Bringing some much-needed good news to music fans across the country, the Mighty Roots Music, LLC announced its lineup for the inaugural Mighty Roots Music Festival to be held Friday, October 1 and Saturday, October 2 on historic Stovall Farms, just outside of Clarksdale, Mississippi, and 70 miles south of Memphis, Tennessee. The lineup delivers a diverse array of roots-music performers and a unique experience on the site of the old Stovall Gin Company cotton gin complex and farm where Muddy Waters grew up.
Friday’s lineup will feature Jamaican-born Mystic Bowie, also known as the lead singer of the 1980s Talking Heads side project Tom Tom Club. Bowie’s Talking Dreads performance will highlight not only his Jamaican musical heritage, but also his unique fusion of reggae and Talking Heads classics. Also Friday are The Minks, a Nashville-based “psychedelic-bloos” band; Mississippi native Mohead; and Memphis-based singer-songwriter Rollin Rosatti.
Saturday will highlight two of Americana music’s brightest stars: headliner Deer Tick, a band known for strong songwriting, excellent music, an avid fan base developed over the course of eight albums, and a bio that simply states, “Deer Tick likes to rock out”; and fan favorite Keller Williams, an artist often described as a “one-man jam-band” and known for his collaborations with Yonder Mountain String Band, String Cheese Incident, and Umphrey’s McGee.
Saturday’s line-up also includes the esteemed Texas-born Americana singer-songwriter Radney Foster; Jackson, Miss. bluesman Jarekus Singleton; Harrison AR bluegrass band National Park Radio; Austin blues rockers Red on Yellow; and emerging singer-songwriter Tyler Tisdale.
After the main stage concludes each night, the Stovall Store stage will feature late-night blues sets by Big A and the All-Stars on Friday and the Stone Gas Band on Saturday, with a special “Burning of the Blues” celebration Saturday night.
Tickets are offered o
Contributing to the immersive experience of the festival, campsites and RV sites are also available. Food truck concessions will be anchored by Doe’s Eat Place truck from Greenville, Miss. and the Lost Pizza truck from Cleveland, Miss. The Mighty Roots Music Festival is presented by WADE, Inc., north Mississippi’s John Deere dealer. Sponsors include Visit Mississippi, Visit Clarksdale, Sonic Drive-Ins, Guaranty Bank, Delta Magazine, and Clark Beverage Group.
The festival’s co-founders are Greenville-based hit singer-songwriter and recording artist Steve Azar and Mississippi native and festival producer Howard Stovall. Decades-long veterans of the national music scene, the two worked together closely on the Mighty Mississippi Music Festival (2013-2018), which Azar co-founded in Greenville as one of the two premier anchor events for the highly successful “Bridging the Blues” tourism and marketing program.
The Mighty Roots Music Festival is very much a reboot of Mighty Mississippi festival in a new location — Stovall Farms, the place where Muddy Waters grew up and was first recorded.
”We created such an inspiring and honest experience at Mighty Mississippi, and Howard’s farm is just the perfect place to recapture that all over again with an authentic roots music festival. The venue is beyond cool and says so much about our delta’s rich history and culture,” notes Azar. “Once people experience our VIP area in the old gin building, hopefully they will mark this event down on their calendar as a must-attend for years to come.”
The location is not just home to the Mighty Roots Festival but is also a must-see destination for music fans from around the world, with deep local connections to some of the most legendary names in music, including Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Bessie Smith, Pinetop Perkins, and Ike Turner, among others. Clarksdale is known to feature live blues music 365 days a year.
Stovall’s roots in the area run as deeply as possible — his family history on the land extends back to the 1830s — but Azar also has local roots: “My Mom is from Clarksdale, my Uncle Joe was Mayor and my cousins have the best BBQ joint in Mississippi with their world renown Abe’s. So, it is home to me!”
In addition to great music and a great party, the event represents an important economic boost to Coahoma County, Miss., a rural area that has historically suffered from higher unemployment rates and lower income metrics than average. “The economic impact of a major tourism event like this is immediate and can be significant,” states Stovall, who worked in the 1990s to help establish Coahoma’s County’s tourism tax. “Bringing in several thousand people and their buying power can move the needles noticeably in our community.”