Bluesman. Sharecropper. Church deacon. Civil Rights activist. Hayes McMullan should be a name on every Blues aficionadosï¿½ short-list and thanks to the preservation fieldwork carried out by one of the genreï¿½s greatest researchers some 50 years ago ï¿½ it might soon be.Born in 1902, Hayes McMullan was discovered by the renowned American roots scholar, collector and documentarian Gayle Dean Wardlow. Wardlow, author of the seminal blues anthology Chasinï¿½ That Devil Music ï¿½ Searching for the Blues, may be most famous for uncovering Robert Johnsonï¿½s death certificate in 1968, finally revealing clues to the bluesmanï¿½s mysterious and much disputed demise. Moreover, in his tireless and committed mission to preserve the Blues for future generations, he captured McMullanï¿½s raw talent on tape and on paper. Wardlow recorded these sessions, transcribed the songs and now, writes the sleeve-notes for this landmark release.
Wardlow and McMullan met by chance on one of the formerï¿½s record-hunting trips, in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi, in 1967. Having introduced himself to McMullan on a hunch, it turned out this unassuming elderly man had not only heard of Wardlowï¿½s idol, Charley Patton, but had played alongside him in the 1920s, as part of a brief musical journey that took him from the plantation to the open roads and juke joints of the Depression-era South. Striking up a friendship that was deemed unorthodox in 1960ï¿½s Mississippi, Wardlow traveled to McMullanï¿½s sharecropperï¿½s shack and convinced him to play guitar for the first time since he quit the Blues for the Church in the 30ï¿½s. ï¿½Hayes was playing like no one I had ever heard,ï¿½ Wardlow writes with amazement.
Wardlow visited McMullan on a handful of occasions, always taking his recorder, a guitar and some whiskey with him. It was during these visits that Wardlow captured ï¿½ with surprising clarity ï¿½ the songs that make up Everyday Seem Like Murder Here.
Hayes McMullan passed away at the age of 84 in 1986, his talent and legacy largely unknown. ï¿½Reflecting now on our brief time together, I marvel at the small glimpse of something much larger I was lucky to have captured,ï¿½ writes Wardlow. ï¿½The few old snapshots I took, the handful of tunes we recorded, and his brilliant performance of ï¿½Hurry Sundownï¿½ captured on film are all thatï¿½s left of the musical legacy of Hayes McMullan, sharecropper, deacon, andï¿½unbeknownst to so many for so longï¿½reluctant bluesman.ï¿½