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 Catfish & Cotton: Driving down the blues highway

 

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Catfish & Cotton: the book

For many years, blues music fans have made the pilgrimage to the Mississippi Delta, an ancient land that idly sits adjacent to the mighty Mississippi River. Highway 61, the “blue highway” cuts through the heart of the delta. It was this stretch of road that countless bluesmen walked or hitchhiked, where African-Americans escaped the desperate living conditions in search of a better life in Chicago, Saint Louis, or Detroit. Highway 61 was the road where Robert Johnson supposedly sold his soul, and where Bessie Smith died. The blue highway leads straight to the heart of the blues.

Two brothers, Luc and Marc Borms, have traveled across the Atlantic ocean, and half of a country, to visit and document the Mississippi Delta. They created a guiding book that seeks to explain its culture, of which there are few.
Catfish & Cotton gives a glimpse into this distinguishing culture. Together, the brothers, who are blues musicians themselves, turned to the experiences and lives of the Delta’s natives and transplants in search of answers. What makes the delta a place of such musical distinction, despite raw appearances? And what drives so many people to love and respect the land that gave a voice to a musical genre that most accurately reflects the human condition -- the blues?


photo: copyright MJ Smets 2012 

 

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