Saturday, November 12, 2011

Delta Blues Odyssey . . . Charley Patton & Dockery Farms

Charley Patton . . . The Voice of the Delta. The spelling of his first name varies. I'll just stick with what is on the tombstone.

Little Jailhouse Gumbo took the above panoramic of the Holly Ridge Cemetery. Patton is thought to be buried on the left hand side and to the back of the cemetery near the gin. There is some speculation that he is actually buried under where the gin is now located. At any rate, the monument is somewhat in the area. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Big Mama Merkin and Little Jailhouse Gumbo flank Mr. Patton and an empty bottle of Kentucky bourbon.
Lord, the revenue men is ridin', boy, you'd better look out
(Aw, sure, if it ain't Purvis!)
Lord, the revenue men is ridin', boy, you'd better look out
(Boy, if he hollers at you, you don't stop, boy)
If he hollers at you, don't stop, you will likely be knocked out

Screamin' Killer Davis contemplating his next bar-b-que . . . yes, it is true, he fell off the vegetable wagon on this trip.

Considered by those in the know to be the "Father of the Delta Blues," Charley Patton exerted an influence and a booming voice that far exceeded his slight frame of about 5'5" tall.

To get the ambiance of the area, watch our video with the sound turned all the way up (don't actually do this) . . . that should give you an idea how loud the gin actually is.

It was here at Dockery Farms that Charley Patton, under the tutelage of Henry Sloan, helped forge the sound that we now know as Delta Blues.

Maybe it wasn't the "Birthplace of the Blues" like the sign says, but Dockery Farms sure was a factory of great blues musicians. It was from this place that the influence of Charley Patton spread to the likes of Robert Johnson, Elmore James, Willie Brown, Tommy Johnson, Roebuck "Pop" Staples, Sonny Boy Williamson, and Howlin' Wolf.

It was on these steps of the Dockery commissary that the aforementioned blues who's who would sit and play for the residents of the plantation.

The efforts being made to restore many of the buildings are really paying off. It is nice to see that some of our history is being preserved.

The good and honorable Mr. W. Lester, executive director of the Dockery Farms Foundation, let our young Little Jailhouse Gumbo hold an actual Dockery Plantation token coin. He was also kind enough to give him a signed collage. You can view a copy of it here.


Anonymous said...

That grizzled looking old fart, Killer Screamin' Davis looks like a real shady character to me. Did you all pick him up in a ditch? Really liked that picture of you sitting on the steps. Could you hear the music?

Dude Boy said...

We didn't pick him up in a ditch, but we should have thrown him in a ditch!