Many artists have recorded tribute albums to Jimmie Rodgers, the Father of Country Music, but only one of those artists has been allowed to record his tribute with “the Singing Brakeman’s” own 1928 000-45 Martin guitar.
That man, Britt Gulley, will be performing this Saturday at New Albany’s Biscuits and Jam Farmers’ Market. Gulley has toured in a one man play as Jimmie Rodgers, and was chosen to perform this tribute recording because of his dedication to keeping the Jimmie Rodgers legacy alive. He recently performed his Jimmy Rodgers tribute for the third time at the annual Mississippi Picnic in New York City’s Central Park.
The tribute CD was recorded quickly and pretty much in secret inside the Jimmie Rodgers Museum in Meridian, because officials of the Jimmie Rodgers Foundation did not want the guitar, estimated at a value over one million dollars, to leave the premises. Until this CD, “Jimmie Rodgers’ Guitar,” was recorded, the guitar had not been heard on a new recording since 1933.
“The guitar is a living thing,” said Gulley.
A piano owned by Rodgers’ sister-in-Law, Elsie McWilliams, was also used in the recording sessions. McWilliams is known to have written or contributed to 39 of Rodgers’ songs.
Britt Gulley will be performing as part of the Folk Art on the River version of New Albany’s Biscuits and Jam Farmers’ Market. The second Saturday markets have extended hours, from 7:30 AM until noon, and will include folk art crafts, vendors and an art contest, in addition to the normal offerings of local produce, homemade foods and live music.
Popular local musician, Paul Tate, will be opening for Gulley at this weekend’s performance.
For a sample of Britt Gulley’s Jimmie Rodgers tribute: