I was too late to catch RL Burnside or Junior Kimbrough. All that was left was the markers, statues and a museum that was shut. But I breathed the air.
This was a pilgrimage that I was making to connect with all those old guys who had given me so much! Fabulous. We had to hunt them all out!
We stopped off at the Highway 61 Museum and met Pat Thomas (James ‘Son’ Thomas’s son. He played for us!
If you are not into the Blues I’d give this one a miss!!
Touring around Mississippi was great. The trail took us right off the beaten track into the small outback towns. We saw so much.
To be able to stand where these guys stood gave me a sense of what it had been like.
My daughter got a job in Louisiana. When we went to stay we were able to hire a car and spent a fabulous week touring around Mississippi looking up the graves, venues and markers of all the fabulous Blues guys.
Bo Diddley used to busk on the corner in McComb. One day a car drew up, a guy leaned out and said ‘Jump in, man. I’m gonna make you a star.’
Bo Diddley was a genius – a macho, struttin’ bluesman who took that shuffle beat and made it his own. He was instrumental in Rock ‘n’ Roll and every R&B band from the UK British Boom played Bo Diddley songs – From the Stones and Yardbirds to the Animals and Prettythings.
Bo Diddley rules.
I met him in 1981 when he played in Hull. We went backstage to get albums signed and I had my picture taken with him. What a moment. He was a very friendly guy.
So when we did our Blues Trail in Mississippi and Lousianna I had to visit McComb and stand on that corner where Bo Diddley had played!
Quite a thrill.
The Mississippi Blues trail is a brilliant way to discover Mississippi. It takes you into the back of beyond and to strange parts of town. You pass the fields the slaves used to work in, the dives they used to play in and the street corners they used to busk on. By the time you’ve finished you’ve got a real feel for the place.
I saw Big Joe Williams perform in the late sixties on one of those Blues packages they brought across. He was on the same bill as Son House, Skip James, Bukka White, James Cotton and a few others. He went down so well that they couldn’t get him off stage.
You found the markers out in the middle of nowhere.
Back in the early days the people like Jimmie Rodgers and Woody Guthrie would mix quite freely with the black singers. Musicians seemed free of the evils of apartheid. Jimmie did a lot of blues numbers.
Trumpet records recorded my hero Elmore James (as well as people like Sonny Boy Williamson). I found it quite thrilling to stand where he had recorded a lot of those searing slide guitar riffs that I love so much.
Both Elmore James and Sonny Boy Williamson performed at the Alamo Theatre. A lot of those places were run down and neglected. But then they ripped the cavern in Liverpool down too. These politicians are fools. We should respect our heritage.
This was close to the place where BB King used to busk and record.
This was the site in Natchez where the Night Club burnt down killing so many people. Howlin’ Wolf sang about it in the song Natchez Burning.