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Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Governor Haley Barbour today announced the Mississippi Blues Trail will salute the musical legacy of Sam Chatmon and others of Hollandale, Mississippi on Friday, October 2, at 3 p.m. with the dedication of the trail's 86th historical marker on Simmons Street and West Washington Avenue.

"Towns like Hollandale, along with artists like Sam Chatmon, have truly earned a spot on the Mississippi Blues Trail," Governor Haley Barbour said. "The level of talent produced by this community is impressive, and I encourage blues enthusiasts to visit the Blue Front and see one of the important venues where our unique form of American music began."

The Mississippi Blues Trail is a museum without walls taking visitors on a musical history journey through Mississippi. The trail started with the first official marker in Holly Ridge, the resting place of the blues guitarist Charley Patton. The trail winds its way to sites honoring B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Son House and more.

The Mississippi Blues Trail markers are funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and by support from the Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Mississippi Department of Transportation, Delta State University and the Mississippi Development Authority.

Sam Chatmon (c. 1899-1983), a member of one of Mississippi’s most prominent musical families, came out of musical retirement in the 1960s to become a celebrated elder statesman of the blues. Chatmon sometimes performed with his brothers in an influential string band known as the Mississippi Sheiks in his younger days. The Sheiks’ 1930 recording, “Sitting on Top of the World,” was one of the most popular blues recordings of the pre-World War II era, and their repertoire of blues, folk, country, pop, and minstrel songs kept them in demand among both white and black audiences. In 1928 several of the Chatmon siblings, including Sam and his brother Bo, who recorded under the name Bo Carter, moved from their native Bolton to the Hollandale area.

Sam recorded with his brother Lonnie as a duo for the Bluebird label in 1936 and also participated in other sessions during the 1930s, but, like most of the family, depended on farming to make a living. He later moved from his farm to the town Hollandale and took a job at a warehouse. After blues enthusiasts began to seek him out in the 1960s, he began traveling to play concerts and festivals around the country, most often in the San Diego area. He recorded several albums including Hollandale Blues and The Mississippi Sheik. In the 1970s he sported a long white beard, as his fiddle-playing father had done, and endeared himself to new audiences who were roundly entertained by the songs he performed.

The Chatmon’s house at 818 Sherman Street in Hollandale has been purchased by the city in order to move it to “Blue Front,” the area of Simmons Street once famed for its row of blues cafes. The Mississippi Blues Trail marker at the corner of Simmons and Washington streets honors both Chatmon and Blue Front, celebrating the rich history of blues performers who have been based in the Hollandale area, including Eddie “Guitar Slim” Jones, Eugene Powell, Robert Nighthawk, Houston Stackhouse, and J.D. Short. Mississippi Blues Commission member Dr. Edgar E. Smith, who grew up in Hollandale, will speak at the ceremony.

For more information, visit the Mississippi Blues Trail on the internet at www.msbluestrail.org and more information on other top Mississippi events visit the Mississippi page at Top Events USA at www.topeventsusa.com/state-events-mississippi.html