A new Mississippi Blues Trail marker has been unveiled at the Overton Park Shell in Memphis memorializing the venue’s long history with the blues.
The marker was revealed during the intermission of this year’s Country Blues Festival, which has taken place at the Overton since the 1960s.
“Each marker along the Mississippi Blues Trail tells a portion of the long history of this unique American art form. This marker recognizes the countless musicians who played at this venue, including Mississippi’s own Elvis Presley, and the influence they have had on the genre, as well as our country and its history,” Visit Mississippi Director Rochelle Hicks stated. “We are proud to recognize the Overton Park Shell for its significance to the blues and know that this marker will keep the Mississippi blues story alive for generations to come.”
The Overton Park Shell was constructed in 1936 after being designed by architect Max Furbringer, making the location one of 27 Depression-era bandshells built by the Works Progress Administration.
At this time, the Overton is one of only a few still standing in the nation.
During the 1960s, the site hosted Country Blues Festivals that featured up-and-coming artists Johnny Cash and Bonnie Raitt.
“This is a tremendous honor for our historic stage to be recognized alongside such important cultural spaces across the South, and I’m thrilled to unveil our marker during an event storied in our history with the blues,” Overton Park Shell Executive Director Natalie Wilson explained.
The unveiling event included additional announcements from Wilson, along with remarks from local blues historian Robert Gordon and an introduction by Ken Steinberg, who is a member of the Overton Park Shell board.
The marker was then unveiled by writer and Mississippi Blues Trail historian Scott Baretta.