44th Annual Delta Blues & Heritage Festival Rolls On

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Nathan & The Zydeco Cha Chas Creole Band from Lafayette, LA entertained a crowd of thousands at the 44th An- nual Delta Blues & Heritage Festival in Greenville, MS. The event was headlined by Mississippi’s own Bobby Rush. (Photo by Linda Walker)

The world’s oldest Blues festival, the Delta Blues & Heritage Festival, rolls on for its 44th year in the City of Greenville, Mississippi. In an effort of “Keeping the Blues Alive”, by making fans feel that “Da Blues is like Comin’ home”, the festival commenced on Saturday, September 18, 2021 and was sponsored by the Mississippi Action for Community Education, Inc. (MACE).

Even under the threat of rain,  predicted by weather forecasters, this year saw the return of the largest Blues festival in Mississippi. The festival was held in the Washington County Convention Center where accommodations and amenities were more conducive to the enjoyment of fans and a pleasurable festival experience.

The lineup brought an eclectic group of diverse Blues music that was well appreciated by true Blues fans. Additionally, there was a Southern Soul band of musicians, leading the trajectory of the festival away from the traditional Blues format that has sustained the festival over the years. For sure, this divergence satisfies two very different fan bases.

The Delta Blues & Heritage Festival had a Main Stage that housed the established headliners. The Jukehouse Stage catered to local upcoming artists with guest appearances from some of the headliners as a special treat to loyal fans. Also present were  scouts that identify talent to round out their rosters for other festivals and showcase events. The Jukehouse Stage featured Pat Thomas, Grandboiz Band, Neicy Redd, Tammy Gibson, Sunset Finale, and Jake & The Pearl Street Jumpers. Butch Mudbone and The Kattawar Brothers also joined the Jukehouse performers.

The Main Stage starts each year with the world-renowned Fife and Drum Band from Oxford, Mississippi followed by Pat Thomas, The Brothers Mike & Jerry Kattawar, Native American Bluesman Butch Mudbone, and local favorite – the Mississippi Hummin’ Boy and his “Choo Choo Train” and “Shoo Fly.”

The Main Stage also played host to festival first-timers: The Eric Hughes Blues Band, whose  Memphis/Beale Street Blues Rock sound can be heard in songs like “Icebox Blues”, and the Chicago stylings of the Johnnie “B” & Queen Iretta Blues Band. Johnnie “B” showed off some of his fancy Chicago Blues guitar skills on two Blues standards.  Queen Iretta caught the fashion eye of the crowd with a stunning all-white ensemble And she backed up her fashion sense by bringing the heat in her Blues song, “Grown ‘A’ Woman”. Nathan & The Zydeco Cha Chas penetrated the festival with their infectious dance music from South Lafayette, Louisiana. Uncle Nathan Williams, Sr. played the accordion with two driving guitars and features from a young 15-year-old Creole vocalist and rubboard master, “Zydeco Buddy” electrified the audience with his showmanship and dazzling good looks. The crowd fell right into the dance hall circuit sounds with some fans showing off their Zydeco Two-Step. Nathan said, “I’ve been in the music business for over 35 years sharing this Creole music of mine around the world.”  Uncle Nathan invited the fans to come to Lafayette where the “crawfish got soul and the alligators sing the Blues.” This was the first time Nathan & The Zydeco Cha Chas played the Delta Blues Festival. Festivalgoers showed their appreciation with a standing ovation.

Sweet Angel, the “Redbone with a Saxophone” Blues woman, fired up the Main Stage with exquisite showmanship and sexy up-temp originals ending with a sax inspired cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain.”

Festival regular, Nathaniel Kimble “Backed It Up” along with several of his crowd-pleasing R&B singles that always cause a sing-along and dance party with each new song.

Bad, Bad Bobby Rush headlined the main stage as he has for 43 of the 44 years that the festival has been in existence.  Rush states, “I plan on being at the Delta Blues & Heritage Festival for as long as I possibly can because I know the importance of this Blues music that we created down here in the Delta that the world loves. We, as African Americans, must preserve and hold on to our culture. Blues music is a gift that the good Lord has given us and it’s our responsibility to pass it down for generations to come.”

Errick Simmons, the Mayor of Greenville, thanked the MACE staff for continuing to spotlight the “High Cotton and High Culture” of the Mississippi Delta to the world through Blues music.

The festival night concluded with the Southern Soul parade of stars which included J-Wonn, O.B. Buchana, and Tucka.

The Mississippi Delta Blues & Heritage Festival always occurs on the 3rd Saturday of September in Greenville, Mississippi.

The sponsors of the 44th Annual Delta Blues & Heritage Festival were the Mississippi Arts Commission, Amerigroup, Harlow’s Casino Resort & Spa, Mitchell Companies, Greenville CVB, Southland Management Corporation, Entergy, Foundation for the Mid-South, MSDH, City of Leland, Washington County Mississippi, and Visit Mississippi.

Two time Grammy Award winner Bad, Bad Bobby Rush, headliner of the 44th Annual Delta Blues & Heritage Festival, and his new dancer, The China Doll. (Photos by Linda Walker)
Southern Soul artist Nathaniel Kimble
Johnnie “B” and Queen Iretta
Sweet Angel, the Blues Saxophone Queen
Native American Bluesman Butch Mudbone

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44th Annual Delta Blues & Heritage Festival Rolls On

By Brinda Fuller Willis
September 24, 2021