CAT HEAD UPDATE NEWSLETTER
"All the blues that's fit to print"
|HAPPY 20TH ANNIVERSARY to us! Thanks for 20 mind-blowing years of CAT HEAD store in Clarksdale, y'all!|
|Welcome to our "has it really been 2 decades?" anniversary edition of the CAT HEAD UPDATE e-newsletter.|
Our official "first store sale" anniversary was actually July 25th, but just like our official Grand Opening in 2002, we'll celebrate our official 20th Anniversary at CAT HEAD during Sunflower River Blues Fest this weekend — August 11-14.
There's still time for y'all to hop into your car or onto a flight and book a room (lodging list at VisitCarksdale.com) and rock out to the real-deal blues at Sunflower (sunflowerfest.org), Cat Head's Anniversary and Clarksdale's clubs/jukes/restaurants (Music Calendar at https://www.cathead.biz/music-calendar). Get a preview of the music scene here via LiveFromClarksdale.org. And hey, while you're planning a visit, maybe set up a Delta tour with deltabohemiantours.com.
Still can't get here yet? Bring here to you. Shop the fast and friendly CAT HEAD WEB STORE at www.cathead.biz for the latest logo tees, blues music, Mississippi books, local artwork and more. We've only flourished for two decades because of folks like you. Thanks so much for that.
Take care. Best, Roger (and the blues pug Ayler)
IMAGES BELOW: A few good times with blues friends (including some who are now gone but never forgotten). Plus a pic of pure pug-itude!
|SOUNDS AROUND TOWN — really and truly 365 nights of blues every year in Clarksdale... and more!|
|Below is just a regular sample week in Bluestown, USA. For the current and upcoming blues club, juke joint, restaurant and festival music lineups, please go to my MUSIC CALENDAR at www.cathead.biz, and SCROLL DOWN past the week's "Sounds Around Town" snapshot... to this year's/next year's festivals... and finally, my month or more at a glance calendar. Then, book your rooms, and hit the road for the crossroads, y'all. We'll leave the amplifier lights on for you.|
|THANKS for 20 YEARS of CAT HEAD store in Clarksdale, y'all! Come celebrate when you can...|
My first sale at CAT HEAD store in Clarksdale occurred on Thursday, July 25, 2002. A lady bought a $12 CD and paid with a ten, a two and change. There was no "first one dollar bill," and if you know anything about me, then you know I'm too cheap to frame a two. Hence the infamous framed quarter behind the CAT HEAD counter.
In the past 20 years, plenty of interesting folks have walked through the CAT HEAD door — including Robert Plant, Dan Akroyd, Tom Waits, Caroline Kennedy, Jools Holland, Ty Pennington, Andrew Zimmern, Morgan Freeman, Ozzy Osbourne, Alex Chilton, Ian Astbury, James Cotton (w/Sunshine Sonny Payne), Gip Gipson, Teddy Johnson — plus journalists from the New York Times, LA Times, PBS Newshour, NPR, Sirius-XM, ARTE, CBC, BBC, 60 Minutes, The Economist, Forbes, USA Today, Travel + Leisure, and tons of other blues/music/travel magazines and guide books. And in that time, the blues folks who played outside the store included Honeyboy Edwards (his final public performance), Big George Brock, Riley Coatie, Clarine Wagner, Robert "Bilbo" Walker, Willie King, T-Model Ford, Sam Carr, Floyd Lee, Paul "Wine" Jones, Odell Harris, John Weston, Cedell Davis, Robert Belfour, (Jessie Mae Hemphill, who just supported Mr. Belfour from her wheelchair), L.C. Ulmer, Eddie Cusic, Mr. Tater, Wesley "Junebug" Jefferson, Josh "Razorblade" Stewart, Hezekiah Early/Elmo Williams/Lil Poochie, Cadillac John, Australia "Honeybee" Jones, Lucious Spiller, Big A, Jimbo Mathus, Christone "Kingfish" Ingram, Duwayne Burnside, Garry Burnside, David Kimbrough, Robert Kimbrough Sr., Libby Rae Watson, Kenny Brown, Lightnin' Malcolm, Big T, Sean "Bad" Apple, RL Boyce, Lala, Little Joe Ayers, Bill Abel Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, 19th Street Red, Terry "Harmonica" Bean, Charlie Musselwhite, Little Willie Farmer, etc., etc.
