Who do you think should manage Ferriday water?|
Story Archives: 2nd annual Soul Survivors Festival set Saturday in Ferriday
|2nd annual Soul Survivors Festival set Saturday in Ferriday|
By Tommy Polk
With the Mississippi River lapping at the levees and threatening homes, businesses, crops and property, it is sometimes difficult to see the silver lining in the situation. Yes, sometimes the river can get bad, but for eons it has also brought good things.
In addition to the mud and silt that makes our soil so fertile, the river has brought settlers, visitors and profits. And it has also brought music.
I can still remember the musicians and friends who influenced my own music during the 1960s and 70s -- the blind piano player at the Trace Room at the Eola, Tom Griffin at the Rendezvous, Glen Ballard, Glen McGlothin, Carl Sandige, Charles Jackson, Mimmy Wheeler, Leslie Whitt, Larry Bagby, Lyn Hornsby, Pat Hornsby, Dickey Hughes, Brint Anderson, Gary Caldwell, Newland Willard, Roger Phillips, Kenny Jones, David Pless, Kevin Dukes, Stan Smith, Bill Kimbrell and Keith Parish. I spent many days and nights high on a quiet, secluded section of the bluff south of Natchez looking down at that water and the vista behind it, writing songs of my own based on the lessons I'd learned from these people.
They and others inspired me to pursue my own musical career, leading me to Nashville and back again -- an unforgettable experience that still enriches my life and music. And if you were to ask us where we found our inspiration in the Miss-Lou area, many would point directly to the local musicians whose names are on five Mississippi Blues Trail Markers between Natchez and Ferriday.
In the 1940s, 50s and 60s the Miss-Lou was rockin'.
In Ferriday, Mr. Will Haney, an African-American, ruled a business empire consisting of an insurance agency, a Laundromat, a hotel, and -- most notably -- a nightclub: Haney's Big House. Haney's was a stop along what was called the Chitlin' Circuit, where all of the big-name, African-America musicians, singers and comedians performed.
Folks, black and white, would flock to Haney's to hear performances by entertainers like B.B. King, Ray Charles, Solomon Burke, Johnnie Taylor, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Irma Thomas, Redd Foxx, Moms Mabley, and others. The opening act for these nationally known acts was the house band at Haney's Big House. Unfortunately, Haney's burned in 1966. The building is gone but the music remains, along with two former house-band members, YZ Ealey.
In addition to YZ and Hezekiah, there are other old-time blues artists still living in the area: Lil' Poochie, Elmore Williams, Jimmy Anderson and Gray Montgomery have all contributed to the history of the blues. In December, Living Blues Magazine featured a 20-page story on them, whose venues include such faraway places as Europe and Japan as well as those closer to home.
And for the first time, these soulful music survivors, all now in their 70s and 80s, will gather in Ferriday for the second-annual Soul Survivors Festival, honoring Mr. Will Haney, Haney's Big House and the contributions of African-Americans to the world of music. YZ, Hezekiah, Lil' Poochie, Elmore, Jimmy and Gray will perform from noon until 5 p.m., giving us an opportunity to be a part of the history of The Blues.
This free event runs throughout the day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m, at Rockabilly Plaza in Ferriday, kicking off with karaoke for the kids at 10 a.m. and followed at 11:30 by the unmistakable Sylvia Johns-Ritchie and her advanced music students, leading up to the starring acts of the show, Ferriday's Soul Survivors.
So bring a lawn chair and join the Soul Survivors at a historic blues happening in the shade of Rockabilly Plaza at the corner of 1st and Texas in downtown Ferriday. There will be food and beverage vendors, train rides and games for the children, great music for the adults and fun for everyone.
Ferriday Soul Survivors Festival is all about the music of the Miss-Lou, past present and future. Jump on in! The water's fine.
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