Rabbit’s Foot Minstrels in Port Gibson to received blues marker

Published 11:05 pm Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Rabbit Foot Minstrels will be honored Tuesday with the placing of a Mississippi Blues Trail marker in Port Gibson.

The marker is a tribute to the Minstrels, among a number of companies of black musicians and actors who toured the country by train and bus during the first half of the 20th century, bringing the new blues music to popular audiences.

Founded by African American Pat Chapelle in 1900, “The Foots” — as they were called — became the most famous touring company in the South, featuring musicians as varied as Ma and Pa Rainey, Ida Cox, Louis Jordan and Rufus Thomas.

After Chapelle’s death in 1911, the company was purchased by F.S. Wolcott, and from 1918 to 1950 had its headquarters in Port Gibson. Each spring, musicians from around the country assembled to create a musical, comedy and variety show to perform under canvas.

The blues marker will be placed in Port Gibson at the site of the tent performances.

“As home to the highly successful troupe, Rabbit Foot Minstrels, Port Gibson contributed greatly not only to our Mississippi blues heritage but to the development of jazz music and the modern-day circus,” Gov. Haley Barbour said Friday in a statement.

On the Net:

Blues Trail, http://www.msbluestrail.org