Pass Christian in Harrison County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
Blues & Jazz in the Pass
The histories of blues and jazz are often traced along separate pathways, but, especially on the Gulf Coast, the two genres were intertwined from the earliest days. Blues was a key element in the music of Pass Christian’s illustrious 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.
Captain John Handy is celebrated as a exemplary performer of traditional New Orleans jazz, but his innovative and forceful work on the alto saxophone also inspired rhythm and blues pioneers Louis Jordan and Earl Bostic. Handy began playing drums around age twelve in a band with his father, violinist John Handy, and his younger brothers Sylvester and Julius. In Pass Christian, where bands often entertained at beachfront resort hotels, the brothers worked as a trio, with John on mandolin, performing for dinner patrons at the Miramar Hotel, among others, and serenading locals at their homes. Handy later began playing clarinet
Music was a family affair among other local musicians as well. The Watson Brothers–Harry, Eddie, Henry (“Gator”), and Charlie–had what was known in its early years as a "spasm band," featuring homemade instruments and gadgets. Eddie Watson later worked with Handy's Louisiana Shakers. At times the Watsons' group included pianists Anita Jackson and her brother, Joseph “Joe B.” Jackson, Jr., who also led his own group, "Jobie Jackson's Band," which featured John Handy on alto. The Jacksons' father, Joe, Sr., played with local bands including that of August Saucier. Pianist Jeannette Salvant Kimball also played with the Watsons before joining
A popular local blues, R&B, and rock 'n' roll band of the 1950s called the Claudetts included, at various times, brothers Lawrence ("Sonny") and Earl Wimberley (whose father, Johnny Wimberley, played in New Orleans’ Olympia Brass Band), Arthur Arnold, John Farris III, Joe Welch, Jackie Avery (later a prolific R&B songwriter), Roland Bowser, Nolan Harris, and Irven and James Baker. Sonny Wimberley, a singer and bassist, moved to Chicago, where he played in Muddy Waters' blues band and led his own group, the Sunglows. Saxophonist Donald "Cadillac" Henry also played with the Claudets and later worked in promotion and management with Z. Z. Hill, Otis Redding, and other artists. Among the local clubs that featured blues, jazz, and R&B were the Dixie, the Savoy, and the P. C. Club, where John Handy gave his final rousing performance at a jam session.
Erected 2011 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 124.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
Location. 30° 18.976′ N, 89° 14.5′ W. Marker is in Pass Christian, Mississippi, in Harrison County. Marker is at the intersection Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: East Scenic Drive, Pass Christian MS 39571, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Constitution of the United States of America (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Saucier-Bidwell-Pratt House (about 500 feet away); The Flag of the United States of America (about 500 feet away); The Liberty Bell (about 500 feet away); Declaration of Independence (about 700 feet away); The Star Spangled Banner (about 700 feet away); Independence Hall (about 700 feet away); Scenic Drive Historic District (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pass Christian.
Also see . . . The Mississippi Blues Trail. (Submitted on February 23, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Categories. • African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 23, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 327 times since then and 66 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on February 23, 2015, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.