Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Mississippi Blues Trail marker project


Mississippi Blues Trail markers installed so far:

1- Charley Patton (Holly Ridge) December 11, 2006
2- Nelson Street (Greenville) December 11, 2006
3- WGRM (Greenwood) December 11, 2006
4- Riverside Hotel (Clarksdale) January 18, 2007
5- Peavine (Boyle) February 7, 2007
6- Rosedale, February 7, 2007
7- Hwy. 10 & 61 (Leland) March 29, 2007
8- Honeyboy Edwards (Shaw) April 13, 2007
9- Muddy Waters (Stovall) April 13, 2007
10- Jimmie Rodgers (Meridian) May 3, 2007
11- Robert Johnson gravesite (Greenwood) May 16, 2007
12- Subway Lounge/Summers Hotel (Jackson) May 30, 2007
13- Son House (Tunica) June 18, 2007
14- Willie Dixon (Vicksburg) June 28, 2007
15- Hickory Street (Canton) July 17, 2007
16- Blue Front Cafe (Bentonia) August 21, 2007
17- Magic Sam (Grenada) August 28, 2007
18- Howlin’ Wolf (West Point) August 30, 2007
19- Memphis Minnie (Walls) September 27, 2007
20- Columbus Mississippi Blues (Catfish Alley, Columbus) September 28, 2007
21- Rabbit Foot Minstrels (Port Gibson) October 9, 2007
22- Tommy Johnson (Crystal Springs) October 19, 2007
23- Bo Diddley (McComb) November 2, 2007
24- Broadcasting the Blues (American Blues Network, Gulfport) November 3, 2007
25- Trumpet Records (Jackson) November 17, 2007
26- Otis Rush (Philadelphia) December 6, 2007
27- Robert Nighthawk (Friars Point) December 13, 2007
28- Elvis and the Blues (Tupelo) January 8, 2008
29- Robert Johnson birthplace (Hazlehurst) January 31, 2008
30- James Cotton (Tunica) February 13, 2008
31- Livin’ At Lula: Charley Patton, Bertha Lee, Sam Carr, Frank Frost (Lula) February 13, 2008
32- Mississippi John Hurt (Avalon) February 23, 2008
33- Red Tops (Vicksburg) March 28, 2008
34- Elks Lodge (Greenwood) March 28, 2008
35- Malaco Records (Jackson) April 8, 2008
36- Rhythm Club (Natchez) April 18, 2008
37- Dockery Farms – Birthplace of the Blues? (Dockery) April 19, 2008

Next marker unveilings:

38- Pinetop Perkins (Belzoni) May 3, 2008
39- Hopson Planting Company (Clarksdale) May 3, 2008
40- Hubert Sumlin (Pillow Plantation, Greenwood) May 6, 2008 (2:00 p.m.)
41- Highway 61, northern end (Tunica) May 7, 2008
42- Alamo Theatre (Jackson) May 22, 2008

Writing texts and researching the history for the Mississippi Blues Trail markers is my main blues project these days. Scott Barretta of Living Blues and I, along with the rest of the editorial and design team (including Dr. Sylvester Oliver in Holly Springs, Chrissy Wilson of the Mississippi Department of Archives & History in Jackson, and Wanda Clark in Greenwood) are generating the text and photos for these historical markers – 37 so far, with about 100 more to do over the next three years.

This has turned into a much more intensive process than any of us imagined when we compiled the marker site list with the Mississippi Blues Commission. Rather than just repeat and rehash previous biographies and histories, we’re using the ever-increasing wealth of data available from online searches, genealogy databases, libraries, local community sources, musicians and their families, the BluEsoterica archives of interviews and subject files, and a super crew of international blues heads including Bob Eagle in Australia, Eric LeBlanc in Canada, and Howard Rye, Alan Balfour, Chris Smith and others in the U.K., as well as the collections at Delta Haze Corp. in Greenwood and the Blues Archive at the University of Mississippi’s John D. Williams Library. Collectors such as Richard Nevins of Shanachie and Yazoo Records, Paul Garon, Woody Sistrunk, and Ken Oilschlager have also provided images of record labels and other material. At the top of the back side of the Son House marker at the site of the old Clack Store in Tunica County, for example, is a photo of the only copy known in blues collectors' circles of Son House's "Preachin' the Blues."

The affiliation of this project with the state of Mississippi has opened up new streams of information from the source, as various local officials, tourism directors, historical societies, and chambers of commerce have aided in the search and put us in contact with musicians, relatives, and others involved in the blues (most recently, for example, a cousin of Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup in Forest, Mississippi, who took it upon himself to compile Crudup’s family history). In the process of this, we’re finding out that a number of blues artists weren’t born when or where the previously published bios say, and histories are being revised and sometimes constructed virtually from scratch. We’re currently in the throes of unraveling the mangled and tangled tale of Otis Spann, self-proclaimed second lieutenant, medical college student, and pro football quarterback.

Keep up with markers as they are unveiled at www.msbluestrail.org.

We’d like to turn the marker texts and graphics into a book with expanded comments about everything we DIDN’T get to on the markers - - - publishers, please contact us if you’re interested.

See next post for text and additional notes on the most recent marker in Natchez.


Post a Comment

<< Home