This Week's Featured Marker:
On May 7, 2009 the 71st Mississippi Blues Trail marker was dedicated in downtown Como, the longtime home of honoree Mississippi Fred McDowell. The weather was unseasonably hot, but that didn’t stop hundreds of blues fans from attending. Many were out-of-towners who were visiting Memphis for the Blues Music Awards—Como is just forty-five minutes south of the Bluff City—while others were undoubtedly drawn by the presence on the program of Bonnie Raitt, who arranged her touring schedule in order to pay tribute to her primary mentor in the blues.
Unveiling ceremonies for Blues Trail markers are all organized by local authorities, and officials in Como arranged for an elaborate program. Musicians who paid tribute to McDowell’s legacy during the service included a band from the Mississippi School For Mathematics and Science; the local a capella gospel group the Como Mamas, who appeared on the compilation album Como Now; solo performer Nathaniel Warren. Following the program there was a performance by local blues artists Mary Ann “Action” Jackson and R.L. Boyce, a guitarist/vocalist who also played drums with local fife and drum corps leader Otha Turner. In August 2009 a marker was placed in Como directly across the McDowell honoring Turner, who was a close friend and musical associate of McDowell.
The ceremony itself included tributes by Raitt, McDowell’s former manager Dick Waterman, who resides in Oxford, Mississippi, and various members of the McDowell family. Attendees at the festival included Memphis bluesman Daddy Mack Orr, a native of Como whose image appears on the marker.
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