Monday, June 13, 2011

Weekend in the Delta

I had an awesome time this past weekend at the BB King Homecoming in Indianola, MS.  Sold a lot of art and met many wonderful people.  The BB King concert was ok.  He spent an hour trying to coordinate a kids dance contest and did a lot of talking.  He only played like 4 songs.  It was still cool tho to get a chance to see him. 
On the ride up, we spent  2 1/2 hours riding lost down Mississippi dirt roads trying to find the grave of one of my all time favorites, Elmore James.  If you ever decide to try to find it, don't use any online maps.  Call and I'll give you directions.  The maps had us going down dirt roads that people probably hadn't been on in years except to throw out used tires.  I saw so many that I wanted to get one as a souvenir, but Rhonda talked me out of it.  We eventually found it and took some photos.  I sang a verse of "It Hurts Me Too" to myself.  Then we left out in search of Little Zion M. B. Church in Greenwood to visit what people believe is the actual burial place of Robert Johnson. 
That one was easy to find, I found the church address in an online phonebook and entered it into my GPS. 
We got to Little Zion, walked around a bit until we found the marker.  Near the back under a large pecan tree.  According to the accounts of Rosie Eskeridge, his body was laid beneath that pecan tree while her husband dug the grave nearby.  The cemetery had a very dark, ominous feeling.  Very different from the sacred ground feeling that was present at the Elmore James cemetery.  Had a feeling that I was being watched the whole time.  Talked to others on Saturday that said they'd had the same feeling there. 
On Sunday, we decided to ride over and spend some time in Leland, MS.  Leland has been home to many great blues musicians and was also the birthplace of Kermit the Frog.... as Jim Henson spent much of his childhood growing up in Leland.  One of the highlights of the trip for me though was a visit with Pat Thomas.  Pat is the son of bluesman/folk artist James "Son" Thomas.  Like his father, Pat does clay sculpture skulls among other things.  Pat also does a lot of cat drawings.  I didn't get a concert from him.  He had left his guitar at the Blues Museum where he often goes and plays, mostly for tips from what he said.  He's the real deal.  Born and raised in the blues, and has lived his share of them.  Still a very happy soul with as big a grin as you'll find anywhere.  He told me most of his art was up at the museum.  He did manage to come up with about 12 drawings on paper.  He apologized that he didn't have more and went into his kitchen and took down 4 plates.  He drawed cats on three of them.  He has two basic styles of cat.  One he called a regular cat and the other a diamond-eyed cat.  I wound up getting several of each style cat done on anything from paper, to the back of concert posters, to an Easter card that somebody had given him.  I also wound up getting some other drawings from him too and a scorecard from where he and friends had played dominoes. Somebody named "Big Al" won that game.  He hadn't done any clay work in a while as he said he hadn't had any clay.  I hope to get back over there again soon and take him some clay and have him make me a skull or two.

I usually try to finish these with a lesson...  so here goes..... Don't ever put BB King in charge of coordinating a kid's dance contest.

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