Call & Response Symposium
Call and Response Blues Symposium Looks into The Origins of Delta Blues at The King Biscuit Blues Festival
Saturday, October 11, 2014
12:00 – 1:00 p.m. & 1:15- 2:15 p.m
Malco Theater, Cherry St., Helena, Arkansas
Legend has it that Honeyboy Edwards was arguing with a group ofmusicians at Sun Records in Memphis about the origins of blues. Hestopped the conversation cold and said, “Hell, you guys didn’t have anymusic up here until we brought it up here.” The fourth annual Call and Response Blues Symposiumfeatures storied musicians and industry vets from Boston, Nashville,New York, and Missouri, but Helena, Arkansas and the King Biscuit BluesFestival remain the cradle of America’s music and the symposium willaddress why.
This featured event of the 29th annual King Biscuit Blues Festival, America’s foremost showcase of authentic blues begins at noon on Saturday, October 11, at the Malco Theater on Cherry Street.
Bubba Sullivan has been involved in booking and hosting King Biscuit forall 29 years of its lauded history. He joins Nashville singer andguitarist Nick Nixon, and Boston’s acoustic duo Paul Rishell and AnnieRaines at noon in Part One of a freewheeling discussionwith King Biscuit’s own award winning blues journalist Don Wilcock andMatt Marshall, editor of American Blues Scene, the most popular blueswebsite in the world.
Roger Stolle, filmmaker, columnist, oft quoted authority on Delta bluesand owner of Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art in historic Clarksdale,Mississippi, hosts part two of the symposium at 1:15 p.m.with four of the most colorful Delta bluesmen carrying on the richtradition of the fertile birthplace of America’s music: L. C. Ulmer,Louis “Gearshifter” Youngblood, Richard “Rip Lee” Pryor, and Leo “BudWelch.
The fourth annual Call and Response, The Blues Symposium is free to thepublic thanks to the support of our wonderful sponsor: Economy Drugs.
Part One 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
Bubba Sullivan likes to tell people that Robert Lockwood, Jr. carriedmore history to his grave than any man that ever was. Truth be known?Bubba’s in the same category except he’s still with us. The historianfor the Sonny Boy Blues Society, he’s been involved in booking andhosting the King Biscuit Blues Festival since the first one in 1986 whenhe helped secure an evangelist’s trailer as the first stage for $25.He’s proprietor of Bubba’s Blues Corner, the official record store ofthe festival that was jump started with the encouragement of ZZ Top’sBilly Gibbons.
Paul Rishell and Annie Raines
“Rousing interpreters of country blues, the original acoustic style thatgave birth to electric blues, R&B and rock,” is the way the dean ofBoston folk journalist Scott Alarik describes this W.C. Handy-winningduo together for 22 years. Rishell’s students have included SusanTedeschi and Michael Tarbox of Boston’s Tarbox Ramblers, and Paul’s avisiting artist at Berklee College of Music. Annie is one of few femaleharp players. Together they interpret the country blues of artists likeSon House, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Little Walter with a muscularverve that makes you believe you’re presence for their birth.
Nixon was born and raised in Nashville and sang lead for one of MusicCity’s first integrated bands, King James & The Sceptres and waspart of that city’s Jefferson Street blues scene in the ’60s. KingBiscuit favorite Anson Funderburgh produced Nixon’s two most recent CDswith Andy T, Drink, Drank, Drunk in 2013 and Livin’ It Up in 2014, bothon Delta Groove. His comfortable, easy going vocals may remind you ofAnson’s late partner, Sam Myers. Nick sang opera in high school,befriended a pre-fame Jimi Hendrix in the early ’60s and was signed toChess Records in the 70s. He’s played with Elvis Presley’s firstguitarist Scotty Moore, Lazy Lester and Rufus Thomas.
Matt Marshall is the Steve Jobs of tomorrow’s blues journalism. TheEditor of American Blue Scene, both the fastest growing and most popularblues music website in the world and a burgeoning quarterlysubscription blues magazine. With 400,000 visitors a year and hundredsof thousands of fans on Facebook, Matt and his staff break news storiesand channel the very heart of the blues community. It’s as much aboutconnecting people who love the blues with each other and the music as itis about being able to connect them across the internet, capturing thepulse of the blues community, and reporting real news to blues fans.Whether it’s an intimate discussion with blues icon Buddy Guy or beingthe first to break the story of Johnny Winter’s passing, Marshallunderstands the relationship between contemporary blues culture and thedigital frontier.
