Sunday, April 27, 2008

Delta State's College of Education plans oral history project

25 April 2008


Delta State’s College of Education plans oral history project


CLEVELAND— The Delta State University College of Education, in celebration of the University’s Year of Delta Heritage theme, is collaborating with the Sunflower County School District to connect the generations through untold stories.


The project is also supported through grants from The Mississippi Humanities Council and the Wal-Mart Foundation, as well as support from the Delta State University Delta Center for Culture and Learning, directed by Dr. Luther Brown.


Through the project, middle and high school students in Sunflower County schools will be trained to conduct oral history interviews with individuals who came of age or lived during a significant Civil Rights era in the South (1950s – 1960s). The interviews will be produced as a documentary, with future phases of the project to include the development of curriculum to accompany the documentary.


Photo cutline: From left: Delta State Division Chair for Teacher Education Dr. Jenetta Waddell, Delta State Dean, College of Education Dr. Leslie Griffin, Assistant Superintendent of Sunflower County School District Dr. Cheryl Pinckney, and Public Relations Coordinator/Grant Writer for Sunflower County School District Carl Brinkley discuss the upcoming Oral History Project.



Thursday, April 24, 2008

DSU Year of Delta Heritage tours art collection


DSU Year of Delta Heritage tours art collection


CLEVELAND— The Delta State University Year of Delta Heritage recently presented a guided tour of the Viking Range Art Collection.  Delta artist Jim Seale (at right) is curator of the collection and led the tour. Carol Puckett, also pictured, added commentary to the tour and allowed participants to see the pieces that she has personally added to the collection.


The collection includes the works of some fifty Delta artists. Each piece was commissioned by Viking Range to hang in the Alluvian Hotel, the Alluvian Spa, or neighboring facilities. 


The collection was honored in 2006, when Viking Range received a Governor’s Award from the Mississippi Arts Commission for being an important patron of the arts in the Delta.  The collection includes work by many members of the DSU Art Department, and is the subject of an upcoming book. 




Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Queen Mary with musicians and friends!





Mary Shepard is crowned Queen of the JOOK at her Retirement Party!




Monday, April 14, 2008


FinalLogoALL                                                                                      Tricia Walker

Director, Delta Music Institute

DSU Box 3114 Cleveland, MS 38733






CLEVELAND - Five senior students in the Delta Music Institute program at Delta State University will be performing a live music showcase on Wednesday, April 23, at 9 p.m. on the Quadrangle of Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi.


Cole Furlow of Jackson, Naz Rhodes of Walnut, Michael Brenza of Leland, Matthew Banks of Cleveland, and Michael Williamson of Vicksburg will perform original music in styles varying from acoustic rock to hill country blues as partial requirement of the DMI Senior Project class.


Boy Scout Knife is a hill-country-blues-meets-garage-rock duo, featuring Cole Furlow. Naz Rhodes is the leader of the funky rock band, Mindset Mellow, while Michael Brenza’s band, Clif and the No Goods, offers a Southern rock-punk sound. Weejy Rogers, produced by Michael Williamson, performs a blend of new age rock and contemporary classical style piano, and Matthew Banks performs his quirky original songs with a West Coast influenced acoustic rock sound.


For their senior projects, the DMI students were required to complete an audio recording of original songs, serving as either artist or producer, and host a performance showcase of their projects. Throughout the semester the students were involved in a broad range of music industry topics, including project management, budgeting, music publishing, copyright and legal issues, recording, editing, mixing and mastering audio, marketing, sales and promotion.


The DMI Senior Showcase on Wednesday, April 23, is free and open to the public. In the event of rain, the showcase will be held at 9 p.m. in Jobe Auditorium on the campus of Delta State.


The Delta Music Institute (DMI) is a center for recording and music industry studies at Delta State University. The DMI began with a concept and a generous donation by Fred Carl of the Viking Range Corporation. More information about the program is available on the web at or by calling (662) 846-4579.







Mary Shepard's Retirement Party Program

Tribute to Mary Shepard                          

April 6, 2008



Master of CeremoniesC.Sade Turnipseed

Director, Education & Community Outreach of B.B. King Museum & Delta Interpretive Center

PhotographerLandry Prichard




            Presentation of Flowers:  Allan Hammons, Director of Marketing, B.B. King Museum

            Robing: Carver A. Randle, Sr., Personal friend and lawyer for new owner-BB King, LLC

            Septor:  Edna Robinson, long-time Club Ebony employee   

            Crowning:  Brianna King, 9-yr old Granddaughter of Mrs. Shepard 


B.B. King Museum & Delta Interpretive Center will feature Mary Frances Shepard as

“The Queen of the Jooks” announcement made by C. Sade Turnipseed…………



Dorothy Moore Personal Letter:

Laconna Shay King, Daughter of Mary Shepard


Book gifts     *(Personal friends and persons whose careers are based and respected

                            around our blues history…)


   *Scott Barretta:  Images of the Blues by Lee Tanner & Lee Hildebrand:

(Black & White photos of bluesmen from the 1940’s-1990’s w/ a younger BBKing on cover)

Wanda Clark, Associate Project Administrator of the Mississippi Blues Trail


   *Dick Waterman – Personalized his latest book – B.B. King’s Treasures

Jackie Winter, Vice President, Mississippi Delta Blues Society of Indianola



Living Blues Magazine:  Appreciation Award for the three decades of operating the Mississippi

Delta Blues Club, Club Ebony, and for welcoming B.B. King Home every

time he returns to Indianola. 

