There are currently two Mississippi Blues Trail markers outside the United States.
Here is what the Mississippi Blues Trail marker in Cahors, France has to say about the significance of Cahors in Blues History:
“France has played an important role in blues history ever since the jazz craze of the 1920s. French enthusiasts spurred international interest in black American music by releasing records, arranging tours, and conducting pioneering research on jazz and blues. The Cahors Blues Festival, first staged in 1982, has built upon this long tradition through its presentation of hundreds of musicians, including many from the state of Mississippi.
Blues first reached France via touring African American groups, notably the military band led by James Reese Europe in 1918, while the first major blues singer to visit was Alberta Hunter in 1927. Le Hot Club de France, formed in 1932, played a major role in documenting and promoting jazz and blues. “Le Jazz Hot,” a 1934 book by Hot Club founding president, Hugues Panassié (1912-1974), was the first extended study of jazz; in 1935 Panassié and fellow critic Charles Delaunay (1911-1988) founded the magazine “Jazz Hot.” During World War II the Armed Forces Radio Network featured blues programming, while the first traditional bluesmen to visit France were Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter (1949), Josh White (1950) and Big Bill Broonzy (1951). In 1952 Blind John Davis became the first Mississippi-born bluesman to record in France.
In 1951-52 the Jazz Selection label, a subsidiary of Delaunay’s Disques Vogue, reissued recordings by Mississippi artists Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. In 1966 Jean-Marie Monestier founded the Black & Blue label, which recorded many artists that he and partner Jean Pierre Tahmazian booked on their tours, including Sunnyland Slim, Pinetop Perkins, Luther Johnson Jr., Otis Rush, Jimmy Rogers, and John Lee Hooker, who recorded three albums in France in 1969. In the 1970s Marcelle Morgantini, whose husband Jacques Morgantini produced records for Black & Blue, made recordings in Chicago for her MCM label by Mississippi-born artists including Jimmy Dawkins, Magic Slim, Jimmy Johnson, Willie Kent, John Littlejohn, and Eddy Clearwater. Didier Tricard, who worked with Black & Blue, also promoted tours and recorded visiting artists for his Isabel label. Jacques Perin founded the first blues magazine in France, Soul Bag, in 1968.
Gérard Tertre planted the seeds for the Cahors Blues Festival in the ‘70s, and in 1979 presented a concert at the Municipal Theater near this site. Aided by sponsors and many volunteers, Tertre produced the first festival in 1982, with guests including Mississippian Luther Johnson, Jr. Other Mississippians who have performed at the festival over the decades include B. B. King, Otis Rush, Jimmy Johnson, Jessie Mae Hemphill, Eddie C. Campbell, Charlie Musselwhite, R. L. Burnside, Louis Myers, Matt “Guitar” Murphy, Magic Slim, Willie Kent, Zac Harmon, John Primer, and Melvin Taylor. The festival continued booking Mississippi artists under the leadership of veteran blues enthusiast Robert Mauriès, aided by the City of Cahors and over 100 volunteers. At the time of this marker’s dedication the festival was the longest established blues event in France, drawing tens of thousands of fans every July.”
Here is what the Mississippi Blues Trail marker in Notodden, Norway has to say about the significance of Notodden in Blues History:
“The Notodden Blues Festival, founded in 1988, has hosted dozens of artists from Mississippi, including B. B. King, Otis Rush, Bo Diddley, Pinetop Perkins, James Cotton, Bobby Rush, Charlie Musselwhite, and Super Chikan. In 1996 Notodden and Clarksdale, Mississippi, became sister cities, and cultural exchanges have included performances by Norwegian artists at Clarksdale’s annual Sunflower River Blues and Gospel Festival.
Norway is both geographically and culturally distant from Mississippi, but as the popular Notodden Blues Festival demonstrates, there seem to be no boundaries for the appreciation of the blues. African American entertainers were performing in Norway by the end of the nineteenth century, and blues was featured on traveling vaudeville shows and musical revues such as “Plantation Days” and “Chocolate Kiddies” that toured Scandinavia in the 1920s. The Mississippi-based Utica Jubilee Singers appeared in Norway in 1930, and in 1937 the swing band of Mississippi native Jimmie Lunceford, which included blues in its repertoire, began its first European tour with two performances in Oslo. The first American solo blues artist to appear in Norway was Josh White, who visited Oslo in 1950, and during the latter 1950s blues vocalists Joe Williams, Jimmy Rushing and Big Joe Turner (with pianist Pete Johnson) all appeared on jazz shows.
Mississippi-born blues artists Magic Sam, Mac Thompson, Carey Bell, and Earl Hooker arrived in Norway with the 1969 American Folk Blues Festival [AFBF] tour, which stopped in Oslo. Later that year Mississippians Willie Dixon and Sunnyland Slim visited Oslo with the Chicago Blues Allstars, while Big Joe Williams appeared with the 1972 AFBF. The Molde Jazz Festival booked blues artists regularly from the late ’60s to the late ’80s, including Mississippians Furry Lewis, B. B. King, Otis Rush, Son Thomas, and Muddy Waters, whose 1977 appearance marked his only visit to Norway. Also of importance was Oslo’s Club 7, a countercultural venue where B. B. King made his first visit to Norway in 1972. In 1977 the Oslo Bluesklubb was formed to host Otis Rush and to help arrange tours together with clubs across Sweden and Norway. Blues also gained a foothold in Norway via Harald Are Lund’s NRK blues radio show and the music of Arild Wickstrøm’s band and Public Enemies, both house bands at the Club 7, “Hungry John” of the Bergen Blues Band, Knut Reiersrud, and Kristin Berglund.
Appreciation of the blues in Notodden was aided by a number of factors, including sailors who brought records back from their travels, local musicians including Kare Virud and the Notodden Blues Band, as well as the Notodden Jazzklubb, formed in the early ’70s. The Notodden Blues Festival was founded in 1988 after thirteen blues fans took out a loan from a local bank, and it soon became a major destination for blues enthusiasts. Mississippi blues artists who have performed at the festival include Little Milton, R. L. Burnside, Denise LaSalle, John Primer, Lonnie Pitchford, Robert Belfour, T-Model Ford, L. C. Ulmer, Cedric Burnside, and, from the Clarksdale area, Ike Turner, Big Jack Johnson, Sam Carr, and James “Super Chikan” Johnson.”
Content on Mississippi Blues Trail markers copyright of Mississippi Blues Commission.
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