The Rising Star Fife & Drum Band put on a wonderful performance at the 5th annual North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic on June 25th and 26th, 2010 with Sharde Thomas singing and playing the fife. Ms. Thomas is the granddaughter of the late Otha Turner of Gravel Springs, Mississippi. African-American fife and drum music was heard across the Southeast at one time but Rising Star is one of the few such bands remaining.
Later on they were joined by Ricky Davis of Blue Mother Tupelo on guitar, Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars and Hill Country Revue on drums, and Luther Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars and the Black Crowes on bass.
The North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic is hosted by Kenny Brown who played guitar with the late blues legend, R. L. Burnside. The event is patterned after an annual event held for decades by the late Otha Turner of Gravel Springs, MS who is Sharde Thomas’ grandfather. Ms. Thomas learned to play the fife from Mr. Turner.
The Otha Turner family picnic (sometimes called the Goat Roast because goat sandwiches are served) is still held in Gravel Springs, MS each year on the last weekend in August.
Information about the annual Turner Family Picnic can be found here.
OTHA TURNER’S FAMILY GOAT BARBECUE PICNIC
985 OB McClinton Road
Senatobia MS 38668
Directions: On I-55, get off on the Senatobia exit and turn left (away from town) down Highway 4. Go approximately three Miles down that road to Gravel Springs Road (the second road to the right on 4 from Senatobia). Turn right on Gravel Springs Road. Go to the second 4-way stop and turn left (that road is OB McClinton Road) Follow that road about a half mile and the Turner’s Picnic is on the right. There will be lots of cars & people gathered there. Park along the side of the road.
More about the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic: