Bukka White's hometown . . . authentic
Mississippi Blues at its best, featuring some of
the most outstanding Blues artists of our
The Bukka White Blues Festival has
developed into a destination for those Blues
artists - a place where they WANT to perform, a
place where several of their own were born and
raised . . . AND received the influences that
shaped their approach to the Blues.
Add to the mix - arts and crafts, food
concessions, kids' activities, a desert animal
show, antique and classic car display and more.
A featured part of the 2009 Bukka White
Blues Festival was the
and dedication of a Mississippi Blues Trail
marker in downtown Aberdeen, at the intersection
of Commerce (the main street) and Meridian
Streets. The text on the marker reads,
"ABERDEEN MISSISSIPPI BLUES - In 1940
singer-guitarist Booker "Bukka" White, who lived
in Aberdeen during the 1920s and 30s, recorded
the blues classic, "Aberdeen Mississippi Blues."
Twenty-three years later, the song's title
enabled blues researchers to relocate White, who
subsequently resumed his recording career.
According to Social Security records, two of the
most influential blues artists of all time,
Chester Arthur "Howlin' Wolf" Burnett and Albert
King, claimed Aberdeen as their birthplace."
Bukka White had the distinction of being a
cousin of B.B. King,
another Blues giant. As a matter of fact, it was
Bukka who gave B.B. his first guitar, a Stella.
Born Booker T. Washington White, he
first recorded fodr the RCA Victor label in
1930. His recordings for Victor, like those of
many other bluesmen, flukctuated between country
blues and gospel numbers. His gospel songs were
done in the style of Blind Willie Johnson, with
a female singer accentuating the last phrase in
Nine years later, while
serving time in Parchman, Bukka recorded for
folklorist John Lomax. The few songs he recorded
around this time became his most well known:
"Shake 'Em On Down" and "Po Boy."
When he was 9, his father John White bought him
a guitar. His father was a railroad man and many
of Bukka's best tunes emulate the driving rhythm
of trains and their mournful whistles. After
hearing Charley Patton, young Booker decided
that he too would be a "great man like
recordings were 14 songs done in Memphis in May
1930. One of those songs, The Panama
Limited," wasa featured part of Bukka's
repertoire until his death, and is probably one
of the best "train" songs ever recorded. His
driving alternating bass evokes the engines and
his slide creates the sound of airbrakes and
train whistle. The Panama Limited, the New
Frisco Train, I Am The Heavenly Way and
Promise True and Grand were
released on Victor (one secular 78, one Gospel
78) and can be found on the Fabulous CD
Panama Limited, along with most of his
other prewar recordings (Sic 'Em Dogs On and Po'
Boy are not on this CD. If you can find the
Travelin' Man CD The Complete Recordings
1930-1940, it includes these two tunes).
The remainder were never released.s
the festival is named in memory of Bukka, it
also honors two other Blues legends who hailed
from Aberdeen - Chester "Howlin' Wolf" Burnett
(Little Red Rooster, Wang Dang Doodle,
Smokestck Lightning" and Albert King
(Velvet Bulldozer, I'll Play the Blues For You,
Born Under a Bad Sign). All three are
prominently featured in a huge new mural which
graces the side of a store building at
Aberdeen's "main intersection," Commerce Street
at Meridian Street.