The death of soul and pop icon Tina Turner, who was a Haywood County, Tennessee native, hung heavy over this year’s Exit 56 Blues Festival at the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville, which was held Memorial Day weekend, as it usually is. Perhaps because of Ms. Turner’s passing, a record crowd attended the festival, which filled up most of the space from the center to an area just behind the fast food restaurants on Highway 76.
In absolutely beautiful weather, the crowd heard performances from Tennessee bluesman Linzie Butler with Rod Hurt, as well as David Evans with the Last Chance Jug Band. There were also a number of vendors, food trucks, and a classic car show. The descendants of Sleepy John Estes and Sammie Nixon were also present to meet blues fans, and Tina Turner was remembered with a moment of silence. A second day on Sunday was dedicated strictly to female blues performers and closed out the annual event.