Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. viii-ix

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xi-xiv

This work has been a long time coming, and I am indebted to many for their support along the way. First and foremost are the friends whom I recorded, photographed, and filmed. Their stories are the heart of...

read more

Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-10

When I, a white Mississippian, worked as a folklorist in my home state in the sixties and seventies, I set out to study African American music, but the people I met opened my eyes to...

read more

BLUES ROOTS

Blues and sacred music are joined at the hip. Most blues musicians grow up in the church where as children they learn to sing hymns and spirituals. One blues musician told me that if a singer wants to cross over from sacred music to the blues, he simply replaces “my God” with “my baby” and continues...

read more

Rose Hill

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 13-28

Mary “Monk” Gordon and Reverend Isaac Thomas were two of the most important leaders in the Rose Hill community, fifteen miles southeast of Vicksburg. Gordon told me that her grandmother was a slave who walked from Natchez to the Rose Hill community. She and many of Gordon’s other ancestors are buried...

read more

Lake Mary

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 29-46

Martha and Scott Dunbar lived on the bank of Lake Mary, an oxbow lake twenty miles west of Woodville in Wilkinson County. The lake formed when the Mississippi River changed its course, and the abandoned riverbed became a lake. Lake Mary is famed for its fishing, and Scott Dunbar worked most of his life as a fishing...

read more

Lorman

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 47-56

I met Louis and Addie Mae Dotson in the late sixties while doing field recordings near Lorman. The Dotsons lived on a hill at the end of a dirt road a mile to the east of Highway 61. A vegetable garden and peach trees provided much of their food. They bought staples like coffee, sugar, salt, and pepper at the Brassfield...

read more

Centreville

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 57-66

Fannie Bell Chapman was a charismatic faith healer who composed gospel music that she sang at religious ceremonies she conducted in Centreville. Centreville was also the home of Anne Moody, whose book Coming of Age in Mississippi chronicled her struggles...

read more

Gravel Springs

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 67-76

Otha Turner lived in the Gravel Springs community, in the hill country of northeast Mississippi, the world that William Faulkner chronicled in his fictional Yoknapatawpha County. Although the Delta has been the primary focus for the study of the blues in Mississippi, there is a growing recognition of black music in this...

read more

Parchman Penitentiary

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 77-88

Parchman Penitentiary is an 18,000-acre penal farm located in the heart of the Delta. For many years, Parchman was farmed with mules driven by white and black convicts. Inmates were segregated, and one of the largest black camps was Camp B, which was located near the community of Lambert. During the summer...

read more

Tutwiler

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 89-97

W. C. Handy first heard the blues in 1903 while waiting for a train in Tutwiler. A traveling musician playing slide guitar near the train tracks sang that he was “goin’ where the Southern cross the Dog.” Handy later recalled that it was “the weirdest music I had ever heard.” The small town—1,364...

read more

A Delta Road in Coahoma County

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 98-102

Highway 61 and many smaller roads connect Mississippi Delta worlds and carry colorful travelers along their journeys by day and night. While driving through the Delta in 1968, I met C. L. Redwine, a local fruit and vegetable salesman, with one of his clients, Corine Gardner. I was struck by the handpainted signs asking...

read more

BLUES TOWNS AND CITIES

The blues developed in Mississippi towns and cities in significant ways. Within urban worlds, musicians lived in black neighborhoods where blues clubs and house parties thrived. These neighborhoods provided greater protection and economic opportunities for performers who moved there from surrounding...

read more

Leland

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 105-142

I first encountered the Delta blues in Leland. During the summer of 1968, I met James “Son Ford” Thomas, a gifted musician, storyteller, and sculptor. We became friends, and our lives remained closely tied together for over twenty-six years until his death in 1993. Allen Ginsberg told me that Thomas was my “guru,” a...

read more

Clarksdale

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 143-159

If there is a musical navel or crossroads for Mississippi Delta blues, it must be on the streets of Clarksdale, a city that lies in the heart of the region known for the blues. Generations of young black musicians fled surrounding plantations and moved to Clarksdale, where department stores, restaurants, barbershops...

read more

WOKJ, Jackson

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 160-169

WOKJ radio station has been the voice of the black community in Jackson and surrounding areas since it first went on the air in 1954. In addition to its rich fare of blues and gospel music, the station reports on local events. Its disc jockeys are considered heroes, and their verbal skills are legendary. Bruce Payne grew up in Vicksburg and worked at WOKJ for twenty-seven of his fifty years as...

read more

Beale Street

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 170-174

It is said that the two capitals of Mississippi are New Orleans and Memphis. When blacks moved north to escape the Delta, Memphis was their first destination. And in Memphis, Beale Street was the celebrated hub of music and nightlife. As musicians aspired to successful careers, they bought stylish clothes for their stage performances...

read more

LOOKING BACK

Willie Dixon and B. B. King are two of the most important figures in the history of the blues, and their lives and music have deep roots in Mississippi. Still performing in his eighties, King is acknowledged as America’s greatest blues artist, and Dixon composed many of the most beloved blues lyrics...

read more

Willie Dixon

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 177-184

I met Willie Dixon in 1976 when I attended his concert at Toad’s Place, a music club at 300 York Street in New Haven, just off the Yale campus. Toad’s Place has hosted blues musicians for over thirty-three years and was a favorite venue for my students. Dixon and I both grew up in Vicksburg, and I had long admired his career as a blues composer...

read more

B. B. King

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 185-202

B. B. King’s name is synonymous with the blues. At the age of eighty-four in 2009, the blues patriarch follows a rigorous schedule of performances throughout the United States and overseas that would exhaust a much younger artist. King’s performances and recordings have defined the blues for more than six...

read more

SACRED AND SECULAR WORLDS

The church and the blues joint are pivotal worlds within the black community. Each weekend the preacher and the blues singer gather their followers together to celebrate with familiar rituals that have much in common. Both speak to black families with a deep knowledge of their needs and aspirations...

read more

Rose Hill Church

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 205-221

The religious center of the farm where I grew up was Rose Hill Church, a classic whitewashed building that overlooks rolling fields from the crest of a tall hill. Its steeple rises above the front door, and the church bell stands beside it. The church has witnessed the revivals, weddings, and funerals of generations who passed...

read more

Clarksdale

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 222-254

For over a century, house parties have nurtured blues musicians and dancers in the Mississippi Delta. Each Friday and Saturday night, an audience gathers to hear a bluesman play his guitar or piano and sing. The guitar player may be accompanied by a harmonica player, a drummer, and a musician who rubs a broom handle...

read more

Epilogue

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 255-258

Looking back on my visits with each of these speakers, their voices remind me of how surely, how ruthlessly race defined each of their lives, as well as my own....

Selected Bibliography, Discography, Filmography, and Websites

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 259-290

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 291-300

CD and DVD Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 301-302