I had a wonderful time visiting Mississippi and Arkansas in April. The trip combined the pleasures of seeing old friends, making new ones, hearing some good music, doing a little exploring and enjoying, as always, the southern hospitality. I even went to church….something I don’t normally do! Here I mention a few of the highlights, all of which are illustrated by photos on this site. (Go to "photos" and click the link to Flickr) My friend Bill Abel, one of the few professional Mississippi bluesmen still playing “the old stuff”, had a party which was well attended by music lovers. Guests included Cadillac John, Stan Street, Dirk Wissbaum, Terry Buckalew and his colleagues Deborah Smith and Katie Lambert from The Delta Cultural Center / Radio KFFA in Helena, Gerald and Hollan Deloach, cousin Henry Earl from Deeson and many others. Clarksdale’s Juke Joint Festival, now in its sixth year, seemed even bigger, with a large number of performances widely scattered in the downtown area throughout the day at the open air stages and of course, many bars, restaurants and clubs at night. It rained late Saturday afternoon but the show went on, where possible. Despite the rain, there was a good crowd, huddled under umbrellas, to see Honeyboy Edwards at The Delta Blues Museum Stage. At 93 years old, he just keeps going... Bill Abel had the pleasure of helping him along and it was a good performance. Charlie Musselwhite was at The Delta Blues Museum for a reception to celebrate the opening of a new exhibit of memorabilia from his extraordinary career. To my surprise and delight, he brought his band with him and we were treated to an excellent live performance. On April 21, the anniversary of the date the levee broke at Scott, MS in 1927 with the infamous flood of The Delta, there was a Mississippi Blues Trail Marker Dedication at the former “Delta Pines” Plantation in Scott. This was once owned by the British as a source of cotton to feed the mills in northern England. Today it is a Monsanto agricultural research centre. The company were gracious hosts and provided lunch for us all. The Marker is also dedicated to Big Bill Broonzy who (controversially) claimed Scott as his home. Bill Abel was booked to perform here and he asked me if I’d like to go with him. As I play Tommy Johnson’s song about the 1927 Flood, “Slidin’ Delta”, he invited me to perform it during the ceremony. In the crowd was Vera Johnson-Collins, the youngest niece of Tommy Johnson and President of The Tommy Johnson Blues Foundation. On Friday, April 24 I went to Helena, AR. I’d been invited to “appear” as a guest on Sonny Payne’s legendary King Biscuit Time show on KFFA Radio. Sonny, now well into his eighties, is still going strong, still teasing his guests with his inimitable, mischievous sense of humour and it was great fun. He kindly plugged the new album I recorded with Keith Miller, “I Wonder To Myself” and I played a couple of songs live. I then joined Terry Buckalew on his show, Delta Sounds and explained how my life, post-retirement, is busy again, now I’m working with British luthier, Dave King, making guitars. (see www.daveking-acoustics.com ). Later that day, after a few early evening refreshments at The Wild Hog Festival, which involves countless bikers, most riding Harleys, taking over downtown Helena, I drove back to Mississippi and called in at the Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale. There, Stan Street’s band was setting up for the evening’s gig and Stan invited me to play some acoustic blues with himself on harp whilst the rest of the band took their break. Another highlight was a guided tour of Dockery’s Plantation by Bill Lester, Executive Director of Dockery Farms Foundation, which is restoring the historic buildings. Bill took a photo of me on the front step of the (now derelict) commissary building where Charlie Patton used to play on Friday afternoons when the men came to collect their pay. After he had left, I sat on the step with my guitar and played Charlie’s “Banty Rooster Blues” in that magical, historic place. And finally, on Sunday morning, I went to church (!) in Rosedale. Accompanied by my friend Leroy Nesbit, I went to the United Baptist Church. We were made very welcome and enjoyed some good gospel music!