Riverside Blues Series — Stories that Must be Told

The Riverside Blues Series is comprised of a collection of official biographies and companion books that share the courageous musical journeys of American blues trailblazers of the early 1900s.

Riverside Blues Series

Photo credit: John Keen. Courtesy of Brian O’Connor. All rights reserved.

Book One

We thank John Tefteller for providing images of Mississippi Matilda’s discography in the Riverside Blues Series. All rights reserved.

The Original Rolling Stone: The Travelin’ Riverside Blues of Eugene Powell is  the first and only official biography written about Eugene Powell, a.k.a. Sonny Boy Nelson, featured in the Riverside Blues Series. It debuts as a “first” and reveals never-before-published insights from the man himself, as well as first-hand accounts from those who knew him best.

Authors Brian O’Connor and Melanie Saxton chronicle Eugene’s early childhood as a musical prodigy, his formative years with the Chatmon Brothers, his famous 1936 recording session at the St. Charles hotel with the Mississippi Sheiks, his partnerships with other up-and-coming musicians, his family life with wife Matilda, his years as a wandering riverside blues musician, the resurgence in his popularity in later years, and his “plantation wisdom” as a man of faith.

Never before or since has such a true-life tale been written as a loving tribute to a multi-instrumentalist of Eugene’s caliber. He is finally getting his due credit as a blues forefather who impacted music as we know it today.



Riverside Blues Series

Image credit: John Tefteller. All rights reserved.

Riverside Blues Series

Photo courtesy of Carrie Powell. All rights reserved.

Book Two

Hard Working Woman: The Life and Legend of Mississippi Matilda is a first-of-its-kind biography of Matilda Witherspoon. Her true-life story has never been chronicled  — this is only book written about her her journey.

We publish it proudly as the second in the Riverside Blues Series to mark a milestone in blues history. This is a culturally, historically and musically significant biography.

Firsthand interviews with her children, especially her daughter Carrie Powell, drive home the struggles and victories encountered while navigating the hardships of life in the Deep South.

The biography delves into Matilda’s complex journey as an abused child, preteen motherhood, the start of her singing career with Florida Orange Blossom Minstrels, her friendship with Bo Carter Chatmon, her marriage to Eugene Powell, her life in the fields and on stage, her fondness for gospel music, and the legacy of love she left in the hearts of her children.


Book Three — COMING SOON!

Book Three in the Riverside Blues Series. Photo credit: Diana Davies (with permission from the Smithsonian). All rights reserved.

America’s Unbeatable Musicians: The Original Masters of the Mississippi Riverside Blues is the third book in the Riverside Blues Series, slated for publication in the fall of 2019.

• Bo Chatmon (a.k.a. Bo Carter)

• Sam Chatmon

• The Mississippi Sheiks

• Hacksaw Harney

• Ernest “44” Johnson

• Little Brother Montgomery

• Richard Hill

• Robert Nighthawk

• And many more

The book details the close ties and friendships between the Powells and their playing partners, as well as the popular forty-four piano roll music of the early 1900s. Many thanks to the blues fans and aficionados whose interest in the original blues musicians inspired this book.



Please contact us for more information on the Riverside Blues Series or to contribute to a future project.