Como library will host Crossroads performance

Published 12:51 pm Wednesday, July 17, 2019

]News Release

Drs. Rebecca Jernigan and Wendy Garrison will perform “Robert Johnson at the Crossroads.” at the Emily Pointer Library in Como Wednesday, July 17, at 2 p.m. as part of the Summer Reading Program.

Library director Amy Henderson invited the couple to perform the tale of legendary bluesman Robert Johnson.  Tandem telling with music, drama and sign language, they recount his fateful encounter with the prince of darkness at the crossroads of the Mississippi Delta.  Their visit is funded by a grant from the Mississippi Humanities Council Speakers Bureau.

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For the past three years, Jernigan has explored stories by Panola County writer Christian Garrison (no relation to Wendy Garrison).  In 2017 she scripted his tale “The Little Pieces of the West Wind” for a workshop with young patrons of the library.

Last summer she workshopped an improvisational telling of Christian Garrison’s “The Dream Eater” for the O.B. McClinton Foundation Summer Enrichment program in the near-by Gravel Springs community, and she plans to retell the story in Como.

July 25 and 26 she will direct a workshop in Gravel Springs of “Little Pieces of the West Wind” for the enrichment program there to be showcased for the closing celebration of this year’s summer program.   

Jernigan will be joined for the O.B. McClinton Foundation program by drummer Jerry Jenkins also through the MHC Speaker’s Bureau.

Jernigan and Garrison have performed together in the public schools for grades 4th through high school, at the BB King Museum in Indianola, the Yoknapatawpha Summer Writers Institute, in Theater Oxford productions, the Tupelo Arts Showcase, for the Word and Music Series in Pass Christian, at the Oxford Community Market, and at the Double Decker Storyfest.

For the education department of Delta State they offered a hands-on workshop for area teachers on arts integration.  In October they entertained for the Oxford/Lafayette County Library and will round out their tour of “Robert Johnson at the Crossroads” for Panola County Libraries in Batesville, Como, and Crenshaw.  This past spring they were featured at the Lee County Library Storytelling Festival.  The performances are free.

Jernigan will be remembered for her work dramatizing the works of Panola County writer Christian Garrison with children at the Como Library and the O.B. McClinton Foundation in the Gravel Springs Community.   For Freedom Summer 201 she directed a piece developed from the letters of a “freedom rider” that showcased at Como Middle School and later at the Panola Playhouse.

For the dedication of the Stark Young Literary marker at the library, she developed and directed a visit by noted actors sharing in character events from the famous scholar’s life in Como and Oxford.  She has also offered workshops for library workers and shared stories at events in the library and in Como.  An actress with notable credits some of her film credits include “The Client,” “Ode to Billy Joe,” and most recently “Texas Heart.” This past September she starred in the Theatre Oxford production of “On Golden Pond.”

Garrison’s unique rendition of blues is representative of music drawn from her first-hand experience. She is profiled in the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Mississippi Folk life & Folk Arts Directory as a red clay hills slide guitarist. The directory recognizes artists who have learned their craft through informal channels, are practicing an art typical of their own community, and are actively performing and creating new works.  She honed her signature style as an apprentice to Mississippi Blues artist Bill Howl-N-Madd Perry, performing around North Mississippi with Perry and his band.

Garrison regularly gigs around the region and has appeared at the King Biscuit Blues Festival as a street musician; Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale; the famed North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic, the B.B King Museum, and other festivals and venues, as well as being featured in a number of articles, and making radio and television appearances.   As a panelist at the MAC Mississippi State Arts Conference in Jackson fall 2018 she shared insights about her work as a slide guitarist.