Saturday, April 22, 2017

Hill Country Blues - Graves

David Kimbrough, Musician
Obituary, The Clarion Ledger, 1998

HOLLY SPRINGS — David "Junior" Kimbrough, 67, a professional musician and a former employee of Holly Springs John Deere Tractor & Equipment Co., died of heart failure at Holly Springs Memorial Hospital on January 17, 1998. 

Services were noon the following Saturday at Doxey Auditorium, Rust College, with burial in Kimbrough Chapel Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery in Hudsonville.

Visitation was at eleven a.m. the following Friday at J F Brittenum & Son Funeral Home.

Kimbrough was a Holly Springs native. He was a member of Kimbrough Chapel M.B. Baptist Church. According to his daughter, Patricia Hawthorne of Memphis, he played blues guitar since the 1950s, but his music gained popularity in the 1990s after recording his first album, Do the Rump.  He played blues festivals throughout the United States and Europe and was featured in Newsweek and National Geographic.

“He loved people and playing in juke joints,” she said. “His life was playing for the audience.”  She said her father's last recordings will be released this year. "He is a legend in North Mississippi blues," she said. "Through his music, his legend will live on."

Survivors include: wife, Mildred; sons, the Rev Larry Kimbrough of Abilene, Texas, Da-vid Malone of Memphis, Kent Malone of Chulahoma and Robert Malone and Larry Washington, both of Holly Springs; daughters, Addie Boga and Patricia Hawthorne, both of Memphis, Effie Gray of Aurora, Ill., and Shirley Richmond of Byhalia; and 42 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

So You Want to Visit?

To get to Kimbrough Chapel Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery from Holly Springs, head north on Highway 7 going towards Bolivar, Tennessee. After about ten miles take a slight left onto Clear Creek Road. The look for Kimbrough Chapel Road on the left and  the address is 1182 Kimbrough Chapel Rd, Lamar, MS 38642.  

Good cemetery hunting!!

The Grave of Johnny Woods 
Hill Country Harmonica Legend 

So You Want to Visit?
He is buried at 
1327 Aiken Road
Carter Sunset Memorial Gardens 
Tyro, Tate County, Mississippi
3866834.634267, -89.721498

The Grave of R.L. Burnside 

(23 November 1926-1 September 2005)

R.L. (Rural) Burnside is buried in the cemetery behind Free Springs C.M.E. Church in Harmontown, Panola County, Mississippi. To get to the Free Springs C.M.E. Church, turn south from Highway 310 onto County Road 511. The GPS location of the turn off is N 34º 32.213’ W 89º 39.018’. 34.519227, -89.652285.

The Graves of Sid Hemphill and Rosa Lee Hill
Sid Hemphill and Lucious Smith recording for Alan Lomax in 1959 
Sid Hemphill (1876 - 1963) was an American blues multi-instrumentalist and bandleader who played in his own string band mainly in Mississippi. He recorded for Alan Lomax in 1942 and again in 1959.

Born in Panola County, Mississippi, Hemphill was the son of a slave fiddle player, crafted instruments, and was a blind musician. Trained as a multi-instrumentalist, he could effectively play fiddle, banjo, guitar, jaw harp, piano, organ, quills, and the cane fife, while also penning songs.

Hemphill and his string band, composed of Alex "Turpentine" Askew (guitar), Lucious Smith (banjo), and Will Head (fiddle), played a combination of blues, popular music, and spirituals for both black and white audiences mainly in Northern Mississippi. The same group also identified as a fife and drums band, with music infused in European military drum tradition and African polyrhythms, talking drum influences.  According to blues writer Edward Komara, Hemphill's quill playing was highly syncopated and offered the closest connection to traditional African music.

Field collector and ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax traveled to Senatobia to seek out Hemphill after a local string bandleader described him as the "boar-hog musician of the hills”, also proclaiming him as "the best musician in the world".  On August 15, 1942, Lomax recorded 22 songs and an interview with Hemphill and his group. Although the group identified as a string band, for the recordings they played fife and drums Lomax recorded two further tracks with Hemphill when he revisited him in 1959.  Music critic Amanda Petrusich noted in a review for Pitchfork that "Hemphill's work incorporates attributes of the Mississippi Hill Country’s better-known traditions (the droning guitar blues mastered by McDowell, R.L. Burnside, and Junior Kimbrough, and the fife-and-drum music practiced by Otha Turner, Napolian Strickland, and Hemphill himself)", which differs from the neighboring Delta blues.  His best-known song "The Eighth of January" became the basis for Johnny Horton's hit "The Battle of New Orleans".

© Michael Duer 1995
Hemphill died in 1963, having never commercially record any of his songs for release in his lifetime. Nonetheless, his two field sessions with Lomax were made more accessible by the release of the compilation album The Devil's Dream in 2013. Other members of the Hemphill family also became musicians, including his daughter Rosa Lee Hill, and his paternal granddaughter, Jessie Mae Hemphill, a pioneering guitarist.

Sid Hemphill and his daughter Rosa Lee Hill are buried at New Salem Baptist Church Cemetery in Senatobia, Tate County, Mississippi.  All photos of the church cemetery courtesy of Michael Duer, whose determined taphophilia proved most unique in documenting the burial grounds of the blues.  You can see some more of his still images HERE 

New Salem Baptist Church Cemetery

532 Salem Rd, Senatobia, MS 
3866834.582923, -90.045369

The Grave of Jessie Mae Hemphill

Clarion Ledger, July 24, 2006.

Senatobia Memorial Cemetery
Senatobia, MS

34.59307, -89.96845

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