Soul Survivor’s festival set for Saturday

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 21, 2010

FERRIDAY — From blues performances to monkeys riding dogs, Ferriday hopes to offer something for the entire family with its inaugural Will Haney Soul Survivor’s Festival.

The festival, which will coincide with the dedication of a Mississippi Blues Trail marker at the former site of Haney’s Big House, will be the first event hosted in Ferriday’s Rockabilly Plaza, an open-air market in the former National Foods store.

The blues marker will be the fifth placed outside of Mississippi, and the 107th total marker.

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“They have placed markers in Chicago, Memphis, Muscle Shoals, Ala., they’re working on getting one in New Orleans, so Ferriday is in good company with those markers outside (Mississippi),” festival organizer Tommy Polk said. “They have spent a lot of money on infrastructure for music tourism, so we are really lucky to be part of that.”

Haney’s Big House was part of what was known as the chitlin’ circuit, venues where black musicians traveled and could safely play during segregation, and it was host to such greats as B.B. King, Fats Domino and Big Joe Turner, among others.

Haney’s Big House burned in February 1966.

The festival will kick off Saturday at 10 a.m. and last until 5 p.m., and will include performances from Hezekiah Early, Y.Z. Ealy, Lil’ Poochie and Ozgood and Blaque.

Early and Ealy both played in the Haney’s house band, Polk said.

During the musical breaks, the day will feature talks by Darrell White and Hiram Evans about musical history.

Mayor Glen McGlothin will also talk about Spencer Williams, the actor who was born in the area and went on to become nationally famous as Andy of Amos ‘n’ Andy.

The day will include three performances by Team Ghost Riders, a group of trained monkeys that ride on dogs and herd livestock.

The festival is free to the public.