The Copiah County Office of Cultural Affairs proudly announces that the George Winston tribute concert in honor of blues legend; Robert Johnson is underway. The solo concert, scheduled for November 16th in Jackson, MS, will help publicize the county office’s efforts to restore the home where Johnson was born and therefore feels particularly urgent and meaningful, Winston says.
Not only was Winston’s own New Orleans R&B piano influenced by Johnson’s blues, other musicians – BB King, the Doors and even Eric Clapton who released an entire album called “Me and Mr. Johnson” were swayed by this highly influential musician, Winston says. “This house is a wonderful discovery and must be preserved as part of the history of music and Mississippi’s history.”
Executive Director of the Copiah County Office of Cultural Affairs, Dr. Janet Schriver hopes that concert ticket sale revenues along with donations and incentives from some gorgeous pens made from wood carefully salvaged from the Johnson home will help finance the $250,000 required to restore the house to the upper middle class property it once was.
The four bedroom house, complete with a double parlor and indoor water pump, was designed and built around 1905 by Charles Dodds, Johnson’s step father and a prosperous land owner. For several decades it remained virtually untouched until last October when members of the Copiah County Board of Supervisors, through a generous grant from an anonymous donor, were able to relocate the house a few miles to downtown Hazlehurst. This was its second move. The home’s original location was in the pathway of a commissioned highway. Now an architect and designer are needed to carefully refurbish the hand-hewn wood work and detailed embellishments of the early 1900s designs.
Winston and Schriver agree that restoring Johnson’s birth place is probably the only way to preserve the history of a man who traveled and meandered across the United States sharing his musical talents, leaving virtually no other artifact behind, aside from his recordings and a few photographs. “This house is it, and once appropriately restored, we hope this will also preserve Hazlehurst’s great history,” Schriver says.
“Few realize that this area was once the tomato production capital of America. The city of Hazlehurst boasted a financial sector so robust that its banks stayed in business during the 1930s depression. Hazlehurst’s schools were among the nation’s best and its entertainment was prolific. This place was hopping and that’s why musicians like Johnson came here.”
The George Winston tribute concert will include music from various CDs including his Gulf Coast Blues and Impressions CD along with one of Robert Johnson’s songs in his honor. Winston asks that concert goers please join his support of the Covenant Presbyterian Church food bank in Jackson by bringing a donation of canned food to the concert. There will be collection baskets at the entrances.
About the George Winston Concert, a Tribute to Robert Johnson:
The concert is held at 7:30 pm on November 16, 2009 at the Belhaven College Center for the Arts, Concert Hall – 835 Riverside Drive, Jackson, MS 39292. Please call 601-894-2100 for ticket information or pick up tickets at the Lemuria Bookstore, Jackson MS. For information on George Winston please visit www.georgewinston.com
About the Copiah County Office of Cultural Affairs:
The Copiah County Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) is a department within the county government with two main projects: The restoration of the Robert Johnson homestead and Crossroads, a project designed to address and prevent local juvenile delinquency through using arts and culture. The OCA also supports local artists and wants Copiah County to prosper from its cultural assets. Dr. Schriver returned home to Mississippi so that she could give back to her state after years of working elsewhere in academia and cultural program development. For donor enquiries or media interviews please contact Dr. Janet Schriver at 601-894-2100 or Debbi Gardiner McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org / 480-332-2959.