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Hero. Legend. Good Bloke.
John Peel OBE, 1939 - 2004

Red Lick Records



Down the Dirt Road (Part 5) - 2007
by Courtland and Hazel Bresner

This year we thought that we would do something a little different from previous years in that we would visit different areas of the USA but continuing the music theme.  

Long flight from Heathrow. Flew over Greenland & Hudson Bay with great views of snow, ice and icebergs together with a good view of the Rocky Mountains.  

Our first port of call on this trip was San Francisco obviously the main blues related link to this city is San Francisco Bay Blues by Jessie Fuller. 

Stayed at the Radisson on Fisherman's Wharf and spent time travelling around the city on the Trolley system and travelled to the Golden Gate Bridge and walked across. Walked down Lombard Street, known as “The crookedest street in the world”. Took a boat trip around the bay to the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz.

We located two blues clubs in the City, Biscuits and Blues and one on Fisherman's Wharf. The bands that were on were of no interest to us.

We did notice that the play in the Post Street Theatre was “Blues in the Night” which we saw in Leeds a number of years ago.  

Flew to Las Vegas the land of the casinos for a few days. Walked the strip a couple of times and visited a few casinos. New York, New York with a roller coaster on the roof, Caesars Palace, Treasure Island, great water fountain display outside the Bellagio Hotel/Casino.  

Picked up our rental car, Dodge Caravan, large people carrier. Visited an outlet mall on the outskirts of Las Vegas near the airport.  

© Copyright 2007 Courtland Bresner. All Rights Reserved.Left Las Vegas and headed east into Arizona via Hoover Dam. Stopped at an information centre in Chloride, Arizona, this is a former silver mining community, and picked up information on Route 66. Continued on Route 93 and reached Kingman where we stopped and had lunch at “Mr D’s” diner. The old Route 66 takes an eighty mile loop, which we took towards Seligman. Now travelling through the Hualapi Indian Reservation in semi desert country spectacular scenery. We stopped overnight at Seligman and dined at the Road Kill Diner whose motto is “You Kill It, We Grill It”. Lots of Route 66 themed gift shops in town. There were at least two live music venues on the weekend, including one at the Road Kill Diner, with the bands playing country tinged music with driving guitars. Not bad for a town with 456 residents.  

Rejoined Interstate 40 east and headed north on Highway 64 towards the Grand Canyon. Went to a number of the viewing points on the Canyon including; Wavapai Observation Station. Photo and video stop. Continued on Highway 64 eastern exit from the park and continued to skirt the canyon heading for Cameron. Drove through Kaibab National Forrest and entered the Navajo Indian Reservation and continued through the painted desert and Moenkopi Plateau with wonderful rock formations. Stayed the night in Tuba City.  

Drove off towards Monument Valley on Highway 160 East with the first stop being the Navajo National Monument with 13th Century Anasazi cave dwellings. Also dinosaur footprints in the same area.

Back on the 160 East to Kayenta and then Highway 163 North to Monument Valley. Monument Valley is on the border of Arizona and Utah but still in the Navajo Indian Reservation. Spectacular rock formations took lots of photographs and video.

Drove into Utah and yet more rock formations including the Mexican Hat. Headed back south into Arizona on Highway 191 south, arriving at Chinle.

Visited Canyon-de-Chelly where we saw more ruins of ancient cave dwellings.

Continued on towards Window Rock, the capital of the Navajo Nation where we spent the night. We are now at an altitude of 7500 feet.

Window Rock now has a monument to the Navajo Code Breakers of WWII.  

Continued south to the Painted Desert and Petrified Forrest, stunning scenery and rock formations. This is an area where a large number of dinosaur fossils have been found.  

We crossed the route of the old Route 66 and the Santa Fe Railroad when we saw a train with three engines and 132 goods wagons.  

Newspaper Rock in the painted desert displays the art work of ancient inhabitants of the area with over 650 petroglyphs on the rock.  

Stayed overnight in Holbrook, route 66 country again. The main street, Navajo Boulevard, is a bit like an old wild-west town. Dined at Joe & Aggies Diner, great Mexican style food.  Lots of shops selling pieces of petrified wood and models of dinosaurs everywhere.  

Got back on Interstate 40 and headed west towards Meteor Crater, passing Winslow. Leaving Meteor Crater were headed east again towards New Mexico.  

© Copyright 2007 Courtland Bresner. All Rights Reserved.Overnight in Gallup, another Route 66 town. Stayed at the El Rancho Hotel, which is an old wild-west hotel, all wood and antiques.  







