Children’s Camp Features Blues Concerts

HATTIESBURG, MS (THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI) KidsROCK Blues Camp will present Lunchtime Blues, a five-concert series, from noon -1 p.m. June 28 - July 2 on The University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg campus.

Campers ages 9-15 will learn, prepare and perform blues songs on stage with performers. The public is invited to bring a brown-bag lunch to enjoy during the free concerts.  Lunchtime Blues is a presentation of KidsROCK Blues camp, a senior capstone project created through the Southern Miss Interdisciplinary Studies Program, with support from the Center for Oral History and Cultural Heritage, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Hattiesburg Civic Arts Council, the U.S. Forest Service and WUSM-FM 88.5.

"Playing music for a small group in the community has always been a part of Mississippi's blues tradition," said Lhay Thriffiley, director of KidsROCK. "Kids will meet the performers early in the day, get to know them and then watch their performances up close."

Lunchtime Blues will kick off Monday, June 28 when guitarist Dave Allen, bassist Tate Thriffiley and drummer Jimmy Mordica of The Blues Rangers take the stage.  The Blues Rangers, who work for the De Soto National Forest, will share their outreach program that merges Mississippi blues with national environmental concerns. Their lyrics shine a spotlight on issues like loss of green space and being "firewise." 

The three-piece band has two albums of original blues music that have been distributed nationally. They have also performed at venues all over the nation, including an outdoor stage in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado and at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C.

Local favorites Natalie Kirk & Co. will come to the stage Tuesday, June 29. Kirk will be performing her version of "Blues in the Schools," a educational program she and her mother, an arts educator, developed to inspire middle school students.  Kirk, a native of Brandon, Miss., is a 2008 alumna of the Southern Miss Entertainment Industry Program. Her signature style is a soulful blend of blues, rock and roll and folk music, which has taken her from Hattiesburg to performances and collaborations in Paris and London.

The Thomas Jackson Orchestra will perform Wednesday, June 30. Jackson, a Tupelo, Miss., native, grew up inspired by Elvis songs and comic books, according to his website. Jackson's unique style of writing, recording and performing portrays songs about romance and broken hearts. His three-piece "orchestra" will showcase confessional originals as well as Jackson's electric approach to traditional blues.

Suzy Elkins and David Sumrall will chase away the blues with "We're Gonna Pitch a Wang Dang Doodle," a collection of upbeat blues songs on Thursday, July 1. Elkins, a prolific writer with folk roots and Sumrall, her long-time musical ally, have been sharing smart acoustic rock and blues with audiences all over the South since the 1990s.

Dr. E and the Kings of Voodoo will close out the week Friday, July 2 with a rousing five-piece band performance.  A native New Yorker, David Echevarria, or "Dr. E" as he is known by his students, can be found between performances at his day job as a research neuroscientist at Southern Miss.

Prior to his Friday performance, Dr. E will give a private presentation to camp attendees on overcoming stage fright or public performance anxiety, another of his research specialties. Known for their feel-good, interactive style, Dr. E and the Kings of Voodoo will perform classic blues standards and originals in the final concert of the weeklong series.

Lunchtime Blues will be held at 3601 Pearl Street at The Peck House Asbury Annex, home of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. Refreshments will be available at the concerts for a small donation, and free public parking will be provided in the adjacent lot on the corner of Montague and 36th Avenue.

For more information on the free Lunchtime Blues concert series or registering for KidsROCK Blues camp, e-mail or call 601.266.5087.

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