To receive email from Roger Stolle, add to your safe sender list.
View as Web Page Subscribe Unsubscribe Preferences
Cat Head Delta Blues and Folk Art
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter More Share Options
"All the blues that's fit to print"
Yeah, I know. There was no October "Cat Head Update." What can I say? It's been busy...

Sorry for skipping the CAT HEAD UPDATE e-newsletter in October, but in my own defense, we had like half a dozen festivals and special events here in addition to our normal 7-nights-a-week of blues, so we've been just a little busy. Speaking of which... Thanks for that. Cat Head's store-pug, Ayler, appreciates y'all keeping her in kibbles.

In this issue, I'll try to recap a few recent events in the area as well as talk up a few things on the horizon.
As always, we're ready for you to visit. Check out our Clarksdale 365 music scene (including over a dozen annual festivals) on Cat Head's Music Calendar at; scroll down past my weekly Sounds Around Town snapshot to next year's festivals and the month-at-a-glance Music Calendar.

Need lodging? See Preview town with the Audio Walking Tour app, courtesy of Visit Clarksdale Tourism. Want a guided tour? Go to Looking for an experience? Log on at Can't get here but still want to join in the fun? Then, enjoy weekly live-streams at
Happy holidays, y'all! The pumpkin is in the compost pile, the turkey is thawing in the fridge, and Santa is busy checking his naughty/nice list. So...
Start your gift shopping now at CAT HEAD STORE in historic downtown Clarksdale, Mississippi — Mon-Sat 11am-5pm, Sun 11-3. Plus, Shop our WEB STORE at (You've heard of the Amazon? Well, this is more like the Sunflower River. Lol.) Questions? Email

Thanks and ho ho ho, y'all... Roger & Santa Ayler Pug
PS - Photos below of me basking in the Bad Apple Blues Club's blue light special, my Texassippi travelin' partner Raquel brightening a pic of bluesman Pat Thomas and yours truly, Ayler "boss of the balcony" Pug, and my Cat Head store awaiting y'all during October's festivals.



USA Today "Go Escape" magazine does the Mississippi blues Delta. Now, it's your turn!
Nice Mississippi Delta (and Clarksdale) travel piece in new USA Today "Go Escape" Winter edition. Only one thing left to do, y'all. Plan your blues pilgrimage now. Read article at #visitclarksdale #visitmississippi

How easy is it to rock the Mississippi Blues Trail? It's this easy. Here are a few DAY-TRIP examples...

When I first started rolling down to Mississippi from St. Louis back in the 1990s, there were no Mississippi blues guide or travel books... there were no Mississippi Blues Trail or Visit Clarksdale websites/apps... heck, there wasn't even a Google yet... let alone any social media outlets. You just had to "know" or talk to folks. (Okay. Bluesologist Jim O'Neal did have a wonderfully quirky "Delta Blues Map Kit," so that was super helpful at the time.)

I say all this to say that we have it relatively easy today. With just a little bit of pre-planning — and a whole let of letting go of the wheel at times — every single blues trip to the Delta can result in a heart full of amazing memories.
Start with great guidebook (recommended: Then, hit the, and websites (plus download the Trail and VC apps). And you'll be on your way.
Make Clarksdale your home base to capitalize on our interesting and accommodating lodging options as well as Clarksdale's 'live' blues 365 nights per year and the Delta Blues Museum, Cat Head blues store, etc. Then, eat your Wheaties, buckle up... and let the good times roll!
Recently, I hit a little piece of the blues trail with my Texassippi travelin' partner Raquel to check out a few sites she hadn't yet seen. We got a late start and needed to be back in town for Monday-night blues dinner at Bluesberry Cafe, so we didn't make it to everything on the suggested day-trip itinerary below. But we did enough to make it an amazing day in the Delta. (We also got off schedule because of an unforgettable home visit with our eccentric bluesman/folk-artist friend Pat Thomas in Leland. Watch for my upcoming column in Blues Music Magazine for more on that.)
Also, just in case you are looking to take a guided tour of the area, please check out a few of our recommended local offerings at, and Also, regionally... Sylvester Hoover's Greenwood-based tours ( and Tad Pierson's Memphis-based tours (

