This Week's Featured Marker:
On Wednesday, April 27, 2011, the threat of tornados around Benoit moved the marker ceremony for Eddie Shaw indoors, but by the time of the actual unveiling it was a sunny, but very windy day. Shaw’s marker is placed between Highway 1 and the railway tracks, and is just twenty yards from the marker for another Bolivar County native, Eddie Taylor. Speakers at the event included Bobby Rush, who spoke of fifty years of friendship with Shaw, referred to the fact that they never referred to one another by their given names but instead as “beggar,” and told a bawdy tale about a pretty woman at a club who turned out not to be a woman (not that either found out directly!).
Paul Benjamin of Rockland, Maine—the producer of the North Atlantic Blues Festival, the former president of the Blues Foundation’s board, and a producer of multiple CDs by Shaw—explained how meeting Shaw in 1978 led to his life in blues. Last year a Blues Trail marker was erected in Rockland, acknowledging its long history with visiting Mississippi blues artists. The featured musicians at the unveiling were guitarist Bill “Howlin’ Madd” Perry and saxophonist Alphonso Sanders, who directs the music program at Mississippi Valley State University, which Shaw attended when it was called Mississippi Vocational College.
Immediately prior to the ceremony Shaw borrowed the saxophone of Sanders, who switched over to flugelhorn, and took part in an unofficial jam. Also in attendance was Billy Johnson of the Highway 61 Blues Festival in Leland, which honored Shaw several years ago. Later that evening Johnson organized a jam in honor of Shaw at the Walnut Street Blues Bar in Greenville. Multiple members of Shaw’s family attended the ceremony, including his longtime guitarist and son, Eddie “Vaan” Shaw.
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