2018 Schedule


International Conference on the Blues • September 30-October 2, 2018

Conference Locations

Events are held in several locations at Delta State University and downtown Cleveland. Please consult the schedule for details.

SUNDAY: Grammy Museum Mississippi - 800 W Sunflower.

MONDAY: Daytime events are at the Delta Music Institute; and evening events are in downtown Cleveland.

TUESDAY: The newly-renovated Department of Music will host us in the newly-renovated Zeigel Hall. An post-conference concert with Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue will be held at the Bologna Performing Arts Center.

SUNDAY, September 30, 2018

Sunday's events are held at the GRAMMY Museum Mississippi.


4:00–6:00 pm | OPENING RECEPTION  

Enjoy hors d'oeuvres during this come-and-go-event. Free and open to the public; space is limited.
Live music by Destiny Bradley and Tyan Nash

4:30 PM Introductions and Welcome

Dr. Rolando Herts, Director  
Delta Center for Culture & Learning
Dr. Shelley Collins and Prof. Don Allan Mitchell, co-chairs

6:00-8:00 | SCREENING  

Join us for a screening of selections chosen by Das Lippmann+Rau-Musikarchiv from The American Folk Blues Festival. Introductions by President William N. LaForge

Remarks from Ambassador Herbert Quelle, Consulate General, Federal Republic of Germany

A presentation on the German origins of the American Folk Blues Festival, which brought Mississippi’s blues to world stages during the 1960s, by former German Ambassador to Azerbaijan Herbert Quelle, who is now the German consul in Chicago and a noted performer & musicologist.


Monday registration and paper sessions are held at the Delta Music Institute on the DSU Campus.

8:00 AM–4:00 PM | Lobby

Join us for coffee and donuts | 8-8:30 AM
The registration and CD/book tables will be open from 8:15 AM–4 PM. Musicians and writers are invited to bring items to sell.

8:30–9:00 AM | DMI Studio A

Welcome Remarks and Announcements
Dr. Shelley Collins and Prof. Don Allan Mitchell, co-chairs
President William LaForge, Delta State University
Dr. Rolando Herts, Director, Delta Center for Culture and Learning

Lomax/DSU Partnership Film
Introducing the Lomax Mississippi Recordings, 1933-1942
Presented by the Association for Cultural Equity

Association for Cultural Equity Repatriation Ceremony
Presented by Dr. Jorge Arévalo Mateus
Executive Director, Association for Cultural Equity/Alan Lomax Archive

9–9:50 AM | Studio A

The Morganfield Family Reunion: Bridgett Morganfield Jones, historian for the family of Muddy Waters, discusses a versatile and talented family of musicians.
Joseph Morganfield, youngest son of Muddy Waters
Bridgett Morganfield Jones, niece of Muddy Waters
Amelia Cooper, granddaughter of Muddy Waters
Moderators: Keith Johnson and Don Allan Mitchell

BREAK: 9:50–10 AM | Studio A & Lobby

PAPER SESSION #1 | 10:05–10:50 AM | Studio A

Lyric Formulas and African Storytelling as Traditional Compositional Processes in the Folk Blues  
Dr. J. Tyler Fritts, Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee
The art of blues lyric composition is in the combination of lyric formulas. Using historical and ethnographic research along with the work of H.L. Gates, M. Parry, A. Lord, and D. Evans, I compare lyrics in Furry Lewis’s three most important blues to better understand the compositional process.

We Shall Not Be Moved: Creating Collective Agency  
Ms. Tawana Williams, Sankofa Freedom Academy Charter School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania  
"We Shall Not Be Moved: Creating Collective Agency" examines the use of music to create collective agency within the Civil Rights Movement. Through interviews, several Civil Rights Veterans share how freedom songs guided, grounded,  and emboldened the collective action of social activists.
Moderator: Dr. Bret Pimentel

PAPER SESSION #2 | 10:05–10:50 AM | DMI 201

Jim Morrison and the Bad Boys Blues  
Dr. Charles Gower Price, West Chester University of Pennsylvania (emeritus), Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico
Seizing an opportunity to play for four months at a dive called London Fog on the Sunset Strip for little money, The Doors honed their repertory of original songs and blues classics. This paper examines the Doors use of the deep blues songs of Willie Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, and Muddy Waters.

