Vicksburg natives performing benefit concert for River City Rescue Mission

Published 1:22 pm Friday, November 3, 2023

Vicksburg natives Edley Jones and Barry Cockrell had a love of music that began at an early age, but when career and family took center stage the two men put down their guitars.

Now that life has slowed down, Jones and Cockrell have revived their inner musicians and formed a duo called the Diddy Wah Daddies.

Each year, the Diddy Wah Daddies set aside one performance as a fundraiser, Jones said, with proceeds going to a non-profit organization. This year, the duo will perform Nov. 10 at The Biscuit Company of Vicksburg, with proceeds benefiting the River City Rescue Mission.

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“Each year we dedicate a gig to raising money for organizations that feed the homeless at Thanksgiving,” Jones said. And since Jones had plans of returning to the River City for his high school class reunion, this seemed like the perfect opportunity for the men to return to their old stomping grounds.

Jones and Cockrell met at Carr Central Junior High School, where both were members of the school’s marching band.

Jones said he had been in a “little Rock and Roll band” called the Cougars before meeting Cockrell, but that band eventually broke up.

Then the Yellow Pages was formed, Jones said, with band members including Jones, Cockrell, Henry Cloud, Bob Morrison, Michael Barrett and Gene Farris, but it, too, disbanded. Jones and Cockrell remained friends after the breakup, but Jones said they lost touch with each other when he moved from the public school to All Saints.

Nevertheless, this was not the end of the men’s friendship. Jones and Cockrell met up again while students at Millsaps College, but music was not part of their reunion.

Another goodbye followed when both men headed out to their respective law schools.

The beat goes on

With his juris doctorate in hand, Jones returned to Vicksburg and played with the band Locomotion, which included band members Lee Abraham, Bill Cook, Kimble Slaton and Daniel Boone. He continued to play music when he moved to Jackson.

“I jumped into bands over here in (Jackson), but ultimately the demands of a legal practice shut me down,” Jones said.

Cockrell, who also lived in Jackson, didn’t get back into music until a bit later in life.

“Barry had a late-life renaissance. Just as I was quitting, Barry was getting back into music,” Jones said.

“I didn’t play in any bands after high school,” Cockrell said, but at 50, he said he decided it was time to take up a hobby. Instead of golf, he opted to play music.

“I went out and bought a nice Fender electric guitar, which I couldn’t afford in my younger years,” Cockrell said.

After strumming around on his own for a while, Cockrell said he got connected with Rainey Scott, another Vicksburg native, with whom he had been in a band during high school.

Cockrell and Scott wound up forming the band Jam House, which he described as a “true Rock and Roll band with drums and the whole deal.”

“But it was more successful than I expected because, when it became a second job instead of a hobby, I decided it was too much,” he said.

Therefore, after almost 10 years with Jam House, Cockrell chose to “hang it up” in 2012.

Back together again

While the world was still in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jones said he called Cockrell to see if he would be interested in reuniting.

“I guess it was around 2021 and I said, ‘Hey let’s get the band back together,’ and after 50 years we put together this group,” Jones said. “It was the one good thing that came out of the pandemic.”

Getting back together was easy, Jones said, but finding a name for the duo was a struggle. Jones said he and Cockrell ultimately settled on Diddy Wah Daddies in tribute to Blues legend Willie Dixon.

Dixon was born in Vicksburg in 1915 and is honored on one of the city’s riverfront murals, as well as on a Mississippi Blues Trail marker downtown on Willie Dixon Way.

Dixon, Jones said, wrote more than 500 songs, including “Diddy Wah Diddy,” which was co-written with Bo Diddley.

“So as a tribute to Dixon and our hometown, we decided to call ourselves the “Diddy Wah Daddies,” he said.

The Diddy Wah Daddies have performed at a variety of venues including The Cedars in Canton. They have opened for the Mississippi Symphony Orchestra and have performed at house parties.

Jones plays the acoustic and electric guitar, and the harmonica, and Cockrell plays bass. Genres of music performed include rock, rhythm and blues, Americana, and original tunes Jones has written and composed.

One song Jones said the duo performs at every gig is one he wrote about the late Jesse Hayes, an original member of the Red Tops band.

When Jones was 10 years old, he said, his father had convinced Hayes to teach him guitar. As a tribute to his early mentor, Jones pays homage in his song.

The Diddy Wah Daddies will kick off their performance at the Biscuit Company at 9 p.m. and play until midnight. There is no cover charge for the fundraiser.

Jones said, getting back together with Cockrell has been “lots of fun.”

“Barry and I have very similar styles and we blend really well together. There’s no egos and no tension. It’s just all about getting a good sound and having a good time,” he said.

For more information on the Diddy Wah Daddies, visit

About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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