You’ve got to admire a guy who has so many
names. Especially when they are names like Kansas Joe, the
Georgia Pine Boy, Hallelujah Joe, Big Joe, The Mississippi Mudder,
MudDauber Joe and Hamfoot Ham. He was married to Lizzie Douglas.
She was born in Algiers, LA across the river from New Orleans,
and at a young age moved with her parents to Walls, Mississippi.
Lizzie soon began performing on street corners in Memphis as Kid
Joe and Lizzie became a husband and wife team,
discovered when a Columbia record scout heard them singing in a Beale
Street barbershop. Columbia sent them to New York to record and
most likely gave them the names Memphis Minnie and Kansas Joe.
They were highly popular between 1929 and 1934. Minnie
adapted her style to newer trends in music and had a long career making
more than 200 recordings over a 20 year span.
One of Joe's best vocal performances was When the Levee Breaks,
written about the Mississippi flood of 1927. Both he and Minnie
play guitar on their recording.
It’s a breezy day as we drive south from
Memphis along Highway 61. A short trip west out of Walls takes us
to the levee where a clump of trees in a pasture becomes our temporary
studio and helps keep us cool in the warm breeze. To an audience
of grazing cattle Eddie performs, When the