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Released February 25, 2005

ROOTS REUNION CONCERT TO BE HELD
AT SAENGER THEATER MARCH 5

HATTIESBURG – Acoustic blues, electric blues, bluegrass, gospel, boogie-woogie piano and early country will be on tap March 5 with the latest edition of the popular Roots Reunion concert series.

The concert - a production of the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage at The University of Southern Mississippi - will be held from 7-9 p.m. at the historic Saenger Theater in downtown Hattiesburg.

The fast-paced live radio show and concert, which is free and open to the public, features the breadth of traditions and styles of South Mississippi music. A live broadcast can be heard on WUSM, 88.5 FM, and portions of the show will be rebroadcast statewide on Mississippi Public Broadcasting Radio.

The spring edition showcases an eclectic mix of music, including bluegrass by the Larry Wallace Band, gospel by the Piney Woods School's Cotton Blossom Singers, acoustic blues by Suzy Elkins with Casey Phillips, early country with the Patchwork String Band, and barrelhouse piano with Keisean Jackson.

The Roots Reunion show continues to grow in popularity while reaching out to new audiences. "The unique aspect of Roots is the variety of music presented with both entertainment and education in mind," said Roots Reunion producer Stephen Sloan. "Listeners of all ages will enjoy the show and be exposed to the rich tapestry that is South Mississippi music."

A highlight of this spring's show will be a set by legendary South Mississippi bluesman Wakefield "Big Moody" Coney. The program will be hosted by Mississippi Public Broadcasting Radio personality Kevin Farrell.

From Southwest Mississippi, Larry Wallace is recognized as one of the top banjo players in the state. The performance by the Larry Wallace Band will continue a long Roots Reunion tradition of showcasing the finest bluegrass artists in the state.

From the Piney Woods School, the Cotton Blossoms Singers will offer a polished repertoire of traditional spirituals and black church music. Formed by the school over eight years ago, the ensemble has toured nationally and internationally and has been featured on a number of television broadcasts including 60 Minutes and Today.

Suzy Elkins and Casey Phillips will bring their skillful acoustic blues to the Roots stage for the first time this spring and promise to be a crowd favorite. In addition to being an accomplished guitarist and vocalist, Elkins has had her songs covered by Nanci Griffith, Webb Wilder, RRAF (R.S. Field), Toni Price and Alan Rhody. Phillps' work can be heard in the film The Last of the Mississippi Jukes and on its soundtrack.

The Patchwork String Band brings a much older type of music to the stage with its old-time country and string numbers. The band is a regular of the program and their enthusiastic and entertaining style always renders a crowd-pleasing performance.

McComb's Wakefield "Big Moody" Coney is one of the senior bluesmen in South Mississippi. He has played throughout the region for over 40 years and has passed on the traditions of Mississippi blues through many artists who have played with him, including Hattiesburg native Vasti Jackson. His appearance at Roots is a rare treat that cannot be missed.

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April 6, 2005 2:50 PM