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Episode #21107

Sunflower Blues Festival

Air date 11/1/12
Host: Walt Grayson
Mississippi Roads is walking into Clarksdale with Robert Plant for the annual Sunflower River & Gospel Festival. We explore the rich musical history of Clarksdale’s Riverside Hotel and Mississippi musician Pat Sansone entertains with the music of Wilco.

 

 

Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival honors the rich musical heritage of the Mississippi Delta, a heritage that goes back 100 years. Known for its “authentic” Delta Blues music, the event features entertainment by local, regional, national and international artists. The music fest is held in Clarksdale, Miss. and, along with its workshops and seminars on the Blues, attracts thousands of visitors every year from around the world.

Riverside Hotel has been in operation by the Ratliff family since 1944 in Clarksdale, Miss. The building first was a hospital for African-Americans. In 1937, after surviving a car wreck outside of Clarksdale, Blues legend Bessie Smith died at the hospital. The hotel is still in operation and managed by Frank "Rat" Ratliff. Among the touring musicians that stayed at the hotel are Ike Turner, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Robert Nighthawk and Duke Ellington. The Riverside Hotel is a marker in the Mississippi Blues Trail.

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Robert Plant is better known as the front man for the famous band Led Zeppelin. Even after a 40-year career in rock and roll music, Plant is in high demand. His voice is recognized for its range, tone and compelling fans with an edgy sense of poetry. One of the hallmarks of Plant's style and music is his wide-ranging fascination with music world wide.

Morgan Freeman is one of the most popular and well respected actors in the United States. His acting career started at the age of nine with the lead in a school play in Greenwood, Miss. His performances have earned him an Oscar, multiple Oscar nominations, a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Freeman co-owns a fine dining restaurant, and a Blues club, both located in Clarksdale, Miss. Freeman lives in Charleston, Miss. and New York City.

Pat Sansone is a multi-instrumentalist with the well-known independent band Wilco. He was born in Meridian, Miss. and grew up in a musical family. His musical career began as a student at The University of Southern Mississippi. Sansone plays guitar, keyboard, maracas, and several other instruments, as well as singing backup vocals while on tour with Wilco. He also produced and written music. Tony Sansone, his father, is a renowned music promoter in Meridian.

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