Mississippi Roads; Delta Blues Musuem
Is. There strong need to show you this week. You know what you know to say. Well. Damn thing you're. With. Now. Well our welcome back to Mississippi roads. I'm your host well crisis. And we're coming to you from the heart of the Delta the crossroads Clarksdale. Where at the Delta Blues museum. On this edition of This Is A B road tunes and history heavy in the air at a
Clarksdale radio museum. We found a program that aims to cure the ailing need for doctors in the world Mississippi come along as we await an olive branch over a guitar collection. There are lots of displays on exhibit here at the Delta Blues museum in Clarksdale But if you like something new and fresh they have a rotating exhibit that changes out about every four or five months. True Blues royalty is featured by. Legendary drummer Sam Carr. Sam was born here in Cullman County back in 1926. He's the son of Blues slide guitar great Robert Nighthawk. Sam began playing the blues in the 1940s and has played everything from juke joints to international festivals. He's best known in these parts of playing the big Jack Johnson and Frank frost. They made up a jelly roll came. Sam cars one of the most important blues drummers ever to come out of the Mississippi Delta to make sure you stop by and check out this display.
And speaking of the blues the next story we're going to travel just down the street to the W R O X radio Museum here in Clarksdale. That pays tribute to early right. One of the first African-American deejays in the south. It's built in like this is the hops and beautiful buildings built in 1920s on historical registry. Because of that they are way and early ride for ever more. This jockey has died in Mississippi back in 1964. Fellow by the name of Marshall McLuhan in a work he wrote entitled understanding media. First came up with the often quoted statement that the medium is the message. In this building in downtown Clarksdale the medium was w r o x radio and the message came through loud and clear. We are here and so are you. Mississippi's first African-American disc jockey early right went to work here on the evening shift in the 1940s
and stayed on the air here for over 50 years. A few years ago Bubba O'Keefe bought the building not knowing a lot about its history at the time. But when bits and pieces of what happened here began to filter in. Plans were changed for what to do with the place. Well when we purchased a building to put a retail store into relocate a retail store downtown Clarksdale and a good friend of our family told me that she made the comment where you know it was plastic press that played upstairs in the studio and I said no I didn't. And I looked at my brother house and we go I have to do something with this and from theirs. Is it just became a springboard for bringing things back home to the dockyard studio that would otherwise be thrown away. Well Elvis performing live here on W R O X in his early career turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg. Rocker Ike Turner got his start
in an unlikely way on the radio station as a janitor. Before becoming a disjunct. And then a musician Ltd and Turner had a friend by the name of Jackie Princeton wrote what's come to be known as the first rock n roll song ever here. It's Rocket 88. They recorded it just up the road in Memphis with the tape master being leased Chess Records and released in Chicago. Now as all this came to light. All of it associated with this building. Bubba O'Keefe. Became all the more excited about what he had. And became all the more aware that this probably was never going to be addressed or Elvis played up stairs in the studio twice. We think promoting his local shows here to learn it. Ike Turner recorded the first rock n roll song ever Rocket 88 as a child I thought rock n roll began in Liverpool England with the Beatles and a British invasion. And to think he was right here in the building that I have. Yeah I mean I get
chill bumps talking about it. But the glue that holds all these pieces together is the tenure of really right and it's early right. It was the spark the conversion that. They have played together you know ladies and gentlemen how do you do this your soul man to be with you on tell it get through I want to stand back don't have no fear fight and you're sure I should play one like this and come out of here. And a lot of things that are great about her the ride was he was you know such a simple man not well educated not educated at all but to become known around the world to be interviewed by night last 20 20 seen in national publications as well as international. And I have a scholarship in his name you know Mrs. quite something.
And that's why we have our museum we want to tell people I can't thank you enough but some good number of chivalry had gotten him in free and new and most famous the most welcoming John. I got dumped on with Buck Owens and Mr. LOGAN. Well he had two shows. He had blues and he had gospel and he never mix the two. When he was doing blues it was a soul man. When you play gospel it was early right. And when he made that transition from blues or gospel he'd say no more soul man or no more than right. There's a lot more in the building the W R O X however although much of it is early Wright's personal collection of tapes and records. I'm most intrigued that the vast majority of these audiotapes are unlabeled and have not been played in decades. No telling when it's on I'm going through and listening to them is like panning for gold.
Ladies and gentlemen the former really right came to tell you our own acts. He was a songwriter. Each asked mystic stance with his composition 75 trombones. You are listening to the wonderful sounds of great music from w o much radio popularity proving number one in fact. But for the w r awakes museum to tell its story Cleary a lot of dedication and refining and hard work. But Baba O'Keefe has the passion of discovery to keep him fired up. Where's the passion. Growing up in Clarksdale and just being a part of the just the local culture and knowing that people were coming here from all around the world. I think it we're kind of like to scrap or donate for the blue and for local history. I want people to know about early rock.