Protodelic Repertoire: An Exploration of the Five Blues Songs that Helped Create Psychedelia
Dr. Tom Zlabinger, York College / CUNY, Jamaica, NY  
Many psychedelic bands recorded covers of blues songs. Five songs by four musicians (Albert King, Allen Toussaint, “Sonny Boy” Williamson, and Howlin’ Wolf) emerge as the most frequently covered. What do these five songs have in common? How did the songs help serve as a foundation of psychedelia?  
Moderator: Dr. Douglas Mark

PAPER SESSION #1 | 11–11:50 AM | Studio A

Hope to See Yo Face in the Place: Family Picnics as Hill Country Blues Tradition
Mr. Benjamin DuPriest, University of Pennsylvania
This paper discusses the tradition of family picnics in the North Mississippi hill country and the contemporary role of these events as blues festivals in the state’s larger heritage economy.

The Road to Avalon
Dr. Tammy L. Turner, University of Tennessee at Martin
The older black blues musicians rediscovered in the early 1960s needed competent career management, but there was no agency solely dedicated to managing black blues artists at the time. This led to the founding of Avalon Productions in 1965, the first agency devoted to representing these artists.
Moderator: Dr. Julia Thorn

PAPER SESSION #2 | 11–11:50 AM | DMI 201

Got My Mojo Workin’: Blues and Conjure as Modes of African American Resistance
Dr. David E. Ballew, Chowan University, Murfreesboro, North Carolina
This presentation will explore common elements of the Delta Blues and the Conjure tradition, such as individual empowerment, sexuality, and social nonconformity.

The Global Nature, and Hawaiian, Spanish and African Roots of Delta Blues Culture
Dr. John Strait, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas
This presentation will highlight Hawaiian, Spanish and African influences on the evolution of blues culture and focus on the multilayered forms of global diffusion responsible for what has been referred to as “Delta blues.” By doing so, it will focus attention the transcultural dimensions of blues.
Moderator: Dr. Jon Westfall

LUNCH ON YOUR OWN | 12–12:55 PM | Food Trucks at DMI
Enjoy regional cuisine presented by Delta chefs. Cash only. An ATM is located in the Student Union.

PAPER SESSION #1 | 1–1:50 PM | Studio A

Jelly Roll Morton and the Censored History of the Blues
Dr. Elijah Wald, Independent scholar, Philadelphia, PA
Blues was originally sung in the normal language of its communities, but has consistently been censored
by both commercial marketers and scholars. This censorship has hidden not only the language, but much else about the music and its role as a social, historical, and educational force.

Moderator: Prof. Don Allan Mitchell

PAPER SESSION #2 | 1–1:50 PM | DMI 201

Healing Power of the Blues
Dr. Melody Fortune & Dr. Zina Taran, Delta State University, Cleveland, MS
The Blues provided a place of gathering, sharing, and healing in the Mississippi Delta. Research in holistic healthcare suggests that the blues provided a role of spiritual support, emotional support, and comfort that served to enhance health among community members, especially in the absence of healthcare.

The Influence of Native Americans in the Blues
Mr. Bob Swofford, Independent scholar, Roland, OK
A discussion and demonstration of the influences Native Americans have added to the blues genre, from the days of Charlie Patton at Dockery Farms to Link Wray’s development of the power chord in the late 1950s.
Moderator: Dr. Carrie R. Freshour

PAPER SESSION #1 | 2–2:50 PM | Studio A

Sweet Home Chicago: Recording the Blues in the Windy City during the 1930s
Dr. Roberta Freund Schwartz, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
Blues recording in Chicago was a dialectic between labels, managers and artists. Musicians had significant autonomy and served as talent scouts and A&R reps. Managers selected material that was likely to sell; while acts had to sell their copyrights to labels, this enabled risks on new musicians.

Beale Street: A Lineage of Sounds
Ms. Lydia Warren, University of Virginia and Memphis, TN
Beale Street is home to unique performance practices, repertoires, and stylistic choices among its blues musicians. This socio-musical web reveals lineages of mentorships, friendships, and influences on Beale, which will be demonstrated and contextualized through performance and lecture.
Moderator: Dr. Brian Becker

PAPER SESSION #2 | 2–2:50 PM | DMI 201

The Blues without Melancholy? Against “Revisionist Histories”
Mr. Vincent Granata, University of Lorraine, Nancy, France
The aim of this presentation is to show how psychological descriptions — like “the blues is melancholic” — are essential to the understanding of the blues. To that end, we will show how “revisionist histories” are misguided when they conclude that these have nothing to do with how the music sounds.

