Tallahatchie Riverfest: Azar returns to his Mississippi roots

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

NEW ALBANY – Steve Azar is knee-deep in the sounds of the Mississippi mud.
The Greenville native has become famous with his own brand of country, which he calls “Delta soul,” and now he’s returning to his roots. He’s splitting his time between his two ‘villes – Green and Nash – by working with the Delta Music Institute at Delta State University, and by releasing a new album soon called “Delta Soul Vol. 1.”
“It’s surreal,” Azar said in a phone interview from Greenville. “It’s coming full circle.”
He’s working at Delta State to help develop a music biz curriculum, and he’s teaming up with the music institute on a series that they’d eventually like to take to TV.
His new CD has him excited, too.
“It’s my first record all about music from my home state,” he said. “This is my first real rock-blues record. It represents our state and the land.”
Azar is doing nothing new, other than really embracing what was already there, that twangy, soulful vibe he feels when he’s at home in Mississippi.
“There’s nothing like our state,” he said. “It was all born and raised here, and you’re a part of that, no matter how many generations back. It’s just sort of built into all of us.”
Azar sees his new work in the Delta as a way to give back to the area that was so crucial to his upbringing.
“When I’m announced the first thing they say is, ‘From the Mississippi Delta,’ and that to me is the most important, those two words. There’s no way I’d be going this if it wasn’t for where I’m from,” he said.
Azar’s Mississippi sounds will be on display at his upcoming show at the Tallahatchie Riverfest in New Albany.
“I remember playing there in ‘03 or ‘04, and I loved it. It’s a great part of the state,” he said. “It’s all Mississippi born. We’ve had a lot of national and world-wide exposure, but this is our stuff. It’s us.”
sheena.barnett@journalinc.com

Tallahatchie Riverfest
What: Music, arts and crafts, 5k run, one-act play reading, food and more

When: Friday and Saturday

Where: Downtown New Albany

Cost: Free, some events may have a fee

Info: tallahatchieriverfest.com or (662) 534-4354

• Tallahatchie Riverfst music schedule
Friday
6 p.m. – The Levee Breakers

7 p.m. – Busted Screen Door

8:45 p.m. – The Paul Rainey Band

Saturday
Noon – Grace Rose

12:30 p.m. – Rev. Willie

1:15 p.m. – Reckless

2 p.m. – Mitch Lankin

2:30 p.m. – Alison’s Rage

3:45 p.m. – Last Adam

4:30 p.m. – James Pirkle Blues Band

5:15 p.m. – Justin Kirk & Bryan Cook

6 p.m. – Braden Gray

7:30 p.m. – Jamie Davis & Soul Gravy

9 p.m. – Steve Azar