Moss Point in Jackson County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
Moss Point Blues
The African American community of Moss Point has produced an abundance of talented musicians, including many who entertained along the Gulf Coast as well as some who traveled across the country and overseas as members of prominent bands and musical troupes. Charles Fairley, who played in the bands of Otis Redding, Guitar Slim and numerous others, heads the list, while others include Charles Polk, Clyde Needham, Carlton Reese, Henry Dees, Otis Carter, and the Nelson brothers (Romie, Lamar and Elijah).
Moss Point was a center of African American music even before the city was incorporated in 1901. The Biloxi Weekly Herald published reports on local bands as early as 1898, and praised the city’s Earl band in 1903. Several early Moss Point musicians became nationally recognized minstrel show performers. Saxophonist O.J. “Boss” Tatum (1887-1943) toured with the Huntington Minstrels and led the Blue Melody Boys band before returning to Moss Point to open a grocery store, while brothers Lamar (“Buck”), Elijah (“Prof") and Romie Nelson traveled with the Florida Blossoms and other troupes and also entertained at dances in Mississippi. Lamar (1886-1942), who played tuba, and trombonist Elijah (b. 1888) featured a number called “Triple Tongue Blues” in
Saxophonist Charles Fairley (b. 1932) was one of many musicians who started out in the Magnolia High School Monarchs band. Fairley joined the band when he was still in elementary school. He began playing local clubs with Henry Dees and Willie Jenkins and later worked with many bands in New Orleans and Mississippi, toured with Otis Redding, and recorded with Joe Tex, Eddie Bo, Wayne Sharp, Sea Level and others. On the coast the Pat Murphy Band, Charlie V and the Personalities, the Nite Riders, and the Band of Gold have featured the hearty sounds of Fairley’s saxophone.
Another well-traveled Magnolia graduate, Charles Polk, played drums in Bobby “Blue” Bland’s orchestra in the 1970s and recorded with country star Tompall Glaser and his Outlaw Band. Saxophonist Carlton Reese served as band director and football coach, mentoring future NFL All-Pro Verlon Biggs. The Kickoff Club in Moss Point was owned by Biggs and operated by Reese. Other former Monarchs include Clyde Needham of the Double-O Soul Band and Reuben
Black fraternal organizations have provided venues for many of the top blues, jazz and R&B shows in Moss Point. The Knights of Pythias park hosted many big-name touring acts, as did the Magnolia Elks in later years. Other local venues have included Club 15, Solomon’s Place, My Place, Kickoff Club, various nightspots on Frederick Street, the Miss-Ala Club on the state line, and events such as RiverFest, Rockin’ the Riverfront and Blues on the River.
Erected 2016 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 193.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
Location. 30° 24.943′ N, 88° 32.314′ W. Marker is in Moss Point, Mississippi, in Jackson County. Marker is on Main Street (Mississippi Route 613) north of Robinson Avenue, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Home Front World War II (within shouting distance of this marker); Honoring Women in the Military (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); POW (Prisoners of War) (about 400 feet away); Honoring US Merchant Marine (about 400 feet away); Black Union Sailors Settled in Moss Point (about 400 feet away); Mississippi Gulf Coast Blues & Heritage Festival (approx. 2.4 miles away); Krebs Cotton Gin (approx. 2.7 miles away); Jackson County WWII Memorial (approx. 2.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Moss Point.
Also see . . . Mississippi Arts Commission biography on Charles Fairley. (Submitted on March 23, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Categories. • African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment •
Credits. This page was last revised on March 23, 2017. This page originally submitted on March 23, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 87 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on March 23, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.