Thursday, July 30, 2020

Stormy Evening and Cicadas

Just a nice evening in the south.

Click here to see video.

The Rainbow Connection

While I don't think this hotel is one you would want to stay in, unless you like paying by the hour, I did think it was funny seeing a rainbow over this inn.

"What's at the end of the rainbow?  Bedbugs!"  ~Lin Workman

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Robert Johnson: Living in Memphis, TN

Having recently learned that Annye Anderson, 94-year-old sister of Robert Johnson, wrote a book about her "Brother Robert," I immediately jumped at the chance to purchase it.  It's available at Novel Book Store in Memphis, TN, as of this writing.  CLICK HERE to buy from them.

It was fun to realize she had the only fully-acknowledged third photo of Robert, which was taken as an alternate shot in a photo booth when this famous photo was taken:

The night before my 7/18 venture to the Mississippi Delta, my friend Lisa was at the house and I was thumbing through the book to see what photos were included, and I happened upon a postcard written to his sister Carrie Harris, and an address: 720 Hernando Street!  We decided:  FIELD TRIP!

We made our way out to the location to see the site of the address on the card only to find an empty lot.

It was after I got home, thumbed through the book, I realized there were two other houses around the corner where Robert Johnson and his sisters lived.  728 Hernando Street was the third house they lived in while in Memphis (the train bridge nearby is where Robert caught the train to travel).   The other houses were listed in the book, too:

291 E Georgia Avenue, Memphis, TN

The lot between two houses.
Which 291 E Georgia is just an empty lot now.  One other property she mentioned having moved to next is 285 E Georgia Ave , then they moved to the 'rear house' which is pointed out by the red arrow below.

With a close-up view of the property here:

This house still stands, behind it you can see the 'rear house.'
The 'rear house' popping up from behind trees.
So, I haven't made my way to this property - YET! - but, I hope to.  There are black and white photos in the book "Brother Robert" mentioned above; but, I'd like to get out there and take some color photos and just say 'I've been there.'
My true desire?  Wouldn't it be great to turn that house into a museum and to try and reconstruct the old place out back with a hired man to sit on the porch and play the blues as Johnson?  Do I know any investors??   I'd be dangerous if I could afford my genius!  :D

So, our full trip would be 291 E Georgia Street and 285/285 rear E Georgia Street, 728 Hernando St.

Hope this was fun for you.

Monday, July 20, 2020

Delta Blues Trip - Leg 2b (7/18/2020)

Trip Plans
Leg 1
Leg 3 and 2a

UPDATE:  I failed to mention that as I write this, the world is covered in COVID-19.  I don't know if that's the cause of it; but, there were VERY FEW public restrooms available to us as we made our travels.  Take it light on the drinks and food so you don't absolutely HAVE to go!

These dusty old roads were probably traveled by many a blues performer in the early 1900s, folks who would pick cotton and dig dirt by day, and pick guitars and dig beats by night.  Yet, here I am at 47 years old, making my way through to visit the grave sites of people whose music I have long admired and appreciated.

While I've told my stories out of order a bit, the true path was this:
Memphis to Clarksdale and Crossroads 1b and 1a, to Rosedale and Crossroads 2, then to Leland and the Jim Henson Boyhood Museum, then to the grave of Charley Patton, B.B. King's grave, Dockery Farms and Crossroads #3, the grave of Robert Johnson, and a few markers that tell the story of Emmitt Till.

This post will take us to the grave sites.

CHARLEY PATTON - Includes Willie James Foster

First, we went to the grave of Charley Patton.  When you arrive at the location, continue on a bit, turn right by the covered tractor thingy-thing, and go to the back corner of the cemetery.  I mention that because I parked at the first cemetery drive that I saw, and had to walk ALL THE WAY around the cemetery to find his grave marker.

Click to open full size and read.

Right next to Charley Patton is the grave of blues harpist Willie James Foster, from Leland, MS, who had a military plaque behind his monument.

I wiped the monuments down for the photos, and after we wandered around a bit and looked at other stones, then made our way to our next destination.


Before leaving Charley and James, I plugged the next location into my GPS and followed the course.  It took us to Indianola, MS, where the grave of B.B. King is located, however I was frustrated that GPS led me to the museum and not a cemetery.  So, I took photos of the museum.

Then, I decided to check findagrave .com to see if I could see a photo of it, and it appeared to be in a garden, possibly behind or somehow inside of the museum.  I figured you had to pay to get in and see the grave - not unlike Elvis' grave - the photo showing a black granite on top of a white concrete patio.  As we were leaving, I looked over and saw a side-view of what looked like the grave.  I whipped the vehicle into a parking space and made by way across to the location that looked like it could be it.

And it was!

Riley B. King 1925 – 2015

Don’t know why I was made to wander.
I’ve seen the light, Lord, I’ve felt the thunder.
Someday I’ll go home again
And I know they’ll take me in.
And take it home.

Lyrics from the song “Take it Home,” released on the 1979 album by the same name
BB King

And we have to hear some B.B. King now...

In the real path of the trip, next we went to Dockery Farms, followed by the final grave visit on this trip.  Then on to Johnson's


This is the grave that I needed to visit.  I have been drawn to Robert Johnson since the first time I heard his legend, to which I don't ascribe, but love telling.  I needed to visit and see his monument in person.  Note there are two other supposed locations for his gravesite; but, I choose this one because someone who was at the burial told an historian that it was the location.

