Monday, November 14, 2011

Delta Blues Odyssey . . . Howlin' Wolf

"When I heard Howlin' Wolf, I said, 'This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies.'" . . . Sam Phillips.

The only person ever to be named after the the 21st President Chester A. Arthur, Chester Arthur Burnett is better known today by the nickname his grandfather bestowed upon him . . . Howlin' Wolf. His boyhood home stood in the area of this road.

Downtown Whites (White Station), MS. Escaping a troubled youth, Wolf ran away from Whites at age 13 to eventually fall under the influence of Charley Patton and Sonny Boy Williamson II (who married his stepsister). Years later, after success in Chicago, Wolf would return to the area periodically to hunt and fish.

As a young boy, Wolf would sit and watch the Illinois Central trains pass by at night, inspiring one of my favorite songs. Howlin' Wolf related, "we used to sit out in the country and see the trains go by, watch the sparks come out of the smokestack. That was smokestack lightning."

The Howlin' Wolf monument in West Point, MS (which is just a few miles south of Whites). The Howlin' Wolf Memorial Blues Festival is held in West Point every year.

The Howlin' Wolf Blues Museum, our first museum visit . . . and our first closed museum. Travelling the Blues Trail through Mississippi, one learns very quickly that the times posted on the door, and/or the internet are not to be taken literally. I guess what I am telling you is . . . don't schedule your blues tour according to museum hours.

The Mississippi Blues Trail marker for Howlin' Wolf's great guitarist Hubert Sumlin in Greenwood, MS. Rolling Stone magazine places Sumlin as number sixty-five in their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

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