Natchez Blues Festival partners with NAPAC

Published 12:56 am Thursday, April 17, 2008

NATCHEZ — The 13th annual Natchez Bluff Blues Festival will take on a new meaning this year as it partners with the Natchez Association for the Preservation of African-American Culture Museum.

The blues festival falls the weekend before the anniversary of the tragic fire at the Rhythm Club in Natchez that claimed 209 lives, April 23, 1940.

Eric Glatzer, producer and promoter of the blues festival and Darrell White, director of NAPAC, put their heads together to bring the two events together,

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For White, pairing with the blues festival meant bringing back some vivacity to the memorial.

“There’s been a steady decline in the number of participants coming to the annual memorial dedication,” White said.

He said his year he was given the challenge to bring the numbers back up.

With the 68th anniversary of the Rhythm Club fire falling on a Wednesday this year, White figured that it would not be providential to have the event during the week.

This is when he noticed the blues festival was the weekend before.

Knowing the festival to be a popular event, White began his conversations with Glatzer.

Both men also found fortune that the Mississippi Blues Commission as part of the Mississippi Blues Trail project wanted to place a marker to designate the unfortunate fire that took place in Natchez.

“The Blues Commission and the Mississippi Development Authority had set up a series of blues trails markers and one of the sites recognized as allocation that was frequented by blues artists and blues lovers was the Rhythm Club,” White said.

Glatzer said he has known since last year the plans to place the marker and he wanted to incorporate the unveiling of it with the blues festival.

“I started planning the festival around this event,” Glatzer said.

The blues festival and the unveiling of the marker in front of the museum are intertwined in an event to take place beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday.

All participants will gather at the Marketplace Café and in the true New Orleans style of funeral procession will walk down to the NAPAC Museum to see the unveiling.

The dirge will then turn back around and in a celebratory manner walk back to the Marketplace for a crawfish boil and live music by Black Bayou.

“Come out and bring your white handkerchiefs and umbrellas,” White said.

For both men, they said they believe this partnership between the blues festival and the memorial will boost attendance.

The Bluff Blues Festival will kick off Friday afternoon with a concert at the Vidalia Amphitheater featuring Bobby Bush. Glatzer said Bush is up for eight blues nominations and it will be an enjoyable performance.

Saturday afternoon there will be concerts outdoors at Fort Rosalie and that evening there will be club performances at local clubs.

Sunday will feature the blues brunches at several different restaurants, featuring several different bands.

“Musically speaking, it’s going to be a dynamic weekend,” Glatzer said.

Advance tickets for the outdoor concerts can be purchased at Natchez Pilgrimage Tours for $10 or at the door for $15.