Mississippi Blues - Juke Joints, Bottle Trees & Diddley Bows
February 7, 2003 5:09 AM   Subscribe

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
posted by madamjujujive (15 comments total)
Great. Thanks!
posted by plep at 5:32 AM on February 7, 2003

Quick! Someone post a link to Robert Crumb's works regarding the origins of blues!

Nice post, madamjujujive.
posted by zerofoks at 5:36 AM on February 7, 2003

Good lord, what a magnificent find!

I don't know how you do it, madamejujujive, but you shine a light on us all.

Just imagine the future posts.
posted by hama7 at 5:44 AM on February 7, 2003

Here's more Charley Patton, and his work lives on for good reason.
posted by hama7 at 5:55 AM on February 7, 2003

Very cool, MJJ. For more on the origins and evolutions of the blues (particularly in Mississippi), read Robert Palmer's (no, not that Robert Palmer) Deep Blues. I referred to it constantly when I was producing a blues radio show. Good stuff.
posted by Vidiot at 7:43 AM on February 7, 2003

As always, nice work, madamjujujive. Those interested in blues photographs should also check out the work of Ernest C. Withers. Although better known for his famous photos of events during the civil rights movement, Withers' subjects also inculded most of the musicians who wandered through Memphis from the early '40s up to the present day. Many of the blues photos are catalogued in this book.
posted by samuelad at 8:00 AM on February 7, 2003

Great site, and so beautiful to look at, too. This is really a wonderful find for music archivists everywhere. Also, juju, I think you know that this post is the ultimate y2karl magnet!
posted by iconomy at 8:12 AM on February 7, 2003

posted by gottabefunky at 8:39 AM on February 7, 2003

On the topic, Junior's Juke Joint and Robert Crumb's Charley Patton. Cultural anthropology, anecdotes and soul food reviews by Junior and high graphic art by the master R. Crumb straight from the links page of the once and future drylongso.

Here in Junior's Juke Joint you'll find pictures of, stories about, and even maps to Delta places the local chambers of commerce never heard of. (Heck, let's face facts: if the chambers knew about those places they'd want to shut them down.)
posted by y2karl at 9:33 AM on February 7, 2003

Glad to see we have some true blues lovers in the house - I knew about y2karl's penchant, being a fan of his hopefully-soon-to-be-revived radio show. Glad to know we have another expert here in you Vidiot. Well good on that, I am a perpetual student and fan. Most of the links and books offered here are new to me, so thanks all. Samulead, I really like the Withers work - more wonderful photos. And hama7, good Patton links, thanks. In fact your link about his gravesite reminded me of another recent find that I have not yet fully explored but I throw it into the mix here - Dead Blues Guys. And y2karl, Junior's Juke Joint is a jewel of a link.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:07 PM on February 7, 2003

Somebody ought to point out here that "Stones in my Passway" is a song by the oft-covered Robert Johnson, who's well worth a listen in his own right if you're into the blues. Or even if you aren't, but then I'm biased like that.
posted by arto at 1:22 AM on February 8, 2003

Wonderful find, madam!

An editorial quibble: In the "bottle tree" text, there's a sentence, "The origins of the tree go back to the 9th century Congo where hand-blown glass was hung on huts and trees as a talisman against evil." I'm pretty sure that should be 19th century...
posted by languagehat at 6:07 AM on February 8, 2003

thanks, MJJ, but I wouldn't call myself an expert. More of an enthusiast. And awesome link there, y2karl. I vote for a MeFi Meetup in Clarksdale, MS!
posted by Vidiot at 8:50 AM on February 8, 2003

Vidiot, cool idea about a blues highway meet-up - stefanie recommends the Shack Up Inn in y2karl's Mississippi John Hurt thread.

Languagehat, good catch on the bottle tree dating. You got me googling to see what else I could find out, and I came upon this reference and photo in a Eudora Welty short story, and a reference in Art and Altars of Africa and the African Americas, about half way down the page.

Arto, good call on the Robert Johnson link because I didn't make that association. Here are the lyrics.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:05 PM on February 8, 2003

Ah, but there's Bill Steber's own article: The Juke Joints Are Dying.
posted by y2karl at 1:23 PM on February 11, 2003

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