I found myself getting more and more excited as the GPS showed me getting closer and closer.  When we showed up at the location, and I saw the church, I knew just where we were and exactly where the cemetery plot was located.

Click to see full size image, but sun bleached makes it tough to read.
CLICK HERE for easier to read text.

Robert L. Johnson

May 8, 1911 – August 16, 1938
- musician & composer -
he influenced millions beyond his time
Jesus of Nazareth, King of Jerusalem,
I know that my Redeemer liveth and that
He will call me from the Grave.
…handwritten by Robert Johnson, shortly before his death and preserved
among family papers by his sister, Carrie H. Thompson

“When I leave this town

I’m ‘on’ bid you fare…farewell
And when I return again
You’ll have a great long story to tell”
…from “From Four Until Late” by Robert Johnson

This memorial marker is placed at the base of this

old pecan tree as was Robert Johnson himself, prior
to his burial nearby…in accordance with the account
of eye-witness Mrs. Rose Eskridge, as told to
historian Stephen C. LaVere

So, nothing supernatural; but, from nowhere we were visited by a toad.

So, that's the end of this trip.  I hope you enjoyed the photos and the tour and the dialogue.

Sunday, July 19, 2020

Delta Blues Trip - Leg 3 and 2a (7/18/2020)

Previously in my posts:
Discussion about  a Mississippi Delta Blues Trip
First Leg of the trip

Leg 3 - The Emmitt Till Markers

In the previous post, I shared a bunch of travelling information from Memphis to Clarksdale to Rosedale to Leland, MS.  In this post, I'm going to share a visit to a place very important to the musical genre of the blues; but, first, I want to share a visit to the lands of the heartbreaking story of Emmitt Till.  While the visit to the Till markers was the last part of the trip, I put it here (out of chronological order) because it is sad, important, but not how I want to end my tales of the trip to the Delta.

Emmitt was a 14 year old child from Chicago, IL, with a stutter and a whistle to help him stop it.  buying candy at Bryant's Grocery it's said he used the whistle technique to stop a stutter, and Caroline Bryant told her husband, Roy, that Emmitt made a pass at her.  Roy gathered some folks who dragged the 14 year old child from his uncle's house out where he was brutally murdered by being beaten, mutilated, and shot.  When his body was found three days later, and dragged from the river, a fan blade tied to his neck with barbed wire.

At 72 years old, Caroline Bryant told a reporter that it wasn't true.  But, a 14 year old boy is still dead.

While there are 51 sites in Mississippi dedicated to Emmitt Till, here are only a few, and there is a museum where you can learn more.  You'll notice that one of the markers has been shot.  It can't be replaced without being shot again and again.  I figure people there are trying to assert their superiority, but my friend Matt Ogle wrote that in his experiences "people that feel the need to prove their superiority, aren't."  Highly agreed. 

Click on Emmitt's name above to read the whole story and think about being a little 14 year old kid from the North, just here visiting family and friends, and all these things happen to you.

Click to see full size photo to read it. 

Click to see full size photo to read it. 

Click to see full size photo to read it. 

This is the river location where Emmitt was found by fishermen.  A beautiful heron flew by as I stood and looked over the water.  I don't know if that's symbolic of anything; but, I hope there's some peace for Emmitt somehow.

Backing up in time:

LEG 2A - HEADING EAST (From Leland)

So, after having eaten at Fratesi's, we started on our road east to three graves of some blues greats; but, the first stop had to be the historic Dockery Farms in Cleveland, MS.  Started in 1895 on 40 square miles of land, this property became known as a birthplace of the blues.

Having read about this place in all of the blues history books, it's been such a dream to be there - and there I was.  Nerd-grin and all!

Click on picture to open it larger to read it.

Intrigued at the fact how many people performed on the stage
at Dockery Farms: Henry Sloan, Charley Patton, Willie Brown,
Howlin' Wolf, Son House, and Robert Johnson...


While doing some research about Robert Johnson, and hearing about all the visits to Dockery Farms, there was a suggestion from a guy about where a possible crossroads would be if Robert Johnson had done such a trip to meet the devil.  And just across from Dockery Farms is a gravel and dirt road called Lusk Road, which (after passing by a graveyard) is crossed by Walker Road. 

Dockery being a place to which Johnson would have gone from Greenwood, MS, this area could have been the Devil's Crossroads, a place to visit at midnight under a full moon.

While we didn't run into any devils this day, we did see someone waiting on us when we arrived.  No other animals, no other people - nothing, just this fellow.  We went, said hi and petted it; but, we did not try to cut any deals other than to say "hay" to him.

We made our u-turn in the crossroads, and headed back to highway 8, preparing for the trip to some graves.  At the highway, we looked straight across from Lusk Road for one more view of Dockery Farms.

And the next part of our trip would take us down some dirt roads, some paved roads, and into the sweltering Mississippi Yazoo Delta heat as we visited some graves of three of the most famous blues men in my collection:  Charley Patton, B.B. King, and (of course) Robert Johnson.  (Well, again, this particular post is not in chronological order*.)

I did worry a little as we drove to visit the grave sites when there were a few sprinkles here and there, but it passed and we continued to be blessed with beautiful (albeit hot) weather!

*After Leland, we went to see the grave of Charley Patton, followed by B.B. King, then around to Dockery Farms and Crossroads #3, and then to the grave of Robert Johnson, followed by visits to the Emmitt Till markers.