The past 20 years have also taken me to far flung places to promote Clarksdale and present the blues, including Australia, Brazil, France, Italy, Israel, Norway, Switzerland and the UK (plus fun domestic stuff from New York to Florida, Chicago to the Mississippi Gulf Coast). I've met tens of thousands of y'all music fans both across my CAT HEAD counter and in those wonderful places around the globe.
THANKS to everyone who has made the journey possible so far. Still lots to do, of course, so lots more of "that" to come. Here's to the next 20 years!
A few quotes to kinda sum up the past two decades of the CAT HEAD experience:
- "Pioneers Take the Arrows, Settlers Take the Land." - various sources.
- "You should just move here." - sound advice from Clarksdale cheerleader Bubba O’Keefe, circa 2000.
- "A year ago, I was meeting with the CEO of May Company and traveling to Hong Kong on business. Last week, I booked a blues musician named 'T-Model Ford' and set up a store display that includes a chair made out of painted cow bones. You tell me which sounds like more fun." - Roger Stolle (Press Register, 2002).
- Question: "Do you ever consider how lucky you are to do what you enjoy? That's insane, right?” Answer: - "No. You had a job. You left. Nobody else left." - from Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee series.
- "I've been living the last 20 years like I was on shore leave." - Roger Sterling, Mad Men TV show.
- "You have to pick the places you don't walk away from." - Joan Didion.
- "I moved to Clarksdale to circle the wagons, to mount a defense, to help the last generation of cotton-farming, mule-driving, juke-joint playing bluesmen deeply inhale the final breath of this amazing tradition we call Delta blues." - Roger Stolle (Hidden History of Mississippi Blues, The History Press).
- "Roger, don't believe your own bull****." - ex-girlfriend assisting with my character development.
- "The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." - Hunter S. Thompson.
- "The easiest way to be at the top of your field is to pick an extremely small field." - Ted Talk Radio Hour.
- "The bulb was already there. All I did was screw it in the socket." - Big Mac creator Jim Delligatti.
- "The problem with making it look easy is that people think it's easy." - producer Lorne Michaels.
- "Clarksdale is going to go through a significant revival in the coming years. Mark my words." - Pandora co-founder Tim Westergren.
"To understand the world, you must first understand a place like Mississippi." - author William Faulkner
- "Music is my life." - street musician Foster “Mr. Tater” Wiley
- "Ninety percent of what I made went to women, whiskey and cars. I guess I just wasted the other 10 percent." - musician Ronnie Hawkins.
- "I love this place, it's just like home — filthy and full of strangers." - Ronnie Scott describing his jazz club.
- "It’s not that life’s so short. It’s that you’re dead so long." - Anonymous.
- "Somebody’s gonna win, and somebody’s gonna lose." - juke joint owner Red Paden.
"And that’s for damn sure!!" - blues legend James “T-Model” Ford.
|34th epic SUNFLOWER RIVER BLUES & GOSPEL FESTIVAL is this weekend! Join us for it if you can...|
|Sure. Clarksdale now features over a dozen annual festivals, but this is the grandma of 'em all! When I was a tourist in the 1990s, this was arguably my favorite of the yearly blues fests I attended. Why? It was downhome, local and friendly. You could see seriously deep-blues men and women, many of whom didn't tour. This year's Sunflower is a throwback to those days with a lineup is "local," with a fabulous sampling of Mississippi Delta, North Mississippi Hill Country and Clarksdale Juke Joint styles. Details at sunflowerfest.org. Oh, plus there's gospel on Sunday... and of course... all of our blues clubs, juke joints and such will be running all weekend long (https://www.cathead.biz/music-calendar). And don't forget our Cat Head 20th Anniversary events. Find your unique lodging via VisitClarksdale.com.|
|CAT HEAD to (again) host a weekly blues radio show, this time 'in' San Diego, CA...... from Clarksdale, MS!|
|Thanks to my friends at KSDS Jazz 88.3FM San Diego — and this thing we call the 'internet' — I will soon begin hosting the CROSSROADS DELTA BLUES HOUR every week from my CAT HEAD home studio. Stay tuned for more details. In the meantime (and once the show is up and running), feel free to check out Jazz88.org for more info and other archived shows. Yes, once our new show is going, it will be available online. Till then, here's a pic from the KSDS homepage as well as my super-sophisticated home 'writing desk turned recording studio' (below).|
For those who don't know (and might even care), I used to host blues radio shows on KDHX in St. Louis and WROX in Clarksdale... in addition to those 7 fabulous years that Bill Wax called me every Thursday to chat all things Delta blues 'live' and nationwide on his Sirius-XM 'BB King Bluesville' show. Anyway, it'll be fun to be back on the air. The new show will specialize in the blues that came from this part of the world as well as the blues you can hear here today.
