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Laurel in Jones County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
 

Jones County Blues

 
 
Jones County Blues Marker (Front) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, December 2, 2017
1. Jones County Blues Marker (Front)
Inscription.   Front
The Laurel area, a hub of musical activity in southeast Mississippi, has been home to a number of noted blues performers including harmonica player Sam Myers, singer Albennie Jones, and guitarist Blind Roosevelt Graves. R&B, blues, and rock 'n' roll producer Johnny Vincent, who founded Ace Records in Jackson in 1955, got his start selling records in Laurel. One of Mississippi's most popular blues events, the Laurel Mother's Day Blues Festival, began its long run here in 1987.

Rear
Laurel and Jones County performers have traveled far and wide to sing the blues, while local nightclubs and festivals have continued to celebrate the blues here at home. One of the first local musicians to record was guitarist Blind Roosevelt Graves (1909-1962) from Summerland. He and his tambourine-playing brother, Uaroy (also called Aaron), recorded in 1929 for Paramount Records and in 1936 for A.R.C. They often performed for tips on the streets of Laurel. The Nelson brothers Elijah ("Professor"), a trombonist, band director, and music teacher, and Romie, who played cornet and other instruments, were noted minstrel
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show performers who lived in Laurel. Elijah and another brother, tuba player Lamar "Buck" Nelson, began traveling with shows prior to World War I, sometimes joined by clarinetist Arnett Nelson (c. 1890-1959) from Ellisville. Arnett played alto saxophone on many blues and jazz records in Chicago in the 1930s, as did Laurel native Andrew “Goon” Gardner (1916-1975) in the 1940s and ‘50s.

Sam Myers (1936-2006) performed for years in Jackson with Elmore James and others, and made his first record there in 1957 for John Vincent Imbragulio’s Ace label. Imbragulio, aka Johnny Vincent (1925-2000), started out selling used 78s from the jukebox of his parents’ Laurel restaurant. Myers later toured widely with Anson Funderburgh & the Rockets from Dallas. Eastabuchie native Leo “Lucky Lopez” Evans (1937-2004), who played guitar with Myers and others in Mississippi, moved to Milwaukee and later recorded several albums in England. Albennie Jones (1914-1989), from Errata, sang in church in Gulfport before she launched a blues career in New York in the 1930s. On some of her 1940s records she was accompanied by jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie. Another Jones Countian, Roland “Boy Blue” Hayes (c. 1922-1980), son of local musician Doc Hayes, moved to Arkansas, where he recorded as a singer and harmonicist for folklorist Alan Lomax in 1959.

A stalwart
Jones County Blues Marker (Rear) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, December 2, 2017
2. Jones County Blues Marker (Rear)
Weathering has damaged the ability to clearly read portions of this side of the marker.
on the local blues scene for over sixty years, Ellisville native Tommie “T-Bone” Pruitt (b. 1933), led the Rhythm Rockers band and played guitar with Bo Diddley, the Rhythm Aces, the Five Royales, and others. Harmonica player Lee “Tennessee” Crisp (1912-1993), who performed locally with Pruitt in the 1970s and ‘80s, once toured Europe with the Mississippi Delta Blues Band. He was a protégé of Tennessee bluesman Sleepy John Estes. Jasper County native L. C. Ulmer (b. 1928), a multi-instrumentalist, performed across the country for decades, often as a one-man band, before settling in Ellisville in 2002. He began a belated recording career after his return to Mississippi. Venues for blues in Laurel have included the Cotton Bowl, Paradise, Top Hat, Blade’s, Playhouse, Skylark, Elks Club, American Legion, Civic Center, and Navy Yard dance hall.
 
Erected 2011 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 127.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansArts, Letters, MusicEntertainment. In addition, it is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1955.
 
Location. 31° 41.501′ N, 89° 7.7′ W. Marker is in Laurel, Mississippi, in Jones County
Closeup view of the photos on rear of marker. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, December 2, 2017
3. Closeup view of the photos on rear of marker.
. Marker is on North Maple Street north of Central Avenue, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 230 North Maple Street, Laurel MS 39440, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Hotel Pinehurst (approx. 0.2 miles away); Laurel City Hall (approx. 0.2 miles away); Jones County Courthouse (approx. ¼ mile away); Dr. King Visits Laurel (approx. half a mile away); Masonite Corporation (approx. 0.9 miles away); Oak Park School (approx. 1.4 miles away); Ralph Boston (approx. 2 miles away); Amos Deason Home (approx. 7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Laurel.
 
View of marker and park, south of Amtrak Station. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, December 2, 2017
4. View of marker and park, south of Amtrak Station.
The view south on Maple Street towards the Central Avenue traffic circle. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, December 2, 2017
5. The view south on Maple Street towards the Central Avenue traffic circle.
Located at the base of the Jones County Blues marker. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, December 2, 2017
6. Located at the base of the Jones County Blues marker.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 4, 2017. It was originally submitted on December 3, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 373 times since then and 18 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on December 3, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.   2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on December 4, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.

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Mar. 2, 2024