CAT HEAD UPDATE NEWSLETTER
"All the blues that's fit to print."
|Welcome to dog days of summer, y'all...|
|Crazy times... unprecedented times... and definitely BLUES times! Hope you and yours are making it okay. CAT HEAD — Mississippi's blues store in Clarksdale since 2002 — is so far hanging in there. A big, big THANKS to all y'all who've dropped us an email "hello" or bought some cool stuff in our expanded www.cathead.biz WEB STORE. We really appreciate the support.|
Because of your support, we will celebrate the 18th anniversary of CAT HEAD blues store on July 24th, y'all! How nuts is that?! :) I am so thrilled to have played a part in resurrecting and promoting Clarksdale, Mississippi's world-famous blues scene. Likewise, I'm proud to be a part of our historic downtown's ongoing revitalization and reinvention. We've built an amazing ad hoc team of locals and transplants through years as well as a truly unique infrastructure of clubs, jukes, stores, galleries, restaurants, lodging, nonprofits, history markers and more. These highly dedicated (uh, crazy like me?) people, places and things are helping getting us through these challenging days. But so are you.
Our tourists and fans are our bread (biscuits?) and butter, and we love y'all. We look forward to seeing you "soon." In the meantime, please seek out the websites of your fav Clarksdale people and places, and buy something if you can — or donate to our nonprofits if you like.
When you do visit, or if you live here, please support our restaurants early and often. They have gone above and beyond to keep us all fed even as health/safety efforts have become so challenging and profit margins have just about disappeared. Eat something, and tip 'em well.
Thanks and please stay well. Oh, and remember to smile and take care of your neighbors. That's "Clarksdale style," y'all!
All the best,
Roger (and Ayler Pug)
|Clarksdale continues 'live' blues... 365...|
|Thanks to LiveFromClarksdale.org (and Share Experiences founder Colleen Buyers), Clarksdale has continues to be Mississippi's HQ for 'live' blues music — 365 days a year. Now, that some clubs have reopened, we have a mix of in-person PUBLIC and live-streaming VIRTUAL shows. Keep up with Cat Head's MUSIC CALENDAR at www.cathead.biz (be sure to scroll down to the monthly listings and not just this week's). Also, watch the live streams via LiveFromClarksdale.org. Here is this week's SOUNDS AROUND TOWN AD (with one time change; note that Hopson Sat night Side Street Steppers will actually start at 7pm not 6), y'all:|
|Bad Apple Blues Club rocks month #2!|
|Sean "Bad" Apple's new Bad Apple Blues Club (located to the right of the epic New Roxy, in the old Club 2000 juke joint building, on Issaquena Avenue in downtown Clarksdale, Mississippi) enters its second month with a bang. Sure, tourism is slow, but the support from both tourists and locals has been quite nice — not to mention all of the online comments by folks who plan to visit when they can. Performers and jammers at the club so far have included Terry "Big T" Williams, Peggy "Lady Trucker" Hemphill, Ghalia Volt, Otis "TCB" Taylor, Joe "Iceman" Williams, Little Joe Ayers, Sean "Bad' Apple (of course) and others — including the occasional tourist-musician! Currently, the Bad Apple is open Fridays and Saturday from 4pm to midnight with 'live' blues from 5pm on. Sean will also open up for visiting tourists in search of music and a cold beer. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org (or Facebook message him), and join his email list at BadAppleBluesClub.com. Also, watch the SharedExperiencesUSA.com website for special Bad Apple experiences coming soon. Below are a few pics of his awesome new blues venue... PLUS, read more about the club in Delta Business Journal article at https://deltabusinessjournal.com/bad-apple-blues-club-clarksdale-hot-spot-promises-authenticity-and-good-times/.|
|CAT HEAD tees! Look hot, feel cool...|
