Join two blues journalism and preservation legends, Roger Stolle and Don Wilcock, for their ninth annual Call and Response Blues Symposium. They moderate two one-hour-long “back fence” conversations with legendary blues musicians and personalities who are some of the most colorful people on today’s vibrant blues scene. “Come on home” to this lively confab that’s become a colorful highlight of the festival.
WHERE: Malco Theater, Cherry St., Helena, Arkansas
WHEN: Saturday, October 12th (Session 1: 10:45am-11:45am, Session 2: 12:00pm-1:00pm)
At 76 years old, Jimmy Burns has done a lot since his days on a cotton plantation in Dublin, Mississippi. It was in Mississippi that he first sang church music before gaining an interest in blues. Starting on a homemade one-string guitar, Burns eventually graduated to an electric six-string after relocating to Chicago with his family as part of the Great Migration. In Chicago, he sang doo wop and R&B before settling into the blues. Currently, he tours internationally and records for Delmark Records.
Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton
Now 30, Paxton started his musical journey playing fiddle at 12 years old, later adding banjo, guitar, piano, harmonica, and other instruments to his arsenal. Ax the Village Voice once noted, “Paxton shifts from piano to guitar to fiddle to a five-string banjo that looks like he time-traveled to the 1920s, stole it from a juke joint, and dropped it on the ground a few times on the way back.” Often labeled a “blues” performer, he is equally at home playing related roots music styles such as ragtime, jazz and Cajun.
Frank “Guitar” Rimmer
Sixty-four-year-old blues guitarist and vocalist Frank “Guitar” Rimmer is a Grenada, Mississippi native who appears along side legends Magic Sam and Magic Slim on his hometown’s official Mississippi Blues Trail marker. At age 11, he bought his first guitar (which he still has) with money earned in the local cotton fields. He began performing three years later, eventually forming his own bands as well as backing other area acts. These days, he’s a regular at Red’s Lounge and Juke Joint Festival in Clarksdale.
This 23-year-old multi-instrumentalist hailing from Georgia has been called the “future of acoustic blues” and attracted the attention of musical heavyweights like Keb Mo. Taj Mahal produced his latest album. Willis grew up singing gospel music with his grandfather. Then, when he was 14, he came across a video of Muddy Waters and was instantly hooked on the blues. Since then, he has toured and recorded as what one newspaper called, a “70-year-old bluesman in a 20-year-old body.”
Moderator: Roger Stolle
Roger Stolle owns Cat Head (aka “Mississippi’s Blues Store”) in Clarksdale, which recently celebrated 16 years. He is a Blues Music Magazine columnist, Juke Joint Festival co-founder, Hidden History of Mississippi Blues author, and co-producer of Moonshine & Mojo Hands. He is also a recipient of Keeping The Blues Alive and Blues Music Awards. He’ll hold his next twice yearly Cat Head Mini Blues Fest on Sunday, October 8th. www.cathead.biz.
Son House, Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and Robert Pete Williams would be mere footnotes in history books had Dick Waterman not re-introduced them to a wider post-war audience as agent and manager of Avalon Productions. He engineered the careers of Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, and Little Walter. His photographs are the pictorial equivalent to Alan Lomax’s field recordings. He wrote a book about B.B. King, managed Buddy Guy and rubbed shoulders with the Rolling Stones. He will discuss his new Life in Blues biography by Tammy L. Turner and offer intimate glimpses into the history of the blues that he helped perpetuate.
Back for his third visit to the seminar, Bob Margolin is a true renaissance man of the blues. He was Muddy Waters’ first white lead guitarist, is a music journalist, a VizzTone Records executive, and has played on several Grammy-winning albums. His self-titled latest CD is a one-man job. He produced, recorded, mixed and played every note of every instrument on it. In 2017 he was the only original musician on The Last Waltz 40th anniversary tour commemorating the Martin Scorsese film of The Band’s last concert. In the film he performed alongside Muddy, Eric Clapton, Paul Butterfield and Pinetop Perkins. In the 2017 anniversary tour he appeared with Warren Haynes, Michael McDonald, and Ivan Neville.
The Cate Brothers
Beloved Arkansas natives, these twin brothers have careers that thread through involvement with Ronnie Hawkins, Levon Helm, and The Band since the late ’50s. Their self-titled debut album in 1976 was produced by last year’s Biscuit headliner Steve Cropper and yielded their biggest hit “Union Man.” Fiercely independent, and keepers of hickory-stoked sound that defines The Band and Arkansas. They are frequent Biscuit performers.
A four-time Blues Music Award nominee, guitarist, singer and songwriter Fletcher spent three years with the Fabulous Thunderbirds, played on Kim Wilson’s Grammy-nominated Smokin’ Joint live LP. In 2018, Fletcher recorded a video with Josh Smith and Joe Bonamassa, performing the Albert King track “Crosscut Saw.” Released in October, his third solo LP, Hold On, entered at number 15 in the Billboard Blues Albums chart and has been nominated for a Blues Music Award in the Contemporary Blues Album category.
Moderator: Don Wilcock
Don Wilcock is an award-winning music journalist currently writing for The Blues Music Magazine, Blues Matters, Blues Blast Magazine, and American Blues Scene. His article on Blues as Truth appeared in the centerspread of the Blues Foundation’s 2019 Blues Music Awards program. The author of Buddy Guy’s 1993 authorized biography Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues, he began writing about blues in The Army Reporter in Vietnam half a century ago.