Juke Joint Festival is in full swing in the small town of Clarksdale, Mississippi and between the highly revered old-school blues in storied juke joints, and rockin’ jumpin’, dancing blues at Ground Zero Blues Club, the music was in the air.
Blues lovers milled about the downtown area Friday afternoon, taking in the sights and sun-soaked sounds in what easily became the prettiest day of the year. 81-year-old bluesman Leo “Bud” Welch gave a demonstration in the Delta Blues Museum while Terry “Harmonica” Bean played outside on the DBM stage.
Down the road at Red’s world-famed Juke Joint, the building was packed to capacity with people trying to score an earful of Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, who, along with Terry Bean, were releasing a new album, Twice As Hard on Broke and Hungry Records.
Perpetual Clarksdale crowd favorite David Dunavent and Evol Love rocked a set at Ground Zero Blues Club, riffing from Hoochie Coochie Man into a brief “Whipping Post” jam before Dunavent roared back into “everybody knows I’m HIM.” The crowd screamed and a young boy jumped on the stage to dance.
The festivities on Friday night peaked with an action-packed set by Stacy Mitchhart, who jumped and played a mess of stringed instruments and, in the process, won the hearts of the fan-filled Ground Zero club. Nashville-based Mitchhart and his band, including a crack horn section and a firey organ player, brought wild entertainment and devil-jumped blues; exercising their right to jump up on the bar, play some wicked riffs, take a quick shot, and thrill the music fans that crowded around the barstool below him begging for more.
Only the first day of the front-porched blues gathering, this year’s Juke Joint Festival is sure to go above and beyond the expectations of the largest crowd the fest’s ever seen.