Saturday, September 01, 2007

Moanin' at midnight

The 12th annual Howlin' Wolf Memorial Blues Festival happened Friday afternoon and evening at The Civic in West Point, MS. Having a blues festival held indoors in the South is kind of unique and quite nice, since it's often unbearably muggy if not downright hot on Labor Day weekend. This year the first act, Ernie Southern and Gary Jr. Waldo (officially listed as playing from 4-5) performed their trad acoustic slide blues under The Civic's porte-cochere off and on throughout the evening adding a nicer festival-like flair to this year's event as, if you took a fresh air, food, or other break, there was still music to be heard. Now if they could just improve the stodgy, seating arrangements inside, this festival would really be something. Lose the stuffy auditorium rows for some semicircular chair arrangements with more aisle space and perhaps a few more tables sprinkled in back and along the walls. It's not like those chairs are immobile!

Here's Ernie's collection of geetars:

Southern and Waldo perform late afternoon, 8/31/07.

The first indoor act was local Black Prairie Blues legend Big Joe Shelton backed by the Dave's Blues Breakers (Drew Dieckmann, guitar; Lee Graham, bass guitar; Robert Staggers, percussion).

Just to warm up the crowd, Drew threw down a wigout solo or two.

Next up was "one man band," New Orleanian 19th Street Red also backed by Lee Graham, "the second hardest working man in (Starkville) show bidness." Dig the John Lee Hooker Wayfarers.

Fresh out of Lee County was Tupelo's own Homemade Jamz Blues Band. "A Family Affair" in the tradition of Lee County's own The Chambers Brothers, the band consists of three siblings: 15 year-old guitar player, harmonica player, and lead singer Ryan Perry, 13 year-old bass player Kyle Perry, and 8 year-old drummer Taya Perry. I'll be featuring their self-produced CD, Tupeloms on next weekend's "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" portion of The Juke on WMSV 91.1 FM.

A highlight of the show was when Ryan pulled out his "Homemade" guitar consisting of a muffler from his dad's F-Series Ford pickup, the seatbelt as a strap, a cut down harmonica for the bridge, and electronics installed from an older guitar!

Next up was the Chicago Jump Blues of Rob Stone and the C-Notes, again featuring a frontman singer/harmonicist.

Here's Richard introducing festival favorites Willie King and the Black Prairie Blues Kings.

Special guests included Blind Mississippi Morris, "rated one of the 10 best harmonica players in the world" by BluzHarp magazine, and Colin Linden of O Brother Where Art Thou? fame, who this year actually got to solo!

Finally Willie took the stage to burn through such standards as "Spoonful."

Closing out the evening were Houstonians Diunna Greenleaf & Blue Mercy, providing a rousing Blues/Gospel coda to a fine evening of music. Local drummer Bob Damm sat in.

It was really nice to see Jay and Tony back in the area visiting from NOLA and the Coast, respectively. Also the WMSV Juke blues crew enjoyed meeting Rick all the way from Jackson, GA.`

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