SUGGESTED DAY-TRIP FROM CLARKSDALE — the earlier you head out, the more you can see:
- Start at one of our tasty breakfast joints like Bluesberry Cafe (if Sat/Sun), Grandma's, Meraki or Rest Haven.
- Make a note to visit Clarksdale's Delta Blues Museum at some point as well as the Muddy Waters home site out at the old Stovall Plantation. But for today...
- Drive out of downtown via Desoto Avenue, which turns into Highway 49 South at the "crossroads."
- Stop for photo op at the Crossroads Marker (and maybe pick up some Delta hot tamales and BBQ at Abe's).
- If you haven't visited yet, maybe get out and walk around at Hopson Commissary and Shack Up Inn.
- When you get to Tutwiler, turn right at the blues signage and work your way back to the WC Handy Encounters the Blues trail marker site.
- Hit WAZE or Google Map apps and plug in Money Rd & Co Rd 24, Mississippi 38930 to go to Mississippi's first Freedom Trail (Civil Rights) marker at Bryant's Grocery.
- Next, plug in Little Zion Cemetery, Greenwood, MS 38930 to visit the "third" Robert Johnson headstone and the official MS Blues Trail marker; this is almost certainly the correct cemetery, but if you have time, I still recommend visiting his other two headstones, which are relatively nearby at Mt. Zion Baptist Church (Morgan City) and Payne Chapel Memorial Baptist Church (Quito).
- After possibly standing six feet away from "Mr. Crossroads," head to Indianola via Highway 82 West, and visit the BB King Museum (and his gravesite).
- If it's lunchtime, then maybe consider Blue Biscuit, The Crown or Betty's Place (and bring me the leftovers!).
- Next, continue on 82 West to find Charley Patton's (plus Asie Payton and Willie Foster) grave at 45 Holly Ridge Rd, Indianola, MS 38751.
- After that, head to Leland on 82 West. Make a quick photo-op stop at the Jim Henson/Muppets signage/exhibit at local tourism office before heading to the Highway 61 Blues Museum at 307 N Broad St, Leland, MS 38756; PLEASE NOTE that as of this writing, you must first make an appointment due to pandemic (
- Exit downtown Leland onto Highway 61 North. When you reach Cleveland, go to the Dockery Plantation blues trail site at 229 Hwy 8, Cleveland, MS 38732.
- Next, continue North on 61, taking the second lefthand turn after the righthand Merigold exit to go to former Po' Monkey's juke joint, Merigold, MS 38759.
- If you time your day right, you might even see a pretty sunset on the way back to Clarksdale. (As you can see in the pic, we timed the day and month just right to ponder a brilliant sunset over a cotton field, as huge dinosaur-like tractors toiled off in the distance.)
- Okay... y'all need to scurry back to Clarksdale for some 'live' blues music! There is blues every single night (only) in Clarksdale. Also, Wed-Sat offers up afternoon blues at the Bad Apple. Sat and Sun include 'live' blues breakfasts at Bluesberry (plus 19th Street Red at Cat Head, weather permitting). Other cool weekly stuff, too. Full MUSIC CALENDAR at
And that's just one possible blues day trip from Clarksdale, y'all. There are plenty of other mini-pilgrimages you can take. The important thing is to get here and start making memories. Below are a few memories from our recent road-trip experience, including our foray into the Pat Thomas Experience. Lol. Good times, for sure.

No turkeys. Only great blues at annual Sunflower River Blues Festival mini fest on Thanksgiving Eve!