|CONGRATS on surely the best year yet for Clarksdale's own blues prodigy Christone "Kingfish" Ingram!|
|In case you haven't kept up... One of the nicest, most humble and talented young bluesmen on the planet — Clarksdale's Christone "Kingfish" Ingram — has been having one heck of a 2022! |
Just a sampling of why:
- US and world tours — from Australia to Clarksdale to Norway and beyond
- Grammy Award for "662" album
- Blues Music Awards as well
- opened for The Rolling Stones in London last month
- cover of Guitar World Magazine
If you haven't heard him, then pick up his latest album (maybe even from cathead.biz). If you haven't seen him yet, then check out his tour schedule at https://www.christonekingfishingram.com/kingfish-tour/. CONGRATS, Christone... you deserve all of it. Can't wait to see where you go next.
|What can I say? CAT HEAD WEB STORE is stocked up and ready to ship... almost anything almost anywhere!|
|CAT HEAD — Mississippi's blues store in Clarksdale since 2002 — is open 7 days a week at 11am (or earlier), but don't forget that we also have a massive WEB STORE that is open 24/7 at www.cathead.biz. We have tons of Clarksdale, blues and Cat Head shirts, ball caps, vinyl LPs, CDs, DVDs, books, artwork, drinkware, etc., etc. Please check it out today. Y'all are the fuel for the CAT HEAD fire. We're at 20 years and counting... thanks to you.|
|World-famous DELTA BLUES MUSEUM in Clarksdale launched a new permanent exhibit this week...|
|FROM DBM PRESS RELEASE: Working in close collaboration with the design firm, Delta Blues Museum Director Shelley Ritter has overseen the project from its inception, working to create a fuller educational story of the history of the Blues and its artists by utilizing modern exhibit materials and functionality. "It is exciting to see design ideas come to fruition, to see artist renderings become reality in our gallery," Ritter offers, adding, "We hope visitors will be just as excited to see how we're telling the story of the Blues in new ways."|
Of this latest phase of their ongoing design work, Solid Light project manager Jackson King says, "The exhibits will tell deeper stories of some of the most influential artists in Blues history and more. We at Solid Light are honored to be involved in telling the history and story of the living Blues in the place of its birth."
Fundraising for the new exhibits has been ongoing and continues. This latest exhibit installation was made possible by state funding from HB 1730 and SB 2969. Museum Board Chair Dr. William Booker appreciates the support of investing in the state's first music museum, recognizing Senator Robert Jackson, Representative Orlando Paden "and other Mississippi state leaders who see the importance of funding these new exhibits to further our mission and expand our reach."
Music fans attending the 34th annual Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival in downtown Clarksdale are encouraged to visit the Museum and celebrate the sounds of the Festival performed live on the Delta Blues Museum stage from August 12th to 14, 2022. Museum tickets may be purchased online or by calling 662-627-6820.
About the Delta Blues Museum: Established in 1979 by the Carnegie Public Library Board of Trustees and re-organized as a stand-alone museum in 1999, the Delta Blues Museum is Mississippi's first music museum. A 2013 recipient of the IMLS National Medal for Museum and Library Services - the nation's highest honor for museum and library service to the community - and a 2014 recipient of the National Arts & Humanities' Youth Program Award, the Delta Blues Museum is dedicated to creating a welcoming place where visitors find meaning, value and perspective by exploring the history and heritage of the unique American musical art form, the Blues. The Museum is also recognized as a Great River Road Interpretive Center. For more information on events or programs, please call (662) 627-6820, or visit the Museum web site at www.deltabluesmuseum.org.
|Open House this Friday at the new SHARED EXPERIENCES HQ in downtown Clarksdale...|
|NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC travel essay on The Delta and the blues by Clarksdale native Wright Thompson...|
What the Mississippi Delta teaches me about home—and hope
Finding struggle and resilience on a road trip through the birthplace of the blues.