I believe I got a new one here and I believe I won't play another one off how likely people are. To discover. The pot of gold right there in the old backyard. That had to be chased rainbows all over the world would keep in Clarksdale has found it. I've been out of the van or out of the w r o x museum. When I hears a display you can't miss. It's a pretty big. This is the cabin where Muddy Waters grew up when he lived near Clarksville. The legendary blues man was a sharecropper on Stovall plantation back in the 1900s 930. He was discovered and recorded by musicologists Alan Lomax. The money would be a part of the northern migration of blacks in the 1930s. He would be credited with
electrifying the blues when he plugged his guitar into an amplifier in order to be heard over the noise of the city of Chicago. What you won't find a shortage of blues musicians in the delta. But doctors on the other hand while they've been leading the landscape in record numbers. But in our next story we take a look at a program designed to cure this flight of physicians that's been plaguing the rural parts of our state. The average doctor spends 10 to 15 years on payout. Rather think the average medical student that far is right. Down. To Mississippi be very little. Their substance. Use that has no face. Or thanks to. Travel. To other parts of a qualified medical.
My mom when I was about 5 years old and I kept saying I will be a doctor I'll be a doctor and she was a nurse so I got interested in her going through her medical books and a gross anatomy to get a dictionary and read her medical dictionary so I was hooked for a very young age. I grew up in our Water Valley. It's a small town in the north Mississippi and my great aunt was a family physician and I worked with him some when I was in high school and kind of started to develop an interest in medicine than him. I continued in college you know it started way back when I was young really. Medical School was not easy for me it was difficult and have overcome a lot of challenges and I was trying to find a way to pay off my growing through loaned without going into debt because I originally would want to start my own practice so that was going to be a mounting dad already had a family I would take care of. There's just a lot of money to have to respect I think it's it's difficult
as a student you know to us to not worry about paying your bills. Debt is a factor that. Influences them a lot of time especially and go into our area that may be a position shortage under sorrow or real. We have two programs that we administer. One of the family. Madison loan scholarship program and the other is the family medicine law more payment to the Family Medical Education scholarship program. Is a program that the biota first year med student or anywhere in between up to the fourth year of med school and it pays for the full cost of attendance so that that student will not have to borrow those dollars to help provide marriage education for that year. You're required every year to reapply and I just kind of gives him an update which are still in school you're still making you know the grades you need but it's after your initial application it's really a simple process to will you just do it over the other side of that
is that there is a fire was commissioned with this program. I'm actually here at a post when I graduate medical school I'm required to complete a family medicine residency which is a three year residency and then I will be required to serve a six year commitment in order. He said It's nice that family medical education. Program is really a benefit to that practicing physician who's in the community. You incur quite a bit of debt proper play from attending medical school and that's what we days a week out to repay those loans for that position. Those are just a way to keep from going under and I was overwhelmed on how we're going to pay off from the dead. Once you do start making your salary most of it's going toward loans you want to start a practice. But generally most doctors have played 10 or 15 years to start. But here I was able to start to practice good hand years here. So they gave me a big boost right out there.
The idea behind the program. Would be to attract qualified health care physician. Into rural areas of our state. A lot of communities do not have access to physicians and we talk about the way areas in Mississippi it's really the majority of counties in Mississippi that you could practice and they're only literally a few that are not classified as rule counties in Mississippi So really your your opportunities to practice and Mississippi under the program and still you know the majority of the state. I basically came the car still because I wanted the one year Memphis but still I have some freedom and space for my family on my own. So I rolled around so you know it's a small town that basically had everything. Albert Park still for very many people it's really nice very down people nice to get
recognized the whole Hadar bird at the grocery store so that patients really connect with you. So it's been really great since I've been here I've actually bought real estate here so I don't plan to rejoin you anywhere. Course the commitment was a long time and I had to certainly think about it but I knew the family medicine was something I've always wanted and I knew that I wanted to go back home and practice which happens to be a rural area in Mississippi so I knew that I would have to be concerned about the memo because I would be doing anyway. My family is very excited about me coming right to practice in my hometown. Actually the whole town is excited about every time I go back everyone's always asking and I went to my going to finish coming back. Everybody is excited about it and I think most of my friends are jealous because I don't have any longs. Contact us aside. For helping them and they are really looking forward to coming back this time. And being in that community providing that service. And we have had the doctors time back the things we have to revive thank you so much for paying back my
