MEMPHIS, TN – The program’s theme, “North Mississippi Hill Country Blues,” will focus on the region’s distinctive blues sound and culture. David Evans, director of the ethnomusicology and regional studies doctoral program of the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis, will deliver the keynote address. Evans is a specialist in American folk and popular music, particularly blues, spirituals, gospel, and African American folk music. Additionally, George W. K. Dor, the McDonnell-Barksdale Chair of Ethnomusicology and associate professor of music at the University of Mississippi, will discuss Africanisms in Otha Tuner’s fife and band music.
Other presentations include filmmakers Joe York and Scott Barretta previewing portions of their upcoming documentary feature film on Como, Mississippi’s legendary blues artist Fred McDowell. Greg Johnson, curator for the Blues Archive in the Department of Archives and Special Collections at the University of Mississippi, will highlight holdings in the archive, featuring numerous North Mississippi blues musicians.
The Blues Today Symposium is presented by Living Blues magazine and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. The symposium coincides with Clarksdale, Mississippi’s annual Juke Joint Festival (April 10–12) providing attendees an opportunity to see and hear dozens of musicians from the region.