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Bringing the Blues Back to Oxford: Oxford Blues Fest

July 20-22 Oxford celebrates the blues with bands, panels, and cook-outs

As part of the birthplace of the blues, the third annual Oxford blues Fest will be held throughout Oxford this weekend. Darryl Parker founded the festival on the tagline “just a reason to celebrate” and believes Oxford needed something extra to happen in the midst of a college-town summer.
As the students leave for the summer, so do the majority of Oxford business consumers. Parker wanted to create something that would attract people to Oxford to “get something growing”  and to serve as “another boost” for the local economy.
“People are looking for ways to come back to Oxford,” Parker said.
The Blues Fest starts Friday at 4 p.m with a panel discussion at the University Museum with Blues Hall of Fame non-performer Dick Waterman, headliner Jody Williams, and musician Sam Mosley.
Saturday’s events include a show held inside the Museum for Ben Wiley Peyton and bands performing on the porch of the Walton-Young Historic House.
The last day of the event is held at the Foxfire Ranch, an out of town venue that hosts blues shows every Sunday, featuring Mosley & Johnson Band. Owned by Ole Miss employee Annie Hollowell and her husband, the venue, located off Hwy 7, provides BBQ potluck and outdoor blues music.
Jody Williams, the musician headlining the event has recorded with various blues artists such as B.B. King and Robert Lockwood Jr.
“They were musicians who inspired me,” Williams said. Williams later met both artists while recording and had the opportunity to play alongside them.
Williams started playing street corners in Chicago with his friend Bo Diddley and eventually established himself as a session player at Chess Records. The blues artist has toured various countries all over the world and, most memorably, spent two weeks touring Australia.
“When I got there, all I wanted was to see a kangaroo and a demonstration of how to throw a boomerang,” Williams said.
Williams then later took a 30-year hiatus as a technical engineer.
“My guitar sat under my bed untouched for 30 years,” Williams said. “Memories and people from the past made me want to play again.”
He has recorded two albums since he picked up his guitar again and will perform at the Oxford Blues Fest on Friday at 7 p.m. with local musicians.
Another artist performing is Effie Burt, an Oxford native, who has been playing music since the age of 13. Since then, she has performed for the president and had her song “Make Me a World in Iowa” declared the second official state song for Iowa.
“There was only one thing in the Iowa legislature both Democrats and Republicans both agreed on that year, and it was her song” states Parker.
Many local businesses are able to participate in this event including Taylor Grocery, the festival’s caterer, as well as other Mississippi food vendors stationed throughout the festival grounds. After hours, blues bands will be performing at local bars in various locations throughout the square.
Admission to the festival is $10 per day, but if you bring two canned goods, tickets are reduced to $5 per person.
“I wanted this to be a win-win situation,” Parker remarks. “It’s an opportunity for bands to be getting a pay day, but people are able to hear blues at an affordable price, too.”
For more information about the Oxford Blues Fest, go to foxfireexperience.net and oxfordbluesfest.com.