01-Railroad Tracks Tutwiler, Mississippi

Railroad Tracks Tutwiler, Mississippi

Back in 1902, W.C. Handy sat just to the left of these tracks on a station platform that no longer exists, and heard a local musician slide a knife on the strings of his guitar and sing about “goin’ where the Southern crosses the Dog” (a reference to the Southern and ‘Yellow Dog’ railroad lines). Handy gave us our earliest written account of Delta Blues, a music that had clearly been developing as a regional style for some time. Handy had a band in Clarksdale in 1902 and began incorporating the forms, rhythms and imagery of the blues in his compositions. Handy has been called ‘the father of the blues,’ although that is somewhat misleading. A quick and literate musician, Handy authored The St. Louis Blues, which remains a fundamental part of the jazz and blues canon. In this photo, we are looking in the direction that Handy was headed, north-northwest toward Clarksdale.

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