CAT HEAD UPDATE NEWSLETTER
"All the blues that's fit to print."
|Happy December and HO HO HO from your home away from home — CLARKSDALE, MISSISSIPPI!|
|Hey y'all. I hope this monthly CAT HEAD UPDATE from the world's blues capitol — Clarksdale, Mississippi — finds you well. (I know. It's all pretty relative at the moment.) |
Let's be honest. It's been a #%&! of a year. Right? So, let's end it peacefully — doing our best to keep our friends and family healthy and happy. While you're at it, maybe plan your next blues pilgrimage to the Mississippi Delta, and #VisitMSResponsibly.
CONCERT CALENDAR (including festivals) at cathead.biz/music-calendar, STREAMING CALENDAR at livefromclarksdale.org, and VISIT CLARKSDALE info at visitclarksdale.com.
Are you already READY TO ROAD-TRIP? Then, mask up and make a socially-distanced road-trip to Clarksdale. Visit the world-famous Delta Blues Museum (home of Muddy Water's "cabin"), shop and eat our historic downtown, and catch some live music more days than not! Get a trip preview at https://youtu.be/I50ZeRBLS7U.
PLUS, plan now for our pandemic-modified Clarksdale Film & Music Festival (clarksdalefilmfestival.com) in January and Juke Joint Festival (jukejointfestival.com) in April, y'all.
CAT HEAD = Gifts Gifts Gifts!
Our vastly expanded online WEB STORE now features some 400 amazing gift items! Shop www.cathead.biz today for T-shirts, hoodies, hats, vinyl LPs, CDs, DVDs, books, artwork, glasses, mugs and much more. Also, shop us in-person Mon-Fri 11am-4pm; Sat till 5pm. Questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay well, support live music, and see y'all's pretty masked faces when we can!
THANKS for 18 years of CAT HEAD,
Roger Stolle (and Cat Head's Grinchy customer service rep Ayler Pug).
|"It wasn't all bad, y'all!" Let's relive a Clarksdale, Mississippi, blues 2020 YEAR IN REVIEW.|
|Yeah, I know. 2020 was nobody's favorite. Still, we managed to pull off some positives in the land of the crossroads. Here is a chronological sampling below of mostly positive (but all important) blues happenings. Thanks to everyone who keep their head up and mask on. Here's to a more rockin' 2021!|
- Clarksdale rang in the New Year with music at Ground Zero Blues Club (Big A & Super Chikan), Red's Lounge juke joint (Lucious Spiller), Yazoo Pass (Oxford Jazz Trio), Hopson Commissary (Trailor Park Disco) and more. Plus, the weekend before our favorite young blues hero — Christone "Kingfish" Ingram — played two nights of off-tour Homecoming shows at Red's and GZBC. I know that's late 2019, but hey, it's great to see Christone and amazing to see an indoor crowd that size (these days). Red's Big Charles and frequent Clarksdale visitor Don Gentry ring in the New Year in the third pic below. (Also, I thought this pic of post-Christmas trees sitting out across from Cat Head was amusing.)
- The final weekend of January found our biggest Clarksdale Film & Music Festival edition yet — with films, history bus tours, panel discussions, film workshops, special guests, live blues music and more. We're planning to do a health-modified version this January, so stay tuned at www.clarksdalefilmfestival.com.
- Mississippi acts competed at The Blues Foundation's annual International Blues Challenge (IBC) in nearby Memphis.
- Me? I was sick most of February with a mysterious illness the two doctors I saw couldn't explain. Flu and strep tests came back negative. Two rounds of antibiotics had no effect. Finally shook it, though the chest cough lingered for weeks. Covid? Who knows... But I know I didn't get out much in February... so I have no real pics to share!
- The last pre-pandemic in-person "live" blues shows were held around the weekend of March 20th. Terry "Harmonica" Bean played Red's Lounge that Friday... before Red's Sat and Sun acts slowly cancelled out of health concerns. Red Paden is doing fine, btw. He's masked up and staying safe.
- AFTER MAYBE TWO SILENT DAYS IN CLARKSDALE, THE BLUES IS REBORN... 365... ONLINE! Shared Experiences USA's Colleen Buyers (with support of Visit Clarksdale, David Rodwin and others) launches "Live From Clarksdale" live-stream the blues — 7 days a week. Below are a few promo pieces and pics from March through now. Haven't checked LFC out yet? Go to www.livefromclarksdale.org. And please tip tip tip the band.
- Just one month from his 80th birthday, Mississippi-born blues legend Big George Brock on April 10th — a huge loss to global blues community, and of a personal friend. We traveled the world together, recorded albums, did documentaries. And he played Cat Head dozens of times. A true gentleman of the blues and living fossil. Big George wows Cognac, France, festival at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ajyimVrpJw. Big George talks Hard Times at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxSP6ROoILM&t=25s. RIP, big man. (Vintage pics from BGB Collection, album pic by Chuck Lamb, Cognac Fest pic by me, BGB/me pic by Carol Boss.)
