This Week's Featured Marker:
The 103rd Mississippi Blues Trail marker was dedicated on March 11, 2010 in Nesbit, Mississippi, in honor of Mississippi Joe Callicott (1899-1969) as well as other artists who lived in the area. The marker was placed adjacent to the Mount Olive C.M.E. Church in the Spring Hill community, where Callicott is buried. Speakers at the unveiling included Callicott’s daughter, Velma Brown, and blues musician Kenny Brown (no relation), who was mentored by Callicott as a child.
Velma Brown recalled that her father was a “country boy” who loved nothing more than playing the blues, and expressed how proud he was to have played in New York City. Callicott, who first recorded in the late ‘20s and early ‘30s, began performing again in the late ‘60s after folklorist George Mitchell located and recorded him in Nesbit. Those recordings, as well as Mitchell’s documentation of other local artists including R.L. Burnside, Otha Turner, Jessie Mae Hemphill, and Johnny Woods (who is also acknowledged on the marker) are available on the Oxford, Mississippi-based Fat Possum label.
At the ceremony Brown, who recorded several of Callicott’s songs on his own Fat Possum CD, performed several of Callicott’s songs, “Fare Thee Well Blues” and “You Don’t Know My Mind”, and recalled his teacher’s patient instruction. Brown was just eleven and starting to learn how to play the guitar when Callicott moved in next door to his family home. He eventually gathered the nerve to approach the veteran bluesman, who taught him for several years. In addition to performing Callicott’s songs Brown pays tribute to local music traditions by staging the annual North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic in Potts Camp.
A marker in nearby Hernando, Beale Town Bound, acknowledges peers of Callicott who performed in a similar style, including Jim Jackson, Dan Sane, and Robert Wilkins.
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