Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Blues Marker for Hubert Sumlin

Greenwood will be the site of a new Mississippi Blues Trail marker honoring Hubert Sumlin. The marker will be unveiled Tuesday, May 6, 2008 at 2pm.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Juke Joints on ABC News

Ron Brown at Mississippi Public Broadcasting shared this piece from ABC News on juke joints and blues in Merigold, Mississippi. Thanks Ron!

Speaking of Ron, here are a couple of great pieces he did for MPB.

Mississippi Born Blues - Sonny Boy Williamson II is one of Mississippi's enduring blues legends. And as MPB's Ron Brown reports, more than a few people are determined to keep his legacy alive.

Natchez Bluff Blues Festival - The 13th annual Natchez Bluff Blues Festival gets underway this weekend. And has MPB’s Ron Brown reports, it begins with a nod to an historic tragedy that blues artists have been singing about for the past 68-years.

Blues Trail: Pinetop Perkins

The Mississippi Blues Trail hosts its next marker ceremony at noon on Saturday, May 3, 2008 in Belzoni to honor Pinetop Perkins.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Pickering Promotes Blues in DC

Roll Call reports on a project by Mississippi Congressman Chip Pickering to promote the blues in our nation's capital. Pickering has been a cosponsor of this program for the past few years.

Festival Builds Appreciation for the Blues
April 10, 2008
By Torey Van Oot,
Roll Call Staff

George Higgs has been singing about growing up in a “slow town with a fast name” since he first picked up a guitar and harmonica at age 11.

“I’m telling my life experience through the old blues — the things that I went through and I sang about them. Had some good times and had some hard times, but it’s enjoyable, and I’m telling my story through the song,” said the 78-year-old musician, who was born and raised in Speed, N.C.

But playing the blues doesn’t always pay the bills. That’s where the Music Maker Relief Foundation comes in.

The foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides grant money to traditional blues musicians in need of financial assistance, is being honored by blues legends, lawmakers and music afficionados at the Fifth Annual Congressional Blues Festival on April 23.

The festival, which features headliners Robert Cray and Elvin Bishop as well as traditional blues artists sponsored by Music Maker, is meant to “shine the light on American music’s true beginnings, blues and roots,” founder Ryan Costello said.

Costello first organized the event in 2004 after the political consulting firm he worked for became involved with the North Carolina-based foundation.

“I may be a little bit ashamed to say I’m not as much a blues connoisseur as people might think I would be,” he said. “Really I’m just a music lover and recognize [blues is] where all forms of music come from ... I wanted to honor that.”

What started out as a concert on the balcony of Costello’s Capitol Hill office building has grown to a daylong event featuring nonstop performances on three stages at the Kennedy Center.

Support for the festival has grown as well; it is now sponsored by a 66-member bipartisan Congressional Host Committee.

Host Committee Co-Chairman Chip Pickering (R), whose home state of Mississippi is considered one of the birthplaces of the blues, said he hopes the festival provides awareness of the influence the genre has had on American music.

“The blues provides a musical and lyrical testimony to enduring and overcoming struggles,” he said. “Rich or poor, Southern or Northern, regardless of race or religion, we can enjoy the blues and let it speak to our hearts and move our feet to dance.”

The festival has raised more than $600,000 since its inception to help struggling blues musicians pay for basic necessities such as food, lodging and health care. The foundation also helps artists book performances and record their music.

“When you take an artist who is playing for free on the street, and suddenly they are selling out venues in Europe and fans are buying their CDs, you have given them the chance to make their own way,” Pickering said. “This isn’t only a blessing to the artist, because the world and music consumers are also wealthier for the exposure.”

In the end, blues lovers say they hope the festival and Music Maker’s efforts help keep the tradition alive for generations to come.

“It ain’t like it used to. It’s dying slowly, but we try to keep it alive,” Higgs said. “I’ll play as long as I can — I like this old blues. I hate to see it die.”

