Delta Blues Education Program

Delta Blues Education Program
Gift Ideas For Christmas

While you're doing your gift shopping this year, please consider the following list, purchases from which will directly benefit Mr. Johnnie, Venessia Young, and the students of the Delta Blues Education Program. Furthermore, each dollar raised will be used to match our $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and our grants from the Mississippi Arts Commisssion.

JB and The Midnighters
Sunflower River Blues Festival
August 13, 1999

Mr. Johnnie's
"Health & Happiness" Pecans $3

Mr. Johnnie, master musician and the Artistic Director of the DBEF, lives in a pecan orchard along Opossum Bayou, near Lambert, Mississippi. Mr. Johnnie named it the "H & H Ranch," which stands for "Health and Happiness." In spite of the drought 1999, it is a surplus crop for pecans in the Delta. Mr. Johnnie is offering unshelled pecans by the pound, at $3.
Imagine cracking delicious Delta pecans next to a roaring fire, or adding them into your favorite recipe for pecan pie. Now imagine those pecans were picked by Mr. Johnnie, his daughter Joyce, and Mr. Johnnie's apprentices, the students of the Delta Blues Education Program, along Opossum Bayou in Quitman County, Mississippi. What a rich crop! $3.00/pound. ($2.50 to Mr. Johnnie, $.50 to the DBEF - please see cookbook below by Mary Ann Craft for pecan recipe).

$10 - Calendar "2000 with the Blues" by David S. Klein

Celebrate the Millennium with 13 never-before-printed photographs by David S. Klein. L.A. photographer David Klein has been touring the Delta for three years, and like many others before him, has gotten the mud between his toes. David has generously decided to contribute back to the land and the people who have so impacted his work with the production of 2000 with the Blues. All costs come out of his pocket, from developing to production. All proceeds go to the Delta Blues Education Fund.

Featured are musicians Charlie Musselwhite, Willie Foster, and Miss Lynne White. Also includes many beautiful landscapes of life and death from the Mississippi Delta, such as Clarksdale's Sunflower River, the Riverside Hotel, the Charlie Patton Gravesite (Holly Ridge), The Whitfield M.B. Church (behind which is found Sonny Boy Williamson II's gravesite - near Tutwiler), The Robert Johnson gravesite at Mt. Zion Baptist Church (Morgan City), and of course the signage that has led (and misled) many a blues pilgrim, the "Crossroads" of US 61 and 49.

Each month contains historical information pertaining to the blues, and the birthdates of a plethora of blues musicians. 14 sheets, 13 photographs, blue duotone. $10/ea. $10 to the DBEF.

$10 - Exhibition Catalog: "Secular/Spiritual Identities:

The Blues in the Art of Robert John Holland, Robert Ponzio, Phoenix Savage, and Renee Stout" by James B. Wyman, University of Florida (1999)

In September, 1999, DBEF directors Johnnie Billington and John Ruskey drove to Gainesville, FL, to conduct a one-week workshop accompanying the opening exhibition "Secular/Spiritual Identities: The Blues in the Art of Robert John Holland, Robert Ponzio, Phoenix Savage, and Renee Stout." The exhibition was co-curated by University Galleries director, James B. Wyman, and John Ruskey. Mr. Johnnie performed at the opening, and then taught blues instrumental class every day for a week. One class was held in the mornings for college students and the Gainesville community, and one was conducted in the afternoons for area public school students. At the end of the week, Mr. Johnnie's new students had a performance for their parents. The 34 page catalog is richly illustrated with the art of Robert John Holland, Robert Ponzio, Phoenix Savage, and Renee Stout. Preface by James Wyman and text by John Ruskey in the form of an epic poem. 34 pages, 26 photos of exhibition art (B&W and color). $10. ($10 to DBEF).

$15 - Book: The Blues Lovers' Cookbook for Kids by Mary Anne Craft

Mary Anne Craft has taken it upon herself to research and write The Blues Lovers' Cookbook for Kids, to benefit The Blues Foundation and the Delta Blues Education Fund. Published by BookMasters, Inc., Mansfield, OH. Contributors include blues artists, photographers, writers, and restaurants. Photos provided by David S. Klein (see Calendar "2000 with the Blues") and line drawings by DBEF students Venessia Young, Lee Williams and Anthony Sherard. The Purpose of the cookbook is to help young cooks, ages 10 and up, develop an appreciation for blues music and blues culture and encourage their participation in the art form-as musicians and audience. Contents: Recipes titled from blues songs, e.g., "Voodoo Chili," "The-Thrill-is-Gone Biscuits," from blues music areas of Mississippi Delta, Chicago, and Texas interspersed with related quotes from blues people, blues history. Songs and photos of young blues student-musicians and line drawings. 100 pages including recipes, photos and text, spiral bound, hardback, 9 x 7 in. $15.00 ($15 to DBEF). Note: make your order now, shipped later. Publisher's release date: Jan 1, 2000. Will be shipped after New Years.

$15 - CD "THE DELTA BLUES: LIVE FROM THE DO DROP INN" (Wesley Jefferson Band)

For over twenty years the Wesley Jefferson Band has been playing the juke joints and roadhouses of the Mississippi Delta, shaking down the walls and bringing audiences to its feet. Led by its good-natured manager, Wesley Jefferson, the Mississippi Junebug, LIVE FROM THE DO DROP INN is the band's long-overdue first recording. It was made live at the Do Drop Inn juke joint in Shelby Mississippi (21 miles South of Clarksdale on hwy 61). Put it in your CD player and get out of your chair: you'll want to juke with the songs of Wesley "Mississippi Junebug" Jefferson, Michael James "Dr. Mike," Willie "Rip" Butler, and special guest star James "Super Chikan" Johnson. 1996, Repap. 56 Minutes. $15.00/ea. ($5 goes to DBEF).

John Ruskey


Bill Ellis, music critic for the Memphis Commercial Appeal, wrote this about THE RIVERMAN: "Worth finding is "River Man" by former Delta Blues Museum curator John Ruskey, who adds an ecological twist to his love of country blues. Partly recorded on several rivers including the Mississipi (the natural sounds of thunder, rain, and a train whistle accompany him), this unique album is a spirited melange of acoustic styles: old-time, blues, pop, folk, and existential jamming that gets under your skin in spite of
Ruskey's eccentric vocals (imagine guided by Voices frontman Robert Pollard hailing not from Daytona but Clarksdale). You'll either love or hate this strange vision, yet, like the pull of the river itself, you may find yourself wading into Ruskey's brave old world." 1998, Meow Music. 63 minutes. $15.00/ea. ($5 to DBEF)

Please send your order to John Ruskey or call (662) 627-4070. Make check or money order payable to "The Delta Blues Education Fund." Shipping: $3.50 for the first item, $.50 each additional (For pecans, $3.50 for the first pound, .50 each additional pound). All Shipping by Priority Mail. Overnight Shipping available at extra cost (please contact us about prices). No Tax. Purchase Proceeds will be used to match our grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Mississippi Arts Commission - to fund year-long apprenticeships on the blues in Clarksdale and Lambert, Mississippi.
For further information contact:
John Ruskey
291 Sunflower Avenue
Clarksdale, MS 38614
Phone (601) 627-4070

Visit the websites at
Delta Blues Education Program
John Ruskey's Mississippi River Experiences