Mt. Zion Memorial Fund Headstone Roots Benefit Concert Series

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(Nashville, TN) – An event on Thursday October 6 marks the first of several benefit concerts at the American Legion (3206 Gallatin Pike) in Nashville to support the work of the Mt. Zion Memorial Fund (MZMF) – a non-profit cemetery organization based in Oxford, MS that since 1989 has worked to fulfill its mission of marking the unmarked graves of blues artists, protecting abandoned cemeteries, and helping African American church communities regain legal access to historic rural cemeteries in Mississippi. This benefit concert featuring the musical lineup of Jordan Tice, Zach Ryan, Allen Thompson, and Jack Pearson, will primarily serve to help mark the grave of legendary blues musician Bo Carter, otherwise known as Armenter Chatmon, of the famous Chatmon family. The event starts at 8pm.

The Mt. Zion Memorial Fund recently installed a new marker at the grave of his brother Sam Chatmon. The MZMF currently maintains several rural cemeteries, which contain the graves of blues musicians, and plans to erect markers very soon for Eddie Cusic and Mamie “Galore” Davis.

Bo Carter was born Armenter Chatmon. His unequaled capacity to use sexual metaphors—for example, in songs such as “Banana in Your Fruit Basket,” “Pin in Your Cushion,” and “Your Biscuits Are Big Enough for Me”—led many scholars and record collectors to discount his large body of recorded works. One of the most popular bluesmen of the thirties, he recorded enough material for several reissue albums, and he developed a highly unique and recognizable style of playing the guitar (or else three of those albums wouldn’t have been released by Yazoo.) Carter employed a number of different keys and tunings on his records, most of which were solo vocal and guitar performances. To be sure, his dexterous instrumental facility extended well beyond the risqué musical world. He engaged all of the more serious blues themes, and he was also the first to record the standard “Corrine Corrina” (1928). Bo and his brothers Lonnie and Sam Chatmon also recorded as members of the Mississippi Sheiks with singer/guitarist Walter Vinson. The group experienced major success after the 1930 recording of “Sittin’ On Top of the World,” which quickly became a national standard. The Grammy Hall of Fame inducted the Sheiks in 2008. Bo Carter remains buried in an unmarked grave within a landlocked rural cemetery in Sharkey County, Mississippi. Not that anyone passing through it would ever know.

Tickets are available at www.mtzionmemorialfund.org where you can also make a donation.

The Mt. Zion Memorial Fund tripartate mission is to commemorate Mississippi musicians who have gone without recognition, through the creation and placement of headstone or historic monuments in their honor — To preserve and protect Mississippi cemeteries by virtue of their activities and support church communities in maintaining hallowed ground — To raise funds through activities to provide pro bono legal services to the indigent descendants of musicians who received historic markers. Though the MZMF originally planned to seek and recover royalties on behalf of the families, their legal arm currently focuses more on obtaining access to abandoned, land-locked cemeteries and filing civil suits to highlight the increasing occurrences of cemetery desecration.

The Mt. Zion Memorial Fund currently maintains the burial grounds of 15 memorials. These memorials, or headstones, include those of Charley Patton, Elmore James, T-Model Ford, Sam Chatmon, and Big Joe Williams. We are getting ready to place the headstone of Eddie Cusic in Greenville, MS. They are raising funds for markers for Bo Carter, of the MS Sheiks, and Mamie “Galore” Davis, who was a stalwart of the early blues festival scene at Freedom Village.You can read more about these at http://www.mtzionmemorialfund.org/p/musician-memorials.html.

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