Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Slim Harpo Keeps a Delta Dancing Tradition Hot on Christmas

Dancing to the Blues on Christmas Eve
in the Rosedale Courthouse - A Delta Tradition

In 1889, Rosedale started a tradition of dancing in its dignified Hall of Justice on Christmas Eve. The festive dancing helped to open the new brick courthouse it s initial year and continued in the same building until 1923, when Florence Sillers Ogden and her husband Harry led the Grand March. Ezelle Watson's Orchestra also performed to open the second brick courthouse. She recalled how her mother and father waltzed to the strains of "Over the Waves" and whooped it up to "Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight," by Beauregarde's Orchestra out of Memphis back in 1889.

Handy's Band out of Memphis furnished the music when Ogden was young, and he performed such tunes as "Memphis Blues," "Alexander's Rag Time Band," and "Clover Blossoms." And his trumpet was golden, she recalled. As I have said before, dancing in the Courthouse is an old Delta custom. Time was when Greenville, Cleveland, Friar's Point, Clarksdale, Tunica and Rosedale danced in their courthouses. In 1961, only Rosedale clung to the tradition. And they still hired blues musicians to perform at the dance. 

"Inside it is Christmassy and all cozy with the fire burning briskly on the hearth, the holly on the mantelpiece catching its glow. But alas! No mistletoe for me. But soon the clock points to the hour. It is time to put on my silver slippers and go dancing. It is time for the Christmas dance at the Courthouse, when all the young Delta will assemble to rock and roll, do the "twist" and the "cha-cha" and the "bop" to the hot music of Slim Harpo out of Baton Rouge, to such tunes as "Ya-Ya", "Blue Hawaii," and "The Twist." Unseemly conduct, Grandma would call it."

Click here for a complete discography of Slim Harpo's Music

(Jackson, MS) Clarion Ledger, December 24, 1961

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