Monday, July 20, 2009

Big George Brock

Big George Brock

St. Louis, MO (7/16/09) -- 50 years after St. Louis-based bluesman Big George Brock left a cotton plantation in the Mississippi Delta, the stage is set for a big return via an old-school 'blues bus.'
"I may be 77-years-old, but I ain't dead yet," joked Brock. "I've got Big George fans older than I am here in St. Louis, so I'm taking some of them back home with me. We're going to have a wang dang doodle down there in Mississippi."
As part of his blues homecoming celebration, Brock is bringing his new blues bus down to the old Hopson Plantation in Clarksdale, Mississippi -- just south of Memphis. He'll be performing a concert there on Saturday, August 8th (10pm) during Clarksdale's Sunflower River Blues Festival weekend.
"It's a big blues weekend in the Delta, so you know Big George just has to be part of it," according to Brock's manager and owner of Clarksdale's Cat Head blues store, Roger Stolle. "Big George grew up just outside of town here, where he worked on cotton plantations, fought in local boxing matches and learned to play the blues from guys like Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. He loves to come home and play for visiting tourists and his local fans."
The eternal showman, Brock has never stopped looking for ways to entertain his fans and spread the word about upcoming performances. Three years ago, after he retired his last tour bus, he started renting one as needed. Then, in May, he came across "a deal he couldn't pass up," vowing to buy it and make it "extra special" this time.
"One of my fans here in St. Louis said she'd paint it for me," Brock explained. "I want folks to see that bus, turn around and follow me down the highway to Mississippi. We'll give them a real blues show down there -- not rock or rap -- just pure and natural blues."
Brock's artist-fan is Carol Boss. She's spent much of the past month painting the new bus based on photos by another avowed Brock fan, Joseph Rosen.
"Big George is a really big guy with a really big personality and stage presence," said Boss, who also operates a small design firm in St. Louis. "I just jumped at the chance to try and paint something as big as he is. When I drove it by his house the other day, he was all smiles, and I have to say, it turned a few heads on the drive over."
Boss cites the support of friends, family and C.R.E.W. Construction of St. Louis for helping to complete the big, bus undertaking.
"After they heard about the project, everyone volunteered to help out," recalled Boss. "It's not every day that you get to paint a bus for a musician from the Muddy Waters generation. It was a true team effort and a lot of fun."
Brock's new blues bus hits the highway for the first time next month for his homecoming performance at Hopson Commissary on August 8th (10pm). He'll also perform at the Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art store on that Sunday, August 9th (noon).
To book a reservation on his "Delta Blues Bus Tour," contact Big George Brock at 314-531-9207. For more information on Hopson Commissary, go to View Brock's upcoming concert schedule at Visit Carol Boss Art at

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Duff and the Moonbeams

Duff and the Moonbeams
Hopson Commissary
Hwy 49 South
Sat July 18th

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Clock

The Clock

Thank you Chuck Lamb for the great picture of the clock.

Losing the clock is a grim reminder of our fate
For Clarksdale my friends, it may be later than we think. Our town has endured an acute, 20-year social and economic decline, which has left in its wake a bone yard of iconic tombstones.
Monday, March 20, 2006 3:00 AM CST
Now defunct buildings and signage remain where once-thriving businesses used to open their doors, six days a week. The sounds of old National cash registers ringing, car doors opening and closing, and the clomping of busy feet stepping with purpose and verve have slowly faded into a surreal echo in our memory's' ears.

Today, those ambient trumpets of commerce and prosperity have been replaced by the chilling winds of uncertainty and desolation. In essence, our downtown becomes a ghost town around 6 p.m., each day. And those monikers of yesteryear-The Alcazar/Central Building, Okun's Shoe Store, Williams Rexall, etc.-- are left alone to endure another long night amidst a scene straight out of the Twilight Zone. They seem to await their eternal peace, where they can finally join their friends in Old Town Heaven. The Paramount, original Elks Club and Woolworth's will be there with a host of others to greet them. And now, thanks to our neighborly friends at AmSouth Bank, one of Clarksdale's most valuable and definitive landmarks has been quietly sent out to a similar pasture. (Drum roll, please!)............

The Coahoma Bank Clock no longer oversees the corner of Yazoo and Third. London has Big Ben, New York, Times Square. For over 50 years, Clarksdale has had the Coahoma Bank Clock. Despite this comparison and truth, the cherished and ornate clock was quietly removed last Friday afternoon by AmSouth, without a word, and destined for the junkyard. No plans for its removal or announcement of the bank's intentions were made to Clarksdale. In my opinion, this act is comparable to that of flying a crop duster into the old Quaker Oats building. A thousand hats should go off to Ronnie Drew for saving it and relocating the clock to Hopson Plantation. At least it is in safe keeping for now.

The only thing more troubling than the act itself is the blatant indifference attached to its execution. Make no mistake, Clarksdale. This is about far more than nostalgic musings and corporate callousness, where both history and heritage are concerned. This is the straw that should break the Camel's back. This is about everyone in Clarksdale needing to take heed to the fact that our history, heritage and downtown are the very resources that can not only save, but also revitalize our economy AND this piece of unique soil that we all call home. We are called as a community to rise to a great challenge at this moment in our history.

