Today we bid a sad farewell to the last of the old-school Mississippi Hill Country bluesmen: Mr. Robert Belfour was a purveyor or that gritty, driving, riff-based, often one-chord Hill Country style pioneered by people like Mississippi Fred McDowell, and in more recent years popularized by artists like RL Burnside, Junior Kimbrough and Jessie Mae Hemphill. Let's take a listen, then, as we pay our respects to the "Wolfman", to some of his rocking, soulful blues. Here's Black Mattie, I Got My Eyes On You, Hill Stomp, Go Ahead On, My Baby's Gone, Done Got Old and You Got Me Crying. And here's an hour-long recording from February 2013, via NPR: Robert Belfour: Live In Concert.
LAST OF THE MISSISSIPPI JUKES is Robert Mugge's 86-minute film from 2002, focussing on the juke joint tradition in Mississippi, with special emphasis on Jackson's Subway Lounge and Clarksdale's Ground Zero Blues Club.
"Charley Patton" by Robert Crumb (recommended listening: "Down the Dirt Road Blues", "High Sheriff Blues", "A Spoonful Blues", "You're Gonna Need Somebody When You Die") (very previously) [more inside]
William Brown was a man who recorded a handful of blues on Sadie Beck's Plantation on July 16, 1942 for Alan Lomax. Once thought to be the same man as the Willie Brown who played with Son House and Charley Patton--and was immortalized in Robert Johnson's Crossroad Blues--the consensus now is that William Brown was a different man, about whom we know next to nothing. Certainly, the handful of recordings we have that feature him supports this. The Willie Brown who recorded Future Blues and M & O Blues was an archetypal Delta bluesman, with both songs being stripped down versions of Charley Patton's Screamin' and Hollerin' the Blues, among others, and Pony Blues, respectively. The William Brown who recorded Mississippi Blues, Ragged and Dirty and Make Me a Pallet on the Floor plays and sings nothing like that Willie Brown. That we know nothing about him and never heard any more of his music is one of the many tragedies of recorded blues. [more inside]
Mississippi Bluesman Big Jack Johnson has died. His performances in the documentary Deep Blues are brilliant. He was last surviving major performer featured in the film.
His first recording of it from the late sixties. A video filmed in 1978 of Burnside playing Jumper on the Line outside his home in Independence, MS. It's part of the Alan Lomax Archive. R.L. plays it acoustic in 1984. R.L.'s son Duwayne plays it this summer with Kenny Brown, R.L.'s former sideman.
The Victor Talking Machine Co. of Camden, New Jersey is proud to present the following Orthophonic Recordings by bluesman Mr. Ishman Bracey: Leavin' Town Blues - Trouble Hearted Blues - Brown Mamma Blues and Saturday Blues. And remember, for best results, use Victor Needles. [more inside]
As patrons begin to fill a room decorated with toy monkeys, beer posters and a silver disco ball, Mr. Seaberry emerges in a startling suit of red with white pinstripes and a snazzy white hat, and smoking a cheroot. “Po’ Monkey is all anybody ever called me since I was little,” he said. “I don’t know why, except I was poor for sure.” Transformed in the 1950s from a sharecropper shack that was built probably in the 1920s, Poor Monkey's Lounge is one of the last rural juke joints along The Trail of the Hellhound on the Mississippi Delta. [more inside]
When the Rolling tones recorded an old blues tune called You Gotta Move on Sticky Fingers back in 1971, it was another instance of a tune by an old black man, known only to blues aficionados, suddenly becoming part of the consciousness of a gazillion people who probably never would've heard it otherwise. But let's pay a little visit to the man who originally wrote and recorded the song, Mississippi Fred McDowell, shall we? Here's a jumping version of Shake 'em On Down, his haunting Going Down to the River, the gospel blues of When I Lay My Burden Down, Highway 61, My Babe (you'll note the similarity to "This Train"), Louise, and his version of the American folk/blues standard John Henry. And don't miss the beautiful 1969 documentary featuring McDowell at Internet Archive, Blues Maker, which features some superlative acoustic performances, and footage of the people and environment of the Mississippi delta country.
Legendary cane fife player Otha Turner dead at 94 [nyt-rr]. Considered one of (if not THE) last surviving cane fife player, Turner has been nominated for a WC Handy Award, played on records by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and The North Mississippi All Stars, and released albums with his own bands The Afrossippi All Stars and the Rising Star Fife & Drum Band. Some sound recordings here.
Stones in My Pathway - in the tradition of Alan Lomax, Bill Steber is a photojournalist who is documenting Mississippi blues culture. His work includes an array of photos, music clips and interviews capturing the environment that spawned the music, spanning "juke joints, cotton farming, sacred music, rural church services, river baptisms, folk religion and superstition, life on Parchman penitentiary, hill country African fife and drum music, and diverse regional blues styles." A beautiful site and jewel of a find for blues buffs. via Portage