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Scott Bakal
December 2011
Storm Thru Mississippi
posted:
I love the blues. The music I love the most seems to have come from some inner core of the blues and I usually am able to track back most of my more favorite music right back to the Delta. The emotion, pain, joy and experimentation of all the different styles of singing and playing the blues - and I love the range that has developed over nearly 100 years. I also enjoy the mystery and discovery. Unfortunately, there are so many blue musicians that are rarely heard about, have only a few recordings or just never were recorded and only are talked about in stories that are slowly being forgotten. Finding a musical gem once in a while is like finding a treasure chest.

The call from Carol Ann Fitzgerald to do this project for the Oxford American was exciting because it involved the blues but also a  musician Henry Green and a particular song, Storm Thru Mississippi, that I've never heard of before. There was no known photo of him and no one really knows much about him other than the 4 recordings known to have been made and only two were ever issued on Chance Records - which itself only existed for a few years.

Henry Green - Storm Thru Mississippi

The song recounts storms and tornados that happened in Tupelo Mississippi in the 30's killing hundreds of people. I decided on an image that was a bit foreboding as if Green knows what will happen - looking up into the sky and he sees it coming.

"And some had to drown
Well, some was burned into ashes
And some could not be found."
Along with the printed magazine, Carol Ann showed how grateful they were by sending me a note that she and the entire staff signed as thanks for working with them on the project! You can't be much classier than that. I even got a cool CD that the magazine produced full of blues musicians.
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Bakal is teaching at TutorMill, an online mentoring site for students of illustration!