Friday, November 20, 2009

I'll be 61 on 49

The 95th marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail is being unveiled on Wednesday, November 25, in beautiful downtown Tutwiler, Mississippi, in honor of W.C. Handy's encounter with the guitarist who introduced him to the sounds and lyrics of "Goin' Where the Southern Cross' the Dog." I'll be there for the ceremony, which begins at 11:30 a.m., along with Brenda, Dela and Louis. The 25th also happens to be the day I turn 61, and Tutwiler is on Highway 49, so that makes for some kind of crossroads numerology, I guess -- although I have never for a minute believed that any of the points where Highways 61 and 49 meet (or used to meet) could possibly be "THE" crossroads that Robert Johnson believers are always seeking, if there even is such a place.

Meanwhile, as Mississippi Blues Trail research continues to peel away layers of hidden history, even in such accepted and often documented scenarios as W.C. Handy's experiences in Tutwiler and Cleveland, Mississippi, we'll have some "new" (actually very old) details to reveal soon that may result in a rewriting of blues history at the turn of the century in Mississippi, thanks to leads from Handy scholar Elliott Hurwitt with the participation of David Evans and a network of sources across the South.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Rooster Blues' 30th anniversary

I’ve been so engrossed in research and writing for the Mississippi Blues Trail ( that I haven’t blogged here in over a year. But today seems like a good time to resume, because it was 30 years ago (Nov. 5 & 6, 1979) when I went into the studio with Eddy Clearwater to record the first Rooster Blues album, “The Chief.” Carey and Lurrie Bell, Lafayette Leake, Casey Jones, Joe Harrington, Abb Locke, and Chuck Smith played on the session, and Mac Johnson (Mac Thompson) was there to cut a 45 too. Most tracks on “The Chief” were recorded live to two-track, something that rarely happened on later Rooster Blues sessions.

And now it’s been close to 10 years since Rooster Blues Records was sold to Connecticut businessman and blues enthusiast Rob Johnson. Business turned out to be dismal in the new Rooster Blues era and the label ceased operations not long after I helped produce the last release, Willie King’s “Living in a New World.” Stay tuned while we see if there’s a way to bring Rooster Blues back to life . . .

In the meantime I’ve managed to release a few CDs on the Stackhouse label. The latest is “Gator Gon’ Bitechu” by Memphis Gold (Chester Chandler), who knows not only how to create original blues music but how to maintain a positive attitude in the face of disaster (he was once homeless on the streets of D.C., and just last year suffered severe injuries in a fall from a tree while working as a tree trimmer). Memphis Gold is at the Cape May Jazz Festival in New Jersey this weekend ( Check out his web site at

Next Stackhouse release is the long-awaited compilation of 1950s and ‘60s sides by East St. Louis DJ, singer, and trumpet player Gabriel (he has a last name but doesn’t think you or the IRS need to know it) –- rocking, sometimes zany stuff including snippets from his radio shows and tracks with the great Bennie Smith on guitar. Gabriel still broadcasts every Sunday night at midnight on KDHX – check out his show at