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 | REGISTRATION

4:00–6:00 pm | OPENING RECEPTION  
Enjoy hors d'oeuvres during this come-and-go-event

6:00-8:00 | SCREENING  
Join us for a screening of selections selected from The American Folk Blues Festival by Das Lippmann+Rau-Musikarchiv, Eisenach, Germany

Introduction and remarks, 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 Azerbajian 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

The registration and CD/book tables will be open from 8:00–4:00. Musicians and writers are invited to bring items to sell.

8:00–9:00 am | DMI Lobby & Studio A

8:00 | Registration | Lobby
8:30 | Welcome remarks and announcements | Studio A
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
8:50 | Lomax Film

9:00-9:50 am |  OPENING PANEL: The Morganfield Family Reunion | Studio A
Repatriation of the Historic Alan Lomax Mississippi Recordings
Dr. Jorge Mateus, Association for Cultural Equity

Video Presentation and Panel
Celebrating the history of a versatile and talented family of musicians.    
Joseph Morganfield, youngest son of Muddy Waters
Bridgett Morganfield, niece of Muddy Waters
Amelia Cooper, granddaughter of Muddy Waters

9:50-10:00 am   BREAK

10:00–10:55 am | PAPER SESSION #1 
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.


10:00–10:55 am | PAPER SESSION #2 
Jim Morrison and the Bad Boys Blues 
Dr. Charles Gower Price
West Chester University (emeritus) 
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? 


11:00–11:55 am | PAPER SESSION #1 

PAPER SESSION: 11am #1  
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.


11:00–11:55 am | PAPER SESSION #2 
Got My Mojo Workin': Blues and Conjure as Modes of African American Resistance 
Dr. David E Ballew
Chowan University, Murfreesboro, North Carolina
The 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 multi-layered 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.


12:00-12:55 | Food Trucks at the DMI

Enjoy regional cuisine presented by Delta chefs

1:00–1:50 pm | PAPER SESSION #1 
Jelly Roll Morton and the Censored History of the Blues 
Dr. Elijah Wald
Independent scholar, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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.


1:00–1:50 pm | PAPER SESSION #2 
Healing Power of the Blues 
Dr. Melody Fortune & Dr. Zina Taran
Delta State University, Cleveland, Mississippi
The Blues provided a place of gathering, sharing, & 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, Oklahoma
Through video and audio examples, as well as data I found through research , the attendees will see how Native Americans joined with African-Americans to create the music genre that today we call the Blues.

2:00–2:50 pm | PAPER SESSION #1 
Sweet Home Chicago: Recording the Blues in the Windy City during the 1930s

Dr. Roberta Freund Schwartz
University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas
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
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.


2:00–2:50 pm | PAPER SESSION #2 
The Blues without Melancholy? Against “Revisionist Histories” 
Mr. Vincent Granata
University of Lorraine, Nancy, Lorraine, 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 "revisionnist 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.


3:00–3:50 pm | PAPER SESSION #1   
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" Robert 
Mr. Victor Bouveron
Independent Scholar, Hellemmes, France
This presentation looks at how Alfred “Uganda” Roberts helped creating 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.


3:00-3:50 | PAPER SESSION #2 
Primary Source Blues: Digital Representation in the Alan Lomax Archive 
Ms. Christian Leus
Independent Scholar, Altheimer, Arkansas
This paper explores the representational implications of blues clips held in the Alan Lomax Archive. The digital existence of the videos makes them disseminate 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, Arkansas
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 great blues, soul, and rock n’ roll artists.


4:00–4:30 pm | BLUES POETRY 
Blues-Jazz Poetry: a mirror for the musical structure of language & the language structure of music 
Mr. John Sullivan
Independent Scholar, Galveston, Texas
Mr. Kevin Sullivan, bass
John & Kevin Sullivan will perform blues poetry starting with a Delta source song, moving to the Harlem Renaissance, post-WW2/blues/jazz influenced fusion poetry, finally considering current work by younger poets.


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

7:00-8:30 pm  |  MAIN PERFORMANCE 
The Morganfield Family Reunion: A Tribute to Muddy Waters 
Free Concert at the Courthouse  
Downtown Cleveland | 200 S. Court Street    
Limited seating; you are encouraged to bring a chair or blanket

8:30–until | OPEN MIC/JAM SESSION 
Mississippi Grounds Coffeehouse | 219 S. Court Street
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.


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

9:00 am–2:00 pm | Lobby

The registration and CD/book tables will be open from 8:15–4:00. Musicians and writers are invited to bring items to sell. Coffee and doughnuts are available.

9:30-10: 30 | KEYNOTE ADDRESS  
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

10:30-10:50 | BREAK

10:50-12:00 | PERFORMANCE: Gospel Choir Showcase | 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

3:05-4:00 | Q&A with Trombone Shorty   
Moderator: Don Allan Mitchell

Picnic-style pre-show dinner, weather permitting

Tickets available for purchase by calling the BPAC box office (open 8-5) at 662-846-4626
Conference attendees receive a 20% discount on ticket purchase.