“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Rockland in Knox County, Maine — The American Northeast (New England)

The Blues Trail: Mississippi to Maine

The Blues Trail: Mississippi to Maine Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, June 6, 2014
1. The Blues Trail: Mississippi to Maine Marker
As blues has spread from Mississippi to the far corners of the country and the world, the state of Maine has assumed an active role in the presentation and promotion of the music to appreciative local audiences ever since Mississippi born blues giants Muddy Waters and B.B. King began coming her in the 1970s. The presence of the blues in Maine was solidified in 1994 with the formation of the North Atlantic Blues Festival, a premier annual event that has featured many Mississippi artists.

Back side

Maine was first prominently mentioned in blues lyrics in 1928 when Mississippi Jimmie Rodgers recorded “The Brakeman’s Blues,” which contained the stanza “Portland, Maine, is just the same as sunny Tennessee; Any place I hang my hat is home, sweet, home to me.” Blues probably reached Maine via traveling minstrel and vaudeville shows in the early decades of the twentieth century. African American minstrel troupes first visited after the Civil War, and Maine had its own Kemp Family Minstrel Show, founded in Leeds by George Washington Kemp, a former slave from Virginia. Because of Maine’s remote location and small black population, however, few blues performers toured here until the music began to gain a solid foothold in the 1970s among white supporters, on the heels of the 1960s
The Blues Trail: Mississippi to Maine Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, June 6, 2014
2. The Blues Trail: Mississippi to Maine Marker
Click of image to enlarge.
Captions: (Record label on top) J.O.B. Records, Sweet Woman from Maine, (Lockwood), Robert Jr. and his Combo, JOB 1107; (captions on right side, top to bottom) “My heart has been broken, All my love’s in vain. Yes, my heart has been broken, All my love’s in vain. Still there’s nobody suits me Like my sweet woman from Maine. — “Sweet Woman from Maine” - Robert Jr. Lockwood; Arkansas-born Robert Jr. Lockwood was strongly associated with Mississippi blues legend Robert Johnson and Sonny Boy Williamson No. 2. He recorded “Sweet Woman From Maine” in Chicago in 1955 with a band featuring another heralded Mississippi, pianist Sunnyland Slim.; Paul Benjamin, former president of the national Blues Foundation’s Board of Directors, is shown above in May 2007 congratulating Eddie Shaw for winning a Blues Music Award in Memphis. Benjamin’s North Atlantic Blues Records label, launched in 1990, released CDs or DVDs by Mississippi natives Eddie and Vaan Shaw, Billy Gibson, Johnny Rawls, and Little Milton, whose last performance was at the 2005 North Atlantic Blues Festival. Two of Eddie Shaw’s CDs were recored live at the Time Out Pub in Rockland.; B.B. King, a longtime favorite in Maine, was honored by the city of Portland with a “B.B. King Day” on May 18, 2008.; Maine- based Randy Labbe produced albums by Mississippi natives Zora Young, Pinetop Perkins, James Cotton, and others, often utilizing studios in Portland.; Welcome to one of the many sites on the Mississippi Blues Trail. Visit us online at
blues revival. The University of Maine hosted Mississippi’s James “Son” Thomas in 1972 and staged a blues festival in 1974. Muddy Waters and B.B. King appeared in the state in the 1970s, and other blues artists began performing at clubs including Raoul’s, the Loft, and Big Easy in Portland, Red Barn in Monroe, Left Bank in Blue Hill, and Geddy’s in Bar Harbor. Appearances in Main were often made possible by booking artists who were already on tour in Boston, New York, or Montreal. By 1989 the Maine Blues Society had been formed in Portland.

In 1978 Rockland’s Paul Benjamin began booking Eddie Shaw and the Wolf Gang at a club where he worked as a bouncer. Benjamin continued to present blues artists, dozens of whom had Mississippi roots, as the Trade Winds Blues Plus Lounge, the Time Out Pub, the Trade Winds Blues Bash festival, and the North Atlantic Blues Festival, including Bo Diddley, James Cotton, Charlie Musselwhite, Honeyboy Edwards, Jimmy Rodgers, Otis Rush, Bobby Rush, Mose Allison, R.L. Burnside, Eddy Clearwater, Big Jack Johnson, Supper Chikan, Jimmy Johnson, Big Daddy Kinsey, Dennis LaSalle, Magic Slim, Eddie C. Campbell, Jimmy Dawkins, Carey Bell, Johnny B. Moore, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Sam Myers, Lonnie Pitchford, Fenton Robinson, Booba Barnes, Mojo Buford, Melvin, Taylor, Smokey Wilson, Zac Harmon, Eden Brent, Lil; Dave Thompson, and Homemade Jamz. Another important figure in putting Maine on the blues map, Randy Labbe of Waterville, was initially inspired by a Muddy Waters performance in Augusta. He began promoting blues in the 1980s and later produced albums for Telarc, Cannonball, and his own Deluge label featuring Mississippi natives Pinetop Perkins, Zora Young, Charlie Musselwhite, Little Milton, Hubert Sumlin, James Cotton, Snooky Pryor, and others. Labbe also produced tribute albums to Mississippi blues pioneers Willie Dixon, Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, Fred McDowell, and Howlin’ Wolf.
Erected 2010 by Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 110.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
Location. 44° 6.139′ N, 69° 6.47′ W. Marker is in Rockland, Maine, in Knox County. Marker is on Park Drive near Police Plaza, on the left when traveling east. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2 Park Drive, Rockland ME 04841, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Portland Head Light Bell (1942) (within shouting distance of this marker); Chapman Park (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Civil War and Edwin Libby Post No. 16, G.A.R. Memorial (about 400 feet away); Rockland Harbor Trail (about 500 feet away); World Wars Memorial (approx. 0.3 miles away); Walter Hamor Piston (approx. 0.3 miles away); Spanish American War Memorial (approx. half a mile away); Civil War Memorial (approx. half a mile away). Click for a list of all markers in Rockland.
More about this marker. This marker is across from the Lighthouse Museum.
Also see . . .  Mississippi Blues Trail. The Mississippi Blues Trail markers tell stories through words and images of bluesmen and women and how the places where they lived and the times in which they existed–and continue to exist–influenced their music. The sites run the gamut from city streets to cotton fields, train depots to cemeteries, and clubs to churches. We have a lot to share, and it's just down the Mississippi Blues Trail. (Submitted on September 15, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.) 
Categories. African AmericansArts, Letters, Music
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 202 times since then and 75 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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