“Shuffle in E!” Reception and Practices of the Blues in German Jam Sessions
Mr. Nils Kirschlager, University of Paderborn, Detmold, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
Research assistant and guitarist Nils Kirschlager discusses participatory observations on German blues jam sessions: repertoire, instrumentation and reception of the blues among other aspects will be the focus of this paper while providing a historical background of the genre in Germany.
Moderator: Dr. Jung-Won Shin

PAPER SESSION #1 | 3–3:50 PM | Studio A

Soul on Soul: the Blues of Mary Lou Williams
Prof. Brian Q. Torff, Fairfield University, Guilford, CT
Jazz pianist Mary Lou Williams was a pioneer in the evolution of jazz whose development as an artist was profoundly influenced by both modern and traditional blues. In this presentation, bassist Brian Torff, who played with Ms. Williams, will analyze the significant role of the blues in her life and work.

The Rhumba Boogie of Uganda: A Story of Alfred “Uganda” Roberts
Mr. Victor Bouveron, Independent Scholar, Hellemmes, France
This presentation looks at how Alfred “Uganda” Roberts helped create the new sound of New Orleans post World War II. The film addresses his upbringing in Tremé in the 1950s, and his unique musical career as a conga player, preserving the dying tradition of hand drumming.
Moderator: Dr. Zina Taran

PAPER SESSION #2 | 3–3:50 PM | DMI 201

Primary Source Blues: Digital Representation in the Alan Lomax Archive
Ms. Christian Leus, Independent Scholar, Altheimer, AR
This paper explores the representational implications of blues clips held in the Alan Lomax Archive. The digital existence of the videos makes them disseminable outside of their original contexts, each a pedagogical unit, its own mini-exhibit in the infinite, dubious cultural museum of the Internet.

Broadcasting the Blues
Dr. Michael Bowman, Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, AR
Broadcasting the Blues presents how KFFA in Helena, KWEM in West Memphis, and KOKY in Little Rock helped introduce blues to radio audiences, boosting the careers of great blues, soul, and rock n’ roll artists.
Moderator: Dr. Todd Davis

5:00-7:00 pm | DINE AROUND TOWN (on your own) 
Suggestions provided by the Cleveland-Bolivar Chamber of Commerce; reservations recommended. [download pdf]

MAIN PERFORMANCE | 7–8:30 PM |  Downtown Cleveland

Free Concert: The Morganfield Family Reunion – A Tribute to Muddy Waters 
Courthouse Grounds | 200 S. Court St.
Limited seating; you are encouraged to bring a chair or blanket. Rain location: Jobe Hall on the DSU campus.


Open Mic/Jam Session: Join award-winning performing songwriter Tricia Walker for an intimate “in the round” acoustic event at Mississippi Grounds. A “pilgrim chair” will be open for invited conference guests to join in the music. Underwritten by Visit Mississippi.
Located at Mississippi Grounds, 219 S. Court St. (across from the Courthouse)


Tuesday registration and sessions are held at the Department of Music in Zeigel Hall on the DSU Campus. 

REGISTRATION | 9 AM–2 PM | Zeigel Lobby
Join us for coffee and donuts | 9-9:30 AM

KEYNOTE ADDRESS | 9:30–10:40 AM | Band Room

The Spiritual Crossroads of the Mississippi Delta: Regional, Global, and Religious
Dr. Charles Reagan Wilson, Professor Emeritus of History and Southern Studies University of Mississippi
Introductions: Dr. Rolando Herts, Director, Delta Center for Culture and Learning
Moderator: Don Allan Mitchell

ACCESSING THE LOMAX ARCHIVES | 10:30–10:50 am | Band Room

Unveiling of Delta State University’s Lomax Mississippi Recordings 1933-1942 Website
Will Jacks, website designer and Scott Barretta, podcast creator
Barretta and Jacks present Delta State University’s new Alan Lomax Mississippi Delta Collection website, lomaxdeltastate.com

PERFORMANCE: Gospel Choir Showcase | 11 AM–12 PM | Band Room

Coahoma Community College Concert Choir
Dr. Kelvin Towers, Director of Choir Activities
Moderator: Dr. Vernell Bennett

12:00-1:30 | LUNCH ON YOUR OWN

Bruce “Sunpie” Barnes coaches DSU music & DMI students.

3:05–3:55 PM | Q&A WITH TROMBONE SHORTY | Band Room
Moderator: Don Allan Mitchell

Picnic-style pre-show dinner, weather permitting

Purchase tickets by calling the Bologna Performing Arts Center box office (open 8 AM-5 PM) at 662-846-4626.
20% discount for conference attendees: use code Blues18.