Fireworks, music top Red, White and Blues

Published 11:44 am Monday, June 18, 2012

Fireworks and a concert at Vicksburg’s waterfront again will highlight the city’s Red, White and Blues Fourth of July celebration.

Beginning at 7 p.m. near the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad Depot on Levee Street, the band Compozitionz will kick off the extravaganza, followed at 9 p.m. by the traditional fireworks display launched from a barge in the Yazoo Diversion Canal.

Last year’s fireworks were delayed for about 15 minutes by rain, but once under way, gave the crowd a 30-minute show.

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“We’re just not going to think about rain this year,” city recreation director Joe Graves said this morning.

Graves said a temporary stage, sound system and bleachers will be put up for the show, “just like we always do.”

Compozitionz is a five-member R&B group that plays much like The Temptations, he said.

The Fourth of July committee raises the money to pay for the stage, stage hands, band and related expenses, he said, while the City of Vicksburg chips in the $30,000 cost of the fireworks.

Thousands of city and county residents come out for the fireworks and music each year, said Shirley Waring, a member of the Vicksburg Blues Society, which sponsors the Willie Dixon Birthday Memorial July 1.

This is the sixth year Dixon’s birthday has been celebrated with a Red, White and Blues concert. This year’s featured artists, the Subway Revue band, will play at the Ameristar Bottleneck Blues Bar, 4116 Washington St., from 4 to 7 p.m. The nine-member band is known for its performances at Jackson’s Subway Lounge and was featured in the documentary, “The Last of the Mississippi Jukes.”

Waring said the Vicksburg Blues Society stages a Willie Dixon memorial on his birthday each year because of his importance to the blues and those who love his music.

“People all over the world are interested in coming to Vicksburg to visit the place where he was born. We are hoping for this to become a festival,” she said.

Dixon, a member of both the Blues Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, was born in 1915 in a house on Crawford Street. As a teen, he sang on a weekly radio show broadcast from the Vicksburg Hotel. He went on to become a songwriter, performer, producer and arranger.

“Whenever we mention his name, anywhere we go, he is recognized as the poet laureate of the blues,” Waring said. “He was the most significant artist in the blues genre. He wrote more than 500 songs, and his music is still performed and recorded today.”

Dixon was honored in 2007 with a Mississippi Blues Trail marker, placed at Willie Dixon Way, near the Vicksburg Convention Center, and a commemorative city floodwall mural featuring him playing his signature stand-up bass.

A number of other Red, White and Blues events are planned for various venues in the city.

Also on July 1, the Vicksburg Orchestral Society will present a concert of patriotic music at First Baptist Church, 1607 Cherry St., beginning at 4 p.m. The orchestra will be conducted by Dr. Darcy Bishop and feature soloist Dr. Clarissa Davis.

On July 3, Blues at LD’s will feature Sounds Unlimited, beginning at 8 p.m. LD’s Kitchen is at 1111 Mulberry St., next to the Art Park at Catfish Row.

Other events happening in the city throughout the pre-Fourth weekend include the crowing of Miss Mississippi June 30 and the Vicksburg National Military Park’s annual Living History Program beginning at 9 a.m. Friday through Tuesday, with re-enactors firing cannons every hour on the hour.

If you go

Red, White and Blues Fourth of July events planned for Vicksburg include:

• Willie Dixon Birthday Memorial — July 1, 4-7 p.m., with the Subway Revue Band at Ameristar Bottleneck Blues Bar, 4116 Washington St.; no cover charge.

• Vicksburg Orchestral Society with Chorus — July 1, 4 p.m., First Baptist Church, 1607 Cherry St., with patriotic selections conducted by Dr. Darcy Bishop and featuring soloist Dr. Clarissa Davis.

• Blues at LD’s — July 3, 8 p.m., with Sounds Unlimited, 1111 Mulberry St.

• Fireworks and concert — 7 p.m., near the Yazoo & Mississippi Valley Railroad Depot, music by Compozitionz, with fireworks display following at 9.

More information and updated event listings will be available at and