in historic Clarksdale, Mississippi

Friday - Sunday January 24-26, 2025 (2024 schedule shown below)

THE FESTIVAL: In 2024, attendees from around the world visited Stone Pony's Tack Room "pop-up theater" (226 Delta Ave.) for a curated collection of blues documentaries and Mississippi-connected movies — plus 'live' music, special guests and more. Thanks to our main 2024 sponsors Visit Clarksdale, Clarksdale Public Utilities and City of Clarksdale. Also, thanks to our 2024 lodging partners Chateau Debris, Clark House, Hampton Inn, High Cotton Condos, Hooker Hotel/Delta Digs/Squeeze Box and Travelers Hotel.

Live Music? Cat Head Music Calendar

2024 lineup shown below. 2025 film submissions will start via this website in October. Questions? Please email roger@cathead.biz or call 662-624-5992.

Friday - January 26, 2024 (2025 schedule TBA)

FREE live performance in front of Cat Head (252 Delta Ave.) before screening of AFRICAN REASONS, which co-stars Bean, a few doors down at Stone Pony's Tack Room for the film festival.
3:00 PM
21 minutes
Corey Hart's thesis film submission for graduate committee. Fictional blues short. Filmed in Bentonia and Clarksdale, Mississippi, and featuring blues legend Jimmy "Duck" Holmes and Cat Head store owner Roger Stolle.
3:30 PM
90 minutes
The director and producer will be here from Brazil for this Mississippi premiere. The award-winning director Jefferson Mello traveled to six countries and over many kilometers to explore the ancestry in the blues, rumba and jongo through the eyes of three main characters (including Pontotoc, Mississippi's Terry "Harmonica" Bean) and their beautiful stories. If the geographical spaces and musical instruments are different, the origins of all these rhythms are African. And it is about this, from the African diaspora, that the documentary is born to address the great African heritage that produced these three musical rhythms, consolidated worldwide. A delicate, intimate and musically profound portrait in images and interviews with musicians and experts in the subject that trace the rescue of the identity of these musical genres in the appreciation of their cultures. AFRICAN REASONS is a universal film. A legacy that values traditions, promotes dialogue between cultures and the different worldviews that it addresses and that are the greatest representatives of the world francophone space.
Clarksdale blues and folk-art legend James "Super Chikan" Johnson himself performs before the world-premiere screening of the new documentary "A LIFE IN BLUES" about his life and music.
A film by Mark Rankin and Brian Wilson, who are flying down from Canada to for this world premiere event. After decades in the blues trenches — from long juke-joint nights to international festival stages — the life story of Clarksdale, Mississippi's blues-playing, truck-driving, folk-art-making legend James "Super Chikan" Johnson will finally be told. Featuring Cedric Burnside, Bobby Rush, Charlie Musselwhite, Adam Gussow, Kenny Brown, Jaxx Nassar, Big A Sherrod, Jim Byrnes, Lala Craig, Chiemi Fujio, Heather Tackett, Rachelle Coba, Shine Turner and Jamiesa Turner.

Saturday - January 27, 2024 (2025 schedule TBA)

