Economic Development Authority of Jones County
153 Base Drive, Suite 3 Laurel, MS 39440
P. O. Box 527, Laurel, MS 39441
(601) 649.3031 | FAX (601) 428.2047
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | www.edajones.com
Marker in Laurel honors Blues greats from area
LAUREL — The City of Laurel and Jones County now has a home on the Mississippi Blues Trail. During a ceremony at the Laurel Train Depot, Team Music Makers of Leadership Jones County and the Mississippi Development Authority unveiled the marker honoring Jones County Blues. Brad Kent, a member of Team Music Makers, said the Jones County Blues marker, which is the 127th along the trail, “salutes the blues heritage in Laurel and Jones County.” “This project would not have been successful without the Jones County business community, city, county and state leaders,” he said. “We’re so proud to unveil the Jones County Blues marker.” Kent noted that the Mississippi Blues Trail has been referred to as a “museum without walls taking visitors on a musical history journey through Mississippi and beyond.” “The Mississippi Blues Trail is about more than music,” he said. “It’s interwoven in Mississippi culture.” Kent said the blues marker also offers a great opportunity for Laurel and Jones County to capitalize on the economic and tourism impact the Mississippi Blues Trail has made in other parts of the state. Kent also recognized Jones County blues musicians Tommie “T-Bone” Pruitt and L.C. Ulmer who attended the ceremony. He said that without the paths paved by Mississippi blues musicians, the Blues Trail would not exist. “These men and women are getting the recognition they so rightly deserve,” he said. Eric Roberts, another member of Team Music Makers, said the team wanted to continue the tradition of adding to downtown renovations. “The Blues Trail is a perfect fit,” he said. “It will be a valuable asset to historic downtown Laurel, bring an economic and tourism impact, and honor those musicians from Laurel and Jones County.” Roberts said the blues marker was a team project, but wouldn’t be possible without the involvement of the community and donations from Neel-Schaffer, the City of Laurel Public Works and Parks & Recreation Department, and sponsors such as the Laurel Arts League and BancorpSouth. Team Music Makers includes Brook Gatlin of Molloy-Seidenberg and Co., Brad Kent of SouthGroup Insurance Services, Blake Remy of Dixie Electric Power Association, Eric Roberts of Roberts Creative and Jerald Ulmer of South Central Regional Medical Center. Mitch Stennett, executive director of the Economic Development Authority of Jones County, said Team Music Makers “put the proverbial money where their mouth is” and brought the marker to Jones County. Stennett noted that since 1990, Leadership Jones County has trained leaders in the community and help support efforts to improve Laurel and Jones County. Stennett thanked Team Music Makers for “changing the community for the better and honoring our musical heritage.” Alex T. Thomas, music development program manager for the Mississippi Development Authority, which oversees the Mississippi Blues Trail, said a marker in Laurel has been in the works since the beginning of the project. “We were on the Gulf Coast when a DJ for the American Blues Network Tyrone Davis asked if we were going to make sure Laurel, Miss., would be on the Mississippi Blues Trail,” Thomas recalled. “He started naming clubs and places. It was very encouraging. He knew a lot about the community.” Thomas said he also received calls from Jackie Lee of Laurel Main Street as well as Kent who he called “very eager for the project to happen.” “Hats off to Jones County and the City of Laurel,” he said. “L.C. has a great smile. People love him.” Thomas added that the Mississippi Blues Trail also brought another project to the state. A marker is located outside of the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, Calif. On Thursday, it was announced that a Grammy Museum would be built in Cleveland, Miss., in the Delta. Along with Pruitt and Ulmer, musicians honored on the Jones County Blues marker include:
• Sam Myers, a Laurel-born blues harp player who toured with Anson Funderburgh & The Rockets out of Dallas. Myers also made his first recordings in 1957 for Jackson-based Ace Records, which was owned by John Vincent Imbragulio. Imbragulio, who was better known as Johnny Vincent, began his career by selling used 78s from the jukebox of his parents’ California Sandwich Shoppe in Laurel.
• Blind Roosevelt Graves, a guitarist from Summerland, who is credited as the first African-American performer from the area to make an impact as a recording artist. Graves and his brother Uaroy (Aaron), who played the tambourine, recorded for Paramount Records and the American Recording Corporation. Those recordings have been cited by critics as examples of the musical formula that led to rock ‘n’ roll.
• Albennie Jones, who sang in church in Gulfport before moving to New York in the 1930s and launching a career as a nightclub singer. Jones, who was advertised as “New Queen of the Blues,” was accompanied by such greats as Dizzy Gillespie on her blues recordings of the 1940s.
Others mentioned include Leo “Lucky Lopez” Evans, Arnett Nelson, brothers Elijah and Romie Nelson, Andrew “Goon” Gardner, Lee “Tennessee” Crisp and Roland “Boy Blue” Hayes and New Orleans blues disc jockey James W. “Okey Dokey” Smith.
April 22, 2011
By David Owens, email@example.com