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

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