For far too long, Clarksdale has been at war with itself. Racial and social divisions have joined hands with laziness, indifference, and complacency. The results have been endless bickering and ultimately, crippling atrophy of the limbs of progress. In the interim, our downtown-the beating heart of any city-has seen too many attitudes harden and too many arteries of potential blocked by stubbornness and the red tape of personal and political agendas. There are many citizens struggling daily to build bridges to the future, but it will take everyone to gather the stones required for the task. What time is it, Clarksdale? The answer is as clear as the glass on that old, broken clock. Now is the time!

We are all in the same boat, floating on the same muddy river, and it would serve us, our history and our heritage, if we could all start rowing in tandem and develop a solid vision of how to resurrect the Phoenix that is Clarksdale. Otherwise, this boat is destined to remain spinning in circles, going nowhere, while progress finds safer harbors all around in other towns like Tunica, Greenwood, Hernando - even little Como. Most of these places are associated with revitalization programs designed to provide grants and other funding to inject life and commerce back into the veins of the architecture of the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as the communities who occupy them in the 21st. What time is it, Clarksdale? It's half past doing it, and a quarter before too late. Every time we raze another historic building. Every time we stand by and say, "What a shame", or even worse-say nothing at all, we only strengthen those haunting winds that sail down Delta, Yazoo, and Third. The whole world is fascinated with Clarksdale's history, cotton, blues and our ties to such literary icons as Tennessee Williams. We are an economically un-tapped enigma with epic potential...and only 42 minutes from the front doors of Tunica's airport, which will soon be receiving commercial flights on a regular basis. Can we afford to let one more chunk of our charm and history be ripped down and tossed into a museum, lest we become a museum ourselves?

When I was informed of the clock's ill fate, I had to go see it for myself. Sunday evening around midnight, I found myself alone at the gates of AmSouth, under a near-full moon. Only the whistling wind and the clapping of The Big Pink Guest House's gate could be heard. But as I gazed up at that huge hole in our history, I thought about Coahoma Bank and my very own father's 23-year tenure there. I began to remember watching the annual Christmas parade from the corner window just above that clock. Soon, I could hear marching bands, car horns, and Early Wright broadcasting from just across the street at WROX. And just for a minute, I could hear the soothing, hourly chimes of that grand, old clock. I could smell the aroma of the Wonder Bread Bakery. I could see the faces of people walking into The Den for a nice dinner, into the Cream Boat for a scoop, and I remembered the old folks sitting in the lobby of the Alcazar/Central Building. These chimes at midnight in my head made me think that perhaps we need to be reminded of exactly what time it is.

Perhaps we have needed an uber-entity such as AmSouth, who doesn't even list a local number in the phonebook, to rip down an old clock, thus pulling the wool from our eyes in the process.

How much community uproar, and how much money do we need to come up with to restore and reinstate that clock to its rightful place? To make a statement and demand a turn in our history and course? I am suggesting that we do just that, and offering the notion that the Coahoma Bank Clock might well serve us all as an hourly reminder of what a community can do, if it is wound tight, well-oiled...and ever aware of exactly what time it really is.

Randall Shaw Andrews is a Clarksdale-born writer, chef, photographer and producer.

Chuck Lamb
662 902-7105

Friday, July 10, 2009

Music at Hopson

Duff Dorrough

Jerry Lee ‘Duff’ Dorrough was born in Memphis Tennessee and raised in Ruleville, Mississippi, the Heart of the Mississippi Delta. Raised up with Blues, Country, Gospel & Pop musical influences, he sang and played drums with local bands throughout high school and college.

The core of Delta musicians that began as The Sausage & Biscuit Boys soon morphed into The Tangents in 1981, featuring Duff with piano man ‘Fish’ Michie and sax player Charlie Jacobs. They stormed the honky tonks from Memphis to New Orleans to the Western states.

Duff formed The Revelators in 2001 with Bobby Harris and Jim Ellis from Drew, Mississippi and the group appeared regularly on Oxford’s Thacker Mountain Radio. The Revelators cut their self-produced cd at Sounds Unreel in Memphis in 2002.

In 2004, Duff released Peace In The Lily of the Valley on Black Dog Records and was invited to join Jim Dickinson in the Thacker Mountain House Band, The Yalobushwackers.

He lives on Sunflower River in The Mississppi Delta and continues to play and record.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Music at Hopson

Italian Club

This is the old Italian Club just outside of Clarksdale Ms. This building is owned by Charlie Monty of Clarksdale. Ronnie Drew(known at Hopson as Donnie Rew) has told me many stories about his good times that he had in the Italian Club back in the 70's.

It is sad to see the building empty and rotting down because it played a big part in the history of the early Italian settlers in Coahoma County.

I have been told that when the early settlers arrived in Coahoma County they needed a support system because they were looked down on as second-class citizens in the area. They were here as farm workers.

The Italian club gave them a place to go to enjoy themselves and to be with other Italians in the area. They worked hard and slowly bought land and are now some of the largest landowners in the area. A real success story and I think that this building may have played a part in their story.

I would love to see some of the stories of events or memories that others have of this building. My only memory was to attend a band practice of the Remains, Ronnie Drew, Tommy Hubbard, Terry Moore, Bird Elliott, and Rich Wall.