Philly’s WXPN brings less-known blues musicians to town

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This month Philadelphia’s WXPN launched the Mississippi Blues Project, a concert series and website featuring eight musicians who have had limited exposure outside of their home state.

“We wanted to bring awareness to a somewhat obscure form of blues from Mississippi,” said WXPN’s Bruce Warren, executive producer of the project and assistant station manager, in a Philadelphia Inquirer article. “The Delta blues is always the foundation of the blues. We wanted to focus on … dozens and dozens of incredible blues guys and women who rarely play outside of juke joints and areas of rural Mississippi.”

The concert series kicked off Aug. 19 with a performance by Big George Brock and the Cedric Burnside Project. The next three performances are scheduled for October and for February and May 2013 at WXPN’s World Café Live venue. None of the musicians has played in Philadelphia before, according to the station.

The multimedia website features video of live performances and audio streams from WXPN’s weekly Blues Show.  Jonny Meister, longtime WXPN blues host who helped curate the series, also contributes blog-style essays profiling musicians such as Son House, illuminating regional styles within the Mississippi Blues tradition.  Interviews with  musicians performing in the series will also air on WPXN’s syndicated World Café music show.

The project is supported by a $135,130 grant from the Pew Center for the Arts and Heritage through its Philadelphia Music Project.