© Copyright 2007 Courtland Bresner. All Rights Reserved.Continued towards Albuquerque along I40, however, section of old Route 66 still exists either side of I40 so a lot of weaving on and off I40 to travel on old Route 66.

Arrived at Albuquerque for a few days rest and relaxation. Visited the old town and with Route 66 traversing Albuquerque we spent a lot of time driving along Route 66 to cross the city.  


Flew to Memphis and picked up our second rental car, a Chrysler Town & Country people carrier and headed into Arkansas. Stayed at Forrest City for the duration of the Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival, formerly the “King Biscuit” Blues Festival.   

Arkansas Blues and Heritage Festival, Helena, Arkansas, October 4th to 6th 2007

Main Stage


Charlotte Taylor & Gypsy Rain
This band from Little Rock, Arkansas, consisted on Charlotte on vocals supported by guitar, bass and drums. They played a set of mainly original material including “99 Miles to Memphis” and finished their set with “Let the Good Times Roll” 

Melisser Sigler
This 50-something singer and pianist from Nashville, performed a set of original material ably supported by guitar and drums. Titles included “Just Tell Me You Can Cook” and “Change My Heart”.  

Eric Hughes Band
This band from Memphis consisted on Eric on vocals/harp, supported by guitar, bass, drums and keyboards. A good set of standards mixed with a few originals with some tasty harp playing. Songs included “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”, “The Handyman”, “Five Long Years” and “The Come Home Blues”. 

Big Red and the Soulbenders
This female singer fronted band from Mountain Home, Arkansas including guitar, harp, bass and drums played a set of mainly original songs including “That Ass”, “Hoodoo Woman” and “Under The Delta Moon” with the only cover being the Howlin’ Wolf classic “Evil”.   

Sean Carney Band
This IBC winning trio consisting of guitar, bass and drums played a set of original material including “Bad Side Baby”.  

Sterling Billingsby © Copyright 2007 Courtland Bresner. All Rights Reserved.Sterling Billingsby
From Arkansas, Sterling, guitar and vocals, supported by harp, bass, drums and keyboards performed a really good set of originals and covers including; “Rock Me Baby”, “Red House”, “Red Beans are Cooking”’ “My Home is in Mississippi”,  “Southbound Baby” and “Sweet Little Angel”. The band had never played together before as the band had been specially formed for the festival.  






Diunna Greenleaf © Copyright 2007 Courtland Bresner. All Rights Reserved.Diunna Greenleaf & Blue Mercy
Diuana, who has a wonderful powerful voice, was making a welcome return to the festival, supported by her great band including Bob Margolin on bass, delivered a superb set of blues including; “If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day/Rolling and Tumbling”, “My Baby Got a Black Cat Bone”, “Lonely Man Blues” and an atmospheric rendition of the Sam Cooke classic “A Change is Gonna Come” with Bob Margolin on Fender Telecaster. Harmonica player Bob Corritore joined the band for a couple of numbers.

The standing ovation at the end of the set was well deserved.



Wayne Baker Brooks
The son of Lonnie Brooks, Wayne Baker Brooks delivered an enjoyable set of Chicago style blues including a number of standards such as; “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” and “Born Under a Bad Sign”.   

Blinddog Smokin’ with Special Guest Bobby Rush
This band performed a great set which included a number of original songs including; “Sitting on the Levee” written about the King Biscuit Festival, “Bobby Rush’s Bus” and “Angels at the Crossroads”.

Bobby Rush took the stage and played an intimate set of acoustic blues on guitar including; Jimmy Reeds “You Don’t Have To Go”, “Chicken Heads”, “How Long Blues” and “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl”. We were also treated to some great harp from Bobby including “Have You Ever Been Mistreated”. Bobby is always a popular performer in these parts and he doesn’t disappoint.  

The Lee Boys
This was a set of peddle steel guitar led Sacred Steel music. However, I normally like Sacred Steel but this was more of a dance/rave version with extended numbers and dance rhythms. We left after about 40 minutes of the set.   


RJ Mischo & His Red Hot Blues Band
We didn’t get to see RJ Mischo as we were with Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges at the Houston Stackhouse Stage.

Lil’ Dave Thompson
We didn’t get to see Lil’ Dave Thompson as we were with Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges at the Houston Stackhouse Stage. We had seen Lil’ Dave some years ago at Holly Ridge, Mississippi. 

Sam Carr & the Delta Jukes with Dave Riley
Sam Carr sat at the back of the stage during this set led by Dave Riley on vocals and guitar supported by Fred James on guitar plus bass and drums. A great selection of Delta and Chicago style blues were performed including; “Put Another Log on the Fire”, “Hoodoo Voodoo Man”, “Going Down to the Delta”, “Dog Gone Blues” and “Sweet Home Chicago”.   