|Whether you're relaxing in the backyard or dialing up a Zoom call, you know you want it — and (according to those around you) probably need it. Treat yourself to a new T-shirt or two or three — in our CAT HEAD WEB STORE at https://www.cathead.biz/cat-head-logo-gear. Short sleeve or long sleeve... various color choices... and sizes in some shirts up to XXXL. We even have a popular ladies' fit tee and a few 'sale' items. Thanks, y'all.|
|DELTA UPDATES: Museums, clubs & festivals...|
|Here are the updates I am aware of at press time. Everything is subject to change, of course. Watch visitclarksdale.com and cathead.biz (as well as the individual entity/event websites) for further updates.|
MUSEUM UPDATES FOR DELTA REGION:
DELTA MUSIC MUSEUM REOPENING UPDATE via 7/7/20 email - Delta Blues Museum (Clarksdale, MS), deltabluesmuseum.org: "Thanks to all who completed our Reopening Survey! Delta Blues Museum Board of Directors and staff have been diligently working behind-the-scenes, finalizing our plans to safely reopen the Museum beginning this month. Our entire facility has been professionally cleaned and disinfected, and our staff is implementing stricter cleaning protocols as well as social distancing practices in all our public spaces. Watch this space for our reopening details, including new hours and a new set of mandatory guidelines and protocols for all Museum staff and guests. Public safety remains our top priority, and we are working to address your concerns. Looking forward to sharing our spaces with you once again... Donations, as always, are appreciated."
GATEWAY TO THE BLUES MUSEUM (Tunica, MS) - Reopened May 21st; https://tunicatravel.com/things-to-do/the-blues/gateway/.
BB KING MUSEUM (Indianola, MS) - Reopened July 7th, y'all. Per BBKM: "Museum hours Tuesday-Saturday, 9am-5pm. Closed Sundays-Mondays. All visitors MUST wear a mask and follow all federal and state social distancing guidelines." More info at bbkingmuseum.org.
GRAMMY MUSEUM MISSISSIPPI (Cleveland, MS) - Reopening July 9th: "In order to ensure the safety of our guests and staff, GRAMMY Museum Mississippi is instituting a number of new health and safety protocols. Furthermore, the Museum will offer limited hours of operation during its first phase of reopening—Thursday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m."; 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/BLUES FOUNDATION (Memphis, TN) - Still temporarily closed. Watch blues.org for updates. In the meantime, our friends at the Blues Foundation's Covid Relief Fund have helped at least 175 blueas musicians in need. Truly impressive.
CLARKSDALE MUSIC VENUE UPDATES:
GROUND ZERO BLUES CLUB as of 7/6/20 (Clarksdale, MS) - Recently wrapped up its virtual Quarantine Series of streamed show; no plans to reopen the physical club this month, but I think we can look forward to some more streaming in the future. Updates via GZBC social media and groundzerobluesclub.com.
OTHER CLARKSDALE MUSIC VENUES...
- Bad Apple Blues Club - open with music every Fri and Sat.
- Ground Zero Blues Club - see entry above.
- Red's Lounge - no music till pandemic ends (since Red & crew have pre-existing conditions and ain't young kids any more); occasionally, you can catch Red hanging out front, so stop and say hi (at a distance or through a mask, please).
- Stone Pony - open with music every Fri evening.
- Hopson Commissary - open with music many Saturdays and all Mondays.
- Levon's - open with occasional weekend music.
- Bluesberry - still closed to public but streaming every Mon.
- Hooker Grocer - open with occasional music or DJ.
- Hambone - open with music every Tues and Thurs.
- Shack Up Inn - occasional courtyard music.
UPDATES at https://www.cathead.biz/music-calendar.
FESTIVAL UPDATES FOR DELTA REGION:
SUNFLOWER RIVER BLUES & GOSPEL FESTIVAL (Clarksdale, MS) - Postponed till August 2021; see sunflowerfest.org for updates.
MISSISSIPPI DELTA BLUES & HERITAGE FESTIVAL (Greenville, MS) - Their website does not reference Covid or status of 9/18/20 event; watch for updates at deltabluesms.org.
