The first ever Foxfire Blues Festival will be held this Saturday at Foxfire Ranch in Waterford, Mississippi.
With performances from some of the biggest names in both Hill Country and Delta blues, the festival is sure to be a quintessential gathering for blues lovers of all of all ages and backgrounds.
“I’ve tried to pick the best Hill Country bands and musicians so that you get a flavor of the best musicians that are around today,” Bill Hollowell, owner of the Foxfire Ranch, said. “It offers the true flavor of what Mississippi blues is all about.”
Foxfire has hosted Sunday evening blues shows every week, March through November, since 2008, and according to Hollowell, organizing a festival has been a goal of his since starting the weekly attraction.
The venue has grown over the past years, playing host to a variety of different independent blues festivals as well as other major music events, leading Hollowell to make the decision to organize the first ever Foxfire Blues Festival in 2016.
“We’ve got a lot of experience in putting on events,” Hollowell said. “We are a pretty good music venue. We did the College Town Throwdown, which was a country music festival, so I decided that I would try and go do my own blues festival this year.”
Hollowell said organizing the event was not difficult because of the high concentration of blues musicians in the North Mississippi region, something that Libby Rae Watson, one of the many performers at the festival, feels is commonly unappreciated.
“If you took the Mississippi artists out of the GRAMMY museum, there’s not much left,” Watson said. “We are a big, big, big part of how music has changed. Not just in Mississippi, but in the world… (Mississippi blues musicians) were well respected and desired and craved in Europe and other places, but in their hometown people hardly knew who they were.”
Watson has been on a tour of the state of Mississippi with the sole mission of edifying the public on the significant impact that the state has had on modern music as a whole, and hopes to bring that perspective to the festival this Saturday.
“People in Mississippi need to come out to live festivals and live music, especially music that represents our state and what we have given to the world,” Watson said. “That’s one thing we are No. 1 at. You can say a lot of things about Mississippi but No. 1 is what we are when it comes to music and art in general.”
According to Hollowell, perhaps there is no better place to come and experience this heritage than the Foxfire Blues Festival.
“We’ve got big names and people from the prominent families that were the forerunners in Hill Country blues,” Hollowell said. “They’re true bluesmen. They came up with the blues back in the ’50s and even in the 1940s.”
For those unable to attend the event this weekend, the Foxfire Ranch venue hopes to develop the festival into an annual affair in order to continue and set the standard of the very best blues music the South has to offer, as well as continue to cater to the love of blues that is ever-present in north Mississippi.
The Foxfire Blues Festival is this Saturday from noon to midnight. Tickets are on sale now online for $20 and will be available at the gate for $25. Students get an additional discount, making online tickets $15 online and $20 at the gate.
– Austin Hille