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

Hill Country Blues

Hill Country Blues Marker image. Click for full size.
By Phillip Knecht, July 1, 2015
1. Hill Country Blues Marker
Inscription. (side 1)
Although Delta blues often claims the spotlight, other styles of the blues were produced in other regions of Mississippi. In the greater Holly Springs area, musicians developed a "hill county" blues style characterized by few chord changes, unconventional song structures, and an emphasis on the "groove" or a steady, driving rhythm. In the 1990s this style was popularized through the recordings of local musicians R.L. Burnside and David "Junior" Kimbrough.

(side 2)
R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough became unlikely heroes of the music world in the 1990s when their "hill country" style caught on in both blues and alternative rock music circles. Although Burnside (1926-2005) and Kimbrough (1930-1998) had both begun recording in the 1960s, they had mostly performed at local juke joints or house parties. Most of their early recordings had been made by field researchers and musicologists such as George Mitchell, David Evans of the University of Memphis, and Sylvester Oliver of Rust College. They developed a new, younger following after they appeared in the 1991 documentary Deep Blues and recorded for the Oxford-based Fat Possum label, and college students and foreign tourists mixed with locals at Kimbrough's legendary juke joint in Chulahoma. Both artists toured widely and inspired
Hill Country Blues Marker image. Click for full size.
By Phillip Knecht, July 1, 2015
2. Hill Country Blues Marker
Captions: (Record label on top) High Water Recording Company, Jumper Hanging Out On a Line, R.L. Burnside 410; (captions on right side, top to bottom) See my jumper, Lord, hanging out on the line. See my jumper, Lord, hanging out on the line. Know by that something on my mind. Fix my supper baby, Lord, let me go to bed. Fix my supper baby, Lord, let me go to bed. This white lightnin' done gone to my head. "Jumper Hanging Out On the Line" - R.L. Burnside; Dancing to the blues at Junior's; Junior Kimbrough (above) hosted house parties for years and ran his own rural juke joint on Highway 4 in the 1990s. R.L. Burnside once lived in the house next door; A special 2007 issue of Living Blues magazine featured the "next generation" of hill country blues, including descendants of R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, and Othar Turner; High Water Records at the University of Memphis released 45s in the 1980s by Ranie Burnette (right) R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Jessie Mae Hempbill, and other Mississippi blues artists; Relatively few hill country blues artists had recorded prior to the Burnside-Kimbrough era. The most prolific was Mississippi Fred McDowell (1904-1972), who became popular on the blues revival" circuit in the 1960s. A fife and drum tradition was also documented in Tate and Panola Counties led by Sid Hemphill, Napolian Strickland and Othar Turner. Hemphill's granddaughter, guitarist Jessie Mae Hemphill (1923-2006), was the hill country's most prominent female blues artist; Welcome to one of the many sites on the Mississippi Blues Trail Visit us online at
musicians from Kansas to Norway to emulate their hill country sounds. Their songs were recorded by artists including the Black Keys and the North Mississippi Allstars, and remixes of Burnside tracks appeared in the films, commercials, and the HBO series The Sopranos. The music of actor Samuel L. Jackson's blues-singing character in the 2006 movie Black Snack Moan was largely inspired by Burnside.

Burnside, born in Lafayette County, was influenced by blues stars John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters but also learned directly from local guitarists Mississippi Fred McDowell and Ranie Burnette. For most of his life Burnside worked as a farmer and fisherman. He only began to perform at festivals and in Europe in the 1970s. Burnside's music took a more modern turn when sons Joseph, Daniel, and Duwayne Burnside and son-in-law Calvin Johnson played with him in his Sound Machine band. By the early '90s Burnside was performing around the world in a fro with grandson Cedric Burnside and "adopted son" Kenny Brown. Following Burnside's death his family, including grandson Kent Burnside, continued to perform his music, as did his protege Robert Belfour, a Holly Springs native who also recorded for the Fat Possum label.

Just as Burnside's music reflected his jovial personality, the more introspective Junior Kimbrough produced singular music with a darker approach.
Hill Country Blues Marker image. Click for full size.
By Phillip Knecht, July 1, 2015
3. Hill Country Blues Marker
Born into a musical family in Hudsonville, Kimbrough formed his first band in the late 1950s and recorded a single for the Philwood label in Memphis in 1968. In the 1980s his band, the Soul Blues Boys, featured longtime bassist Little Joe Ayers. In later years he was backed by his son Kinney on drums and R.L. Burnside's son Garry on bass. Kimbrough's multi-instrumentalist son David Malone devoted himself to carrying on his father's legacy as well as developing his own style on recordings for Fat Possum and other labels.
Erected 2008 by the Mississippi Blues Commission. (Marker Number 45.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
Location. 34° 46.11′ N, 89° 26.87′ W. Marker is in Holly Springs, Mississippi, in Marshall County. Marker is at the intersection of East College Avenue and North Center Street, on the right when traveling west on East College Avenue. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Holly Springs MS 38635, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Holly Springs (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Mississippi Central R.R. Campaign (about 400 feet away); Yellow Fever House
Holly Springs Blues Alley image. Click for full size.
By Phillip Knecht, July 2, 2015
4. Holly Springs Blues Alley
(about 700 feet away); Asbury United Methodist Church (approx. 0.3 miles away); Walthall Home (approx. 0.3 miles away); COFO & Rust College Civil Rights Monument (approx. 0.4 miles away); Rust College (approx. 0.4 miles away); Airliewood (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Holly Springs.
Also see . . .  Mississippi Blues Trail. (Submitted on July 6, 2015.)
Categories. African AmericansArts, Letters, MusicEntertainment
Aikei Pro's Record Shop, Holly Springs image. Click for full size.
By Phillip Knecht, July 2, 2015
5. Aikei Pro's Record Shop, Holly Springs
Credits. This page was last revised on August 30, 2017. This page originally submitted on July 2, 2015, by Phillip Knecht of Holly Springs, Mississippi. This page has been viewed 198 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on July 2, 2015, by Phillip Knecht of Holly Springs, Mississippi.   4, 5. submitted on July 3, 2015, by Phillip Knecht of Holly Springs, Mississippi. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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