student. While the. Program really have been a big boost and I would recommend it to anybody very highly. I've been here almost 4 years now and so it's just kind of linebackers are so busy so the time frame you don't think about it you've got so much to do. Raising a family and doing business doctor. I mean it just goes by so quickly and then if you pick and choose in an interview area and get out there and meet the people or you make a decision as to where the girl did go wrong I think that those programs are a huge success both to the position for getting to know the area the community and the community benefits as well as I have that the staff there and they're not having to travel great distances to get there all by there really is a wonderful time to not have to worry about your financial situation when your medical school board offers you the
freedom to think about your education and the great thing is it is a commitment. But if you do change your mind you're not album. Get all their money back. It's really a win win situation. Well there's no shortage of guitars at the Delta Blues museum. You'll find a lot of Stella guitars on display here. Doubles were preferred by the old blues men because well they were cheap. And they were durable. But they sounded great. Big Joe Williams 12 string guitars on
display here he preferred to use only 9 of the strings when he played. But probably the most famous of the guitars was also featured here at the museum Lucille B.B. King's sweetheart. It served him well from his humble beginnings and then you know. And speaking of guitars. In our next story we're going to travel right up the road to olive branch and meet a man who has a pretty extensive collection of guitars of his own. This is the way Jeff Brown of olive branch prefers to spend a Sunday afternoon. In his music room playing his favorite guitar from his collection of guitars only. Usually he's by himself without a camera and microphone intruding on it. We're here because Jeff has put together an impressive collection of guitars and we wanted to see it. Nice playing is nice to.
Quiet like hear us mellow. Jeff prefers not to use a pick. It's too harsh. That's a far cry from the way his life started out as the child of a touring Pentecostal evangelistic family. There was always a piano or a guitar and so it was just kind of a natural progression to go play. One of the instruments and my mother and my step brother and myself had a trio that we sang in church and my mother and father sang the first guitar I was ever around was a Fender Telecaster that my dad bought for the church and we traded it for a car later on. When I was about 12 or so I started playing guitar and the girls started to notice.
And just like everybody else I liked it when the girls notice. So I enjoyed that and I started playing in bands and that caused a conflict with my father and that got to be a really dramatic part of my life I spent probably 10 years where we didn't even speak. And going through it I felt like he was the bad guy. But in retrospect you know I was being a kid I was being a young man and but I enjoyed the attention and then it got after a while I got to where I really wanted to learn how to play and. It wasn't so much the attention anymore and the music that's kind of where I'm at now.
Rather than be in some popular man I would rather make good music somewhere. Jeff began thinking one guitar wasn't enough. At one time he had over 100 guitars in his collection. He's narrowed it down to about the top 35 favorites now there are new ones like the Parker Fly he refers to like many old ones Gibsons and Fenders and Martin's. Some valuable some. He just likes the little white one there. So I got that one out of the trash can. We had it all glued back together and put back together. The red one is the one that my cousin bought for many many years ago and he never did play it so I finally talking and let me have it. This one here is a Western Auto guitar. This is a Sears Silvertone guitar. Well actually this started about nineteen
eighty something like that I got to where I had kept this one for ever. This was from when I was 12 and. I just I bought a store. It's from one of the things that started the couple that I know that was a piano player from Indiana had been talked into carrying a bunch of guitars from my wholesaler and he had no idea how to sell them and that went on for about five or six years and he hadn't sold hardly anything. So I went in and purchased everything he had and then started trading guitars and I would trade two for 1 for some of this stuff and. Then it's just kind of snowballed from there. You know I think of the guitar and the song will come out of the
guitar or it was sad to me but the guitar the sound that comes out of the TAR will kind of yeah dictate what what's what's being played in the morning. If I and this chap Brown says he'd like to write songs now. He's been painting since that first day when he was 12. He would seriously like to take the next step after playing music creating it. That's one of the things I want to do once I get retired is just to spend a lot of time in here and write if I can. That was one of the goals that I stated I would like to have. I took a top five song by somebody you know quiet songs reflected melody like Jeff Brown.
Delta Blues museum in Clarksdale than just this place. They also have an arts and education program designed to teach the kids of the area how to play. And that's also alive and well. And the youngsters here in the program recently traveled to Chicago and performed at the Chicago Blues Festival and then they also play at the Sunflower river Blues Festival here on the grounds of the Delta Blues museum in Clarksdale. So tonight we're going to leave you with a little blues. OK a few more lessons wouldn't hurt.
- Mississippi Roads
- Delta Blues Musuem
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- Mississippi Public Broadcasting (Jackson, Mississippi)
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- Mississippi Roads is a magazine showcasing Mississippi's uniques landmarks, culture, and history.
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- APA: Mississippi Roads; Delta Blues Musuem. Boston, MA: Mississippi Public Broadcasting, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_60-203xsm0f