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Blues, Booze and BBQs – new photos of life in the Delta by Michael Loyd Young

the cover of Michael Loyd Young's new book

I missed out on picking up a copy of photographer Michael Loyd Young’s recently published book “Blues, Booze & BBQ” while I was in the Mississippi Delta last month but from the reviews on the web and what I can see online at the powerHouse Books website it looks like an absolute cracker.

Blues, Booze & BBQ” is Michael’s first book but he has a very strong portfolio of images that you can see at his website.

Michael Loyd Young lives in Houston, Texas and since 2002 has worked on a number projects that have taken him to 21 countries documenting the cultural symbols and the impact they have on the daily lives of his subjects.

All proceeds from sales of this book will go to to the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Michael is working on his second book that will document the hunting and fishing lifestyle found along the Gulf Coast from the south coast of Texas to the glorious wetlands of the Florida Everglades.

Michael describes his work thus:

“…for the the past 10 years I have worked on several projects traveling to all corners of the earth. My primary focus is documenting cultural symbols and what impact they have on daily life. I prefer color and I attempt to photograph people going about their daily life in a positive way.

David Alan Harvey – a great photographer that works with the esteemed Magnum Photo agency and runs the ground-breaking online photography magazine Burn – wrote the foreword for Michael’s book. He says:

“The Mississippi River Delta is flat country. Not a hill in sight. It is often way too cold or way too hot. But there is a subtle beauty to it. Large plantation owners used to rule this delta country and I imagine what it my have been like 100 years ago. I can almost smell the history as a thunderstorm rolls loud and black across the flats, creating waves in the wheat fields resembling a green tumultuous sea. From these former cotton fields came a new art form. Out of commerce, out of slavery, out of greed, out of necessity, out of Africa, came the BLUES. Yes, the music: blues, jazz, rock n’ roll, and rap came from these cotton fields. Out of these cotton fields and out of these little one-room churches came the voice of an enslaved people. The voice of the men and women that toiled in these fields is the blues, and it is still a voice heard around the world.”

At the Burn website – talking about a lighting workshop he would conduct with Michael in the Mississippi Delta – David Alan Harvey has this to say of Michael’s work:

Mike was a student of mine three years ago. Today he has a new book Blues, Booze, and BBQ from three years of work in the Mississippi delta. Mike made sure I was his mentor in those last three years up to publication of his book. Of course I do mentor many students, but Mike wanted to publish a book on the blues country very near to his boyhood home. He also asked if I would write the foreword for such a book. My answer was simple. You gotta have the pictures. I cannot endorse a book unless the work comes up to a certain level. Mike came to that level, got his book published by Powerhouse.

powerHouse Book’s promotional material for Blues, Booze & BBQ says that:

…the first book by Michael Loyd Young, documents the 150 miles of Highway 61, the famed blacktop road snaking from Memphis, TN down to Greenville, MS. At the halfway point, in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, sits Clarksdale, MS, the city considered the birthplace of the blues and the location of Robert Johnson’s famed “Cross Road Blues” intersection of Highway 61 and 49. The Delta has been home to blues legends such as Charley Patton, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Ike Turner, Cadillac John Nolden, B.B. King, T-Model Ford, Mississippi Slim, Big Jack Johnson, and Willie King, among countless others whose music has become the glue that holds these communities together as they struggle to survive. Young’s photographs, taken at juke joints, in private homes, or just hanging out, illustrate the bond blues creates between the Delta and its people. It is through this music that the people pass on their heritage and culture to future generations.

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