The Blues Society of Central Pennsylvania was proud to present the fourth annual Mississippi Railroad Picnic at 2:00 P.M. on July 19, 2009, at the picnic pavilion of the 40 et 8 Club, 5831 Chamber’s Hill Road in Harrisburg. Admission was free for members of the Blues Society and $10 for non-members. The picnic was BYO Food and BYOB.
The Mississippi Railroad is the brainchild of local musicians Dale Wise and Dave Groninger, who have played and recorded in Mississippi numerous times. By bringing the Delta musicians here, “The Railroad” is giving Central PA the opportunity to experience some of the last, truly original, Mississippi bluesmen. This is as close as you will get to experiencing Mississippi without actually going there.
This year we are very excited to bring back “Cadillac” John Nolden and Bill Abel!
“Cadillac” John Nolden is a blues harmonica player, songwriter, and vocalist from Renova, Mississippi. He was born in Sunflower, MS, on April 12, 1927, one of ten children. He has picked and chopped cotton, plowed with mules, and recalls that his family often went to work before sunrise.
He formed a gospel group called the Four Nolden Brothers with his siblings and sang baritone and first and second lead. They had a radio show on a Greenwood, MS station in the mid-forties. He also played blues with his brother Jesse James Nolden, a guitarist. After one brother died and two others left the area, he sang for 8-9 years with the gospel group, the Four Stars. He then stopped performing except for occasional solos at church until 1970 when he was inspired to take up the blues again to help alleviate the pain he felt after his wife abruptly left him. He bought a harmonica from the Simmons drug store in Cleveland, MS, and “went to hummin’ a little then…I just couldn’t hardly hold it back.”
In the nineties he performed with a band that included guitarist Monroe Jones, and appeared under his own name at the Delta Blues Festival and the Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival. In 2000 Jones introduced Nolden to his current partner, guitarist Bill Abel, and they have played regularly at venues in the Delta area, as well as at the King Biscuit Blues Festival, The Sunflower River Blues & Gospel Festival, the Highway 61 Blues Festival, and the Yazoo Blues Festival. They released the 2000 CD, “Crazy About You,” which contains five originals from Nolden in a vintage style, and in August, 2005, he left Mississippi for the first time to travel to Pennsylvania with Abel to perform for the Blues Society of Central PA.
Bill Abel, born and raised in Belzoni, MS, has played with blues legends such as Honey Boy Edwards, Henry Townsend, Hubert Sumlin, Paul “Wine” Jones, Sam Carr, Terry Harmonica Bean, and Big George Brock. Abel says it has been his privilege to play authentic Delta blues with many bluesmen in different settings from juke joints to blues festivals across the Delta, the Chicago Blues Festival, and all around the United States, Belgium, Italy, England, Wales, and Switzerland. In 2004, he taught the blues guitar workshop at the 2nd Annual International Blues Symposium with national recording artist Corey Harris. In 2006, he played guitar on the WC Handy nominated CD, “Round Two,” with Big George Brock and was awarded the Blues Musician of the Year presented by the Mississippi Delta Blues Society of Indianola. In addition to recording with Hubert Sumlin, he played guitar on T-Model Ford’s recent CD, “Jack Daniel Time,” and the film “M for Mississippi,” for which he also did engineering and production work.
Opening for the duo was one of Harrisburg’s own blues bands, The Cornlickers.
For additional information on this event or any other BSCP event, please contact us at 1-888-771-BSCP (2727) or on the web at www.bscpblues.org .