Ferriday joins Mississippi Blues Trail

Published 12:05 am Sunday, May 23, 2010

FERRIDAY — The Mississippi Blues trail now extends into Louisiana.

The 107th Mississippi Blues Trail marker was dedicated in Ferriday Saturday, unveiled by local blues musicians YZ Ealey, Hezekiah Early and Lil’ Poochie.

The marker, which is located in front of the Delta Music Museum, commemorates the role the Ferriday nightclub Haney’s Big House played in the delta blues scene. The plaque names Early and Ealey, both who played in the house band, as important musicians associated with the club.

After the unveiling, Ealey said he was honored to see his name listed on the plaque, and Early said he was glad to see local and personal history preserved.

Many blues legends, including B.B. King, Fats Domino and Big Joe Turner played at the club, which was owned and operated by Will Haney.

“Whenever somebody would come in, (Haney) would give us the night off and a free pass to see those bands, and I learned a lot from that,” Early said.

Ferriday is the fifth location for a Mississippi Blues Trail marker to be placed outside of the state of Mississippi. The other locations are Memphis, Helena, Ark., Chicago and Muscle Shoals, Ala.

The uniqueness of the locations was not lost on Delta Music Museum Director Judith Bingham.

“There are not too many markers outside of Mississippi, so we are extra proud (of it),” she said.

Alex Thomas, the music development program manager for the Mississippi Development Authority, said Ferriday was an appropriate place to put a blues trail marker.

“We decided we could not have the blues trail and not talk about the relationship it had with Louisiana,” he said.

The blues trail thus far has been funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mississippi Department of Transportation, and Thomas said MDOT has recently given the program another $1 million to finish the blues trail project.

Wherever a blues trail marker is placed, local match dollars are also used, and Ferriday Mayor Glen McGlothin said the state office of Culture, Recreation and Tourism helped with the match dollars.

Louisiana Rep. Rodney Alexander was in attendance at the unveiling, and he said the idea of promoting the area’s musical heritage was a good one and that he would see what he could do at a federal level to help that effort.

The blues marker unveiling was a part of the larger Will Haney Soul Survivor’s festival, which featured performances by the musicians and talks about the area’s musical heritage. Team Ghost Riders, an entertainment act consisting of capuchin monkeys riding dogs, also performed.