City Social Magazine

MAR 2013

City Social Magazine in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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Page 42 of 67

Saint Blues Guitar Workshop of Memphis creates handcrafted guitars, from this original cigar box instrument to the electric "Bluesmaster." We first stopped in Indianola, Mississippi, on the drive up, checking out B.B. King's new museum that spotlights both the famous bluesman's career and the origin of blues, one of America's indigenous musical genres. The museum is located in an old cotton gin and offers a fabulous overview of the blues—samples included—with stories of how musicians left the Delta cotton fields to make their way to Memphis and better times. Throughout Indianola and the surrounding Delta are highly informative blues markers, part of the Mississippi Blues Trail. For instance, as we made our way toward I-55, we passed markers for King's birthplace and Robert Johnson's gravesites (he has three, but we visited the one most believe to be official outside Greenwood). The trail consists of dozens of markers, including several out of state. Once in Memphis, we focused on Beale Street and the proliferation of the blues and its evolution into rock 'n' roll and soul. It was in Memphis that traveling musicians found their calling, performing in Beale Street juke joints, recording tunes at Sun Studio, and getting air time on radio stations such as WDIA, the first white-owned station to play "race music." King got his break on both Beale and WDIA, building an audience from live performances and his daily radio show. Over at Sun Studios (originally Memphis Recording Service), Sam Phillips recorded the blues sound that was emanating from Beale Street. In 1951, however, the world experienced a musical earthquake. Phillips recorded "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats, with Ike Turner on board, reportedly the first rock 'n' roll song. More of the same would follow, until a teenager from Tupelo walked through the doors and changed history once again. Phillips asked the youth who he sounded like, and Elvis replied, "I don't sound like nobody." Read us online at 43

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