Covering more than 3.5 million square miles, the United States is a land of many cultures, with each region having its own distinctively unique personality from the creole and Cajun French bayous of south Louisiana to the native Inupiat societies of northern Alaska. No passport is required to cross these cultural borders; simply a craving for adventure and method of transportation will suffice. Just as south Louisiana is known for its Jazz and zydeco blends, the Mississippi Delta is also the birthplace of a very unique genre of music. Known as the Home of the Blues, what better place is there to behold this revered musical style than the northwestern portion of Mississippi known as the Delta? Beginning in late September for the past three years, a unique multi-week tristate project known as Bridging the Blues occurs in the Mississippi-Arkansas-Tennessee Delta, with one of the prime events being the award-winning Mighty Mississippi Music Festival at Warfield Point Park in Greenville, MS.
With the Father of Waters as a backdrop, the Mighty Mississippi Music Festival (or MMMF) is a four-day musical experience put on by Down River Entertainment, LLC which celebrates “the fields, the farmers, the legends, and all the music they inspired.” The festival will kick off on Thursday, September 28 with the First Annual Mighty Singer-Songwriter’s Competition, allowing budding musicians to showcase their talents. Over the weekend, the festival includes the multi-genre C-Spire Mighty Main Stage, the Blues-focused Highway 61 Blues Stage, homegrown gigs at the One Night at Jam Camp Stage, and a Sunday Gospel Brunch. Additionally, plenty of scrumptious food, local craft beer, and market-style shopping are available at the on-site Delta Village. Other attractions include Friday night movies and Saturday night SEC football on a Jumbotron, a “Mini” Mighty Mississippi Kids Park, a $1 hand-painted guitar raffle, and of course the four-story observation tower from which all festivities can be viewed alongside a picturesque sunset over the Mighty Mississippi River. Furthermore, no one will be forced to leave behind their beloved puppy, as dogs on leashes are allowed at the festival provided the owners clean up after them. For the outdoorsy types, tent and RV camping is available, allowing some concert-goers an unforgettable experience under the stars with the music flowing through their veins like the waters comprising Ol’ Man River.
Similar to Bridging the Blues, the MMMF has seen rapid growth since its inception in 2013 and attracts visitors from all over the world who are aching to experience authentic blues music straight from the source. The MMMF has received various awards and recognitions including but certainly not limited to being named by American Blues Scene as the #1 New Festival in America in 2015 and being selected by the magazine Acoustic Guitar as the #1 “must-see” event from the Magnolia State in 2014. Past performers from the Mighty Main Stage have included brilliant award-winning musicians such as Chris Stapleton, Dr. John, The Band of Heathens, Old Crow Medicine Show, Ryan Bingham, Maren Morris, and New Orleans's own The Revivalists. Headliners for the upcoming 2017 festival include harmonious soul-pleasers such as Shovels & Rope, Turnpike Troubadours, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, and Chris Knight. Some of the talented musicians on the Highway 61 Blues Stage for 2017 include Cedric Burnside Project, Toronzo Cannon, and Libby Rae Watson. For more information on the MMMF including complete lineups and schedules, please visit mightymississippimusicfestival.com.
When entering the state of Mississippi, drivers are greeted with a sign reading, “Welcome to Mississippi—Birthplace of America’s Music.” While it may not be true that every single style of American music was first heard in the state of Mississippi, it can undoubtedly be said that most genres were greatly influenced or even totally inspired by the Blues. Lovers of Rock N’ Roll, R&B, Country, Gospel, and even Jazz all have these sweet sounds originating from the Mississippi Delta to thank for the music they cherish so dearly. People travel from all over the world to participate in Bridging the Blues, which is comprised of hundreds of festivities taking place in late September and early October. However, if a New Orleanian wants an authentic cultural experience in this unfamiliar region, he or she can leave their passport behind and travel upstream on The Big Muddy to hear the Delta Blues and the music it inspired in its own native land. While navigating from event to event, people can make pit stops along the Mississippi Blues Trail to become completely inundated in the history of this genus of music which has grown in the hearts of millions around the globe allowing it to evolve into countless other musical species. The Mighty Mississippi Music Festival will proudly exhibit each of these musical styles while it ultimately pays its respects to their common ancestor: the Delta Blues.