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Editorial

The history of Vicksburg is in the Blues

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Willie Dixon (Photo by Len Carlson, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

The spirit of the Blues is alive today and it lives right where it grew in Vicksburg Mississippi.

In a quest to discover more about the history of Vicksburg, I realized it’s all around us. All we need to do is listen. When you’re listening to the Blues, listening is easy. What many people don’t know is how tightly knit Vicksburg is, not only to the Blues, but furthermore Rock, Jazz and the influences found in music today. Not only has Vicksburg produced lots of Blues music, there’s also Blues music written about Vicksburg. Hugh Laurie produced a version of the song, “The Vicksburg Blues” that I absolutely love.

If you’re a tourist, you may see Vicksburg with bright eyes and childlike excitement. Certainly, it’s a truly beautiful and unique place overgrown with as much history as there is kudzu. What locals rarely stop to appreciate amidst the bustle of everyday life, are the blue plaques placed all over town that shed light on the deeply rooted history Blues music has in the city.

According to local sources (including blues musicians who still reside within our town,) Vicksburg was once a place with clubs and jazzy venues on every corner.

The Blue Room was specifically brought up. I was informed that nationally known bands from all over the country played their music there. After investigating, I learned that the Blue Room, owned by Tom “Fancy Tom” Wince, was a venue visited by incredible musicians such as B. B. King, Louis Armstrong, and Ray Charles. The gravity of what this did for the city is infinite.

Art, culture, food, music; all of this was influenced by the greatest of the greats. They painted our small Mississippi community in bold hues and vibrant jazz notes. This is where the roots run, the secrets dance, where the real truths can be discovered. What took off in the 1940’s and early 1950’s paved a path for a city that still screams the blues despite having lost touch along the way.

I’m on a journey to discover more about these untold and forgotten stories. With the assistance of some of Vicksburg’s oldest living citizens as well as some beautiful recollections from the original Blue’s Society members, we’ll dive deep into some of the more fascinating aspects of our history and how it’s helped shape the musical world we live in today.

If you wonder if the Blues still lives in Vicksburg, take a stroll down Washington street. You’ll feel it in the air and see it in the places you don’t always look. The energy of blues and jazz will reverberate off the buildings for lifetimes to come.

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