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Roots Music Festival Planned for Jonesboro as Highlight of Delta Symposium XIX, Saturday, April 20


JONESBORO -- KASU, the Arkansas Folklife Program, and Arkansas State University's Department of English and Philosophy are teaming up with the West End Neighborhood Association to present the “Roots Music Festival” on Saturday, April 20, as a part of Delta Symposium XIX. The event will feature an array of music including blues, Americana, bluegrass, rockabilly, and folk.

The event is preceded by a 10 a.m. “Architectural Walking Tour” that leaves from the Craighead County Jonesboro Public Library. Northeast Arkansas AIA will lead the tour of Jonesboro's West End. Design professionals and architects Libii Fairhead, Jim Little and John Mixon will meet those taking the tour at the Jonesboro Public Library to provide a tour of significant buildings in Jonesboro.

The music begins at 12 noon at the City Water and Light Park at 1123 S. Culberhouse Street. In case of rain, the festival will move to the public library.

At noon a Blues and Roots Music Showcase performance will open the show. Musicians from around the area will play music in a range of regional styles. The opening acts will consist of first and second place winners from the annual acoustic blues contest that will be held on Wednesday, April 17, at 7 p.m. at the Arts@311, 311 S. Church Street, Jonesboro.

The afternoon's entertainment continues with a performance by Sky City. Led by singer/songwriter Nathan Crouch, this group performs original acoustic music. Sky City placed highly in last year's music contest and were favorite performers at last year's Roots Music Festival.

Memphis bluegrass band 2-Mule Plow returns to the Delta Symposium for a 1 p.m. performance. Veteran bluegrass guitarist Bill Yearwood handles the lead vocals for this highly acclaimed band. Their fine three-part close harmonies are matched by virtuoso instrumentals. The band plays the old traditional tunes as well as "bluegrassed" tunes by the Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, the Grateful Dead, and various country and blues-rock artists.

At 2:30 p.m., Cedric Burnside will take the stage. Burnside is a bluesman who is carrying on the family tradition of his legendary grandfather, R. L. Burnside, and his uncle, Garry Burnside. A guitarist and vocalist, he also is one of the finest drummers in the blues world, having won the 2011 Blues Music Award for "Best Drummer of the Year." That year, he created the new Cedric Burnside Project, playing both instruments. His band recently recorded the CD "The Way I Am," and Burnside performs both original tunes and classic Delta blues in a range of styles.

Following Burnside's performance, Jonesboro's own Plain Meanness will take the stage. Drummer Greg Arnold is one of the creative forces behind this popular band that also features the original songwriting and guitar playing of Patrick Dailey. The band's original style is eclectic and original, while rooted in the music of the Arkansas Delta. Their full length album "The Sower and the Reaper" is a witty and exciting concept album that features sophisticated lyrics and a driving blend of rockabilly, surf rock, jazz, and country music that gives them a unique sound.

The show's last set begins at 5 p.m. with the New Agrarians. Composed of three of the finest singer/songwriters in the contemporary acoustic world, this band has been called one of the only "supergroups" of the folk world.

Tom Kimmel, Kate Campbell and Pierce Pettis all have vibrant solo careers, but they team up for unique performances. They perform songs of stories from the Southland, and their inspiration comes from sources as diverse as Vanderbilt University's agrarian writers of the early 20th century to the Old Testament's "Song of Solomon."

Members of the band are all highly honored singers, instrumentalists, and songwriters. Their compositions have been recorded by numerous recording artists, including Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Randy Travis, Garth Brooks, and Dion and the Belmonts.

The Delta Symposium has been coordinated through ASU’s English and Philosophy Department for the past 18 years. The Roots Music Festival is one of several events; this year’s program begins on Wednesday, April 17, at the Reng Student Union.

The symposium is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and all events are free and open to the public.

Further information is available by contacting the Delta Symposium Committee or by checking the Symposium website: http://altweb.astate.edu/blues/ or on Facebook.

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An overview of Delta Symposium XIX is available at:

Roots Music Festival Poster, DS XIX

New Agrarians
New Agrarians:
Pierce Pettis, Kate Campbell, Tom Kimmel

Cedric Burnside
Cedric Burnside

Nathan Crouch of Sky City
Nathan Crouch
Sky City

Architectural Tour in 2012
Architectural Tour in 2012

Bill Yearwood, 2-Mule Plow
Bill Yearwood
2-Mule Plow
(Greg Hansen Photo)