Blues trail Marker
at the Clifton Gin
The Hernando area was the birthplace of an important group of musicians who helped establish Memphis as a major blues center in the 1920s. These include Jim Jackson, Robert Wilkins, and Dan Sane, who was the partner of Beale Street blues pioneer Frank Stokes.Jug band leader Gus Cannon, who is buried nearby, also performed here before settling in Memphis. Other local natives include George “Mojo” Buford, who played harmonica with the Muddy Waters band, and guitarist Earl Bell.
Jim Jackson was born in Hernando in 1878, placing him among the earliest-born artists to record blues, and worked for many years with traveling medicine shows including the Rabbit Foot Minstrels and Silas Green From New Orleans. His repertoire from these shows was reflected in many of the songs he recorded between 1927 and 1930, such as his colorfully titled “I Heard the Voice of a Porkchop.” His most famous song, “Jim Jackson’s Kansas City Blues,” was widely covered by other artists. Jackson died in Memphis in 1933.
Gus Cannon was born in nearby Red Banks in 1883 or 1884 and was buried in 1979 in the Greenview Memorial Gardens cemetery in north Hernando. As a teenager in the Clarksdale area he was influenced by pioneering slide guitarist Alec Lee and soon began playing the banjo with a slide. Cannon worked regularly as a musician on medicine shows, frequently together with Jim Jackson. He recorded in 1927 as “Banjo Joe” and between 1928 and 1930 made many jug band recordings as leader of Cannon’s Jug Stompers. After many years of relative inactivity as a musician Cannon returned to performing in the early ‘60s after his song “Walk Right In” became a pop hit for the folk group the Rooftop Singers.
In her biography of her grandfather, educator and blues musician Mary Elaine “Lane” Wilkins wrote that Robert “Tim” Wilkins (1896-1987) first met Jim Jackson and Gus Cannon in 1912 while they were performing together at Mary Cotton’s Place here in the West End of Hernando. Wilkins subsequently moved to Memphis and between 1928 and 1935 recorded eight singles including “Rolling Stone.” In the late 1930s Wilkins became a minister in the Church of God in Christ, and in the 1960s he began performing his blues-inflected gospel music on the blues revival circuit. He remade his blues recording “That’s No Way To Get Along” into the gospel song “Prodigal Son,” which was subsequently covered by the Rolling Stones on their Beggars Banquet album. His son John Wilkins likewise performed and recorded gospel in a similar bluesy style.
Guitarist Dan Sane (also spelled Sain, Saine, or Sains) was born near Hernando in 1892 or 1896. He joined forces with guitarist and vocalist Frank Stokes in Memphis in the early ‘20s for a partnership that lasted several decades. Stokes and Sane, who were noted for the intricacy of their guitar interplay, recorded over twenty duets as the “Beale Street Sheiks” between 1927 and 1929. Sane, who died in 1965 in Osceola, Arkansas, was the grandfather of the blues/R&B producer and performer Oliver Sain.
mississippi hill country
music hall of fame
From the earliest days of Gus Cannon's jug band, Hernando has been a conduit between hill country music, delta blues music and Beale Street. From the ancient sound of the fife, the homespun notes of the jug, the clang of irons from a Johnny Cash song, mass gospel choirs and rockabilly pounding piano, to the distinct rhythmic drone of the electric guitar that has spun a whole new genre of blues driven rock music, The Jubilee, and the newly established Hill Country Music Hall of Fame, celebrate the rich cultural history of Mississippi Hill Country music.
What began as a one time event to honor musician from Desoto County soon became what is now known as the Mississippi Hill Country Music Hall of Fame. The Hall is inspired by the lives and legacies of individuals from Hernando that lit an early and enduring spark of music that has lived on through generations. The Hall is not limited to Blues musicians but rather attempts to recognize the many writers, musicians, recording engineers, photographers, collaborators, side-kicks and others that are connected to this region and who have made notable contributions to music of all genres. We are proud to partner with John Wilcoxin to create our unique award depicting the Clifton Gin and the Hernando Water Tower.
We invite you to share in this experience, to have a good time, and to help preserve and advance one of America’s great institutions.
CLICK ON IMAGES BELOW
(2016 induction awards for R.L. Burnside and Travis Wammack not yet shown here)
Awards on display year around at Catfish Blues in Hernando.
HOw to get here
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