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12-1:15pm Southern Komfort Brass Band

Brass bands may be mostly identified with New Orleans, but Southern Komfort brings its own spin to the tradition, drawing on ideas from the musicians’ hometown of Jackson, Miss., and beyond. Expect to hear standards and anthems from the Crescent City’s second line parades, but also horn-heavy new arrangements of tunes by a wide gamut that includes Rick James, The Isley Brothers, R.L. Burnside and Z.Z. Hill. Their original tunes, especially “Make You Sweat” and “Rock Like Us” have also kept parties jumping. Formed in 2010, the nine-piece ensemble has enlivened festivals and clubs throughout the region and has no shortage of fans back home, including multiple wins of the Best Of Jackson Award as Best Original Band from the Jackson Free Press. (AC)

1:30-2:45pm Jonathan Ellison and the RAS Blues Band

Growing up in Tennessee, Jonathan Ellison sang in Southern churches as part of The Ellison Family gospel group. While he got into different kinds of music while studying at the University of Memphis, he always maintained the inflections and aesthetics of his earliest years. Ellison’s strong emotional force comes across in his deeply resonant guitar playing and conscious lyrics, especially in “I Bleed Red Just Like You,” a poignant plea for racial harmony. But he also writes about such eternal themes as falling in and out of love. The blues community has embraced his voice and he was a key player with the B.B. King Allstars. He also served as Denise LaSalle’s musical director and lead guitarist until her passing in 2018. The following year he received the prestigious W.C. Handy Heritage Award and continued touring with his RAS Blues Band. This year he will release the self defining album Rhythm and Soul Blues Man. (AC)

3:00-4:15pm Anissa Hampton

Chicago-born, Mississippi-based singer Anissa Hampton has said, “There have been so many people with various styles that have been affected in my presentation of song and I never wanted to be boxed into just one category.” Her music exemplifies that perspective. Growing up hearing country records informs her approach to the blues, as does her ongoing love for contemporary soul, jazz and opera. That versatility and powerful voice made her an ideal backing singer for such leaders as Willie Clayton and Calvin Richardson. Along with her wide ranging musical sensibility, Hampton is also a sharp lyricist, writing the singles to her assertive “Big Sexy” and “Doing My Own Thang.” All of these talents are wrapped up in her infectious sense of fun, such as in her new single “Doggone Shucky Ducky” produced by a Mississippi colleague, Castro Coleman (a.k.a. Mr. Sipp) and will be featured on her new EP, All Of Me. (AC)

4:30-5:45pm Jaye Hammer

“I ain’t leaving Mississippi,” Jaye Hammer sang on his 2015 Ecko release, Im the Right Man, and that declaration still rings true—as polished and even urbane as his songs’ melody lines and his studio production may get, Hammer’s countrified accent and the subject matter of his lyrics remain resolutely down-home—a gauntlet thrown down, proclaiming  that southern soul-blues is alive, well, and, above all, still proudly southern. Born Jeremy George in Friars Point, Miss., in 1981, Hammer sang in his hometown’s Missionary Baptist Church as a child; he began performing locally when he was in his late teens and recorded his first CD on the Blues River label in 2002. Since 2011 he’s been recording for Ecko; his punchy vocal delivery and crisp enunciation make him an eloquent storyteller, and his songs’ storylines—usually concerning the classic blues themes of love won, lost, and desired—are vividly drawn.  Like many southern soul artists, Hammer does much of his performing at festivals—he’s well known throughout the Deep South and the southwest, and he is slowly expanding his reach to include Northern blues strongholds like Chicago.  (DW)


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