The first blues festival I ever attended in Clarksdale, Mississippi, as a tourist visiting from STL was the Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival. 'Cause back in the 1990s, it was the ONLY blues festival here! Now, we have over a dozen annual festivals, of course. But seriously, in many ways, Sunflower is the grandmother of today's robust Clarksdale club and festival scene, and it is still a personal favorite.
As a volunteer, I helped book the festival's music for the first three years I lived here — until Juke Joint Festival and other projects starting taking all of my time. (In fact, few may remember this, but it was with Sunflower that I was first able to run a super-mini experiment that was the precursor to JJF's nighttime juke joint crawl. Basically, the Thursday night before Sunflower's usual Friday kick-off, we organized simultaneous evening blues shows at a handful of local juke joint venues (like Sarah's Kitchen, Red's Lounge, Messenger's, etc.). It showed that the concept was workable and wanted, and it helped with the thought process that soon became JJF. And the rest is history.)
If you can support Sunflower River Blues Fest online (, attend next August, and/or come to the following event this coming week, please do so. And hey! This fundraising pre-Turkey Day event looks KILLER, y'all!!
@ Ground Zero Blues Club — Wed., 11/23, 2022:
6:15pm - LaLa Craig
7:00pm - Mississippi Marshall
7:45pm - Terry “Big T” Williams
8:30pm - Bill Abel
9:15pm - Mark “Mule Man Massey
10:00pm - James “Super Chikan” Johnson
10:45pm - Sean “Bad” Apple
11:30pm - Anthony “Big A” Sherrod

October was an insanely fun month of area festivals and music. Plan now for 2023, and come join us!
I always talk about Clarksdale's dozen-plus annual festivals. Well, if you look at our festival calendar, what you'll find is that most of them are in April/May and October. That's largely because of the Delta weather, of course. It's either perfect in those time periods. Or it rains. Thankfully, this year the weathers were mostly fabulous for our fests.

Anyway, our "October" quasi-officially began in September with the Might Roots Music Festival out at Stovall. Then, it truly kicked off on October 1st with the Bad Apple Blues Festival in the juke-y backyard of the Bad Apple Blues Club on Issaquena. Great music, great vibe. The next week/weekend heralded the return of the mighty King Biscuit Blues Festival in nearby Helena after two pandemic years of silence. A fine time was had by all. That Saturday morning, my partner-in-crime Don Wilcock and I held our usual King Biscuit Call & Response Blues Symposium of two back-to-back panel discussions with blues fest performers. (Mine ranged from 40-something Sean "Bad" Apple to just now 80-year-old Australia "Honeybee" Jones. Nice.)
The Sunday of Biscuit weekend brought the spotlight back across the Mississippi River for our annual Clarksdale Super Blues Sunday — featuring my Cat Head Mini Blues Fest, Hopson's Pinetop Perkins Memorial Homecoming and many other events at Ground Zero Blues Club, Bluesberry Cafe, Red's Lounge, Shack Up Inn, etc. The lovely Raquel joined me for my Mini Fest, and then we headed out to Hopson/Shack Up, etc. Tasty BBQ, rockin' blues music and more. Perfect.
But that's not all. The next weekend featured both Deep Blues Fest and the Delta Tennessee Williams Festival in Clarksdale, so there were still plenty of happy folks walking around town. And lots to do and see.
The following weekend was just a "normal" one, but of course, since we're Clarksdale, that still meant plenty of day and night music and happenings.
Finally, Clarksdale capped off October with Stan Street's Hambone Festival and (his) birthday party. Most of that was indoors, fortunately, since we did get a bit of rain. The Cruzn The Crossroads car and truck show was slated to happen the same weekend but moved to the next due to the weather. It again rained a little bit, so the turnout of classic and hot-rod cars was a little smaller than usual. But it was still very cool, and since the weather cleared up, the Cruzn's music blues'd on at the Delta Blues Museum stage.

Anyway, this isn't the half of it but gives you an idea why you need to visit Clarksdale next year. Check out my 2023 festival calendar at And see for our excellent lodging options.
Here are a few pics from the events mentioned above:

Have you heard my Crossroads Delta Blues Hour radio show yet? Archived shows are online now...
Thanks to everyone who's been listening to my new Crossroads Delta Blues Hour radio show each week on-air or online. And very special thanks to my friends at KSDS Jazz & Blues 88.3FM in San Diego for asking me to create the show. You can listen 'live' each week at (Saturdays 5pm Pacific, 7pm Central, 8pm Eastern), or stream my archived shows right now via (There are 10 shows archived so far, with more to come.)

