Mississippi Blues Trail #12: Gulfport

~ May 4, 2022

When radio veteran, patriot and blues promoter Stan "Rip" Daniels launched WJZD radio in Gulfport on March 20, 1994, it became the first African American-owned FM station on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. According to the 2007 Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook, Mississippi had more stations (thirteen) regularly broadcasting under a blues format than any other state. In addition, specialized blues programs have been aired on various college, public, rock, oldies, and urban contemporary stations.
Daniels took the blues concept a step further on October 1, 2000, when the American Blues Network transmitted its first satellite signals from the WJZD studios. Adopting a primary format of "party blues and oldies," the ABN secured affiliations with dozens of stations across the country and put its programs on the internet as well. Daniels’s concert promotions also ensured support of the blues and southern soul performers on the Gulf Coast "chitlin' circuit."
For Mr Taylor's website, you can check it out by clicking HERE.

An Update

~ April 18, 2022

My apologies for the long pause, I have been rather busy with our discord. We have experienced a pretty good amount of growth as of the past half month.
I have also found a few people inspired by me to run for office under a potential NRP banner, as well as some more content creators. An unexpected outcome to this blog, but not an unwelcome one. Of course, there is always room for further growth.
However, I am of the mindset that growth must come organically and through direct action. Having 4,000 followers on twitter might sound impressive, and to some degree it could be beneficial in terms of influence projection, but chances are that wouldn't even be enough to significantly affect the politics of a decent sized county, much less at the level to implement the changes this country so desperately needs.
We have a new resource tab for three flyers our followers can post around, eventually I would like to have more flyers and have potential brochures. We do most of our planning here, for now our Discord is the Project's nucleus: you can access that HERE.

Mississippi Blues Trail #11: Pass Christian

~ March 31, 2022

The histories of blues and jazz are often traced along different lineages, but, especially on the Gulf Coast, the two genres share many roots. Blues was a key element in the music of Pass Christian's native son Captain John Handy (1900-1971) and other locals who played traditional jazz or rhythm & blues. Pass Christian has celebrated its rich African American musical heritage with various festivals, including "Jazz in the Pass," first held here in 1999, and still going well into the modern era. Dates can be seen here.

Captain John Handy, Pass Christian's most famous musical native son and an important figure in New Orleans, is honored on the marker along with others, including Sonny Wimberley, who moved to Chicago and joined the Muddy Waters blues band. Saxophonist and promoter Don "Cadillac" Henry, a local band from the 1950s called the Claudettes, and Pass Christian musicians Jeannette Kimball, Joe B. Jackson and the Watson brothers are also named on the marker.
The most famous of them, Captain John Handy, was a unique figure in New Orleans jazz. Developing a style that was influenced not only by the music of New Orleans but swing and aspects of early rhythm & blues, Handy was nearly the only major altoist involved in the revival movement of the 1960s. He had been part of the New Orleans jazz scene since the 1920s when he often played clarinet. He turned down an offer to join Fats Waller's band because he loved working in the Crescent City. Handy made no recordings until 1960 but made up for lost time during the next decade when he was one of the strongest musicians on the scene. He dominated ensembles and his solos could blow the roof off of most establishments as he displayed the ability to build up chorus after chorus to a very exciting and intense level.

Mississippi Blues Trail #10: Bay St Louis

~ March 9, 2022

The 100 Men D.B.A. Hall, a longtime center of African American social life and entertainment, was built in 1922 by the One Hundred Members' Debating Benevolent Association. Over the years the association sponsored many events and also rented the hall to promoters who brought in blues, rhythm & blues, and jazz acts. Local residents have recalled performances by Etta James, Big Joe Turner, Guitar Slim, Irma Thomas, Professor Longhair, Ernie K-Doe, Deacon John, Earl King, and numerous others here.
In the decades following the Civil War, African Americans throughout the South formed many fraternal and benevolent organizations in order to collectively increase their social, economic, and political power. The One Hundred Members' Debating Benevolent Association was incorporated in Bay St. Louis in 1894. According to its charter, "the purpose of this Association is to assist its members when sick and bury its dead in a respectable manner and to knit friendship." The charter stipulated that "the Association may from time to time give entertainments for the purpose of replenishing the treasury." Despite its name, the association was founded by twelve men, and the nature of its "debates" appears to be lost to time. (In other organizations, the initials D.B.A. often stood for Death and Burial Association.) By the 1950s the functions of many benevolent organizations were supplanted by insurance companies, although in New Orleans they have survived as social aid and pleasure clubs that organize annual parades. The Disabled American Veterans acquired the 100 Men D.B.A Hall in the mid-1970s. After Hurricane Katrina the hall was slated to be razed until Jesse and Kerrie Loya fortunately stepped in to purchase it in 2006. The Loyas restored it with the intent of creating a nonprofit community center and venue. It operates today as an ongoing live blues locale.
As a resort community in the early decades of the twentieth century, Bay St. Louis was the site of performances by New Orleans jazz and dance bands, as well as local groups, including the Supreme Band and bands led by Paul Maurice, August Saucier, and Harry Fairconnetue (who played regularly at the Promo Benevolent Association Hall). Bay St. Louis natives Fairconnetue and Warren Bennett also worked in Clarence Desdunes' Joyland Revelers. Other local performers of the era included the Alexis family (Peter, Ricard, and Joseph), Edgar Benoit, Sumner Labat, Edward Palloade, Edgar Saucier, Oscar Collins, Eddie Thomas, Anderson Edwards, and Johnny Toncred. Famed New Orleans musicians Lorenzo Tio, Sr. and Jr. and Johnny and Warren "Baby" Dodds also lived in this area in the early 1900s. After World War II the 100 Men D.B.A. Hall became a stop on the "chitlin circuit," a network of African American clubs, with many of the acts booked out of New Orleans. Mississippi coast bands, including M. C. Spencer & the Blue Flames, the Sounds of Soul, Carl Gates & the Decks, and the Claudetts, also played here. Another area venue in the early '50s was the Cotton Club on Highway 90, operated by guitarist Jimmy Liggins, who relocated here briefly from Los Angeles. Onetime area residents who later achieved musical fame included the Bihari family, whose sons formed one of the most important independent record companies, Modern Records, in Los Angeles, and singer-guitarist Ted Hawkins, who was born in Lakeshore.

On the Boycott of Russia Friendly Businesses and a List of Alternatives

~ March 4, 2022

It has come to my attention that some would like to boycott resturaunts that continue to do business with Russia while they commit atrocities in Ukraine. Personally, I think this is not just a wonderful idea, but an excellent chance to promote eating at lesser known places instead of multinational corporations that have grown too large in size. For those interested, I would suggest a letter writing campaign to these corporations doing business there, demanding that they cease these activities. I also recommend writing to places that don't do business there, asking if they would be willing to expand to your area.
Due to the sheer volume of local and regional resturaunts without Russian franchises, I'm only going to scratch the surface, but many of the alternatives I've noted are well known. Generally these are national, but some are regional, and that is generally an area that I might not be much help with.
The biggest collaborator with Russia seems to be pizza places; these include Pizza Hut, Dominos, Papa Johns, and Sbarro's. However, there are many other pizza chains in America; a small list of them would include Pizza Inn, Little Caesars, Mazzio's, Mellow Mushroom and Fox's Pizza. However, one should also support their local pizza places if they can, as it would be better than buying from corporate giants all the time.
Obviously pizza places are far from the only corporations doing business with Russia, though. Instead of getting a sandwich from Subway, one could go to Jersey Mike's or Quiznos. McDonald's, Burger King, and KFC all have places in Russia, so one could go to Popeyes, Krystal, Church's, Whataburger or Chik fil A. Instead of going to Baskin Robbins or buying Ben & Jerry's, one could go to Dairy Queen, Culver's, Sonic or Coldstone Creamery. Instead of Wingstop and TGI Fridays, one can go to Buffalo Wild Wings, Applebee's, Red Robin, Arby's, Chili's or Denny's. Instead of Panda Express, one can go to PF Chang's or Chinese Gourmet Express. Or your nearest "mom and pop" Chinese resturaunt. The biggest issue seems to be coffee places as Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts have places in Russia, but I would recommend going to your local coffee shop for your caffeine fix.
As I said, this list barely scratches the surface of opportunities and as such I recommend further research if it hasn't been mentioned, but this is likely a good place to start at.

A Joint Statement From The National Rejuvenation Project

~ February 25, 2022

While I don't make Foreign Policy the focus of this blog, I feel as if I must make a statement on the current situation in Ukraine. We must stand in solidarity with the people of the Ukraine. Putin's actions are the actions of a madman. We need to contact our congressmen about accepting Ukrainian refugees fleeing this unfortunate and horrifying war.
It is during times like these that we as Americans must come together and take decisive and necessary actions that our politicians would never do. We must voice our support for Ukraine's struggle of national survival. We must protest for the government to send equipment and supplies to Ukraine to aid them against the Russian onslaught, and above all, we must let the world know that regardless of what our cowardly politicians, power hungry parties and bureaucrats have to say, the American people stand alongside our Ukrainian brothers and sisters in defense of the free world.
Having borne witness to the first strikes in Kyiv, the traffic jams, the open fighting in the country side, I am naught but fearful for the Ukrainian People, the Russian People, and all others who are involved in the conflict and crisis our world is bearing witness to in the Ukraine. It's during these times we must stand strong for the Ukrainian People and for free nations across the world.
There was undoubtedly something haunting about the sight of ever-emptying streets of Maidan Square, listening to the air raid sirens and beautiful Orthodox church bells sounding. One could only hear with a sliver of hope this chorus of resistance for the holdouts who decided to stay back and fight. At the close of the Cold War, the Ukrainian people tasted freedom for the first time in over 70 years. On the Dawn of our next great conflict, the people of this sovereign nation are once more suffering, having their possessions ripped from them by the cruel mitts of their old masters. The Ukrainian people will now evermore thirst for that same freedom again.
God bless Ukraine.
On this day, my friends, we are all Ukrainian.

