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U of M's Delta Conference This June Will Include a Tour of the Region Itself

For release: March 9, 2011
For press information, contact Curt Guenther, 901-678-2843

In answer to its steadily growing popularity, the annual “The Delta – Everything Southern!” Conference at the University of Memphis will add this year a pre-conference tour of  music-related sites in Memphis and a post-conference tour of the famed “most Southern place on earth,” the Mississippi Delta itself.

The conference will be held Friday, June 3rd, from 8:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Michael D. Rose Theatre Lecture Hall on the U of M campus.  It will feature speakers on topics as diverse as the origins of the blues, the origins of the “Teddy bear,” prehistoric art in Mississippi, Delta-style entertaining, the fiction of the future South, and how Memphis’ special blend of blues, country, R&B, and rock and roll music reached worldwide prominence.

Altogether, eight speakers will address the conference, and musical entertainment will be provided by Robert “Nighthawk” Tooms, blues and Beale Street veteran who has played with such blues greats as B.B. King, Little Milton, and Blind Mississippi Morris.

On Thursday, June 2, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., a local tour will include stops at three sites important to the history of Memphis music – Graceland, Sun Studio, and the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.  It will depart from and return to the U of M campus.

A two-day tour of the Mississippi Delta will begin on Saturday, June 4.  Hosted by Delta native, filmmaker, producer, author, and storyteller Willy Bearden, it will travel south on Highway 61, the legendary Mississippi Blues Trail, with stops in Clarksdale, Indianola, and Greenwood, Miss., all three important towns in the history of the blues.  Travelers will see cotton plantations, catfish farms, the B.B. King Museum, as well as bluesman Robert Johnson’s grave and the crossroads where he allegedly sold his soul to the devil in return for music greatness. 

The tour will spend Saturday night in Greenwood, before returning to Memphis on Sunday, June 5. 

Tour participants must be registered for the main conference. Both tours are optional, and each requires its own registration.

Early conference registration (before May 2) costs $65 per person.  Registration after May 2 is $75.  The fee includes breakfast, lunch, break refreshments, and parking the day of the conference.

Conferencelodging reservations may be made at the Holiday Inn on the U of M campus no later than May 16.  Conference participants should mention “The Delta – Everything Southern!” when booking rooms at the U of M Holiday Inn for that event.   Reservations can be made by phone at 901-678-8200 or 800-HOLIDAY.

Registration for either or both optional tours can be made online at 

Registration is available on a first-come, first-served basis through June 1. Tour registrants must also be registered for the conference.

More information about “The Delta – Everything Southern!” and conference registration is available online at

Conference Sessions and Presenters

Friday Nights in the Delta:  Bearden vs. Manning and Other Tales of the Gridiron
Willy Bearden, Delta native, filmmaker, producer, author, and storyteller

The Real Thing:  Selling the Musical Culture of the Delta
Al Bell, chairman of the Memphis Music Foundation, former chairman and owner of Stax Records

Prehistoric Art in the Mississippi Delta
Sam Brookes, Forest Archaeologist for the National Forests in Mississippi

Holt Collier: His Life, His Roosevelt Hunts, and the Origin of the Teddy Bear
Minor Buchanan, Mississippi attorney and author

Entertaining in the Delta:  How to Do It Bigger and Better Than Anyone Around
Elizabeth Heiskell, chef and lead culinary instructor for Viking Range Corporation’s Cooking School

Fictions of the Future South
Reginald Martin, author and professor of English at the University of Memphis

Teach for America in the Mississippi Delta
Ron Nurnberg, executive director of Teach for America’s Mississippi Delta Region

The Big Bang:  How Delta Music Inspired the World
Tony Russell, British music historian and author

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