At 2 o'clock tomorrow afternoon, hill country bluesman Mississippi Fred McDowell will get his due with the unveiling of a State of Mississippi's Blues Trail marker in downtown Como, about 45 miles south of Memphis.
There is, simply put, no one else on earth who sounded like McDowell, who, despite his talent, spent his later years pumping gas at Stuckey's, just off the Como exit on I-55. Occasionally the pay telephone would ring, and it would be the Rolling Stones calling, or European booking agents offering him slots at prestigious folk music festivals. McDowell had a slash-and-burn bottleneck guitar style and a rough-hewn voice that was perfectly suited to the African-inspired hill country music scene, and his discovery — at the hands of Alan Lomax, who stumbled across McDowell in 1959 — inspired the likes of R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough.
McDowell acolyte Bonnie Raitt will be on hand for tomorrow's unveiling, along with the Como Mamas, last heard on the Como Now! compilation, released on the Daptone label last fall.
"Trouble in My Way," by the Como Mamas: