Clarksdale/Memphis traditional bluesman Blind Mississippi Morris performs at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park during the first day of Bristerfest in Memphis, 4/27/13. Of interest here is to note how the more familiar lyric “Coal Black Mattie” (as performed by R.L. Burnside) is changed by Morris into “Old Black Mattie”, perhaps intentionally, but more likely from oral tradition. Occasionally, another variation, “Poor Black Mattie” is encountered as well from certain singers.
Clarksdale native Blind Mississippi Morris lives in North Memphis, and is just about the only traditional country bluesman active in Memphis these days. He has recorded a couple of albums, including 1988’s You Know I Like That on Select-O-Hits‘Icehouse Records, and is a frequent fixture on Beale Street, one of the few true bluesmen to appear there regularly. His set at Bristerfest was largely traditional, assisted by guitarist Frank Monteleone, in front of a crowd that had begun to grow after the rain had largely ended.