Traveling the MS Blues Trail – Michael Higgins

So if you make it to the Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, take a quick walk over to Highway 49 and check out the Skip James trail marker. From the cafe just head towards the water tower. You’ll cross the train tracks and be on Wilson Street (Hwy 433). It’s about a 7 minute walk down Wilson to Hwy 49. Skip’s trail marker is on the left.

Some intriguing notes about Skip James 💙

  • Born in Bentonia in 1902, he, Henry Stuckey and Jack Owens were renowned for their unique blues which has been called “Bentonia style” because all three were from there. The main crux of the style includes falsetto vocals, multiple themes on the devil, and most notably guitar played in an eerie open minor tuning. Henry Stuckey was the eldest of the three and taught both Skip and Jack the guitar style. He picked up the unique tuning from some Caribbean soldiers while serving during World War I in France. Jimmy “Duck” Holmes also knows and plays in the styling at times thru his Bentonia heritage
  • Skip James recorded 18 songs in Grafton, WI in 1931. Most on guitar, a few on piano. Though the songs did not sell well, the course of history has endowed his recordings as priceless blues songs. His blues classics “Hard Time Killing Floor”, “22-20 Blues” and “Devil Got My Woman” are infamous. “22-20 Blues” and “Devil Got My Woman” heavily influenced a younger Robert Johnson who used their themes to record “32-20 Blues” and “Hellhound On My Trail” six years later. Also, if you’re an Eric Clapton fan and liked his band Cream, their hit “I’m So Glad” is a rocked up cover of a Skip James original
  • After Skip’s 1931 recordings, he would not record again for over another 30 years. The 1960’s brought the “rediscovery” of many older blues artists and Skip was one of them. During those years he worked multiple jobs and even became a minister. It is known that even though he wasn’t working as a professional musician, he would occasionally perform at the newly opened Blue Front Cafe in the late 1940’s

Skip James –,

Bentonia Blues Festival –

Blue Front Cafe – Bentonia –

Blue Front Cafe’s Jimmy Duck Holmes –

Author Michael Higgins

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