Mason, Tennessee: Twilight for the Lower End?

I have often wondered why West Tennessee has less of a blues culture than North Mississippi. Aside from bluesmen associated with Memphis like Gus Cannon or Furry Lewis, Brownsville’s Sleepy John Estes, or Humboldt’s Cary Tate, there’s just not that much blues in West Tennessee, and although one would expect to find bluesmen from towns like Covington, Somerville or Jackson, Tennessee, I can’t name any off the top of my head. The one town that always appeared to have a blues culture was the little town of Mason, Tennessee in Tipton County, whose row of “cafes” along Front Street was known collectively as “The Lower End.” But time hasn’t been kind to Mason either. The venerable blues club called Club Tay-May burned in the 1990’s and was never rebuilt. The oldest buildings on the Lower End are also gone, their location marked only with steps and a raised sidewalk. The three or so cafes that remain did not seem to even be open on a late Friday afternoon, and if there ever is live music in any of them, I could find no evidence of it. I decided to grab a late afternoon dinner at Bozo’s Bar B Que and head back to Memphis.

One Reply to “Mason, Tennessee: Twilight for the Lower End?”

  1. John Lee “Sonny Boy” Williamson (the original Sonny Boy Williamson or Sonny Boy Williamson 1) was from and is buried in Jackson, TN. Mississippi Fred McDowell was originally from Rossville, TN. Yank Rachell and Hammie Nixon were both from Brownsville, TN as was Hambone Willie Newbern, who recorded the earliest known version of “Rollin & Tumblin” in 1929.

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