David Kimbrough Jr Merges Folk Traditions at the Hill Country Picnic 2013

Fayetteville, Arkansas-based musician David Kimbrough Jr is one of the sons of the late Hill Country blues legend Junior Kimbrough. Not surprisingly, he has continued to play in the Hill Country tradition which his father helped to popularize around the world, but what is surprising is his experiments with the dulcimer, an instrument usually associated with Anglo-American folk music in the Appalachian region or the Ozarks. Friday night at the picnic, he performed several compositions as a duo with his dulcimer and a drummer, and he makes the dulcimer’s unique sound work within the scales of his blues tradition. In addition, he played several tunes with his larger band.

Bobby Rush Wows the Crowd at Hill Country Picnic

Bobby Rush is a living legend of the blues, and his appearance at the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic on Friday was enthusiastically received by the crowd. Performing with just his guitar, Rush told a lot of his best-known stories and sang a number of his somewhat-naughty songs before being joined on stage by Kenny Brown, the host of the festival. This was, as far as I know, Rush’s first appearance at the picnic, and it was a good one.

Eric Deaton Trio Live at the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic 2013

Eric Deaton grew up in North Carolina, but moved to Mississippi after high school to study with the masters of Hill Country blues, Junior Kimbrough and R. L. Burnside. Today, Deaton is one of the most important performers and preservers of the unique Hill Country style of blues. On Friday night, Deaton began his set with a guest drummer in place of the missing Kinney Kimbrough, but Kimbrough finally appeared half way through the set, and Deaton was also joined by guitarist Garry Burnside, one of R. L.’s sons. The music, although amplified and electric, was authentic Hill Country blues and nothing else.

Kicking Off the Annual North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic at Betty Davis’ Ponderosa

The annual North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic is a large outdoor two-day concert that was started by Mississippi bluesman Kenny Brown and his wife Sarah as a way to preserve the unique Hill Country blues tradition made famous by R. L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough. The event began as a small picnic at their house near Potts Camp, but has grown over the years and moved several times, as it is always in need of bigger quarters. This year, the picnic was held at Betty Davis’ Ponderosa, near the intersection of Highway 7 and Highway 310 south of Waterford, and it featured great music, good food and unique arts and crafts. Unfortunately, the Oxford area had received a series of strong storms on Thursday night, and although they were isolated, they were enough to leave parts of the festival grounds as mud bogs, but the area nearest the stage was laid down with grass, and the muddy areas had been bridged with large wooden pallets, so most people were able to stay clean and dry, except for the ones who got down in the mud intentionally!

No Blues in Holly Springs?

I had taken off work early on Thursday June 27th because I read online that there was live blues every Thursday night during the summer on the square in Holly Springs, Mississippi. Unfortunately, when I got to Holly Springs, there was not much going on at all, and certainly no signs of any live music. I spent the next half hour taking photographs around the courthouse square, and finally asked someone about the blues music on the square, and they told me that it would be starting up on the following week.