Friday, January 30, 2015

Black History program examine “Where do we go from here”

Cynthia Bond Hopson
 “Where do we go from here: Chaos or Community?” This question from Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1967 book of the same title will be the theme for the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center’s Black History Month program, Saturday, February 7, at 2 p.m.  Noted author, Haywood County native and cultural historian, Cynthia Bond Hopson, will speak and facilitate a panel of local leaders.

Panelists will include Haywood County’s first elected African American Sheriff, Melvin Bond; Brownsville’s first African American Mayor W. D. Rawls Jr.; Fred Silverstein Jr., Chair of the Human Rights Commission; Douglass Community organizer and educator Johnetta Walker Neal; Brownsville Alderman and former housing administrator Carolyn B. Flagg; County Mayor Franklin Smith; and activist and business owner, Cynthia Rawls Bond. 
“This chaos or community topic was Dr. King’s examination of American race relations and the movement after a decade of U.S. civil rights struggles. It offers a perfect opportunity to reflect, renew and recommit to building bridges of love and hope,” says Bond Hopson, whose books on Haywood County include The Women of Haywood: Their Lives, Our Legacy, Wiggle Tales and Times of Challenge and Controversy.
According to Bond Hopson,When Dr. King wrote ‘somewhere somebody must have some sense. People must see that force begets force, hate begets hate, toughness begets toughness. And it is all a descending spiral, ultimately ending in destruction for all and everybody. Somebody must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate and the chain of evil in the universe. And you do that by love,’ he wanted us to understand we have the power to change the world through lives of service and deliberate action. Our distinguished panelists have done just that.”
Following the program, Bond Hopson will sign copies of her books.  This is a free event. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Skills clinic; symposium added to annual Country Blues Jam

West Tennessee Bluesmen Linzie Butler and Elam McKnight perform during last year's Country Blues Jam. 
 The second annual Sleepy John’s Country Blues Jam will be held Saturday, January 24, 11 a.m., at the Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville, Tenn. In addition to an acoustic jam session, skill clinics for the harmonica and slide guitar have been added, as well as a symposium. The free event recognizes the birthday and legacy of Blues pioneer Sleepy John Estes and is presented in partnership with the West Tennessee Blues Society

Musicians Elam McKnight and Jimmy D. Taylor share their knowledge and skills during 11 a.m. clinics in their respective fields. Slide guitar enthusiast, McKnight, is well known in the blues, rock and country genres, and has recently released his fifth studio album. Taylor, a Brownsville native, has been playing harmonica since 1991, and now builds and sells them worldwide. Participants are asked to pre-register by calling the Center and are asked to bring their own instruments.

Following the clinics, BBQ Express concessions will be on site offering lunch selections. A birthday cake recognizing what would have been Sleepy John's 116th birthday will be served at 12:30 p.m. Throughout the day, attendees are invited to tour the Delta Heritage Center and grounds including the last home of Estes and Flagg Grove School, the childhood school of Tina Turner.
A symposium will begin at 1 p.m., discussing “The Influence of West Tennessee’s Country Blues.” The panel will consist of musicologist David Evans and music historian Michael Baker. They will discuss the impact of the music and compare and contrast West Tennessee’s unique sound.
Evans, a Grammy Award winner, author and Professor at the University of Memphis School of Music, has produced over 30 albums and numerous books on Blues history. He travels the world performing as a solo act and with the Last Chance Jug Band.
Baker’s lifelong interest in music and music history has made him an expert on the life and music of “Sonny Boy” Williamson and, after finding his grave, was instrumental in marking it with a headstone and establishing a historical marker at the site. He served as talent coordinator for the Shannon Street Blues Festival for 21 years.
An open acoustic jam session will follow at 2:30 p.m. Participants are encouraged to bring their own instruments, voice or just your love for the music.  This jam session is non-competitive and open to everyone.
For more information about the event or to pre-register for the harmonica or slide guitar clinic, call the Center at 731-779-9000 or email