Rodger Simpson, Indianola Police Department



Mississippi Delta Blues Society of Indianola – Member Emeritus & Life Member Award: 

Carol Marble, Indianola Blues Society Founder & Past President



Proclamation from the Sunflower County Board of Supervisors

Shelia Waldrup, Incoming Indianola Chamber of Commerce Executive Director



Proclamation from Congressman Bennie Thompson

Carol Smith, Supporter of Bennie Thompson & Friend of Mrs. Shepard



Proclamation from Governor Haley Barbour – Listing Mary Shepard’s accomplishments in promoting and

preserving the blues heritage of this state as well as the Mississippi DeltaThe Governor proclaimed April 6, 2008

as Mary Frances Shepard Day:  Janet Webb, President, Mississippi Delta Blues Society of Indianola



Lady Terminators Appreciation Award and Trophy

Auga Singleton, Representative for the Ladies & the Men’s Pool Teams

that play & compete at the Club



Thanks to Sunflower Food Store for the sheet cake.

Thanks to the Mississippi Delta Blues Society of Indianola

and all those who helped make this day happen!




Queen Mary

By Amy Evans



So yesterday was Mary Shepard's last day as owner of Club Ebony. They were calling it a retirement party, but it was really a tribute to the place and, most of all, the woman. Mary Shepard was crowned "Queen of the Jook" and sat in a throne at the foot of the bandstand to receive flowers and gifts and words from friends. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour even issued a proclamation, naming April 6, 2008 Mary Shepard Day. There was music. There was cake. And yes, a few tears.


Even though Ms. Shepard is no longer at the helm of this legendary blues club, she'll still be a fixture. She's been given the title of honorary griot for the soon-to-open B. B. King Museum down the street, and you can be sure she'll be popping into her old club from time to time to hear some of those down home blues. And, as she joked to the crowd yesterday, she's got a little something else up her sleeve.


Mary Shepard may have retired, but she's sure not going to quit.






Blog: Made in Mississippi


David Lee Durham (1943-2008) Mississippi Folklife and Folk Artist Directory


David Lee Durham (1943-2008)

Blues Guitarist and Singer, Indianola

The Delta

Born in Sunflower, Mississippi, in 1943, David Lee Durham was raised in the blues. He never darkened the door of a schoolhouse and moved from farm to farm to pick cotton. He could pick 400 pounds of cotton by the age of thirteen. Music was his release.

Durham was a self-taught musician. Like many other bluesmen, he rigged wire to wall to have some strings to pluck. He finally got his hands on a four-stringed guitar when he was twelve years old and taught himself to play the Jimmy Reed songs he heard on the radio. Once he got down Jimmy Reed’s sound, he went on to practice the styles of other Delta bluesmen. Durham can’t read music; his ear taught him all he knows.

As a young man, Durham would visit the Harlem Club in Inverness, Mississippi, where he would stand on a five-gallon bucket to peek in on Howlin’ Wolf performing for a local crowd. Eventually, Durham began performing in front of an audience himself, and he and his friend, W. H. Lowe, spent many a night playing at country jukes for twenty-five cents or a nickel. During those early days, Durham didn’t sing. Finally, though, he found his voice and the nerve to perform for an audience.

Durham performed with a handful of famous bluesmen over the years and was part of a few different bands. But most knew him as the front man for The Ladies’ Choice Band, which originated in 1975. The band was the Sunday night house band at Club Ebony in Indianola for several years, where they also opened for B. B. King at his annual homecoming concert. In 2004, the band won the Delta’s Regional Blues Challenge.That same year, the Mississippi Delta Blues Society of Indianola named Durham “Blues Musician of the Year.”

Durham’s style was an amalgamation of all of the bluesmen he listened to over the years: B. B. King, Albert King, and Little Milton Campbell. That signature sound inspired his last group, The True Blues Band. The band recorded a CD, "Struggling and Straining," released in 2006 which included a couple of original songs by Durham.

Durham passed away unexpectedly on January 24, 2008 at the age of sixty-five.

-Amy Evans

David Lee Durham (1943-2008)

Blues guitarist and vocalist David Lee Durham of Indianola performing with his group at the 2005 Delta Blues & Heritage Festival, Greenville.


