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Gayle Dean Wardlow

If you don’t happen to be attending the IBC’s in Memphis, famed music historian, writer, educator and blues sleuth Gayle Dean Wardlow will be in Meridian, Mississippi Saturday Feb 1, 2pm at the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience as part of their Black History Month celebration …

By Thomas King/The Meridian Star

(MERIDIAN, MS) – Music historian, educator and “blues detective” Gayle Dean Wardlow is returning to Meridian this week to talk about how his childhood hobby turned into a career of passion.

Wardlow is a renowned authority on Mississippi blues music with more than 1,000 records in his personal collection. Since 1960, Wardlow has been busy collecting records and investigating blues musicians to bring their lives and music to the forefront. 

“He will present a lecture on pre-war Blues and other forms of Mississippi music. His presentation highlights African American musicians and includes a demonstration of some of the recordings in his collection. Wardlow and Scott Stone will also perform a short concert on guitar and Dobro,” said Jerome Trahan, director of marketing for the MAX. “The Church Gallery exhibit is reminiscent of an old country church, which is just one of the communities that have influenced many Mississippians and their musical impact on the world.”

“Exploring the roots of this form of music and helping to preserve it, he knew early on that it was important to document this art form and was a true visionary. Wardlow made it his life’s mission to preserve the blues,” Trahan added.

During the Civil Rights era, Wardlow would go door-to-door, recording oral histories, anecdotes, songs and remembrances about blues musicians. 

“I considered myself a blues detective. I spent a year-and-a-half just knocking on doors in black neighborhoods in Meridian,” Wardlow recalled. “I thought the music should be documented and I was one of the first to write about blues musicians.”

“I was just trying to save blues music and information about these guys,” said Wardlow.

Wardlow was able to produce dozens of articles and books, such as Chasin’ That Devil Music: Searching for the Blues, which was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.

On Saturday, Wardlow will perform with his longtime friend, Scott Stone.

Stone says he is looking forward to the performance, and perhaps even more so, for the community to learn more about Wardlow and what he’s accomplished. 

“He’s probably one of the world’s foremost authorities on the blues. Anyone interested in the history of music in Mississippi should be there to hear,” Stone said.

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