The gulf coast of Florida was invaded by strangers from a faraway land, and the results were great music and fun.
Florida Gulf Coast University, in Fort Myers, Florida, hosted a group of Mississippi Delta blues performers from Clarksdale as part of the university’s silver anniversary celebration.
Sean "Bad" Apple, Peggy "Lady Trucker" Hemphill, "Little" Willie Farmer, Tim Scruggs and RL Boyce made the trip on behalf of Clarksdale, exporting the best of the blues to the school of over 15,000 students.
The blues musicians were accompanied by officials from the Clarksdale Coahoma County Tourism Commission Bard, executive director Bubba O’Keefe and board chair Roger Stolle.
The series of events featuring the blues legends included an outdoor concert for the university, a venue performance, meet-and-greets, a blues symposium and more.
The event was organized by Professor Clay Motley, who visited Clarksdale years ago and has since returned regularly for festivals and personal vacations.
At the most recent meeting of the tourism board, O’Keefe reported that the series of events was successful in furthering the Clarksdale brand with potential new tourists. Stolle agreed, commenting that
"It is always amazing to meet folks down there who have already been to Clarksdale for the blues,” said O’Keefe. “It’s also very exciting when strangers come up after a show to tell you they plan to visit.”
The success surprised no one, as blues performances from Clarksdale have made previous trips to Florida Gulf Coast University, thanks to the efforts of professor Motley.