Show themes have included recent blues festivals, Mississippi's blues museums, the Mississippi Blues Trail and more. This Saturday's show will celebrate Robert "Mr. Crossroads" Johnson and his world. I always try to provide lots of cool Mississippi blues facts as well as current visitor info.
And the music? Well, that's the easy part. It's all so great. Plenty of personal favorites — including Charley Patton, Son House, Willie Brown, Robert Johnson, Skip James, Honeyboy Edwards, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, BB King, JB Lenoir, Big Walter Horton, Charlie Musselwhite, Big George Brock, T-Model Ford, RL Burnside, Bilbo Walker, Big A, Big T, Super Chikan, Kingfish, Big Jack Johnson and so many others! Please check it out.

Born into blues, transcended into jazz... Little Rock's PHAROAH SANDERS passed recently at 81.
One of the last great horn players to revolutionize jazz music in the 1960s passed away September 24th—spiritual sax legend Pharaoh Sanders. RIP. He was a giant among giants—playing at times with Sun Ra, John (and later, Alice) Coltrane as well as many others. But he was always his own man, recording mostly notably for the self-proclaimed "New Music" Impulse! record label. Fellow fire-music purveyor Albert Ayler once famously said, "Trane was the Father, Pharaoh was the Son, I am the Holy Ghost." Ornette Coleman once called Sanders "probably the best tenor player in the world."
In 2018, my buddy Jeff Konkel (Broke & Hungry Records) and I convened in Sanders' native Little Rock, AR, for a special homecoming show. With help from my concert-organizing friend Shannon Boshears, I was able to interview the famed saxman that afternoon. He was amazing to spend time with—a sweet, quiet gentleman excited to play his hometown. He was also a little fussy and (understandably) not real keen on talking about other jazz legends.  :)
By the way, here are a few places to start with his music (minus his work with John Coltrane; y'all can explore that on your own):
- His best-known epic - "The Creator Has a Master Plan" -
- A total classic with Alice Coltrane - "Journey In Satchidananda" -
- And his final album w/London Symphony Orchestra - "Floating Points" -
"I wanted to learn how to play blues, I wanted to play the blues and I struggled at it. I found out some things that you had to know. I got past that problem because I learned all the blues in all my keys, so it wasn't no problem. Playing with guitar players, they might play in any key. So you have to really learn how to play or either don't accept a job. You see, it wasn't about backing up, it was about me playing just as well as they would be playing, you know?"

"I learned how to play blues and I was very happy. I was happy that I could work around in town. I kept making five dollars here, five dollars here, ten dollars. I used to go caddying at the golf course on the weekend. I kept trying to make a little change. I built me a shoe-shining box, and I think I was charging people 25 cents? 50 cents? That was big money for me. You know, that was a different lifestyle."
"I grew up around a lot of music. There was a church about a half a block from me. They was ... at that time they called it a sanctified church, something like that. They would be in the church until one o'clock in the morning. A lot of people, a lot of the neighbors, was ... they never complained about it to us. That's right, they didn't complain about it. They just let them have their tambourines swinging here, and guitars up loud, and it never bothered anybody."

"At the time I was teenager, you know, youngsters wouldn't do the things they do today. They respect older people, even if a couple years older than me, we have to respect them and their age. If I'm 14 and another person 15 or 16, we have to respect them. We had to learn how to be very disciplined and how to be humble. You can't learn this music if you're not a humble person. You can't learn this music. Especially jazz."
"I guess it was horrible. I grew up in a very racist... At that time, I grew up, I had to do things a certain way or whatever."
"Well, the time I left, that was in '59. That was [after] Central High, when that problem happened with Central High.* That's when I left. '59. Well look, I think it [affected the whole community], especially black people all over Arkansas, but like I said, I wasn't in any way talking about it. People just didn't talk about things like that. They just said, 'Well, the Creator will get it all together.' You know?"
*Nine African American teens integrated Little Rock's Central High School in 1957.
"When I heard John Coltrane for the first time, I heard him in San Francisco. He worked at a club called, I think, Jazz Workshop on Broadway."
"I met him when I moved to Oakland, California."
Me: "What do you think about when somebody asks you about John Coltrane?"
Sanders: "Well, I tell them that, you know, 'Can't we really just talk about me?' That's what I tell them."


"Sun Ra was one of the guys who I met when I first came to New York. I hitchhiked a ride to New York. It was okay. I was ready to go to New York anyway I could get there. So I got there. I had a bag of dirty clothes and I didn't have one penny to my name. So, I got there and I just started walking down the street. Didn't know where to go, I didn't have nowhere to live. No money to eat on. I saw some signs around as I was walking, like donating blood, you know? And I made a little five dollars here. But I was just trying to survive like a bird or something. Don't have a home, so you live wherever you can. I used to stay up under an apartment stairway just like that. Make me a little place where I can sleep, and I always had my horn with me. It was very heavy, but I kept my horn with me everywhere I went.

"I was out there walking around and met [Sun Ra], and he understood my condition. I told him, "Yeah, I play tenor sax. If you need a horn player, call me." Well, I didn't have a phone. But I'd be coming back by, every day really. And he fed me some brown rice mixed with some tuna fish, and that was my dinner. He gave me a shirt, no, he gave me a pair of plaid pants. I looked like I was from Scotland or something. I was glad to get out of those pants, they looked funny on me. He was talking about spaceships and everything."
"I spoke to Wayne Shorter, and I asked him a question. I said, 'How do you learn...' some song I mentioned. And he said, 'Just keep listening. You do it yourself.' And he kept on walking. He scared me! I said, 'Oh my goodness, I said the wrong thing.' I know these kinda guys are kind of strange, these jazz musicians. They're different. But anyway, after I thought about it, he was just trying to [say] ain't nothing gonna come easy. You gotta study to get to where he's at. And so he just turned me onto what I needed to do. 'Cause they was out working. They talked a lot just by playing their instrument, and that was enough for me."
"When I moved to Oakland and I was around a lot of musicians... a lot of guys, hell, they was drinking, smoking and all this. So I wanted to get away from that. So, my God told me, 'Yeah, man, your sound, man, you need to go to New York. You play very different from them.' I said, 'I think I need to go to New York, yeah.' So I wanted to get away from that type of kind of thing. It wasn't helping me to grow, and I was well with what was going on. Casual drinking beer, wine, and all that stuff. I couldn't get anything together there. I wanted to try to talk to some of the musicians about different things."
"I play the way I feel, not from the maybe 'music school' or something you study [perspective], everything you can learn about music, writing music, band, contracts, stuff like that. You can learn all of that. But you know, that didn't bother me because I got lots of information from my band teacher and from hanging around musicians that tell me different things. How I should listen, how I should get my rest at night. You gotta be strong to play this music. You can't be worried about what people saying. Go on and do what you wanna do. But I had to make, from time to time, I had to make some little blues jobs, whatever that was, just make a little money.

CAT HEAD's Web Store is open! Or better yet, come shop our full selection in-person 7 days a week...
I will be adding even more new merchandise in the coming days and weeks, but there is already plenty to choose from on our CAT HEAD website — from classic T-shirts to cozy hoodies, from frame-worthy prints to original artwork, from blues books to traveler's guides, from convenient CDs to heavy Vinyl, from beer glasses to coffee mugs, from Delta pecan tins to Christmas ornaments, from..... Well, you get the idea! SHOP NOW at

