Mance Lipscomb Birthday celebration highlights

The last three years Navasota has celebrated the birthday of our most celebrated citizen, the late Mance Lipscomb, a true blues legend and downright decent human being. For years fans observed his birthday in Austin, the heart of the Texas music scene, where his popularity reached some kind of critical mass before his death. Finally, we here at his hometown caught on... and we have sure been glad we did... It turns out many Texas musicians are glad to come to Navasota and pay their respects... for a "well spent life."


Perhaps one of the most exciting and fulfilling elements of the day was the appearance of Milton Hopkins at the very beginning as guitarist for Texas Johnny Boy. Milton is the nephew of Lightnin' Hopkins, the "King of Texas Blues," a native of nearby Leon County and a known entertainer in these parts. Milton looks like his uncle, and dare I say, has comparable talent, that lives up to his family name. Here was a living link to our blues history, playing on the bridge over Cedar Creek. There is no doubt you can see a resemblance between the legendary bluesman and his nephew, and for some of us, a glimpse through him right into the past.

Don Kesee is another special person that connects us to our wonderful Brazos Valley blues heritage. A cousin of the late and reknowned Juke Boy Bonner, he is also an in-law of the Lipscombs. But it is his guitar, an authentic "Lucille" given to him by B. B. King that makes him a walking piece of blues history. B.B. King always carries a "Lucille" wherever he plays. It is his pet name for his guitar, and "Lucille" is written right on the guitar. B.B. was so impressed with Don, he gave him one of the guitars after he opened for him. And when Don plays, you understand why.

It was blues, right on the Cedar Creek bridge...

How cool is that?
First of all April 10 was actually the day after his birthday... but it was a Saturday and more suitable for a blues festival. It went very well and most everybody had a great time. I will dissect the event later for those interested in tourism and how we pulled it off. But for now I just want to point out the important stuff.

The newly dubbed Mance Lipscomb Park, once known and still marked as "Cedar Creek Park," served our purposes well, and provided a quaint and historic backdrop for the event. The pictures will demonstrate what my descriptions cannot. It was a golden moment.

Our heartfelt thanks go to the City of Navasota which gave us essential ground support, beyond our expectations, and helped make the event a very respectable tourism attraction. They made themselves a very effective partner in our vision.

Our goals were to celebrate Mance's birthday in a worthy manner, unveil our store to the region, bring people from other places to Navasota, entertain everyone who came with excellent food and music, show off our local talent, and even give a bump to retail sales in downtown that weekend. Amazingly, we acccomplished every goal.

And, if I might say so, we had one helluva beautiful time doing it.


Smooth and masterful, Malford Miligan brought his impeccable, soulful vocals to the lucky streets of Navasota Saturday, and was the icing on our second annual birthday celebration for Mance Lipscomb. His Austin based Rhythm & Blues band salved our disappointment and hurt feelings, after Don Kesee failed to appear after a scheduling foul up. For many of us, his highly anticipated performance was the essential element, as he represented the very best of Texas Blues tradition. But it was not to be.

Luckily the next band, emerging blues master David Gerald, agreed to start early, and shorten the gap. All the way from Detroit, they were locked and loaded, and soon we had forgotten that miserable hour of worry and confusion.

Congratulations to the City of Navasota and all the staff involved for putting on a a near perfect event, as far as managing things they could control.

Still, I never got my Brazos Bottom Blues fix, and after the event has become another mostly pleasant memory, I guess I'm going to have to go SOMEWHERE ELSE to hear the music born here. C'mon, Bluesfest!


And Marcia Ball. Wow, what a golden evening, and that makes three years in a row, great entertainment and fabulous weather at our third annual birthday party for Mance Lipscomb. And Marcia Ball may be the very best fit for the event, we call it Blues, BBQ and Bluebonnets... She draws a good crowd, puts on one fine show, and she does it with such finesse. She knew Mance, she is a real deal blues lady, and she attracts a great cross section of people... I say bring her back... in fact let's get her an apartment and hire her every weekend, as long as they are always like that one, which was perfect.

Marcia Ball puts on a powerful show in the middle of a bridge, with the wind in her face. No wonder Texans love her.

Thanks, Marcia and your stellar band, for making a memory with us.

And a special thanks to Anonymous for correcting my spelling of the beloved blues queen's name!

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