 Kenny Brown1781 Kenny Brown1780 The Como-Tions1778 Sharde Thomas1776 Full Moon1774 Stud & Lightning1772 David Evans1170 Rising Star Fife and Drum Band095 Lightning Malcolm094 Lightning Malcolm093 Lightning Malcolm092 Stud091 Lightning Malcolm090 Lightning Malcolm089 Lightning Malcolm088 Otha Turner Picnic087 Otha Turner Picnic086 Otha Turner Picnic085 Lightning Malcolm084 Lightning Malcolm083 Along the Road082 Along the Road081 Sharde Thomas080 Sharde Thomas079 Sharde Thomas078 Otha Turner Picnic077 The Other Festival075 Rising Star Fife and Drum Band074 Rising Star Fife and Drum Band073 Rising Star Fife and Drum Band072 Rising Star Fife and Drum Band071 Rising Star Fife and Drum Band070 Rising Star Fife and Drum Band069 Rising Star Fife and Drum Band068 Rising Star Fife and Drum Band067 Rising Star Fife and Drum Band066 Rising Star Fife and Drum Band065 Rising Star Fife and Drum Band064 Rising Star Fife and Drum Band063 Rising Star Fife and Drum Band062 Rising Star Fife and Drum Band061 Rising Star Fife and Drum Band060 Rising Star Fife and Drum Band059 Sharde Thomas058 Rising Star Fife and Drum Band057 Rising Star Fife and Drum Band056 Otha Turner Picnic055 Lightning Malcolm & Kenny Brown054 Otha Turner Picnic053 Kenny Brown & Lightning Malcolm051 Sherena and Malcolm050 Otha Turner Picnic049 Kenny Brown048 Stud047 Kenny Brown046 Kenny Brown045 Kenny Brown044 Kenny Brown043 Kenny Brown041 Otha Turner Picnic040 The Como-Tions038 The Como-Tions037 The Como-Tions036 The Como-Tions035 The Como-Tions034 The Como-Tions033 The Como-Tions032 The Como-Tions031 The Como-Tions030 The Como-Tions029 The Como-Tions028 The Como-Tions027 The Como-Tions025 The Como-Tions024 The Como-Tions020 Stud & Lightning019 Lightning Malcolm018 Stud017 Stud016 Stud015 Stud014 Dr. David Evans013 Otha Turner Picnic012 Dr. David Evans011 Dr. David Evans009 Dr. David Evans008 Dr. David Evans007 Dr. David Evans006 Otha Turner Picnic005 Otha Turner Picnic004 Otha Turner Picnic003 Otha Turner Picnic
The second day of the annual Otha Turner Picnic in Gravel Springs near Senatobia always falls on a Saturday, and brings out a larger crowd. This year, there were performances by Dr. David Evans, the eminent musicologist from the University of Memphis, a new blues-rock band called the Como-Tions from Como, Mississippi, and Lightning Malcolm, as well as the periodic parades around the grounds with Sharde Thomas and the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band. On this Saturday night, the bass drum beat seemed more insistent and the dancers more exuberant and enthusiastic as the night progressed. In addition, there was a massive block party outside the gates along O. B. McClinton Road as literally hundreds of young people lined both sides of the highway, just hanging out. There was also supposed to be some sort of after-event at L.P.’s field on Hunters Chapel Road, but when I drove past there, I only saw a few cars, so I kept on rolling.

Preserving the Black Fife and Drum Tradition at Gravel Springs

001 O. B. McClinton Road002 Otha Turner's Place003 O. B. McClinton Road004 Otha Turner's Place005 Otha Turner Picnic006 Otha Turner's Place007 Otha Turner Picnic008 Otha Turner Picnic009 Otha Turner Picnic010 Otha's Place with a Bass Drum011 Otha Turner Picnic012 Otha Turner Picnic014 Moses Crouch015 Otha Turner Picnic016 Moses Crouch017 Otha Turner Picnic018 Moses Crouch019 Otha's Place020 Sharde Thomas and the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band022 Future Bass Drummer023 Blue Mother Tupelo024 Otha Turner Picnic025 Full Moon026 Blue Mother Tupelo030 Rising Star Fife & Drum Band031 Rising Star Fife and Drum Band033 Otha Turner Picnic034 Otha Turner Picnic035 Otha Turner Picnic036 Sherena and FriendJPG037 Otha Turner Picnic038 Otha Turner Picnic041 Lightning Malcolm042 Lightning Malcolm043 Lightning Malcolm044 Lightning Malcolm045 Lightning Malcolm046 Lightning Malcolm047 Lightning Malcolm048 Lightning Malcolm050 Lightning Malcolm051 Lightning Malcolm052 Lightning Malcolm053 Lightning Malcolm054 Greg Ayres Band055 Greg Ayres Band056 Greg Ayres Band057 Greg Ayres Band058 Greg Ayres Band059 Greg Ayres Band060 Greg Ayres Band061 Greg Ayres Band062 Greg Ayres Band063 Greg Ayres Band064 Greg Ayres Band065 Greg Ayres Band066 Greg Ayres Band067 Greg Ayres Band068 Greg Ayres Band1758 Hernando's Underground Cafe1760 Otha Turner Picnic1762 Moses Crouch1764 Otha Turner Picnic1767 Blue Mother Tupelo1763 Otha Turner Picnic1765 Sharde Thomas & the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band1766 Blue Mother Tupelo
For fans of the blues in Mississippi, the summer is somewhat framed by two major events, the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic in June, which celebrates the Hill Country blues tradition, and the Otha Turner Picnic at Gravel Springs near Senatobia, generally held in August on the weekend before Labor Day. But the latter event is all the more important because it celebrates a type of African-American music that is older than the blues, Black fife-and-drum music. Tate and Panola Counties have always been a center of the fife-and-drum style, and picnics were frequently held on the Fourth of July and Labor Day. Fife master Otha Turner became famous for his pre-Labor Day picnic featuring fife and drum music and barbecued goat. Upon his death, the picnic tradition and the music tradition were continued by his granddaughter Sharde Thomas, who has kept the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band together and who remains an advocate for this endangered form of Black music. Under her administration, the picnic, held at the Otha Turner homestead in Gravel Springs near Senatobia, has become a two-day festival of many different artists and styles of music, including bands like Blue Mother Tupelo and the North Mississippi All-Stars, to solo artists like Dr. David Evans or Lightning Malcolm. There’s plenty of good fun and good food, and several processions of the fife and drum band across the grounds each evening. As the night progresses, the dancers become more exuberant, getting low to the ground and shaking in time with the beat of the bass drum, and the scene is reminiscent of other similar processions in African cultures, including New Orleans second-lines, and Haitian raras in Miami. On this year’s first night, there was also a brilliant full moon which threw a strange light on the proceedings. As in previous years, the festival inside the gates lead to another festival outside the gates, in which young people from the rural community parked and gathered along O. B. McClinton Road, listening to music and hanging out.

Celebrating the Legacy of Hill Country Blues On Its Biggest Day

001 Hill Country Picnic002 Hill Country Picnic003 Hill Country Picnic004 Hill Country Picnic005 Hill Country Picnic006 Hill Country Picnic007 Hill Country Picnic008 Hill Country Picnic009 Hill Country Picnic011 Joseph Burnside Band012 Garry Burnside on Drums013 Kenny Brown014 Joseph Burnside & Duwayne Burnside015 Joseph Burnside016 Kenny Burnside017 Joseph Burnside018 Joseph Burnside019 Kenny Brown020 Garry & Joseph Burnside021 Joseph & Duwayne Burnside022 Joseph Burnside & Duwayne Burnside023 Duwayne Burnside024 Kenny Brown & Garry Burnside025 Garry Burnside on Drums026 Hill Country Picnic030 Joseph Burnside031 Duwayne Burnside032 Garry Burnside033 Garry Burnside034 Bill Abel035 Bill Abel036 Bill Abel037 Bill Abel038 Bill Abel039 Bill Abel040 Bill Abel041 Hill Country Picnic042 Hill Country Picnic043 Hill Country Picnic044 Hill Country Picnic045 Hill Country Picnic046 Hill Country Picnic047 Cary Hudson048 Cary Hudson049 Cary Hudson050 Cary Hudson052 Cary Hudson053 Cary Hudson's Drummer055 Cary Hudson056 WWOZ057 Eric Deaton Trio058 Eric Deaton059 Eric Deaton060 Eric Deaton Trio061 Eric Deaton Trio062 Hill Country Picnic063 Eric Deaton Trio064 Hill Country Picnic065 Rising Star Fife & Drum Band066 Rising Star Fife & Drum Band067 Rising Star Fife & Drum Band068 Rising Star Fife & Drum Band069 Rising Star Fife & Drum Band070 Rising Star Fife & Drum Band071 Sharde Thomas072 Rising Star Fife & Drum Band073 Rising Star Fife & Drum Band074 Rising Star Fife & Drum Band075 Sharde Thomas076 Sharde Thomas077 Rising Star Fife & Drum Band078 Rising Star Fife & Drum Band079 Rising Star Fife & Drum Band080 Sharde Thomas081 Rising Star Fife & Drum Band082 Rising Star Fife & Drum Band083 Rising Star Fife & Drum Band084 Rising Star Fife & Drum Band085 Rising Star Fife & Drum Band086 Rising Star Fife & Drum Band087 Rising Star Fife & Drum Band088 Garry Burnside089 Garry Burnside090 Garry Burnside Band091 Garry Burnside Band092 Garry Burnside093 Garry Burnside Band094 Garry Burnside Band095 Garry Burnside096 Garry Burnside Band
Although the Friday night shows had been harassed by storms, no such problem occurred on the Saturday of the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic. In fact the day was a bright sunny blue one, with fairly cool temperatures compared to what we had been having, and it was the perfect setting for a full day of Hill Country blues. The gates had opened with R. L. Boyce at 10:30 in the morning, but by the time I arrived, Joseph Burnside was on stage, with Duwayne and Garry Burnside backing him up. He was followed by Bill Abel, then Cary Hudson of the band Blue Mountain, and finally Sharde Thomas and the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band from the Gravel Springs community near Senatobia, one of the last Black fife and drum bands in America. Garry Burnside and his band went up on stage after that, and then I left to go to dinner at Lamar Lounge in Oxford. In addition to the live performances, there were lots of arts, crafts and clothing for sale at various tents up on the hill, and a raffle, which was being held to raise money for a gravestone for the late bluesman Robert Belfour. And the whole day’s proceedings were broadcast live by New Orleans’ superb radio station WWOZ.

