Vicksburg in Warren County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
The historic African American community of Marcus Bottom was an important center of early blues, jazz, and gospel music activity. Pianist Eurreal “Little Brother” Montgomery, one of the premier blues artists of the 1920s and ‘30s, performed here and in other areas of Vicksburg. His song “Vicksburg Blues” became a blues standard and has been recorded by many other performers. Famed blues composer Willie Dixon, a Vicksburg native, was particularly inspired by Montgomery’s music.
Vicksburg was uniquely positioned to play an important role in blues and jazz history. A lively river port midway between New Orleans and Memphis, Vicksburg was not only the most populous city in Mississippi in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but also home to the state’s largest African American community. A wide range of musical traditions mingled here as professional traveling bands, itinerant guitarists from Delta cotton plantations, barrelhouse piano players, and others worked the clubs and cafes in Marcus Bottom and in areas of town closer to the river. Vicksburg was at one time a base for Delta blues pioneer Charley Patton, fellow guitarists Bo Carter and Honeyboy Edwards, and a plethora of pianists led by Little Brother Montgomery, along with many noted early musicians
In the 1920s Little Brother Montgomery (c. 1906-1985) performed at the South Side Park Dance Hall, just east of Halls Ferry Road on Lane Street, as well as at Zach Lewis’s and Bell’s Café, both on Washington Street. Montgomery’s music left a strong impression on the young Willie Dixon, and when Dixon became a powerful figure on the Chicago blues scene decades later, he hired Montgomery for recording sessions and club dates. Among the pianists Montgomery recalled playing in Vicksburg were Earnest “44” Johnson, also known as “Flunky,” Sam “Cracking Kid” Johnson, Tommy Jackson, Walter Lewis, and a pair who were skilled musicians despite their impairments: Nub-Fingered Son Cook and Stiff Arm Eddie Scott.
Jazz legends Earl “Fatha” Hines, King Oliver, Bennie Moten, and Louis Armstrong also played at the South Side Park Dance Hall, according to music historian Earnest McBride, who lived near the club. While the Blue Room and the Cotton Club elsewhere in town later booked the big name acts, the musical tradition continued in Marcus Bottom with local performers (including Willie Johnson, Billy Jones, and Leon Dixon) or blues on the jukeboxes at the Playboy Club, the El Morocco, Delia’s Do Drop Inn, the Open House,
Erected 2009 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 98.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
Location. 32° 20.108′ N, 90° 52.707′ W. Marker is in Vicksburg, Mississippi, in Warren County. Marker is on Halls Ferry Road south of Lane Street, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Located at Delia's Park. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2506 Halls Ferry Road, Vicksburg MS 39180, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Alpha Kappa Alpha National Presidents (approx. 0.4 miles away); Lum Home (approx. half a mile away); U.S. Marine Hospital (approx. 0.6 miles away); Frank Crump, Jr. (approx. 0.9 miles away); Pemberton Headquarters (approx. 0.9 miles away); Debate and Decision (approx. 0.9 miles away); Balfour House (approx. 0.9 miles away); Willie Dixon (approx. 0.9 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Vicksburg.
Also see . . .
1. Mississippi Blues Trail website. (Submitted on May 29, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
2. The Vicksburg Post article on Marcus Bottom. (Submitted on May 29, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.)
Categories. • African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment •
Credits. This page was last revised on May 30, 2017. This page originally submitted on May 29, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 63 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on May 29, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.