Accolades Extended To Main Street Supporters Who Helped From The Start
Last Thursday night was the 10th annual meeting of members of your Water Valley Main Street Association. We elected new board members. Coming on board are Joe York, Erin Abbott, Grant Thompson, Kenneth Rogers and John Beaty. All have a connection to Main Street via historic preservation, a downtown business, active economic development work or all of those. Rolling off the board after three years of service are Pierce Epes and Daryl Burney. Continuing to serve are Laurie Stiratt, Joey Hastings, Erika Walden, Cinnamon Foster, Charlotte Lane, and Jeff Bynum.
Main Street is a public-private partnership and the group is run by the board and the general membership. Thanking folks is a hard thing to do, as so many people have an active part in downtown, but each year we like to thank a few. This year in a category we called the Get It Done Award, we thanked Betsy Person, Linda Scott, Jackie Egdorf, and Jacki Clevenger for pulling off a big Art Crawl. We thanked Bill Warren and Ralph Schmidt for the Water Valley Wave mural. We also thanked Rip It Up! for their Main Street energy.
The WVMSA has been “officially” in action for a little over a decade. The transformation of Main Street has been steady, sustainable and ultimately a dramatic positive change. Active in the association, because of its public-private partnership organizational nature, are individual members, local businesses, local institutions, and the City of Water Valley.
It was the 10-year anniversary and there are some who have been along for the whole ride. We thanked Melvin Ford and the late Cecil Ford as members who have always been there and actively engaged. Thanks were also extended to Eddie and Pat Ray for being there from the very beginning to now. Thanks were extended to Cliff Lawson and Ramona Bernard for driving the details and pondering the “what if” of things.
Backing the economic revival all the way were many, see the full-page ad in this paper from back in August, thanking over 450 people. And note even at that we missed quite a few in that listing! But we wanted specially to thank businesses like Turnage Drugs, institutions like Mechanics Bank, this newspaper and the City of Water Valley.
And a big thanks was extended to Lee McMinn who, like many, saw the need to revive downtown, and for running point on bringing the Main Street philosophy and methodology to Water Valley.
Occasionally something comes along in this job that is not expected. Such was a long and delightful phone conversation last week with singer Maria Muldaur. She and her band are performing at the Old School Theater Wednesday night Oct 19 (that’s tonight if you get this paper on Wednesday). Maria is known for her pop single hit “Midnight at the Oasis,” but she has recorded 40 albums from her early roots working in a jug band to performing with the Grateful Dead and a long career as a blues singer. It is an impressive discography. She grew up in New York City as Maria D’Amato and her wavy dark hair is clearly Italian. Early exposure to what was then called “cowboy music” gave her a taste for American music outside of the top 40 pop charts.
Her band, the Red Hot Bluesiana Band, has been together for years. In the band is a piano player she says has that New Orleans style of playing. You know the style where the melody slowly dances on one hand and the other hand bangs the piano like a percussion instrument. There’s a long history of that from Jelly Roll Morton, Professor Longhair, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, to Marcia Ball.
Maria loves that music. Her connection to the blues goes way back, before she hit pop charts she was a blues singer managed by Dick Waterman, who now lives in Oxford (back then he was also managing Bonnie Raitt and number of blues artists and often on tour with the Rolling Stones).
Her pop hit took her in a new direction, but she never left the blues. And so, performing back in Mississippi is a special treat for Maria. The concert starts at 7 p.m. at the Old School Theater on way South Main Street.