Thursday, August 28, 2008

Black Prairie Kings

Scott Barretta writes about the Black Prairie Blues with a picture of the historic performance of Steve Bell, Eddy Clearwater, and Willie King at the recent BPB Mississippi Blues Trail marker dedication in Macon.

On Aug. 19 several hundred people gathered in downtown Macon for the unveiling of a Mississippi Blues Trail marker acknowledging "Black Prairie Blues." On Friday night, marker honoree Willie King headlines the 13th annual Howlin' Wolf Memorial Blues Festival in West Point as part of the "Black Prairie Kings," which also includes harmonica player Blind Mississippi Morris.

Although the Delta dominates public imagery of Mississippi blues, many important artists came from the prairies. Honored in Macon alongside King were natives Eddy Clearwater, who drove down from Illinois for the unveiling, and the late harmonica great Carey Bell, represented by his harmonica-playing son Steve of Kosciusko.

Forthcoming markers in Crawford for Big Joe Williams and in Aberdeen for Booker White will highlight the area's rich blues heritage, while Howlin' Wolf's legacy in West Point is secured. A statue of the bluesman - Chester Arthur Burnett - stands next to a Blues Trail marker in his honor, and the nearby Howlin' Wolf Blues Museum has amassed an impressive collection of Wolf-related artifacts from around the world.

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