-S. Zülle
-Constantine von Sokolau

Buying Domestic #1

~ February 17, 2022

I would like to switch things up a bit, and I've challenged myself to primarily consume America grown and manfactured goods this year. The two products I recently purchased that I wish to discuss are California coffee and Mississippi tea. I will also provide links to anyone who wishes to try them out.

Good Land Organics Coffee

The coffee is grown in a town near Santa Barbara named Goleta. Apparently, Southern California's climate is actually pretty good for growing coffee. The coffee took a while to get right, but eventually I managed to get the rhythm. I found 3 scoops and 10 cups in the coffee maker optimal, which also provided me enough coffee for four days.
The flavor is not what I'm used to, being a fairly fruity and floral tasting medium coffee, as I'm primarily a dark coffee drinker, but it was a nice change of pace that I have honestly enjoyed. It also smells amazing. I will probably get some more of this stuff. I absolutely reccommend Good Land Organics coffee, and I sincerely hope my readers will check them out, support them and help them expand.
If you wish to buy their coffee, you can obtain it here.

The Great Mississippi Tea Company

This tea is produced near the town of Brookhaven. That being said, I am not the biggest tea drinker. A lot of people in the south do enjoy highly sweetened tea, but I'm not one of those people. Though I have enjoyed this tea, I'm sure it's great sweetened and I'm sure the flavored variants are even better. I have been putting locally sourced honey into it though and that really helps round it off.
In general, America isn't really much of a "Tea country" anymore at least. Though, I would absolutely support an investment in the domestic tea industry. Perhaps someday we can reclaim that aspect of our culture.
If you wish to buy their tea, you can obtain it here.

Mississippi Blues Trail #9: Gold Coast

~ February 4, 2022

Once known as East Jackson and later the Gold Coast, was a hotbed for gambling, bootleg liquor, and live music for several decades up through the 1960s. Blues, jazz, and soul performers, including both touring national acts and locally based artists Elmore James, Sonny Boy Williamson No. 2 (Rice Miller), Sam Myers, Cadillac George Harris, and Sam Baker, Jr., worked at a strip of clubs along Fannin Road known to African Americans as "'cross the river."
Mississippi state law was a dry state from 1908 to 1966, but the old saying went, "Mississippians will vote dry as long they can stagger to the polls." As expected due to the ineffectiveness of prohibition and drug laws, the 1930s bootleggers had set up shop openly here on the "Gold Coast," a name that likely derived from the area's proximity to the Pearl River and the vast amounts of money that were made here from bootlegging, gambling, and other vices. The Gold Coast soon became notorious for its boisterous nightlife, frequent murders, and official corruption, but customers continued to stream in from considerably stricter Jackson. On occasion the Mississippi National Guard was brought in to shut down the area, albeit with only temporary success, and the day-to-day operations and fortunes of bootleggers and clubs depended largely on the whims of local sheriffs. Infamous bootleggers included G. W. "Big Red" Hydrick and Sam Seaney, a club owner who was killed in a 1946 shootout that also claimed the life of a Rankin County constable.
Blues activity "'cross the river" centered on Fannin Road, where dozens of venues ranging from elaborate clubs to informal juke joints were frequented and mostly owned by African Americans. Many businesses stayed open twenty-hours a day, seven days a week. By the 1940s many national blues and jazz acts were playing at the now-defunct Blue Flame/Play House complex, run by Joe Catchings, and at the Rankin Auditorium behind the Stamps Brothers Hotel, operated by brothers Charlie, Clift, and Bill Stamps. The Auditorium advertised that its dance floor could accommodate three thousand people, and many reports noted that white patrons were provided balcony seating.
By the mid-'50s local clubs including the Blue Flame, Rocket Lounge, the Heat Wave, the Last Chance, and the Gay Lady featured mostly local artists. Among these were Sam Myers, King Mose, Cadillac George Harris, brothers Charley and Sammie Lee Smith, Jimmy King, Jesse Robinson, Charles Fairley, Willie Silas, Bernard "Bunny" Williams, brothers Kermit, Jr., Bernard, and Sherrill Holly, brothers Curtis and J.T. Dykes, Milton Anderson, Booker Wolfe, Tommy Tate, Robert Broom, Charles Fairley, Joe Chapman, and Sam Baker, Jr., whose parents ran the Heat Wave.