I’ve thought a lot about home during the quarantine. The place and the idea. The way it calls to us, and the way the pulse of daily life can sometimes drown it out.
My home is near the courthouse square in Oxford, Mississippi, a vibrant modern college community. That’s where we wake up and make scrambled eggs for our toddler. But I’m from a nearby place called Clarksdale, birthplace of the Delta blues, the town that gave the world the likes of Muddy Waters, Sam Cooke, and Nate Dogg—a place where on a clear night I can hear plantation blues, the protest soul of Stax Records, and the heavy sound of G-Funk LA all mix in the open air...
READ FULL ARTICLE AT https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/clarksdale-what-the-delta-teaches-about-music-home-and-hope (where Nat Geo may ask for your email address, but I think it's worth it.).
|LATEST BLUES, MISSISSIPPI, CLARKSDALE, JAZZ AND RELATED NEWS. Check out the links below...|
|4,200-SQ FT BUILDING in a fantastic location in Clarksdale's Arts & Entertainment district FOR SALE!|
|Clarksdale, Mississippi's historic Arts & Entertainment District is open for business, y'all. And while many of the buildings have sold or changed hands in recent years and months, there are still a few great ones left. In case you don't know, we now have folks who've moved to or invested in Clarksdale from as far away as Australia and Brazil in addition to too many U.S. states to remember (but including California, Oregon, Washington, Oklahoma, Illinois, Missouri, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Florida, etc.). Our downtown has gone from just a couple restaurants and music venues twenty years ago to no less than eight restaurants and over eight weekly music venues. (After all, today's Clarksdale features live blues shows every single day plus over a dozen annual festivals.) And in the past two weeks, a guy from Arizona and a couple from New Orleans both leased retail space within sight of my Cat Head store.|
I say all this to say, that below is (I think) an excellent opportunity to become part of the Clarksdale scene. A large, historic building near such varied and successful operations as the Auberge Hostel, Hambone Gallery, The Bank (venue), Hooker Hotel/Squeezebox/Delta Digs (lodging), Yazoo Pass (restaurant), Stone Pony (restaurant), Collective Seed & Supply and more — just half a block from Cat Head.
Serious offers only, please. Read on, and if it sounds like it is for you, then it probably is........
4,200-SQUARE-FOOT BUILDING FOR SALE — 113 EAST 2ND STREET IN DOWNTOWN CLARKSDALE:
Own a fully furnished, move-in ready apartment (in back) plus a large space for your business (in front). Entrepreneurs can start a new business or move an existing one to the heard of downtown Clarksdale. Perfect for retail store or restaurant, music venue or museum.
The furnished apartment measures approximately 960 square feet and features its own private entrance in back. The open floor plan living space includes a kitchen with stove, dishwasher and large refrigerator with ice maker. There is a full bathroom with large shower and washer/dryer on the ground floor, plus there is a loft sleeping area above that measures approximately 673 square feet and includes a large open living area/bedroom and a second enclosed room.
Asking price is $129,000 as is. The Sellers are retired and wanting to travel, so they are looking for a cash deal and fast closing. They will consider any serious cash offer.
Showings by advance appointment only. For information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Plan now for all of CLARKSDALE'S FALL FESTIVALS, y'all! It's going to be absolutely unforgettable...|
|MEMPHIS FLYER explains why nearby Memphis rules when it comes to the comeback of vinyl records...|
|Yes... CAT HEAD blues store in Clarksdale does carry awesome blues vinyl records!|
|New, classic and curated! From the new highly-acclaimed (and Clarksdale-recorded) Charlie Musselwhite to the new highly-anticipated reissue of (Clarksdale's blues barber) Wade Walton's 1962 albums... plus, we still have purple vinyl copies of Clarksdale blues prodigy Kingfish's Grammy-winning "662" LP and, of course, Ted Reed's blue vinyl "Blues Trail Revisited" compilation... and plenty of awesome RL Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Son House, Robert Johnson, etc. A special curated collection online at www.cathead.biz, and the full selection in-store. CAT HEAD store at 252 Delta Ave., in downtown Clarksdale, MS, is open every day at 11am|
REISSUE OF CLARKSDALE'S WADE WALTON BLUESVILLE CLASSIC... 60 years in the waiting! Vinyl reissue of Clarksdale blues legend Wade Walton's classic Bluesville album, recorded in 1962 by legendary Rudy Van Gelder (who just two years later would record John Coltrane's epic "A Love Supreme").