Don Wilcock co-moderator, Part One
Award winning editor, writer, film maker and blues society founder DonWilcock organized the Call and Response Symposium four years ago. He hasinterviewed more than 4000 artists in nearly a half century as a musicjournalist and was writing for Blues World in England before there wasan American blues magazine. This year his definitive history of theBlues Foundation appeared in the Blues Music Awards program. He is arecipient of the Foundation’s Keeping The Blues Alive in PrintJournalism Award. His “Crossroads Revisited” column is on site regularlyin American Blues Scene, and he’s a weekly music columnist for twodailies in New York’s Capital Region. He is the author of the 1991authorized biography of Buddy Guy Damn Right I’ve Got The Blues that setthe stage for Guy’s multi-Grammy-winning career surge.
Part Two 1:15 to 2:15 p.m.
L.C. Ulmer was born August 28, 1928, in Stringer, Mississippi — one of14 children. He grew up working in the fields, and he learned to playblues and gospel from his father as well as others in the community. InBlues Revue, he recalled: “They would all get up under the porch forsome singing every evening when they came out of the fields.” Ulmer cameto the blues world’s attention through his appearance in the blues filmM for Mississippi. He has since traveled to festivals as far away asItaly, Norway and Israel. He currently lives in Ellisville, Mississippi,where he teaches younger blues musicians to play.
Louis “Gearshifter” Youngblood
The southpaw bluesman known as “Gearshifter” was born Louis ArzoYoungblood on Valentine’s Day 1953 in Picayune, Mississippi. He beganplaying guitar around age 12. Gearshifter’s grandfather, Arzo, was thenephew of early Mississippi blues great Tommy Johnson, and it was hisgrandfather — and grandmother — who taught him Tommy Johnson and otherblues songs. In 2012, Gearshifter co-starred in the film We Juke Up inHere! He has traveled to festivals in the U.S. and abroad, recorded anindependent CD and will soon appear in the blues web series Moonshine& Mojo Hands. He lives in Jackson.
Richard “Rip Lee” Pryor
Born in Chicago in 1958 to blues harmonica legend Snooky Pyor, Richard“Rip Lee” Pryor always yearned to follow in his famous father’sfootsteps. He messed with his father’s harps every chance he got andeventually played with him. Later, his father left the music scene, andit wasn’t until the early 1990s that Rip Lee helped convince his fatherto start playing again. They performed and recorded together before RipLee’s own music career was sidelined by “life.” After a bout with cancerin 2010, he reevaluated his goals and returned to the blues — touringSouth America and Switzerland. Recently, he released a new CD.
Leo “Bud” Welch
The Mississippi blues world’s latest (re)discovery is Leo “Bud” Welch.Born in Sabougla, Mississippi, in 1932, it took 81 years for Welch tosee the release of his first album. While known for his energetic, liveblues shows, the album is actually gospel. He was a hardcore bluesmanuntil 1975 when he converted to gospel. Still performing at two areachurches most Sundays, Welch has been playing clubs, jukes and festivalsaround the region and even overseas for the past year and a half thanksto the efforts of his friend and manager Vencie Varnado. Welch lives inBruce, Mississippi, but his bags are always packed.
Roger Stolle co-moderator, Part Two
Roger Stolle owns Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art store inClarksdale, Mississippi. He is a Blues Music Magazine columnist, JukeJoint Festival co-founder, Hidden History of Mississippi Blues author,former Sirius-XM Bluesville contributor, and co-producer of blues filmslike M for Mississippi and We Juke Up in Here. He is co-creator of theforthcoming blues reality show Moonshine& Mojo Hands and a recipientof both Keeping The Blues Alive and Blues Music Awards. An authority onDelta blues and tourism, he has been quoted by The New York Times, TheEconomist and Travel+Leisure. His web site is www.cathead.biz.