Bill Banfield in the Control Room at Clarksdale Studio

Berklee Multicultural Educator – Program Manager, Kevin Johnson writes from the Mississippi Music Exchange visit to the 7th Annual Clarksdale Juke Joint Festival.  For more information check out the press release on

Today faculty members Lenny Stallworth and Bill Banfield, along with students Taylor Gordon (drums), Mario Castro (sax), Eric Finland (keys) and Director of Media Relations, Allen Bush and I arrived in Clarksdale, Mississippi to attend the Juke Joint Festival. Allen and Lenny conducted auditions at the Delta Blues Museum and two talented young Mississippi musicians will be awarded full scholarships to the 5-week summer program.

While the auditions where going on the rest of us were next store being given a tour of the state-of-the-art Clarksdale Soundstage recording studio by owner Gary Vincent. Vincent was nominated for a Grammy for his co-production of a song on Elvin Bishop’s record “The Blues Rolls On”.  Vincent is in a joint venture with Morgan Freeman and Bill Luckett, co-owners of the popular local Juke Joint, Ground Zero.

We then got an after hours tour of the Delta Blues Museum and Ground Zero before heading to a Crawdad feast at Crustaceans Crawfish & Catering in Cleveland, Mississippi.  Tomorrow we will be making a Delta music and civil rights history tour tomorrow before checking out the opening of the Juke Joint Festival.

If interested in viewing concert footage including that of the Berklee Blues Ensemble that will be performing at Ground Zero on Saturday evening check out

– Kevin Johnson