The Prairie Arts Festival is an annual Arts & Crafts festival in West Point, Mississippi held each year the Saturday before Labor Day. The Kevin Waide Project was booked this year, and we had such a great time I wanted to share some of it.
First and foremost, the festival (now in its 35 year) was very well organized and every aspect, from load in and setup to artist changeover, ran smoothly. Our contact within the festival was Bill Haughton, and Bill was a pleasure to work with. The sound company, A&M Entertainment, was great to work with as well. Sound on the stage was perfect, and the general consensus was the same out front. I know from listening to the Chad Peavey Band the sound guys were doing a bang-up job, and the whole experience was a pleasurable one. Except for the heat; Mississippi in August is usually a brutal time, and this time was no exception. I think I almost killed Foosh!
As I said, the Prairie Arts Festival is an Arts & Crafts festival, and there was an impressive display of local artists out to “pedal their wares” all up and down the downtown area. It’s been going on for quite some time, so the festival is kind of a big deal, big enough that my boys, Eli and Michael, came down from Hernando with their mother and step-siblings to enjoy the festival. It was really good to get to see them, and for them to see daddy doing what he does. Plus, it’s always nice to be able to hang out after our set and enjoy the festival itself, which is what we did. Michael had been eyeing the “Bungee Swing,” but wasn't sure enough to part with the $10 to do it, so I gave the man the money and Michael strapped into the swing. The look on his face as he was jumping in the cords, turning flips 20 feet in the air, was what every dad wants to see on the face of his children. Michael was having the time of his life, and I was proud to be able to witness it.
Being a working/traveling musician, takes you away from those you love more than anyone can understand. The fact that the boys live in Hernando and I live in Tupelo is another reason we don’t get to spend that much time together, but when we do get together, it’s about quality, not quantity, and we always try to have as much fun as legally allowed. I will remember the look on Michael’s face for many years. Nice memories to have.
The festival is pretty much contained, and letting the 13-year-old young man wander as he wanted seemed like an OK thing to do, but pretty soon, his mother was upset because he wasn't answering his cell (kids with cell phones!), so I gave it a call. Michael answered the phone and instead of hello, he announces, “I just right down the road talking to your friend the Muleman!” He was walking down the street, checking things out, and saw two men on the sidewalk playing some Hill Country Blues (he’s my son, so he has been exposed to all the different dialects) and decided to stop and listen. His ADD kicked in, and soon he was beating on the drums for one of them. They asked his name, which he quickly gave, and said, “You may know my dad, Kevin Waide.” When we arrived, it was our friends Mark Massey and Bill Abel. I got to visit with the guys, who had played the Howlin’ Wolf Festival the night before, and listen to them play a little. I even got an early copy of the Muleman’s new album. Can’t wait to hear it.
After retrieving Michael (from behind the drums, sorry Bill!), we proceeded to the Howlin’ Wolf Blues Museum. First, the museum is small, very small. They have got a new building and are in the preparation stages of the renovations, which will include a stage. That being said, it is slammed full of the Wolf and Hubert Sumlin memorabilia and is a must visit if you’re ever in the area. I can’t wait for the renovations to be complete. Richard Ramsey and his wife are curators of the museum and have collected items from all over, including some direct from Hubert himself, before his passing. There’s a Les Paul signed by Pete Townsend, one of Hubert’s Les Paul, and a Stratocaster signed by Kenny Wayne Sheppard, but my favorite was the 1953 Kay the Wolf had given Sumlin. I even got to play it for a minute (thank you, Richard!).
All in all, heat aside, I had a wonderful day with the boys. I also want to send a shout out to Jason, Gavin, and Foosh for laying down the groove and playing the blues, and Deb and Ally for showing their support (and hooping). We had a great show, and hope to be back in West Point soon. I also want to shout at my bro, Jimmy Bell from Novus Jove. It was good seeing you again today, if only for a short time. To Bill Haughton and everyone with the Prairie Arts Festival, thank you for including us in this year’s festivities, and we look forward to working with you all again. To everyone that came to the festival, thank you for your support. We appreciate it and I’m sure the Prairie Arts Festival appreciates it. We hope everyone has a safe Labor Day weekend, and we’ll see you all on the flip side.