Navasota Bluesfest

Twenty years after his death, the memory of Mance Lipscomb was honored by Navasota with a blues festival, which has become a yearly tradition. Glen Alyn was instrumental in starting the Mance Lipscomb Scholarship, a scholarship awarded each year to help a High School student from Navasota further his or her education in college. This festival has been held each year since 1996.

Navasota Bluesfest 2006

I returned to Navasota for the first time in 40 years with my daughter to attend the 2006 Navasota Blues Fest, which is a nonprofit enterprise that raises funds for the Lipscomb Scholarship. We had a wonderful time at this great event, enjoying good music, good food, and good fellowship with some wonderful people. The organizers of this event did a great job in preparation, so that everything came together to make a fantastic experience. Thanks in part to Mance Lipscomb and the festival, Navasota has been justly awarded the title, Blues Capital of Texas. If this great festival continues, I plan not to wait another 40 years to return again.
picture of county fairgrounds picture of county fairgrounds picture of county fairgrounds
picture with John and Lise McNally Michael Birnbaum sings in McNally studio Melissa, Nat Dove, Michael and Mary Crawford
table setting at Bluesfest picture of Michael with Nat Dove picture leaving Navasota
Pictures from the 2006 Navasota Blues Festival. First row, left: signpost of festival; middle: Melissa and Michael Birnbaum at the festival; right: Michael eats the BBQ ribs by Herman Jessie. Mr. Jessie warned: You better not eat any barbeque or California will be a thing of the past. Second row, left:David and Lise McNally, Navasota musicians, shown with Melissa and Michael Birnbaum; middle: Michael plays in studio at McNally home; right: Melissa, Nat Dove, Michael and Mary Crawford, executive director of the festival, pose beside paintings by David Woods. Bottom row: left: table decorations, middle: Michael with Nat Dove; right: leaving Navasota toward the Houston airport. Pictures courtesy of Melissa Birnbaum.

Navasota Bluesfest 2007

Melissa and I returned to the Navasota Bluesfest in 2007. We performed with Lisa and Johnny McNally, Richard, and Rickey on Friday, and I taught a class on Saturday. Here is a review of the festival from the Navasota Examiner:

article about Birnbaum teaching at Navasota 2007
article about Birnbaum teaching at Navasota 2007

Navasota Bluesfests 2008-2013

In 2008, we again returned to the Navasota Bluesfest. Melissa and I performed Friday with the McNallys and other local musicians, and I gave another lesson on Saturday. Here's a picture from our performance in 2008:

Michael and Melissa Birnbaum performing at Navasota Bluesfest in 2008Click here to view one of our YouTube movies, "Buy you a Chevrolet (aka, I wanna do something for you" from 2007.

Bernie Pearl and I spoke about our memories of Mance Lipscomb after the "Blues Mass" organized by Father Bruce at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Bernie performed at the festival in 2011 and got a standing ovation.

From 2009-2013, I gave a guitar lesson each year and Melissa and I performed in the festival. In 2014, I was not able to attend due to health problems, but we plan to return again in 2015, where we are scheduled to perform and I will teach two of Mance's songs in open G tuning. Some of our performances can be found at the SongsterBlues YouTube channel.

In 2011, a statue honoring Mance Lipscomb was installed in the newly created Mance Lipscomb Park near Blues Alley. Here is a link to a little video from the dedication event.

Article on the statue

Updated August 5, 2015