Mississippi Blues is a piece credited to Willie Brown who wrote and first recorded this delta blues classic. Having said that, very little else is known about his life and later career. All that appears to be agreed on by blues historians is that he turned up to meet Alan Lomax (music historian) in July 1942 to record this piece along with two other blues compositions in a makeshift recording studio on Sadie Beck’s plantation.

Whilst very little may be known about this Willie Brown, it seems clear from recording comparisons that this is not the same Willie Brown that played with Son House and Charley Patton, or who recorded M&O Blues or Future Blues. It seems also universally agreed that he is not the Willie Brown immortalised in Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads”

“Mississippi Blues” was transcribed into guitar “tab” by blues guitar legend Stefan Grossman and a recording of it featured on his very popular 1971 album “How To Play Blues Guitar”. Although, recorded in the Delta, it is very untypical of Delta blues music, being based on a piano instrumental, “Hard Times” by Charlie Spand or, possibly, “Sunrise Serenade” by the Glenn Miller Orchestra, depending upon who you read.

In those distant days of my teenage youth when I started playing the guitar I was drawn to this particular piece of music from an album I had recently bought called “How to Play Blues Guitar” by Stefan Grossman . The album was probably one of the first of its kind as an instructional LP with guitar tablature included. Tablature, was fairly new at that time, and was simplified notation for guitarists based on numbers on a diagrammatic fret board, rather than the standard treble clef – an absolute God send for musicians like myself whose treble clef knowledge was sketchy to say the least. Along with a friend of mine we spent hours picking away at the list of tracks learning to play as many of them as possible. Despite the album notes warning would-be learners that the last track “Mississippi Blues” was tougher than many of the other tracks, I was drawn to it so much that I learned to play it first before any of the simpler tracks. It has always been a favourite of mine ever since and it was only a matter of time (about 46 years) before I would get around to recording it for myself.