MaryAnne’s Juke Joint Memories

inUncategorizedon April 23, 2014


MaryAnne is our spring intern, and she has helped us immensely with PR and artist services! Week before last she headed to Juke Joint with Aaron and several artists, and we asked her to write about her experience.

I’ve had a couple of days to regain my thoughts (and sleep) from our recent trip to Mississippi.  Aaron and I took two of our artists, Ironing Board Sam and David Bryant, to play at the Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale, MS.  We had to detour through Atlanta to pick up David, so the trip was about 16 hours each way. But luckily we had Sam and David to keep us entertained.  This was their first time meeting but you’d never know it.  They swapped stories and played off each other so well; it was an instant bond.  I feel the need to mention our stop for dinner at a Jamaican restaurant in David’s hometown.  It was noteworthy because of two things I encountered for the first time: 1) Jamaican-style oxtail and 2) reggae-style Celine Dion.  Both were surprisingly pleasant.

The next day we headed to Como, MS to meet and listen to the Como Mamas, an a capella gospel choir from the area.  The Como Mamas were amazing; they have such great harmonies and even better personalities.  They know how to captivate a room.  The Como Mamas also performed with Sam and David which was so fun to watch.  I’m sure we’ll be seeing them a lot more here at Music Maker.

We made it to Clarksdale that Friday night.  At first I wondered why the festival was being held in such a small town that I’d really never heard of.  Then I saw it:  almost every shop in the downtown area had something to do with the blues.  They have the Mississippi Blues Trail, the Delta Blues Museum and the influence of W.C. Handy, “Father of the Blues.”  And we can’t forget the Juke Joint Festival that next day.  There were so many awesome people that came out for the festivities.  I talked to people from New York, California and Australia; all there for the love of the blues.  Sam and David performed off and on throughout the entire day.  They even got some help on the harmonica from Music Maker artist Shelton Powe, who also performed at the festival, and Ardie Dean on drums.  They attracted quite the crowd, too.  My job was getting out there and spreading the word about Music Maker and what we do.  Sam, David and Shelton made that part pretty easy.

I think my favorite part of the trip was just talking to everyone at the festival.  I‘m not sure if “Southern hospitality” gets stronger the deeper into the South you go, but it sure seemed like it.  Everyone I talked to was eager to learn (and listen to me talk) about Music Maker and artists like Sam, David and Shelton.  I’m hoping some of the folks I met are reading this blog post now!  Another memorable part of the trip was walking the streets of Clarksdale that Saturday night.  The blues really come alive when the sun goes down.  The streets were also where I encountered hog maw, also known as the stomach of the pig.  Not quite as pleasant as the oxtail, but David sure did enjoy it.  I’m hoping I’ll be able to go to the festival again next year and meet even more amazing people and blues enthusiasts.  I might have to pass on the hog maw, but it’s the South so you never know what else they’ll have in store.

– MaryAnne

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