Jesse Guitar Robinson Blues / Delta Blues / Jazz Jackson, Mississippi
West Stage 4:00 to 5:00
Legendary Mississippi blues and jazz guitarist Jesse Robinson has been playing blues and jazz for over five decades. "All my guitars have something to say. They speak to me," says legendary bluesman Jesse Robinson, whose skills have been praised by blues icons B.B. King, Little Milton Campbell and Bobby Rush. Many consider Jesse as being the greatest blues guitar player in Mississippi.
In recent years, Jesse Robinson has been honored by being noted on five Mississippi Blues Trail markers: the Subway Lounge marker - Jackson; the Cassandra Wilson marker - Jackson; the Gold Coast marker - Jackson; the Queen of Hearts marker - Jackson; and the Holmes County Blues: Tchula marker - Tchula. In 2008, Jesse was honored to receive “The King Mose Memorial Award” presented at the Jackson Music Awards. This award is given each year in honor of King Mose, who had one of the most popular Jackson bands back in the 50’s. The recipient of this award is one who has given outstanding support to Jackson’s local musicians and bands.
Jesse Robinson was born in Benton, Mississippi in May of 1944. The 13th child and seventh son of a preacher, Jesse grew up on a farm working hard. He played in church for a long time and then started as a teenager playing in talent shows on Farish Street at the Alamo Theater in Jackson. This talent show was run like New York City’s Apollo Theater. Dorothy Moore, Tommy Tate and Sam Myers were part of the talent shows at the Alamo. This was where everybody would go on a Thursday night. After playing at the Alamo, Jesse continued his deep friendship with Sam Myers and they played together for thirty-five or forty years. At the age of 16 Jesse sat in with Elmore James at a club called Percy Sampson. Mel Brown was also one of Jesse’s role models during Jesse’s younger years.
In 1965, Jesse moved to Chicago, where he performed with his own band and sat in with blues greats including Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Freddie King, and Magic Sam. In 1971, Jesse moved back to Jackson, and led his band seven nights a week at the Avalon Court on Highway 49. In 1978, Jesse began hosting "Blue Mondays" at Dorsey’s and brought in guests including Z.Z. Hill. It was at Dorsey’s where Jesse met Little Milton Campbell, with whom he performed from 1979 to 1981. From 1981 to 1986 Jesse worked as the bandleader for blues singer Bobby Rush, and played guitar on Rush’s hit album Sue.
Jesse started the late night weekend blues tradition at the Subway Lounge. The Subway Lounge was featured in the film Last of the Mississippi Jukes. Jesse also established the popular "Blue Monday" series at Fields Cafe on Farish Street, which drew hundreds of attendees.
In 2002, “Show Me A Love”, a song Jesse co-wrote with jazz singer Cassandra Wilson, appeared on her album, Belly of the Sun. In 2004, Jesse released his first album, Blues Child, and later that year released a Christmas album.
Jesse performs as a solo act, as well as with Jesse Robinson and the 500 Pounds of Blues Band, for private parties, clubs and festivals. Currently, he hosts his blues jam every week at the Underground 119 blues club in Jackson, and each year hosts a Christmas Musicians Ball which draws many musicians and friends for a major holiday night of music.
Jesse has performed for the Mississippi Economic Development Authority at trade fairs across the country and at the Mississippi Picnic in New York City’s Central Park. He has guest lectured on the blues at Mississippi State University and Millsaps College, and has worked with various “blues in the schools” programs.
Recently Jesse performed in Brazil at a festival which drew over a million people to the front of the stage.
The 2015 Cotton District Arts Festival presents - Mississippi’s Own JESSE GUITAR ROBINSON.