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Contact: Chris Mekow, 731-689-5696
On Thursday, July 21, 2011, from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m., Park Rangers Matt Hampsey and Bruce Barnes will perform live at Shiloh National Military Park. The performance will take place in the visitor center auditorium. 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 is an original tune by Hampsey set to the Herman Melville poem Shiloh: A Requiem (read by Shiloh NMP park ranger Chris Mekow) and the Drummer Boy of Shiloh, which tells the story of that pivotal Civil War battle.
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 of experience in blues, jazz, and reggae guitar performance. Barnes has released five CD’s with his band Sunpie and the Louisiana Sunspots. Gina Forsythe is an accomplished Cajun fiddler and vocalist who also 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, zydeco, and blues styles.
The CD 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. Copies will become available through New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park and Shiloh National Military Park. For more information please contact the Shiloh visitor center at 731-689-5696 or online at www.nps.gov/shil and www.facebook.com/ShilohNMP.