Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Jessie Mae Hemphill Headstone Update

Yesterday, I was finally able to order Jessie's headstone. With many thanks to the Rodgers Funeral Home in Coldwater, MS, we are getting a large, grey, slate stone (4 feet hight 3 feet wide, base is 5 feet long) with a color photograph and two vases on each end. The back of the stone will have Hemphill etched on it, facing Highway 51, along with an eagle flying with the rising sun. The front of the stone, will have Jessie's full name, dates, and a verse from her song "Lord Help the Poor and Needy". It will take about 6-8 weeks, at which time we will organize an unveiling celebration. Timing wise, it looks like it will be early July before the stone is installed, marking the 1st anniversary since Jessie's passing.

We are especially grateful to Shonda Warner, who paid for the remaining balance of the stone and the Rodgers Funeral Home, who donated about $1500 worth so that we could get a larger stone with the little money we had. Thank you also to everyone who donated to Jessie's funeral fund last summer.

More news will follow soon...

Monday, May 14, 2007


This may sound silly, but I have incredible joy at looking at my little plants and watching them grow. Even more special, are the new pumpkin plants that sprouted up from the rotting cracases of last year. Today, they actually began flowering. I have no idea what pimpkin plants actually do, so this will be a learning experience for me. I only know them as jack-o-lanterns, who suddenly appear on the patches, where you can wander around and find the one who speaks to you. And maybe this year, with good fortune, I will have my own little patch to pick from. Hehehehehehehe!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

2nd annual North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic

Last July’s inaugural North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic was a resounding success, drawing over 1,000 people to a rural site in Potts Camp in Marshall County. The festival demonstrated the vitality of the contemporary blues scene in North Mississippi, and in light of the tremendous public response this year’s event has been extended to two days. Potts Camp is located off of Route 78, about halfway between Memphis and Tupelo.

The festival celebrates the legacies of departed North Mississippi blues legends including R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, and Othar Turner, and the festival will once again feature many of their children and grandchildren. These include Duwayne Burnside, and his band the Mississippi Mafia; the Burnside Exploration, featuring Cedric and Garry Burnside; David Kimbrough; the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band, led by Othar Turner’s 17-year-old granddaughter Sharde Thomas.

Other “second generation” acts returning to the event include Kenny Brown, R.L. Burnside’s longtime guitarist and “adopted son;” and the Reverend John Wilkins, son of pre-WWII recording artist Robert Wilkins, whose song “Prodigal Son” was covered by the Rolling Stones. Also returning to the festival are soul-blues legend Bobby Rush, Jimbo Mathus and Knockdown South, T-Model Ford, Cary Hudson with Blue Mountain, Jocco Rushing with Fried Chicken & Gasoline, and John Barnett.

Additions this year include the North Mississippi Allstars, whose leader Luther Dickinson grew up listening to R.L. Burnside and attending Othar Turner’s fife and drum picnics; the Oxford-based Taylor Grocery Band, which features Junior Kimbrough’s son Kinney Kimbrough on drums and vocals; and Alvin Youngblood Hart, Danny Lancaster, and Olga Wilhelmine Mathus.

Potts Camp resident Kenny Brown, who has been playing Hill Country blues since he was a young boy with artists including Mississippi Joe Callicott and Johnny Woods, conceived the festival. “The original idea for this thing was to get all the Hill Country acts we could together at one time here in North Mississippi,” says Brown. “I know from first hand experience how popular the music is all over the world, but we previously didn’t have an opportunity to celebrate our shared heritage here on our home turf. Last year we had a better turn out than we expected and it was wonderful for the performers to be able to hang out together and see the audience having such a great time. Sara Davis and the other organizers did a great job of getting everything together. This year we’re adding another day and some more acts, and we’re looking forward to an even greater turnout. Last year we had people from seventeen states and three foreign countries and I’m sure it will be even better this year. We’ll have plenty of food and a camping area.”

The festival is run by the non –profit organization North MS Hill Country Picnic, Inc., and enjoys great support and sponsorship from North Mississippi communities. Camping will be allowed both nights, coolers are permitted, and vendors will sell local delicacies including barbeque and fried catfish. A portion of each ticket will be donated to MusiCares©, a charity run by the Recording Academy that provides free health care for musicians in need. Sponsors to-date include Flick’s Country Restaurant, R & B Feder Charitable Foundation, Paragon Casino, Freeland & Freeland, One Day Signs, Holly Springs Tourism, Oxford Tourism, and Budweiser.

For more information visit the website

Friday, May 04, 2007

wet one

daaaaaaamn! it's a wet one today in NOLA! we are pretty much washed away in uptown. every street is flooded in some parts a foot and a half. i walked, no, waded my way to the coffee shop to check email and was pretty astounded at how much water there is! the good news is that our street is dry (don't worry mom). at times like these, you can really see the difference in ground levels, which are hardly noticeable in dry times.

as i sit, another storm cell is cutting loose....

...the good part, is that i won't have to wash my hair today!