Crystal Springs is more then 200 miles south of Clarksdale. It is 10 miles north of Hazlehurst, where Robert Johnson was born. A grandson of the most legendary Delta blues musician is Steven Johnson. He and his family make their home here. Steven’s father, Claude, Robert Johnson’s son, and his mother live close by. At one time, Steven was a teacher at the Crystal Springs High School, where he also attended. He is now vice president of the Robert Johnson Blues Museum and Foundation. The storefront museum is in the Crystal Springs historic district. Among its items is an upright piano that a local resident donated after a family member admitted seeing Robert Johnson play it.
In between sets by the Delta Blues Museum’s Arts and Education Program and Grammy-winning Delta blues legend Honeyboy Edwards, I had the chance to catch-up with a couple of people who had spent time on Berklee’s campus.
Fried steak and pork shops. Field peas. Barbecue chicken tenders. Lima beans. Turnip greens. Baked beans with hamburger and barbecue sauce. Corn bread. Sweet tea and peach cobbler. Filling-up on the Ranchero’s lunch buffet on Rt. 161 at the edge of town, I’m now ready to commune with Clarksdale, Mississippi. This is the day when one teen from the Delta Blues Museum will be called to the stage to accept a summer scholarship, and when the town rolls out the annual Juke Joint Festival. Continue reading
I’m Allen Bush, director of Berklee’s public information office, and, at the moment, bridge-builder to Mississippi. I’m here in the Deep South this weekend to find teen musicians or singers and award them scholarships to Berklee’s five-week summer performance program. My partners will be the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, and the Robert Johnson Blues Museum, in Crystal Springs. Continue reading
It’s a far-flung week for Berklee faculty and staff. Public information chief Allen Bush will shortly be filing dispatches from Mississippi, where the college is finding talented young musicians to bring up north for the summer. (In fact, he’s editing his first post right now.) I’m looking forward to learning about those musicians and hearing about the Juke Joint Festival! Blues music everywhere and pig races. What more could you want?