Rockland in Knox County, Maine — The American Northeast (New England)
The Blues Trail: Mississippi to Maine
Maine was first prominently mentioned in blues lyrics in 1928 when Mississippi Jimmie Rodgers recorded “The Brakeman’s Blues,” which contained the stanza “Portland, Maine, is just the same as sunny Tennessee; Any place I hang my hat is home, sweet, home to me.” Blues probably reached Maine via traveling minstrel and vaudeville shows in the early decades of the twentieth century. African American minstrel troupes first visited after the Civil War, and Maine had its own Kemp Family Minstrel Show, founded in Leeds by George Washington Kemp, a former slave from Virginia. Because of Maine’s remote location and small black population, however, few blues performers toured here until the music began to gain a solid foothold in the 1970s among white supporters, on the heels of the 1960s
In 1978 Rockland’s Paul Benjamin began booking Eddie Shaw and the Wolf Gang at a club where he worked as a bouncer. Benjamin continued to present blues artists, dozens of whom had Mississippi roots, as the Trade Winds Blues Plus Lounge, the Time Out Pub, the Trade Winds Blues Bash festival, and the North Atlantic Blues Festival, including Bo Diddley, James Cotton, Charlie Musselwhite, Honeyboy Edwards, Jimmy Rodgers, Otis Rush, Bobby Rush, Mose Allison, R.L. Burnside, Eddy Clearwater, Big Jack Johnson, Supper Chikan, Jimmy Johnson, Big Daddy Kinsey, Dennis LaSalle, Magic Slim, Eddie C. Campbell, Jimmy Dawkins, Carey Bell, Johnny B. Moore, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Sam Myers, Lonnie Pitchford, Fenton Robinson, Booba Barnes, Mojo Buford, Melvin, Taylor, Smokey Wilson, Zac Harmon, Eden Brent, Lil; Dave Thompson, and Homemade Jamz. Another important figure in putting Maine on the blues map, Randy Labbe of Waterville, was initially inspired by a Muddy Waters performance in Augusta. He began promoting blues in the 1980s and later produced albums for Telarc, Cannonball, and his own Deluge label featuring Mississippi natives Pinetop Perkins, Zora Young, Charlie Musselwhite, Little Milton, Hubert Sumlin, James Cotton, Snooky Pryor, and others. Labbe also produced tribute albums to Mississippi blues pioneers Willie Dixon, Charley Patton, Robert Johnson, Fred McDowell, and Howlin’ Wolf.
Erected 2010 by Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 110.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
Location. 44° 6.139′ N, 69° 6.47′ W. Marker is in Rockland, Maine, in Knox County. Marker is on Park Drive near Police Plaza, on the left when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2 Park Drive, Rockland ME 04841, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Portland Head Light Bell (1942) (within shouting distance of this marker); Chapman Park (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Civil War and Edwin Libby Post No. 16, G.A.R. Memorial (about 400 feet away); Rockland Harbor Trail (about 500 feet away); World Wars Memorial (approx. ¼ mile away); Walter Hamor Piston (approx. 0.3 miles away); Spanish American War Memorial (approx. half a mile away); Civil War Memorial (approx. half a mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Rockland.
More about this marker. This marker is across from the Lighthouse Museum.
Also see . . . Mississippi Blues Trail. The Mississippi Blues Trail markers tell stories through words and images of bluesmen and women and how the places where they lived and the times in which they existed–and continue to exist–influenced their music. The sites run the gamut from city streets to cotton fields, train depots to cemeteries, and clubs to churches. We have a lot to share, and it's just down the Mississippi Blues Trail. (Submitted on September 15, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California.)
Categories. • African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on September 15, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 289 times since then. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on September 15, 2014, by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.