The Mississippi Delta with it’s rich history of Blues is the impetus for this blog. The seeds were planted at the “Crossroads” where Blues legend Robert Johnson is rumored to have sold his soul to the devil to become the greatest Bluesman ever. Growing up in the Mississippi Delta under the shadow and influence of Blues and soul greats such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Son House, Ike Turner, Sam Cooke, Jerry Butler, and Sonny Boy Williamson made me long to see the world and to know my heritage. As a former cotton picker and sharecropper I have been blessed to see most of the world. In my travels I came to the realization that I have ties that bind me directly to Africa, as most of the Blacks of the Mississippi Delta. The music, the dance, the musical instruments, the dires and ditties of the early Blue musicians were brought over on the slaves ships by the Africans who would become slaves in America. Those songs and lamentations of pain, longing to return home,and lost love ones were refined in the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta and given to the world as jazz, gospel, Blues, soul music, and rhythm and blues. Also while traveling I also realized that traveling is the best university where a person can acquire knowledge of the world and that we as a people have more in common than what divide us. Traveling and immersing in other cultures is a rewarding experience that will enrich the soul. So, come with me on a journey of exploring, sharing, and learning. The tour begins with a road trip to the Mississippi Delta, the home of the Blues because this is where the direct connection to the soul of Africa can be found. As the story of the diddley Bow will show:
The diddley bow may have been the first instrument that produced the sound of sliding rhythm and the whines and cries of a single string that later became the distinctive sound known today as the “Blues”. It was common to the rural south in the 1800’s and was made by taking a piece of broom or cotton wire and stretching it between two nails tied to the side of a wooden frame house, with a bottle or “snuff can” wedged under the wire to create tension for pitch. The string was plucked while sliding a piece of metal or glass on it to produce notes. The “diddley bow” is similar to an African one-string instrument that was called an “Umakweyana.” One-string bow instruments such as the “Umakweyana”, are common in Africa, especially the west coast and Congo regions from which slaves were taken. The musical bow is essentially a hunting bow; its pitch is varied in a number of ways, including sliding a hard object such as a stick or a knife along its length, this is the technique Blues greats, Mississippi Delta legends, Muddy Waters and Son House are known for. The video below is so very close to the way Blues musicians, as well as myself grew up and lived in the Mississippi Delta, life on the plantations. Now, as I traveled I found that music is the common language of the world. No matter how far and wide you travel, you will find that music really soothe the soul, and speaks a common language. In other words, one can travel the world vicariously through music, especially Blues and soul music.
After this brief introduction to the Mississippi Delta and the ties that binds a vast majority of it its people to Africa, the world is next, and the whole world is a stage all we need to do it step up,free the mind and let the soul flow as the world come into view.
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The Trail Of The Ancient…The Grand Circle part 2
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Magnolia Travelogue: Traveling The World Vicariously