DEAK HARP'S HARMONICA BLOCK PARTY (Clarksdale, MS) - As of yesterday, Deak is still planning to hold his annual celebration of harmonica blues on Sat., 10/3/20 (with social distancing, masks and whatever else is required to keep his blues friends safe). HELP HIM WITH HIS FEST if you can by donating $5 or $5000 to his GoFundMe via http://deakharp.com/blockparty/.
MIGHTY ROOTS MUSIC FESTIVAL (Clarksdale, MS) - Look for an update announcement very soon re: 10/2-3, 2020 event status; also watch mightyrootsmusicfestival.com for updates.
DEEP BLUES FESTIVAL (Clarksdale, MS) - The 10/15-18, 2020, DBF festival acts have been cancelled, though organizers hope to have "some DBF music outside at Shacks" that weekend for folks who book(ed) rooms at Shack Up Inn (details TBA in late Sept). Watch social media and deepbluesfest.com for updates. Also, plan now for next year's fest, 10/14-17, 2021.
MS DELTA TENNESSEE WILLIAMS FESTIVAL (Clarksdale, MS) - Still scheduled for 10/15-17, 2020. Updates at https://deltawilliamsfestival.com/.
KING BISCUIT BLUES FESTIVAL (Helena, AR) - Look for an update announcement very soon regarding 2020 festival, and regardless, plan now to attend next year's mega blues event 10/6-9, 2021. Updates at kingbiscuitfestival.com. (Also watch for Delta Roots Festival updates; it is currently scheduled for 10/3/20.)
CLARKSDALE'S SUPER BLUES SUNDAY (Clarksdale, MS) - On Sunday, 10/11/20, there will likely be some music but as part of a much more conservative offering with health and safety measures in place. Watch www.cathead.biz for updates.
HAMBONE FESTIVAL (Clarksdale, MS) - Still scheduled for 10/30-11/1, 2020. Updates at http://www.stanstreet.com/hambone-festival.html.
JUKE JOINT FESTIVAL (4/15-18, 2021) lineup at jukejointfestival.com. Also, watch for 1/29/31, 2021, CLARKSDALE FILM & MUSIC FESTIVAL updates later in the year at clarksdalefilmfestival.com.
|Goodbye to a friend of Clarksdale and the blues...|
|Not sure, but I think I first met Toni Nassar at Big T's old Blues Station club in the downtown train depot space that is now Dutch Oven. I'd been visiting Clarksdale for over half a decade but had recently (finally) moved here, and Big T's club was the only venue willing to open early in the week if we had a handful of tourists. T would either grab his two sons or Lee Williams and Anthony Sherrod to back up him for a couple sets. Toni would entertain herself at the venue's one poker machine until later in the evening her young daughter Jacqueline would get a chance to hop up on guitar and show her prodigious talents. Later, when I was booking Ground Zero Blues Club's Fridays and Saturdays (and later, Wednesdays and Thursdays), Toni was booking the overnight apartments above the club. And her daughter Jacqueline and son Phillip were often playing with musicians like Josh "Razorblade" Stewart, "Mr. Johnnie" Billington, Big T, "Dr. Mike" James and other local favorites on stage. One year, during the Sunflower River Blues Festival, Toni even introduced me to an amazing lady who I dated for the next year or so. In the last couple years, I honestly didn't see Toni very often, but when I did, it always made my day. She was an amazing woman — funny, tough, hardworking and family loving. (She also didn't take no B.S.!) No one who met her will forget her, and those who knew her are better for it. My condolences go out to her family and friends — especially her kids. Hang in there. It will get easier. Goodbye Toni. RIP.|
|Blues, jazz, Mississippi and other updates...|
|BLUES FOUNDATION IN NEARBY MEMPHIS - June 2020 newsletter at https://mailchi.mp/c78e0aaff5e4/june-2020-newsletter?e=c136b88de7.|
BLUES FESTIVAL GUIDE - July 2nd newsletter - https://www.mynewsletterbuilder.com/email/newsletter/1414578962/.
BLUES BLAST MAGAZINE - July 2nd newsletter - http://www.bluesblastmagazine.com/issue-14-27-july-2-2020/.
HISTORIC MISSISSIPPI PASSING - Emma Sanders, Southern Civil Rights and Political Activist, Dies at 91 https://nyti.ms/3faa58S.
"SEARCHING FOR CROSSROADS..." AJC TRAVEL ARTICLE - https://www.ajc.com/travel/searching-for-the-crossroads-the-mississippi-delta/30Q20LzQjFuMKGzJpoq07N/.
CREATIVE BLACK MUSIC ARCHIVE (for avant jazz fans in particular) - Living Collections Catalogue—Creative Black Music at the Walker: Selections from the Archives - https://walkerart.org/collections/publications/jazz/creative-black-music-at-the-walker-selections-from-the-archives.
OXFORD, MISSISSIPPI'S THACKER MOUNTAIN RADIO SHOW - The long-running (often at Juke Joint Festival here in Clarksdale) 'live' music/literary radio show is seeking donations during pandemic, y'all, at https://thackermountain.com/donate/.
UPDATES FROM CLARKSDALE'S HIGHER PURPOSE CO. - https://mailchi.mp/higherpurpose/100k-expands-access-to-capital-for-black-women-entrepreneurs-hpc-brings-broadway-musical-selma-to-the-delta-blues-artist-supports-relief-fund?e=cf3d5fa498.
MISSISSIPPI ARTS COMMISSION 'COVID' GRANTS - In response to COVID-19 pandemic, MAC announces its new Rapid Response Grants. Applications will open on July 6 at arts.ms.gov.
MISSISSIPPI ARTS COMMISSION ANNUAL AWARDS NOMINATIONS OPEN - MAC is now accepting nominations for the 2021 Governor’s Arts Awards, an annual ceremony that recognizes individuals and organizations who have made noteworthy contributions to the arts in the state of Mississippi. Nominations may be submitted online via arts.ms.gov until July 31, 2020
NOLA EVENT SERIES GETS CREATIVE DURING COVID CRISIS - NOLA event series enacted some pretty thoughtful solutions to the challenges of holding large events during a pandemic... Outdoors, drive-in format, socially-distanced/designated parking/tailgating spaces, mask requirements, no concessions, etc. Read more at https://www.offbeat.com/news/tank-and-the-bangas-galactic-more-slated-for-drive-in-concert-series/.
HIP HOP 'COVID BLUES' IN MEMPHIS FLYER - https://mailchi.mp/memphisflyer/we-recommend-7kxifyolre?e=1d913d04a7.
|Mississippi flag is... history.|
|Clarksdale again highlighted in international book...|
|Economist/author John Henshall (from Australia, but definitely an honorary Clarksdalian!) follows his own "Downtown Revitalisation and Delta Blues in Clarksdale, Mississippi: Lessons for Small Cities and Towns" (https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9789811321061) book with another Clarksdale entry in a new international publication. Pics below...|
|Speaking of books... Shop CAT HEAD's web store!|
|We have new titles and restocks galore in the online CAT HEAD book store at https://www.cathead.biz/books-art. From signed copies of my "Hidden History of Mississippi Blues" and "Mississippi Juke Joint Confidential" to the new "Brother Robert" Johnson and "Merchants of Issaquena" books... you'll find some amazing summer reading! We've also got some true classics like "Dispatches from Pluto," "Deep Blues," "Most Southern Place on Earth," "Darker Blues"... and many more recommended titles. By the way, as with everything in the CAT HEAD web store, these are items that we have handpicked from our full in-store collection. Again, these are recommended, so please browse, and just yell if you have questions. Thanks, y'all!|
|"Live From Clarksdale" continues to live-stream blues daily...|
|Colleen Buyers and team continue to live-stream Clarksdale, Mississippi, blues shows to the world on a daily basis during the current pandemic. Watch, listen and tip tip tip the bands (if you can)! Acts have so far included everyone from Terry "Harmonica" Bean to Mississippi Marshall, from LaLa Craig to Lucious Spiller... and beyond. This week's lineup includes the incomparable blues/folk-art legend... James "Super Chikan" Johnson. Check out past, present and future shows via LiveFromClarksdale.org (and the Live From Clarksdale Facebook page). Special thanks to LFC supporters like Visit Clarksdale Tourism, Clarksdale-Coahoma County Chamber of Commerce and Visit Mississippi Tourism. We music fans and lovers of our town really appreciate it!|
|UK's Blues & Rhythm obit for Big George Brock.|
|Blues & Rhythm magazine (and obit author Pete Evans) was very supportive of our Big George UK tour over a decade ago, so this obituary means a lot. Big George loved his trip to the UK. We set it up (in part) because his friend Muddy Waters once told him he "needed to go to England" for his career. Of course, Big George brought so many colorful matching suits, hats and shoes (plus a DVD/TV player and two-dozen cowboy movie DVDs), that he and I just about duked it out in the airport parking lot! Dang, he was an amazing person. RIP.|
|Obituary for Mississippi-born bluesman Floyd Lee...|
|This obit is courtesy of Floyd Lee's friend and second guitarist, Joel Poluck — who along with filmmaker John Gardiner led to my booking Floyd on Sunflower River Blues Festival and my Cat Head Mini Blues Festival (see pic) a decade and a half back. Obituary:|
Legendary NYC Bluesman Passes Away at 86 Years Old
Floyd Lee New York City Blues Legend Dies At 86
Mississippi bluesman Floyd Lee who also went by the name of Theodore Williams died Sunday, June 7th, 2020 at Mount Carmel East hospital in Columbus Ohio of heart failure at the age of 86.
Mr. Lee, a vocalist and guitarist who was known for his passionate performances in the train stations and street festivals around New York City since the early 1970s found a successful recording career in the 2000's on the Amogla Records label with Mean Blues becoming one of his most popular songs.
Mr. Lee was the founding member of the Music Under New York Program, formerly Arts for Transit, and later being a judge on their board. He performed at Mayor Dinkins inauguration with Nelson Mandela in attendance.
Mr. Lee worked as a doorman for twenty seven years at the Normandy Apartments on the Upper West side of Manhattan before retiring in 1996. He then devoted his full time to his music career where he ended up traveling the world playing music festivals in countries such as France, Switzerland, Japan and Russia as well as touring all around the US.
Mr. Lee was born in Lamar Mississippi August 20th, 1933. Given away at one month old, he picked and chopped cotton as a child in the summer months and attended school in Memphis Tennessee in the winter months. He was inspired by his father Guitar Floyd and Guitar Slim to start playing the guitar and also by his mother singing while working in the cotton fields and doing chores around the house. At the age of ten, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he was sent to live with relatives in Chicago.
Mr Lee then moved with his relatives to Cleveland Ohio were he sold newspapers and became a batboy for the Cleveland Indians. As an adult he started performing at rent parties and playing guitar with bluesman Jimmy Reed when he'd come to town. He also sang in the doo wop group the Thunderbirds and participated in the Alan Freed Rock 'n Roll shows.
Mr. Lee was the subject of a documentary entitled Full Moon Lightnin' where he reconnects with his family in Mississippi after sixty years apart. The film received top honours at film festivals around the US and internationally including Best of the Fest at the 2008 Tucson Film Festival and also won the Living Blues Award in 2009 for Best Blues Documentary in Living Blues magazine's readers poll.
|VisitClarksdale.com Tourism... spreading the word...|
|... about all that Clarksdale and Coahoma County has to offer. From blues music to literary history, from Civil Rights to Southern foodways, from the Mississippi River to Native American history... and beyond. Come for the music, stay for the hospitality, y'all! Check out the VisitClarksdale.com website today, and start planning your trip. Also, check out the FREE Audio Walking Tour app while you're on the website. (You can actually take the tour before you visit if you like.)|
|Visit 18-year-old CAT HEAD store in-person or online... thanks!|
|We are currently open (in-store), Monday through Saturday from 11am to 4pm (and sometimes later). PLUS, visit our WEB STORE 24/7 at www.cathead.biz. Thanks, and hope to see you soon!|