Blues Jam 2008 May 9 & 10, 2008

The Robert Johnson Blues Foundation
"Blues Jam 2008" A 70th year celebration

For more information:
Leigh Portwood
Heritage Trails Program
Mississippi Development Authority
Tourism Division
Post Office Box 849
Jackson, Mississippi 39205
Phone: 601.359.3061
Fax: 601.359.5757

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, Joe Louis Walker special guests of DSU Jazz Ensemble

CONTACT: Don Allan Mitchell at 662-832-2593

or visit

[Delta State University]

Office of University Relations

H.L. Nowell Union 208 Cleveland, MS 38733

662.846.4675:office 662.846.4679:fax


Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, Joe Louis Walker special guests of DSU Jazz Ensemble


CLEVELAND— The Delta State University Jazz Ensemble, directed by Dr. Paul Hankins, Chair of the Department of Music and Professor of Music at Delta State, with special guests the internationally-acclaimed Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, will perform a free Spring concert on Thursday, April 17, at 7:30 p.m. in the Delta and Pine Land Theatre of the Bologna Performing Arts Center on the Delta State campus.


Doors open at 7 p.m., and all are invited to attend. The show will feature jazz and blues legends Bobby Watson and Joe Louis Walker.


The DSU Jazz Ensemble is a 17-piece big band populated by both music majors and non-music majors. The evening’s programming will include “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” by Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington’s “C-Jam Blues (a la Mambo)” as well as the music of Bill Liston, Les Hooper and Don Specht.


The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz is an education and outreach organization whose supporters include both President George W. Bush and former President Bill Clinton.


Grammy-nominated jazz saxophonist Bobby Watson and three-time W.C. Handy Award winning blues guitarist Joe Louis Walker will be joined by Charlie Parker Institute Director and vocalist Lisa Henry; past Wynton Marsalis Quartet pianist Richard Johnson; past Terrence Blanchard Quintet bassist Derek Nievergelt; and Joe Lovano’s drummer, Otis Brown, III.


The show will feature musicians who have worked with everyone from Coldplay to Grammy Album of the Year winner Herbie Hancock. Joe Louis Walker has performed alongside a wide variety of performers including Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, John Lee Hooker, and Muddy Waters.  Also in attendance will be Thelonious Monk’s son and chairman of the board of the Monk Institute, TS Monk.


The program is a celebration of African American music in DSU’s Year of Delta Heritage, and is part of the Monk Institute’s return to the Mississippi Delta during its annual "The Blues and Jazz - Two American Classics" educational outreach tour ( The April 14-18 tour includes visits to public schools in Memphis, Indianola, Cleveland and Ruleville.


Funding for the entire tour was provided by Carolyn and Bill Powers, in memory of Mrs. Powers' grandparents, Joe Rice Dockery and Keith Dockery McLean, the late owners of Dockery Farms. Of Dockery Farms and the blues, B.B. King has said, "You might say, it all started right here.”


Delta State University students in the DSU Jazz Ensemble are: Rogers Varner of Merigold; Phillip Carter of Clarksdale; Taft Wong and David Cunningham of Greenville; Brian Thompson of Greenwood; Katherine Grant of Tupelo; Bradley Davis of Oxford; AJ Cannon of New Albany; Travis Metcalf of Prairie;  Matthew Gilbert of Brookhaven; Coday Anthony of Poplarville; Chris Darracott of Red Bay, Ala.; Mark Helmstetter of Belle Chasse, La.; Jessica Flowers, Jonathan Williams and Jason Lane of Forrest City, Arkansas.





Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Local Students Interview Bluesman Jimmy Holmes


Local Students Interview Bluesman Jimmy Holmes


CLEVELAND� Seventh and eighth grade students at D.M. Smith Middle School in Cleveland recently interviewed bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes of Bentonia, in conjunction with the "Save Our History" grant entitled "Live from the Birthplace of the Blues"  awarded by The History Channel to  the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State.


The students participated in the Lighthouse Arts & Heritage After-School program, which is run by the Delta Center for Culture and Learning.


Holmes is one of the few remaining musicians who can play the Bentonia Blues, a distinct style of Blues that originated in Bentonia and is known for a minor tonality.  He has two CD's, "Back to Bentonia" and "Done Got Tired of Tryin'."


Holmes is also the owner of the historic Blue Front Café in Bentonia, which recently became a stop on the Mississippi Blues Trail when the Mississippi Blues Commission installed a marker in front of the café.  The Blue Front Café was opened by Holmes' parents in 1948 and Holmes took over in 1970.  According to the Mississippi Blues Commission, the Blue Front was famed for its buffalo fish, Blues, and moonshine whiskey.  For more information, go


The Delta Center regularly promotes and preserves Delta heritage, and this project combines both of the Center's objectives by teaching students about the Delta's rich cultural heritage and by preserving the Blues history of the region by interviewing local Blues legends. 


The stories collected during the project will be published and made available to the public at the conclusion of the project.  For more information, contact the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at (662) 846-4311 or go to