OXFORD: Blues Today Symposium hosted by Living Blues magazine (1pm)

Blues Scholar Talks Funk

On Friday, March 26, at 1:00 p.m., poet and scholar Tony Bolden will give theannual Early Wright Lecture at the  Department of Archives and SpecialCollections Center on the third floor of the J.D. Williams Library on theUniversity of Mississippi campus. Bolden, an associate professor of African andAfrican American Studies at the University of Kansas, was a panelist in severalof the early Blues Today Symposia sponsored by Living Blues. Organized throughthe Center for the Study of Southern Culture, Living Blues magazine, and the Blues Archive, Bolden’s lecture will beentitled “The Epistemology of Blues/Funk.”

What I’m proposing to do,” says Bolden, “is provide a brief overview of theearly history of funk, particularly as it relates to the blues idiom—BuddyBolden, Bessie, Duke, as well as a few literary texts that are pertinent to thediscussion.” Bolden is the author of Afro-Blue: Improvisations in AfricanAmerican Poetry and Culture (2004) and the editor of The Funk Era and Beyond: NewPerspectives on Black Popular Culture (2008). He is currently at work on abook-length study that traces the history of the funk principle from itsassociation with the blues to its subsequent manifestation in swing, soul, funk(as such), and hip-hop.

Bolden will be the eighth invited guest to deliver the Early Wright Lecture, anendowed series created in the name of Mississippi’s first African American discjockey, a legend who spun blues records for decades on Clarksdale’s WROX.Wright’s colleague at WROX, David Havens, established the fund. Previous lecturers have included Stanley Crouch, Paul Oliver, Samuel Charters, andWilliam Ferris.

Following the Early Wright lecture, two archivists from the University ofGeorgia, Margaret Compton and Renna Tuten, will show two silent home moviesshot on 8mm Kodachrome film stock dating to c.1942 and 1952 from the family ofRayburn Moore, son of Max Moore, founder of Interstate Grocery and creator KingBiscuit Flour. The earlier film (4 minutes long) depicts Robert Junior Lockwoodand Sonny Boy Williamson performing together on the porch of a country grocerystore in Arkansas, and the later film (12 minutes long) shows segments from a1952 bus tour through Arkansas with Williamson and various King Biscuit Time bandmembers performing.

The Symposium concludes with a performance by singer Cassandra Wilson atthe Gertrude Castellow Ford Center on the University of Mississippicampus.  All Symposium lectures are free and open to the public.  Tickets for the Cassandra Wilsonperformance must be purchased separately and may be obtained by contacting theFord Center box office at (662) 915-7411.

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