Wrecking Ball- A Event to Preserve Chalmers Institute

IMG_6046If you got time for one more dance…. meet me at the Wrecking Ball!!

An Event to Preserve Chalmers Institute, Mississippi’s Oldest Chartered University

September 21st, 2013    6 pm-10 pm

The grounds of Chalmers will come alive with a host of artists, authors, musicians and historians who have donated their appearances for the evening. The Ball will not only highlight regional cultural treasures, but also provide dinner and beverages and a silent auction featuring regional art!



shannonShannon McNally
Shannon McNally got her first guitar and JJ Cale album at the age of 12 and never looked back. Combined with the classic rock she grew up listening to – The Allman Brothers, Dr. John and Hendrix – it’s the musical center of gravity she brought to her 2002 Capitol Records debut Jukebox Sparrow gaining notice from Rolling Stone, The New York Times, Leno and Letterman. This decidedly rare approach for a woman drew the same accolades for indie-based Geronimo, helmed by Charlie Sexton. Now, Shannon, along with New Orleans musical legend Mac “Dr. John” Rebennack have made a new LP to try and shine a spotlight on the work of Bobby Charles. Charles wrote such instantly recognizable hits as “See You Later Alligator,” “Walking to New Orleans” and “But I Do,” but the reclusive singer/songwriter, who passed away in 2010, is relatively unknown for his own recordings. Small Town Talk is an album of songs by the great but under-appreciated American songwriter, which features guest performances by Derek Trucks, Will Sexton, Luther Dickinson, and Vince Gill.


Kenny Brown
Kenny Brown is an American blues slide guitarist, skilled in the North Mississippi Hill Country blues style popularized by his mentor R. L. Burnside. Brown began his career by apprenticing with Mississippi Joe Callicott, Johnny Woods, and Mississippi Fred McDowell. He has cites Muddy Waters, George “Mojo” Buford, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Junior Kimbrough, Johnny Winter, and Johnny Shines as influencesIn 1971, Brown began performing with R. L. Burnside, who claimed Brown as his “adopted son.” and affectionately called him “white boy on guitar” and “my white son.” Both Brown and Burnside have noted the singularity of Brown’s being a white musician playing in the previously predominantly African American genre of North Mississippi Hill Country blues. Brown’s guitar work was featured in the 2006 film Black Snake Moan, where he provided backing for star Samuel L. Jackson’s vocals. He can also be seen in the film’s climax as a guitarist in a blues band, playing alongside Burnside’s grandson Cedric. He has also performed with rock bands Widespread Panic and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.


Willy Bearden
Willy Bearden is from Rolling Fork, Mississippi, in the Deep Delta. He is a writer and filmmaker who has written a couple of books including “Cotton, From Southern Fields to the Memphis Market,” “Memphis Blues, Birthplace of a Music Tradition,” and “Overton Park.” Bearden as also written and produced documentaries for public television, done films for the Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum, the Cotton Museum, The Memphis Wonders Series, and the Tunica River Park as well as writing a producing his first feature film “One Came Home” which was released in the summer of 2012. He is a founding member of the Delta Symposium at the University of Memphis and plays in two bands, the Earnestine & Hazel’s Band and the Grayhounds.



Tickets on Sale Now


If you are not able to attend, send a donation and we will raise a glass in your honor!

* Chalmers Institute still stands at the same location (151 S. W. Boundary Rd.) as one of the city’s oldest buildings and as one of the state’s most endangered yet historically significant structures. Preserve Marshall County and Holly Springs, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization, works toward the stabilization and renovation of Chalmers Institute as part of the mission to protect the historic resources and cultural legacy of the county and city.

For more information call The Smiling Phoenix Coffee Cafe at (662) 252-1354.

Images from the 2012 Wrecking Ball:

Images from the 2011 Wrecking Ball:


Recent Posts

Join us for the Behind the Big House Tour

Delve behind the hoop-skirts and mint juleps to the hard life behind the big house.

The south has a rich and varied history. The storybook life seen on the silver screen is often just one side of our past. Behind the grand mansions, beyond the freshly pressed linens, laid small and intimate slave dwellings where work, toil, and history also happened.

Many historic figures began their lives in these small dwellings such as Civil Rights icon and journalist Ida B. Wells-Barnett who was born in Holly Springs a slave and freed four years later. She strove to give rights to women as well as end lynching and was eventually driven from the south to Chicago. During the Holly Springs Pilgrimage of Homes, April 11th-13th, visitors will learn much more about this human rights pioneer as well as our unique past in the Behind the Big House Tour.

In addition to touring five of the towns historic mansions included on this year’s Pilgrimage, guests will be allowed a rare look into the lives of Holly Springs’ slave population during the “Behind the Big House Tour.” Another side of antebellum life will be seen through these surviving structures with a historic interpretation by Joseph McGill, a field agent with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Thanks to grant assistance from the Mississippi Humanities Council and Mississippi Development Authority/Tourism Division and sponsored by Preserve Marshall County & Holly Springs, Inc.: McGill will spend a few nights in Holly Springs’ slave cabins and then bring their story to life during the weekend long event.  “For so long folks have been visiting the plantation and going into the big house, and without those structures, the big house could not have existed,” says McGill.

On Tour: Burton Place, Hugh Craft and Magnolias Slave Quarters

*All quarters will be available to tour unmanned during the entire Pilgrimage but see schedule below to meet Joe. For more information on Joe’s project go to www.preservationnation.org.

Wednesday, 9th April
9 am- 4 pm – School Group Tours

Thursday, 10th April
9 am- 11:30 am – School Groups
1 pm- 2:15 pm – Oxford Lecture

Friday, 11th April
9:30 am – 12 pm – Joe McGill at Magnolia Place slaves’ quarters.
1 pm- 2:15 pm- Rust College Lecture

2:30 pm – 4 pm – Joe McGill at Burton Place slaves’ quarters
*Lunch Break from 12-1

Saturday, 12th April
9:30 am – 12 pm- Joe McGill at Magnolia Place slaves’ quarters.
1 pm- 2:15 pm- Ida B. Wells Museum for Lecture
2:30 pm- 4 pm- Joe McGill at Hugh Craft House
*Lunch Break from 12-1

Sunday, 13th April
9:30 am- 4 pm- All sites open for tours

Sponsored by Preserve Marshall County & Holly Springs, Inc., the Mississippi Humanities Council and Mississippi Development Authority/Tourism Division.

We hope to continue this project and begin open conversations about this shared history little hear about. If you wish to help, please email us at info@preservemarshallcounty.org.

*Historic photos courtesy of The Collection of Chesley Thorne Smith.

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