Hello Little Blues Man

DATELINE:  April 13, 2001
Bolton, Mississippi

t was what I have come to refer to as Good Friday the 13th -- check your calendar. 

Bolton was the home of the Chatmon Family that spawned the famous Mississippi Sheiks.  Bo Carter (Armenter Chatmon) was a member of the Mississippi Sheiks, but he also had a distinguished solo career between 1928 and 1940, recording more than 100 titles.

Bo was known for using sexual motifs and double entendre in his lyrics, which was a popular thing to do in the "Party Music" of his day.  But his lyrics were backed by complex and rhythmic guitar playing that made him an outstanding entertainer.  In his late twenties Bo Carter went blind and settled into life as a street singer.  People naturally wanted to know what made someone like Bo tick and what was the impetus for the sexual content of his songs.  According to his brother, Sam Chatmon, Bo was not a womanizer, and his songs were just a way for him to make a living.

It had been raining Friday morning when Eddie and I planned to record Bo Carter's song Old Devil.  After lunch it looked like the rain would hold off, so we rolled on over to Bolton, Mississippi from Jackson.  It was hazy and overcast as we made our way into the small town just off of Interstate 20.  Maybe it was the holiday or perhaps just the small southern town thing, but as soon as we got to Bolton everything began to slow down to a livable pace. 

The water tank, as water tanks tend to do sometimes, stands right in the middle of town, proudly letting everyone know that this is Bolton.  We found an inviting shelter out on the old school grounds just barely within sight of the water tank and went back downtown to ask permission from the high sheriff to record in the shelter.  It was a warm day, and as Eddie opened the screen door to enter the police station an old hound dog took that opportunity to get inside out of the heat.  The sheriff was off, it being a holiday and all, and the deputy felt the sheriff was the one to grant permission.

The deputy was in a bit of a quandary just how to proceed.  Finally Eddie said, "If somebody was going to arrest us today, that would probably be you, wouldn't it?"  The deputy agreed that was so.  Eddie said, "You're probably not going to arrest us, are you?"  The deputy said, "Probably not."  So there you go.

Copyright 2001 Thomasfilms, Inc.