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Deroit Blues Society Headstone Project


In 1911 Sylvester Russell wrote a eulogy for George Walker in the Chicago Defender, “See That His Grave’s Kept Green.” In 1927, two years before he died at the tender ago of 36, Blind Lemon Jefferson recorded the classic, “See That My Grave Is Kept Clean.” Compliance with these requests is difficult when graves are poorly marked or not at all, and this is sadly the case for too many of the greats who made vital and lasting contributions to our musical and cultural heritage.


The goal of Detroit Blues Society’s headstone project is to properly and respectfully mark the graves of Detroit Blues Legends. The project began in 1997 by marking the grave of Son House. Others beneficiaries include Clarence and Curtis Butler (The Butler Twins), Calvin Frazier, and Big Maceo Merriweather.  This year’s goal is to provide headstones for “Mr. Bo” Collins and “Uncle Jesse” White. We urge you to support DBS’s efforts by attending one or both of their fundraising events, at Cliff Bell’s in downtown Detroit this Sunday March 28th, and at Callahan’s Music Hall in Auburn Hills Sunday April 18th.


Uncle Jessie White is particularly dear to us at the AMRF. He was a performer at our very first Motor City Boogie Woogie Festival in 1999, and we are blessed to have captured the performance and an interview conducted by Mr. B for our archives. During the tumultuous year of 1967 Uncle Jessie began hosting weekend long house parties and jam sessions at his home on 29th Street in Detroit. The sessions continued through 1971 and are legendary for the local and national talent that passed through to play at the famous house. Uncle Jesse was a revered mentor and teacher to many and a fixture in the Detroit Blues scene. His 29th Street Blues Band performed for 20 years at the Attic Bar. Uncle Jesse passed at the age of 87 on January 29, 2008.  


Mr. Bo was a fixture in the Detroit blue scene from the 50's through the 70’s, performing with Washboard Willie, Little Sonny Willis, Eddie Burns and John Lee Hooker among many others. His best known composition, 1966’s  “If Trouble Was Money,” was recorded by Albert King and Charlie Musselwhite among many others. Mr. Bo succumbed to pneumonia at the age of 63 on September 19, 1995. 








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