- Around the start of April, my Cat Head store's physical location at 252 Delta Avenue, downtown, closed for two months (April/May) due to the pandemic. No worries. I kept plenty of busy with festival responsibilities, live-streams, Tourism duties, applying for Covid loans and beefing up my Cat Head web store at www.cathead.biz. Crazy, crazy times for everyone.
- After constantly monitoring Fed and State regulations and talking nearly daily with our mayor, we were finally forced to officially cancel Juke Joint Festival on March 23rd. Thanks to LiveFromClarksdale.org (Colleen, David, Brook), filmmaker Ted Reed, Visit Clarksdale Tourism, Visit Mississippi, Clarksdale Chamber, Walton Family Foundation and our musician friends... we held the first (and hopefully last!) Virtual Juke Joint Festival Celebration on Sat., April 18th, featuring 27 acts in 9 hours plus the premiere of a 1-hour JJF documentary film by Reed. Relive the day at https://www.livefromclarksdale.org/jukejointfestival. Thanks to everyone who made it possible and tip tip tipped the bands.
- Sean "Bad" Apple opened his much-anticipated new Bad Apple Blues Club in the former Club 2000 juke joint location beside the historic New Roxy on Issaquena Avenue in Clarksdale. He'd planned to open for Juke Joint Festival in April, but... well... you know. Want to book his awesome club for a private, more-pandemically-safe blues show? Email him at email@example.com. This week he's open Fri-Sat at 7pm. He also plans to start running special guitar workshops at some point next year.
- LiveFromClarksdale.org-founder Colleen Buyers celebrated her [redacted]th birthday at Hambone Gallery — complete with cake!
- Pretty low key month, but still in-person blues 2 to 4 days a week and live-streamed blues 365. (Shown: July 4th-ish fireworks on Issaquena.)
- Our lovely friends from Memphis — husband and wife leaders of the Side Street Steppers — played an excellent LiveFromClarksdale.org outdoor show in July. Unfortunately, we all ended up having to get Covid tests due to a "positive" attendee. Fortunately, no one else contracted it. Close call. You can bet that we all tightened up our acts (even more!) when it came to masking and social distancing after that. #VisitMSResponsibly, please, so we can keep our music playing. Thanks, y'all.
- Cat Head's 18th Anniversary! Lots of satisfied customers. (I'm pretty sure.) Lots of festivals. Lots of films, books and recording projects. Lots of overseas blues tours... and lots more in 18 years. THANKS, Y'ALL! Poster and pics below from the Anniversary celebration day — including Derick Kemp's annual Clarksdale Drummer's Award, given to Quicksand this year.
- Visit Clarksdale Tourism director Bubba O'Keefe and I took a "fam tour" with Delta Bohemian Tours' Billy Howell in August to see how he shows Clarksdale and Coahoma County to visiting tourists. Fantastic, informative and entertaining tour — featuring DBT's iconic red Jeep. Personally, I highly recommend it, y'all! Check it out at www.deltabohemiantours.com.
- MLK Park's August "Super Bloom" courtesy of Collective Seed & Supply and their friends and supporters was beautiful. Since Red's Lounge was basically across the street from it, I asked Big Red what he thought of it. "Snakes! That's what I think about it!," he declared. (Ayler Pug had no reptilian fears. She loooved the Super Bloom.)
- Clarksdale hosted 3 or 4 public live shows a week plus daily live-streams via Live From Clarksdale.
- Not much else I can remember from September (!), except that musician Robin "Superbad" Lane restored Foster "Mr. Tater" Wiley's guitar monument on Cat Head's front porch. Thanks. Gone but not forgotten.
OCTOBER - 2020's "Festival Month" in Clarksdale!
We turned the lights back on in October, y'all. And we did it as safely as we could — utilizing the great outdoors, social distancing, free masks, handsanitizer dispensers, live-streams and masking requirements to make it all possible.
10/3 - Deak's Harmonica Block Party.
10/17 & 10/31 - Cat Head front porch music.
10/16-17 - MS Delta TN Williams Festival (virtual).
10/15-18 - Deep Blues Fest.
10/24 - Light Blues Festival & Chili Cookoff.
10/30-31 - Cruzn The Crossroads Car Show.
10/29-11/1 - Hambone Festival.
- We confirmed a new state flag for Mississippi on election day this year — seen here at Clarksdale City Hall a week or two later! Looking good.
- Seems like there was some other stuff to vote on as well (?), but all I really remember is bluesman/military veteran Watermelon Slim's stirring tribute to our democracy on Cat Head's front porch on November 3rd.
- On Thurs., 11/19, we held a festive Downtown Holiday Open House w/four blues acts playing downtown, including Preston Rumbaugh (shown here at Cat Head), Lucious Spiller, Watermelon Slim and Ghalia Volt.
- This Friday, 12/4, don't miss the big Holiday Art Bazaar with live music at Collective Seed & Supply (co-sponsored by Collective and Lambfish Art).
- Also, watch www.cathead.biz Music Calendar for New Year's Eve events planned at Bad Apple Blues Club, Hambone Gallery and Auberge Clarksdale Hostel... with more likely to come, y'all. #VisitMSResponsibly.
MORE 2020 HIGHLIGHTS via Cat Head's resurrected Cat Head Update e-newsletters:
|SOUNDS AROUND TOWN and LIVE FROM CLARKSDALE = "live" blues music in Clarksdale.|
|CAT HEAD really really really appreciates y'all! Please check out our expanded WEB STORE for your gift-giving needs... www.cathead.biz. THANKS!|
|Y'all rock! THANKS for your continued shopping excursions in our pandemic-expanded WEB STORE at www.cathead.biz. Shop now for yourself and all of the little elves in your life. Tis the season for new books, music, hoodies, tees, hats, artwork and one-of-a-kind Cat Head gifts. HO HO HO! Oh, of course, if you can visit in-person, that's even better. We're here to serve you Mon-Fri 11am-4pm plus Sat till 5pm.|
|GRAMMY AWARD NOMINATIONS include Memphis and Mississippi blues favorites...|
|GRAMMY AWARDS ANNOUNCED at https://www.grammy.com/grammys/news/2021-grammys-complete-nominees-list|
Best Traditional Blues Album
ALL MY DUES ARE PAID Frank Bey
YOU MAKE ME FEEL Don Bryant
THAT'S WHAT I HEARD Robert Cray Band
CYPRESS GROVE Jimmy "Duck" Holmes
RAWER THAN RAW Bobby Rush
Best Contemporary Blues Album
HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND YET? Fantastic Negrito
LIVE AT THE PARAMOUNT Ruthie Foster Big Band
THE JUICE G. Love
BLACKBIRDS Bettye LaVette
UP AND ROLLING North Mississippi Allstars
|WHAT'S UP? New blues, jazz, Mississippi and other relevant info from the worldwide web...|
|How successful have LIVE FROM CLARKSDALE's daily blues live-streams been?|
|Ask the musicians. Ask the venues who've participated. It ain't big money, but the viewer tips via Paypal, Venmo, etc., have definitely helped with basic survival in our music community. With VisitClarksdale.com's support, LiveFromClarksdale.org has also kept our little blues tourism town of Clarksdale, Mississippi, visible every single day during the covid crisis. Our fans around the globe know that the lights never went completely out here, and we'll be ready for them when they plan their next pilgrimage to The Crossroads.|
A few facts and figures, courtesy of Colleen at Live From Clarksdale:
- LFC typically reaches 40,000+ people a month... more than 2x the size of our population.
- April's Virtual Juke Joint Festival Celebration spanned 9hrs and included 27 acts in a continuous stream where 10,000+ people watched live. It ultimately reached 200k+.
- Folks tune in from around the world. Even this far into the pandemic, LFC still has regular audiences from 6 continents. This week, people watched live from Italy at 2am, Brazil, Australia, Nepal, etc.
- Interestingly, the biggest LFC/online audience is currently from Mississippi. They watch online, then road-trip in person.
WATCH TODAY (it's free, but please tip, y'all) via LiveFromClarksdale.org and https://www.facebook.com/LiveFromClarksdale/.
|Plan now for 2021 CLARKSDALE (and vicinity) BLUES FESTIVALS and more:|
2021 is coming! Plan now for what we hope will be a fun, safe year of festivals and special events in Clarksdale, Mississippi... and everywhere else. Here's a sampling of what to plan for, below.
- 10/10, 2021 - Super Blues Sunday!
- 10/14-17, 2021 - Deep Blues Fest & Delta Busking Stages (heavy blues, rock, Americana), www.deepbluesfest.com.
- 5/6, 2021 - Memphis, TN - Blues Music Awards (BMAs) w/Blues Hall of Fame inductions on 5/5, www.blues.org.
|BLACK UNIT TRIO's uber-rare 1968 spiritual/free-jazz album reissued beautifully on heavy vinyl... |
|Let's be honest. To most folks, the idea of "free" or "avant" or "experimental" jazz music is, well... less than appealing. So, where's a good place for the curious to start? There are acts and albums that touch on "it" or attempt to ease you in, but why? While I don't recommend you go full "Brotzmann" in the beginning (as I did), I do think that as with all important subgenre's, you just got to reach for the real-deal to know if it's for you.|
So, that said, here is the album.
Black Unity Trio's "Al Fatihah." The ultra-rare 1968 recording has just been reissued for the first time ever on heavy vinyl. The album starts mellow and exotic... spritual; then, all hell breaks loose, eases off... then it rinses and repeats (think: calm-storm-calm / spiritual-chaos-spiritual). There is just enough structure to make you hum a few of the sweet spots later.
Anyway, it's a limited (and perhaps one-time) vinyl reissue, so check out the YouTube version below, and if you like it, then order at the other link below ASAP. I tried to get a few wholesale copies to resell at Cat Head but couldn't, so I have no dog in this hunt. Just a fan. A big fan.