2007 Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival


My weekend was unusual. It involved plenty of the following: second-hand smoke, heat exhaustion, cotton crop, fifes, drums, homemade guitars, fried grits, fried shrimp sandwiches, fried green tomato sandwiches, fried alligator on a stick, fried etc.

I was in downtown Clarksdale, Miss. for a friend's art show, but the 20th annual Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival ended up taking over large parts of my visit. It was something like 110°, and most of the events and stages were set up outdoors. Somehow no one died.

Bobby Rush headlined Friday night. I knew little about the man. Turns out he's made some of the sickest gospel-perv-funk in the solar system since the '70s. He's something like 67 but still rocks a mean theatrical pelvic thrust. He had three booty dancers on stage, all of whom were of considerably different shapes and sizes. Here's what I managed to capture of Mr. Rush:



Of all the songs he performed, this would have to be my favorite:

Bobby Rush – "Big Fat Woman"

A lot of the local talent tended to revolve around Cat Head, the essential Clarksdale blues and folk art shop. I took these within said wrote typed shop:



The Cat Head folks had a stage set up right outside the shop. I saw a _lot_ of acts perform on that stage, too many to rattle off the top of my head. But Johnny Lowebow certainly stands out:


He sat in front of an abridged drum set and struck his snare with the same hand that strummed his peculiar homemade electric guitar. He played rowdy two-minute blues-rock songs and didn't give a fuck. He didn't allow much time for applause between songs. I actually had to interrupt him just to get a word in. I gave him $10, and he kicked his cardboard box of CD-Rs over to me and told me to take three, which I did.

I later found out that Lowebrow lives in Memphis and is a bookstore owner. Also, his homemade instrument is a cigar box guitar, and cigar box guitars are apparently called "lowebrows." Here is a track off his album 4. (He also has a nice one called "Katrina Dog," but this one's slightly better.)

Johnny Lowebow – "Get Away

In case you're still not convinced, here's more Lowebrow:

Another Cat Head affiliate was Mr. Tater. I kept hearing stories around town about the guy, and he became something of a mythical entity for me. The gallery owners eventually sent me on a mission to find Tater and book him to play outside the gallery. I finally tracked him down. He was fumbling down the main strip. I gave him the skinny and walked to the gallery with him. I didn't understand much of what he said, but he managed to communicate that he would soon return with his equipment. He ended up playing _in_ the gallery, which wasn't the idea. 'Cos, you know, people gotta talk about art and shit in there:


Tater's performance lasted about 30 minutes. It was a bit confusing. He's something of a Jandek of the Delta. He played two or three chords and sort of hummed/sang along. Before he left, he mumbled something about not wanting to go to prison. Sadly, I didn't buy any of Tater's music, but I did cop a DVD from him. If you ask nicely, I'll YouTube it one of these days.

This isn't the only off-topic post I'll have this week, so deal. A few more pics for good measure:




Thanks to Jenks for the tips.