Smokin’ Joe Kubek Band and Bnois King
Supported by bass and drums this duo of guitarist played some hard rocking blues with a contrast of styles between them. Songs included; “My Hearts in Texas”, “There’s Gonna Be Some Changes Made”, “Sonny Boy” and “Still a Fool”.  During the encore Bnois King played the guitar with his teeth.  

Pinetop Perkins & Bob Margolin
The set opened with Bob Margolin on guitar, Willie Big Eyes Smith on drums, Fuzz Jones on bass and Richard Rosenblatt on harp. They treated us to a set of classic Chicago blues including; “Big Boss Man”, “You Know It Aint Right”, and “Going to Chicago. Fuzz Jones was replaced by Bob Stroger on bass with Diunna Greenleaf assisting on vocals on “You Gotta Move”. The band also played “Kansas City” and “Manish Boy” before the star of the show, Pinetop Perkins took the stage. Pinetop in fine form for his age, 94, included “Kansas City”, “They Call Me Pinetop Perkins”, “Teeny Weeny Bit of Your Love” and “I’ve Got My Mojo Working”.  

Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials
A slide fest of Chicago blues for Lil’ Ed including numbers such as “Chicken, Biscuits and Gravy”, “ I Gotta Find My Baby”, “I’ve Gotta Check My Baby’s Oil”, “Leave Poor Me Alone”, Things That I Used To Do” and “Icicles In My Meal”. We were treated to Lil’Ed being mobile during “Midnight” will Lil’ Ed doing a walkabout through the audience. A very enjoyable set, it reminded me of J B Hutto.  

Sherman Robertson
Anyone who has seen Sherman recently will know what to expect from him and he certainly delivered. His playing was a lot sharper than when we last saw him, could it have been that Michael Burks was watching from the side of the stage and Sherman pulled out all the stops?

Sherman’s performance included; “Tin Pan Alley”, “I Believe My Time Aint Long”, “Linda Lou”, “Who’s Loving You Tonight” and “Am I Losing You”.  

Michael Burks, Larry McCray & Carl Weathersby
A great set of guitar led blues with contrasting styles, Michael Burkes and Larry McCray leaning towards the rockier end of the blues spectrum and Carl Weathersby very much in the old school of Albert King style. Numbers included in the set were “Changes” and “Look Over Yonder Wall”. Sherman Robertson joined the stage to provide four way guitar solos.   


Eugene "Hideaway" Bridges © Copyright 2007 Courtland Bresner. All Rights Reserved.Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges
His first main stage appearance at the festival. Eugene was supported by bass, drums, and keyboards and on guitar Rocky Athis. Eugene performed a set of songs from his most recent CDs including; “Woke Up This Morning Singing The Blues”, “I Think I’m Moving On”, “Giving Up On Love”, “Real Heroes”, “In Your Arms Tonight”, “A Change Is Gonna Come”, “Jump The Joint” and a Jimmy Reed medley. A great set very well received by all.  






Willie King © Copyright 2007 Courtland Bresner. All Rights Reserved.Willie King & The Liberators
Guitarist and singer Willie King was backed by guitar, keyboards and drums. Numbers included within this really enjoyable set were “Ride Sally Ride”, “Smokestack Lightning”, “America Get Together”, “Spoonful” and “Goodnight” based upon Bottle Up & Go. Willie also did an audience walkabout during his set.  

Terry Evans
Vocalist and guitarist Terry Evans was ably supported by guitar, bass and drums. He featured a number of songs that he had recorded with Ry Cooder for the soundtrack to the “Crossroads” movie including “Down at the Crossroads” and “Down in Mississippi”. Other songs included; “Before You Accuse Me”, “Aint No Sunshine When You’re Gone”, “Credit Card Blues” and “Early in the Morning”. 


Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets
A very enjoyable performance form Anson and the band featuring vocals from Renee Funderburgh and his keyboard player, whose name I didn’t catch. The set included “It's a Lonely Thing” and “Teen Na Neen Na Nu”.  

The Robert Lockwood Jr Band with Wallace Coleman and Cleveland Fats
The full band of two sax, guitar, keyboards, bass and drums played a set that included; “The Way You Do The Things You Do”, “Three O’Clock Blues”, “Everyday I Have The Blues”, “Georgia” and “What’d Say”. I felt that without Robert Junior the band were somewhat listless and directionless. Things picked up when Wallace Coleman and Cleveland Fats took to the stage with Cleveland Fats playing “Steady Rolling Man”, “Take a Little Walk With Me” and “Mean Red Spider”.  

