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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Music, Munchies, Merriment and Monkey Business

It was all music, munchies and monkey business at the first annual Soul Survivor's Festival in Ferriday this weekend. The festival celebrated the history of blues music and the contributions of African American musicians to the legacy of Ferriday, Louisiana.

The festival started out with the unveiling of a Mississippi Blues Marker on the lawn of the Delta Music Museum. The Mississippi Blues Trail markers tell stories through words and images of bluesmen and women and how the places where they lived and the times in which they existed–and continue to exist–influenced their music.

The Mississippi Blues Trail is an ongoing project of the Mississippi Blues Commission, and is funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Misssissippi Department of Transportation, the Federal Highway Administration, AT&T, and the Delta Center for Culture and Learning at Delta State University plus additional support from the Mississippi Development Authority Tourism Division.

Ferriday's is one of only a handful of markers placed outside of Mississippi, and was included because of Haney's Big House, one of the many clubs on the old Chitlin' Circuit, which was frequented by great artists like B B King and Fats Domino. In addition, Haney's also played host to local musicians like Ferriday's Leon "Pee Wee" Whittaker and Natchez's Hezekiah Early and Y.Z. Ealey. Jerry Lee Lewis also frequented the club as a youngster, soaking up the sounds he heard there, and incorporating them into his own distinctive style when he started his own music career.

Gathered in the shade of Rockabilly Plaza, festivalgoers enjoyed barbeque, cold drinks and music by Hezekiah Early and Lil Poochie, Osgood and Blaque, and the YZ Ealey Band with Jimmy Anderson sitting in on harmonica.  We even had a guest visiting all the way from London, England -- Paromita Saha, a freelance writer with a special love for music, the blues, in particular.  She'll be doing a writeup soon.  We'll be sure to let you know about it.

"This is brilliant," said Paromita, who couldn't get over the fact that she was sitting in a little town in Louisiana listening to longtime, authentic blues legends playing the music they shaped in the place it was created.

The highlight of the afternoon for the kids, especially, was an appearance by Tim Lepard and Team Ghostriders. Tim travels the rodeo circuit with his team of border collies ridden by white-throated capuchin monkeys, who make quick work of corralling a group of goats and sending them on their way in the back -- wait; scratch that -- on the roof of a pickup truck.

Also a hit with the kids were the train rides given courtesy of the Concordia Parish Sheriff's Department.

For a sampling of some of the day's music and events, check out the three videos below.

We're looking forward to many more Soul Survivors Festivals in years to come. For more info, go to:

A special thanks to Cristen Craven Barnard, who created the poster for this year's event, which is available for purchase for $25.  If you'd like to purchase a poster, please contact Tommy Polk at All proceeds go to the Friends of the Delta Music Museum, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, and will go toward future live music events in Ferriday.

We would like to thank the following for sponsoring the Ferriday Soul Survivors Festival, without whom this event would not have been possible:

Story, photos and videos by Elodie Pritchartt