HUB CITY BLUESBy CARY HUDSON,
My earliest memories of music are from church, and I was especially fond of the heartfelt singing and enthusiastic gospel piano at the small country church in Hickory Grove, where my Mamaw and Papaw attended.
It was a big deal to ride the twenty miles from Sumrall to downtown Hattiesburg in Papaw's truck.
After our business at the farm coop was finished, we would eat at the California Sandwich Shop on Mobile Street- now mostly unchanged location of Southbound Bagel Shop.
I loved to sit there watching the trains...and I still do.
Many years before the area around it, had been the home of a thriving music scene with many nightclubs, venues and groups, such as the Edgewater Crows and their song "Mobile Street Stomp.”
And in 1936, at the Hattiesburg Hotel on the corner of Mobile and Pine, a recording session with The Mississippi Jook Band, featuring Blind Roosevelt Graves on piano and vocals, his brother Uaroy Graves on tambourine, and Cooney Vaughn on piano- would yield the songs “Barbeque Bust” and “Dangerous Woman” that would later be cited by Robert Palmer in Rolling Stone magazine as ‘rocking and reeling’ leading Webb Wilder to dub the Hub City, the Birthplace of Rock and Roll.
In 1976 Santa brought me a brand new cherry red Gibson Les Paul Standard guitar, the best Christmas gift ever. My quest to learn to play it, led me back downtown for strings and lessons at Pals and Mississippi Music.
In my early twenties, I moved to Oxford, Mississippi to begin my life as a touring musician first with the Hilltops and later Blue Mountain. My journey with the guitar that began in my bed room in Sumrall took me first around the southeast and later all over the US, Canada and Europe.
Thanks to Tré Rule we begain playing Hattiesburg at Tal’s, the Club Down Under, Mockingbird Music Hall and places like that.
Living in north Missisippi I learned to play the blues from hanging out at jook joints, picnics and gigging with RL Burnside, JR Kimbrough, Othar Turner and many more.
I moved back south to downtown Hattiesburg in 2002 when my daughter Anna was born and I discovered that a lot of things change in 20 years.
Many of the places I remembered were in bad shape or completely gone But I also found that the spirit of music in the Hub City is stronger than sticks and bricks.
Even though many of the places and faces have changed, - downtown is still the home of a thriving live music scene.
Sumrall native Cary Hudson is a critically-acclaimed singer/songwriter and a 2017 inductee into the Best of the Pine Belt Hall of Fame.