Little Brother Montgomery
Little Brother Montgomery (1906-1985), a major presence on south Mississippi's blues and jazz scene during much of the pre-World War II era, was famed for his trembling vocals and masterful piano playing. The Montgomery family, including his brothers Joe and Tollie, also pianists, once lived in Norfield, a sawmill town thirteen miles south of Brookhaven. Montgomery was popular at sawmills and lumber camps, and played cafes and dances in Vicksburg, Jackson, Brookhaven, McComb, and other towns.
Little Brother Montgomery is often associated with his native Kentwood, Louisiana, or with Chicago, where he spent the majority of his long career, but he was also once the most prominent blues pianist in Mississippi. He inspired a young Willie Dixon in Vicksburg, mentored Otis Spann and Little Johnnie Jones in Jackson, and influenced Skip James, Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, Sunnyland Slim, and many others. Born Eurreal Wilford Montgomery on April 18, 1906 (or possibly a year or two later according to some documents), he took to piano as a child. His parents and siblings all played music and his father, Harper Montgomery, ran a juke joint where pianists entertained local lumber workers. Montgomery said he left home at age eleven to play piano on the road, but he
Sawmill communities and lumber, turpentine, and levee camps provided employment for many blues musicians, including Little Brother Montgomery. But he also performed at nightspots during stays in Vicksburg, Canton, Gulfport, and New Orleans, traveled with dance bands, and tried living in Chicago for a few years. Montgomery recorded his signature tune, "Vicksburg Blues," in 1930. Returning to Mississippi in 1931, he led his own Jackson-based Southland Troubadors, sometimes broadcasting on local stations such as WCOC in Meridian, to advertise the band's appearances. The group, which also toured several states billed as the Collegiate Ramblers, never recorded, but as a solo pianist or with only one accompanist, Montgomery cut twenty-two blues sides, all released on singles on the Bluebird label, in
Montgomery, hailed in Down Beat magazine in 1940 as "the greatest piano man that ever invaded Dixie," spent time in Yazoo City, Hattiesburg, and Beaumont, Texas, before permanently settling in Chicago in 1942. There, as in Mississippi, he became a respected figure, dividing his time between performing with bands and as a solo blues artist. He was a key participant in the city's traditional jazz scene as well as a standard-bearer of blues piano. Montgomery accompanied Memphis Minnie, Otis Rush, Magic Sam, Buddy Guy, and others on recording sessions as well as cutting numerous albums of his own in the U.S., Europe, and Japan until his death on September 6, 1985.
Erected 2011 by Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Mississippi Blues Trail. (Marker Number 142.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
Location. 31° 34.987′ N, 90° 26.471′ W. Marker is in Brookhaven, Mississippi, in Lincoln County. Marker is on North Railroad Avenue west of First Street, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 440 North Railroad Avenue, Brookhaven MS 39601, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Horse & Mule Watering Trough
More about this marker. Located at the Amtrak Train terminal
Categories. • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment •
Credits. This page was last revised on May 18, 2018. This page originally submitted on May 18, 2018, by Cajun Scrambler of Assumption, Louisiana. This page has been viewed 66 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on May 18, 2018.