The Fifth Annual Congressional Blues Festival will be April 23 at the Kennedy Center. For more information or to enter a lottery for free tickets to the performances, visit The last drawing will be Monday.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Rhythm Club in Natchez

On Friday, April 18, 2008 at 5:30 PM, the Mississippi Blues Commission will unveil a Mississippi Blues Trail marker in downtown Natchez in remembrance of the Rhythm Club. The ceremony will take place at the NAPAC Museum located at 301 Main Street and will kick off the 13th Annual Natchez Blues Bluff Festival.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Eddy ‘The Chief’ Clearwater

Macon native Eddy "The Chief" Clearwater takes the stage in Clearwater, New Jersey on Saturday, April 12.

During the 1950s, Chicago’s West Side was a breeding ground for some of the world’s greatest bluesmen: Magic Sam, Otis Rush, Freddie King and others. With his fierce guitar playing, soulful and emotive vocals and wild stage shows, Clearwater is now part of that list.

Indeed, between his slashing left-handed guitar work, his room-filling vocals, his self-defined “rock-a-blues” style (a forceful mix of blues, rock, rockabilly, country and gospel), his boundless energy and even his signature Indian headdress, Clearwater is among the practitioners of the West Side blues working today.

The blues world recognized his talent by giving him the Blues Music Award for Contemporary Blues - Male Artist of the Year in 2001.

Born Edward Harrington in Macon, Mississippi, Clearwater and his family moved to Birmingham, Alabama in 1948. With music from blues to gospel to country and western surrounding him from an early age, Clearwater taught himself to play guitar (left-handed and upside down), and began performing with various gospel groups, including the Five Blind Boys of Alabama. He moved to Chicago in 1950 and his first music jobs were with gospel groups playing in local churches. By 1953, as Guitar Eddy, he was making a strong name for himself, working the South and West Side bars regularly. He recorded his first single, “Hill Billy Blues,” in 1958.
(Read the Full Story Here)

ABC this Sunday

Sunday, April 6, 2008 at 7:00 AM, Good Morning America (ABC) will highlight Mississippi Blues and Juke Joints.

Milt Hinton Legacy Performance

As part of Jazz Appreciation Month, Riverwalk Jazz presents a legacy broadcastof bassist Milt Hinton in a 1991 performance with The Jim Cullum Jazz Band live on stage at The Landing. Milt was 81. Two excerpts and the full one hour show are available at this page.

In addition to the music, the page tells about the life of Milt Hinton:

Jazz bass legend Milt Hinton used to say, "A person has to have lived to play great jazz...Unless you've lived, what could you say on your instrument?" Well, Milt Hinton had plenty to say in his thousands of recordings, with his lively storytelling and in some 60,000 'black and white' photographs of his fellow musicians shot behind the scenes.

Milt Hinton is widely regarded as The Dean of jazz bassists. He was the master of the "slap" bass technique that originated in New Orleans with Bill Johnson (born in 1872,) a man Milt knew during his early Chicago days. Jazz historian Richard Hadlock described Milt's slapping as "...a living link with the New Orleans bass style."

Hinton's career spanned more than 6 decades. Born in 1910 in Vicksburg, Mississippi, Milt began playing in Chicago and got his first break in 1931 playing and recording for Victor with Eddie South, billed as the "dark angel of the violin." In 1936, Milt joined Cab Calloway and stayed with him until 1951. Famous as the most sought-after recording "session man" of the New York studio scene in the 1950s and '60s, Milt still holds the record as the most-recorded musician in jazz history, having logged more than 6,000 sessions. He performed with Basie, Ellington and Armstrong, and appeared on network television and radio shows, on motion picture sound-tracks, as well as recordings with Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennett, Sam Cooke, Sammy Davis, Jr., Bette Midler, Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Quincy Jones, and many more. Milt Hinton died December 19, 2000 in New York City.
(Read the Full Story Here)