Hubert Sumlin & The Willie “Big Eyes” Smith Band
Before the band came on stage Hubert Sumlin was presented with the “Sonny” award for services to blues.

Willie “Big Eyes” Smith led the band on harp and vocals and tore through a number of blues classics including; “I Don’t Wanna Go”, “Tell Me Mamma”, “Don’t Start Me Talking” and “It a Woman’s World”. Hubert joined the band and played a number of Howlin Wolf classics including; “Killing Floor” and “Sitting On Top Of The World” with Hubert blasting off his spiky killer licks. The band was then joined by Buddy Fleet on slide guitar and the band carried on with “Dust My Broom”, “Shake Your Money Maker” and “Smokestack Lightning”.

A magic end to the set was ensured by the arrival on stage on Pinetop Perkins with the band running through “Down In Mississippi”, “Got My Mojo Working” and “How Long Blues”. I thought that Pinetops voice sounded stronger tonight than yesterday.  

Kenny Neal
Returning to good health and form Kenny delivered a great set funk blues originals such as “Any Fool Will Do” and “Down Home Blues” mixed with a number of blues standards such as “Things That I Used To Do”, “Honest I Do”, “Who’s Loving You Tonight” and “Blues Falling Down Like Rain”. Kenny was joined by his daughter who sang her own composition “Little Soldier”. During the set Kenny played both guitar and harp which he played terrifically on “Who’s Loving You Tonight”.    

The Mannish Boys
This band closed the festival in style with the added attraction of a couple of guest singers. Fronted by the twin guitars of Kid Ramos and Paris Slim their set included a mix of originals and standards including; “All Dressed Up and Nowhere To Go” and “I’m Ready”. They were then joined by singer Johnny “Mississippi” Dyer who led the band through “Manish Boy”, “You’re So Sweet”, “You Left Me With a Broken Heart” and “I’m a Howlin Wolf”.

The band were then joined by the excellent singer Finis Tasby who’s set included; “Mystery Train”, “Rocks on My Pillow” plus a number of songs by Freddie King and T Bone Walker.

A great end to the festival.   

Other acts over the festival included:

Houston Stackhouse Acoustic Stage


Jason Freeman
An enjoyable set of mainly electric slide guitar played delta style. Songs included; “Brownsville Blues”, “Shake Em On Down”, Blind Boy Fullers “She’s Got Something There” and Robert Wilkins “That's No Way to Get Along”.   

Eugene "Hideaway" Bridges © Copyright 2007 Courtland Bresner. All Rights Reserved.Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges
This was the first appearance by Eugene at this festival and he showcased material from his latest CD including; “Special Friend”, “Baby Your Love”, “In Your Arms Tonight” and “Life Has No Meaning”. Due to luggage restrictions Eugene asked to borrow my Dobro for his set so that he could paly “Life Has No Meaning”.

His encore “If You Don’t Wanna Love Me” was dedicated to Hazel.  





Eugene "Hideaway" Bridges © Copyright 2007 Courtland Bresner. All Rights Reserved.










Bill Abel
Didn’t see. However, I caught Bill playing a set on Main Street during the festival.   

Jimmy “Duck” Holmes
Didn’t see.   


Mississippi Spoonman & Carla Robinson
Didn’t see.

John-Alex Mason
Didn’t see this time but saw him on the main stage two years ago.

Moreland & Arbuckle
Didn’t see.  

Roy Book Binder
A wonderful set from an exquisite guitar picker and raconteur. A varied set of finger picked blues and ragtime including many anecdotes about Hacksaw Harney and Robert Lockwood Jr.

Songs played on his 1931 Kay Kraft Jumbo guitar included; “It Must Be Love”, “Black Dog” (Bayliss Rose), “I’m Going Home Some Day”, “New Age Woman Blues”, “I Got Mine” (Pink Anderson), “Mississippi Blues” (Willie Brown) and “Another Man Done Full Gone Round”. The well deserved applause was followed by an encore of “Electricity”.  

Robert Lockwood Jr Heritage Stage


Dorothy “Miss Blues” Ellis
Didn’t see.

Wallace Coleman
Didn’t see.  

Brad Webb
Didn’t see.  

Cleveland Fats
Didn’t see.   


Rev Payton & Big Damn Band
Didn’t see.  

Dave Weld & The Imperial Flames
Didn’t see.  

Blind Mississippi Morris
Didn’t see.  

Big Al & The Heavyweights
Didn’t see. 

Artists playing on the street included Bill Abel and Terry “Harmonica” Bean.  

