Crowds, stars fill Ferriday

Published 12:02 am Sunday, September 11, 2011

ERIC SHELTON/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Jason D. Williams, left, Mike Herber and other members of Williams’ band perform during the Delta Music Festival Saturday afternoon in downtown Ferriday.

NATCHEZ — Downtown Ferriday was alive with songs, snacks and celebrities Saturday for the annual Delta Music Festival.

Among the famous faces were guitarist James Burton, gospel singer/songwriters Joel and Labreeska Hemphill and Donna Douglas — who played Ellie Mae Clampett on television’s original “Beverly Hillbillies.”

Burton and the Hemphills were inducted into the Delta Music Museum Hall of Fame.

Delta Music Museum Director Judith Bingham said approximately 1,000 people came out to enjoy the day. Dozens of vendors sold food and trinkets while festival-goers shopped, snacked and found shady spots to take in the music.

But besides attention drawn to the stage, Douglas was the center of adoration as well, even though she wasn’t toting a guitar, and only clutched a microphone to say, “Set a spell — take your shoes off. Y’all come back now, y’ hear?”

Scores of fans approached Douglas for photos, to share kind words — or just to touch her.

Douglas, who lives near of Baton Rouge, said she is good friends with the Hemphills and came to Ferriday with a friend.

“We’ve had tremendous fun,” she said.

Douglas said she appreciated the kindness of Miss-Lou residents who clamored to meet her.

“I was born a little country girl myself,” Douglas said.

The actress said she will return to the Miss-Lou on Oct. 20 to speak at a luncheon. She travels the U.S. on speaking engagements, and said she is currently writing a children’s book.

Louisiana Secretary of State J. Thomas “Tom” Schedler asked for a moment of silence in commemoration of 9/11.

“It’s bad times in state government,” Schedler said. “Volunteers allow projects like this to keep going.”

Schedler introduced the Hemphills, saying they are synonymous for 40 years with gospel music.

Joel Hemphill, who has penned hundreds of songs, said he was proud to be a Louisianan, and that everyone deserved a place in the hall of fame with them.

“If you’re walking down a country road and you see a turtle on a fence post, I don’t care how proud or self-sufficient he looks, he didn’t get there by himself,” Joel said.

Burton said to him, it was a great honor to be inducted into the hall of fame. Burton could not stay to play the festival since he had a plane to catch.

But Ferriday native Jake Schiele strummed a few of Burton’s famous guitar licks in his honor.

Ferriday resident Jimmie Lancaster said she actually came out to hear Schiele play.

“He’s had some great teachers,” Lancaster said. “His dad, and Mr. Burton.”

Others said they were most anticipating hearing, and seeing, energetic performer Jason D. Williams play.

Bingham said she thought the day went well.

“I think we had one of the best lineups of entertainment ever,” Bingham said. “It was a pleasure to meet James Burton, and it’s always great to see the Hemphills. All are deserving to be in the hall of fame.”

Bingham said the event wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the City of Vidalia, and several Concordia Parish businesses.