Sponsored Post: Bentonia Blues Festival
Yazoo County, Mississippi, returns to its roots at the Bentonia Blues Festival this weekend.
The Bentonia Blues Festival began in 1972 on a farm, just up the road from the world-famous Blue Front Cafe, on land owned by the Holmes family. It was a tiny event, with only one DJ and Walter “Big Daddy” Hood (“500 Pounds of Blues”) performing a capella. The location of the festival was moved into downtown Bentonia in 2006, the year the festival was revived after a decade-long hiatus. Since that time, the festival has grown from an attendance of a couple hundred to an estimated 8,000 in recent years and has attracted blues performers and fans from far and wide.
In 2012, Mr. Holmes, or “Duck” as they call him in Bentonia, made the fateful decision to move the festival back to the original location. Last year’s event, the 40th anniversary, was full of local and regional talent who have performed in venues across the country. This year is no different. Fans of the festival have been especially excited by the decision to start the Blues Stage at 9 a.m. and to continue the tradition of restricting the festival to strictly blues music.
This open pasture land once farmed by the Holmes family is Bentonia’s version of the iconic Woodstock music festival. Local, national and international blues fans getting together to celebrate a unique form of blues, made famous by Skip James, which inspired generations of artists from The Rolling Stones to Eric Clapton.
“When I started this festival in 1972, it was to help preserve the Bentonia style of blues, which is unique to this area. I knew it would be a great event, but I never knew it would be as big as it is now,” says Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, owner of Blue Front Cafe, Bentonia blues musician and creator of the Bentonia Blues Festival. “The fact that so many people have become aware of this music and want to celebrate it every year with us here in Bentonia really warms my heart. Every year we have people here from a different country or state that’s never been before, and all the folks who came before, too. It’s like a big family reunion, even if we’ve never met. The Bentonia blues is still alive, and it’s right here.”
The Bentonia Blues Festival is held at 313 Wilson-Holmes Road, Bentonia, Mississippi, on June 15. Admission is $10, and parking is free. There are also free related events on the 13 and 14 at the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia. For more information on attending, visit the Yazoo County CVB’s website or check out the festival page on Facebook.