The 7th annual Juke Joint Festival is scheduled to be held this year from April 16th to 18th, 2010 in historic Clarksdale, Mississippi. The event, held in the heart of the Mississippi Delta and near the legendary crossroads where Robert Johnson is said to have made some sort of deal, features a blues festival, nighttime jams at local blues clubs, and other related events. Some 50 blues artists will be performing during this year's Juke Joint Festival on both the daytime stages and each night at some sixteen venues.
7th Annual Juke Joint Festival
The festivities kick off on Friday, April 16th with a Mississippi Blues Trail marker dedication for WROX, Clarksville's historic hometown blues radio station. At Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art, author Bill Ferris will be signing his book Give My Poor Heart Ease at 1:00 PM on Friday, and down the street and around the corner at the Delta Blues Museum – a "must see" for any visitor, take my word for it – they'll be featuring a "conversation" with Delta blues legend Dave "Honeyboy" Edwards. Of course, there will be plenty of music blasting out of the area clubs.
On Saturday, the fun begins with the Juke Joint Festival 5K and 8K run, and the music cranks up mighty early with the Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band the "Blues, Biscuits, and Gravy Breakfast" at Sarah's Kitchen. There will be music on various stages throughout the day, with the festival headliners including Honeyboy Edwards, Super Chikan, Watermelon Slim, Big George Brock, Big Jack Johnson, and Cedric Burnside & Lightnin' Malcolm. Other performers appearing in Clarksdale during the weekend include artists like T-Model Ford, Jimmy "Duck" Holmes, Robert "Wolfman" Belfour, and many more.
2010 Juke Joint Film Festival
One of the most popular events during the festival weekend is the Juke Joint Film Festival, and this year's cinematic line-up promises to be quite entertaining. Festival attendees will have several opportunities to get off the street and rest their feet with viewings of Give My Poor Heart Ease, the blues, gospel, and folk art film shorts of William Ferris, as well as M For Mississippi: A Road Trip through the Birthplace of the Blues, a fantastic documentary with a lot of very cool blues music.
On Sunday, April 18th, Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art hosts a free "mini blues fest" that begins at 10:00 AM and runs throughout the day. Of course, there's lots of great food like BBQ and pizza, special events to be held at the Rock & Blues Heritage Museum, stuff for the kids to do, and the return of the ever-popular racing pigs. Plus, the event is about as attractively priced as a festival can be in the current economic atmosphere, with daytime events and music for free, and wristbands for nighttime performances available for a mere $10, the same as they were during the first festival seven years ago.
"We're the only festival in the world where some raggedy old blues clubs are as important as the festival's big headliners," says festival music coordinator Roger Stolle, owner of the Cat Head store in an email. "We offer the music, culture, and history that no other blues event outside of the Delta can match." The event attracts blues fans from some 15 foreign countries and almost all 50 states, yet manages to retain its small town vibe. Check with the Juke Joint Festival website for more details on this year's event.