On March 16, 1942, blues historian and archivist,
Alan Lomax met William Brown in a tailor shop on Beale Street.
They drove together across the Memphis-Arkansas Bridge to a shack
called Hamp’s Place, located in the middle of a cotton field.
There in what Lomax described in his book, Land
Where the Blues Began, as a, “sweet
true country voice” with “delicate guitar passages at every
pause,” he recorded William Brown’s performance of Mississippi Blues. That
night Lomax heard a man say, “That’s the blues,
that’s the Delta Blues.”
We set our recording equipment up on the eastern
bank of the Mississippi River (Tom Lee Park) in sight of the
Memphis-Arkansas Bridge. There is a houseboat making its way down
the river in front of us. A few barges pass in the distance.
A light breeze picks the air up off the river to rustle the trees
and challenge the buzzing bees and chirping birds. This is a
great setting to begin our musical journey south. We look across
the mighty river in the direction of Hamp’s Place and record
again, William Brown’s Mississippi