Richmond festival to celebrate late blues musician Jimmy McCracklin

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Richmond festival to celebrate late blues musician Jimmy McCracklin
Album cover/Amazon

Richmond plans to celebrate what would be blues legend Jimmy McCracklin’s 100th birthday in a big way next month.

The North and Greater Richmond Blues Foundation, which works to support the blues community and shine the focus on the blues history of North and Greater Richmond, is staging the Celebrating Richmond Music Legends festival in honor of the late McCracklin, who spent much of his adult life in Richmond and achieved international fame with songs like  “Walk’ and “Yesterday is Gone.”

The festivities begin Friday, Aug. 13, which has been declared Jimmy McCracklin Day in the city. At 5 p.m. that evening, a ticketed mixer will be held at CoBiz Richmond, 1503 Macdonald Ave., featuring a performance by Sue McCracklin, who is the late McCracklin’s daughter and who grew up in North Richmond. Get tickets to the free event at this eventbrite.

Blues legend Tia Carroll, who was raised in Parchester Village, will be the event’s special host, while the event’s organizer is DeJeana Burkes, founder of the North and Greater Richmond Blues Foundation, who worked with Sue McCracklin on celebration plans.

Then on Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., the tribute moves to the Richmond Civic Center Plaza, where music lovers can catch performances by Dorothy Morrison & Family, Alabama Mike, East Bay Center for Performing Arts, Michael Skinner & the Final Touch Band and Jesse James & the Dynamic Four Band. Burkes and Sue McCracklin will also perform. 

In addition, the Richmond Museum of History and Culture at 400 Nevin Ave., which is co-sponsoring the event, invites the community to a special exhibit of McCracklin memorabilia through the month of August. The exhibition includes a suit worn by the musician on the “My Story” album cover and performances in his later life. The suit will the accompanied by Jimmy’s gold records and other artifacts related to the musician’s life, the museum said.

McCracklin died in 2012 at age 91. The milestone birthday festival held in his honor will serve to “look back with nostalgia to bygone days when there were blues clubs galore in the area,” organizers said.

“The festival will embody Jimmy’s belief that a song should tell a story – he said ‘you are singing a story,” says Burkes.