Duwayne Burnside and R. L. Boyce Live at Bluesberry Cafe in Clarksdale #jukejointfest

The annual Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, Mississippi has grown into one of the largest music festivals in Mississippi, with four days of live performances, many of them free. Blues musicians from the Delta, the Hill Country, South Mississippi, other states and even other countries come to Clarksdale each April to perform, and hotel rooms are hard to come by.
This year we kicked off our Juke Joint Fest weekend by heading to Bluesberry Cafe on Friday night, where the Hill Country blues legend Duwayne Burnside was performing with his band. Burnside, son of the late R. L. Burnside, is one of the best blues guitarists in America today, and the little cafe with a stage was filled to overflowing with blues fans and fellow musicians. Burnside’s performance was followed by an appearance of R. L. Boyce from Como, Mississippi, sharing the stage with Colombian bluesman Carlos Elliot Jr, who has taken the Hill Country style of blues back to his home country in South America, and has even brought Hill Country musicians to Colombia. Although the weather outside was nasty indeed, inside Bluesberry was good times and good feelings. It was a great way to start Clarksdale’s biggest weekend of the year.

Kicking Off The Juke Joint Fest Weekend With Carlos Elliot and R. L. Boyce at Bluesberry Cafe

Although Clarksdale’s Juke Joint Festival is technically only a one-day festival, the events surrounding it run over the course of four days. This year on Friday night the center of attention was Bluesberry Cafe, which featured performances by Duwayne Burnside and his band, followed by Colombian Hill Country musician Carlos Elliot Jr and Como legend R. L. Boyce. Despite the small stage, they were joined by Boyce’s daughter Sherena (a juke joint dancer) and Joyce Jones, the newest female voice in Hill Country blues. Despite the heavy rain outside, there was a significant crowd in the venue, and everyone had a great time.

Juke Joint Festival: Carlos Elliott Jr & R. L. Boyce

036 Carlos Elliot, R. L. Boyce & Sherena Boyce037 Carlos Elliot & R. L. Boyce038 R. L. Boyce & Sherena Boyce039 R. L. Boyce040 R. L. Boyce041 R. L. Boyce042 R. L. Boyce043 R. L. Boyce044 Sherena Boyce045 Sherena Boyce046 Carlos Elliot & R. L. Boyce047 R. L. Boyce048 Sherena Boyce049 Carlos Elliot & R. L. Boyce050 R. L. Boyce053 R. L. Boyce & Carlos Elliot054 Carlos Elliot055 Cat Head Posters056 Cat Head Stage Crowd057 Carlos Elliot059 Sherena Boyce060 Little Joe Ayers
R. L. Boyce is really the last of the old-school Hill Country blues musicians, and was a mentor to the young South American musician Carlos Elliott Jr., who came from Colombia to Mississippi to study the traditional music of the Mississippi Hill Country. On his frequent visits back to the United States, Elliott often reconnects with Boyce and other area blues musicians, and usually performs at the Juke Joint Festival each April in Clarksdale.

Afro-Colombian Musicians on Sixth Street in Austin @SXSW 2013

A group of Afro-Colombian musicians drew a large crowd on Sixth Street on Tuesday night 3/12/13 in Austin during SXSW. The existence of African-derived music styles in Colombia is not well-known in the United States, but there are actually five or six different styles of Colombian music that show the influence of African music and dance, and unfortunately, I could not determine the name for the particular style these musicians were playing. However, the drum rhythms and the way the hand drums were made are unmistakably African.