In 1966 Mississippi became the last state in the union to end prohibition, and gave individual counties the choice of remaining "dry" or becoming "wet."

Ironically, Rankin County chose the former, while neighboring and more populous Hinds County chose the latter. With these decisions the rationale for the Gold Coast was gone, and the club scene and bootlegging operations came abruptly to an unfortunate stop. Now the sight is a mix of businesses, residences and a fishing area.

Mississippi Blues Trail #8: Pelahatchie / Reverend Rubin Lacy

Rubin "Rube" Lacy, born January 2, 1901 was an American blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He was born in Pelahatchie, Mississippi, and learned to play the guitar in his teens from an older performer named George Hendrix. Working out of the Jackson area in the Mississippi Delta, he became one of the state's most popular blues singers after meeting Italian immigrant and talent scout Ralph Lembo in the town of Itta Bena, playing with Blind Lemon Jefferson and Tommy Johnson. His bottleneck style inspired that of the better-known performer Son House. Years later, he recorded four songs for Columbia Records in Memphis, Tennessee, though none were released, and the masters do not survive.
In 1928, Lacy recorded two songs, "Mississippi Jail House Groan" and "Ham Hound Crave", for Paramount Records, which constitute the entireity of his recorded legacy. Four years later he became a minister. He was later found living in Lancaster, California, by the blues researcher David Evans, who recorded him with his congregation. He died there on November 14, 1969 and is buried at Union Cemetary in Bakersfield, California.

Mississippi Blues Trail #7: Port Gibson

Part 1: Lil Green

Born in rural Mississippi in 1919 into a deeply religious family where she was surrounded by Gospel music. Lillian Green's vocal talents were first recognised in her Church choir. Eventually, her family moved north to Chicago in the 30s and Lil started singing in local clubs, where she soon came to the attention of Bluebird Records producer Lester Melrose.
With a beautiful, soulful voice trained in Mississippi Churches, honed in Chicago clubs and heard all over the country, especially at the Apollo in Harlem, where she regularly thrilled audiences. She was not a prolific recording artist, and she did not have a string of hits, but Lil did have her moment in the sun with a classic song, and she left some outstanding performances for later generations to cherish.
A big favourite of Big Bill Broonzy and she sang many times with his band, and even toured with them. Melrose signed Lil to his label while she was still a teenager, and her own composition 'Romance in the Dark' scored her a big hit in 1940. The following year, Lil had another hit with a smouldering version of Kansas Joe McCoy's 'Why Don't You Do Right'. Kansas Joe had re-worked the song from his original 'Weedsmoker's Dream' into a more romantic number.
After WWII she was in great demand as a live performer. She moved to New York where she recorded for Atlantic, RCA and Aladdin labels, but she never had another big hit. She went on tour with a small combo as well as fronting bigger oufits like Howard Callender's and Tiny Bradshaw's Orchestras. Unfortunately, her career was cut short when she came down with a fatal bout of pneumonia in 1954, when she died at 35 years of age.
Unfortunately, Lil's main hit "Why Don't You Do It Right?" was superseceded by Peggy Lee's cover of it. Which would later appear in the soundtrack for Fallout: New Vegas.

Part 2: Rabbit Foot Minstrels

The Rabbit's Foot Minstrels, also known as the Rabbit Foot Minstrels, A Rabbit's Foot Comedy Company, Rabbit Foot Company, or simply the Foots, was established 1900 by Patrick Henry Chappelle in Tampa, Florida. The name came from the title of a traveling comedy show, A Rabbit's Foot, created by Chappelle; his business partner, R. S. Donaldson; and writer Frank Dumont. Over the next several years, the show rapidly gained widespread recognition, leading the touring company to become known as the Rabbit's Foot Company. Possessing comedy routines, singers, brass bands, jugglers, wrestlers, and contortionists; they were successful enough to have their own specialized railcar and even had their own baseball team.

