Monday, July 21, 2008

Blues for Israel

Mississippian and grammy-winner James Cotton is taking the Mississippi blues to the Middle East:
Cotton will play three dates (six shows) in Israel with his band, Super Harp. Born in Mississippi in 1935, Cotton is a legendary harmonica player who recorded four songs for Sun Records by the age of 15. He was given his own 15-minute radio show in Memphis at 17, which opened more doors for him. By the late '60s, Cotton had six albums under his belt. Cotton, known as "Superharp," was Muddy Waters's harmonica player for 12 years, and he collaborated with other blues legends, too. In addition, Cotton has played with and opened for Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Santana, Steve Miller and B.B. King, among others. He became famous for his wild showmanship, which sometimes included backflips. While the acrobatics are no longer part of the routine and the volume has been toned down, Cotton is still touring.
Read the full story here: Blues singer James Cotton coming to Israel

Elvis Lives

What does an 82 year old man do with a private museum dedicated to the proposition that Elvis Presley is alive? He put it up for sale on e-bay.

And that's where 39-year-old father of five and Mississippi manufactured home salesman Andy Key saw the offer. "My eldest son is a huge Elvis fan, so I thought I'd put in a bid...we'd see it as a high bid for a day, and it would give us something to talk about," Key now recalls. He put in his bid of $8,300 — $100 more than the last bidder — and no one bid any higher. "It was a whim...a spur of the moment thing," he says of offering up $8,300 he really didn't have. He could have backed out. He could have lived with a bad buyers rap on eBay. But he had an idea. What would he risk — besides every cent he had and a full-time job and the security of his family — by taking over the preacher's mission? "To say (my wife) was shocked that I bought an Elvis museum is an understatement," he cringes. "She was not happy with me."

She relented, and late last year, they borrowed what money they needed and drove in a truck to pick up the proof of what is either one of the world's silliest myths or signs of an amazing truth most people would love to believe. All of it, they brought back to Hattiesburg, Miss., where they've rented out an old house to continue Beeny's bid to keep Elvis alive. Last month, three miles off the interstate, they opened the doors (
Read the full story here: Elvis lives!

Mississippi Public Broadcasting's Ron Brown did this story on Laurel's Andy Key, the new proprietor of the museum.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Upcoming Blues Trail Marker Events

The Mississippi Blues Trail will be adding these two markers in August.

Black Prairie Blues Marker featuring Eddy Clearwater, Willie King and Carey Bell
August 19, 2008; 11:00 AM
Macon Welcome Center (Corner of Green Street and Jefferson Street)
Macon, Mississippi

Piney Woods Marker featuring Blind Boys of Mississippi and Sam Myers
August 29,2008; 9:00 AM
Piney Woods School (23 miles South of Jackson, Mississippi on Highway 49)

Friday, July 11, 2008

News Roundup

A Mississippi Public Broadcasting story, the “Kids Write the Blues”, by Ron Brown recently won an Edward R. Murrow Award. The story features fourth graders from the Matty Akin Elementary School in Greenville reading their songs celebrating the Delta blues and heritage. “This is a positive story that hopefully inspired those who heard it,” explains Brown. “I know these kids touched my heart. If I passed that feeling along, then I did a good job. I am honored by the recognition of a national Murrow award.” Brown’s art reports are funded by the Wallace Foundation through the Mississippi Arts Commission.

Morgan Freeman and Bill Luckett will be adding a Ground Zero Blues Club in 2009 in Philadelphia, Mississippi at the Pearl River Resort. Currently, in addition to the original in Clarksdale, Freeman and Luckett also have a GZBC in Memphis.

Clarksdale's Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art is one of the top 17 cool record stores in the country according to Paste Magazine.

In this inteview with rapper David Banner, the Mississippi native reflects on the future of hip-hop in the South.

The Bolivar Commercial is reporting on renovations at Dockery Farms:
The Dockery Farms Foundation is getting ready to begin phase one of an estimated $800,000 refurbishing and revitalization project. The buildings to be preserved include the Seed House, Cotton Gin, Cotton Storage Shed, Hay Barn and Fertilizer Shed as well as the Old Service Station. The foundation would also like to rebuild the Commissary, which was part of the original Dockery Farms property but was destroyed by a fire years ago. “This will provide a place for other universities and any groups that want to come to Dockery for a place to study the history of the Delta and the Blues,” he said. Dockery Farms was established by Will Dockery in 1895 to produce cotton. African Americans who came to Dockery to cultivate cotton created a culture that inspired the music known as the Blues. It was home to a number of Blues pioneers. “Dockery is considered the birthplace of the Blues,” said Lester. “Charley Patton, Pops Stables, Willie Brown and others are all folks who played the Blues that has influenced popular music. It all started right here.” It was at Dockery that these musicians lived and learned from one another. In turn they left Dockery and traveled north to record. Their songs influenced the development of popular music all over the world.
Read the full story here: Dockery Farms shakes blues with restoration