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Robert Plant 'Walking Into Clarksdale' on Saturday
Former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant is heading to Clarksdale, Miss., this weekend to headline the Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival in the historic Delta blues town he recorded a song about in 1999.
Plant recorded "Walking Into Clarksdale" with former Zeppelin bandmate Jimmy Page and has visited the town numerous times. The rock star's return this weekend to headline the Sunflower festival's 25th anniversary celebration is "one of the single biggest things to happen to Clarksdale," said resident and Cat Head music store owner Roger Stolle.
"Robert Plant can do anything in the world he wants to do but chooses to come here and pay homage to the land of the blues. It really means a lot that he wants to do this, to give back to this community in that way, and I hope he enjoys it," said Stolle, added Plant was in his store a few months ago and bought CDs by Mississippi bluesmen Slim Harpo and Skip James.
Plant is scheduled to perform Saturday with his new roots-music band, the Sensational Space Shifters. He will take the stage with Grammy-winning vocalist Patty Griffin, West African virtuoso musician Juldeh Camara, guitarists Justin Adams and Bill Fuller, keyboardist John Baggott and drummer Dave Smith.
The festival, which is free, runs Friday through Sunday. More than 40 acts will perform, including multiple Grammy-nominated bluesman Charlie Musselwhite and blues great Bobby Rush.
"People travel from all over the world to the Mississippi Delta to connect to the blues, to the roots of the music," said Malcolm White, director of the Mississippi Arts Commission and chairman of the Mississippi Blues Commission. "It's a holy pilgrimage to people who are interested in the Mississippi story we have to tell through music."
Clarksdale and Coahoma County were the homes of early bluesmen W. C. Handy, Son House, Robert Johnson and Charley Patton. The area also was the stomping grounds of Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson, Sam Cooke, John Lee Hooker, Ike and Tina Turner, and Big Jack Johnson.