When Chappelle died in 1911, Fred Swift Wolcott (1882-1967) took over. Wolcott, a white man from Michigan, was a bit of a change for the Foots, especially since Chappelle had prided himself on having "successfully run a Negro show without the help of a single white man." Chappelle had avoided calling the company a minstrel show, but Wolcott embraced the idea in advertising, and the troupe generally became known as F. S. Wolcott's Rabbit's Foot Minstrels.
The company performed extensively throughout the southern United States and in 1918 established its headquarters in Port Gibson, at a building on Carroll and Market Streets that served as the company's main office until 1950. Wolcott purchased the Glen Sade Plantation and declared his occupation as "farmer" when registering for the World War I draft in September 1918.
The Rabbit's Foot Minstrels performed as late as 1959, though audiences had declined rapidly over the preceding decade. Among the performers who got their start with the Rabbit's Foot Minstrels were Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Ida Cox, Bessie Smith, Butterbeans and Susie, Sleepy John Estes, Brownie McGhee, Big Joe Williams, and Louis Jordan. Unfortunately, Rabbit Foot Minstrel's headquarters was destroyed in a fire in 2015.

Mississippi Blues Trail #6: Monticello / J. B. Lenoir

J. B. Lenoir was born March 5, 1929 in Monticello, Mississippi. Although his last name is sometimes pronounced as French "L'n WAHR", Lenoir himself pronounced it "La NOR". It also must be noted that his first name was J. B. and that these are not initials. Lenoir's father introduced him to the music of Blind Lemon Jefferson, who would greatly influence him. This would lead to him being active in the 1950s and 1960s Chicago blues scene, although his work in the music industry did not begin there: during the early 1940s, Lenoir also worked with blues artists Sonny Boy Williamson II and Elmore James in New Orleans. He would eventually find musical influence in Arthur Crudup and Lightnin' Hopkins as well.
By 1949, he had moved to Chicago and began to work with the local blues community, performing at local nightclubs and became an important part of the city's blues scene. He began recording in 1951 at the J.O.B. and Chess Records labels. During the 50s, he recorded on various record labels in the Chicago area including J.O.B., Chess, Parrot and Checker. His more successful songs included "Let's Roll", "The Mojo" featuring saxophonist J. T. Brown, and the controversial "Eisenhower Blues", which his record company, Parrot, forced him to re-record as "Tax Paying Blues". He also became known in the 50s for his showmanship - in particular his zebra-patterned costumes - and his high-pitched vocals. He became an influential electric guitarist and songwriter, and unlike his contemporaries was not afraid to be political, touching on racism and later on criticizing the Vietnam War.
His release "Mamma Talk To Your Daughter" was recorded in 1954 and reached #11 on the Billboard R&B chart and was later recorded by many other blues and rock musicians. In the later half of the 50s, recording on the Checker label, he wrote several more blues standards including "Don't Dog Your Woman" and "Don't Touch My Head!!!". By 1963, Lenoir was recording for USA Records as "J. B. Lenoir and his African Hunch Rhythm", developing an interest in African percussion. However, he struggled to work as a professional musician and for a time took menial jobs, including working in the kitchen at the University of Illinois in Champaign. Lenoir was rediscovered by Willie Dixon, and worked on the albums "Alabama Blues" and "Down In Mississippi", which were inspired by the Civil Rights and Free Speech movements. Eventually he toured Europe, and performed in 1965 at the American Folk Blues Festival in the United Kingdom.
On April 29, 1967 in Urbana, Illinois, he passed away from a heart attack related to injuries caused by a car accident he was in three weeks prior. He was only 38 years old. However, his life and his legacy has been of great interest ever since. The 2003 documentary film, The Soul of a Man, directed by Wim Wenders as the second installment of Martin Scorsese's series, The Blues, explored Lenoir's career, together with those of Skip James and Blind Willie Johnson. Furthermore, in 2011, Lenoir was inducted to the Blues Hall of Fame.

Mississippi Blues Trail #5: Bentonia

~ October 19, 2021

Part I: The Blue Front Cafe

A centerpiece of the Bentonia Blues scene is the Blue Front Cafe. The Blue Front Cafe was opened in 1948 by Carey and Mary Holmes, an African American couple from Bentonia. During the earliest years of business it was a gathering spot for workers who worked on the nearby cotton fields. In its heyday it was known for its buffalo fish, moonshine and blues shows. Even though it is the oldest Blues Juke Joint in Mississippi, it still has concerts and meals, and is run by Bentonia Blues musician Jimmy "Duck" Holmes.

Part II: Nehemiah "Skip" James

Born in 1902 to an unknown mother and a father considered to be a local lowlife who abandoned his family, Nehemiah "Skip" James mastered the guitar at a young age and was deeply into playing church music. Skip developed the Bentonia sound of Blues, and eventually moved down to Jackson. He played various venues around the south.
In addition to his music he later on became a Baptist Minister and formed a Gospel group that toured churches. He died from a prolonged battle with cancer on October 3, 1969.

