April saw a brilliant return trip to Clarksdale, Mississippi, a place I have fallen in love with and become fascinated by. Its music, people, sense of freedom & energy is addictive, and both times in the last six months has left me wanting to go back for more, and for longer, to immerse myself fully. Every day whilst there I am inspired to be out making photographs for my ongoing body of work on the evolution of blues music in the area and its symbiotic relationship with International tourism, whilst night times provide the chance to be out playing the drums with local musicians, a pattern I wish I could live every day back home in the UK!
I stayed two weeks in the town, the end of my trip concluding with Clarksdale's annual Juke Joint Blues Festival, now in its fourteenth year, which brings an extra 20,000 people to the 15,000 population rural town.
It was interesting to spend time in Clarksdale during the build up to the festival, as it gave me perspective as to how the town changes with the huge increase of performances and visitors over the weekend. I had imagined it to become incredibly crowded, but being spread out over such a vast area, the vibe was still a relaxed and very enjoyable one, the Southern feel that Clarksdale does best. With most of my new friends in the town being musicians, the most obvious difference to me was how crazy their schedules were, with some playing over 10 shows during the weekend, running from venue to venue with equipment!
The festival is a great chance for local musicians to earn some much needed extra income from the boost in tourism, whilst providing the opportunity to play to new audiences from across the US and further afield.
As always, this is just a flavour of the images I took, which are starting to form a rather extensive body of work now. This is a project I am very passionate about, and one I don't intend to rush. I see it as a long term story, with many layers to explore, as the town & people are constantly evolving. However, I already have several ideas how I want to present the project further down the line, and whilst I plan for it to be long-term, I will ensure I keep showing images from it as I go along.