by Chris Shaw
The organizers of the first annual Delta Country Jam are ready to bring country music back home to Mississippi.
“With this festival, music is coming back home to its roots, and I can’t think of a better spot to bring thousands of people together to listen to country music and to experience the musical heritage that we have in Mississippi” said Webster Franklin, President and CEO of the Tunica Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The first annual Delta Country Jam, to be held at the Abbay and Leatherman Plantation (the former home of blues icon Robert Johnson) on October 4th and 5th, boasts a solid lineup of country music’s elite, including a performance by three-time Grammy Award-winning artist Tim McGraw. A country music icon, McGraw has sold more than 40 million albums and has more than 33 number-one singles. Not afraid to venture outside of the genre that made him famous, McGraw has also gained a following from mainstream music fans for his collaborations with artists like Nelly and Def Leopard. McGraw has also made a name for himself on screen, appearing in “Friday Night Lights” and as a host of Saturday Night Live, as well as the film about Briarcrest Football Standout Michael Orr, The Blind Side.
Another act scheduled to perform at the first Delta Country Jam is Thompson Square, the husband-and-wife duo responsible for two Grammy nominations and numerous country music awards. Thompson Square were flying below the radar for 15 years before signing with Broken Bow Records and are now becoming one of country music’s most popular acts.
American Country Music award winner Brantley Gilbert, an artist who has already notched four number-one singles and sold over a million records, is also scheduled to perform. In 2011, Gilbert won the honor of being the only new country music artist to have a number-one hit on country radio. Rising country music artists Jerrod Niemann and Josh Thompson are also among the first group of acts announced for the Delta Country Jam.
With so many big names already scheduled to perform, Franklin said he is eager to bring a country music festival of this magnitude to North Mississippi.
“One of the missing elements of our music product has been our destination’s ability to showcase several acts in a festival-like atmosphere,” Franklin said. “There’s no better place suited to honor our musical heritage by hosting a country music festival of this magnitude than right here in Tunica.”
The close proximity of the various casinos in Tunica will provide an opportunity for concert-goers to rest near the festival grounds, a chance that Tunica Music Group representative Bobby Leatherman said is rare for a country music festival.
“Most country music festivals happen way out in the country,” Leatherman said. “Tunica is all-inclusive, so people won’t have to drive a long way or take a bus to get to a hotel.”
In addition to being close to Tunica casino hotels, Leatherman said that he hopes being close to Beale Street will also boost attendance. Tickets are on sale now via Ticketmaster.