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Tchula in Holmes County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
 

Holmes County Blues Tchula

 
 
Holmes County Blues Tchula Marker (Front) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, August 3, 2018
1. Holmes County Blues Tchula Marker (Front)
Inscription.  
Front
Many blues performers who gained fame in the Delta, Jackson, and Chicago and on the southern soul circuit have lived in or near Tchula, including Elmore James, Hound Dog Taylor, Jimmy Dawkins, Jesse Robinson, Lewis "Love Doctor" Clark, Little Smokey Smothers, Arelean Brown and Lester Davenport. Even long after most of its famous sons and daughters had departed, Tchula remained a center of juke joint revelry along Highway 49.

Rear
Tchula developed a thriving blues culture during the segregation era as a freewheeling home base and gathering spot for musicians throughout the area. “It was very energetic,” recalled guitarist Jesse Robinson, who lived in nearby Mileston and later became a leading blues figure in Jackson. “Musicians would just be playing all over the place.” The area's most famous performer, slide guitar master Elmore James (1918-1963), was inspired, according to local lore, by guitarist Henry “Nub” Craft. James, who recorded the classic “Dust My Broom,” gave a rural Tchula address when he registered for the Navy in 1943. Fellow
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slide guitarist Roosevelt "Hound Dog" Taylor, known locally as "Nitter" or "Niller," was influenced by Willie Collins and in turn taught guitarist Wylie (or Wiley) Gatlin (c. 1916-1983) when he lived here in the 1930s and '40s. In Chicago Taylor was the first artist to record for Alligator Records, and his “genuine houserocking music” provided the label with its theme. Tchula natives Gatlin and Woodrow Adams both moved to Tunica County and recorded in Memphis in the 1950s.

The Chicago blues scene once included a sizable contingent of Holmes County cousins. Albert “Little Smokey” Smothers played with cousin Lee “Shot” Williams and others, and when he was a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Little Smokey mentored blues-rock guitarist Elvin Bishop. He and his brother Otis “Big Smokey” Smothers (1929-1993) from Lexington recorded albums of their own, as did their cousin, multi-instrumentalist Lester Davenport, who also played harmonica with Bo Diddley. Davenport was the son of slide guitarist Neely Davenport. Cousins from the Brown family included vocalist Arelean and her brothers China (later a bandleader in St. Louis), George and King. Arelean was famed for her topical 1970s records “I Am a Streaker Baby” and “Impeach Me Baby.” Lee “Shot” Williams recorded prolifically as a soul-blues
Holmes County Blues Tchula Marker (Rear) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, August 3, 2018
2. Holmes County Blues Tchula Marker (Rear)
Marker condition has been reported to the Mississippi Blues Commission.
singer for many labels –including his own Tchula Records–and sometimes returned to this area to live and perform.

Jimmy Dawkins became one of Chicago's most critically acclaimed blues guitarists after recording his debut LP "Fast Fingers" in 1969. Dawkins, an advocate for blues artists' rights, later started his own publishing, recording and management companies. Guitarists Emmett “Maestro” Sanders and his cousin James “Quick” Smith played blues in Peoria, Illinois, and Sanders was also featured in Koko Taylor's Chicago band. Singer Bobby Foster (b. Tchula, 1941) recorded soul and blues in St. Louis and Memphis, while guitarist Matt Nickson (1924-2000), a Mileston native, was a veteran of the Buffalo, New York, blues scene. Lewis Clark, at one time known as the “Blues Doctor,” made a name recording southern soul as the “Love Doctor.” A track called “Blues for Tchula” was released on a 1994 CD by local medical doctor Ron Myers, a jazz pianist and promoter.
 
Erected 2012 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 168.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansArts, Letters, Music
Holmes County Blues Tchula Marker looking south on Martin Luther King Drive. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, August 3, 2018
3. Holmes County Blues Tchula Marker looking south on Martin Luther King Drive.
Entertainment. In addition, it is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail series list. A significant historical year for this entry is 1943.
 
Location. 33° 10.927′ N, 90° 13.287′ W. Marker is in Tchula, Mississippi, in Holmes County. Marker is at the intersection of Martin Luther King Drive (U.S. 49E) and Main Street, on the right when traveling south on Martin Luther King Drive. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: Martin Luther King Drive, Tchula MS 39169, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Tchula (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); St. Mary's Episcopal Church (approx. 10.7 miles away); Holmes County Confederate Monument (approx. 10.9 miles away); Holmes County (approx. 10.9 miles away); Bishop Charles H. Mason (approx. 10.9 miles away); Lexington (approx. 10.9 miles away); Hazel Brannon Smith (approx. 10.9 miles away); Holmes County Blues Lexington (approx. 10.9 miles away).
 
More about this marker. The weathered condition of the rear side of this relatively new marker has been reported to the Mississippi Blues Commission.
 
Holmes County Blues Tchula Marker looking north on U.S. Highway 49E. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mark Hilton, August 3, 2018
4. Holmes County Blues Tchula Marker looking north on U.S. Highway 49E.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 5, 2018. It was originally submitted on August 5, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 189 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on August 5, 2018, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.
 
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Clear, readable photo of the rear side of this marker. • Can you help?

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Feb. 27, 2024