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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Delta Gold

The work day started in Belzoni (Bellzona)


...Catfish Capital of the world.

Used to be a Turner Drugs on this corner...Easy Pay across the street. Radio stations from Yazoo City and across the Delta used to broadcast live sets from this spot...including sets from Elmore James.

I wasn't there for all that though...well, I was but that's not why they're payin' me. I was there to find a restaurant that didn't have a sign. I walked right by it...


Stickin' out of a door was the face of a goodin'...round and jowly with drooping blue eyes. An aloof expression under the bill of a ball cap. He had on, what looked like a dark blue work short and an old pair of jeans. I followed him inside...short fella and round but, spry. Maybe it was the puma racing shoes.
That was the first flare I noticed.

When we got under the lights of the bar I realized his work shirt was actually herringbone. Swanky but, not nearly as swank as his ball cap. The front of it glowed like the end of the rainbow. There was a cotton boll about the size of a child's first above the bill...covered in gold glitter. Delta Gold it said.


That's the Delta. The most Southern Place on flat water wont run. Every town has the same rows of two story buildings. You'd pass right by the whole thing and never give it a second thought. You'd never guess those scruffy store fronts hide some of the best restaurants in the state...posh boutiques, book stores and art galleries.


Little Fred loves the Delta.

According to statistics it's the poorest place in the United States outside of an Indian reservations but, it's got some of the oldest, stinkiest money anywhere. This was the Victorian middle east....the cotton that fueled British textiles. Yazoo City, the southern point of the Delta, was originally called Manchester. When Southerners and Britons "cotton on" they are cottoning on to Delta cotton. It's also the source of nearly every popular music form in the Western World.

And you can get Catfish fish and chips here....



Anyway, that's where I'll be today.


  1. Ha, I like that catfish statue!

  2. There's one on almost every corner in Belzoni.

  3. terribly disappointed with this blog of late. college football, anyone? ANYONE? ["hello, does this mike even work???"]

  4. Well well well...look who it is? Somebody who can't be bothered eight months out of the year.

    It's coming. Hold your horses.

  5. Just you don't be listening to that Allan e.f. Just you be leaving that college football where it belongs... maybe in another blog...(;-D)

    Battered catfish n chips - now there's a thought... and not a pleasant one. Hilarious to see that Union Jack in your backyard.

    I am in love with the Delta. Elmore James - that man is (a) god...or at least a musician worth worshipping.

    And yet again you write the best prose.

    1. Sorry's comin'. Y'all just need to get on board. The only reason there isn't a post about Alabama crushing michigan this weekend...really it was embarrassing (don't fret meeesheeegaaanders you're still one of the favorites to win the Big 10 this year) that we had company. We didn't have a post about the Gators because I, wrongly as it turned out, didn't think there'd be anything to write about. What a bunch of ninnies.

      Anyway....the chipper's closed surprise! Surprise!

      Like Bo Diddley, no matter how much credit Jame's gets, it ins't enough. It's worth pointing out, I think, that neither he nor Rodgers is from The Delta. Rodgers was from Meridian, Mississippi but honed his craft at fish fries in The Delta. James took the Delta Blues off the Plantation. He was from around Jackson. Bobbie Smith, a local blues singer, used to talk with us about seeing James hanging around his brother's radio repair truck on the Square in Canton...playing the guitar. James is beyond reach...untouchable.

      And are very kind.

    2. On the Union Jack...those are a pretty common sight around here. You can find St. George and Andrew flapping around as well.

      I used to have a fine collection of Anglophilia that I was going to post one day...but then I took my phone for a swim. It shouldn't take me long restock.

      There was a Union Jack flying in front of the fish's gone now though.

    3. I grew up in London in the Sixties listening to all sorts, but that distinctive Elmore James "wheedlywheedlywheedlywheedly-woowoo" guitar riff was probably played more than any other by British blues bans, of whom there were zillions, and James was probably name-checked as often as any black Southern R&B performer apart from Muddy Waters - the London bands were keen on spreading the gospel. But by the of the decade there'd simply been too many covers of "Dust My Broom" - we were all riffed out. I think that's the reason Elmore James isn't as highly regarded here as he used to be: his followers just overdid it. Anyhow, you made go back and listen to all my James' tracks - and you're right, he was quite superb, even better than I remembered great blaring, electric voice.

      You've got some great place names down there, but Yazoo City is up there with the best of them.

      Finally, is catfish and chips as unnatural as it sounds?

    4. I think James had a better following there than he did in the US. Of course, he was loved locally. Despite protests to the contrary, Hound Dog Taylor obviously took a lot of did J. B. Hutto. Robert Nighthawk mined the same territory...Joe Carter. The Allman Brothers had the best understanding of James and what he was up to (One Way, he's probably best known for the Sky Is Crying as much for the...uhhh..Stevie Ray Vaughn cover as anything else.

      The place names come from the usual sources around here...surnames, British place names (I am especially curious about Gloster [sic] now as it is not only a town but, keeps popping up as a street name in all parts of the state), Presidents. Theres places like Hot Coffee, Alligator, Midnight... can't forget Port Gibson.

      Then there are the Indian names like Yazoo...Issiquena, Pascaugola, Natchez, Itta Bena, Tallahatchie (the Talla bit stretches across the South...Tallahassee, Tallasee, Talladega, etc), Belzoni, etc. They're .

      The best name in the Delta though is Panther Burn.

      Catfish is made for fries (chips) and hushpuppies, greens (cheese grits if you're in North Florida where you'll probably be eating mullet). It's rolled in seasoned cornmeal and fried.

      I just can't imagine getting very good results from batter dipping...the texture is too soft and it has a much different flavor than most of the clean cold water fish that are battered like that.

      Mr. Gronmark, my troubles with the computer are well documented here so, it's probably something I'm missing but, I cannot figure out how to follow your to get it in my reader. I miss things over there sometimes.

    5. Er... I'm totally ignorant about "following" - but I'll look into it!

      Okay, I'll definitely try catfish and fries next time I'm in your neck of the woods.

      Yes, I like the sound of Panther Burn. Less threatening-sounding, my son and I stopped for a coffee at Pease Pottage services on our way down to Sussex yesterday, and I always get a kick out of Indian Queens in Cornwall - Nick Lowe wrote a song about the place, but, as he used to warn live audiences who might be tempted to visit it, it's a dump!

      I'll get on to the "Following" stuff ASAP.

    6. Okay, I think - and I could be wrong - you go to your Google Dashboard, click "Add" on Reading List at the bottom, paste in my url and then click "Follow" and my posts are there on your reading list along with whoever else you're following. I seem to have picked up some followers along the way, so I guess it works. And thanks for prodding me, because I've started following other blogs, including yours, in the same way. I had meant to get this stuff sorted when I moved my blog across from Apple to Google last October, but never got round to it. Lazy, as usual.

    7. I got it big man. It worked. Thanks.