Americans don’t seem to value the rich Blues heritage that sits on their own doorstep. Despite the fact that nearly all modern music stems from the roots of the Blues, R&B and Jazz that came out of Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Tennessee (Mixed in with a bit of Country and a few other flavours) they ignore it. If you talk to most Americans about the significance of Charlie Patton they will likely say – ‘Who?’. So I was heartened to find they had gone to the bother of putting up blue plaques all other the place commemorating where all the great Blues Singers worked, lived, played and died. It gave all us mad Blues lovers a reason to gallivant all over the countryside hunting them down.
I was a little chastened when looking for Son House’s plaque I stopped at a big tourist centre, right close to where it was, to ask and they’d never heard of Son House, the Blues Trail or anything to do with it. Asking around it seemed like it was mainly a bunch of fanatical Englishmen like me who were the only ones going round.
This is a national steel guitar in the Delta Blues museum. The type many old Blues guys played in the days before amplification because it made a loud sound. I love the sound of a bottleneck guitar.
The fabled Highway 61 – along which all the Blues guys travelled.
Muddy Waters cabin – re-erected in the Delta Blues Museum (I wish they’d left it where it was on the plantation).
A plaque to Son House (I think that was in Clarksdale)
The Riverside Hotel where everybody stayed. It used to be a hospital for Blacks and is where Bessie Smith died.
Sonny Boy Williamson 2’s grave (Willie Rice Miller) outside Tutwiler
Sonny Boy’s grave was hard to find – in the middle of nowhere, set back off the road.
One of Robert Johnson’s supposed graves (according to Dave ‘Honeyboy’ Edwards not the right one)
The Blue Café – a Blues Joint where it all happened (And still does)