“The Mississippi Delta begins in the Lobby of
the Peabody Hotel in Memphis and ends on Catfish Row in
David L. Cohn
God Shakes Creation (1935)
The Peabody Hotel in Memphis, especially its
banquet rooms, became temporary studios where many of the early blues
performers recorded. One of the mystery men to pass through these
doors was Kid Bailey. Music historians know little about him
except that he recorded two tunes at the Peabody on September 25, 1929.
Most likely he was from Mississippi, possibly even the Dockery
Farms area judging from the words and tune to one of his songs, Mississippi Bottom Blues.
It’s a cool day, threatening to rain as we
make our way to the Peabody. We carry our equipment through the
lobby, past the marble fountain and the world famous Peabody ducks.
A player grand piano entertains the diners, the guests and us.
Music floats past the huge chandeliers and high, ornamented
ceilings to the mezzanine, and toward our destination, the Cockrell
Room. Employees call this one of their small banquet rooms, but
it is far from being small. In a way we feel a touch of what
struggling sharecroppers must have felt on those days so many years ago
as they came to record. It’s almost heaven to travel so far
to get here. Delicate music floats up from below. We turn
the recorder on and close the massive wooden door. Our journey begins.