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.
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.
|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.|
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:
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:
Click 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