The city of Clarksdale’s Juke Joint Festival brings blues fans from all over to Mississippi. This year the music festival starts early this week with a pre-fest celebration this Thursday.
The free event begins at 5 p.m. within the Delta Cinema on 11 Third Street in downtown Clarksdale.
It will feature all things blues. Co-organizer Roger Stolle said, “Everybody knows that Saturday, April 11, is Juke Joint Festival itself. But we want folks to know that we have an amazing, free kick-off event this Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. featuring a special Mississippi Hill Country Blues tribute to past Juke Fest performers Robert ‘Wolfman’ Belfour and Martin ‘Big Boy’ Grant.”
Preston Rumbaugh will be playing live lobby blues there as well as a poster signing by artist Cristen Barnard. There will be a Miss Sarah Awards ceremony, sponsored by Miss Del’s General Store, welcoming all. After the tribute the Dancing Divas of Delta will send the festival off with a bang!
This preview is just a short hint of a big weekend to come. There will be over 100 acts within the Juke Joint itself this Saturday. The sprawling festival still has wristbands for the SAturday night, and the pre-sale is available online.
Co-organizer Nan Hughes said, “We’ve never sold out before, but we’ve come awfully close. We try to stay one step ahead of our growing audience, but some year a sell-out is going to happen. Our recommendation is to buy pre-sale wristbands now on-line.”
These wristbands can be bought online at www.jukejointfestival.com with the pre-sale priced at $15. The remaining wristbands will be sold for $20 on the Saturday of the festival.
“We’ll also be selling pre-wristbands at our Juke Joint Festival headquarters building at 243 Delta Avenue on Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.,” said Hughes.
This year’s lineup includes blues legends still hammering out notes in their retirin’ ages of 70s to 90s. Don’t be surprised to see Cedell Davis, Big George Brock and Leo “Bud” Welch along with Elmo Williams, Hezekiah Early and L.C. Ulmer and Cadillac John Nolden, Eddie Cusic and Y.Z. Ealey, Robert “Bilbo” Walker and “Gip” Gipson among many.
Their legend lives on in the youth, though, because Omar Gordon and Anthony “Big A” Sherrod will be there along with the 16 year old internet phenomenon Cristone “Kingfish” Ingram.
The rest of the lineup can be seen here. The festival will have 13 daytime stages with over 20 nighttime stages. It won’t be all music, unless pigs’ squealing qualifies, with pig races alongside the 5K/8K run for people. There will be activities for children and nobody will fear going hungry among Southern food vendors. Those who want to experience a little more Southern culture can take the historic bus tours or browse the arts vendors.
Co-organizer Goldie Hirsberg said, “Every year, it becomes harder and harder to fund this largely free festival. We have to continue to grow our event to better benefit our little town of Clarksdale and all our area businesses, musicians and artists.”
These daytime activities are made available by C-Spire, the official technology partner of the festival; Clarksdale – Cahoma County Tourism Comission; and Isle of Capri in nearby Lula, Mississippi, that still has rooms available among the local hotels that have been booked for months. People can book a room on a discount with the savings code “JUKE 15.” The hotel will have a bus shuttle to and from the festival from 4 p.m. to midnight that Saturday.
Miss Del’s General Store is among others that have helped sponsor these daytime events.
The fun isn’t limited to Saturday though. There will be the annual free Cat Head Mini Blues fest and the Second Street Blues Party on Sunday. The Rock & Blues Museum and Delta Blues Museum will be open along with several downtown restaurants and business. There will be proper Sunday blues with live music at Red’s Lounge that night.
For more information, the full music line-up, event schedule and pre-sale wristbands, parking info and sponsor list and much more is available online. There is also the festival hotline from Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at (662) 624-5992.
Callie Daniels is a staff reporter for HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.