Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Blues Makin in Macon

Several hundred folks turned out yesterday in Macon for the dedication of the Black Praire Blues marker on Mississippi's Blues Trail honoring Noxubee County natives Eddy Clearwarter, Carey Bell, and Willie King.

The Commercial Dispatch has a great article on it:
“It’s important for us to keep the spirit of the blues alive,” Willie King said as he stood next to a freshly unveiled historical marker displaying his name. “It tells the story of reality.”

King, 65, and fellow Noxubee County blues musicians Eddy Clearwater, 78, and the late Carey Bell dedicated nearly all their lives attempting to paint a picture of their realities in East Mississippi using their music. And on Tuesday, the trio of artists permanently became icons of the reality and history of the small Noxubee County city. The marker will serve as a permanent symbol of East Mississippi’s Black Prairie region, which produced several of the world’s most well-known blues artists.

Clearwater, a blues guitarist and songwriter who was born in Macon in 1935 and has been bestowed with several blues honors — including the Chicago Music Award, grinned and laughed as he explained his love for Macon. “If heaven is better than this, then that’s a place I want to go,” Clearwater said in reference to Macon. “This is like heaven here today." “When I was young, we would go down the street here to the movie theater and see cowboy movies,” Clearwater added as he pointed northward on Jefferson Street. “This honor means so much to me and I will always uphold the name of Macon, Miss., wherever I go.”

Bell died last year at the age of 70, though several of his family members assured the blues harmonica legend was watching the ceremony from above. “Carey has passed on, but I know he is smiling from above,” said Vanessa Carson, Bell’s aunt, said in reference to the Macon native whose death garnered national media attention. “We are so proud of him and we know he is proud of Macon and Mississippi as he’s smiling down from heaven,” Carson added. “Thank you, Macon, for putting out a man like Carey Bell.”

“We are here today to honor three blues legends who are Noxubee County natives,” Noxubee Alliance Director Brian Wilson said as he looked at the three blues musicians. “These three men have meant so much to the world of music, and they always do so while representing Noxubee County. “Whether it’s Stockholm, Jackson or Italy, they always make it known that they are from Noxubee County, Miss., while they are rocking out the world,” Wilson repeated.

The Macon blues marker will join similar monuments in Meridian, Columbus and West Point in directing visitors through the hometowns of many of the state’s blues legends, explained Scott Baretta, research coordinator of the Mississippi Blues Trail. “Mississippi blues is mostly associated with the Delta,” Baretta said. “But the markers we now have in the Black Prairie and other areas in East Mississippi will hopefully draw a lot of blues tourists who would normally veer west. “This has to be the largest marker unveiling I’ve been to, as far as the number of people who came to the ceremony,” Baretta added. “The markers are a showcase of the heritage of Mississippi, and today we will certainly add to that.”
(Read the full article here.)

No comments: