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Posts Tagged ‘Big Black River’

Port Gibson, Mississippi

Posted by graywacke on April 17, 2013

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a twice-a-week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

Landing number 2004; A Landing A Day blog post number 422.

Dan –  My hot streak continues (barely, as you’ll see) – I’m now 5/5 and 7/8.  My landing turned this USer into a PSer . . . MS; 32/32 (see?); 8/10; 4; 152.3.

 Here’s my regional landing map:

 port landing 1

A closer view shows that I landed near good ol’ U.S. Route 61; I figured I’d be in for a Delta Blues kind of landing (and I was right, as you’ll see).  The closest town of any size is Port Gibson:

 port landing 2

My GE shot shows that I landed in a lovely setting, along a pond, at the edge of the woods:

 port GE 1

Backing out a bit, you can see that I landed deep in an extended forest area:

 port GE2

Backing out even more – the woods stretch all the way to the Mississippi River!

 port GE 3

Here’s a GE StreetView shot from the road that passes just south of my landing.  Yup – there’s woods, all right . . .

 port GE 3 just south of landing

If you look back at the GE shot that shows the Mississippi, you can see streams north and south of my landing.  To the north is the Big Black River, and to the south is the Bayou Pierre.  It turns out that I landed in the Gunns Bayou watershed, which flows north to the Big Black (sixth hit); on, of course, to the MM (789th hit). 

 A quick word about Gunns Bayou.  Some streams named “Bayou” are included on my rivers list.  But I use discretion; Gunns Bayou would be just a creek in other more northern states.  Had I landed a little further south, I’d be in the Bayou Pierre watershed, which would have been substantial enough to make it to my rivers list . . .

 Moving right along –  if you look back up at my closer-in landing map, you’ll see the Natchez Trace Parkway just south of my landing.  Like the above StreetView shot, it’s also a two-lane ribbon of asphalt wending its way through the woods.

 Of course, I had to Google “Natchez Trace.”  From Wiki:

ThNatchez Trace is a historical path that extends roughly 440 miles from Natchez, Mississippi (located about 50 SW of my landing, along the Mississippi) to Nashville, Tennessee, linking the Tennessee and Mississippi rivers. It was created and used for centuries by Native Americans, and was later used by early European and American explorers, traders and emigrants in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Today, the trail is commemorated by the 444-mile  Natchez Trace Parkway, which follows the approximate path of the Trace.  Parts of the original trail are still accessible (see photo below, very close to where I landed).

 The first recorded European explorer to travel the Trace in its entirety was an unnamed Frenchman in 1742, who wrote of the trail and its “miserable conditions”.

Here’s a picture (Panoramio by Monc) of an old section of the Trace located just a few miles southeast of my landing:

port pano by monc old natchez trail

On to Port Gibson, from Wiki:

Chartered as a town in 1803, Port Gibson is Mississippi’s third-oldest European-American settlement, and was occupied in 1729 by French colonists.

Port Gibson was the site of several clashes during the American Civil War and figured in Ulysses S. Grant‘s Vicksburg Campaign. The Battle of Port Gibson occurred on May 1, 1863, and resulted in the deaths of over 200 Union and Confederate soldiers. The battle was a turning point in the Confederates’ ability to hold Mississippi and defend against an amphibious attack.

Port Gibson has many historic buildings, which survived the Civil War because Grant proclaimed the city to be “too beautiful to burn.” These words appear on the town’s city limits signs.

Although Port Gibson no longer has a Jewish community, it boasts the only Moorish Revival building in Mississippi and the oldest synagogue in the state, the Gemiluth Chessedsynagogue, built in 1892.

Here’s a picture of the synagogue from (of all places) TexasEscapes.com:

pg  from texas escapes  TempleGemiluthChassed709JT

While I’m at it, check out the classy Claiborne County courthouse in Port Gibson:

 800px-ClaiborneCourthouseConfederate31Aug08

Back to Wiki:

A historic marker has been placed by the Mississippi Blues Commission in Port Gibson commemorating the contribution The Rabbit’s Foot Company has made to the development of the blues in Mississippi.  This places the site on the Mississippi Blues Trail.

As all of you regular followers of A Landing A Day know, I’ve had numerous posts that feature the blues, the Delta blues in particular.  Just for the heck of it, I did a quick review.  Here’s what I found:

Red Lick MS, featuring John Byrd

Durant MS, feature Elmore James

Smithville MS, featuring Lucille Bogan

Crockett TX, featuring Lightin’ Hopkins

Angola LA, featuring Lead Belly

Pickens MS, featuring Elmore James (once again)

Como MS, featuring Mississippi Fred McDowell

Duck Hill MS, featuring Magic Sam Maghett

A couple of these posts feature “Junior’s Juke Box” a great Delta Blues website.  Click HERE to check it out (it’s a hoot).

So, it turns out that no Delta Blues performer hails from Port Gibson, but the Rabbit’s Foot Company spent many years headquartered in Port Gibson.  From Wiki:

 The Rabbit’s Foot Company was a long running minstrel and variety troupe that toured as a tent show in the American South between 1900 and 1950. It provided a basis for the careers of many leading African American musicians and entertainers, including Ma RaineyIda CoxBessie SmithButterbeans and SusieTim MooreBig Joe WilliamsLouis JordanBrownie McGhee, Arthur “Happy” Howe, and Rufus Thomas.

Founded in 1900 by Pat Chapelle in Jacksonville FL, the show soon expanded to fill three railroad carriages, and was describing itself as “the leading Negro show in America”.

By 1906 Chappelle was able to maintain multiple tent shows on the road. However, growing competition from other companies took its toll, and Chappelle died in 1911. The company was then sold to a white carnival owner, Fred S. Wolcott, who continued with the touring show. 

By 1918, Wolcott had moved the show’s headquarters to Port Gibson, Mississippi.  Each spring, musicians from around the country assembled there to create a musical, comedy, and variety show to perform under canvas.  In his book  The Story of the BluesPaul Oliver wrote : “The ‘Foots’ travelled in two cars and had a 80′ x 110′ tent which was raised by the roustabouts and canvassmen, while a brass band would parade in town to advertise the coming of the show.  There were no microphones; the weaker voiced singers used a megaphone, but most of the featured women blues singers scorned such aids to volume…”

The company continued to tour among southern states until it disbanded around 1950.

A historic marker has been place by the Mississippi Blues Commission in Port GibsonMississippi, commemorating the enormous contribution the The Rabbit’s Foot Company has made to the development of the blues in Mississippi and placing them on the Mississippi Blues Trail.

Here’s a picture from aintnothinbut.com:

 Rabbits-Foot-Minstrels

 

Here’s a picture of an old Rabbit Foot truck from Vimeo.com:

images

Seaking of Vimeo, here’s an excellent historical video that tells the Rabbit Foot story.  I highly recommended clicking HERE to view the video.  It certainly shows you a lost slice of Americana . . .

 I’ll close with this shot of the “Windsor Ruins” in Port Gibson.  The Windsor Plantation included a mansion built in 1826 that burned down in 1890, leaving only these columns:

 1336544397_Port-Gibson

 

 That’ll do it.

 KS

 Greg

 

© 2013 A Landing A Day

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Durant, Mississippi

Posted by graywacke on March 10, 2010

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (now pretty much an every-other-day blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

Dan –  Finally, I broke away from the Northern Plains (and TX).  I landed deep in the heart of Delta Country, in . . . MS; 29/29; 4/10; 3; 152.4.  Notice that MS has ventured into PS-land.  Anyway here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Durant:


Here’s my broader view:

Here’s my GE shot, showing a woodland setting:

I’ll back out just a little from my close-in landing map, to show my proximity to a previous landing:


This should look familiar to you (and other faithful ALAD readers); the nearby landing is my January 25, 2009 Pickens MS landing.

The main feature of that post was one Elmore James, a legendary slide guitar Delta blues player who was born in Richland, which is between Pickens & Durant.  In that 2009 post, I showed a picture of his tombstone, but I failed to mention that he was buried in Durant.  I’ve come full circle with Mr. James; I feel obliged to feature him once again.

But first, just a little about the town of Durant, from Wiki:

Durant is a city in Holmes County, Mississippi, United States. It was founded in 1858 as a station on the Mississippi Central Railroad, later part of the Illinois Central.  Durant was named for Louis Durant, a Choctaw chief, who had lived on a bluff just across the nearby Big Black River. The population was 2,932 at the 2000 census.

So, Louis Durant was a Choctaw chief, eh?  Could’ve fooled me!  You’ll note a reference to the Big Black River.  It is, in fact, the watershed in which I landed (5th hit, making the Big Black the 139th river on my list of rivers with five or more hits); on to the MM (736th hit).  In honor of the Big Black making the five-or-greater list, here’s a watershed map:


This little aside – you may recall my July 2009 Kosciusko MS post (where I featured Thadeus Kosciusko himself).  Anyway, check out this road sign (that I stumbled on looking at Street Views) right in downtown Durant.  FYI, Kosciusko’s about 17 mi E of Durant on Rt 12:

So, back to Elmore James.  Here’s a picture, followed by part of what I wrote back in January of 2009:



. . . like Como, this landing has a famous blues musician, one Elmore James.  Elmore was born in Richland, which is between Ebeneezer and Goodman.  He was born in Richland in 1918 and died of a heart attack in Chicago in 1963, at the age of 45.  I suspect he led a hard life.  Anyway, you can pick out his home town of Richland on the landing map.

Like Mississippi Fred, Elmore had a great influence on rock and roll musicians (and like Fred, Elmore was a slide guitar bluesman).  His songs were covered by the Allman Brothers and Jimi Hendrix, and he has been mentioned by the following artists as an inspiration to their music:  B.B. King, Eric Clapton, John Mayall and George Thorogood.

Click here to go to my Pickens post; I copied words to one of his songs (“It Hurts Me Too”) along with a link to hear Elmore singing.

Anyway, it turns out there’s a “juke joint” in Durant where James Elmore played back in ’52 (more about that later).  What’s a juke joint, you might ask.  From Wiki:

Juke joint (or jook joint) is the vernacular term for an informal establishment featuring music, dancing, gambling, and drinking, primarily operated by African American people in the southeastern United States.  The term “juke” is believed to derive from the Gullah word joog, meaning rowdy or disorderly. A juke joint may also be called a “barrelhouse”.

Classic juke joints found, for example, at rural crossroads, catered to the rural work force that began to emerge after the Civil War.  Plantation workers and sharecroppers needed a place to relax and socialize following a hard week, particularly since they were barred from most white establishments by Jim Crow laws.  Set up on the outskirts of town, often in ramshackle buildings or private houses, juke joints offered food, drink, dancing and gambling for weary workers. Owners made extra money selling groceries or moonshine to patrons, or providing cheap room and board.

So there’s a website all about Delta blues and juke joints:  “Junior’s Juke Joint,” at deltablues.net.  This graphic is from the website, as is the text below:

I’m a cultural anthropologist who lives in the Mississippi Delta, Louisiana side, and I spend lots of time in Delta juke joints. You’re about to take a trip inside the places where the blues began. I’m not talking about white people blues bars filled with college students. I’m talking about edge-of-a-cotton-field juke joints filled with real Delta folks.

If you’re in one of these places and you notice a tall white guy with a gray ponytail, that’s probably me.   Buy me a beer for directing you to such an awesome place.

He has descriptions of many juke joints, one of them being the Studio 51 in Durant:

While staying in Holmes County, I spent several days hunting for a still-standing juke joint (called Studio 51) that Elmore James played in. This is it.

Elmore James played his awesome slide guitar here in 1952 according to the mayor’s cousin who was there. In those days, it was known as “Ed Powell’s in the Alley.”

This juke joint and the alleys outside would have been wall-to-wall people that night.  Just the year before (1951), Elmore’s “Dust My Broom” reached the Top Ten R & B chart. Overnight, he was famous.

“Junior” goes on to describe the neighborhood, but then he focuses on his interactions with a barmaid . . .

I explained why I was there; in short, the mayor had sent me there because Elmore James had played there.

“Who’s Elmore James?”

I explained Elmore James. Then I asked, “You the owner?”

“Barmaid.”

“You got a Diet Coke®?”

“Ain’t got nothin’ but beer.”

I started asking questions about the place, questions which deepened her mistrust. She seemed to know only the name of the place and the name of its owner. I asked her, “Can you call the owner?”

“Ain’t got no telephone here.” She abruptly got up and soon disappeared behind the bar.

Junior finally got to speak with the female co-owner (her husband is the other co-owner):

In about 5 minutes, I looked up and there behind the bar sat the 60 something woman in the orange shirt, the co-owner, I soon discovered. I guess she entered through a back door. I left the table and took a seat at the bar, introducing myself as I sat.

I carefully explained who I was and what I did. “The mayor, Mr. Wiley,” I said, “sent me here because Elmore James played here.”

That statement broke the ice. “Elmore James played here? I didn’t know that. Who would-a thought? Wait ‘til I tell my husband. He’ll love it.”

She introduced herself then. Even the barmaid became friendly. I got permission and started taking photographs.

Here’s a shot of the interior:

Here’s more of the interior:  the corner of the joint where Elmore James would have set up and played.

Back to the website:

Here we are looking at the music on the jukebox [so that’s what Junior looks like . . .]

It contained 45 rpm vinyl records and operated on quarters only.  Here’s the cost of listening to music in the Studio 51:

1   song =   .25¢

3 songs =   .50¢

7 songs = $1.00

35 songs = $5.00

[Junior goes on to describe all of the cool old Delta music that’s on the jukebox]

I don’t blame the barmaid for mistrusting me at first.  Look at the situation from her point of view. 99.999% of the white people who unexpectedly stroll through the door of a juke joint pack a badge on their shirts or inside their wallets. The barmaid’s reaction was a perfectly normal reaction, one I have caused at least 100 times in the last couple of years.

If this white boy lived in Jackson, Mississippi, about 45 minutes down Interstate 55, about once a month on a Saturday afternoon you’d find me in the Studio 51. I’d have a couple of cool friends with me and a couple of rolls of quarters for that awesome jukebox. While the cold beer flowed and the music played, we’d enter a time warp–somewhere along about 1959.

When I read the term “juke joint,” I assumed that it was named after the word “jukebox.”  Wrong.  It’s the other way around . . .

Anyway, Junior has quite the website.  Click here for some interesting perusing.

Since I landed in Durant, and Elmore James’ grave is in Durant, I’ll close with this picture:

That’ll do it. . .

KS

Greg

© 2010 A Landing A Day

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Pickens, Mississippi

Posted by graywacke on January 25, 2009

Never been here before?  Check out “About Landing,” above.

 

Dan –  A good way to get rid of the bad taste in my mouth brought on by three OSers in a row is to land in the US-friendly Southeast.  That’s right – all of the southeast states are US:  AL (20/28), MS (24/26), GA (24/32), FL (23/35), LA (26/27) and SC (15/17).

 Today’s landing is in one of those that’s headed towards PS-land . . . MS; 25/26; 5/10; 6; 166.0.

Man, still hanging out in the mid 160’s.  Here’s a graphic from my landing spreadsheet showing the Score for my last 200 landings:

 landing-score

As you can see, I’ve been pretty much treading water the last 80 or so landings.  I wonder when the LG will see fit to get that Score down to 160.  We’ll see . . .

Back to the landing.  I landed in the Dry Ck watershed (my 13th landing in a watershed drained by a stream named “Dry Creek”; my 18th stream with the word “dry” in its name); on to the Big Cypress Ck (my 59th stream with the word “big” in its name); on to the Big Black R (4th hit); on to the MM.

I landed between the towns of Pickens, Midway, Ebenezer and Goodman (closest to Pickens).  I’m east of Highway 61 (remember my Como MS landing with the song by Mississippi Fred McDowell), but just about exactly 100 miles due south of that landing.  Here’s a map (oops – Midway is just off the map to the west):

landing

Here’s a broader map view:

pickens

I fear that this is a GD area –  I could find nothing much in Google about any of these towns.  The one exception is the fact that like Como, this landing has a famous blues musician, one Elmore James.  Elmore was born in Richland, which is between Ebeneezer and Goodman.  He was born in Richland in 1918 and died of a heart attack in Chicago in 1963, at the age of 45.  I suspect he led a hard life.  Anyway, you can pick out his home town of Richland on the landing map.

Like Mississippi Fred, Elmore had a great influence on rock and roll musicians (and like Fred, Elmore was a slide guitar bluesman).  His songs were covered by the Allman Brothers and Jimi Hendrix, and he has been mentioned by the following artists as an inspiration to their music:  B.B. King, Eric Clapton, John Mayall and George Thorogood. 

As is my custom, I’ll provide a YouTube link for you to enjoy his music first hand.  I’ve picked “It Hurts Me Too,” a classic blues song about unrequited love.  I’ve now listened to this song three times, and I really like it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nBA2REoRD98

As is also my custom, here are the words so you can follow along.  (Dan, as you know, one can hit ctrl+the link, and it’ll open up another window, allowing you to listen and read the words at the same time.)

It Hurts Me Too

You said you was hurtin, you almost lost your mind.
Now, the man you love, he hurt you all the time.
But, when things go wrong, oh, wrong with you,
It hurts me too.

You’ll love him more when you should love him less.
Why lick up behind him and take his mess?
But, when things go wrong, whoa, wrong with you,
It hurts me too.

He love another woman, yes, I love you,
But, you love him and stick to him like glue.
When things go wrong, oh, wrong with you,
It hurts me too.

Now, he better leave you or you better put him down.
No, I won’t stand to see you pushed around.
But, when things go wrong, oh, wrong with you,
It hurts me too.

Here’s a picture of Elmore:

 elmore-james

Here’s a picture of his gravestone:

 james_elmore_gravestone

And, just to round things out, here’s a picture of an old kudzu-threatened garage in Midway:

 kudzu-vine-covered-garage-in-midway

KS

Greg

 

© 2008 A Landing A Day

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