RED PADEN (1956-2023)... RIP. On the morning of December 30, 2023, an absolute titan of Mississippi blues and Clarksdale tourism passed into the history books—Cornelius "Red" Paden of Red's Lounge juke joint (and Red's Old-Timers Blues Fest) fame. Tribute edited from film shot by Damien Blaylock and Lou Bopp for Three Forks Music doc, WE JUKE UP IN HERE.
2023 blues music videos filmed in Clarksdale, Como and the Mississippi Delta by Nashville's Tim Hardiman. Featured: RL Boyce's final video "Coal Black Mattie" (filmed in Boyce's native Como, Mississippi) and Chapel Hart's remake of the Loretta Lynn classic "Fist City" (filmed on Clarksdale streets/alleys and the old downtown jail).
Special preview from Tim Hardiman's new feature-length documentary about globe-trotting one-man band Cam Cole. Cole is a singer, songwriter, busker and new age traveler from London, UK who roams around performing on streets and venues as his one man band show influenced by Folk, Delta Blues, Grunge and Rock N' Roll.
11:30 AM
10 minutes
Clarksdale's wonderful Spring Initiative nonprofit presents film shorts by its students!
Director Nolan Dean & Griot Arts invite you to attend. What is Film Delta? Film Delta is an initiative to provide on the job training for below the line film crew positions and incentives to producers who hire our trainees. Our vision is to create a fully sustainable film & TV industry ecosystem right here in the Delta! Film Delta will launch on the set of Bluestown, Dean's debut feature film, a suspense drama steeped in the Clarksdale Blues. Our inaugural class of 6-10 young adults will begin careers in film production, featuring pre-production and on set training, they will be trained to work as Production Assistants in art, camera, sound and grip & electric departments, as well as in our production offices. Check out the screening of a short documentary about Film Delta’s job training program, and the first-look teaser of Bluestown, an epic redemption story that traverses Clarksdale, Helena-West Helena, and the lonely highways in-between. Screenings will be followed by a Q&A session about Film Delta and Bluestown. By developing a trained workforce on feature films like Bluestown, Film Delta will create a fully sustainable film & TV industry ecosystem, not only producing its own stories but also attracting more producers and films to shoot in our region.
12:30 PM
90 minutes
This new documentary film is told my James "Slim Harpo" Moore himself, via a super-rare 1968 interview with Susan Cassidy Clark at Steve Paul's Scene in NYC. His wife Lovell, his stepson William Gambler, and his original King Bee bandmates James Johnson, Rudy Richard and Jesse Kinchen also tell the story with the original King Bee. Harpo fans Dr. John, Ray Davies, Delbert McClinton, and Jimmie Vaughan also appear in the film. Slim Harpo (1924-1970) was a Grammy Hall of Famer from Baton Rouge and a leading example of the "swamp blues" style. The singer/guitarist/harmonica player is perhaps best remembered for hits like "I'm a King Bee" (1957), "Rainin' in My Heart" (1961), and "Baby Scratch My Back" (1966). Over 250 artists have recorded his music, including The Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Pink Floyd, Otis Redding, the Who, Hank Williams, Jr., and many more. This is the film's Clarksdale premiere, featuring the filmmakers John S. Zaffuto and Johnny Palazzotto.
2:15 PM
78 minutes
Born In Chicago chronicles a uniquely musical passing of the torch. It's the story of first generation blues performers who had made their way to Chicago from the Mississippi Delta and their unexpected followers — young white, middle class kids who followed the evocative music to smoky clubs deep in Chicago's ghettos. This new Chicago blues transcended the color lines of the 1960s as young, white Chicago musicians apprenticed themselves to legends such as Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. Featuring Dan Aykroyd, Elvin Bishop, Mike Bloomfield, Charlie Musselwhite, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and many more.
Clarksdale's most famous downtown resident-bluesman Charlie Musselwhite celebrates his birthday week with a very special screening of this concert film co-starring his long-time blues buddy Elvin Bishop (filmed at the SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco, CA, July 30, 2022)! SCREENING IS COURTESY OF the SFJAZZ Center (donate to 501c3 at www.sfjazz.org) and their AT HOME jazz streaming series (see link for more information). Special thanks to SFJAZZ's Ross Eustis, local editor Gary Vincent (Vincent Productions/Clarksdale Sound Stage), Charlie & Henri Musselwhite and Elvin Bishop.
Jimbo Mathus has led an amazing life of music and adventure since his days growing up in Corinth and Clarksdale, Mississippi. He spent his youth playing music with family and friends, and worked as a hand on Mississippi riverboats. Later, he scored platinum records with his band the Squirrel Nut Zippers and earned multiple music awards, including a Grammy with Buddy Guy. Through all of those experiences, he also maintained a fascination with handmade, European-style marionettes—a.k.a. puppets. In fact, examples appear inside the packaging the Zippers breakout album, "Hot." In 2023, Visit Clarksdale Tourism awarded a grant to Shared Experiences in downtown Clarksdale, and Jimbo Mathus became S.E.'s first Artist in Residence. For a month he worked, creating marionettes and background sets to make a based-on-a-true-story short film that chronicles early Delta blues legend Charley Patton and his only child, Rosetta Patton. Why this story? Amazingly, as a Charley Patton fan and up-and-coming musician in the 1990s, Mathus discovered that Miss Rosetta had worked in his family home while he was growing up. The rest is history.
This acclaimed new documentary film—presented in-person by our special guest, director Augusta Palmer—offers a re-evaluation of the 1960s seen through the lens of the Memphis Country Blues Festival (1966-1969). It’s the story of Blues masters like Furry Lewis and Robert Wilkins, who had attained fame in the 1920s but were living in obscurity by the 1960s. It’s also the story of a group of white artists from the North and the South who created a celebration of African American music in a highly segregated city. THE BLUES SOCIETY follows the festival from its start in 1966 as an impromptu happening, through a period of cross-pollinization with New York’s East Village scene, and up to the 1969 Festival, which mushroomed into a 3-day event and garnered substantial print and television coverage—including an appearance on Steve Allen’s national PBS show, Sounds of Summer. Festival co-founder and legendary music Executive Nancy Jeffries says, “Everyone remembers the '60s as a party, but there was a seriousness of purpose to what we were doing.” Furry Lewis worked for decades sweeping the city streets, so the efforts to recognize his musical accomplishments echo the 1968 Sanitation Strike, where each worker’s sign proclaimed “I AM A MAN,” underlining the racist refusal to honor African Americans’ basic humanity. Reaching into the present, the film ends in a 2017 concert where Rev. John Wilkins returns to the stage he last shared with his father 48 years earlier. What is the legacy of the Memphis Country Blues Festival, and who do the blues belong to in 2020? DIRECTOR: Augusta Palmer (New York filmmaker and scholar; her father was Robert Palmer, renowned music critic and author of "Deep Blues"). EDITOR: Sarah Enid Hagey (film director, film editor and sound designer living in New York City). DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Juan Carlos Borrero (professional cinematographer born and raised in Colombia).

Sunday - January 28, 2024 (2025 schedule TBA)

Catch Sean "Bad" Apple (the owner of Bad Apple Blues Club, who learned music at the feet of Jack Owens, RL Boyce and others) at world-famous Bluesberry Cafe as we close out this year's festival. Thanks, y'all!
Don't dare miss 80-year-old blues guitar-playing/singing Flora, Mississippi-native (and older sister to Fat Possum recording artist Paul "Wine" Jones) Miss Australia "Honey Bee" Jones. She floats like a butterfly and stings like a... well...
3:00 PM
45 minutes