Fessor Mojo on the Road

Steven Harnar chrfoblues2005@yahoo.com
Mon Mar 21 11:10:20 EST 2005


Fessor Mojo,

You have me a little confused.  I think you mean Brinkley Arkansas (AR not AZ) where the old cotton plant is.  If your headed East to Memphis on Interstate 40 the Brinkley exit would put you on the 49 South that goes to Helena.   Louis Jordan's family home is around there somewhere, i saw a piece on the local news here (Central AR. Little Rock) a few years back and they showed the little run down place out in the sticks where Louis was born and lived in early in his life.  It had been declared a landmark or something that put under the protection of the State or National Park system.  I'll tell you a good guy to talk with about history in that area is Mark Sallings who was born in that area (McCrory) and has lived there all his life.  Not only is Mark knowlegeable about the Arkansas Delta, it's history and surroundings he is, in many people's opinion, one of the top harp players in the world.  Mark's whole family are talented musicians.  Besides being a great harmonica player
  he is
 an accomplished saxaphone player, that being is his first instrument.  Come to our festival this Labor Day weekend and i'll personally introduce you to Mark.  He'll be playing the main stage Saturday September 3, 2005.  If ya'll are comfortable with one another perhaps he'll invite you to his place and show you around and talk about the Delta and its musical tradition.  He lives in the Delta in an old renovated farm house with several acres of exotic plants on the property left by the Doctor that first renovated the place back in the 50's.  Also there is a big ole ""barn like" fruit packing building where Mark keeps what he calls his "herd" which is a collection of Oldsmobile Rocket 88's.  In the tradition of the region Mark is a "horse trader" and a collector of vintage vehicles.  He's taken everyone apart and put it back together several times himself and is a excellent mechanic.  He can tell you a story about every one of his vehicles, including parts, where and when he g
 ot the
 transmission for this one and engine for that one, how much he paid and on and on...yeah, if i was writing a book about the Arkansas Delta and it's rich musical history (and other related topics) I'd definitely want to spend a lot of time visiting with Mark Sallings.  Like most of us blues fans from around these parts the King Biscuit in Helena is the high point of the year for Mark and his lovely wife Sandi.  Every year on Sunday Mark and Sandi invite a few close friends over for some of the best BBQ ribs you ever sunk your teeth into.  There you'll probably sip some wine out on the big back porch or patio, take a leasurly tour of the place, here stories about the plants, fomer inhabitants and of course a tour of the packing plant and each of his Oldsmobiles and his other antique vehicles.  I finally got smart and took Mark and Sandi's standing invite to come visit a couple KBBF's ago and was privileged to get an inside view of what it's like to be a living blues man in the
  east
 Arkansas Delta region today.  Mark and Sandi are two very talented people i've ever had the pleasure of knowing.  Also, some of the best and most reliable friends one could be blessed to have.  They just aren't making people like Mark and Sandi these days.  Enjoy them while they're still around making music, you won't regret it.

Steve Harnar, President
Spa City Blues Society
Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas




Bill Donoghue <guru@nwlink.com> wrote:
Hi Bluzellers!
It's been a while since I reported in. I'm the guy who is
working on Sonny Boy Williamson (Alex "Rice" Miller) and Robert Jr.
Lockwood's biography.
I was in Anaheim at Downtown Disney last week and ran into
Johnny Turner playing guitar at Brennan's Jazz Kitchen. The quartet,
Sounds of New Orleans, was pretty hot and I was enjoying the band when
he played "Almost Lost My Mind" by Ivory Joe Hunter. I mentioned to him
during the break that Sherman Hunter, Ivory Joe's son, was in the next
room to mine at college in 1959 and we got a conversation going.
Apparently Johnny had played with Sonny Boy in Little Rock AR and had
seen him at Brinkley AZ. I had taped Robert Jr. telling me stories about
"Brinkee" and the music there on weekends. Its' pretty run down now but
isn't that where Louis Jordan was born?
This weekend I caught the last day of the Tampa Bay Blues
Festival: Lavay Smith, Eric Sardinas, Shemeka Copeland and Little Feat.
As a friend of mine got me backstage passes so my wife Susan and I had
front row seats. They were well worth it. Lavay was great and her horn
section even better. Eric Sardinas came out looking like Joe Vai as the
devil in the duel scene from "Crossroads" and tore up the place. What an
amazingly visual performer with a slide dobro or National Steel or
something. When he spoke he seemed like a polite little boy who
respected the blues but when he played and danced around it was pure
theater. Guitar Slim and Hendrix would have loved him! Shemeka was
sincere, moving and charming (very little of the "Shreika" she can be),
and Little Feat at the end of an eight month tour was polished and
entertaining but not really moving. We left early to avoid the impending
rain. All in all, a fine day and a fine time.
Does anyone know much about Johnny Turner?
Bill Donoghue AKA 'fessor Mojo

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