Keep up with R. L. Boyce:

Keep up with Bill Abel:

Keep up with Cary Hudson:


Keep up with Sharde Thomas and the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band:

Keep up with Garry Burnside:

Keep up with the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic:

Rain But Undampened Spirits As The North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic Kicks Off

1423 Jimbo Mathus1426 Jimbo Mathus1432 David Kimrbough Band1436 David Kimbrough Band1437 David Kimbrough Band1440 David Kimbrough Band1442 Kinney Kimbrough1444 Sherena1447 Duwayne Burnside1448 Artemis1451 Duwayne Burnside1454 Kenny Brown & Duwayne Burnside1455 Kenny Brown & Duwayne Burnside1456 Duwayne Burnside
The North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic, sponsored annual at Waterford, Mississippi by Sarah and Kenny Brown, is arguably the most important annual event in the world of Hill Country Blues. It helps preserve the legacy of R. L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough, and allows their descendants and disciples an opportunity to perform in the county where it all began, and takes on aspects of a music festival, a jam session and a family reunion all in one. But this year’s festival got off to something of a rocky start due to a series of violent thunderstorms, with lightning and hail that caused the festival grounds to become a mud-bog, and which caused a significant delay in the schedule. Fortunately, it all passed over eventually, and indie-blues/country/rock star Jimbo Mathus came out to perform with his band, followed by David Kimbrough Jr’s band, although David’s brother Kinney handled the vocal chores since David had a touch of laryngitis. And finally, Friday evening’s lineup was closed out with Duwayne Burnside fronting his newest band, which was extremely tight indeed, and which sounded great. Just as they were leaving the stage, the first flashes of lightning from a new round of storms appeared, but no rain could bring anyone down after all that great Hill Country blues.

Duwayne Burnside's Birthday Party and Bonfire at the Blues Shack in Waterford

001 Duwayne Burnside's Birthday Bonfire004 Duwayne Burnside's Birthday005 Duwayne Burnside's Birthday006 Duwayne Burnside's Birthday007 Duwayne Burnside's Birthday008 Duwayne Burnside's Birthday009 Duwayne Burnside's Birthday
Hill Country blues legend Duwayne Burnside was celebrating his birthday with a party and bonfire at the Blues Shack in Waterford, Mississippi, so I decided to go down. Unfortunately, it was the coldest night so far of the year, and the turnout wasn’t nearly as large as I had expected, mostly close friends and family, but Duwayne and his brother Garry Burnside were glad to see me. At previous Blues Shack events, people tended to hang out near the stage, but at this one, people kept around the bonfire for obvious reason, except for the younger kids, who were running all around. An old harmonica player was on stage, playing with one of the younger boys on drums. After awhile, I headed back to Holly Springs because Kent Kimbrough was also celebrating his birthday at Junior’s Juke Joint #2.