For whatever reason, the music at this year’s River Arts Festival seemed oriented toward folk, rock and country, with far less jazz, blues, soul or gospel than previous years’ festivals. But one exception was Clarksdale-based bluesman Terry “Big T” Williams, who played all Saturday afternoon on the festival’s far northern end of Main Street, occasionally accompanied by Latin percussionist Rico Rumba as well. Big T’s repertoire stretches from traditional blues to soul tunes like Rufus Thomas’ “Walking the Dog.” Occasionally, groups of festival goers would stop to listen before heading further down to the art exhibits.
Terry “Big T” Williams is a modern Clarksdale bluesman and sometimes operator of a juke joint on the southside of Clarksdale on Madison Avenue. He records for the Broke & Hungry label out of St. Louis, which is run by Jeff Konkel in conjunction with Roger Stolle of Cat Head. His style of blues is remarkably traditional for a modern bluesman, and his shows typically include vocals from Rip Butler and a female singer named Gladys. His performance Saturday at the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival was quite enjoyable.