Blues Trail marker event set for Tuesday

Published 6:00 pm Sunday, October 9, 2011

Brookhaven will become a part of therenowned Mississippi Blues Trail when organizers come to townTuesday to unveil a marker that will be placed at the GodboldTransportation Center.

    “The marker will be located at the new train station because of thelink to the time of the artist’s presence and significance of therailroad in blues music,” said Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber ofCommerce Executive Vice President Cliff Brumfield.

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    The artist being recognized on the marker is Little BrotherMontgomery, born in 1906 in Kentwood, La., off Interstate 55 justacross the Mississippi state line.

    According to research conducted to make up the text of the bluestrail marker, Montgomery was a prolific blues pianist and jazzplayer who started playing piano as a small child.

    According to other biographical information, Montgomery’s familymoved to the small town of Norfield in southern Lincoln County inthe 1920s, where his father, Harper Montgomery, worked for theDenkmann Lumber Company. Many sawmills and lumber camps during thistime often provided jobs to blues musicians.

    The lumber company fell victim to the Great Depression, and ownersdisassembled the plant and relocated to Canton, and the Montgomeryfamily followed.

    But by that time, Montgomery had taken to the road to make a namefor himself as a recording artist and session player. He is said tohave been a mentor and influence on such artists as Willie Dixon,Otis Spahn, Little Johnnie Jones and Sunnyland Slim.

    Montgomery spent much of his time in Chicago, but traveled theU.S., Europe and Japan until his death in 1985.

    This will be the first Blues Trail marker in Brookhaven. Theclosest ones are in McComb, one marking the city as hometown of BoDiddley and one marking Summit Street for its blues clubs, and onein Hazlehurst marking the birthplace of Robert Johnson.

    Brumfield suggested Brookhaven might have another marker in thefuture, citing the city as the birthplace of Blind Jim Brewer.

    Blues Trail officials and Brumfield thought the new train stationto be an appropriate location because of the connection betweenrailroads and blues music, in addition to the Denkmann LumberCompany’s use of the rail line in its time in Norfield.

    “The Mississippi Blues Association suggested locating the marker atthe new train station would be a great venue for it,” Brumfieldsaid. “I think it’s a proper location, too.”

    Brumfield said the sign was created and built at Delta StateUniversity and has been shipped to Brookhaven.

    “The project was funded by a grant through Wal-Mart, which wasawarded to the Mississippi Genealogical and Historical Society,”Brumfield said.

    The unveiling of the sign and dedication will be Tuesday at 11 the Godbold Transportation Center at 440 N. Railroad Ave.

    “I think it’s a wonderful new addition to the community with greathistorical significance,” Brumfield said.