CLARKSDALE BLUESMAN'S HOUSE BURNS: Clarksdale-born Robert "Bilbo" Walker's house in his adopted home of Bakersfield, CA, burned to the ground on Monday evening, July 20th, 2009, while he was back home in Mississippi performing and visiting family. It was a complete loss estimated to be $85,000 according to the local fire dept. (27 firefighters worked the blaze.)
Cards and donations may be sent in Robert Walker's name to: Bertha Partee, attn. Robert Walker, 1581 Alan Drive, Clarksdale, MS 38614. Bilbo Walker has recorded albums for the Rooster Blues and Fedora Records labels and was featured in the recent documentary "M for Mississippi." He will perform at Red's Lounge on Aug 6, Sarah's Kitchen on Aug 7 and Do Drop Inn (Shelby, MS) on Aug 8 and 9.
Robert "Bilbo" Walker
Birthdate - February 19, 1937Birthplace - Outside of Clarksdale, MS Current Residence - CA Robert Walker is a bluesman, he's a rocker, he sings country, he'll even throw in a bluegrass number just to see what happens. He dresses like Liberace, plays guitar like Chuck Berry and his flamboyant style has made him notorious.
He's spent his time paying his dues. He played the clubs in Chicago, the jooks in Mississippi, and road houses up and down the "Blues Highway". Then he took his music to California and started all over again. He loved California so much that he finally moved there. He never forgets his roots though and every few months he packs up his retinue of friends, family, and musicians and makes the 2000 mile trip from California back to Mississippi.
You always know when Robert Walker has arrived in town because it is guaranteed to be a traffic stopping entrance. Whether its an old grayhound bus he's revamped into a Walker mobile or a truck he's temporarily painted up to show who's on board it's guaranteed to be attention getting and as flamboyant as the man who drives her.
His stage performances are full of energy, he dances, prances, and revs up the audience. Whenever he comes to town the jooks are going to be hopping. So if you are traveling through Bobo, Mississippi some evening and you see a large crowd of people going into Thompson Grocery stop and see if Robert "Bilbo" Walker is in town. Then prepare yourself for some Blues.
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Guitar legend Les Paul died today. The guitarist and inventor changed the course of music with the electric guitar and multitrack recording.He also had a string of hits, many with wife Mary Ford. He was 94.According to Gibson Guitar, Paul died of complications from pneumonia at White Plains Hospital. His family and friends were by his side.
He had been hospitalized in February 2006 when he learned he won two Grammys for an album he released after his 90th birthday, "Les Paul & Friends: American Made, World Played.""I feel like a condemned building with a new flagpole on it," he joked.As an inventor, Paul helped bring about the rise of rock 'n' roll and multitrack recording, which enables artists to record different instruments at different times, sing harmony with themselves, and then carefully balance the "tracks" in the finished recording.
With Ford, his wife from 1949 to 1962, he earned 36 gold records and 11 No. 1 pop hits, including "Vaya Con Dios," "How High the Moon," "Nola" and "Lover." Many of their songs used overdubbing techniques that Paul the inventor had helped develop."I could take my Mary and make her three, six, nine, 12, as many voices as I wished," he recalled. "This is quite an asset." The overdubbing technique was highly influential on later recording artists such as the Carpenters.
The use of electric guitar gained popularity in the mid-to-late 1940s, and then exploded with the advent of rock the 1950s."Suddenly, it was recognized that power was a very important part of music," Paul once said. "To have the dynamics, to have the way of expressing yourself beyond the normal limits of an unamplified instrument, was incredible.
Today a guy wouldn't think of singing a song on a stage without a microphone and a sound system."A tinkerer and musician since childhood, he experimented with guitar amplification for years before coming up in 1941 with what he called "The Log," a four-by-four piece of wood strung with steel strings."I went into a nightclub and played it. Of course, everybody had me labeled as a nut." He later put the wooden wings onto the body to give it a tradition guitar shape.
In 1952, Gibson Guitars began production on the Les Paul guitar.Pete Townsend of The Who, Steve Howe of Yes, jazz great Al DiMeola and Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page all made the Gibson Les Paul their trademark six-string.Over the years, the Les Paul series has become one of the most widely used guitars in the music industry. In 2005, Christie's auction house sold a 1955 Gibson Les Paul for $45,600.
BOTTLE TREES Felder and a bottle tree at Disney's Epcot Center The first bottle tree I remember ever seeing - at least the first one anyone explained to me - was alongside a dusty farm road alongside the Sunflower River, which snakes through the heart of Mississippi Delta cotton fields where I was raised. I was fifteen years old.
Since then I have photographed hundreds of these unique landscape accessories, from every state in the South to gardens in the Pacific Northest, Southern California, New England, Midwest, and even in upper Michigan. Plus Europe, South America, and Africa.
Many web sites now mention bottle trees, and quite a few offer them for sale. But most continue to pass around the same tired old history and lore, without getting into the, uh, "spirit" of what they are all about. This page - and my link to bottle tree history - is a partial compilation of many years of observation and research.
For thousands of years, superstition has held that bottles can trap bad spirits at night, which are then destroyed in the next day's sunlight - legends of "bottle "imps" and geniis in lamps originated in Arabia over three thousand years ago, and have been handed down through sub-Saharan Africa, up to Europe, and finally to North America.
For more bottle tree history go to my History of Bottle Trees. See below: Meanwhile, here are just over a hundred examples of my hundreds of bottle tree photographs; all are original images except for three which were shared by friends. ENJOY! Or better yet, GET INSPIRED! Rural Mississippi Bottle Tree
History of the Bottle Tree In Africa the kongo tree altar is a tradition of honoring deceased relatives with graveside memorials. The family will surround the grave with plates attached to sticks or trees.
The plates are thought to resemble mushrooms, calling on a Kongo pun: “matondo”/”tondo” [the kongo word for “mushroom” is similar to their word “to love”].
During the slave trade this tradition migrated to the southern United States where the slaves would place bottles in trees in hopes that the evil spirits would go into the bottles and be trapped. Once the evil spirits were trapped the slaves would cork the bottles and throw them into the river to wash away the evil spirits.
The Bottle Tree Man has modernized this tradition with his welded wrought iron “Tree” base. What are the advantages? It endures the elements very well, and is removable and can be relocated. Most importantly, the Bottle Tree or Bottle Bush does not sacrifice a live tree for the yard ornament. The bottle tree is based on the belief that the shiny, colored glass can attract and then trap the evil spirits.
It is a beautiful addition to any garden. The colorful glass adorning the “limbs” will catch the light of the sun and will display a dazzling light show.
I made my first bottle tree as a favor for my wife after I was inspired by seeing a milk churn filled with metal rods with bottles on the ends. She loved it, and soon word got around and I had more orders than I could fill on my own. I asked a long time friend to help me with the welding, and John Sabin accepted during 1997.
I started the website with help from my son-in-law in late 2005 and had immediate success with visitors and customers from all over the country. In the fall of 2006 John left to pursue missionary work, since then I have been working on my own with occasional help from family and friends.
I have been having a great time supplying customers with beautiful trees for their homes and businesses. I hope to continue for many years to come!In summer 2008 we are delighted to introduce a new member of the Bottle Tree factory, Lee Stowers http://thebottletreeman.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009 Natchez Characters - Tommy Polk 2009 Kisatchi-Delta Regional Grassroots Citizen of the Year Kisatchie-Delta Regional Executive Director Heather Smoak Urena presenting 2009 Regional Grassroots Citizen award to Tommy Polk Natchez/Vidalia resident Tommy Polk was honored with the 2009 Regional Grassroots Citizen Award at the annual Kisatchie-Delta Regional Planning & Development District banquet on July28 at the Main Street Community Center in Pineville, Louisiana.The Kisatchie-Delta Regional Planning & Development District, Inc. is a nonprofit, planning and development agency serving Avoyelles, Catahoula, Concordia, Grant, La Salle, Rapides, Vernon and Winn Parishes in Louisiana. The agency provides economic development assistance to the region in order to create and retain jobs and improve the quality of life in the area.This is the third year Kisatchie-Delta Regional has presented the Grassroots award, which is intended to recognize an individual outside of local government and/or the professional field of community and economic development for their contributions with the Kisatchie-Delta District.Polk, a native of Concordia Parish, returned to the area in 2007 following a successful 20-year career as a songwriter in Nashville, Tennessee, and in the hospitality industry in Clarksdale, Mississippi. His Natchez guesthouse, Shantybellum, is an adjunct to his guesthouses in Clarksdale. In addition, Mr. Polk has contributed his talents both in business and in music to assist in the revitalization of the music culture in Ferriday, Louisiana. In 2008, Polk received funding from the Louisiana Lieutenant Governor’s office and the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism for the first annual Ferriday Songfest, which was held in October and was attended by songwriting hopefuls from Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Mr.Polk was nominated for the award by Concordia Parish Economic Director Heather Malone with a letter of support by Vidalia Chamber of Commerce Director Jamie Burley. “Tommy is always there with a willing hand as well as a smile on his face,” said Ms. Burley. “His kindness and generosity have affected not only me and my family, personally, but also the Kisatchie-Delta Region. It would be nice to have a few more Tommy Polks roaming Concordia Parish." Kisatchie-Delta Regional Executive Director Heather Smoak Urena agreed: “ [Ms. Burley] specifically mentioned Tommy’s enthusiasm, originality, good-natured outlook, and willingness to go the extra mile to help both individuals and the community,” said Urena, “and we are pleased to join her in these accolades.” The award came as a surprise to Mr. Polk, who said, “I’m very honored and deeply touched to have received such wonderful recognition.”Story and Photo by Elodie Pritchartt
Sunday August 9th 2:00PM Hopson Plantation Commissary
Come join Sam Carr and a lineup of world class musicians at the 3rd Annual Sam Carr Appreciation Day from 2-8 PM. Past performers include James “Super Chikan” Johnson, Billy Gibson, T Model Ford, Robert “Bilbo” Walker, Terry “Big T” Williams, Mississippi Adam Riggle, 19th Street Red, Bill “Howlin Mad” Perry, Stan Street, Terry Harmonica Bean, The world famous Mississippi Spoonman, and many others. Wait until you all see who all we have lined up this year!!
World Class Entertainment – Great Food – Excitement
This years Raffle and Auction include an autographed Fernandez Guitar, lodging at the Shackup Inn, Merchandise from Delmark Records, Earwig Records, Cathead Delta Records and folk art, Hick’s BBQ and Tamale Shop, Delta Amusements and many other great prizes from local merchants and Restaurants!!
Flyers courtesy of Tricia’s Italian Restaurant and Pie Hole, 226 Yazoo, Clarksdale