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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Greenville in Washington County, Mississippi — The American South (East South Central)
 

Nelson Street

 
 
Nelson Street Marker (front) image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, August 27, 2017
1. Nelson Street Marker (front)
Inscription.
Front
Nelson Street was once the epicenter of African American business and entertainment in the Delta. Nightclubs, cafes, churches, groceries, fish markets, barbershops, laundries, record shops, and other enterprises did a bustling trade. Famous blues clubs on the street included the Casablanca, the Flowing Fountain, and the Playboy Club. Willie Love saluted the street in his 1951 recording "Nelson Street Blues."

Rear
Nelson Street   Whereas many Delta towns once "rolled up the sidewalks" in time for curfews, Greenville nurtured a flourishing nightlife, especially during the 1940s and ‘50s. Blues artists and audiences from throughout the area gravitated to the cafes, pool halls, and nightclubs of Nelson Street. The music ranged from raw Delta blues to big band jump blues and jazz. Years before he became America’s top black recording artist, Louis Jordan joined local bandleader and music educator Winchester Davis for some performances here in 1928.

When down-home southern blues was at its commercial peak in the American rhythm and blues industry in the early 1950s, record companies headed for Nelson Street in search of talent. Leading lights on the local scene included Willie Love and Sonny Boy Williamson II, both of whom recorded for the Jackson-based Trumpet label. In
Nelson Street Marker (rear) image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, August 27, 2017
2. Nelson Street Marker (rear)
1952 Charlie Booker and others recorded for the rival Modem Records at the Casablanca, an upscale restaurant and lounge at 1102 Nelson, which advertised its services "For Colored Only." In the midst of one session, the local sheriff ordered the recording stopped when artists contracted to Trumpet attempted to record for Modem. The resulting lawsuit made headlines in the national trade papers.

One of the Casablanca recordings, Charlie Booker’s "No Ridin’ Blues," joined Willie Love’s "Nelson Street Blues" as a local anthem when Booker sang, "Greenville’s smokin’, Leland’s burnin’ down." Booker, Love, and Little Milton Campbell were among the blues artists who had their own radio shows on WGVM or WJPR. Disc jockey Rocking Eddie Williams later had a record store on Nelson Street. Blues venues of the 1950s included Henry T’s Pool Room, the Silver Dollar Cafe and the Blue Note.

Nelson Street alumni include Oliver Sain, Eddie Shaw, J.W. "Big Moose" Walker, Burgess Gardner, Lil’ Bill Wallace, Roosevelt "Booba" Barnes, Willie Foster, T-Model Ford, John Horton, and Lil’ Dave Thompson, as well as Greenville’s first black policeman, guitarist Willie "Burl" Carson. The most successful of them all, Little Milton, paid tribute to the Flowing Fountain, a Nelson Street show club, in his 1987 Malaco Records hit "Annie Mae’s Cafe."
 
Erected
Photos of rear of Nelson Street Marker. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, August 27, 2017
3. Photos of rear of Nelson Street Marker.
Click for closeup of photos
2006 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 2.)
 
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
 
Location. 33° 24.788′ N, 91° 3.115′ W. Marker is in Greenville, Mississippi, in Washington County. Marker is on Nelson Street west of Delesseps Street, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 756 Nelson Street, Greenville MS 38701, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. St. Matthew's A. M. E. Church (approx. 0.3 miles away); Washington County Courthouse (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Courthouse Arboretum (approx. 0.4 miles away); Greenville's Writers (approx. 0.6 miles away); NRP Building (approx. 0.6 miles away); Stein Mart (approx. 0.6 miles away); First National Bank Building (approx. 0.7 miles away); Walter Horn, Jr. (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Greenville.
 
Categories. African AmericansArts, Letters, MusicEntertainment
 
Marker in front of the Southern Whispers club on Nelson Street. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, August 27, 2017
4. Marker in front of the Southern Whispers club on Nelson Street.
View from marker east on Nelson Street. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, August 27, 2017
5. View from marker east on Nelson Street.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 29, 2017. This page originally submitted on August 29, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 48 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on August 29, 2017, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.
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