11th Annual Highway 61 Blues Festival by Kim Welsh

Posted on 7/10/2010 by Monica Yasher

Billy Johnson and Randy Magee of Leland, MS certainly know how to throw a good blues fest! The Leland Blues Project proudly presented the 11th Annual Highway 61 Blues Festival on Saturday, June 5, 2010. This year's festival was dedicated to John Dawson Winter III who headlined the festival. His sensational emergence on the national rock and blues scene in 1969 included the first of many hit records and featured the song, “Leland Mississippi Blues” which paid tribute to his roots there. The festival also honored the memory of veteran blues artist Lil' Dave Thompson who was tragically taken from us in an auto accident while returning home to Greenville, Mississippi from his last tour. The lineup included Big Jack Johnson, Big George Brock, T-Model Ford, John Horton and the Special Occasion Band, Mickey Rogers and the Soulmasters, The Mike Holloway Band, The Duff Durrough Band, Eddie Cusic, Pat Thomas, Alphonso Sanders and Howl-N-Madd Perry, Adam Gussow, The Jimmy Philips Band, Lazy Bone, 19th Street Red Band, and Kairos Gospel and Blues Band. Though it began as a blustery day, scattered light rain cooled the hot blues crowd and Johnny Winter scorched the evening with fiery Texas blues and a grand finale of “Highway 61 Revisited.”

On Sunday, June 6th, a Blues Marker was dedicated to Johnny Winter in Leland at 302 North Broad Street. Winter’s grandfather and father, a former mayor of Leland, owned and operated a cotton business, J. D. Winter and Son, on the corner where the Blues Marker is placed. The door to their office is now housed in the Highway 61 Blues Museum along with many other collectables from Johnny Winter and other blues legends from the area. Johnny Winter was born in Beaumont, Texas in 1944 while his father was stationed in the Army, but he spent some of his childhood in Leland. The Winter family, long prominent in local social, civic, and business circles, was also well known for its musical endeavors. Johnny and Edgar’s father, John Dawson Winter, Jr., played and sang at churches, weddings, Kiwanis and Rotary Club gatherings, and neighborhood front porch concerts at the Winter home. His father, John D. Winter, Sr., a native of Coffeeville, MS had been a partner in the Winter-Mann Co. which later became J. D. Winter & Son. The company sold locally produced cotton.

Johnny Winter saluted Leland in the song, “Leland Mississippi Blues” in 1969 on the first of his many hit albums for Columbia Records. Most of his favorite blues artists including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, B. B. King, and Robert Johnson, were born in Mississippi. However, he says that his first exposure to the blues came in Beaumont listening to a blues radio show in the kitchen with the family’s maid. With encouragement from their parents, the Winter brothers began performing and recording in their teens. The self-titled album “Johnny Winter” created a sensation upon its release in 1969, establishing him as a premier figure in high-energy blues-rock circles. Multi-instrumentalist Edgar Winter appeared on the following album “Second Winter” and began recording with his own groups for Epic Records, scoring pop hits with the singles “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride.” In later years, Johnny produced albums by his idol, Muddy Waters, and recorded in the company of the Muddy Waters Band, James Cotton, John Lee Hooker, among other Mississippians. In 1988, after recording three albums for the blues label Alligator Records in Chicago, he became the first white musician elected to the Blues Hall of Fame. His biography, “Raisin’ Cain: The Wild and Raucous Story of Johnny Winter,” was published in May of 2010.

The historic Holly Ridge Store located 10 miles east of Leland hosted a blues jam after the reception featuring performers from the festival. The Holly Ridge Jam was dedicated to David Burchfield, leader of The Electric Mudd, who also died in an auto accident on December 26, 2009 at the age of 32. He was living in Leland but hailed from Shaw, Mississippi. This free event was sponsored by The Leland Blues Project in conjunction with The Mississippi Delta Blues Society of Indianola. Dave Wright of  WEFT in Champaign, Illinois plays vintage blues on “Dave’s Blues” Tuesdays from 11:30 to 2pm. He served as a walking blues encyclopedia and we enjoyed a stroll to the nearby graves and marker for Charlie Patton, Willie Foster, and Asie Payton. On the way home, we stopped southeast of Belzoni to view the elder statesman of blues piano, Joe Willie “Pinetop” Perkins’ new Blues Marker. The Pinetop Perkins Museum there is almost complete!

I’m heading to Ireland to trace my Celtic roots, so y’all enjoy a wonderful summer and try to catch some blues on CD, the radio, or live… just try not to live ‘em!

Warm wishes,

“Fest Junkie” in Bluesiana

Article Photograph Copyright © 2010 Kim Welsh. All Rights Reserved.

American Blues News Staff

What makes American Blues News unique is our coverage across America. Here is our lineup:

Mon: Memphis Correspondent - Robert "Nighthawk" Tooms
Nighthawk is our resident globetrotter and man behind the scenes, as he tours with the Reba Russell Band.

Tues: New York Correspondent - J. Blake
Blake is the American Blues News review and interview guru. You may catch him out and about in NY playing the blues.

Wed: National Correspondent - Monica Yasher
Monica is our executive director and artist interview specialist. You can catch Monica singing the blues around Pittsburgh or working on some country music songs in Nashville.

Thurs: Washington, DC Correspondent - Virginiabluesman
Geraldo offers inteviews and reviews. You may have seen him at an Ana Popovic concert or conversed with him on her websites, as he offers administrative support with her music.

Fri: Northeast Photographer - Nelson Onofre
Nelson offers a Friday column of blues photography and pictorial support for the interviews covered by the team.

Jim Stick in Colorado
Jim will be focusing on the Blues Festivals in the beautiful state of Colorado, and the artists that live and visit there.

Maureen Elizabeth, our resident art correspondent, will be focusing on blues art as she explores the creation of CD covers, or speaking with artists who also have a love of creating pictorial art in addition to their music! She may also feature some of her good friends in the Pittsburgh area. In her love of art, you may find Maureen's photography accompanying writer's articles on our pages. Maureen is also our marketing director.

Pittsburgh correspondent and photographer, CR Bennett, will share the Pittsburgh scene with all of you. You may also see CR's pictures accompanying other writer's articles.

We head to the big state of Texas! Abby Owen, our Texas correspondent.

Another big area to cover, the West Coast with Casey Reagan, Casey will feature many artists and events on this ocean's shores.

Lastly, we have our roving blues entertainment writer,
Chef Jimi.

And of course, we will surprise you sometimes!

Internet Marketingdata recovery