Cities of Lula, Tunica to get Blues Trail markers

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Blues legends like Charley Patton and Sam Carr trace their roots to the tiny town of Lula in the Mississippi Delta.

Patton, who immortalized Lula in some of his lyrics, and Carr are just two of the artists to be honored Wednesday when Lula gets a Mississippi Blues Trail Marker. Another marker will be unveiled in Tunica the same day in honor of another Blues giant, James Cotton.

“Lula provided the perfect backdrop for artists like Charley Patton and Sam Carr to compose some of their most endearing works,” Gov. Haley Barbour said. “Lula’s historic reputation throughout the Blues community makes this small town a welcome addition to the Mississippi Blues Trail.”

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Patton sang about Lula in the 1930 song “Dry Well Blues” and again in a song released in 1934 known as “Stone Pony Blues.” His wife, Bertha Lee, sang of “livin at Lula” in her 1934 recording, “Mind Reader Blues.”

Besides Carr and Patton, the Lula area in Coahoma County claims legendary performers like Son House and Frank Frost.

House met Patton in Lula and they later traveled to Wisconsin with performers Louise Johnson and Willie Brown and became known as the Delta Big Four. Some of their songs recalled the severe drought that struck Mississippi in 1930.

Frost, who once worked as a janitor at Lula Elementary School, lived in Lula in the 1960s and 1970s and performed with Carr and Big Jack Johnson. One of their favorite places to perform was Conway’s, a roadhouse owned and operated by the parents of country singer Conway Twitty.

Singer-songwriter John Mohead is also from Lula.

The marker will be located near city hall at the corner of Front and Second Street and will be unveiled at 2 p.m.

Also on Wednesday, Tunica will get a Blues Trail Marker at 10:30 a.m. honoring Cotton, who is scheduled to perform at the event.

Cotton, 72, was born on the Bonnie Blue Plantation near the town of Clayton, south of Tunica. Cotton played in blues great Muddy Waters’ band for 12 years in Chicago before forming the James Cotton Blues Band in 1966.

Cotton was honored with a Grammy in 1997 for best traditional blues album.

“James Cotton’s impressive ability to play the harmonica combined with his impressive voice make him a unique bluesman, and I am pleased a Blues Trail Marker will be dedicated in his honor,” Barbour said.

The marker for Cotton will be placed at the intersection of Highway 61 and Bonnie Blue Road, just west of his birthplace.