WEATHER AUTHORITY : Dense Fog Advisory View Alerts

Oxford Blues Festival returns

The music festival aims to give people a reason to celebrate.

The music festival aims to give people a reason to celebrate.

Posted: Sep 21, 2021 8:28 PM
Updated: Sep 22, 2021 9:40 AM

OXFORD, Miss. – The Oxford Blues Festival's tagline, "Just a Reason to Celebrate," holds truer than ever as the festival returns to the Oxford Square this month. The annual festival was sidelined by COVID-19 in 2020, and the 2021 lineup promises to make up for lost time.

"Our festival is about celebrating our community, our music scene, our food scene and our cultural history," said Darryl Parker, festival founder and organizer. "What's important is providing a safe space for young and old, black and white, and everyone else to come together and listen to music and eat good food. That's a win for me."

The festival, which began in 2010, has been an annual collaboration between Oxford artists, restauranteurs and business owners, as well as University of Mississippi alumni and student volunteers.

This year's festival begins Thursday evening (Sept. 23) with a kickoff party at Lamar Yard, featuring performances by Jimmy "Duck" Holmes and R.L. Boyce, Dave Sherman and Anthony "Big-A" Sherrod.

Main Stage performances begin Friday (Sept. 24) at Harrison's on the Square, beginning at 3 p.m. with a performance by Ole Miss alumnus Matt Gaylord alongside Trenton Ayers and Cameron Kimbrough.

Homecoming Blues

Gaylord completed his biology master's thesis at UM in 2012, but it's the area's music that keeps him coming back.

"Oxford is its own crossroads," Gaylord said. "Oxford is situated just south of where most of the Hill Country players are from, but you also get a lot of music and traffic coming off Highway 6 from the Delta and the Western part of the state, as well as the musicians coming over from Tupelo.

"If you were trying to put together a blues festival somewhere that could draw from all the important blues regions in Mississippi, this is a good spot."

That mixture of influences is what attracted Gaylord to the area as a graduate student. After completing his undergraduate at Appalachian State University, he visited a friend in Oxford and, while in the area, explored Clarksdale and the surrounding north Mississippi music scene. He met blues legends T-Model Ford and Robert Belfour.

"From then, I was hooked," Gaylord said. "And I was definitely going to go to Ole Miss for graduate school. The next five years were just stories like that, getting to meet and play with Garry and Dwayne Burnside and guys like Trenton and Cam."

Genre Gumbo

Not only is the Oxford a melting pot for musical influences, but the Hill Country blues the area is known for serves as a kind of roux for musical collaboration.

"Hill Country is real primal and elemental," said Lightnin Malcolm, who will deliver Friday's penultimate performance. "It's like the foundation, but because it's so universal and minimalistic, it's able to fuse with other styles.

"It can cross-pollinate because it is designed to set up a groove that you can dance to and bring people together, as opposed to showing off how great a player someone is."

Parker placed a great deal of emphasis on blurring genres when he booked this year's lineup, saying, "Good music is good music – no matter what festival we're playing in."

Entertainment and Opportunity

While most in attendance will listen, dance and eat, some Ole Miss students will be gaining class credit and real-world event management experience.

Dave Waddell, a lecturer in sport and recreation administration, has partnered with Parker for many years to provide the festival with volunteers while teaching his students important lessons about leadership, planning and service.

"As a part of our experience learning we want to give students, we try to put them in situations where they're learning and participating in leadership," Waddell said. "I joke that they can learn more in one event like this than in seven or eight lectures."

More than Music

The festival also will feature a walking tour that offers tastings from a variety of Oxford restaurants along with an opportunity to learn about the important of food to the blues. Along the way, participants will learn the history of each dish as well as the history of the culinary scene on the Oxford Square.

Tickets for the walking tour are $99. Single-day festival passes are $35 and multi-day passes are $55.

Thursday's kickoff party is not ticketed, but attendees who make a suggested $15 donation will get a festival poster.

To see a full lineup and purchase tickets, visit https://oxfordbluesfest.com/.

By JB Clark

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 515504

Reported Deaths: 10296
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34999558
DeSoto33360432
Hinds32743643
Jackson24906392
Rankin22565405
Lee16455245
Madison14954283
Jones14158248
Forrest13834260
Lauderdale12311323
Lowndes11357193
Lamar10693140
Pearl River9748244
Lafayette8868143
Hancock7849132
Washington7559169
Oktibbeha7229138
Monroe7068179
Pontotoc7033110
Warren6885178
Panola6791135
Neshoba6744210
Marshall6707142
Bolivar6468151
Union643598
Pike5942157
Alcorn5921107
Lincoln5540136
George510680
Prentiss508285
Tippah495683
Itawamba4884107
Scott478999
Tate4777117
Adams4776125
Leflore4749144
Copiah458195
Yazoo458092
Simpson4566117
Wayne443472
Covington434895
Sunflower4319106
Marion4295112
Coahoma4244110
Leake414191
Newton396182
Tishomingo386894
Grenada3789109
Stone366166
Jasper341266
Attala340490
Chickasaw318367
Winston318392
Clay312978
Clarke301695
Calhoun286850
Holmes272889
Smith270552
Yalobusha244947
Tallahatchie232353
Greene225149
Walthall222166
Lawrence220242
Perry214556
Amite210357
Webster206548
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182157
Carroll175441
Jefferson Davis174343
Tunica163539
Benton153139
Kemper145441
Choctaw137027
Claiborne134839
Humphreys132239
Franklin126530
Quitman107828
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson97134
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 848137

Reported Deaths: 16185
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1164052005
Mobile743681384
Madison53497738
Shelby38435371
Baldwin38195589
Tuscaloosa36152644
Montgomery34562782
Lee25655264
Calhoun22630520
Morgan22530411
Etowah20069520
Marshall18846318
Houston17777426
St. Clair16958359
Limestone16195220
Cullman16157306
Elmore15940295
Lauderdale15069307
Talladega14260302
DeKalb13083271
Walker12168380
Blount10779193
Autauga10560157
Jackson10214196
Coffee9435192
Colbert9366210
Dale9044192
Tallapoosa7285202
Russell710065
Chilton7090170
Covington6969197
Escambia6967144
Franklin6364108
Chambers5801142
Marion5437132
Dallas5302210
Pike5129109
Clarke485786
Lawrence4850130
Winston4793110
Geneva4655136
Bibb435795
Barbour370680
Butler3444101
Marengo342993
Monroe338366
Randolph337867
Pickens334890
Fayette331785
Henry321166
Cherokee320364
Hale319189
Crenshaw261678
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253555
Clay252969
Macon246367
Conecuh193562
Coosa186048
Wilcox178538
Lowndes178468
Bullock152845
Perry141840
Sumter139841
Greene130545
Choctaw94428
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Cloudy
62° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 62°
Columbus
Cloudy
62° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 62°
Oxford
Cloudy
° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: °
Starkville
Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 63°
A few thunderstorms will likely spring up on Sunday ahead of an incoming cold front that will arrive Monday and bring widespread rain and lower temperatures.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather