TUPELO • GumTree Festival’s new kickoff party is offering a little something for everyone this weekend.

The annual arts festival – now in its 48th year – is toying with new changes to its lineup and Friday’s preview event featuring live music from blues virtuoso Kingfish is a welcome addition.

“We wanted to partner with Tupelo Rocks to add an exciting event to get everyone pumped about GumTree Festival weekend,” said festival coordinator Kit Stafford. “GumTree is a special event, and we felt like it needed to be kicked off with a celebration. The goal was to bring our amazing community out to see what makes Tupelo and GumTree so special.”

Festival headliner Christone Ingram – better known in music circles as Kingfish – turns 20 this year, but his music still seems timeless, taking cues from the greats like Muddy Waters.

“He is garnering great attention from the music industry and I know we will be hearing more about him on the larger music scene soon,” Stafford said of Kingfish. “He has played for Blue Canoe, and I knew he was a favorite there.”

In addition to performing in Tupelo previously, Kingfish has also played as part of the Delta Blues Museum band for Michelle Obama at the White House and has been featured in an episode of the Marvel and Netflix series “Luke Cage.”

“We were fortunate to be able to get him for GumTree Festival and I hope Tupelo will come on out and show him our spirit and love,” Stafford said.

In addition to Kingfish on Friday, Nashville band Luthi will close out the festival on Saturday night.

“This band is also hot and making some fun noise everywhere they go,” Stafford said. “They were ranked as one of the best bands to see in Austin, Texas, by Rolling Stone ... they describe themselves as ‘boogie circus.’ You have got to come on out and close out GumTree with some fun.”

Stafford said the new installment on Friday is a huge invitation for Tupelo to come out and support the festival.

“The concert is free to the public. We will have a beer tent sponsored by Mitchell Distributing, and we will be enjoying the new Go Cup ordinance,” she said. “A small amount of seating will be provided, but bag chairs might be a great idea if you prefer to sit. The stage will be located at Court and Spring, block party style.

“I hope that audiences will come together and see what the arts can do for a place. Fine Art, music and fine food are the makings of a perfect celebration. Our community is thriving in the arts arena right now. We have great live music, murals, theater and a thriving downtown. We are moving in an exciting direction I hope that audiences will see how important the arts are to our quality of life and support it in any way they can.”

The new GumTree Get Down starts Friday at 5 p.m. with Kingfish taking the stage at 6 p.m.

“We can only hope this will be well received, and this might be a tradition we can continue,” Stafford said of the opening event. “We will be posting a survey on our social media after the event, and we encourage community members and attendees to give us feedback.”

GumTree Festival continues on Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. with Luthi closing out the weekend at 6 p.m.

For more information, visit gumtreefestival.com.

derek.russell@journalinc.com Twitter: @wderekrussell

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