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Famous Yazooans

Bentonia Blues Festival 2016

44th Anniversary Bentonia Blues Festival Recap The 44th-anniversary Bentonia Blues Festival was well attended. The crowd came from all over the United States and from across the globe to celebrate the unique Bentonia style of blues that can still be heard at the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Mississippi, and on the Holmes farm on the 3rd Saturday each June. The week full of events included an album release party for Jimmy “Duck” Holmes new album, released by Blue Front Records, titled “It Is What It Is.” Musicians came from New York, Minnesota, Missouri, and New Orleans, to name a few, just to be able to perform for and jam with Yazoo’s own Jimmy “Duck” Holmes at the Blue Front Cafe. The line-up for the festival on the Holmes farm north of Bentonia was equally as impressive, with performances by Sean Ardoin + Zydekool, Ms. Pleschette, Roosevelt Roberts Jr., Bill Abel & Cadillac

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T.J. Huddleston, Sr.

T.J. Huddleston, Sr. Yazoo City, Mississippi – June 1, 2016 – Today we remember the life and legacy of one great Yazooan, Thomas Jefferson Huddleston, Sr., born June 1, 1876. A great orator and salesman with a gift for captivating his audience, he started a chain of funeral homes in Mississippi. In 1924, T.J. Huddleston, Sr., founded the Afro-American Sons and Daughters, a fraternal organization in Mississippi and one of the leading black voluntary associations in the state. Organized in 1924, it had 35,000 members by the 1930s. In 1928, the association opened the Afro-American Hospital of Yazoo City, the first hospital for blacks in the state. Dr. Lloyd Tevis Miller (L.T. Miller), co-founder of the Mississippi Medical and Surgical Association (MMSA), the state’s largest and oldest organization representing African American health professionals, was recruited by Huddleston to serve as the facility’s first director.  The hospital offered both major and minor

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The Legend of the Witch of Yazoo

The Witch of Yazoo Located in the middle of the historic section of Glenwood Cemetery, Yazoo City’s public cemetery, is a grave surrounded by chain links known as, “The Witch’s Grave”. The legend of the Witch of Yazoo became famous in Willie Morris’ book, Good Old Boy published in 1971. This story is an example of the unusual folklore surrounding Yazoo County. Many have pointed out that the grave and the legend were there long before Morris was born, and that the chain had been broken for a long time. According to the legend, the old woman lived on the Yazoo River, and was caught torturing fishermen who she lured in off the river.  The sheriff is said to have chased her through the swamps where she was half drowned in quicksand by the time the sheriff caught up with her.  As she was sinking, she swore her revenge on

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Henry Herschel Brickell Memorial Yazoo Literary Walkway

Henry Herschel Brickell, 1889 – 1952, was born in Senatobia, Mississippi on September 13, 1889.  He grew up in Yazoo City attending the local schools, and no doubt visiting the historic Ricks Memorial Library.  He went on to attend the University of Mississippi, where he began his career as an editor, writer and literary critic.  He served as editor and critic in cities across the US – Montgomery, Alabama; Pensacola, Florida; Jackson, Mississippi; New York City, New York.  Writers such as Arthur Palmer Hudson, Stark Young and Eudora Welty were encouraged by Brickell at different times during his career. In 2010 the Yazoo Historical Society, the Brickell Family Foundation, and the Ricks Memorial Library joined efforts to create the Henry Herschel Brickell Memorial Yazoo Literary Walkway.  Joining the old Main Street School (now the Triangle Cultural Center) once attended by Brickell to the Ricks Memorial Library, this walkway now honors

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Tommy McClennan

Tommy McClennan Physical, intense Mississippi blues. Underrated guitar player.  Born on a farm in April, 1908, and grew up in nearby Yazoo City, Mississippi. Played across the South Delta in towns like Greenwood, Indianola and Itta Bena during the 1920s and through the 1930s, sometimes with his only local rival, and stylistic “sound-a-like”, Robert Petway. Reportedly, McClennan was a very nervous and slightly built man, but he must have really rocked in those Mississippi juke joints. There’s been a lot of negative writing about McClennan in the past, but Big Tony is telling you: this is one of the great Delta artists. He’s a powerful and convincing vocalist, and his playing has both impact and nuance; this is one of the Big Guys. Lester Melrose arranged his first recording session, for Bluebird in November, 1939; and around 1940 Tommy moved to Chicago. His first recordings sold rather well, and he

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“Gatemouth” Moore

“Gatemouth” Moore Arnold Dwight “Gatemouth” Moore, a lesser-known blues icon is recognized for some of his blues compositions – “Did You Ever Love A Woman”, “I Ain’t Mad at You, Pretty Baby”, “Somebody’s Got To Go”. Blues greats such as B.B. King, Rufus Thomas, and Jimmy Witherspoon also recorded some of his tunes. In 1930 Moore moved from Memphis to Kansas City, where he worked with several jazz bands during1930s and 40s. manicsquirrel.com/etherion/st/ cash in check Most of Moore’s later recordings were in the gospel vein, however, in 1977 Moore made his final album, Great R&B Oldies, revisiting the blues. Moore retired to Yazoo City many years before his death in 2004. He was honored\ by a resolution from the Mississippi state legislature, commending him for his illustrious career in blues and gospel.

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Skip James

Nehemiah “Skip” James James grew up in Bentonia and is said to have learned the Bentonia Blues style from Henry Stuckey.  Highly emotive, often strange, James was one of a half-dozen virtuosos of Delta blues. He stood out from other artists not only because of his skill, but because of his courage in pursuing his creative vision when it went contrary to popular taste. With dark themes and sophisticated finger-picking, James helped redefine what could be done with three-chord music. Added to that was his superior vocal phrasing and wild piano playing. Whether because of religious background or personal hardships, his music usually reflected a dire outlook on life. One writer said it always seemed like night when Skippy sang the blues. The son of a minister, James for a while tried to find his life purpose preaching and singing in a choir, but he eventually returned to secular music.

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Jack Owens

Jack Owens Jack Owens was born L. F. Nelson, and lived and worked in Bentonia. Owens was never a professional recording artist, but he farmed, bootlegged and ran a weekend juke joint in Bentonia for most of his life. He was not recorded until the blues revival of the 1960s. Owens was rediscovered by David Evans in 1966, who was led to him by either Skip James or Cornelius Bright. Evans recorded Owen’s first album Goin’ Up the Country that same year and It Must Have Been the Devil (with Bud Spires) in 1970. He made other recordings (some by Alan Lomax) in the 1960s and 1970s, and performed at several music festivals in the United States and Europe until his death in 1997.  Owens shared many elements of his guitar style and repertoire with fellow Bentonian Skip James. He was often accompanied on harmonica by his friend Bud Spires.

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Yazoo County CVB

Yazoo County Convention & Visitors Bureau
P.O. Box 186
110 N Jerry Clower Blvd, Suite S
Yazoo City, Mississippi 39194
Toll Free: (800) 381-0662
Phone: (662) 746-1815
Fax: (662) 746-1816

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