Jackson, Mississippi – On Thursday March 11, 2010, at 10:00 a.m., the 103rd
Mississippi Blues Trail marker will be dedicated in honor of early bluesman Joe Callicott, who was noted for his delicate guitar playing and rich vocals. The ceremony will be held near Callicott’s gravesite in the cemetery of the Mount Olive C.M.E. Church at 1919 Getwell Road in Nesbit, Miss.
“I am proud we can honor Joe Callicott with a marker on the Mississippi Blues Trail,” Governor Haley Barbour said. “His work gained worldwide attention and influenced generations of blues musicians.”
According to census records, Callicott was born in DeSoto County in 1899 and lived most of his life in the Nesbit area. In 1929 and 1930, he recorded for the Brunswick/Vocalion Company in Memphis, but only two songs were issued. Callicott also appeared as the second guitarist on a two-part recording by his close friend and frequent playing partner Garfield Akers (ca. 1900 – 1959), “Cottonfield Blues.” Both men’s recordings are regarded as classics of early Mississippi blues.
Callicott did not pursue a career as a professional musician, but in the late 1960s folklorist George Mitchell located and recorded him in Nesbit. Callicott’s music appeared on albums in both the U.S. and the U.K., and he subsequently performed at blues and folk festivals and traveled as far as New York City to perform. Before his death in 1969, Callicott served as the mentor to Kenny Brown, a young boy who lived next door. Brown later worked closely with R.L. Burnside and recorded some of Callicott’s songs on his own albums.
Brown also performed together with other musicians in the area, including harmonica player Johnny Woods, an occasional collaborator with Mississippi Fred McDowell, and guitarist Bobby Ray Watson, who both lived in the nearby Pleasant Hill community.
Also acknowledged on the marker is legendary musician Jerry Lee Lewis, who moved to Nesbit in 1973 and built a piano-shaped pool on his estate there.
The Mississippi Blues Trail now features over 100 sites. This path offers an unforgettable journey into blues history from the street corners and juke joints where musicians played to the places they called home to their final resting spots. Travelers are invited to walk where they walked, dance where they danced and play in the land where it all began.
For more information on the musicians and promoters honored by the Mississippi Blues Trail, or to submit information on blues artists, contact: Jim O’Neal, Mississippi Blues Trail Research Director 816-931-0383, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact: Jennifer Spann, Tourism Division