An unexpected treat at Saturday’s End of Summer Festival at Gravel Springs was the appearance of Memphis blues great Ruby Wilson. Her performance got the most applause of the night, although her show was briefly interrupted by a visit from a snake! Nearby fans killed it, and the show went on.
At any blues event, the arrival of Sharde Thomas and the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band holds the crowd’s attention, and nowhere is this more true than at events at the Otha Turner homestead at Garvel Springs. The fife and drum band marches onto the grounds and through the crowd, drawing a trail of enthusiastic second-liners behind it.
I had never heard of Leo Welch before yesterday, but when the elderly man got on stage, he announced that he had been born in 1932, which he said was a “panic year.” Little Joe Ayers told me that Welch is from Ruth, Mississippi, which he said is out toward Water Valley. I was amazed at Welch’s fine strong voice and competent guitar technique, and even more amazed that nobody has recorded him yet. Someone should certainly do so soon.
Otha Turner’s granddaughter Sharde Thomas sponsored an End of Summer Festival yesterday at Otha’s Place on O. B. McClinton Road at Gravel Springs, which is just out from Senatobia and Como. The event featured barbecued pork and goat, and live music from the Rising Star Fife and Drum Band, Dr. David Evans, the D.J. Fitzgerald Band, Ruby Wilson, Leo Welch and others. The weather was perfect, and everyone had a good time.