Advantage Mississippi! – The Blues Trail

Encourage Your Clients to Create Music, Movies and Books in Mississippi’s Entertainment Economy!

Often during one of my classes in Entertainment Law at Mississippi College or at Ole Miss a student will ask, “Where do you think is the best place to start an Entertainment law practice – Los Angeles, New York or Nashville?” My response to this frequently asked question never fails to startle all the students in the class.

My standard answer is, “If I were beginning my legal career and wanted to focus on entertainment law, the place with the most advantages would be anywhere in Mississippi.” The initial looks of disbelief from the students automatically generates the follow-up question, “Why Mississippi?”

It is at this point I begin my factual build-up to support my statement.

After 36 years of practicing entertainment law and teaching courses in Negotiation and Entertainment Law for over 30 years, I have condensed my Mississippi centric argument to “10 Reasons to Create Music, Movies and Books in Mississippi’s Entertainment Economy”. Here is the first of those reasons to support my position.

Reason #1 Follow the Mississippi’s Blues Trail to Ignite Your Creative Passion:

Creative people are passionate people. They are moved by emotion and relate to the emotion wrapped into any artistic creation in their particular genre, be it music, movies, literature, fine art, dance or whatever the art form. Because of this instinctive sensitivity creative people look all around them for inspiration. One of the primary sources for a jolt of creativity comes from the works of predecessors no matter where they may be found. For the lover of blues music, young or old, amateur or professional, the mecca for inspiration from the past can be found in the Mississippi Blues Trail.

Dotting the landscape of Mississippi are 174 Blues Trail “Markers”, each of which commemorates a famous person or place that has significantly contributed to helping the music known as the “blues” to flourish, and flourished it has in a way that separates Mississippi from any other place on earth.

Let’s start in Indianola, home of the “King of the Blues” – B.B. King – considered to be the most influential musician in the history of the blues.

BB (short for Blues Boy) spent his earliest years living in a share cropper’s cabin a little more than half a mile from the present location of his Blues Trail marker. From humble beginnings in 1925 to 2008 when Mississippi honored him with the opening of the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interactive Center in Indianola his global reach is unparalleled in the world of blues music. Consider a few of his collaborative recordings with artists covering a wide musical spectrum such as Willie Nelson, U2, Eric Clapton and Luciano Pavarotti. These super stars sought out the son of a Mississippi share cropper to attach themselves to his legacy. B.B. King allowed them inside his throne room – in Mississippi.

The Mississippi Blues Trail leads you to Magnolia, just south of McComb, where one of the founders of Rock n’ Roll was born in 1928. Bo Diddley’s songs have been covered by a cast of musical greats – Buddy Holly, the Rolling Stones, The Who and many others. Bo Didley’s distinctive rhythm and beat and his pioneering use of electronic distortion still reverberate through hit recordings of today.

There are many stops along the trail paying homage to Charley Patton, Charlie Musselwhite, Denise LaSalle, Honeyboy Edwards, Howlin’ Wolf, Son House, Willie Dixon, Sonny Boy Williamson and Pinetop Perkins just to name a few. Of course, no blues lover can leave the trail without visiting the marker for Muddy Waters and the shrine to Robert Johnson. Considered one of the most legendary Delta blues musicians, Robert Johnson’s compositions have been recorded by iconic artists such as Elmore James, Eric Clapton, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin.

Also appearing on the Blues Trail is a marker in Meridian for the “Father of Country Music”, Jimmie Rogers. Why is a country artist commemorated on a blues marker? Any blues afficiano can tell you – because Jimmie Rogers influenced blues music with his famous “blue yodels” which can be heard in the music of Mississippi blues artists such as Howlin’ Wolf, Mississippi John Hurt, Tommy Johnson and the Mississippi Sheiks. More than a third of Rogers’ recordings were blues. Many of his most popular recordings were versions of old blues classics such as Frankie and Johnnie.

One last marker to visit – Elvis Presley. He revolutionized popular music and is hailed as the “King of Rock n’ Roll”. Many of the first songs Elvis recorded were covers of earlier blues recordings which he continued to incorporate into his records and live performances throughout his career.

For the passionate blues musician in China, Brazil, Japan, Canada, Australia, or at home in the U.S.A., Mississippi is the place these enthusiasts look to for inspiration. The Mississippi Blues Trail provides them with shrines to their musical heroes to help fuel their creative passion. No other place can offer this awe inspiring link to the past which in turn guarantees the continuation of the blues in the future. Just another reason why Mississippi is the Birthplace of America’s Music.

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