Tag Archives: Rory Block

2014 Blues Awards on WKNO


See all the grit and glamour of the 35th annual Blues Awards on Public Television for the Mid-South. WKNO Channel 10 will broadcast the ceremonies on Tuesday, November 25th at 8:00 pm, repeating at 1:00 am. It also airs Wednesday, November 26th at 8:00 pm on WKNO2.

This annual event brings together top blues artists, industry reps, and fans from all over the world to Memphis every May to celebrate the year’s best blues recordings and performances.

photo by Echo Industries, Flickr
photo by Echo Industries, Flickr

If you weren’t able to attend this year’s event in person, it’s a great way to see the nation’s best blues musicians receive awards in 25 categories. The 90-minute program captures thirteen live performances from Charlie Musselwhite, James Cotton, Rory Block, Kim Wilson, Beth Hart, and many more. Where else would you be able to see so much smokin’ hot talent on one stage!

7151 Cherry Farms Road
Cordova, TN 38016


If you don’t live in the WKNO viewing area, you can still enjoy the program on a DVD/CD combo from the Blues Foundation for $25. The DVD includes additional performances by Rory Block, Anson Funderburgh, and Trudy Lynn that are not included on the companion live CD.

The Blues Foundation
421 South Main
Memphis, TN 38103-4464



Memphis Minnie Tribute

10455418_304283576403219_3941682142670614170_nThe Center for Southern Folklore is hosting a Memphis Minnie tribute, Friday, June 13th. Hear her bold, autobiographical songs come to life again in the hands of local musicians.

The Center for Southern Folklore
119 South Main Street, Memphis, TN 38103
Phone: (901) 525-3655


Born in 1897 as Lizzie Douglas in Algiers, LA and raised in Walls, MS, Memphis Minnie ran away from home at thirteen to sing for tips on Beale Street. After touring from 1916 to 1920 with the Ringling Brothers Circus, she returned to Memphis and became a well-respected blues artist at a time when there were few women performers.  She and her husband Kansas Joe McCoy recorded for Columbia Records and moved to Chicago for wider exposure, playing Delta blues to urban audiences.


During the 1930s, Minnie toured tirelessly, mostly in the South, and recorded hundreds of records for several top labels. By the late thirties she was divorced and re-married, this time to Ernest Lawlars, known as “Little Son Joe.” Working from the 708 Club in Chicago, they often shared the stage with top blues artists like Big Bill Broonzy, Sunnyland Slim, and Tampa Red. In May 1941, Minnie recorded her biggest hit, “Me And My Chauffeur Blues.”

Dogged by declining record sales, fewer gigs, and failing health, Minnie returned to Memphis in 1957 to retire but she still made occasional radio appearances. In the rock era, she was rediscovered by groups like Jefferson Airplane and Led Zeppelin who recorded her songs and brought them to a new audience.

When Memphis Minnie died in 1973, she was buried at the New Hope Baptist Church Cemetery in Walls, Mississippi. Over two decades later, Bonnie Raitt paid for a proper headstone that was erected in 1996. Thirty-five family members attended including her niece LaVern Baker.


Her strong, independent spirit was an inspiration to singers to follow, including artists as diverse as Muddy Waters, Lucinda Williams, Big Mama Thornton, and Chuck Berry. As an ardent fan, Maria Muldaur gathered together other Memphis Minnie admirers including Rory Block, Ruthie Foster, and Bonnie Raitt, to produce an album of her songs called “First Came Memphis Minnie.”