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
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.