Union County will soon be designated as a stop on the Mississippi Blues Trail. Blues musicians Sam Mosley, Bob Johnson and Billy Ball from Billy Ball and the Upsetters will all be recognized on a newly placed Mississippi Blues Commission blues marker near the Union County Heritage Museum.
Union County natives Sam Mosley and Robert A. Johnson were both songwriters for the record company Malaco, and also recorded as the duo Mosley and Johnson for Muscle Shoals Sound, a subsidiary of Malaco. Billy Ball and the Upsetters was formed in Indianapolis after leaving New Albany. Mosley’s family consisted of musicians from the minstrel time frame, rhythm and blues and rap.
Union County Heritage Museum Director Jill Smith said, “We are excited about the dedication because we have exhibits about the musicians and it just continues to give people more of a reason to come here. I am excited that we are on a state trail; I think it is important that we fit into the big picture. Union County fits into the big picture because of literature, fashion design, hunting, etc., and we fit into the blues trail in the African-American community. It is nice to fit your story into the bigger story. We are glad to be a part of it.”
Mosley and Johnson played with B. B. King and were invited to the Montrose Jazz festival in Switzerland in the 1980s. They have taken their talents and represented New Albany and Union County in some very exotic places and both have gold records from writing music.
Smith said, “The area that is behind the museum was part of the black business district at one time and the area had a cab stand, cafes, and the building Mosley and Johnson practiced in. The first time they played was at Bud Turner’s cafe in this district, which was a well-known establishment in this area.”
According to the Mississippi Blues Commission Web site, “The Mississippi Blues Commission was organized in October 2003 by gubernatorial decree and was legally re-constituted in 2004 by the state legislature. Senate Bill 2082 officially established the Mississippi Blues Commission and declared that the commission will develop a plan to promote authentic Mississippi blues music and blues culture for purposes of economic development.”
There will be live music from Terry “Harmonica” Bean, there will be food and Mosley and Ball will be present as well as members of the Mississippi Blues Commission. The dedication ceremony at the Union County Heritage Museum will be on December 8, 2008 at 1 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.