Music historian, author and radio host Scott Barretta kicks off the festival this evening with a 7 p.m. talk about musicians who have earned the state the title "Birthplace of America's Music." The free Mississippi Writers' Series program in the Rosenzweig Arts Center's Omnova Theater follows a 5:30-7 p.m. reception opening March gallery exhibits. The reception and talk are open to the public.
Friday and Saturday concerts spotlight the music of Eden Brent, Vasti Jackson and the Stormy Monday band. Greenville's Brent, a winner of the Blues Foundation's Acoustic Artist and Acoustic Album of the Year awards, performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Jackson goes on stage at 7 p.m. Saturday with music from "The Soul of Jimmie Rodgers," his 2016 Grammy-nominated album. Hailing from McComb, Jackson has a fiery guitar style that earned him a 2015 Albert King Lifetime Guitar award. Stormy Monday, based out of Starkville, go on at 8:30 p.m.
"Blues for Willie is just what it says," said Beverly Norris, arts council program manager. "Those of us who knew and loved him know him as a great example of the powerful Mississippi blues tradition. It's an honor to pay tribute to him with this festival."At the arts council at 501 Main St., at columbus-arts.org or by calling 662-328-2787.