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Fifteenth Annual Howlin' Wolf Festival


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100th Howlin' Wolf Celebration Tonight

By Sheena Baker

Blues lovers from all across the nation have come to West Point, ready to celebrate 100 years of music from legendary artist Howlin' Wolf at the Fifteenth Annual Howlin' Wolf Festival beginning at 5 p.m. this evening.

Musical talents to perform at The Civic tonight are the Boondocks, the Cherry Lee Mewis from the United Kingdom, Blind Mississippi Morris, and the Black Prairie Blues Kings. Mark "Mule Man" Massey featuring Billy Earhart will also perform as well as James "Super Chikan" Johnson, and the Homemade Jamz Blues Band.

Richard Ramsey, Program Director of the Howlin' Wolf Society, said after a little oral history about the famous musician, the real party begins.

"The bands that are playing have been picked for their stage presence, which means they're going to blow the roof off this place and they're going to do it in honor of Wolf," he said.

Because this is the 100th year to celebrate Howlin' Wolf's music, Ramsey said the crowd will definitely be high-spirited. He said West Point and Clay County residents should be very proud to have a part of history as big as the Howlin' Wolf legacy come from their hometown.

"Wolf is the only person from West Point in the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame, the Blues Hall of Fame, and the only person from this area who has U.S. postage issued in his honor," Ramsey said. "He is one of the very few that can claim a link between the pre-war blues and the formulation of rock and roll."

Ramsey said we should also be proud of Howlin' Wolf's contributions to rock and roll, where we get such talents as the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix.

The festivities will continue during the Prairie Arts Festival Saturday with the Ritz Blues Bash beginning at 1 p.m. at the Ritz Theatre in downtown West Point. Tickets are still available at Bits-N-Pieces for $15 today or $20 at the door on Saturday.

This is West Point's first Ritz Blues Bash, which Ramsey said stemmed from festival organizers wanting to continue the tradition of music and dance after the Prairie Arts Festival ends. Four bands that performed at the Civic will also be performing at the Ritz. Guests will get to see footage from the Howlin' Wolf documentary as well.

Chad's Restaurant will be at the Civic today serving barbeque, burgers, smoked sausage and other items. T-shirts, hats, DVDs, CDs, posters and more will all be for sale today also.


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