Cat Head Update Newsletter
|Hello from Cat Head in Clarksdale, Mississippi|
|In what Alan Lomax called the "Land Where Blues Began," doors are opening, kitchens are sizzling and music is beginning to play again publicly. Not everywhere — and with plenty of new rules and regulations — but still, it's relatively good news for struggling musicians, venues and businesses. Plenty more details below.|
I officially reopened my 18-year-old CAT HEAD blues store this week. For now, I'm open 11am-4pm from Mon-Sat with social distancing, handsanitizer by the door, my mask with me and a maximum of 5 customers in-store at at time. (Of course, truth be told, I've not had 5 customers total yet this week. No worries. A slow, safe start is fine by me.) Please continue to shop online as well in my vastly expanded WEB STORE at www.cathead.biz.
As you'll read below, we have a few "live, in-person" public blues shows this week, and next week, Sean "Bad" Apple's new Bad Apple Blues Club will open, y'all. Exciting stuff even in these challenging times.
Thanks for the support y'all have shown me, my store and our community in the past few months. Really and truly. Please come Visit Clarksdale when you're ready. And we'll be ready with Southern Hospitality (even from this former Northerner), plenty of music and maybe even a tall cool one.
Stay well. All the best, Roger Stolle (and my faithful blues pug, Ayler)
|Thanks to all y'all who have been tuning into Clarksdale, Mississippi's daily live-streamed blues shows via LiveFromClarksdale.org — especially those who have been able to tip the musicians. And very special thanks to Colleen Buyers and her team for making that happen along with partners like Visit Clarksdale, Clarksdale Chamber of Commerce and Visit Mississippi.|
Over the past few weeks, Cat Head has been happy to host such juke joint blues favorites as Anthony "Big A" Sherrod, Terry "Big T" Williams and (twice) Terry "Harmonica" Bean. You can still see those shows as well as this week's live-streams via the web link above (and LFC's Facebook page).
Here are a few pics from the Cat Head shows...
|Mississippi Exec Order 1492 (bars, music, etc.)|
|As of June 1st, bars and music venues can reopen, but there are lots of new regulations designed to keep the public safe. Read the full order at https://mailchi.mp/d35bf0719795/governor-tate-reeves-announces-safe-return-for-mississippi-in-final-stages-of-reopening-economy?e=af2ac1b3c1%20.|
For our blues clubs/bars, the main points are:
Group Gatherings (Social Distancing IS NOT Possible): Public and private social gatherings and recreational activities shall be limited to groups of no more than 20 people in a single indoor space or groups of no more than 50 people in an outdoor space where individuals are in close proximity (less than 6 feet) to each other.
Group Gatherings (Social Distancing IS Possible): Except as otherwise provided, public and private social gatherings and recreational activities shall be limited to groups of no more than 50 people in a single indoor space or groups of no more than 100 people in an outdoor space where individuals are able to maintain a minimum of 6 feet separation.
Executive Order 1478 is amended to permit bars that do not serve food to re-open subject to the limitations on restaurants and bars in Paragraph I(a) and its subparts of Executive Order 1478, including limiting the number of customers to 50% of maximum capacity and setting hours of operation to close to the public no later than 10:00 p.m.
Paragraph I(a)(xii) of Executive Order 1478 is amended to permit restaurants and bars to have live music. There shall be a minimum of 12 feet of separation between the musicians and restaurant/bar customers. It shall be the responsibility of the restaurant and/or bar to maintain social distancing between customers while live music is being performed.
|Visit Clarksdale tourism office reopens...|
|Don your mask, squirt some handsanitizer and keep your social distance... then, please visit our fine friends at the Visit Clarkdale tourism office in our historic downtown train depot next to Dutch Oven. Tourism director Bubba O'Keefe has reopened the doors to help point y'all in the right direction for food, lodging, music and more... as our blues town slowly reopens.|
Are you a local festival organizer? If you still plan to have your event this year (and haven't already), please be sure to apply for a tourism grant asap since the tourism board only meets once a month to review submissions.
Download the free (and super cool) Audio Walking Tour app in your favorite app store, and let 20 Clarksdale voices take you on a tour of our historical downtown. Also, check out visitclarksdale.com for all the info you need to plan your next visit to The Crossroads. Finally, be sure to follow Visit Clarksdale on Instagram and Facebook.
|Visit Clarksdale tourism office reopens...|
|Have you checked out the CAT HEAD WEB STORE lately at www.cathead.biz? It has expanded... by a lot. There were fewer than 30 items when the pandemic started; today, there are over 300. I'm adding new items weekly and shipping cool stuff daily all over the US and the world.|
Blues, Mississippi and Cat Head gear... books, T-shirts, hoodies and hats... beverage glasses, coffee mugs, vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, art prints and more... even a few "sale" items!