This was a superb festival with better weather than previous years. It was really enjoyable sitting on the levee in temperatures in the mid nineties. A superb atmosphere, great music and a fun bunch of people.

This year, I can honestly say that I have had my fill of great southern food - Catfish Po’ Boys and Tamales. I will miss these delights when at home.  

Sunday 7th October

Cathead Mini Festival, Clarksdale, Mississippi

James “T Model” Ford

Rev Payton & Big Damn Band

Robert “Bilbo” Thomas

Robert Belfour  

The stage for this mini festival was the store front of Cathead in Clarksdale, Mississippi.  

T Model Ford © Copyright 2007 Courtland Bresner. All Rights Reserved.It was great to meet up again with T Model Ford and Robert Belfour. T Model kept offering me a drink of his Jack Daniels – of course I had to oblige.  T Model’s set was typical original modern delta blues with hints of the Mississippi Hill country thrown in. As usual his grandson was pestering to join in on drum which he eventually did. 

Next up were Rev Payton & Big Damn Band and this three piece band kicked up a storm. Their set was plagued by the trips in the electricity supply, during one outage Rev Payton performed Charlie Patton’s “Some These Days” on a National.  

Robert "Bilbo" Thomas © Copyright 2007 Courtland Bresner. All Rights Reserved.Before Robert “Bilbo” Thomas performed I was asked to perform a couple of numbers while the equipment was being set changed around. I used my wooden bodied Dobro, which Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges had used on Friday, and was joined by a harmonica player from Chicago and had fun playing in the early afternoon sunshine.  

Robert “Bilbo” Thomas resplendent in his red suit played a set of mostly covers including “Sweet Home Chicago”. T Model Ford tried to join Robert on stage which upset Robert no end with Robert lecturing T Model for some time.  

Spent some time talking with Robert Belfour prior to departing for Hopson’s Plantation.   


Pinetop Perkins Homecoming – Hopson’s Commissary, Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Pinetop Perkins © Copyright 2007 Courtland Bresner. All Rights Reserved.This charity event, held annually, is a great way to end the festival weekend – a six hour jam session. The guest of honour Pinetop Perkins was seated at the top table alongside Hubert Sumlin. The band of the afternoon was the Muddy Waters Band featuring Bob Margolin, Bob Stroger, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith” who took us through a couple of hours of  mainly Muddy Waters material.

Various King Biscuit Festival main stage artists took the stage including Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges, Diunna Greenleaf, Michael Burks and Carl Weathersby.

The final guitar duel between Michael Burks and Carl Weathersby was phenomenal.  

This year an acoustic stage was set up in the back room. A list was made of musicians wanting to play was made available for the afternoon. Terry “Harmonica” Bean opened the event playing both guitar and harmonica. I followed Terry and played a half hour set which included “Kansas City” which I dedicated to Pinetop, “Sweet Home Chicago”, “Little Red Rooster”, “Banty Rooster Blues” and “Delta Medley”. It was so hot, no air conditioning, that sweat was pouring out of every part of my body and it was difficult to keep my bottleneck on my finger.

A number of musicians followed of which I only saw a couple including Rhode Island Red.  

Bill Abel was also performing outdoor to an appreciative audience.  

Spent some time travelling around the area looking out for the blues related sites in the Clarksdale area.

Wade Walton, famous Clarksdale barber and musician, now has a grave maker at McLaurin Cemetery which we found and photographed. The Rev Willie Morganfield, Muddy Waters cousin is also buried at this cemetery.  

Stopped of at Friars Point and Tunica. 

© Copyright 2007 Courtland Bresner. All Rights Reserved.Travelled north on old Highway 61 to Clack/Robinson to see the new Blues Trail Marker for Son House that has been erected at the location where the Library of Congress sessions were recorded.  







© Copyright 2007 Courtland Bresner. All Rights Reserved.Headed back towards Clarksdale and stopped off at Stovall Farms to see the Blues Trail marker at the site where Muddy Waters cabin once stood.   

Headed to Nashville for a couple of days prior to flying home. In the area we visited Gruhns Guitars where I played a number of vintage guitars (Nationals, Dobros, Martins and Gibsons) . Near Opryland we visited the Gibson Dobro, mandolin and banjo workshop and played a number of guitars in the Gibson shop.  

A wonderful holiday once again, roll on next time.

Now check out....

Down The Dirt Road (Part 1)
Down The Dirt Road (Part 2)
Down The Dirt Road (Part 3)

Down The Dirt Road (Part 4)

Article Text & Photographs © Copyright 2007 Courtland & Hazel Bresner. All Rights Reserved.
Website © Copyright 2000-2007 Alan White. All Rights Reserved.

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