- Clarksdale's Charlie Musselwhite featured in Delta Magazine,
- MS Delta Blues Society held a successful Indianola Blues Challenge recently. Congrats, y'all! BAND WINNER: Big Time Rhythm and Blues Band / Michael Dennis. SOLO/DUO WINNER: Mark "Muleman" Massey. More info:
- Listen or relisten to Three Song Stories podcast (Episode 155) with yours truly, Roger Stolle, at
- Review of Clarksdale's Juke Joint Festival,
- See "recap video" of this year's Mighty Roots Music Festival on fest homepage at
- Watch a few past years of our King Biscuit Call & Response Blues Symposium panel discussions online at (Just scroll down to "Call and Response Blues Symposia.)
- Updates from our friends at the Grammy Museum Mississippi in nearby Cleveland,
- Upcoming music events in nearby Cleveland, Mississippi...
- The former Rock & Blues Museum building on E 2nd Street sold recently to a regular (now former) Clarksdale visitor, fan and performer. More details to come, but we're happy to welcome Chris (from The Mojo Hands blues band) to Clarksdale's downtown Arts & Entertainment district!

- Latest news from our friends at Blues Festival Guide at
- Latest newsletter from our friends at The Blues Foundation in nearby Memphis,
- "Acoustic Sunday Live - The Concert to Protect Aquifer" (Memphis),
- Making the Scene online magazine features our blues buddy Lightnin' Malcolm at
- Updates from Clarksdale-based Quapaw Canoe Company at
- Recent updates from Clarksdale's Higher Purpose Co.,
- News from our buddy Adam "50 Miles of Elbow Room" (jazz, blues and more cool stuff) at

- Very cool avant-jazz based event this weekend from our NY friends at Arts For Art,
- Tribute to record collector Joe Bussard by the excellent Dust-to-Digital reissue label in ATL,
- Music legend Jerry Lee Lewis passes....
- Country music queen Loretta Lynn passes...
- Author Joan Didion (who's final book published took place, in part, in Mississippi — fans/friends/family pay tribute,
- September's CAT HEAD Update e-newsletter... in case you missed it:

Details still to come, but plan now for the small-but-mighty Clarksdale Film & Music Festival in January.
The Clarksdale Downtown Development Association non-profit is currently working on fundraising and details for the 2023 Clarksdale Film & Music Festival, so stay tuned for more information. In the meantime, plan to be here if you can. The lineup is coming soon at The Clarksdale film festival specializes in "blues and roots-music documentaries and Mississippi-connected films."

Also, while you're waiting, here are two blues film projects you can check out for FREE online if you like:
- Moonshine & Mojo Hands: The Mississippi Blues Series (10 streamable episodes) at
- M for Mississippi: A Road-trip through the Birthplace of the Blues (2008 Blues Music Award-winning film) at
And if you don't mind a small fee, we also recommend the award-winning Blues Trail Revisited film by Ted Reed at
Finally, if you still have a DVD player and don't already own Bob Mugge's epic Deep Blues, then buy it now ( and watch it over and over.

Just another week of 365 blues shows in Clarksdale. Read all about it in Sounds Around Town...
Below is just this week's snapshot of the music happenings in our little blues town of 15,000. Pretty impressive, huh? For the full list as far out as I know it as well as next year's festival dates, please go to and scroll on down.

Now get out there and enjoy some 'live' music, and be sure to tip tip tip the band.

Step into history. Take a seat at the blues party. Pick up my blues books for yourself or as gifts, y'all...
The mission of my books with The History Press? I aim to take you there. Real blues. Real characters. Real..... real.
Experience juke joints and fisticuffs. Tall tales, world tours and beers the size of your head. Hear about incredibly personal music and the mayhem behind it — from the people who were there and lived to tell about it.
Oh, and as an incredible bonus, world-class photographer Lou Bopp includes his iconic pics throughout.
Signed copies of Hidden History of Mississippi Blues and Mississippi Juke Joint Confidential are available at Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Arts 7 days a week, or online any time in Web Store at Thanks.

Grammy-winner Christone "Kingfish" Ingram returns home to play Ground Zero Blues Club 12/9!
Our local, 23-year-old blues friend has had a heckuva great year in 2022. Grammy Award win. Packed house at Juke Joint Festival. Blues Music Awards in Memphis. Played Jimi Hendrix event in London. Opened for The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park. Graced the cover of a Guitar World Magazine. Filmed for an upcoming Clarksdale episode of 60 Minutes TV show. And more.
Now, he's coming off tour and playing a special homecoming show at Ground Zero Blues Club in Clarksdale. Check out the show details online at BUT (sorry), I think the show may be sold-out. Definitely double check me on that. (And keep an eye out to see if he sets up any more local shows while he's back.)

Blues GRAMMY Award nominations announced — incl. for Charlie Musselwhite's Clarksdale album!
Congrats to all the nominees, especially our CAT HEAD neighbor Charlie Musselwhite.
Heavy Load Blues - Gov’t Mule
The Blues Don’t Lie - Buddy Guy
Get On Board - Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder
The Sun Is Shining Down - John Mayall
Mississippi Son - Charlie Musselwhite
Done Come Too Far - Shemekia Copeland
Crown - Eric Gales
Bloodline Maintenance - Ben Harper
Set Sail - North Mississippi Allstars
Brother Johnny - Edgar Winter
See complete list of GRAMMY nominations at

PRE-ORDER forthcoming new Robert Johnson book on CAT HEAD website! It's been a long time coming.
PRE-ORDER TODAY from Cat Head, and we will ship your purchase immediately upon receipt of the books in early April 2023!
(NOTE: Please place this PRE-ORDER separately from any other Cat Head purchases due to shipping costs. If combined with current in-stock items, then nothing will ship now, and everything will ship in early April 2023. Thanks.)
​New 264-page "​Biography of a Phantom: A Robert Johnson Blues Odyssey"​ hardcover book​ by Mack McCormick​ (edited by John W. Troutman​) available ​April 4, 2023​.​
The drama of "In Cold Blood" meets the stylings of a Coen brothers film in this long-lost manuscript from musicologist Robert “Mack” McCormick, whose research on blues icon Robert Johnson's mysterious life and death became as much of a myth as the musician himself...

When blues master Robert Johnson’s little-known recordings were rereleased to great fanfare in the 1960s, little was known about his life, giving rise to legends that he gained success by selling his soul to the devil. Biography of a Phantom: A Robert Johnson Blues Odyssey is musicologist Mack McCormick's all-consuming search, from the late 1960s until McCormick’s death in 2015, to uncover Johnson's life story. McCormick spent decades reconstructing Johnson's mysterious life and developing theories about his untimely death at the age of 27, but never made public his discoveries. Biography of a Phantom publishes his compelling work for the first time, including 40 unseen black-and-white photographs documenting his search.

While knocking on doors and sleuthing for Johnson's loved ones and friends, McCormick documents a Mississippi landscape ravaged by the racism of paternalistic white landowners and county sheriffs. An editor's preface and afterword from Smithsonian curator John W. Troutman provides context as well as troubling details about McCormick’s own impact on Johnson’s family and illuminates through McCormick’s archive the complex legacy of white male enthusiasts assuming authority over Black people’s stories and the history of the blues.

While Johnson died before achieving widespread recognition, his music took on a life of its own and inspired future generations. Biography of a Phantom, filled with lush descriptive fieldwork and photographs, is an important historical object that deepens the understanding of a stellar musician.

Have a fun, safe Thanksgiving. I plan to do a Dec UPDATE newsletter, but just in case... HO HO HO!
Thanks again for 20 years of CAT HEAD. It's been a blast of an anniversary year.
Our first two decades of existence only happened because of all y'all. You visited Clarksdale, supported the music and shopped the CAT HEAD. I think about this all the time — especially since the pandemic. It's been a crazy couple decades, but it's also been a wonderful one. We've made a lot of progress here in Clarksdale — collectively — and much more music and amazement is to come. I promise. Just keep doin' what you're doin', and we'll do the same. 2023 promises to be fabulous, so come see us if you can.
Please have a fun, safe Thanksgiving, and if I don't see you across the CAT HEAD counter before Christmas, HO HO HO Happy Holidays!!!

Please enable images

Cat Head Delta Blues and Folk Art  |  252 Delta Avenue  |  Clarksdale, MS 38614  |

Subscribe  •  Preferences  •  Unsubscribe  •  Report Spam
Powered by MyNewsletterBuilder
Please enable images
Please enable images