When you buy from our Web Store, it's a win-win. You get to smile when your package arrives, and Cat Head gets to rock 'n roll on through these challenging times. Thanks, y'all. Your support means a heckuva lot, Roger
|Delta Museum, Festival & Event Updates...|
|Ok. There is a lot of uncertainty in the music world these days (obviously), so here is what I was able to find out this week about our region's museums and festivals/events. As always, watch visitclarksdale.com and cathead.biz (as well as the individual entity/event websites) for updates.|
DELTA MUSIC MUSEUM "COVID" UPDATES (subject to change):
- Delta Blues Museum (Clarksdale, MS) - Temporarily closed; watch deltabluesmuseum.org for updates.
- Gateway To The Blues Museum (Tunica, MS) - Reopened May 21st; https://tunicatravel.com/things-to-do/the-blues/gateway/.
- BB King Museum (Indianola, MS) - Temporarily closed; watch bbkingmuseum.org for updates.
- GRAMMY Museum Mississippi (Cleveland, MS) - Reopening July 9th (Thurs-Sun); see grammymuseumms.org for details.
- Highway 61 Blues Museum (and other museums in Leland, MS) - Temporarily closed.
- Delta Cultural Center (Helena, AR) - Open Tues-Fri 10-4; Sat 9-5. Masks required at all times.
- Blues Hall of Fame at Blues Foundation (Memphis, TN) - Temporarily closed; watch blues.org for updates.
CLARKSDALE FEST/EVENT "COVID" UPDATES (subject to change):
- JUNE - Pinetop Perkins Masterclass Workshop Experience - Cancelled till 2021.
- JUNE - Birthplace of American Music (BAM) Fest - Cancelled till 2021.
- AUGUST - Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival - Watch sunflowerfest.org for updates on 8/7-9 fest in Clarksdale, MS.
- OCTOBER - Deak's Harmonica Block Party, Mighty Roots Music Festival (new; see separate news item below), Clarksdale's Super Blues Sunday, Deep Blues Festival, MS Delta Tennessee Williams Festival and Hambone Festival - No changes to report at this time; see individual websites for updates.
ALSO, plan now for next year's Deep Blues Fest as well: 10/14-17, 2021, deepbluesfest.com. PLUS, check out next year's Juke Joint Festival (4/15-18, 2021) lineup at jukejointfestival.com.
MEANWHILE, in nearby Helena, AR, "so far" they are still planning to hold both the Delta Roots Festival (moved from June to 10/3) and King Biscuit Blues Festival (10/7-10) in October, but please keep updated at kingbiscuitfestival.com.
AND in nearby Greenville, the Mississippi Delta Blues & Heritage Festival website does not reference Covid, though tickets are not currently available; watch for updates at deltabluesms.org.
|New music festival coming to Stovall, Mississippi|
|Rhetorically promoted as "America’s first socially-distanced festival?"... the new Mighty Roots Music Festival is slated to take place October 2 and 3 at the historic Stovall farm where Muddy Waters grew up and first recorded for Alan Lomax. While ostensibly an Americana-themed music festival, it will, of course, also feature a strong dose of Mississippi blues — including Clarksdale's Anthony "Big A" Sherrod & the Allstars and Stone Gas Band as well as Jackson's Jarekus Singleton. The full lineup includes acts like Deer Tick, Keller Williams and John Mohead. It as well as ticketing, camping info and more can be found at www.mightyrootsmusicfestival.com.|
|Bad Apple Blues Club open in Clarksdale 6/12-13!|
|Based in the former Club 2000 juke joint on Issaquena Avenue in Clarksdale, Mississippi's historic New World District, the new Bad Apple Blues Club plans to deliver safe, social-distanced blues. Owner Sean "Bad" Apple is no stranger to the local blues scene, of course, having performed here for years at venues like Bluesberry Cafe, Ground Zero Blues Club and Red's Lounge as well as festivals like Juke Joint Festival, Clarksdale Caravan Music Fest and Sunflower River Blues Festival.|
The Bad Apple will open simply at first — just Fridays and Saturdays from afternoon to early evening (depending on State and local regulations) — with plans to expand music and event plans as conditions allow.
LIVE, IN-PERSON, PUBLIC BLUES SHOWS... Fri-Sat, 6/12-13, 2020... Sean "Bad" Apple performs (early evening).
JOIN EMAIL LIST for club updates at badapplebluesclub.com.
