Friday, April 28
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes is the last living practitioner of the celebrated style of “Bentonia blues” made famous by Skip James and Jack Owens. In addition, Holmes operates what is arguably the oldest juke joint left in Mississippi, the Blue Front Café, and is the organizer of one of the longest-running festivals in the state – the Bentonia Blues Festival. Holmes’ latest CD is It Is What It Is. Holmes’ manager is Oxford resident and veteran blues promoter/photographer, Dick Waterman.
Thacker Mountain Radio
Thacker Mountain Radio is a live radio show featuring weekly author readings and a wide array of musical performances from the Square in Oxford, Mississippi. The free show is taped and broadcast every Thursday at 6:00 p.m. during the fall and spring and rebroadcast every Saturday night on Mississippi Public Radio.
Thacker hosts an eclectic mix of local and national writers and musicians, performing before a live and loyal audience in Off Square books, an annex of Square Books, one of the great independent bookstores in the nation.
The Muddy Magnolias are an indie rock band based in Nashville formed in 2014 by songwriters, Jessy Wilson and Kallie North. Their songs reflect Wilson’s Brooklyn roots and North’s Texas/ Mississippi background. Their debut album, Broken People, was released in 2016 and is described as “city grit meets Delta dirt.” The Magnolias have been touring extensively (including a memorable show last year at Proud Larry’s) and recently had one of their songs included on the soundtrack of the new Ghostbusters movie. The New York Times describes their music as “merging soul and country on a shared foundation of gospel and blues.”
Saturday, April 29
The Mississippians Jazz Ensemble
The Mississippians Jazz Ensemble is the premier student jazz group at the University of Mississippi and plays a wide range of swing music from Count Basie and Duke Ellington to contemporary jazz composers. With a lineage that goes back to the 1890s, The Mississippians is one of the oldest college jazz bands anywhere. The band has performed at the Notre Dame Collegiate Jazz Festival and the Jazz Education Network’s national convention. Guest artists have included Branford Marsalis, Jeff Coffin, Roy Wooten, members of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the US Army Jazz Ambassadors and the US Air Force Airmen of Note.
Amelia Eisenhauer and the Peruvian Farm Girls
Amelia made her national debut on the final season of American Idol where she wowed the judges with her voice they described as “soulful potency”. Just one year later she’s back with her own band and her first original album titled Fortune Cookie released Jan. 2017. The album is available in iTunes.
“Put me last on the bill,” Robert Finley says, “because the party’s going to go as high as it’s going to go when I’m playing.” From someone else’s mouth that might be braggadocio, but when Finley says it, he’s just telling the truth. Onstage, he’s infectious. It’s the whole package—his sound, his songs, his energy, his look. Hailing from Louisiana, he mixes a Memphis-to-Texas electric southern grit with Nashville-clever songs. He’s gangly and graceful with an indomitable smile that radiates beneath his black ridge-top hat. “I don’t believe in doing a lot of holding back,” Finley says, “I’m going to give you everything I’ve got.”
Get Gone, the potent debut album by the Shreveport, Louisiana natives in Seratones, makes a strong case that this little-known corner of the state is fertile ground, musically speaking. A.J. Haynes (vocals), Connor Davis (guitar), Adam Davis (bass) and Jesse Gabriel (drums) serve up a combination of Southern musicality, garage rock ferocity, and general badassery.
Haynes’s powerful singing voice, first honed at Brownsville Baptist Church in Columbia, Louisiana at age 6, rings across every track. Davis’s bass and Gabriel’s playing propel every song with the grit, energy, and rawness of punk, the feeling of soul, and occasionally, a little jazz swing. The other Davis offers a clinic in guitar riffs, from swaggering blues to searing interstellar leads.
James McMurtry spins stories with a poet’s pen (“Long Island Sound”) and a painter’s precision (“She Loves Me”). Proof: The acclaimed songwriter’s new Complicated Game. McMurtry’s first collection in six years spotlights a craftsman in absolutely peak form as he turns from political toward personal (“These Things I’ve Come to Know,” “You Got to Me”). “The lyrical theme is mostly about relationships,” McMurtry says. “It’s also a little about the big old world verses the poor little farmer or fisherman. I never make a conscious decision about what to write about.”
On Blues & Ballads (A Folksinger’s Songbook) Vol. I & II, Luther Dickinson finds his way forward by retracing his steps. This ambitious double album collects twenty-one tunes from throughout his life and career—songs he wrote with his rock & roll band the North Mississippi Allstars, songs he learned from friends and family, songs passed down to him by his heroes and mentors, songs that have lived in the American subconscious for decades now—and pares them down to their irreducible elements. Voice, guitar, drums. Here and there some blues fife or Beale Street piano.
Dr. John & The Nite Trippers
The legendary Dr. John is a six-time Grammy Award-winning musician and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee. Known throughout the world as the embodiment of New Orleans’ musical legacy, Dr. John is a true icon in American culture. His colorful musical career began in the 1950s when he wrote and played guitar on some of the greatest records to come out of the Crescent City, including recordings by Professor Longhair, Art Neville, Joe Tex, Frankie Ford and Allen Toussaint.
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats practically explodes with deep, primal and ecstatic soulfulness. This stunning work isn’t just soul stirring, it’s also soul baring, and the combination is absolutely devastating to behold. You don’t just listen to this record—you experience it. So it’s entirely fitting that the self-titled album will bear the iconic logo of Stax Records, because at certain moments Rateliff seems to be channeling soul greats like Otis Redding and Sam & Dave. But as this gifted multi-instrumentalist honors the legacy of the legendary Memphis label, he’s also setting out into audacious new territory.