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OLGA
WHATEVER YOU WANT
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Henry Bailey/Commercial Appeal - July 2011

Recording artist Olga Munding brings blues to Hernando Market

The Hernando Farmers Market, a Saturday "experience" already reaping huge success among producers and the populace, is reaching out with music in a special concert event July 30 featuring blues guitarist-vocalist Olga Wilhelmine Munding.

The market, in its third season on the downtown square, starts at 8 a.m. and lasts until 1 p.m. Munding will perform from 9 to 11 a.m.

"People have asked us for more music, and they love it when we have it," said Shelly Johnstone, Hernando director of community development. "We've had local musicians playing in the background before, but Munding's of the stature that we can call this a concert.

"She's just released a new album, and her story's real interesting," Johnstone said. A San Francisco native, Munding's journey to the blues began with classical training as a child. Her parents, arrivals from from Innsbruck, Austria, encouraged her as she began writing songs on the piano at age 5.

She first tasted the blues, Jimi Hendrix style, in high school. In her early 20s, she received a guitar for Christmas and her course was set. Working as a radio disc jockey in Colorado, she discovered blues pioneer Jessie Mae Hemphill's recordings. "At that point, I knew I had to move south," Munding said.

Her trek took her to New Orleans and later Mississippi, where she looked up guitarist Hemphill, one of the few women performing blues. The two soon discovered they shared the same birthday "a kinship for one another," Munding said. "She told me that first day that she thought Jesus sent me to her."

Munding's latest album release, Whatever You Want, was written with the North Mississippi Allstars' Cody Dickinson. It's dedicated to Hemphill, who died in 2006 at 83 and is buried in Senatobia, where a Mississippi Blues Trail marker lauds her life, and Dickinson's father, noted record producer, pianist and singer Jim Dickinson, who died in 2009.

The songs were recorded at Black Wings Studio in Water Valley, Miss., by Emmy-winner Winn McElroy. Amid all this, Munding heard from Cody Dickinson about concerts on Hernando's square, and a message to Karen Ott Mayer, the farmers market manager, helped seal a deal. "She fell in love with the blues, and her work is such a compliment to the indigenous music here," Johnstone said. "We're real excited."

The Hernando Farmers Market was voted Mississippi's Favorite Farmers Market in 2010 by a popular vote in the American Farmland Trust contest. It features more than 50 vendors every Saturday selling fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, meat, eggs, goat milk soaps and lotions, breads, canned and preserved items, baked goods and other items.

"Having music helps further our idea that our market is an experience," said Johnstone. "People come here to linger, converse and enjoy walking in the shade of the big oak trees. "It's not just a trip to pick up groceries," said Johnstone, who adds more music events are in the works.

-Henry Bailey's original review can be viewed on the Commercial Appeal Web Site.



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