July 15, 2011
Contact: Tim Kavanaugh
At 7:00pm, July 19, 2011, New Orleans Jazz Historical Park rangers Matt Hampsey and Bruce Barnes will perform live at the Vicksburg National Military Park Visitor Center. Performing with them will be fiddler Gina Forsythe, percussionist Leroy Etienne, and bassist Michael Harris. The performance coincides with the release of the CD set, Songs of the Lower Mississippi Delta, a compilation of 39 songs and spoken word pieces relating to the history and culture of the Delta. Among the songs to be performed live are Twas at the Siege of Vicksburg, which tells the story of that pivotal Civil War battle.
The hour-long, evening performance by Hampsey, a blues guitar player, and Barnes, a vocalist and accordion player who also performs as “Sunpie”, will be free and open to the public.
The CD and the performance highlight the rich cultural diversity and history found in the music of the lower Mississippi Delta. Every song has a tale to tell; from historic monologues and poetry set to music, to work songs, ring shouts, blues, and coded spirituals. Song selection is based on either a specific connection to a national park in the lower Mississippi Delta, or to the region in which the park is located. Among the songs on the CD related to other parks include the Sonny Boy Williamson II composition Eyesight to the Blind, as well as other Mississippi Delta blues, work songs, and the music of South Louisiana.
The performers, all accomplished musicians, have deep roots in these regional musical styles. Hampsey has over 30 years experience in blues, jazz, and Louisiana music. Barnes has released five CD’s with his band Sunpie and the Louisiana Sunspots. Gina Forsythe is an accomplished Cajun fiddler and vocalist who plays with Bruce Daigrepont. Leroy Etienne, Zydeco percussion and vocals, grew up in a Creole-speaking household and has a deep connection to this music. Harris, a veteran New Orleans bassist, is well known in the city as a performer in the gospel, R&B, and blues styles.
The performance is funded through a grant from the Lower Mississippi Delta Initiative whose goals are to preserve the region’s cultural and natural resources, and to enhance heritage tourism within the region.
Admission is free, and the Visitor Center and Eastern National bookstore and gift shop will be open from 6:30pm. Please contact the park at 601-636-0583 if you have any questions. Come join us for some “down home” music on a summer’s evening!