Blues to make another mark on Bottom

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 3, 2009

Created in 1874 as an entertainment thoroughfare for the black community — one of the first of its kind in America — Vicksburg’s Marcus Bottom neighborhood quickly became a hotbed of juke joints that were regular stops for many famed and infamous bluesmen on the “Chitlin’ Circuit” through the 1960s.

If you go

The unveiling of Vicksburg’s fourth Mississippi Blues Trail marker will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday in Delia’s Park, near the corner of Halls Ferry Road and Military Street in Marcus Bottom.

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On Wednesday, the Mississippi Blues Commission will unveil a Mississippi Blues Trail marker at Delia’s Park in Marcus Bottom to commemorate the area’s place in blues history. Speakers will include Mayor Paul Winfield, Mississippi Blues Commissioner Dr. Edgar Smith and Earnest McBride, a Marcus Bottom native and Jackson Advocate contributing editor.

“Marcus Bottom was the No. 1 venue for blues and jazz during the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s,” said McBride. “Willie Dixon found his blues legs in historic Marcus Bottom, hanging outside the South Side Park.”

One of Vicksburg’s three existing blues markers honors Dixon, who was born in Vicksburg in 1915 and became known as “the father of the blues” in Chicago after the bassist penned hundreds of hit blues songs in the 1940s and ’50s for such artists as Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters and Sonny Boy Williamson. Two other blues markers in the city honor The Red Tops and the blues legacy surrounding U.S. 61, which formerly ran through downtown Vicksburg along what is now Washington Street. A fifth blues marker is planned to honor the legendary Blue Room nightclub.

The Marcus Bottom marker will be the 98th installed on the Mississippi Blues Trail since the state blues commission began the project in 2004. Roughly 120 markers and interpretive sites throughout the state are planned. The blues trail has been funded primarily with grant monies from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mississippi Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.

“These markers are making a significant difference in not only the resurgence of the blues as an important part of our culture in Mississippi, but also as a potential factor in future economic development. These markers are attracting tourists,” said Smith, who also grew up in Vicksburg.

If it rains Wednesday, Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Bill Seratt said the unveiling event will be in LD’s Kitchen No. 2, next to Delia’s Park, at 2600 Halls Ferry Road.


Contact Steve Sanoski at