Come sing the Blues with Natchez

Published 12:03 am Sunday, August 30, 2009

What plans have you made for this upcoming Labor Day weekend?

As summer draws to a close many will use this opportunity to spend some time with family and friends. You may choose to be outdoors, take a trip, go fishing, fire up the grill or just lie back and relax.

I would like to suggest yet another activity to kick of this holiday weekend. Come out and join us for the “Blues Block Party in the Park.”

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This event will take place at 6:30 p.m., Friday in Jack Waite Park located on McCabe Street (between Saint Catherine and Franklin streets behind the Angeletty House) here in the City of Natchez.

This event will also mark yet another historic milestone for the city, as the Mississippi Development Authority in conjunction with the Mississippi Blues Commission and the City of Natchez’s CVB will be placing the second in a series of commemorative Blues Trail markers planned for this river city.

The first marker, dedicated to the tragic Rhythm Night Club Fire of 1940 is located in front of the NAPAC Museum on Main Street. This new marker will be dedicated to blues performer George “Papa” Lightfoot, a native of Natchez who had formally lived nearby.

Allow me to share with you a little something about George “Papa” Lightfoot. While in his 20s Lightfoot began recording in 1949 as a session man with his mouth harp.

Although sought after within the Blues genres, he remained somewhat obscure to the general public. That was all changed in the year 1969 when record producer Steve LaVere came and visited Lightfoot here in his home in Natchez, and encouraged him to record his acclaimed breakout album “Natchez Trace,” which was released later that year.

True blues lovers were taken by the haunting sounds of Lightfoot. His habit of singing through his harp microphone further coarsened his already rough-hewn vocals, while his harp playing was simply shot through with endless invention.

His untimely death in 1971 brought an end to the musical comeback of this Natchez native, and now his talents will forever be recognized and remembered.

So come out and join us for the “Blues Block Party in the Park’ in honor of George “Papa” Lightfoot for an evening of music, food and fun.

Music will be provided by the Natchez Bluff Blues Band featuring Y.Z. Ealey.

Event partners include: the City of Natchez Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Natchez Bluff Blues Festival, the Grand Soleil Hotel, Pepsi Cola, the Natchez Grand Hotel, Walmart SuperCenter, the Natchez Downtown Development Association, the Natchez Manor Bed & Breakfast, NAPAC, Heard’s Music/Stan’s String Shop and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women- Southwest Mississippi Chapter.

Darrell White is the director of Natchez Association for the Preservation of Afro-American Culture.