The opening act for the concert will be Eddie Cotton, Jr., who is the winner of the 2015 International Blues Challenge. Whether he's punctuating old favorites with his own inflections or crooning a Cotton original with stunning energy, audiences are sure to take notice of this blues artist who demonstrates deep respect and appreciation for his craft. Gates will open to visitors at 5 p.m. The opening act will begin at 6:30 with blues artists Cadillac John, Bill Abel, and Jake and Pearl Street Jumpers performing at different locations on the Dockery grounds, followed by Ms. Cash’s performance at 7:30.
The music heritage of Dockery–located just east of Cleveland, Mississippi, on Highway 8–is rich, as rich as the soil that drew Will Dockery in the late 1800s to clear thousands of acres of woods for farming. His expansive farm and self-sufficient community would become the sometimes home of peripatetic Charley Patton, who is regarded as the “father of the Delta blues.” Cash’s stage for this concert will be the cotton storage shed on the property that was built around 1925; it sits a little over a hundred feet from the commissary porch where Patton often played. Although the commissary burned in 1960, the concrete porch foundation remains. Patton himself learned from fellow Dockery resident Henry Sloan and influenced many other musicians who lived here, including Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Brown, Tommy Johnson, and Roebuck “Pops” Staples. Bill Lester, executive director of the Dockery Farms Foundation, said, “Two years ago, Rosanne and her husband John came to Dockery to talk about a ‘Save America’s Treasures’ grant they had been awarded to save her father’s home in Arkansas. I’m very pleased that they will return here to perform at the birthplace of the Blues.”
In an article for Esquire magazine, Cash offered a suggested playlist for a trip down nearby Highway 61; some of the songs included were Bob Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited,” Robert Johnson’s “Cross Road Blues,” Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe,” Johnny Cash’s “Big River,” the Staples Singers’ “This May Be the Last Time,” Howlin’ Wolf’s “The Natchez Burning,” and Al Green’s “Take Me to the River,” and all with a tie–whether by artist or theme–to this region.
The Dockery Farms Foundation is working to ensure that Dockery can once again be a center for music education, one that serves both the general public and the local community. Over the last ten years the Foundation has restored many of the original buildings that made up the commercial center of Dockery Farms. The Foundation has also partnered with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz to bring music education programs into Delta schools. The sign on the Dockery Seed House is recognized world wide as a symbol of American Blues music and the site routinely draws visitors from all over the world. The Dockery Farms Foundation is a tax-exempt entity operating under Section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. A tax-deductible portion of each ticket sold will go to support the foundation’s preservation and education programs.
Tickets to the concert are available by visiting dockeryfarms.org or calling 662-846-4626. Specially priced tickets are available for Delta State University students and Teach for America teachers, which must be purchased at the Bologna Performing Arts Center with Okra or TFA ID. In the event of rain, the concert will be held at the Bologna Performing Arts Center. Proceeds from this concert benefit the Dockery Farms Foundation.