See "Bad" Apple's recent live-streamed performance at https://www.facebook.com/LiveFromClarksdale/videos/627935894465892/.
|Clarksdale, Mississippi's "Sounds Around Town"|
|Hey y'all... Plan your next trip to Clarksdale! Keep up with our weekly "Sounds Around Town" calendar in the Clarksdale Press Register, my cathead.biz/music-calendar web calendar, my Instagram/Facebook/Twitter and MSbluestrail.org website. Here is this week's:|
|"Explore and learn" at DeltaBluesMuseum.org|
|Latest newsletter from The Blues Foundation|
|"Vulture" pays tribute to jazzman Reggie Workman|
|Check out this beautiful interview and tribute to perhaps the greatest living jazz bassist — Reggie Workman — and a few of his legendary friends who have passed recently. I love it when major publications bring a musician the flowers while he can still smell them. Read at https://www.vulture.com/article/reggie-workman-profile.html.|
The jazz bassist, who's arm was shot as a young man and who later lost the tip of his thumb, went on to play with an incredible who's who of the genre — John Coltrane, Art Blakey, Archie Shepp, Wayne Shorter, Lee Morgan, Theloneous Monk, Pharoah Sanders, Booker Little, David Murray, etc.
Here he is in action:
Art Blakey - "Free For All" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJBLA39spc4
Lee Morgan - "Caramba" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOl1DEOO7II
John Coltrane - "Ole" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKhxi7jS-s4
Wayne Shorter - "Footprints" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XvJFW0DHbU
|Mississippi Encyclopedia is free online...|
In case y'all have never run across this, it's pretty interesting... and entirely free online. Go to mississippiencyclopedia.org.
"The Mississippi Encyclopedia attempts above all to be a scholarly work about life in the state, past and present. Through its choices of subjects, we hope to present not just problems but also the stories of people who addressed the problems..."
|Bentonia Blues Festival still planned for 6/15-20...|
|According to facebook.com/bluefrontcafeblues, the 48th annual Bentonia (Mississippi) Blues Festival will still happen — June 15-20, 2020. "All Performances will at the Blue Front Café starting at 4PM daily." Lineup includes Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, Terry "Harmonica" Bean, RL Boyce, Roosevelt Roberts and more.|
|Delta Music Institute job opening in Cleveland, MS...|
|Great job for the right individual. Delta Music Institute (DMI) is looking for a new "Professor of Practice, Entertainment Industry Studies." DMI has three student bands (Ol' Skool Revue/DeltaRoX/B4Y2K) and world-class recording studios. More info and to apply: https://deltastate.peopleadmin.com/postings/3355|
|How are George Floyd protests affecting "here"?|
|Work on the heart of the issue in home of the blues|
|Looking for a way to make a positive difference in challenging times? Consider a donation to Clarksdale, Mississippi's Higher Purpose Co. — "a 501c3 economic justice nonprofit based in Clarksdale, Mississippi... utilizing the power of ownership to help black communities thrive." Find HPC online at higherpurposeco.org.|
|New book highlights Clarksdale's Issaquena Ave...|
|Pre-order today at https://www.cathead.biz/books-art, and I'll ship upon arrival!|
Description: "Who knew one street had so many stories? Margery Kerstine certainly didn’t when she began researching the cultural history of Mississippi. She focused on her hometown of Clarksdale, specifically on Issaquena Avenue. The street of twenty-three storefronts was a fixture not only in Kerstine’s Jewish community but also in the lives of many of the Mississippi Delta’s immigrant communities. The Clarksdale economic past is just one facet of the changing face of the street and the hopes and dreams of its many workers. Kerstine’s Deep South history, resplendent with illustrations, maps, and building tours, shows one of the many hidden worlds you can find traveling the southern United States. Her detailed oral history of the area makes one of the best southern memoirs of minority communities who found a home together more than a century ago. Kerstine takes you back to bustling Saturday night crowds, bluesy Issaquena musicians, and a sense of community preserved to this day."
|And finally... a song to bring it on home, y'all...|
|In early 2005, bluesman Big George Brock called me on a Sunday morning, saying, "Roger, I don't know how much longer I can do this. I want to make an album. 25 songs — nothin' but the hits!" I smiled, took a day to think it over, and then agreed to cut that album — minus 13 songs and all the hits.|
At the time, ex-Squirrel Nut Zipper (and occasional Buddy Guy sideman) Jimbo Mathus was living here in Clarksdale, operating a retro-cool recording studio inspired by old-school sounds of Sun and Chess Records. I met with Big George to go over material for the album (vetoing "Mojo Workin'" and requiring that he write mostly new songs)... a month later rehearsed the band on "the" songs, then booked studio time with Jimbo... and on May 7, 2005 worked with studio engineer Will Dawson to record what became his much-acclaimed, Blues Music Award-nominated "comeback album," CLUB CARAVAN.
We were in the studio for exactly 3 1/2 hours. There were no Pro Tools or AutoTune after-effects or overdubbing. It was a "live in the studio" romp through blues history.
Big George wrote one of his songs as a "thank you" for my efforts to get him well-known, touring overseas, etc. I'm not sure what he called it, but I called it "Down South" on the album. You might call it a commercial for Cat Head.
Listen to DOWN SOUTH at https://youtu.be/xxlwpViaHbw.
"If you ever go to Clarksdale, please go by Cat Head store. You'll find most anything you want. You'll find the blues rollin' out the door." - Big George Brock.
Thanks for that, Big George. You will never be forgotten. RIP.