By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
If Southern hospitality had a sound, it might sound like hill country blues. The Hill Country Picnic is an example of that: The annual event celebrates hill country music in a laid-back, welcoming atmosphere. Bluesman Kenny Brown, who organizes the festival each year, said he’s proud of the festival’s friendly reputation.
“Everybody’s there just having a good time, and I think that’s part of Mississippi and the South,” he said. “It’s amazing to me what a good attitude everybody does have at this thing. I remember the first year we had it, there were people there telling me they went to festivals all over the place, and they had a 10-year-old son and they never let him run wild. They were at ours and they let him do what he wanted to.”
That good attitude must come from the music.
The Hill Country Picnic focuses on the blues, but welcomes musicians of all genres.
“We try to keep it to people that either live here in the hill country area or are influenced by the area,” Brown said. “There’s a mix of blues and country.”
Blues artists like T-Model Ford and Eric Deaton are on this year’s line-up, as well as Americana bands like Rocket 88 and Blue Mountain.
Luther and Cody Dickinson, two parts of the North Mississippi Allstars, are performing as a duo at the show.
The biggest difference in this year’s Hill Country Picnic and years’ past is the change of venue.
“The place we’ve been having it at was a big pasture. It was good, but the landowner decided to plant soybeans. The price was up real high this year. So we decided to look somewhere else,” Brown said.
The new venue is Foxfire Ranch in Waterford. The venue offers a pavilion, as well as showers and running water – something sorely lacking in the festival’s old pasture setting.
CDs of last year’s festival will be available for sale.
Brown will also be selling his latest album, “Can’t Stay Long,” which features some music from last year’s Hill Country Picnic.
“One CD is the set we did last year at the picnic, and the other disc is a bunch of old stuff that I hadn’t done in years. I just sat down on my front porch and this guy recorded it,” Brown said. “It’s got both choices.”
Brown invites all music fans to check out the Picnic’s music, hospitality and potentially perfect weather.
“It looks like we’re not gonna have any rainstorms this year,” Brown said. “It’s gonna be hot, but we do have more shade over there, too.”
Summer music festival
– What: Hill Country Picnic
– When: 4:30 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. Saturday
– Where: Foxfire Ranch, Waterford
– Cost: $25/day; $15/camping; $10/byob, ice chest; free/children 12 and under
– Info: nmshillcountrypicnic.com