COUNTRY BLUES LEGEND MISSISSIPPI JOHN HURT TO BE REMEMBERED IN 2018 UK CONCERT TOUR
Written by Archie Fergusson on 10/12/2017
A CONCERT tour planned for 2018 will remember the life and times of country blues legend Mississippi John Hurt.
The show, featuring Mississippi John Hurt biographer, musician and DCR97.4FM broadcaster Dunoon’s Dr Phil and country blues musician Blue John, will celebrate the 90th anniversary of Hurt’s legendary 1928 recordings for the Okeh label.
Promoters, concert venues, folk clubs and house concert organisers throughout the UK are being invited to book the show.
Dr Phil (Phil Ratcliffe) – who wrote the critically acclaimed biography Mississippi John Hurt, His Life, His Times, His Blues, will tell the story of Hurt from his birth (his parents were freed slaves), the trials and tribulations of being black in rural Mississippi in the first half of the 20th century, Hurt’s first recordings and his later life-changing re-discovery.
The story is one that absolutely captivates music fans (see below for more details).
The show will feature lots of Mississippi John Hurt’s songs performed live plus the playing of rare examples of his original 78 rpm records from 1928 played on a 1920s wind-up Victrola phonograph.
As well as musical performances by Dr Phil there will also be a set by Blue John (John Gregory), a country blues guitarist and singer who performs solo and as part of the blues duo Blue John and Papa Cass.
Dr Phil and Blue John will also team up for some duo performances as part of the show. They are no strangers to performing together as they were the special guests during world-renowned country blues guitarist Ari Eisinger’s 2017 British Isles tour.
To book this show contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr Phil at email@example.com
Mississippi John Hurt by Dr Phil
Outside of the small Delta town of Avalon, Mississippi, only a small group of music aficionados had heard of Mississippi John Hurt (1892–1966) until after he turned seventy-one years old in 1963. His early recordings, made in 1928, made him an icon of the country blues.
His parents were slaves, released at the end of the Civil War. Young John Hurt learned to play guitar, playing the popular old-timey tunes of the time and was soon entertaining at family gatherings. During his lifetime two white men, interested in his music, knocked on the door of his little shotgun house.
The first was Tommy Rockwell from the Okeh Record Company in late 1927 or early 1928, who asked him to travel to Memphis to record. John was 35 years old. Eight sides were recorded at the McCall Building, Memphis ninety years ago on February 14th 1928. The Great Depression set in and John returned home to Avalon and lived there for over thirty years until he received the second knock on his door from a white man interested in his music.
Young hippie, Tom Hoskins, one of a handful of aficionados that had heard of Mississippi John Hurt’s early recordings, had long wondered what happened to the old blues musicians. Following a clue from one of the rarest of the early records, Hoskins drove down to Avalon, Mississippi to search for traces of Mississippi John Hurt. It was March, 1963 when Hoskins asked at the Avalon Country Store and gas station whether anyone ever heard of a musician called Mississippi John Hurt. He was astonished to be told, ‘second mail box on the left up the dirt road; that’s where you’ll find John.’
Following his rediscovery, John enjoyed his new-found fame, more money than he had been accustomed to, and the adoration of his young fans, but he cannot have imagined that over fifty years later his name and his music would be even more well-known and would be enjoyed by increasing numbers of fans. Or that ninety years later we would be celebrating the day that he made those very first recordings that led to his fame. It seems that this gentle, humble man from rural Mississippi will be remembered for ever, and rightly so.