By Noah Brooks Ansley
The 10th annual Oxford Blues Festival kicks off Thursday with a party at Lamar Yard, followed by two days of music headlined by Grammy winner Bobby Rush.
The doors open Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Lamar Yard andFriday at 3 p.m. on Saturday 11 a.m. at Harrison’s.
The kickoff party will be free. An optional donation of $15 will come with an 11-by-17-inch poster. Performing will be Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, R.L. Boyce, Dave Sherman and Anthony “Big A” Sherrod.
The events will be outdoors, a change from last year’s festival, and the festival will follow Mississippi’s state and health COVID-19 guidelines.
“For our ninth year we had a virtual festival, and when we saw the COVID numbers going down that gave us the green light to have the festival outside,” said event coordinator Sydney Williams.
“We’re bringing in a 34-foot stage outside at Harrison’s and we’re following state and health guidelines outside. We feel much safer by doing it outside versus inside.”
Tickets are on sale now at www.oxfordbluesfest.com. The cost is $35 for general admission Friday or Saturday, and an optional $15 dollar donation for the kickoff party. Also available are a $55 multi-day general admissission tickets an a VIP package that includes complimentary food, preferred seating and free drinks.
The festival’s musical lineup includes Rush, a two-time Grammy winner, along with Lurrie Bell and Jimmie “Duck” Holmes. Randy Ferguson, the emcee-host, will perform some of his original tunes between the musicians’ sets.
Patrons will get wristbands that allow them to come and go as they please.
“There will be a good variety of food trucks that will be available at the Oxford Blues Festival,” Williams said. “The great thing about this festival is that it’s on the Square and if people want to enjoy the Square and Oxford, then they can go and have dinner and a glass of wine and come back to the festival and get back in with their wristband.”
After the festival ends, a juke jam for all age groups will take placeat the La Quinta hotel in Oxford starting at 11 p.m on Saturday.
Organizers hope the festival will boost both Oxford and the area’s music.
“Some of the festival’s goals,” said Ferguson, “are to increase tourism to the Oxford area and Mississippi in general and interest in the blues.”