Part III: Jack Owens

Jack Owens, born on November 17, 1904, never cared for the spotlight, he did what he did for the sake of his art. Often writing songs naturally during day to life, such as plowing the fields.
Though seemingly chipper and well adjusted, Owens, was no stranger to hardship. He lost his only three children in a house fire in the 1930s, and the death of his third wife, Mabel, in the 1990 also took an emotional toll. In addition, he witnessed and felt the lash of racism firsthand. This deep emotional pain served to fuel his songwriting and storytelling.
It was only in his final ten years of life that he began travelling outside of Bentonia, playing his music across the US and even in Europe.

Unfortunately, the pandemic has been causing losses to so many, and it seems that the Blue Front Cafe is not an exception to this. I would like to take a moment to direct my readers to the GoFundMe to keep this historic site open. If you wish to donate to help the Blue Front Cafe stay open, you can find the GoFundMe page here. But of course, any means of support is as good as any, and as a way of doing my own part in helping support the continued preservation of American history, I purchased this cd autographed by Jimmy Holmes himself:

Personally, I think it's shameful that this needs to be the case. The fact our own government refuses to help protect and maintain culturally significant sites such as this one speaks volumes about its priorities. Ideally, instead of sinking most of our money into situations that are largely insignificant to this nation, the money should be utilized here for the sake of preserving and defending our nation's rich history and culture and the sites important to this legacy, such as this.

American Art: Southern Gothic

~ October 13, 2021

Southern Gothic is a movement largely spawned out of a genre of literature from the early 19th century to the modern era. Characteristics of Southern Gothic include the presence of irrational, horrific, and transgressive thoughts, desires, and impulses, grotesque characters; dark humor, and an overall angst-ridden sense of alienation.
Descended from American Gothic traditions, Southern Gothic is uniquely rooted in issues facing the American South. During the 20th century, the South became "the principal region of American Gothic" in literature. The Southern Gothic brings to light the extent to which the idyllic vision of the pastoral, agrarian South rests on massive repressions of the region's historical issues: slavery, racism, and patriarchy. Southern Gothic texts also mark a Freudian return of the repressed: the region's historical realities take concrete forms in the shape of ghosts that highlight all that has been unsaid in the official version of southern history. Because of its dark and controversial subject matter, literary scholars and critics initially sought to discredit the gothic on a national level. Edgar Allan Poe in a way was the progenitor of Southern Gothic, as many of his best-known poems and short stories, while not placed in a recognizable southern setting, display all the elements that would come to characterize the genre.
If Edgar Allan Poe was the progenitor, William Faulkner (1897-1962) is arguably the codifier. His fictional Yoknapatawpha County was home to the bitter Civil War defeat and the following social, racial, and economic ruptures in the lives of its people. These transformations, and the resulting anxieties felt by all of it's residents across racial and class based lines, mark Faulkner's work as deeply Gothic. On top of this, Faulkner's complex, modernist, labyrinthine language creates in readers a similarly Gothic sense of uncertainty and alienation. The generation of southern writers after Faulkner continued the exploration of the clashes between Old and New South. Writers like Tennessee Williams (1911-1983), Carson McCullers (1917-1967), and Flannery OConnor (1925-1964) drew on Gothic elements. O'Connor's work is particularly steeped in the grotesque, a subgenre of the Gothic. African American writers like Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) and Richard Wright have had their own unique perspective on the Southern Gothic and the repressed racial tensions at the heart of the genre. Southern Gothic also frames the bleak and jarringly violent stories by contemporary so-called Rough South writers, such as Cormac McCarthy, Barry Hannah, Dorothy Allison, William Gay, and Ron Rash. A sense of evil lurks in their stories and novels, sometimes taking on the shape of ghosts or living dead, ghouls who haunt the New Casino South and serve as symbolic reminders of the many unresolved issues still burdening the South to this day.

However, It must be noted that Southern Gothic doesn't just manifest as literary works. It also takes a more visual form in paintings and photographs. Work from contemporary and modern artists, predominantly photographers like Alec Soth and Walker Evans, might also capture the dark landscape of the American South - its overgrown yards, decaying mansions, paint-peeled front porches and quiet corner stores that bear the traces of the region's historical scars. In turn, the genre's influence can also be felt in many other forms of media. In music there are the genres of Sludge Metal and Alt-Country, in film are movies such as Deliverance, and even in video games there are such examples as Fallout 3's DLC "Point Lookout", proving the wide sphere of influence that this genre has had not only within literature, but also within popular culture as a whole.

