The Mississippi Blues Trail, a collection of important blues locations, winds its way through Mississippi, Memphis, Arkansas, Alabama and, eventually, Chicago. This weekend, the trail extends another 100 miles north to the small town of Grafton, Wisconsin, which is the home of Paramount Records.
The record label produced 78 rpm records of early blues pioneers including Charley Patton, Skip James, Son House, Ma Rainey and Blind Lemon Jefferson. According to ParamountsHome.org, more than 1,600 songs were recorded in Grafton between 1929 and 1932. Over 60 African Americans recorded their blues, spirituals, and even sermons in a "make-shift" studio of an old chair factory, opposite of the pressing plant.
The Grafton Blues Association will unveil the marker during the fifth annual Paramount Blues Festival in Grafton on Sept. 18. Grafton is about 20 miles north of Milwaukee.
The marker will be located at the former location of the Wisconsin Chair Factory, which housed the Paramount recording studio.