Part of the blues is innovation, making do, and being creative with what you got in every facet of life from food to musical instruments.  Here at Deep Blues, we would like to take a moment to showcase a few of the artists that we have in the lineup who craft their own cigar-box guitars, diddley-bows and whatever other instruments their talented hands can conjure.

Deep Blues Festival 2016 presents:




Justin Johnson plays a variety of hand-hewn instruments, and has been posting free instructional videos on his Roots Music School website for years, in the areas of making and playing said homespun instruments.  As an international touring musician, Justin has become part of a global network of builders.  Check out his videos, featuring makers from right next door in Nashville, TN, to the southern hemisphere in Australia.

Johnson will be holding a cigar-box guitar building workshop out at the Shack Up Inn on Saturday, October 15th at 2pm.  Have you wanted to build your own music-maker and didn’t know where to begin?  Have you wondered, “who has the raw nerve to sculpt an instrument from scratch from the comfort of their own garage”? Well, let it be you.


John Lowe, of Memphis, TN, has crafted his signature variation of the diddley-bow called the Lowebow.  It is characterised by not one, but two wooden rods, each with it’s own pickup.  One rod typically has a bass string, and the other an acoustic guitar string, so you have yourself spanning a range of tones with just two strings, and the ability to issue a wall of sound.  Check out the stage hosted by Johnny Lowebow on Saturday, October 15th at Shacksdale on the Jeff Norwood Memorial Stage!  A host of guest performers will be joining Lowebow over the course of the day, and this stage is free to the public, so be sure to swing by and catch the Lowebow in action!billjukejoint

Bill Abel is our local man of mystery and mastery.  Potter, painter, picker and…driftwood tamer?  Bill Abel carefully crafts cigar box guitars and diddley-bows incorporating driftwood from the shores of the mighty Mississippi River.  Growing up in Belzoni, MS, Abel got hooked on the blues through the radio waves, then took it to the road with his blues heroes, Paul Jones, and T Model Ford.  Abel now lives in Duncan, MS, just south of Clarksdale with his wife and two children.

Check out this 10-minute documentary produced by Barefoot WorkshopsBill Abel: Portrait Of An Artist, to get insight into the life of a true delta creative force.