You can’t sing the blues until you been there may be the theme of the revived 2021 Juke Joint Festival this year.
After a year of COVID the community, the region and the world are once again being invited to come to Clarksdale, smile behind their masks and visit 13 venues where blues will play over four days this week.
“I think this year’s audience will be more local and regional,” said Roger Stolle, Juke Joint Festival co-founder. “We are billing it as ‘pandemically modified,’ but people will still have a great time in Clarksdale.”
COVID-19 killed the 2020 Juke Joint Festival and event organizers have worked hard to revive this year’s event. Complete details can be found on Pages 11, 12 and 13 of today’s Clarksdale Press Register or by going to www.jukejointfestival.com.
A sampling of the long weekend's highlights includes:
• Thu., April 15 - FREE - Kick-off starring Christone "Kingfish" Ingram.
• Fri., April 16 - FREE - Thack-er Mountain Radio live show.
• Sat., April 17 - FREE - 13 daytime music stages (10 a.m.-6 p.m.); plus street vendors.
• Sat., April 17 - WRISTBAND REQUIRED - 17 nighttime venues.
• Sun., April 18 - FREE - Mini Blues Fest (10 a.m.-5 p.m.).
According to the nonprofit event's organizers, hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars have been spent to relaunch a fun weekend and keep everyone's health in mind.
"We have bought thousands of masks, hundreds of gallons of hand sanitizer,” said Stolle. “The masks will be found at a lot of our booths and the hand sanitizer stations will be set up at strategic locations and we want people to use both masks and sanitizer.”
Other limitations will be stanchions and ribbons to keep the crowds orderly and dispersed smaller venues and seating limits in all businesses. Juke Joint 2021 will also host more events outdoors.
Stolle said they have scaled back this year’s event and predict numbers will be down. But he countered that good weather may prompt more people to come to Clarksdale for a quick spring vacation.
“I think people are ready to get outside and go somewhere,” Stolle added. “A lot of preparation and thought goes into every Juke Joint Festival and they are all unique. We’ll see what this year’s festival brings to Clarksdale.”
The 2021 Juke Joint Festival lineup, Saturday-night JJF wristband sales, health & safety protocols and more can be found online.
Select events will be streamed via LiveFromClarksdale.org, and additional visitor information is available at VisitClarksdale.com.
The Juke Joint Festival began almost 20 years ago as a small event aimed at bringing music to the streets of Clarkdale on Saturday and into the clubs, restaurants and “joints” around town on Saturday night. It has grown to be the community’s premier spring festival and traditionally brings thousands of blues fans to Clarksdale from all over the country and world.
Centered around the downtown business district the event has grown to cover the full weekend with blues musicians seeking to play for its fame and the boost it give to their resume. The event is also a boom for local restaurants, motels and retail businesses.
The festival wishes to thank all of its attendees, performers and volunteers as well as major sponsors that include Visit Clarksdale, Crossroads Economic Partnership, Visit Mississippi, Isle of Capri, Southern Bancorp and The Walton Family Foundation.