Mississippi music’s roots run deep, and this month, the state will salute all that implies with A Celebration of Mississippi’s Music Heritage, presented by the Jimmie Rodgers Foundation and the Mississippi State University Riley Center for Education and Performing Arts in partnership with the Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Division.
Slated for August 20-21, the two-day event will complement BMI songwriter, artist, instrumentalist, and historian extraordinaire Marty Stuart’s Sparkle & Twang: Marty Stuart’s American Musical Odyssey, which is on display at the MSU Riley Center through September 18, 2010.
The fun kicks off Friday, August 20 at 6 p.m. with an intimate songwriters-in-the-round performance at the MSU Riley Center’s theater, featuring Meridian, Mississippi native and award-winning songwriter Don Poythress, whose work has been recorded by Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, Tim McGraw, and more, as well as Nashville hit-makers Walt Aldridge and Steve Dean, who have composed chart-toppers for an array of country, rock and gospel artists. Admission is $10. Attendees may soak up the Sparkle & Twang exhibit before, after, or even during the show.
Saturday, for a $15 admission that includes lunch, attendees will enjoy panel discussions and live performances that dig into Mississippi’s role as the cradle of American roots music, traversing expert analysis of the legacy of native son Jimmie Rodgers and the intertwined paths of blues, country, gospel and rock and roll. The event-capping celebration, “The Next Generation of Blues” concert, kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and features Eddie Cotton, Grady Champion, Dexter Allen & the Jarekus Singleton Band. Tickets are $25.
Special packages offering admission to events both days are available for $40. For more information and to purchase tickets in advance, please contact the MSU Riley Center (2200 5th St. • Meridian, MS) at 601-696-2200 or www.msurileycenter.com.
Saturday, August 21
10:15 am: Registration (lunch orders confirmed)
11:00 – 11:50 a.m.: Heritage Tourism and Mississippi Music
Scott Barretta (MS Blues Trail), Barry Mazor (MS Country Trail), Dr. Edgar Smith (MS Blues Commission), TBD (Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Division)
Since 2006, the Mississippi Blues Trail has dedicated over one hundred markers, and this year the Mississippi Country Trail was initiated with markers acknowledging Meridian’s Jimmie Rodgers and Philadelphia’s Marty Stuart. The panel will discuss the implications of the trails for economic development and they allow us to reconsider our rich musical heritage.
Noon – lunch break: Interpreted tour of Sparkle and Twang exhibit
Boxed lunches will be ordered for all advance ticket purchases and any “walk-ups” at registration. Order must be placed by 11:00 a.m.
1 – 1:50 pm: Multi-media presentation on Jimmie Rodgers’s legacy in American music
Barry Mazor, author of Meeting Jimmie Rodgers: How America’s Original Roots Music Hero Changed the Pop Sounds of a Century
Mazor’s presentation will feature video and audio recordings and demonstrate how Jimmie Rodgers’ music resonated not only in country music, but also in pop, blues, rock and jazz.
2:00 – 2:50 pm: A talk with country-rock pioneer Chris Ethridge
A discussion with the native Meridian on topics including his work with groups including the International Submarine Band and the Flying Burrito Brothers, his years on the road with Willie Nelson, and his session work with artists including Roger McGuinn, Randy Newman, and Ry Cooder.
2:50 pm – 3:15 pm: Break
3:15 pm – 4:15 pm: Musical performance and discussion with L.C. Ulmer and Jake Fussell
81-year old L.C. Ulmer is best known as a bluesman, but he’s also played country music for most of his life. Ulmer will perform on guitar, banjo, and mandolin, accompanied by Jake Fussell, an Oxford-based guitarist in his 20s who’s skilled at early styles of blues and old-time country music.
4:30 pm – 5:30 pm: Roundtable with “The Next Generation of the Blues”
Highway 61 radio host Scott Barretta discusses the state of blues in the 21st century with the evening’s performers: Dexter Allen, Grady Champion, Eddie Cotton, Jr., and Jarekus Singleton.
7:30 pm: “The Next Generation of Blues” concert
Featuring Eddie Cotton, Grady Champion, Dexter Allen & the Jarekus Singleton Band.
Tickets: $25 in historic theater