Walt's Look Around: Sunflower River Blues Festival - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Walt's Look Around: Sunflower River Blues Festival

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CLARKSDALE, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Blues music is one of the most significant exports from Mississippi that we've given to the rest of the world. Yet we've managed to hang on to a great deal of it right where it was born, in the Delta.

And now and again the art form is celebrated with a festival, like the one last weekend in Clarksdale.

This is the 25th year in a row that Clarksdale has declared a time-out from regular life the first full weekend in August to have some fun and play some music and invite the world to come to the Delta.

Bill Luckett, who is, among other things owner of Ground Zero Blues Club with actor Morgan Freeman, says he realized early on how popular the blues is.

"One of the very early festivals was over at old Soldiers Field and I remember meeting a guy form Avenue A from New York City" said Luckett. "I thought, somebody coming all the way down here for a festival like this, there's a lot of interest out there."

The Delta has changed a lot in a lifetime, and then hardly changed at all in other ways. It still has foggy mornings that burn off into sweltering days.

And now there are blues monuments like where Muddy Water's cabin used to be on Stovall Farms Road, out west of Clarksdale. First time I saw this place, the cabin was still there. Now there's the marker here and the cabin is in the Blues Museum in Clarksdale.

I guess you might say this whole Sunflower River Blues Festival is a monument to the blues and the Delta, and changes that have come to the Delta.

Changes like Ike Turner highlighted with a blues trail marker next to the hotel now, where he was once an elevator operator a long time ago in Clarksdale, and then started in entertainment at WROX radio around the corner.

This whole festival is open to the public for free, even the headliners at night, and is put on by volunteers. Anna Belle Revels is one of those volunteers. She does this because she loves Clarksdale.

"Giving back to the community" said Revels. "I enjoy volunteering. I enjoy meeting new people and I just love it."

You can count on the regulars to show up every year.

These guys right here from Jackson are our porch people" said Luckett. "We've even got their spot reserved on our porch with a placard."

"And the Sunflower River Blues Festival is sort of a home coming for people who have to stay away too much.

"Well I grew up here so, I'm happy to be here" said Morgan Freeman.

And it's a point of pride for the folks who call this home and hardly ever leave. And they invite us all to come share it with them again the first full weekend of August next year.

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