Mississippi Blues Trail #4: Wesson

~ October 1, 2021

Houston Stackhouse was born in 1918, to Garfield Goff from Wesson, Mississippi, and was raised on the Randall Ford Plantation by James Wade Stackhouse.
Stackhouse discovered a love for music on the Ford plantation from fiddler Lace Powell, and had several uncles with musical ability that influenced him as well. Houston Stackhouse's first instrument was the harmonica. Throughout the 1930s he played around Mississippi with the Mississippi Sheiks and nearby Crystal Springs' own Robert Johnson. Stackhouse eventually began getting into the slide guitar and taught what he knew to his cousin, Robert Nighthawk, and the two would play together on Mother's Best Flower Hour and the King Biscuit Time show, both broadcast on KFFA up in Helena, AR. His time with KFFA would eventually get him in contact with other blues musicians.
Although he may not have been as successful as some blues musicians from the Delta, he was still an important figure in the southern blues scene from the 1930s to the 1960s. Not only was he often at juke joints throughout the Delta, but he was highly respected among other musicians and served as a mentor to many.
Houston Stackhouse moved to Memphis around 1970, where he lived with fellow blues musician, Joe Wilkins. He toured with him throughout the next decade performing as the King Biscuit Boys. They traveled with the Memphis Blues Caravan and played various festivals, including an overseas trip to Austria in 1976. Outside of playing for the first two Delta Blues Festivals in Greenville, he largely retired from music after his European tour and moved back to Crystal Springs, Mississippi. Stackhouse eventually returned to Helena, passing away September 23, 1980 at the Helena Hospital, having outlived the majority of his peers.

Mississippi Blues Trail #3: McComb

~ September 18, 2021

Part I: Bo Diddley

Originally born in McComb as Ellas Bates (and later Ellas McDaniel), Bo Diddley was raised mostly in Chicago by his adoptive family, from whom he took the last name McDaniel. When recording he took the name Bo Diddley, which is likely a reference to an instrument popular amongst black blues musicians in the Delta.

Taking influence from the syncopated beat popularized by a few big-band rhythm-and-blues charts of the 1940s, Bo Diddley stripped it down and beefed it up. He made it, with its obvious African roots, one of the irresistible dance sounds in rock and roll, which he would greatly influence and arguably invent. However, in spite of influencing everyone from fellow 1950s rockers, 1960s garage bands, and budding superstars such as the Rolling Stones, Diddley hit the pop charts just five times and the Top 20 only once, even though his 1955 debut single, "Bo Diddley," backed with "I'm a Man," was number one on the rhythm-and-blues charts.
After playing for several years on Chicago's legendary Maxwell Street, Diddley signed with Chess subsidiary Checker in 1955. The lyrics to his songs were rife with African-American street talk, bluesy imagery, and raunchy humour. He used tremolo, fuzz, and feedback effects to create a guitar sound on which only Jimi Hendrix has expanded. His stage shows - featuring his half sister the Duchess on vocals and rhythm guitar and Jerome Green on bass and maracas - made an art out of bad taste. Commonly dressed in a huge black Stetson and loud shirts, Diddley no doubt influenced the dress of British Invasion, while the odd-shaped guitars that he played reinforced his arresting look.

Part II: Summit Street

Summit Street was a thriving African American business district during the era of segregation, and as such brought a wealth of performers. Blues, jazz, and rhythm & blues bands entertained at various businesses, and many musicians lived nearby. In McComb and many other cities, commerce in areas such as Summit Street began to decline when much of the African American trade dispersed to other parts of town after the coming of integration in the 1960s.
It was a historic center of African American culture, entertainment, and politics, formerly a dirt road lined with dozens of businesses, including several cafes and clubs that featured blues music. During the 1960s, when bombs destroyed nearby homes and businesses, club owners who supported the civil rights movement were among those beaten and arrested. Four decades later, McComb elected a man who grew up on Summit Street, Zach Patterson, as its first African American mayor. The Harlem Nightingale, which later became the Elk Rest Club, and Brock's Mocombo No. 2 (formerly the Club Rockett) were McComb's primary venues for touring acts. Ralph Bowsky operated the Nightingale, while Van Brock called his club the McCombo in honor of McComb, although the name was usually spelled Mocombo.
As the primary stop on the "chitlin circuit" between Jackson and New Orleans, McComb drew national talent such as B. B. King, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins, Roy Brown, Ivory Joe Hunter, Solomon Burke, Marvin Gaye, Little Milton, Bobby Rush, Archie Bell & the Drells, Lucky Millinder, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Dave Bartholomew, Lloyd Price, Roy Milton, The Bar-Kays, Groove Holmes, Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Redd Foxx, and McComb's most famous native, Bo Diddley. McComb also developed its own rich musical heritage, with Wakefield Coney, better known as "Big Moody," a longtime local blues favorite.

Commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the September 11 Attacks

~ September 11, 2021

I was 7 years old on September 11, 2001. I still vaguely remember the day, but the exact details of when it happened are lost to me. My mother was a teacher back then and she told me that the school made an announcement of a terrorist attack.
What I do remember, however, is that I found out more about it that night. I remember seeing the footage of it. Seeing the towers fall had a deeply profound impact on me. I almost instinctually took a greater interest in the military and GI Joe. I know my family changed a bit, becoming more conservative and more patriotic. Well, everyone was more patriotic. Even Marvel got in on it in Amazing Spider-Man Volume 2 #36.

While I disagree with many aspects of American politics, I deeply love this Nation and always have. This leads me to the recent events in Afghanistan. I don't like commenting on contemporary politics, but I want to say that I believe it was the right call to leave Afghanistan. In fact, I would argue that we shouldn't have been in Afghanistan in the first place. But since things turned out as they did, we should've just taken out Bin Laden and al-Qaeda, as well as imposing crippling sanctions in the form of a trade embargo on anyone who was even remotely responsible for 9/11 happening, whether through open support of the terrorists involved or by having knowledge pertaining to the attacks and not making light of it prior to it happening. We owe that much to the 2,996 souls taken in that tragedy, because their lives mattered.

If anyone wishes to donate to families affected by 9/11, or to help keep the memorial up and running:
Tunnel to Towers Foundation
9/11 Memorial & Museum

We must never forget this tragic event in our history.

That being said, I must say that I do support helping the refugees that are fleeing Afghanistan due to the threat the Taliban poses to them. If we turn our backs on them, it will be a betrayal that will lead to much more blood being spilled than already has been.
If anyone wishes to assist Afghan refugees fleeing due to the threats faced there: Welcome To America Project.

Mississippi Blues Trail #2: Canton

~ September 4, 2021
Hello everyone, for the second installment of my Mississippi Blues Trail journey I will be discussing the markers in Canton. I had initially planned to go to Hazelhurst but Ida got in the way.

First one I went to was Hickory Street, or as it used to be called, "The Hollow." It was a regional hub for the African American community and businesses of central Mississippi for several decades, up through the 1970s. Although many of the local cafes and clubs from then are gone, their memories remain. Canton native Elmore James also learned the electronics trade by working at an old radio shop on Hickory Street, which he would apply to develop a powerful and original electric blues style. On the sign is what seems to be a recreation of the original Hickory Street.

Second was Club Desire, a Canton landmark for many years. Club Desire was beloved by the African American community for both its' entertainment and celebratory atmosphere, with strict codes enforced for dress and behavior. The club was a major Mississippi blues and rhythm & blues nightclub from the late 1940s through the early 1960s. In the '60s the club gained an extra purpose as an important meeting place for civil rights workers, which Clarence Chinn, the owner, was deeply involved with. Unfortunately, Club Desire was shut down in the 1970s, with this picture being the only picture I could find of the building itself. I find it truly sad that it got closed down and if I had the money I would happily campaign to have it reconstructed to possibly serve as a museum of sorts.

I may take a bit of a detour when I discuss the Freedom Trail to talk about Clarence Chinn.

Mississippi Blues Trail #1: Crystal Springs

~ August 24, 2021

Born somewhere near Crystal Springs, Tommy Johnson, unrelated to Robert Johnson, similarly is rumored to have sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads. However, it is believed that he made this rumor up for clout.
He spent time further learning music up in Dockery, afterwards developing a habit of traveling the south playing music. Eventually, he returned home to Crystal Springs as a sharecropper. He would return to playing with Mager and LeDell, musicians themselves and family of his.
Despite his alcoholism, which he often touched on in his music, he was an accomplished guitarist, often performing tricks with it while playing. He was eventually buried in Warm Springs Methodist Cemetary, where I went to pay my respects.

As a prelude to a stop in the near future, I went by the Robert Johnson Museum in town. I do plan on revisiting Crystal Springs and going even further in depth during my eventual Mississippi History and Culture tour.


An Introduction

~ August 14, 2021

To those that have stumbled upon this domain in a deep, dank corner of the interwebs, this will be a blog dedicated to American history, travel, nature, culture and shine a spotlight on small towns, this nation's oft-forgotten heart and soul. I may also intersperse some political or sociological musings of my own, in a vain attempt at shouting into the void that has consumed my country.

I will try to update this blog bi-weekly, and attempt to do one travel episode a month as I explore Mississippi. My first series will be the Blues Trail, followed by either the Country Trail, Mississippi History Trail or the Civil Rights Trail. After completion I will look into other possible series, while attempting to explore other states thoroughly.

I hope you stick around and join me as I embark on my adventures.