Wade Walton played with Ike Turner's band in the 1940s. He's included in Paul Oliver's classic 1960 road-trip book, "Conversation with the Blues. He was known for taking breaks at the Clarksdale's Big Six Barbershop on Fourth Street (now MLK Dr.) mid haircut or shave to play some harmonica, guitar or razor strap for friends, fans and photographers. By the time I, my self, sat down for a haircut and some blues stories in the late 1990s, he was operating out of his own barbershop, a small white building with his name painted on the exterior, downtown on Issaquena Avenue.
I took off my glasses (and was therefore rendered blind as a bat), and he commenced to "clip clip clip" with his scissors. It took me a minute to realize that he was not cutting a single hair on my head. He commenced to telling stories of Ike and Tina, Muddy and others—all the while cutting around my hair. At one point, he handed me an old warped copy of his "Shake 'Em on Down" Bluesville record, pulled out from under a pile of memorabilia to the side of the barber chair. I couldn't really see it, of course. He told me the story of driving to New York with a buddy but without the money for hotel room. Following his mother's advice, he and his buddy slept in a cemetery—which his mother told him it was always a safe place to spend the night since no one went to graveyards at night.
Occasionally, he would punctuate a story by dusting the back of my neck with a soft brush full of talcum powder, as though my neck had been shaved. Then, he would return to not cutting with the "clip clip clip." After the clipping was deemed complete, I put my glasses back on, handed him a twenty, and no change came back. During the clipping, he had pointed several times at framed artifacts hanging on the wall facing the chair, to further illustrate his stories. Now, I walked up to each to see them. Among the items I recall, there was an 8x10 B&W glossy of Tina Turner with a sweet message dedicated to "Wade" and signed "Love, Tina." Maybe four feet to the left of that was an 8x10 B&W glossy of Clarksdale's Ike Turner. Ike's was signed: "What's love got to do with it? Not a g--damn thing! Ike Turner." — Roger Stolle (Cat Head)
|The amazing MISSISSIPPI BOOK FESTIVAL returns to Jackson, MS, on Saturday, August 20th...|
|So much to see, so little time! The official panel schedule was released recently for the fab MISSISSIPPI BOOK FESTIVAL in Jackson on August 20th... schedules and more at https://msbookfestival.com/schedule. See y'all there!|
The Mississippi Book Festival, a nonprofit founded by literacy advocates, launched in August 2015 on the State Capitol grounds and continues to draw thousands to its annual “literary lawn party” and book lovers’ celebration.
By its fifth year, the festival’s attendance reached 9,300 with 47 official panel discussions and activities at 10 different venues. Hundreds more enjoyed the festive music, food, social and retail vibe on the grounds outdoors. C-SPAN coverage expands its reach through live and later viewing.
Hundreds of contemporary authors — national, regional and local — connect directly with fans and new readers, as invited guests on Official Panels that explore in-depth themes, or along Authors Alley, the festival’s hub for self-published authors.
|VISIT CLARKSDALE TOURISM's director Bubba O'Keefe hits the blues festival trail to spread the word...|
|Visit Clarksdale Tourism's Bubba O'Keefe promoted Clarksdale in June at the Chicago Blues Festival (along with our state tourism partners Visit Mississippi), and Bubba is in Norway this month promoting Clarksdale at the Notodden Blues Festival (along with hometown blues hero Kingfish and others). That's Bubba smiling with Kingfish, by the way.|
|Start your room search now, y'all! 2023 JUKE JOINT FESTIVAL will be here before you know it...|
|That's it for this month, y'all! Come visit when you can. Thanks again for a great first 2 decades at CAT HEAD.|
|CAT HEAD MISSION: "To help organize and promote the blues from within." "It's the store I always wanted to walk into but could never find," Roger Stolle.|